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Don’t knock it till you try it: Urban Tree’s habanero ginger cider offers a scrumptious sensory experience
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Urban Tree Cidery's Sweet Heat Haze offers a slightly spicy sensory experience with habaneros and ginger. - photo by Kelsey Podo

When Zach Hindes serves people a glass of Urban Tree Cidery’s Sweet Heat Haze, he usually has to explain it to them. 

It’s not every day a person comes across a cider crafted with ginger and habanero peppers. 

“I really like saying that it has ginger and habanero and watching the people go, ‘Oh, I might not like that,’” Hindes said. “Honestly, It has stayed on the menu for so long because it is surprising, and people don’t expect to really enjoy it out of the get-go.”

Hindes, who works in Urban Tree’s production, said Tim Resuta came up with the idea to make Sweet Heat Haze, which was released in 2015 with the expectations of becoming a seasonal drink. However, it quickly became a favorite among patrons of the cidery and has stayed on the menu as a core cider ever since. 

To make Sweet Heat Haze, Hindes said around one pound of chopped habaneros and three pounds of blended ginger are steeped in each batch — kind of like how you make tea.

You guys, this cider is shockingly good. I’m a fan of pepper-infused beer when it’s done right, mostly favoring the jalapenos in beer over other peppers.

Sweet Heat Haze was my first go at not only a habanero drink, but a pepper cider. I’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to feature cider in my column. When I saw Sweet Heat Haze at Downtown Drafts, my boss’s voice rang in my head saying, “Kelsey, you should write about cider one week.” So, I did. This one's for you, Shannon.

I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun drinking an alcoholic beverage. My tastebuds were entertained with each sip, picking up a sweetness on the front end sprinkled with tingly notes of ginger. A whisper of habanero creeped up in the aftertaste. However, the more I drank the cider, the more noticeable the pepper flavor became. I even felt a tiny bit of heat in my throat like I would from eating habanero hot sauce. 

Sweet Heat Haze

Cidery: Urban Tree Cidery

Alcohol by volume: 6.5%

Style: Cider infused with ginger and habanero peppers

Bottom line: The hint of heat brings a fun sensory experience

The ginger and habanero tango well together, the root imparting more spice than the pepper. Honestly, it’s lovely. 

I’ve always chosen craft beer over cider, but I have a feeling that Sweet Heat Haze will become a regular resident of my fridge.

If you’re hesitant about this cider, don’t be. It’s surprisingly easy drinking and offers a fun sensory experience. Even if you’re not a fan of spicy food or peppers, you’ll most likely enjoy this drink.

Those who live in Hall County can pick up Sweet Heat Haze at Downtown Drafts, on the Gainesville square. Urban Tree Cidery is located at 1465 Howell Mill Road NW in Atlanta. For more information about their tasty ciders, visit urbantreecidery.com.