Perry Tasting Notes

There was recently a perry tasting at my house (thanks Sarah, Merce, and Kevin from Cider Log for sharing!).  I took a few tasting notes.  Note that perry is similar to cider, but made from pears, no apples.  [In contrast to pear cider, which in the U.S. is often an apple cider with some pear juice/flavor added.]

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We didn’t end up opening every bottle, so we’ll need to have a perry tasting part 2!  Our dinner pairing was pizza, which worked surprisingly well.

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Dragon’s Head (Vashon Island WA) Methode Champenoise Perry (6.3% ABV), $29 / 750ml:  This is a special release of Dragon’s Head’s Perry, which was made in Methode Champenoise, a labor-intensive traditional way of making a naturally sparkling cider.  It was made from Taylor’s Gold and heirloom seedling Vashon Island pears .  High carbonation.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  High tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  Notes of pear juice & skin, floral, and honey.  I enjoyed it, although it was very mildly flavored.  It would be a nice champagne alternative, albeit pricey (this was by far the most expensive bottle we opened).

Oliver’s (Herefordshire England) Herefordshire Perry (6.9% ABV), price unknown:  This is an English bottle-conditioned perry made from perry pears.  Smells very funky.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low sourness.  Moderate funk.  Mild tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low tannins.  Pear-forward and floral.  I enjoyed it.

Hogan’s (Alcester, England) Vintage Perry 2010 (5.4% ABV), ~$10 / 500ml:  This is another English perry made from perry pears.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light bodied.  Hints of sourness, funk, tannins & bitterness.  Low tartness & acidity.  Pear-forward, rich, and nutty.  I really enjoyed it.

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Mission Trail (Bradley CA) Perry (6.0% ABV), price unknown:  This perry was made from Bartlett pears, and claims to be the only true perry (not pear cider) made in California.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness & acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of pear, stone fruit, and honey.  I liked it, but this was the most “commercial” / pear cider type tasting of the group.

Viuda de Angelon (Asturias Spain) Sidra de Pera (5.2% ABV), $4 / 11.2oz:  This is a Spanish perry.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied, frothy.  Hints of sourness & funk (less so than most Spanish ciders).  Low to moderate tartness & acidity.  Pear-forward with notes of apricot.  I liked it.

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Sea Cider (Saanichton B.C. Canada) Perry (6.5% ABV), $18 / 750ml:  This is a Canadian perry made from perry pears.  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Very light kinda weird flavor, more floral & herbal than pear.  I think this was a bit of an off bottle though, as it was infected with scobies.  I’ll have to give it another try sometime.

AEppelTreow (Burlington WI) Perry (7.5% ABV), $12 / 750ml:  This is a Methode Champenoise perry made from Comice, Bosc, and Bartlett pears.  Semi-sweet.  Moderate carbonation.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness & tannins.  Tastes exactly like champagne, no pear, but juicy, plus notes of stone fruit and honey.  I enjoyed it, although it was not what we were expecting.  Also a nice champagne alternative, and an excellent value for Methode Champenoise.

The day after the group tasting I opened up my bottle of Samuel Smith’s perry, as it was already in the fridge.

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Samuel Smith’s (Tadcaster, England) Organic Perry (5.0 ABV), $3 / 12oz:  This is another English perry, and Organic, but the most commercial (ingredient list included water, pear extract, malic acid, etc).  Semi-sweet.  Low to moderate carbonation.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  No pear flavor, but notes of apple, apricot & other stone fruit, and honey (if I tasted it blind I’d call it cider, not perry).  I liked this, although it was definitely commercial tasting, and the sweetest option.

Our favorite was the Hogan’s (also an excellent value, under $10 I believe).  Our least favorite was the Sea Cider.  The most surprising was the AEppeltreow, as it was the least perry-like.

I’ve also previously tried these perries: Dan Armor Poire, Pear UP Half Past Prudent, Pear UP Cherry Perry, Pear UP Watermelon Perry, Pear UP Watermelon Raspberry Perry, Pear UP Raspberry PerryDomaine Pacory Poire Domfront, Dunkertons Organic Perry, Eaglemount Perry, Locust Seckel PerryNashi Orchards Asian Pear Chojuro Blend PerryNashi Orchards Island Harvest Perry, Portland Cider Pearfect Perry, Snowdrift Perry, Snowdrift Seckel Perry, Tieton Sparkling Perry, WildCraft Pioneer Perry, WildCraft Elderberry Perry, and William’s Sir Perry

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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?

Schilling Cider House Visit 17 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my seventeenth 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 random Tuesday afternoon and enjoyed a flight of six ciders.  Even though I had just been there the week before, a good portion of the taps had turned over and there were plenty of ciders to choose from which were new to me.

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<left to right: Schilling Rhubarb Pear, Finnriver Pear Wood, Greenwood Cedar, AEppelTreow Blackbird Berry, Cider Head Bourbon Barrel, and Cockrell Pub Cider>

Schilling (Auburn WA) Rhubarb Pear (6.0% ABV): I thought I hadn’t tried this one, but I actually had (its an apple cider with rhubarb & pear, also called Lumberjack and available in cans); see here.  I’ve tried many of their ciders previously (see here).  Pale peach hue.  Smells sweet, fruity, and mild.  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Mildly flavored–rhubarb, strawberry, pear, and peach.  Easy to drink.  I think I liked it better canned, as it was higher carbonation and more tart.

Finnriver (Port Townsend WA) Pear Wood (6.9% ABV): This is a Crew Selection keg-only release, a rendition of their Pear cider (which I reviewed here).  Its made from bittersweet apples with Malo-Lactic Fermentation and aged with oak staves, mixed with barrel aged cider, then backsweetened with pear juice.  I’ve tried many of their ciders previously (see here).  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness.  Notes of bittersweet apple, pear, and oak.  Fairly simple.

Greenwood (Seattle WA) Cedar Cider (6.5% ABV): This is a keg-only release.  I’ve tried a couple of their ciders previously (see here).  Mild scent.  Dry.  Light bodied.  Mild to moderate tartness, acidity, and bitterness.  Earthy wood flavor with some bite that reminds me of crabapples.  A hint of vinegar.  Citrus and vanilla.  Unique.

AEppelTreow (Burlington WI) Blackbird Berry-Apple (5.5% ABV): This cider is available in kegs and bottles, and is apple cider with black currant and elderberries.  I’ve tried a few of their ciders previously (see here).  Deep berry hue.  Smells of raspberries and blackberries.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate berry flavor, more raspberry than anything else.  I didn’t really detect black currant or elderberries.  Moderate tartness.  Low acidity.  Hints of tannins and bitterness.  Not overly juice-like which I notice often happens with sweeter berry ciders.  I found it to be very well-balanced and its one of my favorite berry ciders.

Honey Moon (Bellingham WA) CiderHead Bourbon Barrel (5.5% ABV): This is a keg-only release.  I’ve tried a couple of their ciders previously (see here).  Smells sour.  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Mild sourness and bitterness.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Vinegar and citrus notes.  Mild barrel and bourbon influence.

Cockrell (Puyallup WA) Pub Cider (6.2% ABV): This is a keg-only release.  I’ve tried a couple of their ciders previously (see here).  Smells sweet and rich.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Frothy.  Very mildly flavored and it kinda tasted watered down, although it was medium bodied.  Apple-forward.

The AEppelTreow Blackbird Berry-Apple was oddly enough my favorite, probably as it was the most flavorful.  I would have guessed that I’d prefer the Bourbon Barrel or Pub Cider based on my typical preferences, but I didn’t really like either (especially the Bourbon Barrel, as I don’t like sour ciders).

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

AEppelTreow Kinglet Bitter

Review of AEppelTreow’s Kinglet Bitter Draft Cider, part of their Songbird line of estate ciders.  I’ve previously tried a few of their ciders; see here.

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Cider:  Kinglet Bitter Draft Cider
Cidery:  AEppelTreow
Cidery Location:  Burlington WI
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles and kegs
Style:  American craft cider made from English & French bittersweet apple varieties

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Availability:  At least in CA, DE, IA, IL, KY, LA, MA, MD, MN, NY, OR, PA, SD, WA, WI, and WA D.C.

Cider Description:  Kinglet Bitter is one of our proud ‘estate’ ciders.  It’s all grown at Brightonwoods, within sight of the Winery.   It’s more subtle and complex than Barn Swallow – being fermented from 100% bitter English and French cider apples.  It differs from an authentic European cider by being ‘immature’.  Kinglet has very little post-ferment changes made by wild Lactic Acid Bacteria.  Instead, we ferment it with a Sangiovese yeast that we think really brings out the tannin characters of the cider-specific cultivars.  These apples are rare, and not easy to grow.  When we get the question ‘Then why use them?’, we pour a glass of Kinglet.

Apple Varieties: Dabinette, Domaine, Frequin Rouge, White Jersey, Muscadet Deippe, and other English & French bittersweet cider apples.

Cidery Description:  ÆppelTreow Winery & Distillery is a producer of small batch cider, perry and spirits.  Cider and Perry?  We use the pre-Prohibition meaning of ‘cider’, so we’re talking about fermented or ‘hard’ cider. Perry is the pear analogue to cider.  We use lots of different kinds of apples and pears in our products.  Some modern.  Some heirloom – no longer grown for stores. We make a range of styles: sparkling, draft, still/table, and fortified/dessert.  Within a style, we lean to the dry end – but also have some medium-sweet offerings.

They have a tasting room in Burlington Wisconsin and opened in 2001.

Price:  $12
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I’ve enjoyed a few of their ciders previously and am a fan of bittersweet ciders, so especially for only $12 I wanted to try it.

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow with copper hue.  Still.  Smells of apple juice with a slight bit of “farmhouse”.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Completely still (no carbonation), and tasted a bit flat (like it previously had carbonation but sat out).  Mild tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate to strong bitterness.  Mild tannins.  A hint of funk.  No sourness.  Notes of bittersweet apples, apple juice, honey, apple pomace, caramel, and earthiness.  Moderate to long bitter finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  This was much too bitter and harsh for my liking.  Although “bitter” is in the name, many ciders made from bittersweet apples don’t have significant bitterness.  I think with some aging and a bit of tweaking it would have been more to my liking.  I didn’t really like the backsweetening (obvious apple juice flavor) of this cider, yet if anything, more sweetness would have helped balance the flavor.  I was surprised I didn’t detect more tannins.  Along Came a Cider also did a nice review of this cider (see here); it looks like Meredith found it more carbonated, more tannic, and less bitter than I did.  I imagine this is a different batch as her review was awhile ago.

UPDATE: The cidery noted this bottle may not have traveled well, as it is usually lightly carbonated and more astringent than bitter. Unless a bottle is obviously bad, its always tough to know whether what we are tasting was the intended product. Hopefully I get a chance to try this one again.

Most Similar to:  Ciders made from bittersweet apples, such as many English-style ciders.  The flavor in particular was similar to Colorado Cider Company Ol’ Stumpy (see my review here).  My favorite bittersweet ciders include those from Sea Cider (Bittersweet), Locust (Bittersweet Reserve), Finnriver (Fire Barrel), and Aspall (Imperial – Black Label).

Closing Notes:   Although I didn’t care for this cider, I look forward to continuing to try more ciders from AEppelTreow .  Their Appely Doux is my favorite so far–rich and bubbly (see my review here).

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

Schilling Cider House Visit 13 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my thirteenth visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.  I was there on a random Friday, as I was in the mood for some cider shopping and had some extra time as my hubby was out of town (I may have also gone to three other bottle shops that week…).

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I brought some dinner with me from the PCC down the street, and ordered a flight of six ciders–Elemental Margarita Randall, Schilling Vanilla Clove, Liberty Cellar Series #G15, AEppelTreow Sparrow Spiced, Portland Cider Crooked Cock Scrumpy, and Zeffer Crisp Apple (left to right in photo below).

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Elemental Margarita (Jalapeno Lime Cilantro) Randall with Strawberries, Mango, and Lime, 6.5% ABV, Woodinville WA:  Schilling took Elemental’s Margarita (Jalapeno Lime Cilantro) cider and put it through a Randall (flavor infuser) with fresh strawberries, mango, and lime.  The Cider House does a Randall most weekends.  I’ve had this cider before, and its nice and flavorful without a real discernible spiciness when drinking small quantities.  The additional lime and fruitiness was tasty, and would be awesome in summer.  The additional ingredients however took away the cilantro and jalapeno flavor notes of the base cider.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Moderate tartness from the added lime.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate to strong acidity.  This one really hit the spot as we’ve been having summer-like heat in Seattle.

Schilling Vanilla Clove, 6.3% ABV, Auburn WA:  I’ve had a lot of ciders from Schilling.  This appears to be a tap-only release (weird time of year for a spiced cider though?).  Smells rather strongly of vanilla with a hint of clove spice.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Mild acidity and tartness.  Very vanilla with hints of spice.  It tastes dessert-like without being overly sweet.  Moderate length finish.

Liberty Cellar Series #G15, 8.6% ABV, Spokane WA:  I’ve tried a number of their ciders.  This is a special tap-only release.  Its made from Golden Russet, Chisel Jersey, and Empire apples, wild-yeast fermented, then barrel-aged.  Semi-dry to dry.  Light bodied.  Mild acidity, tartness, bitterness, and tannins.  A hint of sourness, but not as much as I’ve found with other wild yeast ciders.  Notes of oak, spice, honey, stone fruit, and hops?.  Moderate length finish.

AEppelTreow Sparrow Spiced, 5.8% ABV, Burlington WI:  I’ve had a few ciders from them.  This one is made from Red Delicious, Cortland, McIntosh, and Greenings apples, with mace, cinnamon, star anise, and cardamon.  Its also available in bottles.  It smells of cinnamon.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Mild to moderate tartness.  Low acidity.  A hint of bitterness.  More cinnamon flavor than anything else, but the base cider had a bit of richness to it.  There were also notes of oak (although not barrel aged), vanilla, and other spices.  Moderate length finish.

Portland Cider Crooked Cock Scrumpy, 13.5% ABV, Portland OR:  Wow!  Quite boozy, without much else going for it.  I think with some sweetness or flavor (richness or tannins) this would have been better.  I wonder where the pinkish hue came from?  Semi-dry to dry.  Light bodied.  Low acidity and tartness.  Moderate bitterness.  Long warming boozy finish.

Zeffer Crisp Apple, 5.0% ABV, Matakana New Zealand:  This is my first time trying anything from this brand.  I found it rather bland and apple juice-like.  Semi-dry.  Low tartness and acidity.  Light to medium bodied.  I didn’t really pick up any flavor notes besides apple juice, apple pomace, and yeast.  I’d guess this is made with dessert apples and back sweetened.  Quick finish.

My favorites of the evening were the Elemental Margarita Randall, plus Liberty #G15 and AEppelTreow Sparrow Spiced.  I really didn’t like the Portland Scrumpy one though, and especially once it warmed up, didn’t feel like finishing it.

On my way out I picked up bottles of Aspall Imperial (blue instead of black label this time…I’m curious whether they are different) and E.Z. Orchards Poire (French-style perry).

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

AEppelTreow Winery Appely Doux

Review of AEppelTreow Winery’s Appely Doux methode champenoise sparkling cider.  I’ve previously tried their Barn Swallow cider on draft.

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Cider:  Appely Doux
Cidery:  AEppelTreow Winery
Cidery Location:  Burlington WI
ABV:  8.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged champagne bottle
Style:  American methode champenoise craft sparkling cider

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Availability:  At least in CA, DE, IA, IL, KY, LA, MA, MD, MN, NY, OR, PA, SD, WA, WI, and WA D.C.

Cider Description:  Appely Doux is semi-sweet, fruity and floral.  It is inspired by French Country Ciders, and crafted from a blend of modern and heirloom apple varieties.

Made from Red Delicious, Cortland, and “various old baking apples”.  My bottle was labeled 2012.140.1 and said 2,560 produced (which looks like it was made in 2012, so it may have sat around awhile before me buying it in August 2015).

Cidery Description:  ÆppelTreow Winery & Distillery is a producer of small batch cider, perry and spirits.  Cider and Perry?  We use the pre-Prohibition meaning of ‘cider’, so we’re talking about fermented or ‘hard’ cider. Perry is the pear analogue to cider.  We use lots of different kinds of apples and pears in our products.  Some modern.  Some heirloom – no longer grown for stores. We make a range of styles: sparkling, draft, still/table, and fortified/dessert.  Within a style, we lean to the dry end – but also have some medium-sweet offerings.

They have a tasting room in Burlington WI and opened in 2001.

Price:  ~$17
Where Bought:  Capitol Cider in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I had heard of this cider (the Brut version) from Meredith at Along Came a Cider and it sounded like something I’d like.

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow.  High carbonation, tiny bubbles with foam.  Smells sweet, of rich ripe apples, yeast, and honey.

Tasting Notes:  Between semi-dry and semi-sweet.  Moderate to high acidity.  Low tartness.  Low tannins.  No bitterness or sourness.  Fizzy and frothy mouthfeel.  Notes of citrus, green apples, yeast, honey, and floral.  Slight richness.  Medium bodied.  Medium length finish.  Moderate to high apple influence.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  Yum!  This is a tasty, unique, and complex well-balanced sparkling cider.

Most Similar to:  This reminds me some of ciders from Brittany France, although slightly lighter.  Its truly sparkling, which most ciders aren’t.

Closing Notes:   This cider was quite enjoyable, so I look forward to trying more from AEppelTreow.

Have you tried AEppelTreow Winery Appely Doux?  What did you think?

Schilling Cider House Visit 8 Tasting Notes

Yes, I made yet another trip to the Schilling Cider House!  Check out my past posts here.  This time it was for a random visit in early December, as I knew I wouldn’t have time to go for awhile with the holidays.  I wasn’t disappointed, as there were a good number of ciders on tap I hadn’t tried previously.

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I had a flight of six ciders, then picked up a half growler of Locust Bittersweet (which I have a bottle of, but was a really good deal and is quite tasty) and a few bottles.  I was intrigued by a new Liberty Ciderworks (Spokane WA) cider called Garretza, but learned it is a barrel aged sour, and passed as I’m not into sours.

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<left to right: Schilling Pineapple Passion, Number 6 Pomegranate, AeppelTreow Barn Swallow, Eaglemount Cyser, 2 Towns Nice & Naughty Bourbon Barrel Aged, and Cider Riot Champoeg X-17>

Schilling Pineapple Passion (aka Trouble in Paradise), 5% ABV, Seattle WA:  This is a brand new currently tap-only release at Schilling which added pineapple & passion fruit juices to cider, and may be canned in the future.  Slightly hazy pineapple-yellow hue.  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Light bodied.  Moderate pineapple flavor.  I didn’t pick up any passion fruit flavor.  The only other pineapple ciders I’ve had are Ace Pineapple (apple cider backsweetened with pineapple juice) and Reverend Nat’s Tepache (made only using pineapple juice, very low ABV, and lots of spice).  In my mind I was comparing this to Ace’s pineapple cider.  I liked Schilling’s much better, as it wasn’t as juice-like (I used to really enjoy Ace’s Pineapple, but my tastes moved away from ciders which taste like juice).  However, Schilling’s Pineapple cider seemed to be missing something…maybe it needed more carbonation?

Number 6 Pomegranate, 5.4% ABV, Seattle WA:  I’ve previously only had their “True Cider” variety.  Light cherry / pomegranate type hue.  Semi-sweet.  Light bodied.  Low acidity and tartness.  It remained light to moderate on the pomegranate flavor, similar to Elemental’s “Oxygen” Pomegranate cider (Elemental is also in the Seattle area, in Woodinville WA).  I found this to be rather average, as it left me wanting more flavor.  I mostly tried it as I hadn’t had it before.

AeppelTreow Barn Swallow, 6% ABV, Burlington WI:  This is the first cider I’ve had from them.  Made from Red Delicious, Cortland, Ida Red, and Greenings apples.  Semi-sweet.  Medium straw yellow.  Low acidity and tartness.  No bitterness.  Medium boded.  There was a slight richness which I enjoyed.  Overall definitely well above average, and quite tasty.  I look forward to trying the bottle of their Appely Brut I have at home.

Eaglemount Cyser, 8% ABV, Port Townsend WA:  Cysers are made by fermenting both apple juice and honey, so are classified in between cider and mead.  Smells dry, of yeast & honey, with a slight funk.  Medium straw yellow.  Semi-sweet.  Nice mild honey flavor.  Medium bodied.  Moderate acidity.  Mild tartness.  The higher ABV was noticeable.  Really nice!  However, I was more impressed with their Quince cider I had a bottle of awhile back, which was crazy complex and fruity.  I want to try more from them.

2 Towns Nice & Naughty Bourbon Barrel Aged, 10.5% ABV, Corvallis OR:  I had 2 Towns’ Nice & Naughty (their holiday seasonal) on tap only a couple weeks before this, but this one is a special bourbon barrel aged release of it which appears to be tap-only.  Smells spiced, rich, and alcohol-forward.  The spice remains very mild, even more so than the regular version.  Moderate barrel influence and mild bourbon influence for the flavor, but this tastes quite boozy.  Some caramel and vanilla notes, and oddly enough, ginger?  Mild tartness, acidity, and bitterness.  Medium bodied.  Long finish with a lot of warmth.  I drank it last, letting it warm up to close to room temperature, based on my previous experience with the regular version of Nice & Naughty tasting better that way.  However, it may have been a mistake, as I didn’t really care for this version of the cider.  The high ABV, spice, barrel aging, and bourbon influence seemed to be competing for attention.  I much preferred the regular Nice & Naughty (which is odd as typically I love barrel aged ciders), but would be curious to try this one again when it was very cold.

Cider Riot Champoeg X-17 on Nitro, 4.6% ABV, Portland OR:  This is a hopped cider, part of their new Champoeg line, and made using an experimental hops variety.  Smells herbal & floral.  Semi-dry.  The hops flavor remains very mild, and is more herbal & floral than hoppy.  It reminded me some of Portland Hop’rageous and Tod Creek Mala-Hop, which are also both mild (although this cider was even milder on the hops).  Very light boded.  The Nitro tap didn’t seem to add much except additional foam (I think it works best with Berry ciders).  I’m not a hops fan, so I don’t think I fully appreciated it, but it wasn’t bad.  Overall it left me wanting more flavor, but I wouldn’t have wanted any more hops flavor.

My favorites of the evening were Eaglemount Cyser, AeppelTreow Barn Swallow, and Schilling Pineapple Passion, in that order.

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