My buddy Les Ault handed me a bottle of his latest creation yesterday, The Duke of Crisp. As a new dad, I don't have much time these days to just relax and enjoy an adult beverage, but I made time for it tonight, and I'm glad I did.
The Duke of Crisp is amazing. Before tonight I would have said Les' Berry Cider was the best cider I've ever had, hands down. This new cider has bumped the Berry Cider down to the #2 spot. As the name suggests, this new cider is crisp. It's also clear, and not too sweet. If I had to pick a commercial cider most similar to it in taste, I'd say Magners, which is high praise on both counts, as Magners is my favorite commercial cider.
Les tells me he let this batch ferment for six months, which is far longer than the three to four weeks I believe his Berry Cider takes. I'm also told The Duke of Crisp measures 7% alcohol by volume, making it stronger than anything else available on store shelves. Strong as it is, it goes down smoothly. It is fortunate for me that this cider wasn't the first I ever tried, because I doubt I could have tolerated most of the other mediocre-in-comparison commercial ciders I've tried over the last few years.
I've had a single keg of cider on tap at the house at any one time over the last year. Now I need to order a second keg, a 2-way CO2 distributor, and another tap, so I can have The Duke of Crisp and the Berry Cider on tap. My wish for Les is that he could hire a team of elves to help him mass produce this stuff and get it into local taprooms, because it makes most of the ciders they serve taste like Kool-Aid.