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!

2 Towns Flight of the Kiwi

Review of 2 Towns’ Flight of the Kiwi, their newest special release cider, made with all NW ingredients – dessert apples, kiwi berries, and gooseberries, fermented with Sauvignon Blanc yeast, then oak aged.  See the press release here.  It is my first time trying this cider, although I’ve tried most of their lineup (see 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:  Flight of the Kiwi
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  5.8%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with kiwi berries & gooseberries, oak aged

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Availability:  limited release, primarily in CA, OR, and WA

Cider Description:  Corvallis, Oregon’s 2 Towns Ciderhouse has a new uniquely fruited hard cider out called “Flight of the Kiwi,” an oak-aged cider made with NW kiwi fruit, fresh-pressed apples, and some gooseberries for good measure. This tropical-flavored cider has a sessionable 5.8% ABV. Two pounds of hardy kiwi berries, small cousins of the better-known kiwifruit, go into every gallon of this cider, which is fermented cold with Sauvignon Blanc yeast and is named after New Zealand’s curious flightless bird….Flight of the Kiwi has the backbone to stand up to flavorful and hearty fare—try pairing it with chipotle pork or bacon grilled cheese sandwiches.

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
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  cidery press release

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells mild, of kiwi and white grape.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of kiwi, white grape, mango, pineapple, mineral, lemon, and oak.  Quick finish length.  Low apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Low flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  Low oak influence.

My Opinion:  This was a subtle wine-like cider, which I usually don’t go for.  However, I really liked the flavor and complexity of this one, plus it was very easy to drink and food-friendly.

Most Similar to:  Moa Brewing Kiwifruit cider, which is the only other cider with kiwi added which I’ve tried; it also had a lot of wine-like subtlety, but was carbonated.

Closing Notes:  This was another winner from 2 Towns!

Have you tried 2 Towns Flight of the Kiwi?  What did you think?

My Favorite Ciders of 2016

What an awesome year 2016 was in the cider world!  Cider Says has now been up for a year and a half.  Like other cider bloggers, I thought it would be fun to make a list of my favorite ciders of 2016.  See here for my list from 2015.  To make it a bit different and easier, I put them into categories instead of trying to do a top ten list or similar.

Note that I wouldn’t try to make a list of the best ciders, just those I enjoyed, as it would be an impossible task to try every cider out there and be impartial.  My only criteria for this list is that I drank the cider in 2016.

Multi pack:  Reverend Nat’s Revival – This one is complex for being made from dessert apples, with lots of unique flavor just from the yeast varieties used.  Celt – I always keep this easy drinking apple & yeast forward French cider in the house as its convenient & affordable.  Thatchers Green Goblin – For how commercial it is, I ended up really enjoying this sweeter simple English cider.

Canned:  One Tree Crisp Apple – I don’t usually go for plain flagship ciders, but this one had some nice unfiltered apple juice flavor without being over the top sweet.  Cidergeist Semi Dry – This reminded me of French cider; too bad it isn’t available locally.  Long Drop Vanilla Honey – Awesome honeycomb flavor.

French:  Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidre Brut – A $5 selection from Trader Joe’s which doesn’t disappoint and has some great apple forward sparkling goodness.  Christian Drouin Pays d’ Auge – I loved the bittersweet apple flavor, and that the funk remained mild.

English:  Aspall Imperial – Rich flavor, high ABV, and a low price tag.  Dunkertons Dry  (awesomely tannic) and Black Fox (nice fruity twist on an English cider), which I hope to find locally now that they are distributed in the U.S.

Italian:  Bertolinos – My first Italian cider, which I found to be simple but tasty, and budget friendly too.

Swiss:  Cidrerie du Vulcain Transparente – My first Swiss cider, which reminded me of French cider, in between the typical Brittany & Normandy styles.

Canadian:  Sea Cider Ruby Rose – This fruity high ABV cider is made with rhubarb and rose hips, making it a unique summer sipper.

Fruity:  Doc’s Draft Sour Cherry – A cherry cider is difficult to pull off without tasting medicinal, but the flavor is spot-on with this one.  Jester & Judge Pineapple Express – Although simple, this cider has some awesome pineapple flavor, a nice frothy texture, and a hint of lime.

Rosé:  Eden Imperial 11 Rosé – This drier cider with red currant is high ABV and amazingly fruity.  Alpenfire Glow – This sweeter cider is made from rare red fleshed apples and also amazingly fruity, with a high flavor intensity.

Limited Release:  Angry Orchard & Eden collaboration, Understood in Motion: 01 – This cider is only available at Angry Orchard’s Walden NY cider house, and was made from Vermont heirloom apples, barrel aged, and mixed with some ice cider; awesome!

Hopped:  2 Towns Hop & Stalk – I wouldn’t call myself a fan of either rhubarb or hops, but for whatever reason I really enjoyed this cider; the flavors really complimented each other and created a unique and surprisingly complex cider (I’m also a sucker for Imperial / high ABV ciders).

High ABV:  Alpenfire Smoke – This 16% ABV sipping cider has an amazing complexity, with rich oaky smokey flavor.  If I had to name just one favorite cider, this would probably be it, although its not an everyday sort of cider.  I hope it gets released again soon, as I’m down to only one bottle!

Oaked:  Sheppy’s Oak Matured – I love the strong oak flavor in this cider; as a bonus, it is budget friendly too.

Barrel Aged:  Reverend Nat’s Whiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black Currant – This was my favorite cider from Cider Summit Seattle 2016, with awesome berry, oak, and whiskey flavor.

Sparkling:  AEppelTreow Appely Doux – This methode champenoise cider has a wonderful texture & flavor, and would be a great champagne alternative.

Perry:  EZ Orchards Poire – I’m not a huge Perry fan, but those I do like tend towards the French Poire style; this one has a creamy texture and complex fruitiness.

Pommeau:  Etienne Dupont Pommeau – This is their Cidre Bouche aged in Calvados barrels with Calvados added, and is flavorful, rich, and complex.  Wandering Aengus Pommeau – Milder in flavor than some other Pommeaus, but still rich and complex.

Ice Cider:  Eden Heirloom Blend Apple Brandy Barrel Aged – I’ve enjoyed all of Eden’s ice ciders, but this is my favorite, as it had the added depth from barrel aging in addition to all the rich complexity of their typical ice cider.

Great Value:  Schilling King’s Shilling – I’ve picked up a 22oz bottle of this for as low as $4 (and as high as $7), which is a steal for a tasty barrel aged brandy infused cider.

Wine-like:  Honeywood Winery Hard Apple Cider – Quite different than I was expecting, but I liked it; this one reminded me of dessert wine with the white grape notes, higher ABV, and sweetness.

Draft-only:  Wandering Aengus Bittersweet – An amazingly rich and tannic cider made from bittersweet apple juice from Poverty Lane Orchards (Farnum Hill); wild fermented but it wasn’t funky.

Unexpected:   Gowans 1876 Heirloom – This cider almost seemed to good to be true, as it was so full flavored and apple forward.

Well, there you have it, a list of 32 of my favorite ciders from 2016.  They have a lot in common–most are rich and full-flavored.  Still, it seems like so many great ciders didn’t make the cut, which is unfortunate.

What are your favorite ciders?

2 Towns Return of the Mack

Review of 2 Towns Return of the Mack, a limited release unfiltered oak aged cider made with McIntosh apples.  I previously tried an earlier release of this on draft (see here).  I’ve also tried many other ciders from 2 Towns (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:  Return of the Mack
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis Oregon
ABV:  8.4%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft unfiltered cider with McIntosh apples, aged 12 months in oak foeders

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Availability:  Limited release, but 2 Towns ciders are generally available in AK, CA, HI, ID, OR, WA, and Minneapolis MN & Chicago IL.

Cider Description:  Rich and complex, Return of the Mack is a specialty cider aged for 12 months in 1800 liter oak foeders and finished with McIntosh apples.  So good.  Yes, I cried, yes, I cried.

From Dave Takush, head cider maker for 2 Towns Ciderhouse:  Return of the Mack is super rich, exceptionally juicy and has a big oak tannin backbone.  It makes a great pairing with dark and stormy nights, and 90s slow jams.

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)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  It showed up at my door (I’m spoiled!).

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First Impression:  Hazy dark pumpkin straw yellow.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells like tart unfiltered apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Smooth with a well-hidden ABV.  Notes of unfiltered apple juice, lemon, orange, honey, and a hint of floral.  Quick to moderate length finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  Low oak influence (I expect it smoothed the flavor out more than adding any significant overt oak flavor).

My Opinion:  I enjoyed Return of the Mack, but it is more of a basic easy drinking cider which I would expect to find in a multi pack, vs. a single bottle specialty release.

Most Similar to:  I’d call this a sweeter, more boozy, and slightly more complex version of 2 Towns Out Cider.

Closing Notes:  2 Towns makes some great stuff.  My favorites are Traditions Bourbon Barrel 2012, Bad Apple, Hop & Stalk, Traditions Cidre Bouche 2015, and Pommeau 2015.

Have you tried 2 Towns Return of the Mack?  What did you think?