Virtue Cider The Mitten

Review of Virtue Cider’s The Mitten.  I’ve tried this cider twice previously (see review #1 and review #2), but in a 750ml bottle.  Virtue’s most popular cider is now available in a four pack of 12oz bottles (along with Michigan Brut and Michigan Harvest; see this press release).  I’ve also previously tried their Cherry Mitten and Lapinette.

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Virtue.  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.<<

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Cider:  The Mitten
Cidery:  Virtue Cider
Cidery Location:  Fennville MI
ABV:  6.8%
How Supplied:  four pack of 12oz bottles (and 750ml bottles and kegs)
Style:  American craft cider from Michigan apples, bourbon barrel aged

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Availability:  Year round in DE, GA, FL, IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MO, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, WA, and WI, per this list

Cider Description:  The Mitten, which was first released in 2013, is made with cider from 100% Michigan apples that has been aged for 11 months in 200 bourbon barrels from Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, and Heaven Hill.  We taste through each and every barrel before we move to final blending.  The aged cider is then blended together with juice from freshly pressed apples from this year’s harvest for a touch of sweetness.  The result is a 6.8% ABV semi-dry cider that shows off a balanced blend of charred bourbon and high-acid apple flavors.  Pronounced notes of vanilla and wood mingle with overripe apple, and maple flavors create a farm feel.

More info here.

Cidery Description:  Virtue Cider is a Michigan-based craft cider company.  We produce European-style ciders from fresh apples – never from concentrate – and employ traditional farmhouse production methods that include native and secondary fermentation, use of wild yeasts, and an expansive barrel aging program.

They have a tasting room in Fennville Michigan; see here.

Price:  n/a (retails for $13.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the cidery’s press release

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells mild, of honey and oak.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of honey, lemon, oak, bourbon, vanilla, and white grape.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Low oak/barrel influence.  Low spirit/bourbon influence.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I’m a fan!  This also seemed less harsh than the previous versions – my favorite so far.  Usually I prefer a really intense cider, but for this one, I preferred it less so.  This is a more sessionable barrel aged cider, which is nice.

Most Similar to:  2 Towns The Bad Apple and Big B’s Grizzly Brand Bourbon Barrel Aged

Closing Notes:  I think this will be a hit.  It is a great deal too, at less than half the price per ounce vs. the 750ml bottle prices I’ve seen.

Have you tried Virtue The Mitten?  What did you think?

Oregon Mead & Cider Co. Free Press Hopped Cider

Review of Oregon Mead & Cider Company’s Free Press Hopped Cider.  It is my first time trying this cider, although I tried their Dry variety the night before.

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Cider:  Free Press Hopped Cider
Cidery:  Oregon Mead & Cider Company
Cidery Location:  Portland Oregon
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider, with hops

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Availability:  Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin

Cider Description:  Hard Cider Made Easy. Our ciders were born from the bounty of the Northwest and the pioneering spirit of our grandparents. A perfect balance of dry and tart, our ciders are made by the people, for the people. Press on.

Cidery Description:  Oregon Mead & Cider Co. creates award-winning, dry, sparkling meads and ciders from premium Northwest ingredients. All of our beverages are gluten-free, unfiltered, and completely dry. Oh, and we never use sulfites. Ever.

They have a tasting room in Portland (see here).

Price:  $6.99
Where Bought:  The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  It was my first time seeing anything from this brand, although I had heard of them.

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Moderate carbonation with a large amount of foam.  Smells apple-forward, of hops with a hint of peach.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied with a frothy texture.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate bitterness.  Low tannins.  No sourness or bitterness.  Notes of hops, lemon, grapefruit, yeast, and a hint of floral & honey.  Moderate length finish.  Low to moderate flavor intensity and complexity.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked the level of carbonation, the frothy texture, and the flavor profile.  However, the bitterness was a bit much for me.  Like the Dry, it seemed a bit beer-like.

Most Similar to:  Double Mountain Jumpin Jack Heirloom Cider and Oregon Mead & Cider Company’s Free Press Dry Cider

Closing Notes:  I liked this much better than their Dry cider, which I though had a strange flavor profile.

Have you tried Oregon Mead & Cider Company’s Free Press Hopped Cider?  What did you think?

Oregon Mead & Cider Co. Free Press Dry Cider

Review of Oregon Mead & Cider Company’s Free Press Dry Cider.  It is my first time trying any of their cider.

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Cider:  Free Press Dry Cider
Cidery:  Oregon Mead & Cider Company
Cidery Location:  Portland Oregon
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider

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Availability:  Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin

Cider Description:  Hard Cider Made Easy. Our ciders were born from the bounty of the Northwest and the pioneering spirit of our grandparents. A perfect balance of dry and tart, our ciders are made by the people, for the people. Press on.

Cidery Description:  Oregon Mead & Cider Co. creates award-winning, dry, sparkling meads and ciders from premium Northwest ingredients. All of our beverages are gluten-free, unfiltered, and completely dry. Oh, and we never use sulfites. Ever.

They have a tasting room in Portland (see here).

Price:  $6.99
Where Bought:  The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  It was my first time seeing anything from this brand, although I had heard of them.

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Moderate carbonation with a large amount of foam (the photo above was about 30 seconds after pouring).  Smells mild, apple-forward and of peach.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to dry.  Light bodied with a frothy texture.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  Hints of tannins.  No sourness or bitterness.  Notes of yeast, peach, and a hint of hops.  Quick finish.  Low flavor intensity, complexity, and apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked the level of carbonation and the frothy texture.  However, the hint of hops and flavor profile was odd, and I didn’t really like the bitterness.  It was almost beer-like.

Most Similar to:  Double Mountain Jumpin Jack Heirloom Cider

Closing Notes:  I also picked up this cidery’s hopped cider (the only other cider from the cidery the bottle shop had).

Have you tried Oregon Mead & Cider Company’s Free Press Dry Cider?  What did you think?

Devoto Orchards 1976 Semi-Dry Cider

Review of Devoto Orchards 1976 Semi-Dry cider.  It is my first time trying any of their cider.  I picked up this bottle in California over Christmas break.  Here is an article about the cidery.

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Cider:  1976 Semi-Dry cider (2014 harvest)
Cidery:  Devoto Orchards
Cidery Location:  Sebastopol CA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml clear glass screw-top wine bottle
Style:  American Organic craft cider from heirloom apples

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Availability:  only in Northern California and a few online retailers (see here)

Cider Description:  1976 is a homage to the year Stan & Susan Devoto left Berkeley to move ‘back to the land’ and planted our family’s first orchard in west Sonoma County. Visionaries of their time, they valued biodiversity and cultivated vegetables, flowers, and 55 heirloom apple varieties that we still grow today.  Every year to honor them, we craft a small batch of this special semi-dry cider blended from those original apple varieties they planted almost 40 years ago.

Profiles: Aromas of ripe tropical fruit lead to a creamy texture and lush fruit on the palate finished with soft tannins.
Pairings: green curry, spicy Vietnamese noodle soup, ceviche, green papaya salad, bean salads and stews, anything good and spicy.
Cheese Pairings: Meadow Creek Mountaineer (VA), Consider Bardwell Rupert (VT), Thistle Hill Tarentaise (VT)
Apple Blend: Pink Pearl, Gravenstein, Hubbardston Nonesuch 

Cidery Description:  We’re a farm and cidery in west Sonoma County. To make the best cider, your family better be, well, a tree.

Price:  $12.29
Where Bought:  a natural grocery store outside of Sacramento CA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  It was my first time seeing their cider.

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells mild, of white grape, pineapple, and honey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of white grape, pineapple, peach, and honey.  Quick finish.  Low flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  High sessionability.  No apple flavor.

My Opinion:  I thought this was average.  It was wine-like and food friendly (ie. mild).  I liked the flavor notes, but it wasn’t really cider-like.

Most Similar to:  This cider didn’t really remind me of cider at all…it tasted most similar to watered down sweet white wine (like Moscato), as it was thinner bodied, low in flavor intensity, and had a lot of slightly sharp white grape notes.

Closing Notes:  This cider was a great value for being made in small batches from organically farmed heirloom apple varieties.  They also make at least two other varieties, Cidre Noir and Save the Gravenstein.

Have you tried Devoto Orchards cider?  What did you think?

Cider Rite of Spring 2017 Preview

This year I’m excited to be planning to attend a new-to-me event Cider Rite of Spring, on March 25th 2017 in Portland Oregon.  The 4th annual event is presented by the Northwest Cider Association.  Cider Rite of Spring has been named “The Best NW Cider Festival” by SIP Northwest Magazine.

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Date/Time/Location:  Saturday March 25th 2017, noon to 6pm, at The Evergreen ballroom (618 Southeast Alder Street) in Portland Oregon; this is a new venue for this year, and all indoors

Admission: $25 or $40* (tickets sold here), which includes 8 tasting tickets and a tasting glass; this is a 21+ event only

*$40 is for VIP admission, which has the same start time, but includes access to the VIP lounge, with complimentary cheese pairings by Whole Foods and one-on-one interaction with 6 PNW cidermakers who will share a special cider offering for tasting and purchase only to VIP ticket holders

Cidermakers:  30 planned (^5 Cider, 1859 Cider Co, 2 Towns Cider House, 7Bev Corp, Alter Ego Cider, Baird & Dewar Farmhouse, Bandon Rain, Bauman’s Cider, Bull Run Cider, Cider Riot!, Dragon’s Head Cider, Elk Horn Brewery & Cider House, Finnriver Farm & Cidery, Locust Cider, McMenamins Edgefield, New West Cider, Pear UP, Portland Cider Co., Red Tank Cider, Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider, Runcible Cider Co, Schilling Cider, Seattle Cider Co, Snowdrift Cider Co, Spire Mountain Ciders, Square Mile Cider, Steelhead Cider, Swift Cider, Tieton Cider Works, Tumalo Cider Co, and Woodbox Cider)

Ciders:  100 planned

Bottle Shop:  Yes – many ciders will be available to purchase bottles of to take home.

Food:  Available for purchase from Wasabi Sushi

My Notes:  I’ve never tried ciders from 10 of the 30 cideries (many are Oregon cideries which don’t yet distribute to Washington).  My husband and I plan to make a weekend of it, driving down from Seattle on the morning of the event and staying overnight in a local hotel.  The location near downtown is great as we can park the car once and take The Max or an Uber to the event and dinner.

Stay tuned for a review of the event and tasting notes!

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Wandering Aengus Bloom

Review of Wandering Aengus Bloom.  I tried this awhile back, pre-blog.  I’ve also previously tried their Wickson, WanderlustOaked Dry, Byrd, Golden Russet, Bittersweet, Wickson Barrel Aged, Cellar Door, and Pommeau.

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Cider:  Bloom
Cidery:  Wandering Aengus
Cidery Location:  Salem Oregon
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and draft)
Style:  American craft cider from heirloom apples

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Availability:  CA, ID, IL, IN, MI, MT, NJ, NM, OR, PA, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, and WA D.C.

Cider Description:  Orchards: Hood River, OR Sweet and fruit forward “hints of tropical fruit” Pairings: Spicy food or on its own.

Cidery Description:  At Wandering Aengus Ciderworks we press and blend over 20 cider apple varietals to craft our ciders. Our cider specific apples originate from France, England, and pre-prohibition America, but are grown now in Oregon. These heirloom varieties are essential for the depth of flavor, excellent body, and delightful aromatics of our distinctive ciders. All our ciders are always GLUTEN FREE.

They have a tasting room in Salem Oregon open on Fridays.

Price:  ~$8.99
Where Bought:  I forgot
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I tried it previously

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild and apple-forward.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of tannins and bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of honey, peach, pineapple, green apple, and mineral.  Moderate apple flavor, flavor intensity, and complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  This is a tasty cider.  It is a nice introduction to craft cider as it is on the sweeter and easy drinking end (not sour or funky for example).  I liked the honey and fruit notes.

Most Similar to:  Bertolinos Hard Cider and Honeywood Hard Apple Cider

Closing Notes:  This is one of my favorite Wandering Aengus ciders, as it is more approachable and less bitter than many of their other ciders.  I’m also a big fan of their Bittersweet cider, and their Pommeau is also amazing.

Have you tried Wandering Aengus Bloom?  What did you think?

Eve’s Cidery Autumn’s Gold

Review of Eve’s Cidery Autumn’s Gold.  It is my first time trying this cider, although I have previously had their Beckhorn Hollow.  I ordered a total of three bottles when they had their free shipping sale before the holidays.  They ended up having to ship it twice, as UPS broke the first shipment (after it made it all the way across the country to the Seattle facility).

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Cider:  Eve’s Cidery
Cidery:  Autumn’s Gold 2015
Cidery Location:  Van Etten NY
ABV:  7.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  American Artisan cider from cider apples, a mix of wild & added yeast, naturally sparkling

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Availability:  Mostly only in the Northeast, especially New York (see here), plus through their online store

Cider Description:  Apples on the orchard floor layered over aromas of toffee, dust, beeswax and hay lead to a muscular and embracing mid-palate with flavors of ripe red apple, wild mint and something animalistic. The finish is an interplay between sweet and bitter, the leathery tannin full and present amidst still ripe fruit and brown sugar.

This dry, tannic cider should be served at cellar temperature: ~ 55 degrees. Pair with nutty cheeses like cave aged cheddar, savory meats like Merguez sausage, and all manner of vegetables, especially grilled.

See here for some great detailed information on the cider, including the percentage breakdown of apple varieties.

Cidery Description:  The sun comes up, the sun sets, the rains come and go and the cold and the heat rotate around the years.  And that is as it has been for thousands of years here in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.  Somewhere, on the side of one of those hill sits our little cider orchard.

Sometimes, we marvel at our hard work: “I grafted those thousand trees, I grew those apples, I built that barn, I put up that trellis.” There is honed skill and hard labor involved in growing a crop, and making good cider. But in end, what makes what we do worth doing is a sense of the magic: in leaves absorbing sunlight, roots seeking minerals, raptors hunting mice and apples in the fall.

Here is a vintage of cider, which will never be repeated, reflecting the lives of trees in this one spot for this one year. Here are ciders that are elegant, feral, and mischievous. Here are ciders that surprise and transcend. We hope you enjoy them.

Their official tasting room is at the Finger Lakes Cider House in Interlaken New York.

Price:  $18
Where Bought:  their online store though Vino Shipper
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  their online store

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  High carbonation.  Smells mild but apple-forward, of acidity, tannins, and a hint of funk.

Tasting Notes:  Dry to semi-dry (1.4% residual sugar).  Light bodied, with a frothy carbonated texture.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Hints of bitterness and funk.  Low tannins.  No sourness.  Notes of lemon, peach, green apple, brown sugar, and mineral.  Moderate apple flavor.  Low sessionability.  Low flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  This was nice, but a bit too dry, acidic, and subtle for my personal tastes.  I liked the fruitiness and carbonation.  I agree this is better closer to room than fridge temperature, as it cuts the acidity a bit.

Most Similar to:  Eve’s Beckhorn Hollow (although that was slightly sharper) and Eden Sparkling Dry

Closing Notes:  This is a well made cider-lover’s cider, and a great value!

Side Note:  UPS is not very alcohol-friendly, as you can’t have a package containing alcohol held at a UPS Store (like you can for any other signature required package).  So, if you like many folks work during typical delivery hours, you have to drive all the way out to the main facility (which is 45 minutes each way for me).

Have you tried Eve’s Cidery Autumn’s Gold?  What did you think?