Iowa City’s Wilson’s Orchard just added hard cider to their list of apple offerings — “Goldmine.” I found a bottle of it at the Co-Op (it’s also available at John’s Grocery) a few weeks ago and I’ve been enjoying it ever since.
Wilson’s debut hard cider is named “Goldmine.” Out of the bottle, the cider pours slightly effervescent in a pale citrine color. The nose is heavy with cooked spiced apples and boasts a yeasty twang. The palate is straightforward and vaguely sweet, yet tart, with a lingering sour finish.
Goldmine is produced using primarily the late-maturing “Goldrush” (Malus xdomestica Borkh) variety of apple, cousin to the better known “Golden Delicious.” Goldrushes persevere well into autumn and posses complex sweetness and high acidity, making them perfect for this late season off-dry brew. I shared a bottle with a friend on his porch one warm October evening and he said, “A night like this, hard cider, I feel like we’re two old French farmers.” I don’t if know I felt old or like a farmer, but at 6 percent ABV in a 22 oz bottle, I certainly felt a little buzzed. That’s like feeling French, right?
The second Wilson’s cider offering I got my paws on is dubbed “Johnny Hoppleseed.” This cider is made from Jonathan, Gala, and Jonagold apples and is dry hopped with Citra hops. The color is lightly golden. The nose is a veritable bouquet of green apple jolly ranchers. The tart palate gives way to a short dry finish. Despite the label’s claim that the cider is “hopped up,” hoppiness did not overwhelm. In fact, if not for the name of the brew, I’d have had a difficult time discerning the Citra hops altogether.
Despite my dashed hopes of finding a cider that tastes like an apple-y IPA, Wilson’s first foray into hard cider is impressive. It is heartening to see an ever-growing number of Iowa tap handles at Iowa City bars and restaurants. Wilson’s bears the distinction of offering a high quality ale made from locally grown ingredients, and that is something to drink to.
This article originally appeared in Little Village issue 186.