Many moons ago, I used to drink "Cider Jack" because it wasn't as "bitter" as beer... this was back before my pallet matured, so I really didn't care for the taste of beer...
Anyway, Cider Jack was pretty decent if I recall correctly, but they don't make it anymore.
Tonight on my way to get pizza for the family, I stopped at the packy (which is what it's called in New England) and bought a 6 of "Woodchuck" amber. This is commonly what people think of these days, when they say hard cider, I believe. I've never had it.
Now, granted I did have a couple (or four) Sam Adams Boston Lagers earlier, but I cleansed my pallet with a couple slices of too-hot Greek pizza...
Given that I'm slightly tainted already, take my assessment here with a grain of salt, I guess...
The scent of this is pretty much what I'd expect to get if I mixed apple juice with like, a Bud Light, I guess... Appley... beery...
Taste-wise, it's pretty clean and crisp, but rather sweet... Not quite as dry as I think I'd like. I'm also surprised at how flat it is. I expected a little more carbonation.
All in all not a bad drink. 5%, so about the same as a beer, and next to no carbonation is good as far as drinking lots and lots of them... Oh, and gluten free too apparently. So... that's nice, I guess.
I can see why this is a popular drink though. It wasn't expensive, it's sweet, and it's as strong (if not just a little stronger) than a beer of similar price.
If I made a brew that came out like this, I would not be unhappy. Still though, I think I'd prefer a little dryer. More like a champagne, less like a juice-box.
I'm not going to go all wild and pick my own apples, and mash em, etc... I'm just going to go cheap and buy cider.
"FEH!" the purists are saying right now, I'm sure, but hey, I'm just a broke guy, who likes to drink beer and cider. It doesn't need to be expensive and difficult to be great. I know this from baking cakes using boxes of cake mix. I've baked things from scratch, and honestly it's a pain in the ass, and it's not any better. I'm not going to break my back and my bank for something that may very well suck.
I've researched it just a little bit (read: for the last 15 minutes online) and I've got some good ideas about it. I think I may actually make 5 gallons, since I have everything I need to do a 5 gallon batch. I won't have to buy 4 more stoppers and 4 more air locks, etc. Those are the reasons I will give to justify making so much. ;)
If you've done this before, and have some recommendations, I'm all ears!