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?

Liberty Ciderworks Pink Pearl SV

Review of Liberty Ciderworks’ Pink Pearl, a single varietal cider from red fleshed Pink Pearl apples.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Manchurian Crabapple Single VarietalCrabensteinEnglish StyleAbbessStonewall Dry Fly Whiskey Barrel AgedGravensteinCellar Series #G15New World StyleCellar Series (unknown)McIntoshGolden Russet SVSpokane ScrumpyHewe’s Crab, and Porter’s Perfection.

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Cider:  Pink Pearl SV
Cidery:  Liberty Ciderworks
Cidery Location:  Spokane WA
ABV:  7.9%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottle
Style:  American craft cider, single varietal from Pink Pearl apples

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Availability:  In general you can find their ciders in Washington and Oregon (see a list of locations here).  However, this variety was very limited (16 cases), released awhile back, and mostly just their tap room and cider club members, and online sales through Vino Shipper (listed in stock for $14.99 at the time of this review – I’m surprised any is still in stock as I think I bought this 6 months ago)

Cider Description:  Pink Pearl apples are a rare, red-fleshed varietal we just had to try, since some red apples yield beautiful rosé-colored ciders. Though this cider retained only a hint of pink coloration, the flavors are still quite lovely, with hints of floral, grassy aromatics and soft raspberry flavors. Apples grown near Brewster, WA. (16 cases bottle conditioned in 750 ml bottles, RS 1.0%)

Cidery Description:  Located in the largest apple-growing region on the continent, Liberty Ciderworks is all about the apple, showcasing the diversity and wonders of locally grown fruit. From well known apples like McIntosh and Jonathan to rare, cider-specific fruit like Kingston Black and Dabinett, Liberty ciders put apples in their proper place: Front and center.  We started Liberty Ciderworks in 2013 with a simple, two-part mission: 1) Using apples from local farms and fields to create unique, wonderful ciders, and 2) Sharing them with friends and neighbors across the great Pacific Northwest.  Welcome to the cider revolution. 

They have a tap room in Spokane WA, which also now has a bottle shop of selections from around the world.

Price:  $17.99
Where Bought:  Capitol Cider in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing

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First Impression:  Light tangerine hue.  Nearly still.  Smells nearly of apple brandy (ie. a higher ABV), and midly fruity.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of dry.  Light bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of tannins and bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of blush grape, strawberry, rhubarb, watermelon, and a hint of richness/brandy.  Low apple flavor and sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  I found it to be a unique dry fruity complex mild food-friendly cider.  My new ish cider fridge got it to the recommended 55-60 deg serving temperature, which I enjoyed.  I think serving it ice cold would have muted the flavor, but I didn’t try it.

Most Similar to:  a drier version of Snowdrift RedAlpenfire Glow, or Tieton Russian Red (I slightly prefer these, especially Alpenfire’s, as I usually go for a semi-dry to semi-sweet cider), or even rosé wine (which I don’t have any experience with)

Closing Notes:  I was surprised with the complexity and flavor, and I didn’t mind the dryness due to those factors.  If I didn’t know better I would have guessed this had a hint of brandy in it too, as it especially smelled much higher ABV than it drank.

I think it would be a fun cider to share with folks who haven’t had drier complex ciders, as it is unique, but lacks qualities such as high acidity, bitterness, tannins, sourness, or funk which can often be off-putting at least at first.  I actually wished I had brought it to the dinner party I went to the night before.

Have you tried Liberty Ciderworks Pink Pearl SV?  What did you think?

Argus Apple Bomb

Review of Argus’ Apple Bomb, part of their ‘Fermentables’ line.  It is my first time trying this cider, but I have had their Ciderkin, Ginger Perry, and Perennial 2013.

Cider:  Apple Bomb
Cidery:  Argus Cidery
Cidery Location:  Austin TX
ABV:  6.2%
How Supplied:  multipack of 12oz cans (and draft)
Style:  American craft cider

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Availability:  this is a newish year round release, in over 20/50 states; see here

Cider Description:  Apple Bomb is a demi-sec, or slightly sweet, full bodied cider that delivers a blast of fruit and finishes big with a tannic, fruity pucker. This is not a subtle cider, but a fresh apple explosion derived from a collection of fermentation techniques and patience. Cans and draft offerings available.

Cidery Description:  Argus Cidery was founded in 2010 in Austin, Texas, simply because the dry, effervescent ciders we liked to drink weren’t available to us. We set out to create ciders that would [hopefully] make one rethink how an American hard cider should taste. Our roots began working only with Texas apples, utilizing a medium that was often overlooked and never before used in cider available for public consumption within our great state. Those small release, large format-only days afforded us the time to figure out how to work with fruit we love and yield ciders and other fruit fermentables that are distinctly dry, bright, and, at the end of the day, excite us.

Price:  $2.83 / single can
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  My husband put this in my Christmas stocking!

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First Impression:  Moderate yellow hue.  Moderate to high carbonation with some foam.  Smells mild, of yeast and a hint of sulfur.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low bitterness, tannins, sour, and funk.  Notes of sharp apple (crabapple?), lemon, grapefruit, mineral, yeast, and must.  Long slightly bitter finish.  Low apple flavor, sessionability, and flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I didn’t care for this one at all, and neither did my husband.  However, it was in line with the rest of their lineup (especially Perennial).  It was interesting that they called this demi-sec / sweet.  Maybe in relation to their very dry lineup?  To me it was on the dry end of the spectrum.  It was also way more complex than I’d expect for a canned cider, as they are typically of the more easy drinking variety.

Most Similar to:  This was like a more complex & sour/funky/bitter version of their Ciderkin.

Closing Notes:  After four of their ciders, I think I can conclude that Argus’ ciders aren’t for me.  There is nothing wrong with that, as each cider won’t be for everybody.  I would recommend their ciders for folks of truly dry, sparkling, subtle, unique ciders.  Their Ciderkin (at least when I tried it 2-3 years ago) was the most easy to drink and my favorite so far.  However, I like ciders a bit sweeter and more flavorful.  Argus has really expanded distribution since I first heard of them in 2015.

Have you tried Argus Apple Bomb?  What did you think?