Schilling Cider House Visit 29 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 29th visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

I was there on a Tuesday afternoon with my husband, following the Washington Cider Week preview at Capitol Cider.  These definitely aren’t my best tasting notes, as we were in a rush to beat the traffic home, and my husband distracted me from taking notes.

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<left to right:  Whitewood Jonathan, Double Mountain Dry, 2 Towns Afton Field, Newton Court Perry, Seattle Cider City Fruit, and Finnriver Lavender Black Currant>

Whitewood Cider (Olympia WA) Jonathan (6.9% ABV):  This is a single varietal cider from Jonathan apples, also available in bottles.  Dry to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Apple forward with citrus and honey notes.  This is one of my favorite dry ciders ever, as it is very approachable, without a harsh acidity, and more flavorful than expected.

Double Mountain (Hood River OR) Dry (6.7% ABV):  This cider is made by a brewery, and appears to be draft-only.  I tried their Jumpin Jack Heirloom Cider on draft at Cider Summit Seattle last year (see here).  Dry.  Low sourness and funk.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Primarily heirloom apple and citrus notes.

2 Towns (Corvallis OR) Afton Field (6.4% ABV):  I thought I had tried this one, but can’t find any reviews, so maybe not.  Also available in bottles.  This farmhouse-style cider is part of their Traditions line, and also available in bottles.  Dry.  Low sourness and funk.  Moderate acidity and tartness.  Notes of citrus and mineral.

Newton Court (Herefordshire England) Panting Partridge Perry (5.3% ABV):  This is an English perry, also available in bottles, new to the Seattle area at least.  They also have a bottled (and likely draft) cider available, Gasping Goose.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low sourness and funk.  Pear-forward and fruity.

Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) City Fruit (6.3% ABV):  This cider was made using community apples from City Fruit, and is also available in bottles (this was previously only exclusively sold at Whole Foods).  Dry.  High acidity.  Moderate tartness.  Notes of citrus and stone fruit.

Finnriver (Chimacum WA) Lavender Black Currant (6.5% ABV):  I’ve had this cider on numerous previous occasions, but I never turn down having some on Nitro tap.  Also available in bottles.  Semi-sweet.  Awesome fluffy texture.  Moderate acidity and tartness.  It is a yummy flavorful combination of fruity black currant and herbal lavender.

My husband’s favorite was Double Mountain Dry, mine was Finnriver Lavender Black Currant, and the most unexpected (in a good way) was Whitewood Jonathan.  There were a surprising number of sour / farmhouse-style ciders (3), which isn’t my thing, but maybe I’ll eventually acquire the taste for them.

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

2 Towns Cot in the Act

Review of 2 Towns’ Cot in the Act, an apricot infused seasonal cider.  I sampled this last year (see here), and I’ve tried most of their line-up (see here).

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by 2 Towns.  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:  Cot in the Act
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  6.2%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles, 6 packs of 12oz cans, kegs
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, unfiltered, with apricots (2 lb per gallon)

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Availability:  Seasonably (July-September) in AK, CA, HI, ID, IL (Chicago), MN, NV, OR, and WA.

Cider Description:  Luminous & divine, Cot in the Act is just too tempting to resist, coupling Northwest apples with local Rival apricots. Referred to as “golden eggs of the sun” by the Greeks, apricots make this seasonal cider the perfect summer treat.

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We never add any sugar, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing true Northwest craft cider.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $7.99 / 500ml or $11.49 / six pack of 12oz cans)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  It showed up

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Very low to low carbonation.  Smells of dried apricots.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness & acidity.  Hints of bitterness & tannins.  No sourness & funk.  Notes of apricot, peach, and lemon, and a hint of herbal & floral.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity and complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  Yum!  I really enjoyed how flavorful and juicy this cider was without being sweet (and it tasted even sweeter than the listed sugar content).  It is often difficult to find a drier but flavorful cider.

Most Similar to:  I’ve also tried apricot ciders from Anthem, Atlas, Carlton, Locust, Stem, Summit, and Tieton.  The most similar was from Summit (as it was also a semi-dry, but flavorful), followed by those from Atlas & Locust, (although both of those were sweeter).

Closing Notes:  2 Towns remains a favorite PNW cidery for a reason.

Have you tried 2 Towns Cot in the Act?  What did you think?

2 Towns Traditions La Mûre

Review of 2 Towns’ newest Traditions line cider, La Mûre, a sour Marion blackberry cider aged in Pinot Noir red wine barrels for over a year.  It is inspired by Belgian-style sour lambic beer.  I tried this previously when it was a cellar series release (see here).  I’ve also tried most of their cider line-up; see my past reviews here.

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by 2 Towns.  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.<<

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Cider:  La Mûre
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  375ml bottles
Style:  American craft sour Belgian lambic beer inspired cider with Marion blackberries, aged in Pinot Noir barrels

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Availability:  In general 2 Towns ciders are available in AK, CA, HI, ID, IL (Chicago), MN, NV, OR, and WA, although this is a more limited release.

Cider Description:  Inspired by the historic lambic beers of Belgium, La Mûre embodies the Flemish styles of old.  Northwest apples and Oregon grown Marion blackberries are fermented wild with Lactobacillus.  Aged in Willamette Valley pinot noir barrels for one year, this unique cider is then removed from these dusty casks and bottle conditioned, revealing complex aromatics and a lactic tang that only time can unfold.

La Mûre won silver medals this year at two cider competitions – GLINTCAP and the Portland International Cider Cup.

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We never add any sugar, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing true Northwest craft cider.

Price:  n/a (but their other 375ml Traditions releases run around $9)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  It showed up.

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First Impression:  Bright purple-red hue.  Low carbonation (more than the last batch).  Smells of blackberries, red wine, oak, and sourness.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate sourness.  However, the sourness is more at the front of the palate than a typical sour cider where the sourness hits further back.  Hints of funk and bitterness.  Tannic sour oaky blackberry flavor.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate red wine influence, oak influence, complexity, and flavor intensity.  No apple flavor.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  I’m not a sour cider fan, so no surprise, I wasn’t a big fan of this cider.  And thats ok…not everyone likes every cider.  With my last tasting of this I had three cider friends over (as well as my husband), and I discovered that this cider was a big hit with lovers of dry & sour ciders.  My tolerance to sour has increased in the last year though, and I found this cider much more palatable; therefore it is possible I may still acquire the taste for sours.

Most Similar to:  Finnriver Barrel Berry Sour from Port Townsend WA (although less sour) and WildCraft berry ciders from Eugene OR (all their ciders have a slight sourness although most aren’t advertised as sours).

Closing Notes:   If you love dry sour & farmhouse-style cider, Belgian-style lambic beer, etc, this cider will probably be to your liking.  I don’t think this cider will have a mass appeal, but I think it will be appreciated by fans of this style

Have you tried any sour ciders?  What did you think?

2 Towns Hop and Stalk

Review of 2 Towns’ Imperial Hop and Stalk, a seasonal release with Citra hops and rhubarb.  I sampled this last year (see here), and I’ve tried most of their line-up (see here).

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by 2 Towns.  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:  Hop and Stalk
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  8.2%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles and kegs
Style:  American Imperial (high ABV) craft cider made from dessert apples, with Citra hops and rhubarb

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Availability:  Seasonably (May-Aug) in AK, CA, HI, ID, IL (Chicago), MN, NV, OR, and WA.

Cider Description:  Fresh and citrusy, Hop & Stalk packs a Northwest punch.  Fresh-pressed apples and rhubarb are dry-hopped with Citra hops, creating a cider erupting with fresh aromatics and a tart, biting backbone.

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We never add any sugar, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing true Northwest craft cider.

Price:  n/a (runs $7.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Hazy lemonade medium straw yellow.  Low carbonation.  Smells very aromatic, primarily of citrus, with some hops and strawberry-rhubarb.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of citrus (lemon, lime, and orange), hops, floral, rhubarb, and strawberry.  Long finish with some baked apple.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.  Moderate to strong hoppiness.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it, but I liked last year’s batch better, as it seemed a tad more balanced (more fruity / less hoppy).

Most Similar to:  Hopped ciders with lots of citrus notes and some fruitiness.  Portland Cider Hop’Rageous also uses Citra hops, so you get more citrus & floral than bitter hops.  Tod Creek Mala-Hop also had a lot of citrus notes, but used Chinook, Sterling and Centennial, not Citra hops.  This is the most citrusy hopped cider I’ve tried though, and the only one with another fruit addition.

Closing Notes:  Another winner from 2 Towns!

Have you tried 2 Towns Hop and Stalk?  What did you think?

2 Towns Prickle Me Pink ^2

Review of 2 Towns Prickly Me Pink ^2 , a new iteration of the previous limited release (which I reviewed here in 2015), with prickly pear cactus fruit, and this time, watermelon.  I’ve also previously tried most of their line-up (see here).

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by 2 Towns.  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:  Prickle Me Pink ^2
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  5.7%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples with prickly pear cactus fruit and watermelon

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Availability:  Seasonably (May-Aug) in AK, CA, HI, ID, IL (Chicago), MN, NV, OR, and WA.

Cider Description:  Exuberant & quenching, Prickle Me Pink ^2 is pink and multiplied by pink.  Glowing with a naturally derived color, this taste bud oasis is crafted with Northwest apples, prickly pear cactus fruit, and now watermelon.

Dave Takush, the head cider maker said, “If you’re wondering what to pair it with, we’d suggest a watergun fight set to the tunes of Wham..”

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We never add any sugar, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing true Northwest craft cider.

Price: n/a (runs $7.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I first tried this at Cider Summit Seattle 2015.

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First Impression:  Bright pink hue.  Nearly still.  Smells moderate fruity.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Mild tartness.  Mild to moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness and funk.  Notes of cactus fruit, watermelon, strawberry, and kiwi.  Low to moderate flavor intensity and complexity.  No apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Quick finish.

My Opinion:  Yum!  I really enjoyed this, especially how fruity and flavorful it was for the dryness.  It was too easy to drink.  I had imaged this higher carbonated, but at the same time, I don’t think it would work as well as I think it would.

Most Similar to:  Nothing much.  I’ve not had any other ciders with cactus fruit except 2 Towns’ first release of this cider.  I’ve had a handful of other ciders with watermelon though; namely, Pear UP’s Watermelon Perry.

Closing Notes:  I’m surprised they went so dry with this; however, it worked.  I think this was even tastier than the last release.  The watermelon was a great addition, and also helped so the cider wasn’t quite so fluorescent pink (and likely reduced the ingredient cost too).

Have you tried 2 Towns Prickle Me Pink?  What did you think?

Schilling Cider House Visit 25 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 25th visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

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I was there on a Tuesday when they were having a 2 Towns event (they had Return of the Mac, Made Marion, Cherried Away, Flight of the Kiwi, and Sun’s Out Saison on tap).  I started with a flight.

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<left to right:  Finnriver Fire Barrel, 2 Towns Sun’s Out Saison, Locust Seckel Perry, Sea Cider Wolf in the Woods, Cockrell Dusty, and Alpenfire Heirloom Dry>

Finnriver (Chimacum WA) Fire Barrel (9.0% ABV):  This year’s Fire Barrel was just released (I’ve tried it previously; see here).  It is made from cider apples (this year they are all Organic and all from Finnriver’s own orchard), then Whiskey barrel aged for 5 months (previously it was aged in charred Bourbon barrels).  They have a detailed fact sheet on this and all their other ciders now too.  This time around it is a higher ABV, and is being released in a 750ml corked bottle (part of their Orchard Series) for $23, instead of a 500ml bottle for $11.  I prefer smaller bottles for lower prices.  I think it was underpriced before (I recognize these barrel aged ciders from real cider apples cost significantly more to produce), but $23 is a bit steep.
Darker hue.  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, bitterness, tannins, and funk.  No sourness.  Notes of apple pomace, caramel, and molasses.  Long warming finish. Oddly enough I liked this better as it warmed up, as it seemed to have more depth (often for a higher ABV cider, they become harsh as they warm). Moderate flavor intensity, apple flavor, sessionability, and complexity.  Low to moderate oak and spirit flavor.  I really enjoyed it, but the previous version was better, as it seemed more complex (I didn’t pick up the vanilla this time) and had more oak & spirit flavor, likely as it was a bit sweeter.

2 Towns (Corvallis OR) Peach Saison / Sun’s Out Saison (5.8% ABV):  I thought this was something I hadn’t tried, as it was labeled Peach Saison (they write whatever the keg label says on the tap list board, so sometimes it varies from the official name), but it turns out it is Sun’s Out Saison, back for its 2nd seasonal release (also available in bottles); I’ve tried it previously (see here).  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Notes of peach, pear, citrus, and green apple.  Quick finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate to high sessionability.  Low to moderate complexity.  I really enjoyed it.  This year’s release seemed slightly sweeter and more flavorful.

Locust Cider (Woodinville WA) Seckel Perry (6.0% ABV):  This draft-only perry is made from Seckel pears.  Smells slightly of vinegar, sourness, funk, and citrus.  Hazy hue.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied, with a nice texture.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Mouth-puckering without being overly tart or acidic.  Hints of sourness, funk, bitterness, and tannins.  Pear-forward with some citrus, even lime.  I enjoyed it.  Snowdrift also makes a nice Seckel Perry (see here).

Sea Cider (Saanichton B.C.) Wolf in the Woods (9.9% ABV):  This is a special release cider, part of their Canadian Invasion Series, with hops and pine tips, also available in bottles (for more info see here).  Dry to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate bitterness.  Low tannins.  Flavor notes were on the earthy and botanical side, with hops, wood, and citrus.  Long warming finish, but that was the first time the ABV showed up.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity and complexity.  Low sessionability.  I enjoyed it.

Cockrell Cider (Puyallup WA) Call Me Dusty / Dusty Dry (6.8% ABV):  This is their flagship dry cider, also available in bottles.  Dry to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  Rather apple-forward and flavorful for a drier cider.  Hints of peach, pineapple, and lemon.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate sessionability, complexity, and apple flavor.  I enjoyed it.

Alpenfire (Port Townsend WA) Traditional Heirloom Dry (8.0% ABV):  This is a draft-only new cider release from heirloom apples.  Dry to semi-dry.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Apple-forward flavor with some citrus and floral notes.  Moderate apple flavor, flavor intensity, complexity, and sessionability.  I enjoyed it.  Even Alpenfire’s simpler ciders are exceptional (like their Simple Cider).

Sarah also shared a few sample ciders with me.

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Carlton Cyderworks (McMinnville OR) Sidra Natural (6.9% ABV):  This is a special release Spanish Sidra-style cider (first available November 2016), made from bittersweet & bittersharp PNW apples.  Semi-dry to dry.  Low to moderate tartness, acidity, and sourness.  Low funk.  Notes of citrus but not much else.  Low flavor intensity and complexity.  I found this rather uninspiring, plus I’m not really a fan of Sidra / sour ciders.  However, this would be a good introductory Sidra for someone as it isn’t overly harsh.  Interestingly, imported real Spanish Sidra can be bought around here for significantly less than local Sidra-style cider, so I’m curious how these cider styles will sell.  Rustic and farmhouse-style ciders seem to be gaining in popularity in the PNW (or at least, in production).

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Aval (Bretagne France) Cidre Artisinal (6.0% ABV):  This is a semi widely available French cider from the Brittany region, known for sweeter and higher carbonated apple-forward ciders, typically without the sourness & funk which is common is ciders from the Normandy region.  Darker hue.  Smells sweet, of caramel.  Unknown carbonation level (this had gone flat, but I’m guessing it was higher to start with).  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Low tartness, acidity, tannins, and bitterness.  Notes of apple pomace and caramel.  Quick finish.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Low to moderate complexity.  I enjoyed this; it is a very easy-drinking French cider, similar to Celt, which is a staple cider in my house and a steal at $7.99 for four 11.2oz bottles.

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North Idaho Cider (Hayden ID) Logger (6.9% ABV):  This cidery’s ciders are new to the Seattle area (see this article), and this one retails for ~ $7.99 / 22oz.  Logger is a dry cider aged on oak and pine.  Dry.  Low sourness.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness.  Notes of oak/wood, earth, and citrus.  Mild flavor intensity and apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability and complexity.  I thought this was nice, and reminded me of Grizzly Ciderworks The Ridge.

For probably the first time, I actually enjoyed every cider in my flight.  However, my favorites were the Finnriver Fire Barrel and 2 Towns Sun’s Out Saison.  Of the bottle pours, I enjoyed the Aval best.  It was awesome to have several true artisan cider selections on tap (those made from cider apples by cideries with their own orchards), as most of the draft selections tend towards ciders made from dessert apples with added flavors (fruit, hops, etc).

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

Cider Rite of Spring 2017 – Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is Part 2/2 on Cider Rite of Spring 2017 in Portland Oregon, which includes tasting notes on the 18 ciders I tried.  See HERE for Part 1/2, covering the event itself.  Note that I have more notes on some ciders than others depending on how much of it I tried and what was going on at the event (kinda tough to take notes with one hand while holding on to your tasting glass in the other!)…its not a reflection on the cider itself.

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^ 5 Cider (Portland OR) Strawbasaurus Hop, 6.9% ABV, $6/500ml:  This is a flagship hopped strawberry cider, and the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied with a lot of foam.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate bitterness.  I couldn’t get past how overly hoppy the flavor was.  The light strawberry flavor with the intense hopped flavor was also odd.  I think hops are nice to enhance a cider’s flavor, but I don’t like when they overpower it.

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2 Towns (Corvallis OR) Pommeau, 19% ABV, $23/375ml, VIP offering:  This is an awesome Pommeau (apple brandy + apple cider, oak barrel aged for 1 year); see my previous review here.

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7 Bev / Queen Orchard (West Linn OR) Green Man, 6.7% ABV, draft only:  This cider is for the Willamette Ale & Cider House, expected to open in West Linn Oregon on June 15th, and is the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  It was described as inspired by English cider, but I found it more farmhouse-style than anything else (none of the characteristic tannins of English cider).  Hazy hue.  Smells of sulfur, sourness, and funk, but those qualities oddly enough didn’t transfer to the flavor.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Apple-forward with citrus notes.  Nice flavor, but the scent was off-putting.  It could be a first production issue.

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Alter Ego Cider (Portland OR) The Guardian Angel, 6.5% ABV, $8/500ml:  This is a flagship blueberry pomegranate cider, and the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Dark berry hue.  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  High flavor intensity, with blueberry, pomegranate, and grape, but not much apple.  High sessionability.  Juice-like.  Reminds me of Atlas’ ciders.  I liked it.

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Bauman’s Cider (Gervais OR) Peach Raspberry, 6.4% ABV, $12/22oz:  This summer seasonal cider adds peaches and raspberries, and is the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate to high flavor intensity, with rather straight-forward peach and raspberry notes.  Well balanced with a lot of flavor without being too sweet.  I really enjoyed it.

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Elk Horn Brewery (Eugene OR) Grape Perry, 6.0% ABV, draft only:  This is a perry made from dessert pears, sweetened with Concord grape juice, and the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Semi-dry.   Light bodied.  Very light fruity flavor, primarily grape.  I was expecting a sweeter more flavorful cider between the pear (unfermentable sugars typically lead to a higher residual sugar content even if fermentation isn’t stopped early) and grape, although you can tell even from the color than not a lot of grape juice was used.

Elk Horn Brewery (Eugene OR) Cherry’s Pie, 7.5% ABV, draft only:  This is a cider with cherries added.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  I found the flavor a bit weird…kinda bitter…but I just had a sip or two shared with me.

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Finnriver (Port Townsend WA) Apply Ol’ Fashion cocktail, VIP offering:  Made with Finnriver’s Spirited Apple Wine (brandy-fortified cider, 18.5% ABV, $25/500ml) and Oak and Apple cider (6.5% ABV, $10/500ml).  I’ve previously had both ciders on their own, but I didn’t like this cocktail in the least, and neither did my husband or friend, as none of us are fans of bitters.  Its likely the proportions may have got off since they made this rather rushed…it was quite an undertaking to serve a non-pre-mixed cocktail at a busy event like this.  They were also offering pours of just the Apple Wine, which is what I should have chosen.  See my Oak and Apple review here.  My favorite from Finnriver however is their Fire Barrel (see here); this year’s vintage was just released, and it is a great value at ~$11/500ml.

McMenamins Edgefield Winery (Portland OR) Black Cherry Cider, 6.8% ABV, draft only:  Semi-sweet.  Nice real cherry flavor.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  High flavor intensity.  I liked it.  I had previously only tried Edgefield’s flagship cider.

Pear UP (formerly NV Cider, East Wenatchee WA) Raspberry Perry, unknown ABV, $5/500ml:  This is a perry (only pears, no apples) with raspberries.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Nice moderate to strong fresh raspberry flavor with a hint of pear.  Refreshingly flavorful.  I was surprised how much more flavorful this was compared to their Watermelon Perry, as it is only slightly more sweet.  I like the flavor intensity of this best of all their perries I’ve tried, but the watermelon flavor remains my favorite (I’m a huge watermelon fan).

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Reverend Nat’s (Portland OR) New Moon Mandarin, 7.2% ABV, $7/500ml:  This seasonal cider is made with mandarin and tangerine juice, and finished with chamomile flowers.  Dry.  Light bodied.  High tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Very mild citrus flavor.  Warm boozy finish.  This was nice, but more subtle than I prefer.

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Runcible Cider (Mosier OR) Light of the Moon, 8.1% ABV, $17/750ml:  This is their flagship cider made using heirloom apple varieties, and the first I’ve tried from this cidery.  Hazy hue.  Semi-dry.  Low tartness, bitterness, and tannins.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of sourness and funk.   found this to be a slightly farmhouse-style apple-forward cider with some honey and citrus notes.  I liked it.

Runcible Cider (Mosier OR) Old Hoot, 7.4% ABV, $17/750ml:  This is their Farmhouse-style cider, made with English cider apple varieties.  Very hazy hue.  Dry.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low funk and tannins.  Hints of sourness.  This was well made, but a bit too rustic for my liking.

Shoutout to Kelly McCune of Runcible Cider – she had actually heard of Cider Says prior to the event, and said she likes my blog – very cool!  They are a brand new cidery (this was their first event) and have their own orchard of 500 cider apple trees, which is awesome, as so many cideries actually aren’t orchard-based.  I think it takes a cidery’s cider to the next level.

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Square Mile Cider (Portland OR) Rosé, unknown ABV, draft only, VIP offering:  This special release cider was made with hibiscus and rose hips.  Semi-dry to dry.  Light bodied.  High tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Very light fruitiness, with floral and herbal notes.  This was nice, but more subtle than I prefer.

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Swift Cider (Portland OR) Marionberry, 6.8% ABV, $8/22oz:  This is a dry flagship cider with marionberries, and the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low berry flavor intensity.  This was nice, but more subtle than I prefer.

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Tumalo Cider (Tumalo OR) Prickly Passion, unknown ABV, $6/500ml:  This is the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Semi-dry to dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Very low fruity flavor intensity.  This was nice, but more subtle than I prefer.

Tumalo Cider (Tumalo OR) Hibiscus, unknown ABV, $6/500ml:  Semi-dry to dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness acidity.  Low flavor intensity, more fruity than floral.  Slightly more flavorful than the Prickly Passion.  This was nice, but more subtle than I prefer.

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Woodbox (Portland OR) Double Barrel Whiskey Barrel Ice Cider, 12.7% ABV, $17/375ml:  This is a ice cider (made by using freezing temperatures to naturally concentrate the flavor and sugar content in apple juice before fermenting it) aged in whiskey barrels, and the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Full bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  Low tannins.  Rich flavor notes including caramel and vanilla.  High apple flavor.  Moderate to high whiskey flavor.  Moderate oak flavor.  Awesome!  They made a sign to highlight the cider’s price as the program had a mis-print of $33, which is quite a difference.

Closing Notes:

  • My favorite ciders of the event were the Woodbox Ice Cider and 2 Towns Pommeau (and my husband and friend agreed).
    • The ice cider was an especially good value too (often they run $30+ as they are so expensive to make), and the only bottle we ended up picking up (although our friend bought a number of ciders).
  • Of the non-specialty ciders, I most enjoyed Alter Ego Guardian Angel, Bauman’s Peach Raspberry, Pear UP Raspberry Perry, and Runcible Light of the Moon.
  • I was surprised how many dry ciders were being offered, and especially how many cideries were only offering dry ciders, which is nice.  However, especially when made from dessert apples, dry ciders can often end up very subtlety flavored, while I prefer a really in-your-face flavorful cider (whether an added flavor or due to use of cider apples).  I usually go for semi-dry to semi-sweet, as they tend to be more flavorful, but not too sweet.
  • There were also a number of cideries breaking from the pack and going more Farmhouse-style (like Runcible and Baird & Dewar), which isn’t typically as crowd-pleasing, but sticks to the roots of early American cider.
  • There were plenty of sweet offerings too, but mostly from the more established / larger cideries that I had already sampled (like Portland Cider Co., and the Seattle-area’s own Locust and Schilling cideries).

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That will do it for Cider Rite of Spring 2017.  Stay tuned for more tasting notes from my Portland trip, from Reverend Nat’s tap room and Bushwhacker Cider!