Cider Summit Seattle 2018 Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is post 2/2 on Cider Summit Seattle 2018, with tasting notes on 21 ciders.  Post 1/2 covered the event.  Sorry some of these photos aren’t that great, but this isn’t a photography blog…

The Tasting Notes

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2 Towns (Corvallis OR) Pommeau – I’ve had their Pommeau (cider + apple brandy) a number of times (see my full review here), and have a bottle in my “cellar”, but its probably my favorite U.S.-made Pommeau.  Both me and my husband didn’t want to pass up a sample.  Semi-sweet, rich, easy to drink despite the high ABV, and awesome as always.

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Angry Orchard (Walden, NY) Dear Brittany – This is one of the small batch ciders made at their Innovation Cider House, a French-style keeved cider.  Semi-dry, tart, and funky, with a hint of sourness, although I picked up more heirloom than bittersweet apple flavor.  As expected for a keeved cider, it was very apple-forward and flavorful in general for not being very sweet.

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Blue Mountain (Milton-Freewater, OR) Pete Limely – Semi-dry to dry with notes of tart citrus (especially lemon-lime).  This was a bit too dry and mildly flavored for me, but I liked the overall flavor notes.

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Brownrigg (Seattle WA) Rum Barrel Aged – This is apparently not a new cidery (I read they started in 2014), but this is my first time seeing them, and my first time trying their cider.  Dry.  Very mild flavor, slightly tart, with a rum finish.  I think I would have liked this better if it was a bit sweeter.

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Chelan Craft Cider (Chelan WA) Cider with Lemon – This is a new cidery, and my first time trying their cider.  Semi-dry, with lots of tart refreshing lemon flavor.  I liked it.  I’m curious how they will do in the market though, as their bottles were listed for $23 / 750ml.  I couldn’t tell what type of apples they used – maybe dessert, maybe heirloom.  The price would be more in-line with heirloom, but still on the high end of what I see in stores.

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Cider Riot! (Portland OR) Everyday Passionfruit – Awesome tropical scent, on the drier side of semi-dry, but the passionfruit flavor was very mild and mostly on the finish, which was a bit of a let down.

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d’s Wicked (Kennewick WA) Tropical  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, tart, with notes of orange, pineapple, and passion fruit.  I liked how flavorful it was without being sweet.

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Herb’s Cider (Bellingham WA) Triplet Special Reserve French Oak Aged Semi-Dry – This is a new cidery, and my first time trying their cider.  Semi-dry to dry, thin bodied, super mild flavor intensity, with notes of heirloom apples and hints of oak.  This was a bit too mildly flavored for me.

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Hérout à Auvers (Normandy France) Pommeau de Normandie AOC – Imported by Beauchamp Imports (French Cider Inc.) – they have online sales too by the way.  This Pommeau is made from 3/4 apple cider and 1/4 Calvados (French apple brandy), then aged at least 14 months in oak barrels.  Semi-sweet, both rich/oaky/earthy and fruity (both my husband and I agreed on strawberry), clean (no funk or sourness), easy to drink for the higher ABV, and overall awesome.  I bought a bottle to take home, and think it was an awesome value at $40 / 750ml (as most local Pommeaux run $25 / 375ml).  Pommeau keeps very well by the way, and you can leave a bottle open for months and just have a bit at a time – I think this will be perfect at cellar temp in my cider fridge.  They also brought La Chouette Rosé, Kystin Opalyne, and Herout AOC Cotentin Extra-Brut, which I’ve previously sampled.

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Idun Cider (Seattle WA) Heirloom Dry – This is a new cidery, and my first time trying their cider.  They currently only have this single flagship release.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, medium bodied, very apple forward, but overall mild in flavor.  I didn’t really taste the heirloom apples (this is listed as having Gravenstein, Winesap, and Newtown Pippin), but I kinda liked it.

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Manoir du Parc (Normandy France) Authentic Rosé – Made from red-fleshed apples and pears.  Semi-sweet, lovely fluffy natural carbonation, and notes of strawberry, watermelon, and pear.  Very reminiscent of La Choute Rosé.  Awesome!

Manoir du Parc (Normandy France) Authentic Cidre – I also re-tried their flagship cidre.  On the drier side of semi-dry, funky and tannic, apple and yeast forward, with a hint of sourness.  My husband surprisingly liked this (usually he dislikes funk, like I dislike sourness).  I think it was because the cidermaker? (or at least some very knowledgeable French dude) was telling us all about it during the tasting.  That sort of experience is what makes me love Cider Summit.

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Miloslawski (Poland) Perry – Imported by Browar Polska Imports.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry, with a very mild canned pear flavor.  I surprisingly liked it.  I was expecting it to be super sweet, but it was a perfect sweetness level for me.

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Ole Swede (Tonasket, WA) Bada Bing! Cider – 90% apple and 10% cherries, co-fermented.  Semi-dry, tart, with a mild real cherry flavor.  They also have a Cherry Perry, which I thought I had tried, but I can’t find anything that I wrote about it, so I guess not!

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One Tree (Spokane WA) Tropical – Semi-sweet, full bodied, juice-like, with a very very similar flavor to Schilling’s Imperial Passionfruit that I tried the night before (as it was made using the same puree from Oregon Fruit Products), but with a hint of pineapple (which One Tree added in addition to the puree and apple juice).  I really enjoyed it, and think it would have been awesome to use it in a cocktail with rum.

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Pear UP (Wenatchee WA) Barrel Hoppin Pear – A barrel aged version of their hopped perry (100% pears, no apple).  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Smooth, mild flavor, with hints of pear, hops, and oak.  I usually don’t go for the mild flavored ones, but that worked well for this one, as hops isn’t something you want to go too overboard with.

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Possmann (Germany) Pure Cider Rosé Black Currant – Imported by Browar Polska Imports.  Semi-sweet with a light fruity flavor, although I couldn’t specifically identify black currant.  I surprisingly liked this, despite the commercialness.

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Ruwet (Belgium) Cidre – Imported by Browar Polska Imports.  Semi-dry, mild overall flavor with apple & citrus.  It tasted a bit commercial to me though, and I would have liked more flavor intensity.  I think this is my first Belgium cider, very cool.

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Schilling (Auburn, WA) Red Wine Barrel Aged Pommeau (paired with chocolate) –  Semi-dry, smells of red wine barrel, but for me the flavor was mostly apple-flavored alcohol burn.  A bit too boozy for my liking.  My husband was a bigger fan.  They also have this on tap at Schilling Cider House right now.

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Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) Red Wine Barrel Berry – On the drier side of semi-dry,  super mild, with hints of berry, oak, and botanicals, and a red wine finish.  Characteristically Seattle Cider.  Surprisingly complex, but for some reason I didn’t really like it, although I couldn’t say why.

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Tieton Ciderworks (Yakima, WA) Oak Barrel Aged Cider Summit Collaboration – Semi-dry, higher carbonation, tart, super mild smooth citrus & oak flavor.

In Summary

It was impossible to taste all the ciders at the event (or even one from each producer), so I’d also like to share previous tasting notes and reviews of ciders from the other cideries I didn’t get to highlight:  Alter Ego, AnthemAvid (previously Atlas), Bad GrannyChatter CreekDouble MountainDragon’s HeadEaglemount, Eden, ElementalFinnriverHi-WheelInclineJester & JudgeJ. Seeds, LibertyLocust, Longdrop, Louis RaisonMaeloc, MontanaMoonlight MeaderyPortlandReverend Nat’sSamuel SmithsSea CiderSnowdriftSteelhead, SwiftWandering Aengus, Washington GoldWildCraft, and Worley’s

My favorites of the day were Herout Pommeau, 2 Towns Pommeau, One Tree Tropical, d’s Tropical, and Manoir du Parc Authentic Rosé.

This event is always the highlight of Washington Cider Week, and the biggest and best cider event of the year in the Seattle area!

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2 Towns Pearadise

Review of 2 Towns Pearadise, Imperial Getaway, their new spring seasonal imperial-style cider from apples and pears  then finished with white grape wine.  See the article here.  It is my first time trying this, although I have 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 PineapplePassion StatementEasy Peasy.

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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 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:  Pearadise
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  8.6%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American imperial-style craft cider from apples, D’Anjou pears, and Muscat grapes

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

Cider Description:  Fruity and complex, Pearadise is found in this distinctly Northwest libation. Fresh-pressed pears are fermented together with local apples, then finished by blending in a touch of white wine, resulting in a sophisticated imperial style with plenty of panache.

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)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Light gold hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells mild, of sweet pear and white grape.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of pear, white grape, wood, and pineapple.  Long warming white wine-like finish.  Moderate pear flavor, flavor intensity, and complexity.  Low apple flavor and sessionability.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  I had this in my cider fridge, so I first tried it at cellar temperature.  However, I quickly found this, like most imperial-style ciders, is a variety best drank very cold.  Once it properly chilled, it was much easier to drink.  Lots of flavor, starting with pear with a hint of apple, then finishing like a white wine, with grape and some alcohol-forward warmth.  I would have guessed it was barrel aged as I got a distinct wood/oak note, but they didn’t describe it as that, plus the price point is quite low on this, so I’d be surprised if it was.

Most Similar to:  The grape aspect of this reminded me of 2 Towns’ own Cidre Moscato.  However, I can’t remember ever having an imperial-style pear cider, nor could I find any but this in an online search.

Closing Notes:  It is surprising with how many dozens of cider varieties 2 Towns has made, how few have been made with pears.  They had a previous version of Pearadise in 2012 (as mentioned in this article), and more recently, Passion Statement (with pear and passionfruit), and now this, but that is about it.

Have you tried 2 Towns Pearadise?  What did you think?

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.

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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 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

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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?

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).

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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 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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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 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)

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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

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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?