Tucked in the labyrinth of The Barnyard in Carmel is Hidden Hills Brewery & Blending, known for its different styles of beer. Found among its ales and sours, however, is a dry cider with guava and dragonfruit.
“We are using California cider apples that we source, and then we put in guava and dragonfruit purée before secondary fermentation to add another layer of fruit flavor characteristic,” says brewer, winemaker and now cidermaker Jeffrey Vitalich.
The cider is not completely dry, Vitalich notes: “Semi-dry, I would say.” Yet with added fruits, the cider is the opposite of sweet – fresh, with vague tropical tones deep in the background. “The cider is fruit-based already,” Vitalich says about flavor decisions. “When you add fruits, one seems too linear; too many fruits are too meshy.” Two fruits – guava and dragonfruit – seemed to offer “the right complexity.”
Vitalich would like to rely completely on local ingredients. “I do grow dragonfruit myself,” he says, “but I don’t have enough for the cider production.” He hopes to grow more and supply his own fruit down the road.
As a full-time brewer, Vitalich says the cider-making process still feels new to him. But he is planning on another cider, coming soon. He’s tempted to go with pineapple this time.
Hidden Hills has a long-awaited official grand opening scheduled to take place Thursday, May 25.
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