Cider Connoisseur Hot Pho You Score Card
Appearance - 7.5
Flavor - 8.5
Aroma - 6
Mouthfeel - 6.5
Brewed by:101 Cider House
Good to know:Zero sugar, naturally sparkling, no added yeast, no added sulfites, unfiltered, unpasteurized.
Predominant flavors:Sriracha, lemon verbena.
Color:Cloudy, broth-like appearance.
Hot Pho You was the first cider I’ve tasted from 101 Cider House, it’s one of their seasonal ciders and talk about an intense experience. Since then I’ve had the chance to sample some of their other creations (reviews to come), and I have to say starting out with Hot Pho You was like extending my hand for an introduction handshake and getting slapped across the face instead. It was a good face slap though, I even went back for a second one. Before this story gets too weird, let’s jump right into the Hot Pho You hard cider review.
Before I cover the specifics, let’s spend a minute or two on the fact that this is a cider made in LA! Being that I live in San Diego that’s exciting for me. 101 Cider House seems like a great place to visit, and it’s definitely on my to-do list for the near future. The guys behind the 101 ciders saw an opportunity with the booming hard cider market, and took it by the horns forming LA’s first local cider producer. What I really dig about what they’re doing is that all of their ingredients are sourced from growers who are located along Highway 101, which hugs the California coastline. I’m an old school kind of guy, and the fact that 101 Cider House keeps it local goes a long way in my book.
I stumbled upon Hot Pho You hard cider at the Carlsbad Pizza Port. When I spotted it on their “Guest Beers” board my curiosity spiked, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to commit. Thankfully, my buddy Steve (@imnotadoctor) was there to set me straight, and we got ourselves a pint.
The first thing we both noticed was how cloudy the appearance of Hot Pho You was. It looked thick, almost broth-like, and we could see small red flakes floating around, we both guessed they were small bits of Sriracha. As far as carbonation, we saw very small bubbles, not much sparkling going on. This insane creation from the cider masters at 101 Cider House is made with Sriracha and lemon verbena, and it’ll make you sweat before taking the first sip.
The smell was interesting. The only aroma description we could both agree on was “corned beef and cabbage”. Take that for what it’s worth, it smelled weird, a bit like food. Even though Hot Pho You isn’t comparable to a Bloody Mary, I couldn’t help but think of one as I tried to get my bearings on this hard cider.
The flavor is intense as I’m sure you can imagine by what I’ve written so far, and reminded us of Sangrita – the stuff you drink as you sip good Tequila. It has a very sharp, crisp acidity probably derived from the lemon verbena. The lemon taste comes in sharply, and leaves you with a sting in the back of your throat as if you just ate a teaspoon of Sriracha (which you kinda did). While the flavor is intense, the mouthfeel is easy, other than the spiciness (if you don’t have much tolerance for spicy foods, you may find Hot Pho You very spicy).
Overall I love that 101 Cider House took a risk here. From thumbing around on Untappd looks like there are people all over the spectrum, some love it, others not so much. This one you have to try it for yourself, and if you do, please drop us a line in the comments below sharing your thoughts on this beast. As always, be safe out there and drink responsibly. Cheers!