The Good: Good taste, A decent source of Vitamin C, Not at all expensive
The Bad: Environmentally irresponsible packaging, Not an incredible embodiment of apples or caramel flavoring
The Basics: Alpine Caramel Cider is tasty, but unremarkable.
Sometimes, I find myself enjoying something that I found on the clearance rack at my grocery store and wondering how it was that it came to be there. The only theory I have on how Alpine Caramel Apple Cider ended up being clearanced locally was that the prevalence of real apples and real apple cider in the Fall makes powdered, instant, apple cider drinks like this somewhat redundant. As it stands, Alpine Caramel flavored instant apple cider is good, but not remarkable; I enjoyed it, felt like I had not overpaid, but was not in any way bowled over by it. That, I suppose, makes me happy that I was able to find it on clearance.
The Caramel hot cider mix is part of the Alpine Cider hot cider line. The mix comes in a .57 oz. sealed paper package and come ten per box. Each .57 oz. packet is a single serving and if you can find them for $1/box, you are unlikely to be disappointed by the product. This is a little less expensive when compared to other instant cider products.
Ease Of Preparation
The Alpine Caramel hot cider mix is ridiculously simple to make. The cider is rather enduring and the box I purchased on clearance two months ago had an expiration date of September 13, 2015. Because each packet is individually sealed and this product has some preservatives in it, this is likely to last virtually forever unopened. A single serving is the packet and six oz. of water. There is no measuring of the product involved!
As a result, preparation is ridiculously simple. The top of the envelope has a perforated edge and one need simply tear open the top, which is quite easy, and pour the contents of the packet into a mug that is at least eight ounces large. Then, simply pour hot water - near boiling, but not actually boiling as boiling water cooks the ingredients as opposed to simply dissolving them - over the powder and stir. Stir the powder until there are no blobs of apple cider powder visible in the water or giving resistance from the bottom. The beverage will have a translucent brown color to it.
Alpine Cider Caramel smells much more like caramel than it does like anything fruity. In fact, from the aroma alone, one might guess they were about to sip a warm butter rum drink as opposed to a caramel cider!
On the tongue, the Alpine Cider Caramel hot cider is much fruitier than the bouquet foreshadows. The flavor is distinctly apple, with a little bit of a bite to it. In fact, those expecting sweet from the aroma that precedes the taste might be surprised at how the sweetness of apples and caramel – which are both present in the primary flavor of the cider – is replaced by a cool bitterness, much like the flavor of a Granny Smith apple.
As the drink cools, the flavor of the apples comes out even more, as does the dryness of the caramel. There is a moderate amount of tang to the fruit flavor as the cider cools, but it never becomes unpleasant in the mouth.
The Caramel cider does leave a slightly dry aftertaste on one’s tongue for about five minutes after they are done consuming the beverage.
Alpine Caramel Cider is a hot cider mix and is not as nutritious as fresh cider, though the Caramel flavor could be far less nutritious than it is. While I am used to reviewing things like all natural teas where the ingredients are all easily pronounceable and recognizable, the Caramel hot cider is mostly comprised of ingredients that sound more like a chemistry experiment than a food product. The primary ingredients are sugar, malic acid and maltodextrin. Oddly, apple juice solids are the seventh ingredient, which might explain why it is not the most richly apple flavor in the world. I could find nothing in the ingredients that would make this not vegan compliant, though the package does note that this is produced at a facility that works with milk, eggs, wheat and soy.
Obviously, the Caramel cider is pretty high in sugars. In each cup of Caramel Hot Cider mix, there are 60 calories, none of which are from fat. There is no cholesterol and the consumer gets 1% of their recommended daily allowance of sodium out of a single packet of this beverage! This is fairly balanced by contributing 100% of one’s needed daily Vitamin C! I was also surprised that the mix contributes 4% of one’s RDA of Calcium.
So long as one leaves the Caramel Cider powder in its packet, it ought to stay usable. One assumes it will last quite a while and dissolve appropriately when one attempts to use it. The packets, for those of us who consider the environmental impact of such things, are terribly wasteful and expensive. The paper/waxy wrappers are not recyclable anywhere I've been. In bulk, I tend to prefer canisters which reduce such waste, but this cider does not appear to be available in that form.
Cleanup is very easy. If the product spills while dumping it into the mug, simply wipe it up or brush it up with a dry or damp cloth. If it has already been reconstituted with water into hot cider, simply wipe it up. Light fabrics are likely to stain if this gets on them, in which case consult your fabric care guide to clean it up.
The Alpine Cider Caramel is good, but not superlative in any way. Even so, it is a good occasional treat.
For other hot instant beverage mixes, please check out my reviews of:
Mott’s Hot Apple Pie Instant Cider
Fiorelli Rich Chocolate Hot Cocoa
Nescafe Memento Cappuccino
For other food and beverage reviews, please visit my Food And Drink Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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