Beer: El Chavo
Brewery: Blake’s Hard Cider Co. (Armada, MI)
Style: Cider – Traditional
6.5% ABV / N/A IBU
The core line-up for Blake’s Hard Cider comprises six different blends that are available year-round. Five of these are really good riffs on things that you’ve likely sampled before: a sweet apple cider (Flannel Mouth); a dry and oak aged cider (Beard Bender); a perry (Grizzly Pear); a rosé (the aptly named Rosé); and a mixed berry cider (Tripple Jam). All of these are distinguished by their relatively high ABV – between 6.5 and 6.9%, as opposed to around 5% – and the company’s terrific farm-to-table approach which uses ingredients sourced from the Michigan farm where the cidery is located.
The sixth variety from the core Blake’s line-up is the total outlier, though: El Chavo, a mango and habanero cider that’s alternately sweet and spicy. Beers brewed with any sort of hot pepper can be a hard sell, but El Chavo is deceptively complex and surprisingly addictive. The nose is all sweetness, with hints of peach and that strong scent of a perfectly-ripe mango. The habanero hits you on the first sip and it’s initially overwhelming; in terms of the Scoville scale, the habanero was typically regarded as the world’s hottest pepper until it was lapped by other heirloom varieties.
After the first sip, your tongue becomes slightly numb and tingly, and you’re mostly feeling the heat in the bang of your palette. This cider totally opens up your sinuses, yet another thing that makes it unique. But the juicyness and cooling affect of the mango really offsets the spiciness of the pepper, creating an flavor combo not unlike the mango salsa that is a popular accompaniment to fish tacos. El Chavo really opens up as it warms to room temperature, too. This is a cider for those that like a challenge; there is no pleasure without pain.
For more info, check out Blake’s Hard Cider Co. here.