Last weekend, Greg Hall and the Virtue Cider family invited us out to Fennville, Michigan for a tour of Virtue Farms.
We started our trip with a fantastic meal at Salt of the Earth, where in addition to using locally-sourced ingredients, featured courses prepared with Virtue Farm’s apple juice and cider. Not that we needed convincing but it just stood to further drive home the point: Virtue Cider plays well with food.
We ate every bite, thanked our gracious hosts at Salt of the Earth and headed over to Virtue Farms.
Modeled after traditional cider houses in Normandy, the Virtue Cider House is the location for all of Virtue’s pressing, fermenting and kegging.
While we were there, Greg taught us to look for four different properties when examining an apple: sugar content, PH acidity, tanin and flavor/aroma. Like wine, apples vary greatly in each category and different blends produce a massive range of flavor profiles.
Here are a few we tried:
Using overripe Macintosh apples, this extremely sweet juice is typical to the Normandy style.
#2: Northern Spy and Macintosh
Macintosh apples have a fantastic aroma and flavor and an English-style ripe apple aroma with low sugar content.
#3: Golden Delicious and Northern Spy
Golden Delicious has a great, bright acidity which blends well with Northern Spy.
#4: Newtown Pippens
Most commonly used for Cider making, Newtown Pippens tend to have a complex and tart flavor.
Cider production is like wine production, the materials vary greatly from year to year. Different characteristics in the fruit manifest themselves as different flavor profiles in the cider. Add to that fluctuating availability and a crop dependent on the season’s weather conditions and you get a unique product each year.
“A 2011 Red Streak is going to taste different from a 2012 Red Streak” says Hall “We get excited about each new vintage.”
As well they should.
Find Virtue Cider in Chicago here.