10/2/19: ACE Cider's ACE Pumpkin

3:33 PM

Happy Spooky Finger Puppet Ghost Month! Yeah, I know that October fist was yesterday and, while I would've loved to get my first Halloween post up then, it wasn't meant to be. The good news is that the blog will be incredibly busy this month (see everything I have slated for it over on my Instagram) and I hope you'll join me for all of it!

Today, I'm taking a look at ACE Cider's ACE Pumpkin (Pumpkin, henceforth). I've seen this on shelves since moving to Cincinnati (so, starting in 2014, although I'd bet it's been around longer than that) and I'm happy to finally give it a spot on the blog. Let's see how it fares.

ACE--as detailed on its official "Our Story" page--opened in 1993 and is the country's first family-owned cidery. Located in Sebastapol, CA (just north of San Fancisco), the company was founded by Jeffrey House, who, after years of working in the beer and cider industry, saved up enough money to forge his own path in Sonoma County. He now runs the cidery with his wife and three sons.

Pumpkin (which, according to ACE, has been around since 2010 [so, a little longer than I've been in Cincy]) boasts a modest 5% ABV. ACE states Pumpkin has a rich pumpkin pie flavor and contains cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. I can't tell if pumpkin is used anywhere in the brewing process. Actually, since it's not listed on the webpage nor is it on the ingredients section of the cider's label, I'm positive it wasn't.

My first whiff of the open bottle yields mostly nutmeg (which is weird because it's not listed in the ingredients--maybe it's the cloves reacting with the apple?). A return whiffs provides me with cinnamon-masking allspice. Then, below everything else, I get that unmistakable aroma of fermented apple, semi-sweet. I have to hand it to ACE; for a cider without any actual pumpkin, they've done a phenomenal job of imparting a distinct pumpkin pie quality to it's bouquet. Purrl absolutely loves the cider's nose, by the way, seeing as how she gave my bottle eighteen whiffs. Maybe catnip's an unlisted ingredient? Ha! Cat humor on a beer blog that regularly features a cat. That's a point for me.

Diving into the cider itself, the taste is very appley. The spices creep up in the back end of my swig and hang around in the finish (and it's a damn long finish here). But the apple is the main attraction and it's incredibly sweet. With everything going on, I'd expect this to be more reminiscent of an apple pie than a pumpkin one but, nope. Even though it has apple pie fixings, ACE still brings the pumpkiness without any trace of the gourd itself.

The mouthfeel is pretty much what I'd expect from a modern draft-style cider. It's full, but the spices do add a little extra oomph here. It's bitey, like a vampire bat would be. Get it? Because it's Halloween time? Otherwise I might have used another analogy, but this is seasonally appropriate, so it's what you get. I'll be doing this all month folks!

I must be getting into the spirit (there's another one for you) of the season because my mind is full of Halloweeny thoughts as I sit swigging this cider. Particularly one from my first Halloween season here in Cincinnati. I went up to the Lewisburg Haunted Cave with Michelle, her sister, and her sister's friend. It was pitch-black when we got there and we were ready to be spooked.

The attraction itself was spooky enough--you walk through a dark, winding cave filled with scary props (including, that year, a flaming car) and actors dressed in their most frightening getups. The line was long, but the whole thing was worth it. What I remember most, however, and what I'm thinking about now of the kettlecorn. Once through the cave, you could visit a decidedly non-spooky cart and buy a bag of the stuff. Warm and sweet, it was just the thing after having the tar scared out of you.

I'd say this is a good start to Spooky Finger Puppet Ghost Month. ACE's addition to the Halloween beverage canon is an admirable one. However, it is a tad too sweet for my tooth. I'm giving my bottle an 8.0/10. However, I have to say that, especially since there's no pumpkin in the cider, I'm impressed with how pumpkiny the affair is.

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