My appreciation of Portland Cider Company’s offerings have flip-flopped since I sat down with my first bottle. Drawn to their simple, straight-forward label (nutty bottle designs obscuring flavors and company names are a huge issue to me) and local-ness, my wife and I eagerly sucked down a Sorta Sweet and Kinda Dry, respectively.
While I, at that time in early 2012, eschewed anything not dry, I refused to have more than a sip of her Sorta Sweet. Bottle after bottle, this kept up until one day in July we arrived at Bushwhacker Cider to see only Sorta Sweet left on the shelf. Grumpy at having to quell my haughtiness toward anything with sweet in the name, I picked up two bottles of Sorta Sweet and headed home. Once there I relayed my tale of woe with the wife, who looked at me quizzically and poured herself a glass.
“Ugh,” I thought to myself. “I bet REAL cider drinkers don’t like this sweet crap. I don’t want none of that Woodchuck or Angry Orchard mass-market stuff unless they are the only option, dammit.”
Rest assured, there’s a huge difference between simple, (sorta) sweet artisan ciders and mass-market stuff you’ll find at most grocery stores. While I still have a penchant for the dry, the biggest difference between Portland Cider Company’s Kinda Dry and Sorta Sweet is the time the flavor lasts on my tongue — duh — and it turns out I’m pretty okay with that. The base of each tastes exactly the same, one just has a bit more apple sweetness. Simple, right?
I think so too. Below are notes I took while sampling an entire bottle of the Sorta Sweet a few weeks ago. For the Kinda Dry review, just substitute “sorta sweet” and “a lotta” with “kinda dry” and “a lotta”. Oddly enough, the more Sorta Sweet I’ve had, the more I’ve wanted, which tells me the gang at Portland Cider Company is doing a lot right with their ciders. Pick up one of each for your next party and you can’t go wrong.
The first sip tells you exactly what’s in the bottle: sorta sweet apple juice with kick and a lotta flavor. The slightly cloudy liquid looks nothing like the cheap champagne people bring to parties when they can’t think of anything better, but rather the obscure white wine all those in-the-know understand and frequent.
If there’s anything I’d like more from Sorta Sweet, it’s a bit more flavor. Like its brother Kinda Dry, the flavor just doesn’t last long enough, but each sip does taste a bit better, so I’m happy to have more of these. It’s true: it gets better the more you drink it.
The lack of complexity in this works in its favor, as Sorta Sweet is my most often recommended cider for newbies to try, usually while they’re BBQing and I’m waiting for them to finish. Hamburger and pickles, here I come.