Schilling Cider House Visit 10 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my tenth visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts here.  I was there for another 2 Towns tap takeover event (reminiscent of the previous one I attended during WA Cider Week), although this one was specifically to release Riverwood Brut (this year’s version of the cider, switching from their Traditions to 2 Towns label) and The Dark Currant (their new oak barrel aged black currant cider).

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They also now have three non-alcoholic taps, which that day had coldbrew coffee on Nitro, Schilling non-alcoholic cider, and ginger beer.  I was surprised the prices were still $4 or $7 a pint though (not that much less then the alcohol), although they can also be included in a flat price flight of six tasters.  I’m curious to see how well they sell.  As a casual observer I don’t see much need, except maybe for a designated driver (and even then, why not stock some sodas?  I guess it is Fremont…), as its 21+.  If anything I wish they sold some snacks there, but I imagine even to sell chips or something they would have to change their license.  There is plenty of take out in the area to bring with though.

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The following 2 Towns ciders were on tap:  Riverwood Brut, Serious Scrump, The Dark Currant, Made Marion, Ginja Ninja, Bad Apple, and Rhubarbarian

They passed out samples of at least these ciders:  The BrightCider, Out Cider, Ginja Ninja, Bad Apple, Serious Scrump, Made Marion, and Pommeau (which has got to be a record number!)

I got there after work, around 4pm, well before the event started at 6pm, and started with a flight of six ciders (pretty much all those on tap I hadn’t had before).

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<left to right: 2 Towns Riverwood Brut, 2 Towns Serious Scrump, Seattle Cider Gose, Locust Cider Thai Ginger, 2 Towns Rhubarbarian, and Bull Run Bramble Berry>

2 Towns Riverwood Brut, 6.9% ABV, Corvallis OR:  I liked this better than I remembered liking last year’s version (it seems more flavorful this time around vs. at Cider Summit).  I’m curious now that its under their 2 Towns label what the bottle size and pricing will be, as previously it ran $19 for 750ml, which seems a bit steep for what it is (but it doesn’t appear like its out in bottles yet).  Its inspired by Brut champagne and made from Jonagold apples.  Semi-dry.  Low acidity, tartness, and tannins.  Floral qualities with hints of herbs and honey, but overall rather simple in flavor.  I noticed more apple flavor than is typical for a drier cider.  Light bodied.  I think if bottled it would have been more sparkling than it ended up being on tap (I noticed only very light carbonation).  Longer warming finish.

2 Towns Serious Scrump, 11.0%, Corvallis OR:  This is described as a dry English Imperial ice cider (which is rare as ice ciders are typically very sweet), a high ABV cider made using juice which has been frozen & thawed (increasing residual sugar and flavor).  I had this one before and remembered not really caring for it.  However, I’m a huge imperial cider fan (such as their Bad Apple), so I wanted to give it another go.  Also available in bottles.  Semi-dry.  Low to moderate bitterness.  Slight barrel influence (woody).  Well-hidden ABV.  Moderate acidity and tartness.  Medium bodied.  Moderate finish length.  I’m still not a fan, mostly due to the bitterness.

Seattle Cider Gose (pronounced goes-a), 6.5%, Seattle WA:  This is styled after a unique type of beer which has herbal, tart, and salty characteristics.  I previously had Seattle Cider’s Plum Gose, which was this same cider but with plums (and was therefore more fruity), which they made in response to folks mixing Gose with PNW Berry at their tap house.  Seattle Cider used sea salt, coriander, and Chardonnay yeast in this tap-only release.  Dry.  High acidity.  Salty flavor with slight vinegar and citrus notes.  Light bodied.  Overall not bad, but not something I cared for.  Nathan from Cider Chronicles thought it was pretty gross lol.

Locust Cider Thai Ginger, 6.0% ABV, Woodinville WA:  Made from Granny Smith and Gala apples with real Galangal Thai ginger root.  Also available in bottles.  Ginger-spice scent.  Sweet.  Ginger was only present in the finish, at the back of the throat, and remained on the mild side (more present in the scent than flavor).  Medium bodied.  I’m not a ginger fan, but as the ginger was kept mild and it was sweet, I didn’t mind it.

2 Towns Rhubarbarian, 5.0% ABV, Corvallis OR:  This is described as a dry English-style cider with fresh-pressed Northwest rhubarb (also available in bottles).  Semi-dry.  I didn’t pick up any rhubarb flavor with this, only the slightest tart fruitiness, and overall thought it was bland.  Light bodied.  Quick finish.

Bull Run Bramble Berry, 6.7% ABV, Forest Grove OR:  Described as a dry cider with marionberries, blackberries, and boysenberries.  Also available in bottles.  Cranberry hue.  Dry.  Low tartness.  Low acidity.  I also found the flavor bland with this one.  Light bodied.  Quick finish.

I also had a small sample of Finnriver Solstice Saffron (6.5% ABV, Port Townsend WA), which they put on tap while I was there.  This is part of their Seasonal Botanical line, made with saffron, anise, and fennel seeds.  Also sold in bottles.  Smelled herbal (I don’t think I would have been able to pick those out in particular).  Semi-dry.  Moderate acidity and tartness.  Weird herbal type flavor.  It was ok…I just didn’t appreciate the flavor profile (like Seattle Cider Gose).  The folks sitting around me were fans though.

Of those, my favorite was the 2 Towns Riverwood Brut, but I didn’t even find that too impressive.  It seemed to be a big hit among the other customers though.  While I was there, a large group even ordered a flight of all 32 ciders–how fun!

While I was finishing the flight, they started in on the 2 Towns samples.  They served them in clear plastic shot glasses which were pretty cute.

I’ve had Bad Apple and Made Marion before and reviewed Serious Scrump above.  I had sampled The BrightCider and OutCider before, but pre blog.

The BrightCider, 6.0% ABV:  This is their flagship cider (which replaced InCider awhile back), made from apples including Jonagold, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, and Rome Beauty.  Also available in bottles and cans.  I found it to be on the drier side of semi-dry (although its marketed as semi-sweet).  Pretty average and low on flavor.  Definitely sessionable.

OutCider, 5.0% ABV:  This is an ulfiltered cider.  Also available in bottles and cans.  Semi-sweet.  I found this to have more flavor than BrightCider, and I liked it better than I remembered.  It still though doesn’t have as much unfiltered apple juice taste as for example Downeast, but for canned sessionable craft cider, this is a pretty good choice.

Ginja Ninja, 6.0% ABV:  Their ginger cider.  Also available in bottles and cans.  Semi-dry.  I found it to have a moderate amount of ginger.  I’m still not a ginger fan, but I’d no longer say I hate it (ie. its growing on me a bit).

Pommeau, 19% ABV:  What a surprise!  Who would have thought they would be pouring some of their Pommeau?  Their Pommeau is cider with apple brandy, barrel aged.  This was the first year it was released under their 2 Towns instead of Traditions brand, and was from the 2013 harvest.  Here is a nice writeup from New School Beer on the release.  Rich apple, vanilla, and caramel scent.  Semi-sweet.  Still.  Low acidity, tartness, and tannins.  Very oakey, which I love.  Complex, as it also had apricot, smoke, caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, and honey notes.  Full bodied.  Long boozy warming finish.

I had recently bought a bottle of last year’s Traditions Pommeau at Full Throttle Bottles, after striking out on finding this year’s version.  Now I’m looking forward to trying it even more so I can compare.  Schilling hadn’t planned on carrying it as apparently high end ice ciders and Pommeau and such don’t sell as well, but I think Sarah (the cider house manager and Cider Log writer) fell in love with it, as now they are.  So, I may have to get a bottle of this year’s version.  By the way, I think 2 Towns’ Pommeau is a great value–last year’s was under $30 for 375ml.  This initially seems expensive, but its 19% ABV, made from cider apples, and barrel aged for 2 years.  Additionally, due to the style and high ABV, it can likely remain open for weeks or months without significant flavor changes, like brandy.  A cider friend had a bottle of Finnriver Pommeau open for a year or so that still tasted great.

Sarah shared samples of two bottles of cider she opened.  I only got a photo of one though.

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Viuda de Angelon Sidra de Pera, 5.2% ABV, Asturias Spain:  This is a new addition for the cider house, a Spanish pear Sidra which retails for $4 for a 12oz bottle, which is a great entry level price and bottle size.  However, even though everyone described this more as pear cider and not being very Sidra-like (typically known to be sour and astringent), I still picked up a mild sourness.  It was sweeter that I was expecting, semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Mild tartness and sourness.  Moderate acidity.  Fruity with pear and tropical notes.  Medium bodied.  Moderate carbonation (more than most ciders).  It was ok for me, but everyone else loved it.

Etienne Dupont Cidre Triple, (I didn’t see the bottle, but ABV listed online is anywhere between 8.5% and 11%), Victot-Pontfol France:  Apparently this cider gets its name from triple fermentation (from natural sugar, then from added sugar, then in the bottle to create a mousse-like fexture).  I was curious if I’d like this any more than the Cidre Bouche I sampled awhile back.  Nope!  This style just isn’t my thing, but I’ll try anything once.  The Triple was even more funky (moderate to severe) but less sour (mild) than the Bouche.  I’m sure there were tannins and bitterness, but the funk was overpowering for my palate.  Very dry.  Earthy with citrus notes.  Medium boded.  Long finish.

The 2 Towns Pommeau was definitely the winner of the evening, followed by their Riverwood Brut.

Stay tuned for more Schilling Cider House tasting notes here at Cider Says!  Have you had any good draft cider / cider flights recently?

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