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Super Bowl is prime beer time, and I was excited for the spread at my gracious friend’s viewing party: chicken-and-steak nacho bar, homemade cookies, and a sixtel of Dale’s Pale Ale. I hadn’t had a beer in five days because of some flu nonsense, and I was ready to get in some, uh, professional research.
But the first thing I drank was cider. Not just any cider, but a cider by Woodchuck, that no-good hawker of apple-scented alcopop that ranks on the list of booze I respect just above Smirnoff Ice and 99 Bananas. They outright lie right there on the label — it’s not a draft if it comes in a bottle! (PS: Its parent company also makes Cider Jack, which tastes like Fruitopia, so don’t think that’s some better alternate brand.) So what possibly could have convinced me to drink this high-school swill?
The bottle was actually Woodchuck Oak Aged Draft Cider, an autumn seasonal that I’ve never seen in D.C. but was smuggled down from Vermont. Don’t think less of me, I beg you, but it was actually kind of good. For soda, that is — it’s nowhere near beer and doesn’t touch the puckery, orchard goodness of J.K.’s Scrumpy.
The oak-aged Woodchuck is light, bubbly, and syrupy on the tongue, just like soda, and it’s the color of cheap ginger ale. But the oak is definitely there — it smells like saccharine bourbon, full of vanilla. All in all, it’s exactly like a sweet mixed drink, somewhere between a whiskey-ginger and a 7-and-7. It may be engineered for underage palates, and there’s most likely some corn syrup involved, but as sodas go it’s one of the tastiest I’ve had. Kinda makes me wonder what oaked Coke would taste like.