Thoughtfully Served

Serious Cider

Sip a juicy Colorado hard cider with a European pedigree
By John Lehndorff

When a host asks you to bring a beverage to a dressy holiday gathering, exceed expectations by arriving with a four-pack of Snow Capped Gold Rush instead of your usual bottle of Pinot Grigio. 

Don’t let the cans fool you: Colorado-born Gold Rush is a serious craft beverage on par with high-end European ciders.

Poured in a glass, Gold Rush glows with a wonderful golden hue. Take a sip and you have one of those “Oh wow” moments. 

“Gold Rush is extremely complex. It starts out sweet and apple-forward, but as you taste it, the cider finishes almost dry,” says Kari Williams of Snow Capped Cidery. 

There’s a good reason Gold Rush doesn’t taste like those too sweet, too bubbly ciders that are filling the shelves now. Those ciders are not made by pressing and fermenting actual cider apple varieties, Kari Williams says. 

“They usually use juice from sweet culinary apples,” says Williams who — with her husband, Ty Williams — owns the cidery and the more-than-century-old Williams Family orchards near CedarEdge on the Western Slope. 

“Traditional cider apples are hard to grow, disease-prone and don’t give the yield of culinary apples like Honey Crisp,” Williams says. At 6,130 feet, Williams Family orchards are among the world’s highest elevation orchards and vineyards. Kari Williams says that the high elevation not only develops flavor from the hot sunny day and cool night cycle, but also because of high exposure to UV light. 

“In 2013 we started Snow Capped Ciders to take advantage of the fruit we were growing including French and English varieties,” she says. Snow Capped Gold Rush is the newest addition to a line of award-winning ciders. It’s made with four notable varieties:  Blanc Mollet, Ashmead’s Kernel, English Golden Russet and Dabinett. Each rare apple contributes elements of astringency, sweetness and acid to the cider, much like the grapes blended in the best red and white wines.  

These cider apples yield bright ripe apple mouth-filling flavors and aroma notes from vanilla to leather. Williams suggest serving this semi-sparkling cider slightly chilled, but never ice cold. 

The family are the only growers in the state producing enough cider apples to can a true cider. “Because we grow this rare fruit ourselves, we are able to sell the cider at an accessible price,” she says. 

“It’s the crème de la crème of apple cider in a can.”

Snow Capped Gold Rush is available year round in 12-ounce can four-packs ($8.99 to $10.99) at Total Wine and Spirits (Centennial), Molly’s Spirits (Greenwood Village) and other retailers. Photo: Courtesy Snow Capped Cidery


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