Newton’s Folly Semi-Dry

Review of Newton’s Folly Semi-Dry.  This is a Trader Joe’s exclusive, made at the Woodchuck facility, and appears to replace their two previous versions in 12oz bottles (red & green labels).

Cider:  Newton’s Folly Semi-Dry
Cidery:  American Hard Cider Company
Cidery Location:  Middlebury VT
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  four pack of 16oz cans
Style:  American commercial semi-dry cider, partially from bittersweet apples

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Availability:  only at Trader Joe’s

Cider Description:  Hard Cider has a history that reaches back hundreds of years in Vermont, where our Newton’s Folly is fermented and canned.  Newton’s Folly Semi-Dry uses bittersweet apples to deliver a cider that is not too sweet and leaves you thirsty for another!  We do offer a heads up, however.  Enjoy this fine cider under an apple tree at your own risk.

Price:  ~$2.50 / can ?
Where Bought:  Trader Joe’s
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild, of apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of apple, honey, apple pomace, pineapple, and lemon.  Moderate apple flavor and flavor intensity.  High sessionability.  Low to moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  Easy to drink, but it had some complexity and wasn’t too sweet.  I thought it was far better than their previous “Authentic” version, which just tasted like a slightly watered down version of Woodchuck Amber.  However, although the can mentioned bittersweet apples, I believe only a small amount were used.

Most Similar to:  Bertolinos (except Newton’s Folly is lower carbonation) and Bite Hard Semi-Sweet

Closing Notes:  This was far better than I had been expecting, a nice surprise.

Have you tried Newton’s Folly?  What did you think?


Alpenfire Tempest New England Style

Review of Alpenfire Tempest, a newish special release, New England Style (with raisins & brown sugar, high ABV, aged).  It is my first time trying this, although I’ve had other New England Style ciders, and tried most of Alpenfire’s line-up (see here).

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Cider:  Tempest
Cidery:  Alpenfire
Cidery Location:  Port Townsend WA
ABV:  10%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American artisan New England Style cider (4 week fermentation, tank aged 5 months, bottle conditioned)

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Availability:  special release in fall 2017 (55 cases), likely only available in Western WA, although they have online sales (but I didn’t see this one at the time of review)

Cider Description:  Alpenfire’s Tempest, a new release from the 2016 harvest. Phenolic and spiritous, rounded and warming. A proper fall cider, estate apples refermented with raisins and brown sugar. Create your own tempest in a tea cup with this winter warmer.

Apple Varieties:  Muscadet de dieppe, Kingston Black, Liberty, Republican, Democrat, plus many more

Cidery Description:  Alpenfire Cider, the West’s first certified organic cidery, growing traditional cider apples since 2003.  Family owned and operated.

Price:  $15
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Medium pumpkin orange amber.  Still.  Smells of bittersweet & heirloom apples with a hint of funk.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Low funk and tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  Notes of bittersweet apple, apple pomace, must, orange, and leather.  Long finish with a hint of sourness and an herbal quality.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate to high flavor intensity and complexity.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  This really reminded me of English cider, with the cider apple flavor, slightly higher sweetness, and funk.  I loved the flavor and style.  It really had all my favorites qualities all in one package, which is rare (rich, complex, flavorful, mid level sweetness, cider apples, and higher ABV).  I’m also a fan of the 500ml bottles, as I’m more likely to buy them (plus it probably reduced the price of this cider from ~$20 to $15).

Most Similar to:  New England style cider isn’t too common so I’ve only tried four others that I can remember, but this is my favorite by far, likely due to its similarity to English cider.  Otherwise, Alpenfire Tempest was similar to Cockrell’s Colonial Winter, more flavorful & complex than Seattle Cider’s New England Style, less sour than Reverend Nat’s Providence, and more traditional than Tilted Shed’s Barred Rock.

Closing Notes:  I am really excited to try more of Alpenfire’s new releases, which have been very plentiful of late, as they are are my favorite Washington cidery.

Have you tried New England Style cider?  What did you think?

Manchester Road 42

Review of Manchester Road’s “42”.  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery.  They appear relatively new, only available in a limited area of Washington, and to only have released this one cider.  Despite the name and theming, this is a locally owned and operated cidery, although the cidermaker is British.

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Cider:  42
Cidery:  Manchester Road Cider Co.
Cidery Location:  Chelan WA
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  22oz bottles (and draft)
Style:  American cider from dessert apples, medium sweet

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Availability:  Very limited, in parts of WA, such as Chelan, Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Orondo, and Cashmere (see here)

Cider Description:  42 is Manchester Road’s leading cider and our first to bring to market.  This cider is light and refreshing with full apple flavor. The recipe was developed over the last decade reminiscent of a modern, British draft, style cider. 42 tastes great with all types of food and is especially delicious on a warm, summer afternoon. 42 – a smooth, medium sweet, sparkling cider.  

Cidery Description:  Our production facility sits in the heart of Washington’s apple country with over 170,000 acres of orchards surrounding us. We are able to make our cider locally and with the best apples in the world. What truly makes us unique is the combination of Washington apples and a British cider maker.  With over 30 years of experience enjoying and making cider and growing up where cider originated, our cider maker was inspired by north central Washington apples to create a modern, refreshing cider that is popular today in British pubs.

Price:  ~$5.99
Where Bought:  Dan’s Food Market in Leavenworth WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing, when we visited in early Dec 2017

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Nearly still.  Smells of sweet apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of concentrated baked apple with honey and pear, and hints of spice.  Quick finish length.  High sessionability.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it.  However, it didn’t remind me of English cider in the least.  English cider would typically be made from bittersweet cider apples, and thus have their characteristic flavor (plus it is often drier and higher in tannins).  The flavor was most similar to a typical American craft cider from dessert apples.

I did however notice “natural flavoring” on the ingredient list, which puzzled me, as it is typically only found in commercial cider.  Maybe apple flavor?  This was quite apple-forward, but ciders of this style are often significantly back sweetened with unfermented apple juice, to impart an apple-forward flavor which can be muted when using dessert apples and fermenting to dryness (which is the easiest way to make cider), add sweetness, and reach a target lower ABV.

Most Similar to:  a mix of Locust Honey Pear and Locust Aged Apple

Closing Notes:  I’m interested to see what they release next.

Have you tried Manchester Road Cider?  What did you think?

Angry Orchard Rosé

Review of Angry Orchard’s Rosé, their newest release.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve had most of their line-up (see here).

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Angry Orchard.  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:  Rosé
Cidery:  Angry Orchard
Cidery Location:  Walden NY (their R&D facility)
Cider Production Locations:  Cincinnati OH & Breingsville PA
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  American commercial rosé-style cider

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Availability:  wide release, year round, since February 2018 (they have a Cider Finder)

Cider Description:  The red flesh apples in Angry Orchard Rosé are from France.  Each apple is crisp, juicy and red to the core, adding an irresistible rosy blush and apple-forward taste with a refreshing, dry finish.  Angry Orchard Rosé can be enjoyed outside with friends or at the dinner table.

Apple Varieties: Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and red-fleshed apples sourced in France

Ingredients:  hard cider, water, cane sugar, apple juice concentrate, malic acid, natural flavor; colored with red flesh apples, sweet potato, radish, and hibiscus

Price:  n/a (retails for $7.99-9.99 / six pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I spotted it in a grocery store, then read about it online, then some showed up

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First Impression:  Moderate pink hue.  No carbonation.  Smells very mild, fruity and floral.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of watermelon, strawberry, floral, and green apple.  Quick finish.  Low apple flavor and complexity.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, its more on the easy drinking on a hot summer day end of the scale.  Also, I think this would have benefited from carbonation, as it was a bit flat and full bodied for not being too sweet.  I liked that they went all-natural on the color, but I wish the ingredient list as a whole was more natural as well.

Most Similar to:  This is much less complex and refined than something like Alpenfire Glow or Snowdrift Red (both made from red-fleshed apples) or Sea Cider Ruby Rose (with rhubarb and rose hips).  It was closest to Square Mile Rosé, except sweeter.

Side Note:  I’m getting annoyed with cideries advertising the cider was “made from/using/with X apples”, when very little of that cider apple variety was used.  I get why though – consumers are becoming better educated, and are pushing the market.  Data shows commercial cider sales are down and craft cider sales are up.

Marketing tactics are something all consumers should be aware of.  For example, if a cider says it is made from bittersweet cider apples but it is closer to clear than amber, then more dessert and/or heirloom apples were likely used than bittersweet apples.  The press release for this cider focuses on the use of red-fleshed apples, but from the ingredient list and low price, it is apparent that very few were used.  There is nothing wrong with that…I just think it is deceptive marketing.  Unfortunately it is quite common.

Closing Notes:  Rosé seems to be the latest cider trend, with all the big names releasing one – Angry Orchard, Crispin, Strongbow, and more.  However, the style isn’t yet defined for cider.  So far the term has been used for everything from a cider with fruit or hibiscus added, up to the good stuff made 100% from red-fleshed apples (like Alpenfire Glow, Alpenfire Cinders, and Snowdrift Red).  In wine it refers to a white wine that receives color & flavor from red grape skins.  In cider, so far it seems to just refer to the color.

Have you tried any rosé ciders?  What did you think?

2 Towns Passion Statement

Review of 2 Towns’ newest limited release, Passion Statement.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve previously had nearly every cider they’ve ever made (see here).

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<This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by 2 Towns.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received this for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review que, considering it is a new release and the info may be helpful for folks deciding to purchase it.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.>

Cider:  Passion Statement
Cidery:  2 Towns Cider House
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  5.2%
How supplied:  500ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, D’Anjou pears, and Yellow Maracuyá passion fruit

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Availability:  limited release, in Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Hawaii, Chicago and parts of Minnesota (see their cider finder)

Cider Description:  Sensational & exotic, Passion Statement stands out from the crowd, pairing stunning Yellow Maracuyá passion fruit with fresh-pressed Northwest pears and apples. With a pleasant tropical tang, this show stopping cider will turn heads, and pint glasses!

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We never add any sugar, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing true Northwest craft cider. 

They were founded in 2010 and have a tap room in Corvallis Oregon.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $5.99 / 500ml bottle)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  No carbonation.  Smells intensely of sweet passion fruit.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate to high tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of passion fruit, pineapple, canned pear, lemon, and green apple.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low to moderate complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity and sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, it was a bit tart for my tastes.  I think more sweetness could have helped smooth out the initial mouth-puckering tartness.  Interestingly, it was much less tart the second day, after being left in the fridge overnight, and I enjoyed it more then.

Most Similar to:  Reverend Nat’s The Passion, which I prefer (although it is sweeter, less tart, and also has vanilla and coconut).  Portland Cider Passion Fruit, which is milder.  Also, Schilling Pineapple Passion, although that is more pineapple than passion fruit.

Closing Notes:  2 Towns has been on a role, releasing many popular ciders.  Everyone won’t like every cider, but I think they do a great job creating ciders that have a wide appeal.

Have you tried 2 Towns Passion Statement?  What did you think?

Finnriver Fire Barrel

Review of Finnriver Fire Barrel.   I’ve tried the previous version of this (see here) as well as this new version on tap (see here), but now I’m reviewing a new bottle in more detail.  I’ve also tried most of Finnriver’s lineup (see here).

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Cider:  Fire Barrel
Cidery:  Finnriver
Cidery Location:  Chimacum WA
ABV:  9.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottle (and draft)

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Availability:  Limited release.  Finnriver ciders are sold in WA, OR, CA, AZ, NV, TX, IL, CO, and Alberta & BC Canada (detailed info here).  They also have an online store (which can ship to WA, OR, CA, AK, CO, MN, FL, & WA D.C.), but I didn’t see this one at the time of review.

Cider Description:  A robust, bold and balanced taste of traditional cider apples— with a whisper of whiskey and rye spice; smoky aromas; notes of caramel and vanilla; and a mature, tannic finish.

100% Finnriver orchard organic cider apples: Chisel Jersey, Brown Snout, Harry Master’s Jersey, Medaille d’Or, Frequin rouge, Dabinette & Major.

Carefully farmcrafted and fermented with a blend of homegrown Finnriver orchard organic cider apples and white wine yeast in stainless steel tanks. Once the fermentation is complete, we cask the cider in Washington rye whiskey barrels for 5 months to impart depth and character. This award-winning cider was inspired by PNW cidermaker Drew Zimmerman, whose mentorship and cider apple trees helped us establish our orchard.

After chilling, allow the cider to warm slightly and serve; we favor Fire Barrel in a Belgian-style tulip glass. Try it with roasted pork, slow roasted brisket, a blue cheese burger, cured meats, smoked cheeses or any other hearty, savory fare. Caramelize an onion with Firebarrel cider and add to a dish for a feisty meal.

Cidery Description:  At Finnriver we gather and ferment the flavors of the land to offer you farmcrafted hard ciders and spirited fruit wines. We are inspired by the allure of the fruit, the ancient history of the craft of fermentation and the lively traditions we now seek to revive.  Our mission is to inspire a deeper connection to the land that sustains us….Some of these ciders are small-batch, seasonal and labor-intensive. Others are produced with contemporary methods and more readily available year-round…Finnriver grows over twenty varieties of traditional and heirloom apples in our organic orchard, to feature in our traditional and specialty ciders.

Finnriver has a great illustrated product guide (see here).  They have a tasting room and are on the Olympic Pennsylvania cider route, along with the Eaglemount and Alpenfire cideries.

Price:  $25
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  My husband got this for me for Christmas!  He didn’t know I had already tried this new release, but had remembered me loving the old one.

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First Impression:  Light caramel amber hue.  Nearly still.  Smells of cider apples, caramel, and bourbon.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Very light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of bittersweet cider apples, caramel, brown sugar, leather, orange, bourbon, smoke, and oak.  Long bitter finish.  Moderate apple flavor and flavor intensity.  Low barrel influence and sessionability.  Low to moderate bourbon influence.  Moderate to high complexity.

Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  However, compared to the old release, this is a disappointment.  The price is significantly higher, it is drier, less flavorful, more bitter, and thinner bodied.  I agree to serve this at cellar temperature (between fridge & room temp), as colder would mute the flavor.  I even enjoy ciders of this style at room temperature.

Most Similar to:  Other ciders from bittersweet cider apples.  This reminds me of English cider, but with the added bourbon and oak.

Closing Notes:   I am curious about next year’s release, and if it will be more like the previous version that I absolutely love.

Have you tried Finnriver Fire Barrel?  What did you think?

Woodchuck Tank Series Pear Ginger

Review of Woodchuck’s Pear Ginger, the first release in their new “Tank Series”, about which they said “Woodchuck has always been synonymous with innovation and our cider makers honor this pioneering spirit with the Tank Series.”  I’ve tried most of their lineup; see here.

>>This is a review of a sample can 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:  Pear Ginger
Cidery:  Woodchuck
Cidery Location:  Middlebury VT
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz cans (and kegs)
Style:  American commercial cider with ginger and pear flavors

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Availability:  wide release for 3-4 months, then replaced by the next Tank Series

Cider Description:  A crisp ripe pear cider bursting with ginger for a taste that is light and refreshing.

Cidery Description:  Vermont Cider Company is a leading hard cider maker in the United States, with a state of the art cidery located in Middlebury, Vermont. Vermont Cider Company crafts a variety of ciders for a variety of consumers. There’s ultra-craft Vermont Cider Co., iconic Woodchuck, fruit-forward Wyder’s as well as the classic Magners Irish Cider and Blackthorn, rounding out our import offerings. Vermont Cider Company reinvigorated American hard cider in 1991, with the launch of Woodchuck, and stays focused on the category today through our commitment to crafting innovative and refreshing hard ciders.

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, so I was a bit ambivalent, but my husband really liked it.  Light and refreshing, with the mild ginger made even milder with the sweet pear.

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

Closing Notes:  This was originally released in summer 2017, as a new version of their Summer Time (which was previously blueberry).  They also plan to have two more Tank Series releases this year.

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