I like history, especially food and drink history. It’s awesome to learn how something we take for granted got started. The first time the French used forks, the first time Americans ate mussels and the first time man discovered fermentation.
Fermentation was first discovered by chance. It was like magic. Wild and natural yeast was the culprit but early man treated it as a work of the Gods. I still think of it as magic, though thanks to Louis Pasteur, we now understand the role yeast plays in fermentation and can control it.
Thanks to brewers and cider makers such as Argus Cidery, we can once again relive the past and embrace what nature has given us. Wild fermentation.
As you may be aware, I follow American cideries all over the U.S. and to hear about the amazing concoctions I can’t get my hands on, I stated trading and begging for hard to find ciders. I started a trade with the Cider Goddess, Merideth Collins, from Along Came A Cider and a cider bloke from Texas. You want to trade with me? Drop me a line.
Hoby Follis from Texas sent me a cider from Argus Cidery, which is based out of Austin, Texas. I was really looking forward to this. Oh, he sent the Malus Opus. Before I tasted it I wanted to get an idea how their ciders are fermented and this what they said:
Me: Your ciders undergo a wild fermentation. Please explain your specific process and what you wanted to achieve.
Argus: By harboring the natural yeast we are able to achieve a more dynamic flavor, however for stability and overall fermentation health we needed to rely also on dominant yeast strains. The end goal was simply to create layers of flavor via primary fermentation, then expound upon that later in the process.
Me : Besides the natural yeasts found on the apple skins, did any other wild yeasts or bacteria find it’s way into your cider?
Argus: Yes, we have some “things” that we have propagated out of the air when it is nice and cool. A little bit of a house blend you could call it.
Me: What was your inspiration for fermenting in a traditional style?
Argus: The flavor of the more traditional products that we have tasted was the biggest inspiration. Also, allowing the fruit and all the other elements control the end variables as opposed to imposed controls.
Well there you have it, more less a wild but controlled way to achieve a complex traditional cider.
And now for my review
I love it when the bottle has a detailed description like the one found on the back of the Malus Opus. Malus Opus is produced using Gala, Cameo and Jonagold. It is aged on toasted French oak and untoasted American oak. Clocks in at 9% ABV and individually numbered. It was bottled on Feb 18th 2012.
Malus Opus poured cloudy, mildly bubblly with a lemonade color. I will not tell you what the mousse did as most do the same thing. With the exception of hopped ciders. That’s for another post.
The nose was lemony citrus with subtle green apple skin notes. Concentrate and you get a pleasant mustiness followed by more citrus, with a touch of earth. I am anticipating a dry and acidic cider
This is what I got
I am always impressed with the diversity of the mouthfeel between one cider and another. This one was like a surprise birthday party. An oily heavy body that keeps my mouth company, without any rush on my part. Then kaboom, a brash astringent sensation followed by powerful acidity. And this is what separated Malus Opus from the many ciders I have imbibed. The acidity vanishes instantly and makes for one of the most balanced ciders I have had. Riding on the sour wave was a subtle fruity and earthy profile. This reminded me of the aroma you get just after a spring rain. The finish was dry just as I expected.
What was my over all impression?
In the last few years, wild and sour ales have been a hot item for craft beer fans and this is exactly the cider they would gravitate towards. I also happen to be that person. Malus Opus is definitely a traditional cider that remains in control. Exactly what Argus wanted to achieve. If I offered a full cider tasting, this would be a mainstay.