The Full Nelson
Citizen Cider, in Burlington, VT, was founded in 2010, by three self-proclaimed "bros." In the few years they've been open, they've grown exponentially in both production size and popularity.
I first stumbled upon their products while exploring a small liquor store in Montpelier last winter. We were visiting the state capital for nostalgia purposes, and I needed something to drink atop a snowy mountain later that afternoon. Hard cider has always been one of my favorite day drinking options, and I love to try new products, so when a 22 oz bottle of Citizen Cider's Unified Press caught my eye, I didn't hesitate to grab it.
I didn't mark down any tasting notes that day, but I remember enjoying it immensely. Even in the cold, dry Vermont air, it was refreshing and juicy and went down so easy.
Fast forward a few months and we come to find that Citizen Cider is now regularly distributed across the Albany and Saratoga region of New York. Yay! I first discovered I could get Citizen Ciders closer to home while I was browsing a beer store in Albany. They had a wide selection of Citizen's offerings and while I wanted to buy all of them, I chose to grab a bottle of The Full Nelson, a hopped cider. The idea of dry hopping a hard cider piqued my interest, and as Brandon is particularly fond of hoppy beverages, I was confident he would like it, even if I didn't.
The Full Nelson is made with juice from apples pressed at Happy Valley Orchard in Middlebury, VT, which is then dry-hopped with Nelson Sauvin Hops. Hopping various alcohols and beverages has gotten wildly popular lately, thanks to the tremendous success IPAs and other similar beers have seen. Even though hopping has become so "in," I've always felt that it was something that should be exercised with caution. Fads come and go in every industry, and Food and Beverage is famous for it. Every town across America has had a cupcake bakery open and close in the past 4 years. (I mean come on people, diversification. It's not rocket science.)
So, naturally, I was initially weary of the idea of a hopped hard cider. But the bros at Citizen Cider have managed to strike a lovely, delicate balance with theirs. Turns out apples lend themselves quite willingly to the whole thing. The natural sweetness of apples perfectly counters the extra bitterness, while the fruity flavors are only highlighted and enhanced when combined with the floral notes from the hops.
When I first poured The Full Nelson, all I could think was "whoa, this thing is crazy!" Notes of flowers, white pepper, green pears, lemon zest and herbaceous hops burst from the glass. I was still noting the many aromas of The Full Nelson when Brandon walked over, grabbed the glass from under my nose, took one sip and said "this is mine, right? You good on this? I can drink it?" He knew full well I hadn't even tasted it yet! Thankfully, the 22 oz bottle meant that there was still plenty left for me to actually drink.
This thing smells like fresh IPA and it tastes like fresh IPA. But, you know, with apples. It's tart, juicy, and inviting. Citizen Cider's website describes it as a cider for beer drinkers, and I do agree. Though it is full of fresh fruit flavors like lemons, limes, and granny smith apples, it is not sweet. It's floral, mouthwatering, and delightful.
I've seen some other hopped ciders on the market, and now that I've tried The Full Nelson from Citizen Cider, I can't wait to compare all the others to this one. Those bros know what they're doing.