Scandi Cider Pear

Review of Scandi Cider’s Pear variety, from Estonia (in Northern Europe, on the Baltic Sea).  I’ve previously tried their Apple and Green Apple ciders.

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Nice looking bottles!

Cider:  Scandi Cider Pear
Cidery:  Vohu Vein AS
Cidery Location:  Vohu village, Estonia, in the south Baltic Sea shore
ABV:  5.4%
How Supplied:  four pack of 12.7oz corked champagne bottles
Style:  Norman-style cider made with Baltic apple & pear varieties in Estonia

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Availability:  semi wide release

Ingredients:  fermented apple juice, fermented pear juice, carbonated water, sugar, malic acid, citric acid, sulfites 

(Note that the addition of water typically means they use apple juice concentrate, which allows them to produce cider year round even though they only harvest once a year.  However, there are different types of concentrate processes, some very commercial and some more craft, and I’ve heard its the norm in Europe.)

Cider Description:  What makes Scandinavian cider a unique one?  Special North Europe apples blend. Three basic elements create a structure for cider – acid, tannin, and sweetness. We use our specific mix of Baltic varieties of apples, including (but not limited to) – Tellisaare “,” Alwa “,” Suislepp “,” Liivi Kuldrenett “,” Krugeri tuvioun “,” Talvenauding “, and this gives a unique combination of acid, tannin, and sweetness. The cider professionals came to conclusion that the apples for the production of the specific type of cider must grow precisely in the climate and on the soil where cider will be produced.

Cidery Description:  Vohu winery, the producer of Scandinavian Cider, was built in 1967 in Laane-Virumaa county, Vohu village, Estonia, located in the south Baltic Sea shore. Variety of apples grown on the Baltic Sea shores, added to the Nordic traditions of cider producing, make Nordic ciders unique. Almost 50 years of experience gained by Vohu winery makes sure that the Scandinavian cider is consistent with both traditional recipes and modern requirements of the European Union.

Price:  ~$4 / single bottle
Where Bought:  Whole Foods
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I enjoyed Scandi Cider’s other two varieties and it is available in a relatively affordable (but small) single bottle, so it was an easy purchase to make.

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells of sweet pineapple and pear.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Medium bodied with a frothy mouthfeel.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of pear, pineapple, green apple, and lemon.  Quick finish.  Moderate pear flavor.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  High sessionability.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  This was a tasty dessert cider.  Definitely sweeter than their other two offerings, but pear ciders often are.  It tasted a bit on the commercial side though, and I could definitely tell that sugar was added.  I really enjoy the texture of their ciders, as well as the higher carbonation, which isn’t found too often here in the U.S.  This pear cider varies from most as they fermented the pear juice in addition to the apple juice.  It is more common to add unfermented pear juice to the fermented apple juice.  However, it is not a perry as apple juice was added.

Most Similar to:  This had some of the sweet pear-forward flavor of ciders such as Crispin Pacific Pear, NV Cider Pear Essentials, Flatbed Pear Cider, Wyder’s Dry Pear, Steelhead PeargatoryAngry Orchard Knotty Pear, and Bull Run Pear Ice Wine.  However, the texture and level of carbonation was completely different.

Closing Notes:  I’ve enjoyed all three of their ciders, but the Apple was my favorite.  I believe they only make those three varieties.

Interesting Tidbit:  Oddly enough this cider appears to be made in Estonia exclusively for export to the U.S.  Probably a smart business choice as if I had to guess, cider would fetch a higher price in the U.S. than Estonia, even considering the high costs of shipping and such.

Have you tried Scandi Cider?  What did you think?

Angry Orchard & Eden Specialty Ciders Collaboration – Understood in Motion: 01

Review of the first collaboration between Angry Orchard & Eden Specialty Ciders, Understood in Motion: 01.  It is the first in a series of planned releases, made by head cidermaker Ryan Burk of Angry Orchard and co-owner & cidermaker Eleanor Leger of Eden Specialty Ciders.  It is named for the motion of apple harvest and the cider making process.

The apples were grown and pressed in Vermont at Eden’s cidery, then the juice was shipped to Angry Orchard’s Innovation cidery in New York for fermentation and six months of aging (some in tanks and some in Calvados barrels).  After that, Ryan and Eleanor met to blend the cider with some three year old Eden ice cider.

Here is an article with more information on the cider, and here is an article about Angry Orchard’s Innovation Cider House releases in 2016.

>>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.<<

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Cider:  Understood in Motion: 01
Cidery:  Angry Orchard & Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Walden NY & Newport VT
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged champagne bottles
Style:  American craft cider from Vermont heirloom apple varieties, a mix of tank & Calvados barrel aging, and mixed with ice cider

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Availability:  Limited release, only at Angry Orchard’s Walden New York Innovation Cider House, since November 18

Cider Description:  This cider was born of friendship among two Northeast cider makers, as well as a shared commitment to raising awareness of the American cider industry. With Understood in Motion 01, we worked with our friends at Eden Specialty Ciders (VT) to combine techniques and favorite ingredients to develop something completely new, while paying homage to the American cider making tradition.

This cider is made from a carefully selected blend of heirloom apples from Vermont, including Ananas Reinette and D’Arcy, resulting in a still, semi-dry cider with balanced acidity and low tannin, aged in Calvados barrels for 6 months.

It recently won Gold in the Cider/Mead/ Perry at the FoBAB Competition.

Price:  n/a (retails for $25)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I read about it online.

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First Impression:  Light pumpkin amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells rich, of brown sugar, honey, and baked apples.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of baked apple, brown sugar, honey, lemon, and grapefruit.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  Low oak influence.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it.  I was expecting more tannins and less citrus, but it worked.  It tasted like a high acidity citrusy cider mixed with some rich ice cider.  I actually enjoyed it even more the second day.  Because it is still, it didn’t have carbonation to go flat.  The acidity also seemed to calm down a bit, bringing out more richness.

Most Similar to:  This reminded me of Eden’s Semi-Dry cider (which also mixes ice cider into dry cider), as well as Slyboro Old Sin.

Closing Notes:  I feel privileged to have got a bottle of this limited release cider!  Special thanks to Diana Mask at Angry Orchard for hooking me up.  These two cideries would have been my last guess for a collaboration match up, but I can see how it benefits them both.  Angry Orchard is trying to improve their image from just a mass market sweet simple cider maker.  Eden is a small artisan cidery startup without the budget for marketing campaigns or nationwide cider releases.  I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.

Have you tried Angry Orchard & Eden Specialty Ciders Collaboration – Understood in Motion: 01?  What did you think?

2 Towns Return of the Mack

Review of 2 Towns Return of the Mack, a limited release unfiltered oak aged cider made with McIntosh apples.  I previously tried an earlier release of this on draft (see here).  I’ve also tried many other ciders from 2 Towns (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 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:  Return of the Mack
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis Oregon
ABV:  8.4%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft unfiltered cider with McIntosh apples, aged 12 months in oak foeders

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Availability:  Limited release, but 2 Towns ciders are generally available in AK, CA, HI, ID, OR, WA, and Minneapolis MN & Chicago IL.

Cider Description:  Rich and complex, Return of the Mack is a specialty cider aged for 12 months in 1800 liter oak foeders and finished with McIntosh apples.  So good.  Yes, I cried, yes, I cried.

From Dave Takush, head cider maker for 2 Towns Ciderhouse:  Return of the Mack is super rich, exceptionally juicy and has a big oak tannin backbone.  It makes a great pairing with dark and stormy nights, and 90s slow jams.

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.

Price:  n/a (retails for $7.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  It showed up at my door (I’m spoiled!).

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First Impression:  Hazy dark pumpkin straw yellow.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells like tart unfiltered apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Smooth with a well-hidden ABV.  Notes of unfiltered apple juice, lemon, orange, honey, and a hint of floral.  Quick to moderate length finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  Low oak influence (I expect it smoothed the flavor out more than adding any significant overt oak flavor).

My Opinion:  I enjoyed Return of the Mack, but it is more of a basic easy drinking cider which I would expect to find in a multi pack, vs. a single bottle specialty release.

Most Similar to:  I’d call this a sweeter, more boozy, and slightly more complex version of 2 Towns Out Cider.

Closing Notes:  2 Towns makes some great stuff.  My favorites are Traditions Bourbon Barrel 2012, Bad Apple, Hop & Stalk, Traditions Cidre Bouche 2015, and Pommeau 2015.

Have you tried 2 Towns Return of the Mack?  What did you think?

Sonoma Cider The Wimble (Rhubarb Gose)

Review of Sonoma Cider’s The Wimble, a gose-style cider with rhubarb.  Gose is a German style of beer characterized by its use of salt.  Its my first time trying The Wimble, but I’ve had Sonoma Cider’s Hatchet, Pitchfork, Washboard, Anvil, Crowbar, Pulley, Dry Zider, and Dry Fuji.

Cider:  The Wimble (Rhubarb Gose)
Cidery:  Sonoma Cider
Cidery Location:  Healdsburg CA
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz cans
Style:  American Organic gose-style cider with rhubarb

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Availability:  semi wide release, but it is a limited run

Cider Description:  The Wimble is our cidery take on “gose” an ancient German beer style.  Tart, briny, and eager to please.

Cidery Description:  Our story officially began in 2013 through a unique father and son partnership. Sharing an entrepreneur’s curiosity and deep passion for beverages, David and Robert Cordtz set out to reinvent the cider category. David, a celebrated cidermaster and winemaker, has had a nearly lifelong passion for beverages made from naturally grown and harvested ingredients. He has been lauded for his highly refined palate and ability to create unique and high quality flavor profiles. His son, Robert, has been learning the business of beverages from his veteran father for as long as he can remember. In creating Sonoma Cider alongside his father, Robert brings a fresh perspective, a knack for creating things, and is fond of questioning the status quo. As VP Operations and Cidermaker, Robert’s creative streak keeps his dad on his toes as he is constantly infusing new approaches and ideas to the business. Together they make Sonoma Cider anything, anything but run of the mill.

Price:  ~$2 / single can
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing

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First Impression:  Light pumpkin orange-pink amber.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells mild, salty and fruity.

Tasting Notes:  Fully dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  No sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of salt, rhubarb, and citrus.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Very low flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I wasn’t a huge fan, but I liked it more than I expected.  The brine flavor wasn’t overwhelming, and it had a mild fruitiness.

Most Similar to:  Other gose-style ciders, such as from Seattle Cider, Gose and Plum Gose.

Closing Notes:   If you want a truly dry cider which is unique but doesn’t have an overwhelming flavor, you may like this one.  My favorite Sonoma Cider however remains The Anvil, their Bourbon-flavored cider.

Have you tried Sonoma Cider’s The Wimble?  What did you think?

Tilted Shed Lost Orchard

Review of Tilted Shed’s Lost Orchard.  It is my first time trying this cider, and my first time trying any of Tilted Shed’s cider.  See here for a writeup on their cidery.  I ordered three bottles to be shipped, as their ciders aren’t yet available in Washington.

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Cider:  Lost Orchard, 2014 vintage
Cidery:  Tilted Shed
Cidery Location:  Sebastopol  CA
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American artisan cider from Organic cider apple varieties

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Availability:  40 cases released November 2016.  Tilted Shed ciders are sold primarily in California, but also in New York, New Jersey, and Portland Oregon (see here).

Cider Description:  Blend of very rare, feral English, French, and Old American traditional cider apples gleaned from lost cider orchards in Sonoma County. Varieties include Nehou, Muscat de Bernay, Porter’s Perfection, Yarlington Mill, Foxwhelp, Tremlett’s Bitter, and Roxbury Russet. Organically grown, from the 2013 harvest. Fermented to dryness in small batches by variety, then blended, aged, and bottle conditioned using organic cane sugar as dosage. Unfiltered, unpasteurized, minimal sulfites. A bone-dry, earthy, dense, savory, contemplative cider more reminiscent of orchard floor than of apples. Hazy, golden hue. Leesy, earthy aroma. Pours with a fine, lingering mousse that heightens the astringency. Notes of leather, cedar, lemon thyme, damp earth, cooked apple. Elegant tannic structure. Chill well prior to opening. Contains sediment. Pour carefully off the lees. Serve at 55° to 60°F in a white wine glass. Pair with well-aged cheese, pork, Dungeness crab, lamb, roasts, hearty seasonal fare.

Cidery Description:  We started Tilted Shed Ciderworks in 2011 out of an obsessive love for apples and cider. All of our apples are organically grown within 35 miles of our cidery, primarily in west Sonoma County. At our Sebastopol farm, we have planted 100 varieties of traditional cider apples and perry pears—a pomological research station on the edge of the Pacific. As cider evangelists, we are devoted to making ciders of individuality, integrity, artistry, and elegance. It’s thrilling to explore our unique terroir and the transformative powers of fermentation, and experience how our ciders shapeshift over time. We hope you’ll find our ciders to be a beautiful revelation of what the apple can do.

Price:  $20
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I had read so many good things about their ciders online, and was glad to hear they can ship to Washington.

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First Impression:  Light pumpkin amber hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells of rich earthy cider apples, funk, and honey.

Tasting Notes:  Dry to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  Moderate funk.  Hints of sourness.  Low to moderate tannins.  Notes of baked apples, earth, honey, grapefruit, orange, hay, yeast, and leather.  Long funky slightly sour finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  High complexity.  Low to moderate sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it.  However, this funky earthy complex cider won’t be for everyone.  My husband for example wasn’t a fan as he doesn’t like funk (but he likes sourness and I don’t).

Most Similar to:  Lost Orchard tends towards a farmhouse style or a wild fermented cider, although it is more funky than sour.  Very few ciders are made entirely from cider apple varieties, but the most similar I’ve tried is probably something from Farnum Hill, or Dragon’s Head Wild Fermented or Alpenfire Pirate’s Plank.

Closing Notes:  This is an incredible value for a cider made entirely from cider apple varieties which has been bottle conditioned for so long.  Stay tuned for reviews of their Barred Rock and Smoked ciders.

Have you tried Tilted Shed Lost Orchard?  What did you think?

2 Towns Traditions Riverwood New World Brut – 2015 Vintage

Review of 2 Towns Traditions Riverwood New World Brut, 2015 vintage, a champagne-style cider.  This is one of two ciders which were released to start off their new Traditions line.  Their Traditions line will replace their separate Traditions brand and focus on barrel aged vintage cider from heirloom apples.  The other is Cidre Bouche.  Two others will soon be released, Afton Field and La Mûre.  This is the third vintage of Riverwood.  I’ve tried the two previous vintages, Traditions brand 2013 vintage and 2 Towns brand 2014 vintage.  I’ve also tried many other ciders from 2 Towns (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 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:  Traditions Riverwood New World Brut, 2015 Vintage
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis Oregon
ABV:  6.3%
How Supplied:  375ml bottles
Style:  American craft champagne-style cider from heirloom apples, barrel aged

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Availability:  Limited (only 240 cases of 12 bottles), although 2 Towns ciders are generally available in AK, CA, HI, ID, OR, WA, and Minneapolis MN & Chicago IL.

Cider Description:  Willamette Valley grown Jonagold apples.  Oregon grown bittersharp cider apples.  Finished in chardonnay barrels.  Inspired by sparkling brut champagnes of the past, Riverwood is a contemporary take on a classic. Slow fermentation at cold temperatures allows the intense passionfruit-like aroma of freshly picked and pressed Jonagold and Porter’s Perfection apples to flourish. Dry, bright, and floral, this New World cider brings the brut style out of the past and into the present. Pairs well with lobster mushroom risotto, butternut squash ravioli in sage brown butter, asparagus with lemon aioli and Moroccan chicken with dates and braised greens.

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.

Price:  n/a
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells mildly floral and of high acidity.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Subtle notes of floral, lemon, grapefruit, and mineral.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Low flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  Low oak influence.

My Opinion:  This was well made, but not really a style I enjoy, with its subtle wine-like flavor and high acidity.  However, its very food-friendly and a great champagne alternative.

Most Similar to:  Cockrell Jonastar, Alpenfire Dungeness, and Seattle Cider Washington Heirloom.

Closing Notes:  I liked last year’s vintage better, as it seemed more apple forward, more intensely flavored, sweeter, and less acidic.

Have you tried 2 Towns Traditions Riverwood?  What did you think?

2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche – 2015 Vintage

Review of 2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche, a French-style keeved cider.  This is one of two ciders which they released to start off their new Traditions line.  Their Traditions line will replace their separate Traditions brand and focus on barrel aged vintage cider from heirloom apples.  The other is Riverwood, which I’ll be reviewing next.  Two others will soon be released, Afton Field and La Mûre.  Its my first time trying this cider, although I’ve tried many other ciders from 2 Towns (see here).

Keeving is a special labor intensive process of fermenting the cider slowly, starving it of natural nutrients.  It results in an apple-forward, naturally sweet, lower ABV, and higher carbonation cider.  This is typical for French cidre, but is very rare in the U.S.

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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 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:  Traditions Cidre Bouche
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis Oregon
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  375ml bottles
Style:  American craft French keeved style cider from heirloom apples, oak aged

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Availability:  Limited (only 240 cases of 12 bottles), although 2 Towns ciders are generally available in AK, CA, HI, ID, OR, WA, and Minneapolis MN & Chicago IL.

Cider Description:  Oregon grown bittersweet heirloom apples.  Old world keeving method.  Aged in French oak casks….Inspired by the bittersweet ciders of France, Cidre Bouché is made with an Old World process called keeving. We start with 100% traditional cider apple varieties like Kingston Black, Michelin, Reine des Pommes, Dabinett and Muscat de Lense, and then let the fruit ‘sweat’ and intensify in aroma. Next, the apples are crushed and left to soak on the skins before the juice is fermented slowly over the course of a year, and aged in French oak casks. When finished, this keeved cider is rich, thick and brimming with overripe bittersweet apple character. Pairs well with classic French fare— think savory crepes, pork terrine, camembert and blue cheese.

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.

Price:  n/a
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Hazy medium orange amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells slightly funky and apple forward.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate to high acid.  Low funk and tannins.  Hints of sourness and bitterness.  Notes of unfiltered apple juice, apple pomace, honey, orange, grapefruit, and butterscotch.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it, and thought it paired well with Thanksgiving dinner.  It got a bit funkier as it warmed up, so I preferred it cold.  I’m a fan of these sorts of bold and rich ciders, and of (not too funky or sour) French cidre.

Most Similar to:  French cidre.  It definitely seemed true to the style, in between Normandy and Brittany French cidre as it was a bit funky (as Normandy cidre can tend to be), but not overly so.  However, it was a bit higher acidity and more fruity though (although the grapefruit I picked up might have been more from the high acidity than anything else), which was a nice twist.

Closing Notes:   I look forward to trying the other ciders in their new Traditions line.  I think they made a great choice to release them in smaller 375ml bottles, as it will reduce the price point and increase the number of bottles available.  I also think the switch to keep these under their 2 Towns brand but in a separate category was a smart move.

Have you tried 2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche?  What did you think?