Review: Bantam Rojo Hard Cider

Review of Bantam Rojo Hard Cider from Bantam Cider Co. in Somerville, MA.

Type: Hard Apple Cider  ABV: 5.4%  Tried from bottle.

Their Description: “Rojo is made from local heirloom and traditional New England apples. It is slowly fermented with a hearty ale yeast and then aged with sour cherries and black peppercorns. The result is a truly interesting and satisfying unfiltered, semi-dry cider. Rojo starts with a spicy fruity aroma and first taste that becomes slightly sour on the mid palate and finishes dry with a subtle cherry note. It is the perfect complement to a fine dinner or an equally enjoyable casual drink to be shared with friends.”

The Reality: This cider has a light rose color with the scent of acidic tart sour apple. I did not detect the “spicy fruit aroma”, but it was definitely present in the flavor, which as assertive tart apple with notes of pear and peppercorn spice, but without sweetness. It has a sour semi-dry finish that does have the slightest taste of cherry and a hint of sweetness. The aftertaste is clean and the complexity of the savory peppercorn with sour cherry and apple comes through the more you drink it.

Final Verdict: As I mentioned in my Recap of the WZLX Craft Beer Festival, Bantam Cider is a quality up-and-comer on the Massachusetts Cider scene, and from what I’ve tried so far, they definitely know what they’re doing. Rojo is no exception. It seems like there’s a lot of beers and ciders incorporating sour cherries lately, in everything from mass-produced ciders like Woodchuck Cheeky Cherry to microbrewery small-batch one-offs like Beer Works Velvet Hammah Barrel-Aged Stout, but Bantam smartly added peppercorns to provide that subtle extra layer of flavor and savory note that rounds this cider out perfectly. They say it’s an “enjoyable casual drink to be shared with friends”, but after trying it I think you’re just as likely to wanna drink your Rojo solo down in SoHo, cause YOLO.