Woodinville Cider Tasting – Locust, Elemental, & Woodinville Ciderworks

Recently I spent a Saturday in Woodinville with my husband and a friend.  I planned to just go to Locust as I wanted to try their new Bourbon Barrel Aged cider, but ended up visiting all three cideries / tasting rooms in the area, which was nice.  Locust Cider, Elemental Hard Cider, and Woodinville Ciderworks are all within walking distance of each other, and each has both cidery and tasting room in the same location.  It was my first time visiting any of them, although I’m very familiar with their ciders and have met or communicated with the owners.  We started with lunch at Big Fish Grill, which was very tasty.  They even had local cider on tap (Schilling Mischief Maker Pom-Cran, which I reviewed here).

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Next we went to Locust Cider.  My husband and friend tried a couple ciders, then left me to finish up mine (and visit the other cideries) while they went wine tasting.

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<another couple ordered a pretty colorful large flight!>

I only tried two of Locust’s ciders, as I had tried all the others or wasn’t interested (and the first one was a large pour of a high ABV cider!).  They were offering Original Dry, Winesap, Dark Cherry, Chipotle, Thai Ginger, and Aged WA Dessert Apple on tap, and bottle pours of Bittersweet Reserve and Bourbon Barrel Aged.  See my tasting notes on Thai Ginger, Pumpkin, and Dark Cherry, and reviews of Aged WA Dessert Apple and Bittersweet Reserve (plus I’ve tried Original Dry and Green Tea Infused).

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Bourbon Barrel Aged (14% ABV) – This is their newest bottle release, originally only for their club members, but sales were opened up to the public as they had a bit extra (tap room only).  Aged 9 months in bourbon barrels.  Smells like bourbon with only a hint of apple and oak.  Golden orange amber hue.  On the sweeter side of Dry.  Still.  Served room temperature.  Light bodied.  Moderate acidity, mild tartness, mild bitterness, and mild tannins.  Moderate to full flavor profile.  I could definitely tell it was 14% ABV, and I think I would have liked to try it cold (or even, shudder, with an ice cube or two), as I think it would have smoothed out a bit.  As is, it was a bit much for me.  In addition to bourbon, notes of oak and vanilla, and a slight bit of maple and must.  Long warming boozy finish.  Moderate to high spirit influence.  Moderate barrel influence.  Very low sessionability.  Mild to moderate apple flavor.

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Winesap (6.0% ABV) – This is a new cider for them (tap only), a single varietal from Winesap apples.  They experimented with a Sidra-style fermentation, aiming to smooth out the tartness of the Winesap apples, and aged it a few months (I assume tank as Ryan didn’t specify barrel).  Smells mildly sour and of citrus.  Hazy light lemon straw yellow hue.  Semi-dry.  Only very mild sourness (and I’m admittedly sensitive), less so than in the scent.  Mild tartness and acidity.  Medium bodied.  Frothy mouthfeel but low carbonation.  Mildly flavored, with citrus, earthy, yeast, and mineral notes.  Quick finish.  High sessionability.  Mild to moderate apple flavor.  This was one of the most unique ciders I’ve ever tasted–very textural more than flavorful.  This would be a great refreshing summer cider.

They had a neat handout for tasting notes (reminiscent of this source):

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Next I walked down the street to Elemental Hard Cider.  I hadn’t realized they had so many taps (12, in comparison to 6 at Locust, although 1 was out).  The owners Brian and Christina Callahan were tending bar (I had met them previously at Around the Table in Lynnwood).  They were offering Dry (Carbon), Acai (Nitrogen), Ginger, Pomegranate-Rose, Margarita (Jalapeno Lime Cilantro), Apple Pie, Pomegranate (Oxygen), Blood Orange (Calcium), NW Atomic Root Beer, Lavender-Rose Petal, and Grapefruit (Hydrogen).

I’ve previously tried Cherry, Dry (version a & version b), NW Atomic Root Beer (version a & version b), Blood Orange, Seasonal Spiced Apple, Pom-Cherry, and Pomegranate.  They are unique in that they have made significant tweaks to their recipes after releasing them, and even bottling them in some cases, thus I have very different tasting notes on the same cider in two cases.  I learned they plan to release some ciders in six packs (previously they have only done 16.9 or 22 oz bottles).

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<Margarita, Lavender-Rose, and Grapefruit>

Margarita, Jalapeno Lime Cilantro (6.5% ABV) – Smells like lime with hints of cilantro and jalapeno.  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Only very mild spiciness (although apparently it can sneak up if you drink a couple pints).  The flavor was also mostly lime, although surprisingly only mildly tart.  Moderate acidity.  A hint of bitterness.  Light bodied.  Moderate finish length.  This would pair really well with mexican food.

Lavender-Rose Petal (6.5% ABV) – Sweet.  Full bodied, almost syrupy.  Floral and herbal flavor, although I’m not sure I could have guessed it was infused with lavender and rose petals (apparently more rose than lavender with this batch).  Low acidity and tartness.  Too sweet for me (apparently this is their response to requests for sweeter ciders).

Grapefruit, Hydrogen (6.5% ABV) – Very mild grapefruit scent.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Mild refreshing grapefruit flavor.  Low tartness and acidity.  Medium bodied.  I’m usually not a huge grapefruit fan, but this was surprisingly nice.

Brian at Elemental had mentioned that Leroy at Woodinville Ciderworks was now pouring Asian Pear cider out of his Flying Dreams Winery tasting room (which specializes in Spanish red wines).  I was walking to try to meet up with my husband & friend and walked right by it, so I decided to drop in.  They only have one other cider, Tropical, which I tasted at Cider Summit Seattle last summer, but they haven’t bottled yet.

Asian Pear (6.5% ABV) – Semi-dry.  Mildly flavored with only a hint of pear (the apple also remains mild).  Low tartness and acidity.  Light bodied.  Citrus, pear, and mineral notes.  Moderate finish length.  I can see why this is popular, especially with fans of white wine, but its not really my thing, as I like a very flavorful cider.

While I was there I learned they will be bottling Tropical in about 6 weeks, and also a new cider, Pomegranate Dark Cherry, this summer.

I actually ended up back at Elemental to meet my husband and friend as they thought I was still there.  They tried a few ciders, and Ginger was their favorite of those.

Locust Bittersweet Reserve remains my favorite Woodinville cider so far.  I opened my bottle the night before this group of cidery visits–yum!

Have you been to any cidery tasting room lately?

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