These days, it seems like no brand is satisfied with being known simply for what they’re known for. Chambord has a vodka, Patron has it’s liqueurs, and Jack Daniels has it’s honey “whiskey.” Many more iconic brands are following suit, diversifying their venerable portfolios with new, exciting, and sometimes baffling flavored infusions and lateral brand expansions. So it’s not too surprising that Stella Artois, a brand singularly associated with its mild, party-friendly beer, is now trying to corner the ostensibly lucrative cider market. Is this change-up the result of a bold new strategy of product diversification spearheaded by savvy corporate big wigs, or is it more akin to a sudden and inexplicable late-life identity crisis, ala your 55 year old uncle dying his hair blue and going to raves on the weekend?
Only time has the answer to that question. However, I do have the answer to the question “what does it taste like?”
Pale yellow in the glass with a distinctive orange tone, Stella’s Cidre certainly gives the appearance of bold flavor. And indeed, on the nose at least, the aromas are quite strong and definitely on the fruity/sweet side of things. Before I could even smell the apples though I was smelling banana, and an unusual scent which I later identified as Bazooka Joe. The apples are there if you can sense past that initial wall of banana esters, and those apples are decidedly red and sweet, with a hint of cinnamon spice lending a bit of complexity.
Flavor wise, the cider starts off with a mild tanginess, tasting like yellow and red apples with a hint of granny smith skins thrown in for good measure. As soon as you swallow though… the zing goes flat. Forensic investigation will uncover traces of that signature banana flavor still lingering in your mouth, but it’s not all that pronounced. Basically, this is a cider you experience in the moment, because once it’s gone, it’s gone from your palette too, forever (until you buy more).
Now, if my descriptions don’t sound all that enthusiastic, it’s because, well… I thought this cider was pretty boring. However, I’m the kind of guy who likes his ciders to be brimming with lots of green apple crispness that lingers long after every sip and gets the ol’ saliva glands pumping, and Stella cider wasn’t made for me. It was made for anyone who enjoys a slightly sweet cider that’s easy drinking and completely unpretentious. You know: normal people.
Basically, Stella Artois the cider is contiguous with the drinking experience of Stella Artois the beer, so figuring out whether or not to give Cidre a try is pretty straightforward. If you’re still confused, though, here’s a visual aid to assist in your decision:
Indeed, Stella Artois is a popular beer, and most of the people at the tasting enjoyed the cider too. I’d say I was disappointed by how mellow it turned out to be, but that would imply that I didn’t expect it to be mellow in the first place. The only thing surprising about Cidre is that it’s a cider made by a beer giant that isn’t really known for having a whole lot of options in its product line. Surprise is not the only spice of life, however, and sometimes it’s nice to just kick back with something refreshing and sweet and not sweat the little stuff.
Personally though, I think I’ll stick to the Ace Joker when it comes to cider…