WildCraft Snake River Rye Barrel Aged Hard Cider

Review of Snake River Rye, a barrel aged cider from WildCraft Cider Works.  WildCraft opened in Eugene Oregon in November 2014.  They were nice enough to send me a box full of their cider (which is especially awesome as they aren’t yet available in WA), so I have a number of varieties from them to review in the coming weeks.  Barrel aged is my favorite cider variety, so I figured it was a good place to start.  Aren’t their labels beautiful?  I especially like the uneven edges.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by WildCraft Cider Works.  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:  Snake River Rye
Cidery:  WildCraft Cider Works
Cidery Location:  Eugene OR
ABV:  7.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottle

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Availability:  Year round, but currently only in Eugene, Portland, and Medford Oregon.

Cider Description:  Dry settler style Cider aged 3 months in American Oak Stein Rye Whiskey barrels from eastern Oregon. Deep whiskey notes and a full oak finish compliment smooth vanilla flavor & apple aromatics. Unpasteurized & bottle conditioned.

Made from Jonagold  apples.

Cidery Description:  At WildCraft Cider Works, we pride ourselves on developing innovative, artisanal dry ciders inspired by traditional and wild methodology. Insisting on whole fruit and botanicals grown in Oregon to create pure ciders without artificial flavorings, sulfites or added sweeteners. WildCraft cider is uniquely dry cider unpasteurized & bottle conditioned. We consider ourselves stewards of the outdoors; always acting consciously to ensure that our ingredients are regional.

WildCraft sets themselves apart from most other cideries by using mostly fruit from old homesteads that would otherwise go unused, plus unwanted fruit from community drives.  All their fruit is Oregon-grown and pressed at the cidery.  In addition to ciders, they also have a line of perries (made from pears).  They avoid the use of sulfites in their ciders, which is quite rare and can be difficult to pull off.

WildCraft has a tap house at their Eugene OR cidery with 10 of their ciders & perries on tap at a time, plus they have a full bar (including cider cocktails), and a full farm to table restaurant!  This article from Feb 2015 has a nice writeup on them.

Price:  n/a (but retails for $7.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Facebook and word of mouth

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First Impression:  Slightly hazy straw yellow with a few large bubbles at the edge of the glass.  Slightly funky, dry, sour, tart, oaky apple scent.  Surprisingly I didn’t pick up much barrel or spirit influence in the scent.

Opinion:  Completely dry.  Moderate sourness, tartness, acidity, astringency, funk, spirit (whiskey), and barrel influence.  No to low bitterness.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate carbonation.  Relative quick finish with the flavor of the cider, but there is lingering warmth and sourness.  I found citrus, herbal, oak, and smoke notes with this unique alcohol-forward cider.

Most Similar to:  A barrel aged Spanish Sidra?  I found some of the aspects I’ve come to associate with Sidra and Sidra-like rustic ciders, such as sourness, astringency, dryness, and citrus notes.  Yet it had definite barrel and spirit influence.  It is more approachable than some ciders of a similar style (Millstone comes to mind), but may be a big leap for someone used to approachable sweet commercial cider.

Closing Notes:   Snake River Rye was quite an interesting cider, but it wasn’t really to my liking.  Without the sourness and with a bit more residual sugar, I think I would have found it more enjoyable…the aspects I enjoyed reminded me of a barrel aged Imperial-style cider (typically characterized by a high ABV).  I think folks looking for a unique cider on the dry end of the spectrum which aren’t opposed to some sourness and funk should give this a try.  I look forward to trying the rest of the ciders that came in my sample box!

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

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