Review of Snowdrift Summer Red. This is the second cider I’ve tried from Snowdrift (the first was Cornice), and the first time I’ve had cider from red-fleshed apples. Although there are a few other ciders to be found from red-fleshed apples, they are pretty rare.
Variety Note: Per Snowdrift, “Summer Red” is being re-named simply to “Red”, and they are phasing out their similar Winter Red variety except for selected draft customers. Their Winter Red variety is a more intense higher alcohol version of Summer Red (9.0% ABV), and even more limited in availability. Their Red cider is one of their most popular varieties, and difficult to find. It has previously also been called “Nebula Red”.
Special Thanks: Tim Larsen, owner & cidermaker at Snowdrift, was gracious enough to answer my questions and provide extra information on this cider.
I really love their logo and bottle labels!
Cider: Summer Red
Cidery Location: East Wenatchee WA
Residual Sugar: 4.3%
How Supplied: 750ml brown glass bottle, champagne corked & caged (also available in kegs); I drank bottle 256 of batch 214
Availability: WA, OR, CA, NY, NJ, & MA. Soon they will offer sales directly to consumers in 22 states from their website! Here is an interesting article on direct to consumer cider sales.
Cider Description: Made entirely from red fleshed apples, from trees imported from Switzerland, only a couple generations removed from their native ancestors in the hills of Kazakhstan. All flavor components and color are natural to the apples. Red fleshed apples are an uncommon strain of apples that naturally developed the color pigments in the flesh of the apples, not just the skin. These apples are very tart & sour, giving great berry notes, particularly strawberry & cranberry. Depending on the apple variety, hints of watermelon and rhubarb can also be found. Their brilliant red flesh yields a crimson red cider with bright acidity. This cider is packed with flavors of cranberries, watermelon, rhubarb, & strawberries, finishing with soft toffee tones. Summer Red received a silver medal this year from Craft Competition.
Snowdrift’s red-fleshed apples, cross-section:
Cidery Description: Snowdrift is a farm-based cidery in sunny central Washington which grows over 35 varieties of cider apples which are blended into their ciders, available since 2009. They aim to showcase the best flavors from the special apple varieties, aging them to allow the tannins to mature into rich flavors before bottling. Tours and tastings are available.
Where Bought: Whole Foods
Where Drank: home
How Found: I’ve read about it online and had been on the hunt to find a bottle.
First Impression: Brilliant coral berry pinkish red. Highly carbonated with a foam head / ring. Lovely berry-apple scent. I was enjoying the scent so much I almost didn’t want to start drinking the cider! But, I was very glad I did.
Opinion: On the sweeter side of semi-dry. I pick up berry, watermelon, and cranberry notes. Moderate tartness and acidity. I was afraid it would be too tart for my liking, but the tartness worked really well with the flavor profile and was balanced with some sweetness. Refreshing, smooth, and crisp. Great summertime beverage! Easy to drink too, and since I had help drinking this one, the bottle was quickly empty. Unique and well-crafted. Although Snowdrift’s ciders are a bit spendy, you can really taste the difference and how much work goes into making a bottle of good craft cider (here is a recent Cider Journal article on that topic). My three of my companions all really enjoyed this cider too. What a treat!
Closing Notes: Awesome! I’ll have to pick up more if I can find some. Highly recommended. This is a nice profile piece on Snowdrift from Serious Eats, although a bit old (from 2011). Here is a more recent one from 2014 from TDHURST. I look forward to trying more cider varieties from Snowdrift. This one from Pepper & Rye has some lovely photos of the Snowdrift cidery & orchards from 2014, and explains the Méthode Champenoise process they use.
Have you tried any red cider varieties from Snowdrift or other cideries? What did you think?