Since its inception, Sociable Cider Werks in Northeast Minneapolis has been infusing and playing with ciders and cider-making in new and interesting ways – some that take a little less time than others to come to fruition. On a weekly I-need-an-exciting-and-delicious-new-drink-to-try basis, they are instant-infusing their cider with salacious flavor combinations, like cucumber habañero and poblano pineapple for a $5 12-oz. pour.
With the complexity of a well-mixed cocktail and the sweet effervescence of a classic cider, the weekly change-up gives regulars something to experiment with and first-timers something stimulating to try. A new batch begins Thursday and runs through the weekend, and every couple of weeks the theme shifts when the base ingredient runs out and inspiration is gathered at the grocery store. First there was ginger, then a lot of mint, followed by habañero and a few other peppers, and now rhubarb. Jim Watkins, one of the owners, has future plans to explore pepper infusions more, with their zesty finish and spice that builds the more you drink.
The infusion setup is relatively simple. The crew can put pretty much anything inside the small tank in between the cider keg and tap, creating an immediate unique libation for weekend visitors. Functioning a lot like a French press, it has a net catch at the bottom to keep the ingredients out of the cider itself, while allowing time for it to ruminate with the week’s selection as it is pulled. Over time the flavor changes slightly; the first few glasses tend to be further from the ideal end result and the last few can be a little overwhelming, especially with a strong contender like mint.
Tasting notes: Sociable Cider Werks Rhubarb Berry-infused cider (Thursday, May 1, 2014)
Dry, with light fruity undertones, the pour is a clear, lightly carbonated straw color. The nose is soft with hints of lemon. On the palate it’s reminiscent of champagne-soaked strawberries. The subtle woody flavors of the base cider complement the fleeting earthy tones of the rhubarb to make a well-rounded cider that, while definitely the sweetest pour on tap, is pleasant and drinkable at 5.8% ABV.