Downeast Cider House Winter Blend

Review of Winter Blend from the Downeast Cider House, their winter seasonal.  They sent me a great sample case of their Winter, Original, and Cranberry Blend ciders, which is especially awesome as they aren’t yet available here in the Seattle area (or anywhere outside of the Northeast).  Lucky me!  Winter is covered in this review, Original is covered here, and Cranberry will be covered soon.

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>>This is a review of a sample can provided to Cider Says by the Downeast Cider House.  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:  Winter Blend
Cidery:  Downeast Cider House
Cidery Location:  Boston MA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  four pack of 12oz cans (and draft)

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Availability:  Winter time, in the Northeast portion of the U.S.  See their locator map.

Cider Description:  Winter Blend pairs well with deep sofas, warm blankets, and a crackling fire.  Our winter offering starts with fresh apple cider. It is fermented with our ale yeast and aged on toasted oak chips, cinnamon bark, and nutmeg. Not overwhelming on the spice, Winter Blend finishes clean – with enough kick for a cold winter night.

Overview: Unfiltered, lightly carbonated, gluten free

Ingredients: Freshly pressed apple cider, cinnamon bark & nutmeg, and ale yeast

Cidery Description:  Downeast Cider House was founded by Ross Brockman and Tyler Mosher during their senior year of college. After a considerable amount of time spent on the family orchard, an affinity for farm-fresh apple products was born. Meanwhile, at school, the guys could always be found studying. Whether it was deep into a weekend night, Wed/Thurs specials at the local library, or perhaps a casual “Sunday fun-day study-day,” the fellas were relentlessly toiling away, focused primarily on the classic works of Professor Busch and his famous theories on the smooth-cold continuum, copper-top revision.

Although neither was a math major, through some additional “studying” they put two and two together and the result was hard cider. Sometime later, Ross’ older brother Matt approached the two and the following conversation took place:

Matt: I want to join you guys.
Ross/Tyler: Why would we do that?
Matt: I’m going to succeed with or without you, it’d be your loss.
Ross/Tyler: You’re in.

And so it was set. Where others have used juice from concentrate, “natural flavorings,” “essences,” artificial sweeteners, and an endless list of excuses, Downeast Cider House has a firmly established policy of NO SHORTCUTS. No matter the cost to us, we are fully committed to using only fresh-pressed juices and pure, natural ingredients in our cider. When it comes to flavor, there’s no substitute for the best, and that’s what we stand by: simple, honest, authentic.

They were founded in 2012 and have a tasting room in the Boston area.  Here is a nice interview, although old.

Price:  n/a (but runs about $9 a four pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  online (they have a huge following on Facebook for example)

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First Impression:  Hazy bright straw yellow.  Smells of unfiltered cider, yeast, citrus, and a hint of spice.

Opinion:  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Full-flavored and apple-forward.  Lovely flavor influence from the lack of filtering, although it remained medium bodied.  I pick up some mild citrus, honey, oak, and spice notes.  Mild acidity.  Mild tartness.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Unfiltered.  No to low carbonation.  Medium length finish.  I tried this one cold, room temperature, and warmed, and liked cold best.  When warmed the flavor mellowed out too much.  I liked how the spice remained on the mild side, as often spiced ciders go too far.  This one has a touch more alcohol (6.5% vs. 5.1% ABV) than the Original, but I didn’t really notice.  I find it interesting that this cider was aged (I assume in a tank) on oak chips, not oak barrel aged.  Its a less expensive method however which can accomplish a very similar effect.  The oak influence remained mild, but nice.

Most Similar to:  J.K.’s Scrumpy, except not nearly as sweet.  Besides that, this cider is pretty original.

Closing Notes:   Very tasty!  I found this cider very difficult to describe.  My review comes across a bit simple, yet for a relatively simple cider I found this quite complex.  Especially for the retail price, I was quite impressed.  I usually find canned cider to be a letdown for whatever reason.  I opened all three Downeast varieties at a cider tasting and they all got two thumbs up from everyone.  Its definitely an easily likable cider.  The Original however was everyone’s favorite of the three varieties, although only by the slightest bit.  Hopefully Downeast makes it out to the Seattle area someday, where I’ll save it a place in my fridge.

Have you tried any ciders from Downeast?  What did you think?

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