Cider Review: Virtue Northcider & Southcider
Monday at 11:35 pm
I’ve been on a flurry of video reviews over the weekend, because some of this material is very timely. This one, because it’s tied in the long-delayed start of the baseball season. And, well, we’re looking at the distinct possibility that the season may end very soon, if players keep turning up with COVID symptoms.
So let’s get this one posted while it’s still topical. Virtue Cider has tied in with Chicago’s traditional baseball rivalries by releasing “Southcider” and “Northcider.”
Virtue is based in Michigan, but was founded by Greg Hall, former brewmaster at Goose Island, and son of its founder, John Hall, Jr., in 2011. Like GI, Virtue was been bought out by Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Other brewers have capitalized on the Cubs-Sox rivalry, usually using clever names like these to avoid running afoul of Major League Baseball. In this case, the names were pretty clever.
But how to make two different brews somehow “capture” the atmosphere of the North Side vs. South Side. Well, you really can;t. Virtue did it by going beyond making the labels blue and black: they have little pennants decorated with the Statue of the Republic from the 1893 Columbian Exposition, one of the peregrine falcons nesting in the South Loop, and a blues player on the Southcider cans. The Nirthcider cans have a jet plane, Marina City, the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, and >ahem!< a billy goat. Gotta offer a kudo to the designer.
So how are the ciders different?
Southcider is a semi-sweet hard cider, “blended with botanicals.”
Under the pop top, it offers a light apple nose. The pour starts a little fizzy, settles to show a slightly bubbly golden body. The apple taste is pretty light, which I can appreciate after many commercial ciders that pour on the apple juice. I didn’t get much sweetness until I tasted it again after sampling the drier Northcider. No overdone sugar, apple taste stays mild with a slight touch of cinnamon and maybe cardamon.
Northcider is dry-hopped with Centennial and Cascade hops.
This has a slightly lighter apple smell, with a very slight edge of beer hop. It pours a fizzy head at first, then settles to an almost still, bright yellow color, with bubbles still streaming from the bottom. There’s a dry cider taste as expected. A slight hoppy aftertaste works with the dryness of the cider. It remains light and slightly fizzy, with no cloying sugar or sweetener.
Both these ciders are gluten-free by their nature. The Northcider has 6.7% alcohol by volume, which the Southcider clocks in at 5.5%. I’ve not had a lot of hopped ciders, so the Northcider was a nice change of pace for me. Despite their major corporate ownership, they still come across as craft ciders, with light apple flavor from different varieties, and no overwhelming sweetness.