Try a pint of Crispin Browns Lane Imported English CiderA week or so ago, I reviewed one of Crispin’s special ciders, The Saint, finding it surprisingly complex and quite delicious. After that, I decided to try some more of their products. Especially since I had numerous requests for more cider reviews (well, four—not counting one specifically for an Ace Pear review—but I don’t often get requests to review, well, anything, except by book publicists, and I aims to please). So, ready and eager to do my duty, I picked up a four pack of Crispin Browns Lane Imported English Cider.
“Bittersweet” is one of those overused terms that long ago reached the status of cliché. Nonetheless, it remains one of the most poignantly ironic contradictions in all of English, a language that excels at paradox. The official description of Browns Lane claims that it is pressed from traditional bittersweet English cider apples, and if ever a product deserves to be called bittersweet, it is this one. It’s bitter and it’s sweet.
It pours with a very light, effervescent carbonation and a pale gold color, about the shade of, well, apple juice. That’s not as much of a “duh” as you might think—ciders have a surprisingly wide range of hues, ranging from so pale it’s almost clear to a deep reddish gold. The scent … well, I guess that is a duh. Apples.The taste is surprising. After the gentle sweetness of the Saint, I’d expected something similar from the Browns Lane. Not so much. The first taste is tart, mouth-puckeringly so. So much so that it look a few sips before I decided that I liked it. The sweetness that you expect from is there, certainly, but the sharp tartness almost (but not quite) overwhelms it. It’s not as refreshing as Crispin’s other ciders, but it has a dry, well, uniqueness that grew on me, sip by sip. It’s bitter; it’s sweet.
The Browns Lane truly excels when paired with food. I tried it with my own secret recipe creamy chicken and wild rice soup, and later with a nice slab of delicious prime rib with red potatoes. In both cases, the sharp flavor complimented, and even enhanced, the flavor of the food, like a good dry wine. While The Saint is as good (or better) on it’s own, the Browns Lane is one to pair.
My tastes run to the sweeter side of the cider scale, especially when you can find well balanced ones like Magner’s Irish, Ace Pear, or Crispin’s The Saint. Nonetheless, I found the Browns Lane interesting enough to buy again, although I’ll save it to pair with meals, rather than simply popping one open on a warm summer afternoon. I also applaud Crispin for offering such a wide range of flavors. While I find some of their offers better than others, I have to say: they are all interesting, and they absolutely refuse to be pigeonholed with just one style. In my book, that’s quite a compliment.
One final note: the label suggests that Browns Lane should be served ice cold. They’re not kidding. When the English, of all people, suggest serving any beverage ice cold, take them at their word.
I’ll have at least two more cider reviews this month (see the paragraph above for some hints), as well as music and book reviews. So please stay tuned. As always, thanks for dropping by.