A beer purist might claim that hard ciders aren’t “beers” and therefore have no place in a beer review column. Well I say unto them “nay!” for that which comes from a tap and is in a pint glass and is somewhat fizzy shall be classed among the beers, as it says in the bible. Or something like that. At any rate, “Gumption” is variously defined as some version of “guts, spunk, initiative,” and I’ve got the gumption to put a cider in my beer column if I feel like it. And I do. So there.
The Brewer’s Pitch:
PT Barnum, that circus hero, gave us memorable quotes like “There’s a sucker born every minute.” He also apparently said “everybody drank cider-spirits called ‘gumption,’” which makes no sense at all but sounds old-timey enough that Woodchuck ripped it off for a drink name. It’s a blended beverage combining the sweeter juice of your common eating-apple, with some of the dry apples more commonly used in cider-making to give a bold and flavorful taste to the drink.
Gumption pours clear dark yellow with scattered patchy bright white head. It smells like the bottom of an apple-barrel, sweet and juicy with a smidgen of darker notes like seasoned wood. The first hit is delicious, sparkling with sweet apple juice notes and crisp at the finish. As the glass progresses the sweetness begins to fade. The taste gets less crisp and juicy and more dry and slightly bitter- not tart, but an earthy bitterness at the back of the tongue. It never hits the normal degree of tanginess you’d expect from ciders, and instead tastes like apple juice that’s going over to being alcoholic.
I was set to give this an A based on the initial taste, but there’s something I just don’t quite like about it as it develops. A good tart pucker goes great with sweet and juicy, but this one was more abrasive than piquant. Still, it’s hard to make a truly bad cider, and most of my disappointment with this one is that it came down from how good it was at first. The sweetness of this could make it a bit too cloying for a hot summer day but this is a nice all-weather cider that you can enjoy without overly challenging your taste buds.
The Bottom Line:
PT Barnum didn’t even HAVE a mustache, let alone a glorious handlebar like the bottle’s label shows. Still. I think we can all agree that he had that pitchman’s lipwarmer in spirit, even if not in body.