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Crispin Honey Crisp

Where Spotted: D’Vines, 3103 14th St. NW

Price: $6.90 for a 22 oz. bottle

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Bitter Fruit: I’ve been on the lookout for a good American hard cider since discovering J.K.’s Scrumpy last winter. The Minneapolis-based Crispin Cider is made with a blend of West Coast apples, but what intrigued me most about it was a company rep’s suggestion that I could drink it over ice: “It gives it a crisper mouthfeel.” Not quite. The melting ice merely relaxes the carbonation, smoothing out the cider’s fizz and pop. Sure, the taste holds up to dilution, but that’s a mixed blessing. Its chemical sweetness and off-vegetal flavors, reminiscent of supermarket apples, are perilously close to cheap champagne.

Hollow at the Core: It’d be unfair to lump Crispin in with such alco-pop inferiors as Strongbow or Woodchuck; it’s made with organic honey and does taste more like apples than soda. On the other hand, for this price, I want something that goes down better than a wine cooler. Crispin would be a fine stand-in, I guess, for a yellow macrobrew or a poorly made mixed drink, but the fact that it’s still one of the better American hard ciders only goes to show the competitive limits of the field.

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