Grizzly Pear

Maker: Blake’s Hard Cider, Armada, Michigan, USA20171112_165117.jpg

Style: Apple cider flavored with apple juice, prickly pear extract, pear juice concentrate and elderflower.

ABV: 5%

Price: $10/6 12 oz cans

Appearance: Light gold with tiny bubbles.

Nose: Barlett Pear, elderflower, nutmeg.

Palate: Medium dry. Effervescence, elderflower liquer, drop of canned pear syrup.

Finish: Clean & juicy. Slightly tart.

Parting words: As far as I can tell, this is the closest thing to a perry that Blake’s makes , which is a shame. Craft perry makers have an even harder time than craft cider-makers at finding heritage varieties traditionally used for their product. As a result, most perry is made from Bartlett or other table varieties. As a result of that, most American perries taste like watered down, slightly boozy versions of the syrup one finds canned pears swimming in. This leads creative producers like Blake’s to get, uh, creative. While technically apple cider, Grizzly Pear tastes like a quality perry. The elderflower infusion is a nice, floral counterpoint to the strong pear flavor and results in a more balanced product than standard, one dimensional perry. The prickly pear extract is undetectable, at least by me.Grizzly Pear pairs well with pork and spicy chicken dishes, but is best for casual weekend sipping. The price is reasonable.

My only complaint (a big one, actually) is that the packaging is deceptive, perhaps intentionally so. A pear is featured front and center and no mention of this product being flavored apple cider appears outside the ingredient list. The label describes it as “hard cider” but since perry is often lumped together with apple cider, a reasonable person could still assume that this is a perry after reading that description.

I have no problem with funky, Franken-ciders like this but Blake’s should be up front about what this is instead of “stealing valor” from the poor neglected pears of the world. I want to give this a recommendation, but I’m going to have to ding it for deceptive packaging. Grizzly Pear is mildly recommended. Fix this, Blake’s.

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2 thoughts on “Grizzly Pear

  1. I agree that the confusing labeling and descriptions of pear cider which may make the consumer think a pear cider is actually perry is an issue in the U.S. I too don’t like seeing beverages seem like they are 100% pear when they are just pear flavored apple cider. I’ve even seen a producer name their pear cider “Perry”, which is even more confusing.

    Some of the issue may be because we don’t have cider styles and vocabulary well-defined (there seems to be a currently ongoing effort at least on styles, such as what the USACM released last month, based on the GLINTCAP guidelines). I also think some of the issue may be that with all the flavored ciders out there now, the labels often have that flavor (such as another fruit) centric in the label design. Most folks know that something labeled for example as a berry cider will be a berry-flavored apple based cider, but as 100% pear beverages exist, with a pear cider, it could go either way. I’d like to see them have an image of a pear and an apple.

    Another interesting fact is that I’ve been told that in the UK they only use the term “perry” for 100% perry pears, and “pear cider” for 100% non-perry (dessert) pears. They don’t seem to have a term for a pear-flavored apple based cider, likely as that isn’t very common there.

    1. Excise Notice 162 has the legal definitions for the UK. The juice for cider must be at least 75% apple (and the rest pear). The juice for perry must be at least 75% pear (and the rest apple). The term pear cider isn’t strictly defined and can be any blend of apple juice and pear juice, even if it meets the perry definition! Import pear cider brands like Rekorderlig Pear are popular. But perry almost always refers to that made with perry pears, in deference to the historic perry tradition in the Three Counties.

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