2 Towns Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

Review of 2 Towns Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy, a new seasonal lemon raspberry cider.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve had their Bright CiderBad AppleSerious ScrumpOut Cider, Cherried Away, Made MarionCidre Moscato, Throne of Thorns, Cider Master Reserve Batch No. 01 – Barrel Select BlendPrickle Me PinkNice & Naughty Nice & Naughty Bourbon Barrel AgedDark CurrantRiverwood Brut 2014RhubarbarianPommeau (2013 Harvest, 2015 Release), Ginja NinjaSun’s Out SaisonReturn of the MackHop and StalkLa MûreCot in the ActHollow JackTraditions Cider Bouche 2015Traditions Riverwood 2015Flight of the KiwiPrickle Me Pink ^2Afton FieldTraditions Cidre Bouche 2016Man GoghPacific Pineapple, and Passion Statement.

Photo Jun 05, 5 28 48 PM

<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 this for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review que, considering it is a new release and the info may be helpful for folks deciding to purchase it.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.>

Cider:  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples with lemons and raspberries, soured with lacto

Photo Jun 05, 5 29 11 PM Photo Jun 05, 5 29 20 PM Photo Jun 05, 5 29 29 PM

Availability:  seasonal, in Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Hawaii, Chicago and parts of Minnesota (see their cider finder)

Cider Description:  Citrusy and refreshing, Easy Peasy will have you leisurely drifting your way through summer. Crafted with fresh-pressed Northwest apples, Meyer lemon, raspberries and soured with lactobacillus, it’s summertime and the livin’s squeezy!

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. 

They were founded in 2010 and have a tap room in Corvallis Oregon.

Price:  retails for $6.99
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Hazy pink lemonade hue.  Still.  Smells of lemon and raspberry.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  High tartness and acidity.  Hints of sourness and bitterness.  No tannins or funk.  Notes of lemon, raspberry, granny smith apples, and grapefruit.  Quick finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low to moderate complexity and flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I really liked the flavor, and the sweetness was spot-on, but it was a bit too mouth-puckering tart for me.  I didn’t read that this was soured with lacto until after trying it, and I wouldn’t really have guessed, as it was mostly front of the palette tart, not back of the palette sour.  Good for me, as I don’t like true sour ciders (like Spanish sidra and rustic/farmhouse-style).

Most Similar to:  an alcoholic version of a less sweet than normal raspberry lemonade (my favorite lemonade is Crabbie’s Cloudy Alcoholic Lemonade, which like this is less sweet than typical, but I can’t seem to find it anymore)

Closing Notes:  I’m surprised they are only releasing this in bottles (at least for now), as I imagine this would be a great cider to have in cans for summer.

Have you tried 2 Towns Easy Peasy?  What did you think?

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2 Towns Passion Statement

Review of 2 Towns’ newest limited release, Passion Statement.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve previously had nearly every cider they’ve ever made (see here).

Photo Mar 06, 4 02 48 PM.jpg

<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 this for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review que, considering it is a new release and the info may be helpful for folks deciding to purchase it.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.>

Cider:  Passion Statement
Cidery:  2 Towns Cider House
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  5.2%
How supplied:  500ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, D’Anjou pears, and Yellow Maracuyá passion fruit

Photo Mar 06, 4 03 12 PM Photo Mar 06, 4 03 23 PM Photo Mar 06, 4 03 34 PM

Availability:  limited release, in Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Hawaii, Chicago and parts of Minnesota (see their cider finder)

Cider Description:  Sensational & exotic, Passion Statement stands out from the crowd, pairing stunning Yellow Maracuyá passion fruit with fresh-pressed Northwest pears and apples. With a pleasant tropical tang, this show stopping cider will turn heads, and pint glasses!

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. 

They were founded in 2010 and have a tap room in Corvallis Oregon.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $5.99 / 500ml bottle)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

Photo Mar 10, 5 31 48 PM

First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  No carbonation.  Smells intensely of sweet passion fruit.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate to high tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of passion fruit, pineapple, canned pear, lemon, and green apple.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low to moderate complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity and sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, it was a bit tart for my tastes.  I think more sweetness could have helped smooth out the initial mouth-puckering tartness.  Interestingly, it was much less tart the second day, after being left in the fridge overnight, and I enjoyed it more then.

Most Similar to:  Reverend Nat’s The Passion, which I prefer (although it is sweeter, less tart, and also has vanilla and coconut).  Portland Cider Passion Fruit, which is milder.  Also, Schilling Pineapple Passion, although that is more pineapple than passion fruit.

Closing Notes:  2 Towns has been on a role, releasing many popular ciders.  Everyone won’t like every cider, but I think they do a great job creating ciders that have a wide appeal.

Have you tried 2 Towns Passion Statement?  What did you think?

2 Towns Pacific Pineapple

Review of 2 Towns’ newest release, Pacific Pineapple.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve previously had their Bright CiderBad AppleSerious ScrumpOut Cider, Cherried Away, Made MarionCidre Moscato, Throne of Thorns, Reserve #1 Barrel Select BlendPrickle Me PinkNice & NaughtyNice & Naughty Bourbon Barrel AgedDark CurrantRiverwood Brut 2014RhubarbarianPommeauGinja NinjaSun’s Out SaisonReturn of the MackHop and StalkLa MûreCot in the ActHollow JackTraditions Cider Bouche 2015Traditions Riverwood 2015Flight of the KiwiPrickle Me Pink ^2Afton FieldTraditions Cidre Bouche 2016, and Man Gogh.

Photo Feb 15, 4 20 53 PM.jpg

<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 this for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review que, considering it is a new release and the info may be helpful for folks deciding to purchase it.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.>

Cider:  Pacific Pineapple
Cidery:  2 Towns Cider House
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  5.0%
How supplied:  500ml bottles (and kegs and cans)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with Costa Rica gold pineapples

Photo Feb 15, 4 21 21 PM Photo Feb 15, 4 21 32 PM Photo Feb 15, 4 21 48 PM

Availability:  year round, in Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska, Idaho, Hawaii, Chicago and parts of Minnesota (see their cider finder)

Cider Description:  Juicy and tropical, Pacific Pineapple rolls ripe Costa Rica golden pineapples into fresh-pressed Northwest apples. This refreshingly juicy and easy drinking session cider will relax your state of mind, no matter your locale!

Ripe Costa Rica Gold pineapples drop in on a fresh-pressed wave of Northwest apples in Pacific Pineapple, a tropical cider made possible by the diverse climate of the vast Pacific. Temperate conditions of the Pacific Northwest nurture apple orchards, whereas proximity to the equator further south creates the consistently warm temperature required to grow pineapples. Connected to apples only by name, pineapples have a radical history traveling the world after being discovered by Western explorers, who named them for their resemblance to the pine cone. Popular wherever it landed, the pineapple was regarded as an exotic delicacy, even becoming a symbol of hospitality, as only the most generous of hosts presented their guests with a pineapple. So #BeMorePacific and show your friends the hospitality of a Pacific Pineapple!

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. 

They were founded in 2010 and have a tap room in Corvallis Oregon.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $5.49 / 500ml bottle)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

Photo Feb 17, 5 19 31 PM.jpg

First Impression:  Medium yellow hue.  Smells of fresh pineapple.  Very low carbonation.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of fresh pineapple (not pineapple juice) and citrus.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor and complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  Great!  Refreshing, with real pineapple flavor.  This would be especially nice in summer, and at 5% and not being too sweet, it would be almost too easy to drink.  Its a tad drier than all the other pineapple ciders I’ve tried, but just as flavorful.

Most Similar to:  Reverend Nat’s Viva La Pineapple (and to a lesser extent, Schilling Pineapple Passion, Jester & Judge Pineapple Express, Locust Pineapple, and Ace Pineapple)

Closing Notes:  I’ve been really impressed with 2 Towns lately, as they have delivered many flavorful ciders at just the right level of sweetness for me.

Have you tried 2 Towns Pacific Pineapple?  What did you think?

My Favorite Ciders of 2017

Happy New Year!  Now that it is 2018, it is time for a list of some of my favorite ciders of 2017.  This is becoming a tradition; see here for my list from 2016 and 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 enjoy, as it would be an impossible task to try every cider out there and be impartial.  The cider world is very regional, so likely only readers in the NW would have a similar selection.  My only criteria for this list is that I drank the cider in 2017.  Some of the categories overlap.  Truth be told, for the most part, I made the list first, then determined categories to put them in!

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Budget-Friendly French Cidre:  Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidre Brut (Brittany) or L’Hermitiére Cidre Brut (Normandy) – These selections retail for $4.99 and $7.99 respectively.  The Dan Armor is only sold at Trader Joe’s.  Both are on the sweeter side of semi-dry and are true to their respective styles (although the Normandy one is more beginner friendly than many others, as it lacks sourness and only has minimal funk).  The Dan Armor is one of my top picks to introduce folks to good cider with, as it is different from sweet commercial selections, but not so out there as to turn folks off to it.  Its also a nice gauge on sweetness, as it is in the middle of the range.

 

Fancy French Cidre:  Domaine de la Minotiere Cidre Fermier Bio Doux or Pierre Huet AOC Pays D’Auge Cidre – I tried so many amazing French cidres this year that I had to include more than one!  These selections cost a tad more than the previous two, $12 and $19.99 respectively, but also have more complexity.  Both of these are low ABV selections, and the Doux was significantly sweeter, as expected for the classification.

 

English Cidre:  Newton Court Gasping Goose (330ml bottles) or Henney’s Vintage (500ml bottles) – Both of these English imports are very budget friendly and tasty.  A bit sweeter than some English ciders (on the sweeter side of semi-dry), rich, and tannic, but not bitter.  Newton Court is available in Seattle, but I’ve only seen the Henney’s in Portland (and only tried the one bottle).

 

Swiss cider:  Cidrerie du Vulcain Premiers Emois – This cider from Switzerland reminds me of French cidre, but has a style all its own.  It was made from Organic native heirloom apples, and wild yeast fermented using traditional methods.  The result was a semi-sweet cider with an awesome fluffy texture and complex fruitiness (but with less apple and yeast forward flavor as most French cidres).

European-Style U.S. cider:  2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche – This cider is by far the closest to a French cidre than any other U.S. cider I’ve tried.  It was a noticeable improvement from last year’s vintage as well.  Lots of rich ripe bittersweet apple flavor.  Unfortunately it costs more than most French cidres, as even with the import cost, their production costs are lower, as cider apple varieties aren’t rare like they are here.

 

Perry:  Ramborn Perry – I tried two selections from Ramborn Cider in Luxembourg.  This perry was complex and amazing, with notes of canned pear, dried pear, mango, pineapple, and guava.  Like most perries, as pears have unfermentable sugars, it was a bit sweeter, semi-sweet to semi-dry.

New England style:  Cockrell Colonial Winter – This cider is of true New England style, a high ABV cider with the addition to raisins and brown sugar.  Rich, complex, and perfect for winter.  It is my favorite version of this style so far.

 

Food-Friendly Cider:  Eden Semi-Dry or Eden Guineveres Pearls – Of these, the Semi-Dry is drier, much easier to find, and less expensive.  Both however are excellent selections, quite flavorful, but without anything that would overwhelm or clash with most meals.  They are also some of the most tannic on this list, same as the English selections.

 

Rosé:  Alpenfire Glow – This sweet cider is made from rare red fleshed apples, and similar to Eve’s Rustica (listed below), is amazingly fruity, with a high flavor intensity.  Here the flavor notes were watermelon, strawberry, and rhubarb.  It was a perfect Valentine’s Day cider (a gift from my husband – he knows me well)!

Barrel Aged:  Finnriver Fire Barrel – Note that this pertains to the previous releases of this cider.  I haven’t been nearly as big of a fan of Fire Barrel once they moved to 750ml bottles, as it was not nearly as flavorful (plus the price increased significantly).  In the older version, I love the complexity, intense barrel aged flavor (which is rarely found in cider), and high tannins.

 

Fruity:  2 Towns Prickle Me Pink ^2 – This cider was made using prickly pear cactus fruit, plus, new for this year, watermelon.  The result is a fluorescent pink fruity cider which is surprisingly complex and flavorful, yet fairly dry.

Rich:  Angry Orchard Maple Wooden Sleeper – This cider was made from bittersweet apples, with Crown maple syrup, then bourbon barrel aged for 12 months.  It resulted in a 12% ABV cider, super rich and complex, with a flavor profile including caramel, brown sugar, maple, oak, vanilla, bourbon, and molasses.  This was a truly artisan small batch cider, worlds away from their typical commercial releases.

 

Spicy:  2 Towns Man Gogh – I’ve never been a fan of spicy ciders, but I finally found one I could enjoy!  Here the hint of spice (from habaneros) was balanced by the fruitiness, sweetness, and acidity of the cider with mango.  This was an imperial cider, but way too easy to drink.

Commercial:  Spire Mountain Dark & Dry – I typically drink craft ciders, but I still drink commercial ciders from time to time.  This one is far from dry (more like semi-sweet), but is dark, and has some great molasses flavor.  It pairs really well with greasy food, like a burger or fish & chips.

 

Unique:  Eve’s Rustica – This is Eve’s sweetest cider (besides their ice cider), and my favorite.  I loved all the flavor they were able to showcase without any additions (just apples & yeast), with notes of honey, cream, vanilla, melon, strawberry, watermelon, pineapple, and peach.

Unexpected:  Snowdrift Cidermaker’s Reserve – This cider was made from heirloom & cider apples, but in contrast had a very unique unexpected flavor profile, with pomegranate, white grape, stone fruit, leather, butterscotch, and citrus notes.  It is unique, complex, and bubbly.  My husband is also an especially big fan of this cider.

 

Value:  Schilling King’s Shilling – I’ve picked up a 22oz bottle of this for as low as $4 (at Total Wine, actually cheaper than at the Cider House), which is a steal for a tasty barrel aged brandy infused cider.  This is more sessionable than you’d expect too.  Semi-dry and semi-sweet, with notes of honey and citrus, plus hints of maple syrup, oak, and spice.

Unexpected & Value:  Finnegan Cider Harvest Blend – This was another unexpectedly awesome cider which was also a great value.  I picked this up in Portland, for just over $7 for 500ml of cider from cider apples.  Semi-dry, with richness, high carbonation, and notes of rich ripe apples, caramel, leather, orange, stone fruit, honey, oak, and apple brandy.

 

Favorite from a New-to-Me cidery:  Woodbox Double Barrel Whiskey Barrel Ice Cider – This was the first (and only) cider I have tried from Woodbox, at Cider Rite of Spring in Portland.  I bought a bottle, but haven’t wanted to open it yet.  Lots of whiskey flavor in addition to caramel, vanilla, oak, and more.  It was rather budget-friendly for an ice cider too, at $17 / 375ml.

Pommeau:  2 Towns Pommeau – This remains my favorite Pommeau.  Super flavorful, rich, and complex, with notes of ripe apples, oak, dried fruit, leather, brown sugar, caramel, burnt sugar, vanilla, tropical fruit, and peaches.

 

Ice Cider:  Eden Cellar Series The Falstaff – This year I was spoiled with an amazing treat, a bottle of Eden’s 7! year barrel aged ice cider.  This ties with Alpenfire Smoke for the most complex cider I’ve ever drank.  The flavor was all over the place, from molasses, caramel, and brown sugar, to tart green apple and lemon, to raisin, to pie spices.

Overall:  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 be it.  However, it is not an everyday sort of cider.  They recently released a new batch of it, but I haven’t tried it yet (I’m still working on my stockpile of the old version).

Other:  Also, while I’m at it, my favorite cider event in 2017 was Cider Summit Seattle, my favorite (and only) class was by Rev Nat, and my favorite bottle shop & bar was Schilling Cider House.

Well, there you have it, a list of 26 of my favorite ciders from 2017.  They have a lot in common–most are rich and full-flavored.  What are some of your favorite ciders?

2 Towns Man Gogh

Review of 2 Towns’ latest new limited release cider, Man Gogh, a tropical mango and habanero imperial-style (high ABV) cider.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve previously had their Bright CiderBad AppleSerious ScrumpOut Cider, Cherried Away, Made MarionCidre Moscato, Throne of Thorns, Reserve #1 Barrel Select BlendPrickle Me PinkNice & NaughtyNice & Naughty Bourbon Barrel AgedDark CurrantRiverwood Brut 2014RhubarbarianPommeauGinja NinjaSun’s Out SaisonReturn of the MackHop and StalkLa MûreCot in the ActHollow JackTraditions Cider Bouche 2015Traditions Riverwood 2015Flight of the KiwiPrickle Me Pink ^2Afton Field, and Traditions Cidre Bouche 2016.

Photo Dec 02, 1 38 31 PM (1)

<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 this for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review que, considering it is a new release and the info may be helpful for folks deciding to purchase it.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.>

Cider:  Man Gogh
Cidery:  2 Towns Cider House
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft imperial-style cider from dessert apples, with mango and habanero

Photo Dec 02, 1 39 02 PM (1) Photo Dec 02, 1 38 48 PM (1)

Photo Dec 02, 1 39 13 PM (1) Photo Dec 02, 1 39 26 PM (1)

Availability:  ~ Dec 2017 thru Jan 2018, limited, primarily in Oregon, Washington, and California (see their cider finder)

Cider Description:  2 Towns Ciderhouse releases Man Gogh, a tropical-inspired Limited Release Imperial Cider, available starting this week. Tangy and equatorial, Man Gogh is a true masterpiece, artfully bringing together tropical fruit and peppers. Fresh ingredients with opposing characteristics work together to whisk you away to paradise. Van Gogh himself once said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

“2 Towns created this cider as a ray of sunshine for the cold, dark days of winter,” says Matt Dickason, cellar manager. “The freshness of the juicy mango blends seamlessly with the hot habaneros. We went easy on the habanero burn and worked to capture the fruity profile of the peppers. The result is a work of art. ”  We suggest pairing Man Gogh with Christmas tamales and Baja cuisine, like Wahoo tacos.

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. 

They were founded in 2010 and have a tap room in Corvallis Oregon.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $7.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

Photo Dec 03, 5 05 00 PM

First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells mild, of mango juice.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of mango, pineapple, citrus, and a hint of habanero.  Long warming finish (from both the high ABV and the habanero).  Very low spiciness (not really noticeable until you drink a few sips, and mostly in the finish).  Moderate sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity and complexity.  Low apple flavor.

My Opinion:  Great!  I was really surprised I enjoyed this, as I was expecting it would be quite spicy, like every other cider I’d had with habanero, jalapeno, sriracha, etc.  The flavor and sweetness were spot-on.  I was also surprised how easy this was to drink, unexpected for an imperial-style spicy cider.

Most Similar to:  I’ve tried spicy ciders before, such as Carlton Cyderworks AHH!!! Apricot Honey Habanero, Cockrell Raspberry Habanero, Elemental Jalapeno Lime Cilantro (Margarita), Schilling Sriracha Lime, Finnriver Habanero, and Schilling Peach Grapefruit Habanero.  I’ve also tried mango infused ciders, such as Atlas Pineapple MangoBull Run MangoCider Brothers William Tell Apple Mango MuscatElemental Mango, and Locust Mango.  Compared to those, this one was most similar to Elemental’s mango cider as far as flavor and sweetness, except with a hint of spice, on a similar level to Elemental’s Margarita.

Closing Notes:  I can see this becoming a very popular release.

Have you tried 2 Towns Man Gogh?  What did you think?

2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche – 2016 Vintage

This review is of 2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche, a French-style keeved cider.  This is their second release of this cider, the 2016 vintage (see my review here of the 2015 vintage).  I’ve also tried many other ciders from 2 Towns (see here).

Keeving is a special labor intensive process of fermenting the cider slowly, starving it of natural nutrients.  It results in an apple-forward, naturally sweet, lower ABV, and higher carbonation cider.  This is typical for French cidre, but is very rare in the U.S.

Photo Oct 06, 11 00 43 AM

>>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:  Traditions Cidre Bouche
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis Oregon
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  375ml (12.7oz) fancy single bottles
Style:  American craft French style cider, keeved, from cider apples, oak cask aged

Photo Oct 06, 11 00 50 AM

Photo Oct 06, 11 01 00 AM Photo Oct 06, 11 01 10 AM

Availability:  Limited (310 cases of 12 bottles), although 2 Towns ciders are generally available in AK, CA, HI, ID, OR, WA, and Minneapolis MN & Chicago IL.

Cider Description:  Inspired by the bittersweet ciders of France, Cidre Bouche is made using an old-world process called keeving.  Starting with 100% traditional cider varieties like Kingston Black, Michelin, Reine des Pommes, Dabinett, and Muscat de Lense, we let the fruit ‘sweat’ and intensify in aroma.  The apples are crushed and left to soak on the skins before the juice is fermented slowly over the course of a tear in French oak casks.  When finished, this keeved cider is rich, thick, and brimming with overripe bittersweet apple character.

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 ~ $10)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

Photo Oct 06, 5 04 02 PM (1).jpg

First Impression:  Moderate amber hue.  Low carbonation with some foam.  Smells of sweet ripe French bittersweet cider apple juice, yeast, and a predominant funk / barnyard.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Low funk.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness.  Notes of rich ripe bittersweet cider apple juice and pomace, yeast, caramel, and orange.  Low oak influence.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  I really enjoyed it.  The flavor was amazingly bold and rich, it remained free of sourness (which I’m not a fan of), and the funk added a bit of complexity but remained primarily in the scent.

Most Similar to:  French cidres with a bit of funk but no sourness, such as Christian Drouin Pays d’AugeL’Hermitiére Cidre Brut, and Manoir De Montreuil Cambremer

Closing Notes:   I think this release was significantly better than last year’s version, and if I was tasting it blind, I would have guessed it was made in France, not Oregon!  2 Towns has really mastered their keeving technique.  Its pretty cool to see a U.S. cidermaker use this old world French process.  We may see more keeved ciders, especially in the Northwest, as the NW Cider Association took a group of cidermakers (using grant money) to France and England to learn about keeving in May/June 2017; see here.

However, the price is a bit high (although understandable due to the high cost of cider apples in the U.S., and that this was a very labor intensive and relatively small batch release).  Many imported French cidres cost less per ounce.  By the way, my favorite budget-friendly French cider is Dan Armor, only $5 / 750ml (only at Trader Joe’s).  It is more simplistic (less complex) that this one however.  I’m not sure if U.S. cideries will ever be able to compete with those sorts of prices on ciders from bittersweet cider apples.

Have you tried 2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche?  What did you think?

Notes from a Cider Tasting Class with Reverend Nat

For my third Washington Cider Week 2017 event, I attended a cider tasting class with Nat West of Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider (in Portland Oregon), at Downtown Spirits in downtown Seattle.  It was my first time at that store, which had a large selection (spirits, wine, beer, cider, mead, etc), plus an area set up with chairs & tables for classes & tastings.

The Event

I only read about the event the day before, but it sounded like a cool opportunity, as The Reverend (as he is commonly referred to – and he is an actual online ordained Reverend) has a lot of interesting insight on the industry.  I already missed out on some fun cider week events as I didn’t find out about them until after the fact (apparently the official NW Cider calendar stopped accepting submissions pretty early), so I didn’t want to pass this up.

The tasting list was a bit underwhelming with multiple mass market PNW canned ciders, but the two hour event with 10 ciders only cost $10.  That was crazy good deal, as that probably only covered the cider (and maybe even not), so Nat was basically volunteering his time.  He took the train up from Portland just for this and one other event.  There were only 11 of us who attended (and 2 of those were store employees).

I liked that the class was very informal.  We were encouraged to ask questions whenever, and we were even allowed to just pass the ciders around and pour how much we wanted (with a suggested amount so everyone got to try some).  Although that meant we couldn’t go back and taste anything (unless there were leftovers), it also meant I didn’t have cider poured into my glass which I would have felt obligated to drink to move on.

Cider Tasting Notes

We tasted the following ciders, in this order:  Cascadia Granny Smith, Liberty McIntosh, Wandering Aengus Golden Russet, Seattle Cider Winesap Rosé , Seattle Cider Semi Sweet, Rambling Route Apple, Reverend Nat’s Revival, Bull Run Bramble Berry, 2 Towns Cot in the Act, and Reverend Nat’s The Passion.  The first was described as a palette cleanser, the next three as American Heirloom, the following three as American common, and the last three as flavored.  Most of the time he would also include some European ciders, like English, French, and/or Spanish, but I think he was limited to what this store had in stock and cold.

The only new-to-me cider was Seattle Cider Winesap Rosé.  Nat asked if anyone had tried all the ciders, and I said 9/10, and it was the same for him (apparently that is a new ish Seattle Cider release).  The majority of the class seemed to be more so fans of Reverend Nat’s cider (which tend to be beer fans), than overall cider enthusiasts like me.

Cascadia Ciderworks United (Portland OR) Green Apple (6.9% ABV) – This retails for $9.99 / four pack of 16oz cans, and is made by Reverend Nat’s.  Semi-dry, very tart, and definitely green apple flavor (single varietal).

Liberty Ciderworks (Spokane WA) McIntosh (8.1% ABV) – See my previous notes here.  Liberty was described as a more traditional cidermaker, plus I know they are unique in that they are not orchard based, but only use heirloom & cider apples.  This single varietal is available in bottles and on draft, and retails around $16 / 750ml.  Nat described this apple variety as making a juice which is very appley (more than many other heirloom apple varieties), and it not being as common in the PNW as it is in the NE.  Semi-dry.  Low to moderate tannins.  Notes of apple juice, caramel, honey, and must.  Some other folks in the class were picking up hints of “bandaid” flavor (which is from a combination of Brettanomyces, tannins, and polyphenols).  I must not be sensitive to that, as I’ve never noticed it with any cider.  However, in contrast, I am very sensitive to sourness, common in farmhouse and Spanish style ciders.

Wandering Aengus (Salem OR) Golden Russet (9.0% ABV) – See my previous notes here.  Wandering Aengus was described as one of the first cideries in the NW, starting in the 1990s, under the name “The Traditional Company”.  This is a single varietal made using Golden Russet apples which they grew themselves, and dry farmed (no irrigation).  It retails for around $9 / 500ml.  I would have described it as on the sweeter side of semi-dry, but apparently this measures full dry (my all have different palettes!).  Tart, acidic, bitter, and slightly tannic.  Rich flavor.  Long acidic tannic finish.

Seattle Cider Co. (Seattle WA) Winesap Rosé (6.0% ABV) – I’ve tried multiple single varietals from Winesap apples, and multiple rosé ciders, but not this one.  Winesap Rosé is a single varietal from Winesap apples, and pink/rosé from being aged in red wine barrels.  It retails for around $11 / 500ml.  Semi-dry.  Watery.  Slightly fruity, with a hint of oak.  The carbonation was visible but not detectable.  Low tartness and acidity.  Hints of tannins.  Quick finish.  I think this would appeal more to wine folks.  Like most of their ciders, the flavor was very mild.

Seattle Cider Co. (Seattle WA) Semi Sweet (6.5% ABV) – See my previous notes here.  This is a very commonly found cider in Seattle, and retails for about $11 / four 16oz cans.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Fuller bodied.  Low acid.  Notes of apple juice, honey, and citrus.

Rambling Route (Yakima WA) Apple (6.9% ABV) – See my previous notes here.  This is made by Tieton, and retails for about $9 / four 16oz cans.  Higher carbonation.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Very similar to Seattle Cider, but slightly more apple-forward.  We were told these two ciders are so similar as they use the same dessert apple juice blend, same wine yeast, sugar for back-sweetening, etc.

Reverend Nat’s (Portland OR) Revival (5.8% ABV) – See my previous notes here.  This retails for about $15 / six 12oz bottles or $6 / 500ml bottle.  This is a very unique cider as it gets a lot of different flavors just from the use of multiple yeast strains, piloncillo sugar, and a secret ingredient which he told us but said I couldn’t write down.  It is made by mixing two batches of cider together.  One has yeast strain 1 and the sugar, and results in a high ABV.  The other has yeast strain 2, and results in a more typical ABV.  Then fresh juice is added, which is about 20% of the makeup.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Notes of apple juice, yeast, brown sugar, honey, and hints of tropical fruit.

Bull Run (Forest Grove OR) Bramble Berry (6.8% ABV) – See my previous notes here.  This cider with marionberries, blackberries, and boysenberries retails for $8 / 500ml.  Semi-dry, with the berry more in the nose than the flavor, low acid, and hints of tannins from the berries.

2 Towns (Corvallis OR) Cot in the Act (6.2% ABV) – See my previous notes here.  This is a seasonal apricot cider (made using the whole fruit, not just juice) which retails for about $12.50 / six 12oz cans or $8 / 500ml.  Very strong apricot scent.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry, juicy, notes of stone fruit, and flavorful.

Reverend Nat’s (Portland OR) The Passion (6.9% ABV) – See my previous notes here.  This is a seasonal cider made with Ecuadorian passion fruit juice, toasted coconut, and vanilla, and retails for about $14 / 500ml.  I had previously heard this described as a sour cider, but this bottle pour and my previous draft pour were both free from sourness, so I’m game to buy it sometime as I really enjoy the flavor.  Semi-sweet (his sweetest cider).  Tart.  High flavor intensity, with a strong passion fruit scent & flavor, with hints of vanilla & coconut.

My favorite ciders of those were from Liberty, 2 Towns, and Rev Nat’s.

Info from Rev Nat

  • We discussed some cider basics such as sweetness vs. acidity and the cidermaking process.  However, I was surprised that I don’t think the word “tannins” came up at all (although it was on the handout, which had one side of general cider info and one side with info about the 10 ciders), despite at least the Liberty and Wandering Aengus ciders being good examples.
  • Rev Nat’s has five cider bases, and two of them are the Cascadia green & blue cans
  • 2 Towns (another common Oregon cidery) is six times as large as Rev Nat’s (I assume in context of cider produced/year)
  • Rev Nat’s currently has 22 employees
  • Rev Nat’s will be moving into a new 25,000 sq ft cidery space, and will then convert their current 8,000 sq ft space into only a tap room, including food.  It doesn’t look like the news about this being finalized has been officially announced, but this article from last year mentioned the same info.
  • Profit margins are about the same for all cideries, so ciders that cost more do actually cost more to make.
  • Specific gravity is a way to measure the sweetness of a cider, using the weight of the cider compared to the weight of the same amount of water.  The interesting thing with SG however is that you can have a cider with a specific gravity lower than water, so that would say the cider was drier than water lol.
  • Single varietal ciders are apparently more of an American thing, due to our new experimental cider culture.  They are probably second most common in England.
  • Wine/champagne yeast is often used in cidermaking as it ferments cleanly at low temperatures, is easy to remove (it will clump at the bottom of the tank), and it is designed to not impact the flavor.
  • Rev Nat’s in contrast uses beer yeast, which is designed to impart flavor (we were told the yeast in beer is actually what has the most impact on a beer’s flavor, not the grains or hops).  I think this class did a good job showcasing Rev Nat’s ciders, as they were two of the 2-4 most flavorful ciders of the group of 10.
  • Nat said cider that is cloudy is more of a marketing gimmick, and cloudy ciders don’t really retain more flavor than the more commonly found filtered ones.  Cloudiness in a cider can be from suspended yeast, apple debris/pulp, or pectin (naturally in apples).  The first two can be filtered out, but not the last.  This really made me think, as I’ve had a number of ciders which were cloudy and very flavorful (Downeast comes to mind).  They did tend to be sweet and apple juice forward though, so its quite plausible they would have still tasted like that after filtering.  Also, I’ve never tried the same cider before and after filtering, which I think would be the real test.
  • Nat often does an expanded cider tasting class during Oregon Cider Week, which includes 30! ciders in 3 hours

After the Event

I forgot to snag a photo before the tasting, but I got one of the aftermath:

2017-09-13 19.53.15

After the event I looked around the Downtown Spirits shop and was excited to find an entire shelf of cider that was 50% off – Alpenfire, Eden, Eric Bordelet, Slyboro, etc.  Its sad, but the high end and/or imported ciders just don’t sell very quickly.  I’ve heard from several shops that they won’t be re-stocking those sorts of items.  It has got more difficult for me to get imports especially.  I hadn’t planned to pick up any cider as my cabinet is full, but I picked up six bottles of high end ciders for under $50, as it was too good of a deal to pass up.  Very cool!