Tasting notes from my twelfth visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA. Check out my past posts here. I was there on St. Patrick’s Day, and they were having a potluck. I also met David from Cider Expert (apparently I’m a superuser there and he wanted my feedback) and we had a spirited cider discussion for almost a couple hours. Cider Expert is a cider rating & review website currently in Beta testing. I think once it goes live it will be great, as the other beverage review websites like Untappd and RateBeer don’t really work well for cider (plus this one has ratings for taste properties specific to cider, and algorithms to actually suggest ciders).
I got there after work, around 4pm, and had a flight of 6 ciders. I was there for a few hours so I was expecting to order something else too, but they were large pours and one was high ABV, so that was it for me. I had thought that 5/6 were new for me, but after I ordered I realized I had 2 of them before, so only 4/6 were new for me. There were a couple other ciders on the tap list I hadn’t tried, but weren’t of interest. I brought in some Thai food takeout; I guess I must be picky as I’m 0/3 as far as liking the local Thai food options in Fremont. The PCC (natural grocery store with a large ready-made food section) remains my favorite takeout option nearby.
<left to right: Carlton Cyderworks First Fruits, Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Apples, Red Tank Yukon Cornelius, Grizzly Ciderworks Woodlander Wit, Anthem Rose Pinot, and Cider Riot! Burn Cider>
Carlton Cyderworks First Fruits, 6.5% ABV, McMinnville OR: Described as an apple cider fermented with plums and mulberry juice, aged in wine barrels for 5 months, which appears to be tap only. Light pink grapefruit hue. Semi-dry. Moderate acidity and mild tartness. Light bodied. I really liked the texture most of all with this cider; kinda frothy (note the foam in the photo). I didn’t recognize it as being barrel aged though (only read that later). It was lightly fruity and really refreshing.
Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Apples (cider), 13.5% ABV, Londonderry NH: I’ve absolutely loved everything I’ve tried from Moonlight Meadery. I had tried this one before, and knew I wanted to include it in my flight as its a rare, and like all their ciders, tap-only. Them Apples is described as being aged with brown sugar for 6+ months in barrels from their Last Apple cyser (which were barrels from Jim Beam whiskey). Note that they also have a “How Do You Like Them Little Apples”, which is similar, but only 6.5% ABV (see my review here). Semi-dry to semi-sweet. Low acidity, low tartness, a hint of bitterness, and a hint of sourness. Very smooth, with a well hidden ABV. Medium bodied. Notes of baked apple, whiskey, oak, citrus, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. This was different than I remembered previously…much less sweet, and with hints of bitterness and sourness. It was very good, but I think I prefer the Little Apples version (or at least the batch of this one I tried previously). On a side note as this was aged in Last Apple barrels, I also love that one, and have a bottle at home.
Red Tank Cider Yukon Cornelius, 6.0% ABV, Bend OR: Described as including vanilla, cranberry, and cinnamon. Schilling actually called it Vanilla-Cran-Cinnamon, probably as the keg was labeled that way, but with some research it looks like Yukon Cornelius is the actual name. Light punk hue. Strong cinnamon scent. Semi-dry. Mild vanilla, moderate cinnamon spice, and a hint of fruitiness but mostly tartness from the cranberry scent. Light bodied. Interesting combination, but it worked.
Grizzly Ciderworks Woodlander Wit, 6.9% ABV, Milton-Freewater OR: This is the one I thought I hadn’t tried before, but I had (see here). They modeled this cider after Belgian wit-style beer (they used that variety of beer yeast), and added orange peel and coriander. Semi-dry. Moderate acidity, low tartness, and low bitterness. Medium bodied. Mildly flavored, with notes of oak, spice, herbs, and citrus (I didn’t specifically identify orange or coriander). I like The Ridge from them better, which has more woody earthiness without the herbal & citrus flavors of this one, although is even drier.
Anthem Rose Pinot, 6.5% ABV, Salem OR: Described as being aged with pinot noir grapes (its unclear whether in a barrel or tank). Bright red hue. Semi-dry. Moderate tartness and mild acidity. Light bodied. Very mild flavor which to me had a lot of cranberry notes. I didn’t really like the flavor of this one. I imagine wine lovers would enjoy it.
Cider Riot! Burn Cider, 6.8% ABV, Portland OR: Described as being made with Oregon-grown English cider apples, tart wild apples, and dessert apples, and being inspired by English West Country pub draught ciders. Dry. Moderate bitterness, moderate acidity, low tannins, and low tartness. Light bodied. Hints of bittersweet cider apples, but overall it was on the mild end of the flavor spectrum, and kinda watered down tasting. Notes of vanilla and spice as well. I think if it had been more flavorful, slightly less bitter, and slightly more sweet, this would have been nice.
My favorite of the evening was the Moonlight Meadery cider, which I also loved the last time I had it (see my Cider Summit Seattle 2015 tasting notes here). I also enjoyed First Fruits, even though I usually don’t go for fruity ciders. Lately I’ve realized I enjoy ciders that best I can explain are very “textural” (Locust Winesap was another example; see my tasting notes here). Overall though I was a bit underwhelmed by my flight, but many I tried mostly just to try them. I wish Schilling would offer more unflavored ciders (not fruity, hopped, spiced, etc), English & French imports, etc, on tap, but I imagine the flavored stuff sells well.
On my way out I picked up another bottle of 2 Towns Pommeau, as its that awesome (see my review here), a great value, and the bottle says it ages well (up to 20 years?). I also bought a cider I hadn’t seen in this area before from ÆppelTreow, Kinglet Bitter, which sounds like something I’ll like (made from bittersweet apples); I’ve enjoyed a couple other ciders from them (Appely Doux and Barn Swallow).
Stay tuned for more Schilling Cider House tasting notes here at Cider Says! Have you had any good draft cider / cider flights recently?