Kinesiology senior Nick Larson and aerospace engineering senior Jake Devincenzi are Mustang News beer columnists. | David Jang/Mustang News

Nick Larson and Jake Devincenzi
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Kinesiology senior Nick Larson and aerospace engineering senior Jake Devincenzi are Mustang News beer columnists.
If you’ve faithfully read our articles for the past six months, you have probably seen us make one or two light-hearted quips about the slightly alcoholic apple juice commonly referred to as “hard cider.” If you haven’t faithfully read our articles for the past six months, you need to catch up. They are all online and it’s spring quarter, so you really have nothing else to do. But getting back to the point, we are happy to admit that after much resistance, ciders have finally started to win us over.

Sort of.

Ciders, though similarly packaged and consumed as beers, are not just a fruity twist on beer. This is a common misconception. Because of the lax rules about what alcohol companies are allowed to call their products and what ingredients they have to display (none), it is often hard to tell the difference between an apple wine, hard cider, ale brewed with apples or even the highly-marketed Redd’s Apple Ale.

Not to deviate too far from the purpose of this article, but we need to address a very important topic. Please do not call Redd’s Apple Ale a beer brewed with apples. Any alcoholic beverage that touts its “natural caramel color” immediately loses any validity as a beer. Just as a refresher, a key ingredient in beer is malt, which are grains. And we may only have a year of brewing experience, but we are fairly confident in saying that when you add any amount of malt even remotely close to that added to a typical ale, it provides plenty of color on its own. Adding “natural caramel color” to an ale is like adding natural vanilla color to a gallon of milk. If your milk isn’t white on its own, you should probably reconsider who you’re buying your milk from. Oh, and “Redd’s” is not a company. It’s “brewed” by MillerCoors.

But we digress. Though they share similarities, there are distinct differences between apple wines, hard ciders and apple ales. The common hard ciders you see popping up left and right in grocery and liquor stores are made with apple juice, adding extra sugar and yeast to allow for secondary fermentation. On the other hand, apple ales (not including Redd’s — that is seriously just a marketing ploy to get “manly men” to admit they like something that tastes like apple juice) are essentially just apple-enhanced beers. No, they do not come with Siri; rather, they are brewed just like a normal ale. You mash your malts, boil in your hops, then add yeast and allow for fermentation. The only difference is at some point along this process, you add apples (or apple juice) to enhance the flavor. Think of the orange flavor in a Blue Moon. Now replace the orange with apple. Boom — that is an apple ale. Finally, apple wines are simply hard ciders that exceed 10 percent alcohol by volume (abv). Now back to why we have grown to start accepting ciders in our lives.

We are both frequent guests at music festivals, namely Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, where it’s hotter than Satan’s lair. Usually, we settle for beer of the lighter variety or, dare we say, water. However, this past summer we made an interesting discovery. While at the Lovebox Festival in London, no beer was served. All the on-site bars served only hard cider. The initial letdown was quickly replaced with pure refreshment. The light, crisp taste was the perfect remedy for the heat. It may be sacrilege, but it’s fair to say the strategy for Coachella this year involves much more cider consumption.

Much like the growing craft beer varieties, the cider spectrum continues to broaden. Ciders range from 1.2 percent to approximately 8.5 percent abv, allowing for numerous combinations to create a unique product every time. Unlike beer, ciders made from apples are generally sorted into two basic sets of classification. On one hand, some tend to be sweeter. On the other, you have drier varieties. Some ciders are pale and uncomplicated, while others are more complex and flavorful. Traditional English ciders are dry, approximately 6 percent abv, and in our opinion are the most refreshing.

Like we mentioned earlier, we give cider the short end of the stick most times. By no means is it even close to a substitute for beer, nor would we ever be sitting at home, watching a ballgame and exclaim “Damn, you know what I want right now? A nice cold pint of cider.” That is something that doesn’t happen in our household. However, when we venture to the sun-ravaged desert that is Coachella Valley, we look forward to reaching into our cooler and grabbing a crisp, dry, refreshing can of Crispin … or three.

Nick and Jake’s Bottle Share: Part 2

Our first bottle share was a great success. We met up with good friends and met many other new friends and beer lovers from our Cal Poly family. It was such a hit, we’re holding another one. Details and rules are below.

Date: Saturday, April 5

Time: 6-9 p.m.

Location: 860 Del Rio Ave., San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Beer Rules:

1. The entry fee is one bottle per person. $10 minimum bottle price.

2. Bring something new! The more obscure or rare, the better. We’ve tried a heck of a lot of beers, so shoot for something unique. Bring something you haven’t had before.

3. All-you-can-drink, but be respectful. The purpose of this event is to taste and talk about a variety of different beers, not to get drunk.

Safety Rules:

1. If you come, you have to be 21. No exceptions. DD’s are fantastic, but we won’t let anyone in that is not 21. Sorry.

2. Be safe. The location is a few miles from campus, so make arrangements to take the bus or buy a friend a beer to drive you.

More Information:

If you have any questions about the beer share or what to bring, hit us up on Twitter, or add us on Facebook and shoot us a message.

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