By Peter Holmstrom
On first examination, this might seem like a misprint. “Beer and cider in one bottle? That’s crazy!” But mull it around a bit more. Collaborations between craft drinks companies are all the rage right now. Winemakers and brewmasters teaming up to create a beer aged in wine barrels, coffee companies teaming up with wineries to produce beans aged in casks, cider infused with wine, the list goes on… Cider and beer were destined to not be far behind. What began as probably an accidental pairing at a pub has ended up as some of the more interesting drinks offerings of the last decade. Known today as a Graff or Snakebite, the fusion between cider and beer has been making its way throughout the drinks community. We’ve got our top picks for you right here.
Deux Tetes—De Garde Brewing/Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider
Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider, one of the leader of the Portland cider scene, and De Garde Brewing, the up-and-coming sour beer king that is looking to put the town of Tillamook, Oregon on the beer map joined forces last Christmas to offer a limited run collaboration brew. This lambic/cider hybrid was aged with apples, leading to a result one might not expect. A copper colored pour and healthy foam opens up to a medium bodied mouthfeel that yet is reminiscent of a cider crispness. Apple flavors blend with the sour tartness of a lambic style to make a balanced and refreshing experience.
Strawberry Pippin—Cascade Barrel House/Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider
You ask anyone where to get a good sour beer in Portland, and they’ll direct you to the Cascade Barrel House. Known for doing fruit forward sour beers, they boast an impressive lineup of standards, and a rotating selection of specialty brews. One such “blenders reserve tap” is a collaboration brew with (popular guy) Reverend Nat’s called the Strawberry Pippin. A 50/50 blend of Cascade’s sour Strawberry Wheat ale and Rev. Nat’s Revelation Newtown Pippin cider, the resulting golden-copper colored beverage has a strawberry sweetness coupled with a tart apple sourness blended to perfection
Cibeertron—Wit’s End Brewing/Colorado Cider Co.
Ever looking to experiment, Wit’s End Brewing out of Denver decided to try something new with the Cibeertron. Obtaining some Gala apple cider from the Colorado Cider Company, they set to work. Utilizing Belgian yeast to add spicy, bright aromas, while the malt character adds a toasty backbone with hints of raisins. Combined together with the apple tartness, and you have a zesty beer/cider not to be missed.
Graff(T)—Two Beers Brewing/Seattle Cider Co./New Belgium Brewing
Joel Vandenbrink received the determination to open Two Beers Brewing while on a tour of New Belgium Brewing in 2007. Success came quick, and his Seattle Cider Co. followed six years later. Vandenbrink was looking for a way of commemorating these moments, when he struck upon the idea of combining them all together. Graff(T) is an Inidan Pale Lager brewed with 100 percent pilsner malts, Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand and a 10 percent by volume addition of unfermented apple juice (also known as “must”) from Seattle Cider Co. The resulting hybrid has a dry crispness with notes of grapefruit and citrus.
Snakebite—Gigantic Brewing/Cider Riot
No need to break out the poison kit here, the term snakebite comes from England, where it denotes a lager/cider blend. The Gigantic Brewing/Cider Riot collaboration utilizes a blend of 2/3 Kolsch and 1/3 cider fermented together with a bit of black currants. The resulting beverage has a fruity character, with a light hoppiness and tart, fruity finish. Available by the bottle throughout the Northwest, and at the Gigantic Brewery.
Burkenstein—Our Brewing Co./Virtue Cider
The Burkenstein, named for the monster collaboration between Ryan Burk of Virtue Cider and Trevor Doublestein of Our Brewing Company, is a smoked apple scotch ale. The full bodied, malt caramel flavors of the Scotch ale pairs perfectly with notes of smoky apple tartness. Great to pair with a barbeque beef or lamb, preferably with a second glass by your side.