Locust Cider Bittersweet Reserve

Review of Bittersweet Reserve from Locust Cider in Woodinville WA.  This variety was released in late 2015, only 1,000 bottles and some kegs, to benefit Hydrocephalus (which the owner’s daughter has).  This review is from a half growler of the cider, although I also picked up a bottle for future consumption, so I photographed the bottle which is much prettier and informative.  I’ve had a few varieties from Locust, including Washington Dessert Apple Aged Hard Cider (which I enjoyed), and Original Dry, Green Tea Infused, & Dark Sweet Cherry (which I wasn’t a huge fan of…they were all very mildly flavored, definitely sessionable).

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Cider:  Bittersweet Reserve
Cidery:  Locust Cider
Cidery Location:  Woodinville WA
ABV:  6%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles, kegs
Style:  American unfiltered craft cider made using bittersweet apples

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Availability:  Limited, only sold from their Woodinville WA tap room and a few locations around Seattle WA

Cider Description:  A full-bodied hard cider made from French and English bittersweet apples, with caramel and dried fruit aroma, and subtle citrus and baked apple. Only 1,000 bottles exist.

Apple Varieties:  Dabinett, Yarlington Mill, Michelin among limited others

Cidery Description:  Real, Creative Hard Cider from fresh pressed Northwest Apples.  Locust Cider is THE SESSION cider. Every cider we make, from smooth and light Original Dry to full flavored Aged Dessert Apple, is designed and made to be extremely drinkable. Sessionable cider.   What is The Locust?  Tough. Hard. Real.

When you are done with your hard day taking over the world, you deserve good hard cider.   The Locust stems from the a near death experience had by the founder during childhood. Now motivated by the sensory memory of that moment, his life is about being tough, being insistent on the best, and never giving in.  Locust Cider is real people. Founded by 2 brothers from Texas who wanted a great cider that they could drink more than one of, the company remains small. Everybody who works in the tap room also has a hand in making cider. We obsess over making drinkable, session cider for real, tough people to enjoy.

They have a tap room in the Woodinville WA warehouse district.

Price:  $18 for a 750ml bottle or $8.50 for a 32oz half growler
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Facebook

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First Impression:  Orange-amber hazy sweet (unfermented) cider hue.  Smells of bittersweet apples, sweet cider, orange citrus, spice, raisins, and honey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to sweet.    Low acidity, tartness, and bitterness.  Low to moderate tannins.  The slightest bit of earthiness & oakiness.  No funk or sourness.  In the flavor I picked up bittersweet apples, orange, spice, raisins (less so), and honey that I smelled, plus caramel and oddly enough, coffee?  Although it has a lot of characteristics of sweet non-alcoholic cider, I wouldn’t call it juice-like (which as my tastes have evolved I’ve found to be a negative).  I found the cider to be slightly alcohol-forward, but I enjoyed it (I would have guessed it had a higher ABV).  Full bodied.  Moderate to long finish.

My Opinion:  Yum–rich, smooth, and luscious!  It reminds me a lot of English cider, but with the additional residual sweetness, unfiltered flavor & mouthfeel, and less tannins than your average English craft cider, it may be more approachable.  Overall this is a very easily likeable unique cider.  However, I liked the sample I had from a bottle better.  I believe my growler was from the bottom of the keg, and it seemed to have more tannins, spice, bitterness, etc (and the odd coffee note).  Still plenty enjoyable though.  I’m looking forward to drinking the bottle I bought.  Overall my only feedback would be to have slightly less sweetness, and that bottled (or not from the end of the keg) may have more desirable flavor, or that its a bit variable (which often happens in ciders, especially if they are from different batches).

Most Similar to:  Other ciders made from bittersweet apples (such as most English ciders, Sea Cider Bittersweet, Finnriver Fire Barrel, Angry Orchard Stone Dry, and Woodchuck Gumption & Hot Cha Cha Cha) and those which are of an unfiltered style (such as from J.K.’s Scrumpy & Downeast, and Locust Washington Dessert Apple).  I’ve found that for the most part I really enjoy ciders from bittersweet apples.

Closing Notes:   Its crazy how good of a deal Schilling must have got on that keg, as the price on tap was almost 1/3 of the price for bottled (by ounce), a deal I couldn’t pass up.  I was quite surprised the keg lasted on tap a couple weeks.  If you can find this one and don’t mind a sweeter cider, I highly recommend it (in fact, Schilling still has a few bottles left as of earlier this week).

Interesting Fact:  I was told that this cider should stay refrigerated, as the high residual sugar content makes it prone to re-fermenting in the bottle (becoming too dry or sparkling).  Being a small batch they didn’t filter and process it as much like their other ciders.  This wasn’t noted on the bottle, and is basically unheard of for a commercially produced cider (more of a homebrew thing).  I think its impractical to rely on stores to tell their customers this, and many stores don’t have significant refrigerated shelf space.  I imagine this explains what happened to my Washington Dessert Apple cider (a similar small batch sweeter cider release from them), which didn’t stay refrigerated.  It turned crazy fizzy even though I bought it not long after it was released, and a sample from a friend’s bottle later a few months later was much drier than mine.

Have you tried Locust Bittersweet Reserve?  What did you think?

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