Square Mile – Spur & Vine

Square Mile "Spur & Vine" Bottle

Square Mile “Spur & Vine” Bottle

When stopping by a grocery store I don’t usually visit to grab a bottle of wine for a housewarming party, I stumbled across two bottles of Spur & Vine all by their lonesome, and thankfully there weren’t too many people around to hear my ensuing noise of delight. They were even the 650mL bottles I remembered from Cider Summit Seattle last fall.

Unlike The Original, Spur & Vine holds up to my memories — this is such an interesting and delicious cider. The whole reason I’ve become such an avid cider drinker is because I dislike the yeasty, hoppy, bitter taste of every beer I’ve ever met (all of them, yes, probably that one you’re thinking of too), but because of the dry-hopping process Square Mile uses, the cider doesn’t come out tasting particularly of hops at all. Instead, it’s gained a lovely floral aroma and a citrusy, slighty fruity taste, sweet enough that I wouldn’t describe it as dry, but with earthiness and a little tartness to balance it out.

Square Mile’s website says they add Galaxy hops to the same apples used for The Original (Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, and Jonagold), but if I hadn’t read that, I would have thought there were some bittersweet apples in the mix. All in all, a memorable cider and one I wish I could get my hands on more often — though now that I’ve found a store that carries it, perhaps I can.

Spur & Vine is a light, clear yellow, with a floral aroma and low fizz. It’s 6.7% ABV and can be purchased in 12oz or 22oz bottles.

Square Mile – The Original

Square Mile "The Original" Bottle

Square Mile “The Original” Bottle

I first tried Square Mile’s two ciders — The Original and Spur & Vine — at last year’s Cider Summit Seattle in South Lake Union (which I highly recommend; it’s a great chance to spend some time in the sun and try out an array of different ciders).

At the time I thought quite highly of both, and Spur & Vine holds the distinction of being the only hopped cider I relish rather than tolerate, but having picked up a six-pack of The Original at the grocery store I find myself not as impressed this time around.

In the months since the Cider Summit, either my taste for cider has evolved or they’ve adjusted their formulation to move toward a more commercial production style. Square Mile’s website says their apples are Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious and Jonagolds, which does quite fit the taste profile, but the ingredients list includes pear juice concentrate and apple juice concentrate as well as “hard apple cider,” and the extra concentrate gives The Original a boost of that sort of generic apple taste straight from the juice aisle of the grocery store.

The closest point of comparison I can think of for this cider is Angry Orchard’s standard Crisp Apple flavor, though to its credit The Original isn’t nearly so overpoweringly sweet and has a greater tartness, bite, and complexity.

The Original is low fizz, a clear golden color, and smells slightly yeasty when you open the bottle, though the aroma fades quickly and leaves nothing much behind in the way of aroma. ABV is 6.7%, and despite (or in addition to?) what Square Mile’s website indicates, it’s available in 12oz bottles rather than 22oz, as well as in a number of Pacific Northwest restaurants and bars — locate some for yourself!