Hard cider consumption in the United States is booming, with sales rising 85 percent from 2011 to 2012, and sales of the 10 largest cider brands in the country doubling in the same period, according to market research firm Information Resources Inc.
One of the best companies is Fox Barrel Cider Co. It is unique in that its whole cider line is based on pears - its apple cider line is Crispin. I wrote about its Blackberry Pear Cider nearly a year ago and mentioned in passing some of its other offerings, without having tried them.
That has now been rectified after trying out an excellent variety pack. The Wit Pear has much to offer to cider, beer and wine drinkers.
Craft beer drinkers will be interested in that Wit Pear is made with orange peel and coriander, two main spices in Belgian-style witbiers, of which Hoegaarden and Blue Moon are examples. That comparison is justified even more in that the cider is fermented with Belgian witbier yeast.
Think of the 6.5 percent ABV Wit Pear as a witbier without the barley, wheat and oat grain presence. It is more than that, however, because of the addition of honey. The first taste is honey and pear, with the orange peel, coriander and some sweet notes becoming more prominent in the finish. The honey also provides a nice floral softness at the end after an initial perky carbonation.
The color of the beer is a golden orange and it has nice clarity, but it is unfiltered with sediment in the bottom of the 22-ounce bottle, so a careful pour is recommended.
Fox Barrel is distributed in about 28 states, but has unfortunately removed its distributor information from its website. All it now gives is an firstname.lastname@example.org email address and phone number, (530) 346-9699.
Also worth knowing: Although the beverage is called Wit Pear on the company's website, it does not say that anywhere on the bottle, which makes it difficult for consumers to ask for it. The main titles on the front label say, "Orange Peel and Coriander Cidery Reserve Unfiltered Pear Cider."