Since this is our first cider review on here, it's probably helpful to give you some sense of how we approach these. You can jump to the end if you are just here for the Shacksbury Arlo review...
We've tasted hundreds of adult beverages over the years and have a pretty good handle on the language of tasting.
Nose and legs and mouthfeel.
Bitterness, acidity, tannins.
These are words you'll see in a wine or beer review, and one of the cool things about cider is that this language carries over quite nicely. After all, cider is basically apple wine (or apfelwein, as the Germans call cider) and typically sits at similar ABVs of most beers. It's an easy way to communicate with those who care about these things and sometimes we'll review a cider with this cider-geek language.
And sometimes we just want to give you a quick and dirty take on something we've tried.
If a cider strikes us as particularly interesting, we'll blow things out a bit. If we just have enough time to slap something up between work and running kids to soccer practice, you'll get something a little less formal. Sometimes we'll give some food pairing ideas. Cider plays well with food.
We'll both review some ciders. Others will be tasted by only one of us. Our tastes are a bit different...Beth leans toward semi-sweet, fruited or flavored ciders while Mike digs funky pours. We'll note at the bottom of each review who wrote it.
At the end of the day, this whole tasting thing is supposed to be fun so we don't take it too seriously. If you see us (probably Mike) getting pretentious, call us out in the comments.
Enough of that, let's get to Shacksbury Arlo, a semi-dry cider out of Vermont.
We pulled it from the back of the fridge and it poured ice cold, masking any aroma other than a slight earthy funk*. That funk follows through on the tongue. Lots of tart apple and citrus. The acid jumps to the front as it warms up, balanced with a creamy light sweetness.
Arlo has enough complexity to make it fun to drink on its own, evolving a bit in the glass. A good starter cider to cut your teeth on funk.
*"Funky" is a term you'll see often when you read about cider. Some yeasts, especially wild yeasts, bring this to the party. Funk is hard to describe and many of the descriptors are less than appetizing. Earthy, forest floor, wet leaves, barnyard. To some it is very off-putting. To others it's just an interesting note that adds complexity.
You'll know funk when you smell or taste it. And if you don't like it right away, stick with it for awhile. You can acquire a love of the funk.