5/23/19: Blake's Hard Cider Company's Great Blakes

6:56 PM

I've been holding onto this can for months, waiting for the right time to crack it open and share my thoughts. Unfortunately, plenty of those right times have come and gone when I've just been too damn busy to do anything.

Tonight that ends; I'm finally making time for this post.

I love the idea of adding coffee to hard cider--apple and coffee are two flavors that work super well together that rarely get any attention. The third cider I ever brewed on my own was a boozy dry cider with some homemade cold brew steeped into it (I also added some hazelnut extract). The result was an intensely satisfying summer drink that I named Purrline Ann, after my trusty four-pawed sidekick. According to my brother (who drank the last existent bottle of the stuff), the cider soured eventually, adding another, wholly unexpected, layer of awesomeness to it.

When Blake's announced that they were making a coffee cider I just about lost it. I stopped into my local bottleshop weekly after that announcement, hoping that I'd find this then-latest Kinder Cider offering on the shelves. Eventually, I did. Let's find out together if it's worthy of my self-imposed hype.

Blake's Hard Cider Company (that link goes directly to their "About" page) is based out of Armada, MI. The Blake family has owned the cidery's orchard since 1946, and has been producing hard cider since 2013. They use a five apple blend from the thousands of trees located on their property to build the backbone of each one of their ciders. In my opinion, that five blend effort really pays off.

Great Blakes is a 6.5% ABV semi-sweet cider that's had coffee grounds from Detroit's Great Lakes Coffee steeped in it. It's been brewed and sold in an effort to raise funds for Great Lakes Proud and Freshwater Future, two entities dedicated to the conservation of the Great Lakes.

My first waft from my can is bitter, which makes complete sense: it's a cider (pretty bitter by nature) with added coffee (very bitter by nature). Going back, though, the apple springs to the fore while the coffee's beneath it, subdued. There's a slight nuttiness to the whole affair which helps to ground it. Purrl, although this is a terrible picture, loved it. She gave my can sixteen whiffs! This is incredibly high praise from such a discerning cat.

The flavor of the cider perfectly mirrors the nose: apple on the fore, immediately succeeded by a wash of coffee. A nutty appleness hangs around for a long while in the finish. Honestly, this is exactly what I want a coffee-infused cider to taste like. Good on you, Blake's.

Great Blakes has just the right amount of carbonation. Where I to compare it to a beer, it'd be a brown ale: not over-the-top, but there is a noticeable body to the whole thing.

I know it's deep into night right now (or, at least, decidedly night--the sun's long since gone down), but this cider reminds me of summer mornings. See, last summer I started to build a Calvin and Hobbes collection. Sure, I'd grown up with the strip--my dad owns the vast majority of Bill Watterson's books, but last year I'd only started to build my own collection.

Once I'd acquired my first few books, I'd wake up and do my "get ready for the day routine." This would, and still does, end with coffee before brushing my teeth and heading to work. During the last few warm months of 2018, I'd drink my coffee on my porch, with a few Calvin and Hobbes before me. My coffee, dark and slightly bitter, complimented the eternally-six-year-old's shenanigans. Those bright, humor-filled mornings are precisely what I'm thinking about as I sit here drinking my cider.

Blake's' Great Blakes is a solid offering from a stellar cidery. The addition of coffee really takes this cider to the next level. I'm giving it a 9.0/10. The bottleshops closest to me still have plenty of sixers of this on their shelves. Please, don't sleep on this. Coffee and apple is a flavor combination you do not want to forgo.

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