Schilling Cider House Visit 24 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 24th visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

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I was there on a random Thursday.  I started with a flight.

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<left to right:  Locust Winter Banana, Liberty McIntosh, Pilton English Keeved, Golden State Dry, Christian Drouin Poire, and Greenwood Red River Wolf Crab>

Locust (Woodinville WA) Winter Banana (6.0% ABV):  No, this isn’t a banana cider…it is a single varietal made from the Winter Banana apple.  Draft-only.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Apple-forward flavor with honey and citrus.  Nice flavor.

Liberty (Spokane WA) McIntosh (8.1% ABV):  Another single varietal, this time of a more common apple, the McIntosh (which is actually the spelling for the apple pronounced MAK-in-tosh).  Also available in bottles.  Dry to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Higher carbonation.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  For its dryness, it remained rather apple-forward, with some honey and citrus notes too.  I think this is one of their better dry acidic ciders.  I liked this, especially at first when it was cold (it got a bit harsh when it warmed up with the higher ABV).

Pilton (Somerset England) English Keeved (5.0% ABV):  This is my first time trying any cider from Pilton, as well as my first time trying an English cider which is made using the keeving process, which is much more common for French cider.  Keeving starves the cider of nutrients so it creates a naturally sweet apple-forward cider.  Hazy hue.  Dry to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Low sourness.  Low tannins.  Moderate funk.  Notes of apple pomace, yeast, and citrus.  This is rather dry for a keeved cider, which usually average semi-sweet.  I wasn’t a fan of this due to the sourness; it reminded me more of a Normandy France style cider (due to the sourness & funk) than an English cider (which often have higher tannins & bitterness).

Golden State (Sebastopol CA) Mighty Dry (6.9% ABV):  It is my first time trying their cider, which is newish to the Seattle area.  Also available in cans.  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied, and a bit syrupy, which is interesting for the level of dryness.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Apple-forward with some pineapple and green apple notes.  This is a nice flagship cider.

Christian Drouin (Normandy France) Poire (4.0% ABV):  This is a French perry.  Its nice to see these types of high end ciders of draft, as the bottles are expensive.  Semi-sweet.  Moderate to full bodied.  Higher level of carbonation.  Low tartness, acidity, and tannins.  More pear fruit than pear juice forward, with notes of pineapple and mango as well.  I loved this.

Greenwood (Seattle WA) Red River Wolf Crab (7.4% ABV):  The interesting title for this draft-only cider refers to the use of red-fleshed crab apples as well as forraged apples from the Wolf River region.  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Hints of sourness & funk.  Apple-forward, with notes of sharp crabapples and citrus.  Of a sad note, I was told they lost their lease, so they are no longer operating from Greenwood, but Lake City (both in Seattle); I imagine they will keep the name though.  I thought this was pretty average.

Sarah also shared another cider with me:

Alpenfire (Port Townsend WA) Spiced Tonic Shrub (6.0% ABV):  This interesting draft-only concoction is made using cider, vinegar, and spices.  “Shrub” typically refers to a vinegared cocktail.  This one definitely wasn’t to my liking, between the vinegar, saltiness, and pepper.  Apparently it is selling really well though.

My favorite was the Christian Drouin Poire; it reminded me of selections from Eric Bordelet and Domaine Pacory.

Stay tuned for more Schilling Cider House tasting notes here at Cider Says!  Have you had any good draft cider / cider flights recently?

Woodchuck Summer Time Pear Ginger

Review of Woodchuck’s Pear Ginger, a new variety of Summer Time (which has previously only referred to their blueberry cider, which won’t be released this year at least).  I’ve tried most of their lineup; see here.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Woodchuck.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Cider:  Summer Time Pear Ginger
Cidery:  Woodchuck
Cidery Location:  Middlebury VT
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American commercial cider with ginger and pear flavors

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Availability:  wide release, seasonal, starting in March

Description:  Summer is here, bringing warm, carefree days and fun, festive nights.  Woodchuck Summer Time delivers a crisp pear cider bursting with fresh ginger for a taste that refreshes like a cool jump in your favorite swimming hole.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $8.99 / six pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells of sweet pear juice with spicy ginger.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of syrupy pear, pineapple, spicy ginger, and a hint of citrus.  Moderate finish with lingering ginger.  Low apple flavor.  Mild to moderate ginger flavor (more spicy than burning).  Moderate pear flavor, sessionability, and flavor intensity.  Mild complexity.

My Opinion:  I’m not a ginger fan, but my husband really liked this cider.  I could see it being a big seller.

Most Similar to:  Woodchuck Out On a Limb Ginger Lovin’, except with more ginger and the added pear.

Closing Notes:  Interesting that they decided to also name this Summer Time…it may get confused with the blueberry version.  I liked the flavor of the blueberry Summer Time, although it was rather sweet.  The Woodchuck variety I really miss however is their Spring seasonal which had maple syrup; oddly enough they are currently skipping over Spring, and only doing Summer, Fall, and Winter seasonals.

Have you tried Woodchuck Summer Time Pear Ginger?  What did you think?

Nashi Orchards Black Swan Cider

Review of Nashi Orchards’ Black Swan, a cider from apples foraged from Vashon Island Washington, then bourbon barrel aged.  It is my first time trying this variety, although I have had their Issho Ni ciderChojuro Blend Asian Pear Perry, Barrel Fermented Cider, and Island Harvest Perry.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Nashi Orchards.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Cider:  Black Swan (2016 vintage)
Cidery:  Nashi Orchards
Cidery Location:  Vashon Island WA
ABV:  7.3%
How Supplied:  200ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from foraged apples, barrel aged

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Availability:  Vashon Island (including Nashi’s tasting room), Seattle, and Tacoma Washington, per their website

Cider Description:  Island foraged apples (heirloom and bittersweet varieties) make up the base cider, which is then aged in a bourbon barrel (from Seattle Distilling).

Cidery Description:  We strive to make Perry and Cider that expresses the best qualities of the Asian and European pears and heirloom apples that we grow and source.  We carefully control fermentation to preserve some of the natural sweetness, use 100% juice pressed at our winery and do not add sugar or flavorings. Yes, we are purists.

Price:  n/a ($7 retail)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  The cidermaker, Jim Gerlach, dropped off a sample for me.  This year’s vintage was just released.

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Smells very mild, of citrus and acidity.  Still (no carbonation).

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Moderate tartness.  Very high acidity.  Low to moderate tannins.  Low bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of sharp crabapples, lemon, grapefruit, peach, mineral, and a hint of honey.  The finish length is moderate and a bit alcohol-forward.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.  There is no overt barrel or spirit influence/flavor; in fact, I tasted this cider blind and wouldn’t have guessed it was bourbon barrel aged.

My Opinion:  This is a wine-lover’s subtle food-friendly cider.  Well made, but not my favorite style.  Always nice to try something new though.

Most Similar to:  Other dry high acid subtle ciders made from heirloom apple varieties, such as other ciders from Nashi, Dragon’s Head, and Farnum Hill, and Montana CiderWorks Spartan Dry-Style.

Closing Notes:  I heard that Nashi is going to start kegging their perries and ciders, which is great, as it will increase their product visibility.  I find it interesting they release their products in such a small bottle compared to the ABV, ie. 7 ounces of cider is less than a typical serving size.  It must be a pain to fill all those little bottles without an automated line.  However, it does decrease the price per bottle.

Have you tried cider from Nashi Orchards?  What did you think?

Red Branch Peach Cider

Review of Red Branch Cider Company’s Peach Cider (actually technically a cyser as it has honey added).  It is my first time trying this cider, and any cider from this cidery.

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Cider:  Peach Cider
Cidery:  Red Branch Cider Co.
Cidery Location:  Sunnyvalle CA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American cider with honey, peach juice, carbonated water, and sugar

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Availability:  A small batch release.  Red Branch cider appears to only be available in California, plus through their online store.

Cider Description:  We take great care in producing this hard peach cider from the finest ingredients available. We only use premium fruit juices and honey. This one has a twist though, we’ve added peach juice to give it a great flavor with a terrific peach aroma. If you love peaches, then this is for you. Try our other flavors, too and you might just find your favorite beverage choice is something new. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do. If you don’t, tell us and we’ll make it right. Mike & Maria

Cidery Description:  We believe that producing a quality hard cider of any variety is 90% art and 10% science. Toss in a bit of sweat and heartburn for good measure and you’ll have a typical small cidery. Crafting cider is a lot like crafting many other beverages, and our love of quality ingredients drives us to produce more than just an average cider, but what we believe, is the finest cider possible. Our passion is to create something special from one of the most natural substances on earth, and share it with everyone.

Quality and consistency are the most important aspects of our products, if they aren’t good enough for us to drink or offer to our own friends and family, then we won’t sell it to you!  Red Branch Cider Company offers both traditional and seasonal ciders with an innovative honey twist.

They were established in 1995 and have a tap room in Sunnyvale CA.

Price:  $8.49
Where Bought:  a natural grocery store in a small town in Northern California
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  They had an impressive cider selection.

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First Impression:  Light peach hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells of peach candy.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  No tannins, sourness, or funk.  Notes of peach candy at the beginning with a hint of nectarine, lemon, & honey, and a medicinal flat metallic bitter peach flavor at the end.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I found this cider odd.  I think without the weird finish and with some carbonation it wouldn’t have been too bad.

Most Similar to:  I’ve previously had the following peach ciders:  Blue Mountain Peach, Blackfin Pacific Peach, Carlton Bourbon Peachy Keen, Finnriver Country Peach, Number 6 Peach FuzzPeach Grapefruit Habanero, and Tieton Bourbon Peach.  This one was quite different than all the others – the sweetest and most candied tasting.  My favorite of those is probably the Tieton one.

Closing Notes:  Hopefully I have a chance to try something else from Red Branch in the future.

Have you tried Red Branch Peach Cider?  What did you think?

Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Little Apples

Review of Moonlight Meadery’s How Do You Like Them Little Apples, a whiskey barrel aged cider.  I have tried this cider a couple times previously on draft, but now it is available in cans.  I’ve also previously sampled their How Do You Like Them Apples, Boys N Berries, Last Apple, and Crimes of Passion.

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Cider:  How Do You Like Them Little Apples
Cidery:  Moonlight Meadery
Cidery Location:  Londonderry NH
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  12oz cans
Style:  American craft cider, aged in whiskey barrels

Availability:  Semi wide release, in the U.S. in AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, VA, VT, WA, WA D.C., and WI, and Australia, China, and Japan.  They also have an online store.

Cider Description:  This hard cider is made from the finest New Hampshire apples that are available to us, usually a blend of Cortland, McIntosh, Gala, and Red Delicious varieties. We blend the fresh-pressed cider with just a touch of  honey and natural sugar before we let it ferment and age in newly emptied rye whiskey barrels.

Cidery Description:  We are a world class meadery and cidery from Londonderry, New Hampshire that specializes in meads, the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage made from honey, as well as hard ciders.  The diversity of our offerings often leave people speechless, while the flavors have them asking for it from their local retailers.  Stop by and try the oldest fermented beverage to find out why “History never tasted so good” ™.

They have been around since May 2010 and have a tasting room in Londonderry NH.

Price:  $3 / single can
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  My husband bought it for me.

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First Impression:  Hazy medium straw yellow hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells musty, of vinegar, honey, and whiskey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low sourness, funk, and bitterness.  Hints of tannins.  Notes of vinegar, honey, must, and lemon, plus hints of oak and whiskey.  Moderate length finish.  Very low barrel influence.  Low whiskey influence and apple flavor.  Moderate complexity, flavor intensity, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  This was very different than previous versions.  I didn’t really enjoy the odd vinegar flavor with sourness and funk.  Previously it was sweeter and richer, with more honey, oak, and whiskey.

Most Similar to:  Spanish Sidra

Closing Notes:  This was disappointing.  Previous versions were much more enjoyable.  Hopefully this was a one-time error or something.

Have you tried Moonlight Meadery’s How Do You Like Them Little Apples?  What did you think?

E.Z. Orchards Williamette Valley Cidre 2011

Review of E.Z. Orchards’ Williamette Valley Cidre 2011.  It is my first time trying this cider, but I have previously sampled their Semi Dry, Roman Beauty, Hawk Haus, and Poire.

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Cider:  Williamette Valley Cidre 2011
Cidery:  E.Z. Orchards
Cidery Location:  Rickreall OR
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American Artisan cider from French cider apple varieties, nothing else (no sulfites)

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Availability:  CA, OR, and WA, although this is a very old release

Description:  The Pioneers who settled Oregon’s Willamette Valley in the 1850’s must have marveled at their good fortune. The soil was rich, the water plentiful, the winters mild, and summers ideal, crops seemed to burst from the ground. For more than 150 years small family farms have dominated the Willamette Valley – one of the most productive and diverse agricultural areas in the world. The Zielinski Family and E.Z. Orchards are part of this history and ongoing commitment to the land.

E.Z. Orchards Willamette Valley Cidre is the culmination of 10 years effort to develop our orchard and refine our fermentation technique. We grow a selection of French, English, and Early American apple varieties. The fruit contain essential characteristics, necessary to impart structure and aroma in our Cidre.

They use traditional French cider making methods–pressing their apples in a rack and cloth press, fermenting with wild yeast in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for 4-6 months, and bottling before fermentation is complete to allow secondary fermentation to take place in the glass.  EZ Orchards has been growing apples since the 1920s.  They were one of the first in the U.S. to plant cider apple varieties, starting in 2000.

Price:  $17.99
Where Bought:  A natural grocery store in a small town in Northern California in December.  I haven’t seen this variety sold in the last couple years in the Seattle area.
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I was super impressed with this store’s selection for now being in a major city or cider region.  I picked up a number of bottles from several cidermakers and packed them in my suitcase for the flight home to Seattle.

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First Impression:  Light pumpkin amber hue.  Moderate carbonation with significant foam.  Smells rich, apple-forward, and tannic.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied with a frothy texture.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low tannins.  Low bitterness.  Moderate funk.  Hints to low sourness.  Notes of apple pomace, yeast, orange, grapefruit, and lemon.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it but didn’t love it.  From the scent, I was hoping for more richness and tannins.  The citrus notes and sourness were a surprise.

Most Similar to:  A mix of a French and Spanish cider.  It had the apple and yeast forward flavor of a French cidre with the citrus, funk and sourness of a Spanish cider.  It was the later I didn’t like as much.

Closing Notes:  I look forward to trying more E.Z. Orchards ciders.  So far my favorite is Roman Beauty.

Have you tried E.Z. Orchards Williamette Valley Cidre?  What did you think?

 

Domaine du Verger Rosé Cidre Bouche

Review of Domaine du Verger’s Rosé Cidre Bouche, a French cider made with some red-fleshed apples to give it a rosé hue.  It is my first time trying this cider and anything from this cidery.

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Cider:  Rosé Cidre Bouche
Cidery:  Domaine du Verger
Cidery Location:  Brittany France
ABV:  2.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged champagne bottles
Style:  French rosé doux/sweet cidre from French cider apples, including red-fleshed varieties

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Availability:  semi wide release

Cider Description:  100% apple juice from 90% bittersweet apples and 10% bitter apples. The pink coloration is natural from the adjunction of a specific variety of apple with red flesh named : Baya Marisa.  To make a cider “doux /sweet” the alcoholic fermentation is shorten to about 5 weeks leaving higher natural residual sugar and resulting of a lower alcohol content. It is then followed by a filtration and an adjunction of Co2 for carbonation. 

The bittersweet apple varieties are from Brittany France and the bitter apple varieties are from Normandy France.

Cidery Description:  Since 1983 the Val de Rance cooperative has brought together the cider-making experience of 300 passionate local growers from Brittany. After recent investments, the cooperative has expanded and modernised its equipment. Today, Val de Rance represents over a 1,000 acres of orchards, producing ten to fifteen thousand tons of apples each year.

The cider from Domaine du Verger is produced from 100% apple juice. All the apples are harvested 90% from Brittany (bitter-sweet) region and 10% from Normandy (bitter). After being cleaned, the apples are gently crushed; they are then fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, and carefully filtered with the addition of Co2 for the carbonation.

Price:  $7.99
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  It was the first time I had seen the brand, and the first time I had seen a rosé French cidre.

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First Impression:  Light rosé hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells mildly fruity.

Tasting Notes:  Sweet.  Medium bodied, with a fluffy frothy texture.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of strawberry, white grape, and pomegranate.  Low apple flavor.  Low complexity.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I liked the flavor, and loved the higher carbonation and texture.  However, it was sweeter, lower ABV, and more juice-like than I prefer.

Most Similar to:  I’ve had several ciders from red-fleshed apples, including Alpenfire Glow, Alpenfire Cinders, and Snowdrift Red.  This was quite different than any of those ciders, and quite different than any of the French ciders I’ve had.  It tasted more like a cider from American dessert apples which was back sweetened with a lot of fruit juice, then highly carbonated.

Closing Notes:  Rosé (grape) wine is from blush grapes.  For cider, it typically refers to red-fleshed apples.  Here is a nice article on rosé cider.  Cidre Bouche literally means “cider with a cork”; many French ciders are named as such.

Have you tried Domaine du Verger Rosé Cidre Bouche?  What did you think?