Cider Summit Seattle 2017 Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is post 2/2 on Cider Summit Seattle 2017, with tasting notes on 21 ciders.  Post 1/2 covered the event (see here).

The Tasting Notes

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Alpenfire (Port Townsend WA) – Although I had previously tried the three ciders they were pouring (see my previous reviews here), I’m including Alpenfire here as they were debuting their new branding and future new cider releases.  They have a new logo, bottle labels, and website.  The future new cider releases include a rosé Pommeau, “Tempest” New England style, 3 Pommes (apple/pear/quince), a new release of Smoke (my all time favorite cider, which hasn’t been out for a couple years), a Foxwhelp apple single varietal, and even a Pommeau with an apple grown in the bottle (which will only be for the initial members of their new cider club).  Sounds like they have been busy!

Alpenfire did however have a cask-aged version of their Pirate’s Plank which I had a sip of.  It seemed a tad sweeter (dry not bone dry) and a bit more oaky than I remembered previously.

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Alter Ego (Portland OR) The Brute (6.5% ABV) – This was their first time at Cider Summit, although they were founded in 2014.  The Brute is one of their two flagship ciders; the other is The Guardian Angel, a blueberry-pomegranate cider (see my tasting notes here).  Semi-dry, slightly apple-forward, tart, crisp, and easy to drink, but overall a bit boring as the flavor intensity was low, as is common with a drier cider from dessert apple varieties (which is why most ciders from dessert apples are sweeter and/or flavored).

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Anthem (Salem OR) Rye Barrel Aged Cider (8.5% ABV) – Anthem is part of Wandering Aengus.  This is a draft-only release, aged in Rye whiskey barrels.  Semi-dry to dry and sharp, with moderate whiskey flavor and a hint of oak.

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Bad Granny (Chelan WA) Rainier Cherry – They launched a little over a year ago and are new to Cider Summit.  Rainier Cherry is a draft-only release using local Rainier cherries, although they sell their Original green apple cider in cans.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry (I was told 9 grams sugar / 12oz), fuller bodied, moderate intensity real cherry flavor.

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Cider Riot (Portland OR) Everyday Semi-Dry (6.0% ABV) – I believe this was their first time at Cider Summit Seattle.  This cider is also available in cans.  Semi-dry to dry, with a hint of sourness, but very low flavor intensity and fairly blah.

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d’s Wicked (Kennewick WA) Bare Naked (6.7% ABV) – This is a new release, and currently draft-only.  It is a less sweet and non-spiced version of their flagship Baked Apple cider.  Semi-dry and flavorful, with unfiltered apple juice notes and a hint of honey flavor.

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Eden Specialty Ciders (Newport VT) Heirloom Blend Ice Cider (10.0% ABV) – I have tried this special treat previously, but my husband ended up getting a couple pours, burning the rest of his tickets, as it is amazing and a great value to get pours of at an event.  Ice cider is made using juice which has been frozen, concentrating the natural sugars and flavors, resulting in a sweet full-bodied intensely flavorful dessert cider.  See my previous review here, and my review of the brandy barrel-aged version of this cider here (which is my all time favorite ice cider).

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French Cider Inc. – I tried three French ciders imported by French Cider Inc. / Beauchamp Imports Inc.  They are Seattle based and fairly new to the market (I hadn’t even heard of them before I was looking over the Cider Summit list!), and thus this was their first time at Cider Summit.  French Cider’s focus is on importing French cidre (apple cider), poire (French perry, which is made from pears, not apples), and Calvados (French apple brandy).  The owner Joan Harkins (who I chatted with) speaks French and lives French culture.  She has hand-selected each variety in their collection after meeting with the cidermakers.  I hadn’t previously been aware of any of their selection being available in the U.S.  I found all three selections to likely be friendly to an unfamiliar palette, as they were all clean or fairly clean (no to low funk) and no sourness, lining up more with the style of the Brittany France ciders I’ve had more than the Normany France ciders I’ve had (although it appears all three were made in or near Normandy).  French Cider’s primary focus is on supplying shops and restaurants, but they also offer local pickup (appointment only) in Seattle, and soon, will ship.  Their website is amazingly informative, and they had a helpful handout for each of the three ciders (see below).  They are posting a photo blog featuring the French apple harvest season, which is currently underway (see their Facebook page).  Also, here is a recent article on the company from Seattle Dining.

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La Chouette (Mont-Saint-Michel Bay France) Cidre Demi-Sec (4.5% ABV) – This cider was produced in an area in between the Normandy and Brittany regions in France, from cider apples.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Lower carbonation and tannins than the other two I tried.  Clean (no funk).  Retails for $5-6 / 330ml bottle.

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Lefevre (Berville Normandy France) Cidre Brut (5.9% ABV) – This cider was produced just outside of Paris, by a 5th generation cidermaker, with cider apples.  The scent was the most complex of the three I tried.  Semi-dry.  Citrus in addition to apple notes, and more.  A hint of funk.  Low to moderate tannins.  French Cider’s website has an interview with the cidermaker, Eric Lefevre.  Retails for $5-6 / 330ml bottle.

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Pierre Huet (Cambremer Normandy France) Cidre Bouche Brut (4.5% ABV) – This cider underwent secondary fermentation in the bottle and was made with 7 or 8 varieties of cider apples by a 5th generation cidermaker.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Clean (no funk).  Low tannins.  Flavorful, apple forward, and easy to drink.  French Cider’s website has an article on their visit to Pierre Huet as well as an interview with the cidermaker, François-Xavier Huet.  Retails for $13-18 / 750ml bottle.

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Liberty Cider (Spokane WA) Spokane Scrumpy (6.4% ABV) – This cider was released in the Spring, and made with community harvested apples (of mostly unknown types, from dessert apples to crab apples) and wild yeast fermented.  $1 of each bottle sale goes to the Spokane Second Harvest food bank.  See this article.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry (probably their sweetest cider), buttery, and complex.  I couldn’t really put my finger on the flavor profile with the sample size and time frame, so I’d be interested in giving a full bottle a try.

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Louis Raison (Le Theil-sur-Huisne France) Organic Dry (4.5% ABV) – This cidery is brand new to the U.S., and first launched here in Seattle.  They will have this cider on draft to start in Washington and Oregon, and eventually increase up to three bottled varieties in 2018 (adding Rouge Delice – made from red fleshed apples, and Original Crisp).  See here for more info on their launch.  Organic Dry is made in France from certified Organic bittersweet cider apples grown on co-op farms.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Apple and yeast forward and easy to drink.  I look forward to this being available in bottles as it sounds like it’ll be fairly affordable to keep around as an everyday cider.

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Mission Trail (Bradley CA) Plum Jerkum (6.5% ABV) – They have been around since 2014, but are new to the Seattle market and Cider Summit.  Although Mission Trail makes ciders and perries, they are best known for their other fruit wines, and specifically, jerkum (which is fermented stone fruit juice; the term originated just for plums, but has more recently been used to encompass all stone fruits).  They were actually only pouring jerkums at this cider event.  In this case it was 100% plum juice from 14 red-fleshed varieties.  The Plum Jerkum was semi-sweet to semi-dry, tart, with a moderately intense fruity berry flavor (I didn’t really pick up the prune/plum).

Mission Trail (Bradley CA) Goldmine Nectarine (6.0% ABV) – This is another jerkum, with 100% nectarine juice, barrel aged.  Semi-dry, quite tart, with pure nectarine flavor.  I didn’t pick up any barrel influence, but often it isn’t obvious.  I also recently tried their Peach Coast (see here), a peach wine / jerkum, which was my favorite of the three.

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Montana Ciderworks (Darby MT) Small Batch Dolgo (5.5% ABV) – This is a single varietal from the Dolgo crabapple, oak aged, part of their Small Batch series.  Semi-sweet, tangy, fruity, and apple-forward.

Random note:  I got some insight into labeling special releases.  In this case, “Dolgo” was stamped on, making it look handwritten with less effort.  Very cool.  However, many small batch special releases do have actual handwritten labels, like this one.  Getting a label approved by the TTB is a time consuming process, so often cideries have a general label they use for multiple small batches.

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Ole Swede (Tonasket WA) Mulberry & Friends – It was the cidery’s first time at Cider Summit, and they were founded last year.  This is a new cider release made with eight different types of berries and currants (mulberry, blackberry, raspberry, elderberry, blueberry, gooseberry, black currant, and golden currant).  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, smooth, low tartness & acidity, with a light real berry flavor.

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One Tree (Spokane WA) Pina Colada – This is a new draft-only release, part of the fruit cider challenge (and it turned out to be the winner – 2nd year in a row for One Tree – congrats!).  Sweet, very full flavored, with a bit more coconut than pineapple.  I loved the flavor of this (it reminded me a bit of Pear Up’s Pearjito Colada with the coconut, which hasn’t been used much in cider), but it would be a bit sweet to have much of.

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Pear Up (Wenatchee  WA) Pineapple Pear – This was their fruit cider challenge entry, a one-off draft only release.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, low flavor intensity, with the flavor balanced between pear & pineapple.  They weren’t serving it through the pineapple, but it was a cool photo op nonetheless.

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Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) New England Style (9.5% ABV) – This is a seasonal release which appears to have not been released for a few years, possibly draft-only.  It was made in the New England style, typically characterized as a high ABV cider with brown sugar and raisins added.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry, sharp & acidic, with caramel notes and a boozy finish.

Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) 2015 Washington Heirloom (7.0% ABV) – This is part of their Harvest series, made with heirloom apple varieties, and also available in bottles.  Semi-dry, herbal scent, sharp, with citrus, floral, and herbal notes.

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Swift (Portland OR) Pineapple Hop (6.7% ABV) – They have been around since 2014, but it was their first time at Cider Summit Seattle.  Semi-dry, balanced flavor between the pineapple & hops with only hints of bitterness, but overall the flavor intensity was low.

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Washington Gold (Chelan WA) Northwest Raspberry (5.5% ABV) – This is a brand new small batch canned release.  Semi-sweet to sweet, with intense real raspberry flavor.

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 on some of the producers I didn’t get to highlight:  101 Cider House, 2 TownsAspall, Atlas, Bull Run, Chatter Creek, Double Mountain, Dragon’s Head, Dunkertons, Eaglemount, E.Z. Orchards, Finnriver, Greenwood, Hi-Wheel, Incline, Jester & Judge, J. Seeds, Le Brun, Locust, Maeloc, Manoir du Parc, Methow Valley, Moonlight Meadery, New West, North IdahoNumber 6 Cider, Reverend Nat’s, Portland, Rambling Route, Samuel Smiths, Schilling, Sea Cider, Snowdrift, Sonoma, Spire Mountain, Steelhead, Summit, Tieton, Ulee’s, Wandering Aengus, WildCraft, and Worley’s

In Summary

My Favorite Ciders – Of the ones I tasted at the event, my favorites were the 4 French ciders, some of the sweeter ciders that were very flavorful (such as One Tree’s Pina Colada and WA Gold Cider’s Raspberry), Montana Cider’s Dolgo, and Liberty’s Spokane Scrumpy.

Other Interesting Selections – There were also some interesting beverages I didn’t try, such as Schilling’s guava barrel-aged sour, a cocktail from Incline with gin and their Compass Rose cider, apple whiskey from J. Seeds, a Cider Summit themed cider from Finnriver which has been available at all four Cider Summit events this year (see here), 101 Ciderhouse’s Black Dog with activated charcoal (see here), and Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry with ghost peppers (see here).

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Schilling Cider House Visit 12 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my twelfth visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts here.  I was there on St. Patrick’s Day, and they were having a potluck.  I also met David from Cider Expert (apparently I’m a superuser there and he wanted my feedback) and we had a spirited cider discussion for almost a couple hours.  Cider Expert is a cider rating & review website currently in Beta testing.  I think once it goes live it will be great, as the other beverage review websites like Untappd and RateBeer don’t really work well for cider (plus this one has ratings for taste properties specific to cider, and algorithms to actually suggest ciders).

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I got there after work, around 4pm, and had a flight of 6 ciders.  I was there for a few hours so I was expecting to order something else too, but they were large pours and one was high ABV, so that was it for me.  I had thought that 5/6 were new for me, but after I ordered I realized I had 2 of them before, so only 4/6 were new for me.  There were a couple other ciders on the tap list I hadn’t tried, but weren’t of interest.  I brought in some Thai food takeout; I guess I must be picky as I’m 0/3 as far as liking the local Thai food options in Fremont.  The PCC (natural grocery store with a large ready-made food section) remains my favorite takeout option nearby.

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<left to right: Carlton Cyderworks First Fruits, Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Apples, Red Tank Yukon Cornelius, Grizzly Ciderworks Woodlander Wit, Anthem Rose Pinot, and Cider Riot! Burn Cider>

Carlton Cyderworks First Fruits, 6.5% ABV, McMinnville OR:  Described as an apple cider fermented with plums and mulberry juice, aged in wine barrels for 5 months, which appears to be tap only.  Light pink grapefruit hue.  Semi-dry.  Moderate acidity and mild tartness.  Light bodied.  I really liked the texture most of all with this cider; kinda frothy (note the foam in the photo). I didn’t recognize it as being barrel aged though (only read that later). It was lightly fruity and really refreshing.

Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Apples (cider), 13.5% ABV, Londonderry NH:  I’ve absolutely loved everything I’ve tried from Moonlight Meadery.  I had tried this one before, and knew I wanted to include it in my flight as its a rare, and like all their ciders, tap-only.  Them Apples is described as being aged with brown sugar for 6+ months in barrels from their Last Apple cyser (which were barrels from Jim Beam whiskey).  Note that they also have a “How Do You Like Them Little Apples”, which is similar, but only 6.5% ABV (see my review here).  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Low acidity, low tartness, a hint of bitterness, and a hint of sourness.  Very smooth, with a well hidden ABV.  Medium bodied.  Notes of baked apple, whiskey, oak, citrus, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla.  This was different than I remembered previously…much less sweet, and with hints of bitterness and sourness.  It was very good, but I think I prefer the Little Apples version (or at least the batch of this one I tried previously).  On a side note as this was aged in Last Apple barrels, I also love that one, and have a bottle at home.

Red Tank Cider Yukon Cornelius, 6.0% ABV, Bend OR:  Described as including vanilla, cranberry, and cinnamon.  Schilling actually called it Vanilla-Cran-Cinnamon, probably as the keg was labeled that way, but with some research it looks like Yukon Cornelius is the actual name.  Light punk hue.  Strong cinnamon scent.  Semi-dry.  Mild vanilla, moderate cinnamon spice, and a hint of fruitiness but mostly tartness from the cranberry scent.  Light bodied.  Interesting combination, but it worked.

Grizzly Ciderworks Woodlander Wit, 6.9% ABV, Milton-Freewater OR:  This is the one I thought I hadn’t tried before, but I had (see here).  They modeled this cider after Belgian wit-style beer (they used that variety of beer yeast), and added orange peel and coriander.  Semi-dry.  Moderate acidity, low tartness, and low bitterness.  Medium bodied.  Mildly flavored, with notes of oak, spice, herbs, and citrus (I didn’t specifically identify orange or coriander).  I like The Ridge from them better, which has more woody earthiness without the herbal & citrus flavors of this one, although is even drier.

Anthem Rose Pinot, 6.5% ABV, Salem OR:  Described as being aged with pinot noir grapes (its unclear whether in a barrel or tank).  Bright red hue.  Semi-dry.  Moderate tartness and mild acidity.  Light bodied.  Very mild flavor which to me had a lot of cranberry notes.  I didn’t really like the flavor of this one.  I imagine wine lovers would enjoy it.

Cider Riot! Burn Cider, 6.8% ABV, Portland OR:  Described as being made with Oregon-grown English cider apples, tart wild apples, and dessert apples, and being inspired by English West Country pub draught ciders.  Dry.  Moderate bitterness, moderate acidity, low tannins, and low tartness.  Light bodied.  Hints of bittersweet cider apples, but overall it was on the mild end of the flavor spectrum, and kinda watered down tasting.  Notes of vanilla and spice as well.  I think if it had been more flavorful, slightly less bitter, and slightly more sweet, this would have been nice.

My favorite of the evening was the Moonlight Meadery cider, which I also loved the last time I had it (see my Cider Summit Seattle 2015 tasting notes here).  I also enjoyed First Fruits, even though I usually don’t go for fruity ciders.  Lately I’ve realized I enjoy ciders that best I can explain are very “textural” (Locust Winesap was another example; see my tasting notes here).  Overall though I was a bit underwhelmed by my flight, but many I tried mostly just to try them.  I wish Schilling would offer more unflavored ciders (not fruity, hopped, spiced, etc), English & French imports, etc, on tap, but I imagine the flavored stuff sells well.

On my way out I picked up another bottle of 2 Towns Pommeau, as its that awesome (see my review here), a great value, and the bottle says it ages well (up to 20 years?).  I also bought a cider I hadn’t seen in this area before from ÆppelTreow, Kinglet Bitter, which sounds like something I’ll like (made from bittersweet apples); I’ve enjoyed a couple other ciders from them (Appely Doux and Barn Swallow).

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

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?

Schilling Cider House Visit 6 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 Sidra event, but that is one type of cider I’m just not into, so I sampled some non-Sidra selections from of the tap list (and some bottles).  The Cider Log crew was there, and brought an awesome spread of Spanish treats–thanks for sharing!

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I started with a flight of six, as usual.

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<from left to right: Tieton Cranberry, Doc’s Pumpkin, Rev Nat’s Ciderkin,
Liberty Gravenstein, Finnriver Cranberry Rosehip, & Apple Outlaw Blackberry>

Tieton Cider Works Cranberry, 6.9% ABV:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Very tart!  Lots of cranberry flavor.  More tart than the Finnriver cranberry cider I tried at the same time (see below).  A bit astringent.  I’m a bit over cranberry (I used to like it more), so I prefer most of Tieton’s other ciders to this one.  This is a new release for them, and its also available bottled.

Doc’s Draft Pumpkin, 5.0% ABV:  Sweet.  Lots of pumpkin pie spices with a bit of earthiness & pumpkin flavor.  Full bodied.  Unlike many pumpkin ciders & beers, this one uses actual pumpkin.  I’m not a pumpkin or spice fan, so needless to say I didn’t really enjoy this cider (I tried it more out of curiosity).  The folks who blind tasted it for this article were much bigger fans though, giving it the highest score of 23 pumpkin ciders & beers!  This is a yearly seasonal release for Doc’s, and also available bottled.  This was my second time trying Doc’s, but neither were flavors I’m a fan of…hopefully I get a chance to try something I have a better shot of actually enjoying soon (I’ve been eyeing their Sour Cherry, but alas it isn’t sold in the Seattle area, so I may need to make a trip down to Portland OR or order online).

Reverend Nat’s (and Cider Riot!) Ciderkin, 3.2% ABV:  Dry.  Ginger!  Moderate tartness, astringency, and acidity.  Slightly funky.  Ciderkin is a lower alcohol content cider traditionally made from the pommace (apple skin and pulp leftover after pressing apples into juice).  This one however is quite different than the version of ciderkin I had awhile back from Argus (tasting notes here).  The ginger (although admittedly mild) was overwhelming for my palate as I’m just not a fan of it.  My favorite cider from Rev Nat’s so far is their Revival.  They’ve released this Ciderkin cider a few times, but it doesn’t appear to be available bottled.

Liberty Ciderworks Gravenstein, 8.0% ABV:  Dry.  Moderate sourness, tartness, astringency, tannins, and acidity.  Almost no carbonation.  Very mild on the nose.  Although this was a Gravenstein single varietal, I picked up a lot of crabapple notes…it reminds me of their Crabenstein, which used Gravenstein and Crabapples, although not quite as harsh.  So far I prefer their Manchurian Crabapple, English Style, and Stonewall to this one.  This cider is also available bottled.

Finnriver Cranberry Rosehip, 6.5% ABV:  Semi-sweet.  Moderate tartness.  Lots of cranberry flavor.  I didn’t really pick up any herbal (rosehip) flavor, but I imagine it mellowed the cranberry a bit, especially drinking it side by side to the Tieton variety.  I liked this one better than the Tieton Cranberry, probably as it isn’t as tart.  However, my favorite “cranberry” cider so far is probably a tie for this and Schilling’s Mischief Maker (cranberry-pomegranate).  Cranberry Rosehip is part of Finnriver’s Elijah Swan Seasonal Botanical line, which is also available bottled, and includes some of my favorites such as Honey Meadow and Lavender Black Currant.

Apple Outlaw Blackberry Bounty, 5.5% ABV:  Semi-dry.  Very mild berry flavor.  Mild tartness.  This seems to be another one of the drier and milder flavored berry ciders coming out.  This one was pretty average in my book.  It is also available bottled.  This was my first time trying their regular line of ciders (although I tried their Oaked Sweet Dark Cherry at Cider Summit Seattle 2015, which appeared to be a special draft release).

I also had a sip of Whitewood Red Cap.  It was a bit weird…dry and almost Sidra-ish with some sourness and quite mild flavored.  They describe it as a Session cider, which usually indicates a low ABV and easy to drink cider, but its 6.2% ABV.  Also available bottled.  It reminded me some of their Summer Switchel, but without the salty & ginger notes.  Both are quite different from their Kingston Black Whiskey Barrel Aged cider, which is amazing!

I mostly wanted to sample what Schilling had on tap that I hadn’t tried, despite not being too excited about the varieties.  Therefore there were a few I didn’t really enjoy, so I ended up not finishing a lot of the flight.  Thankfully that freed up some ability to try more ciders!  Next up we sampled a couple bottles (which I don’t believe they sell at the Cider House).

Ace Space (blood orange) was another weird one.  Odd hazy orange hue.  Semi-dry.  The nose and some of the flavor was almost medicinal/artificial (like Tang or a Vitamin C supplement), but there is definitely some blood orange flavor too.  Mild tartness and sourness.  I wasn’t really a fan…not sure what they were thinking with this one?  This is Ace’s newest cider, a special release.  I kinda had the same opinion on their last special release, Blackjack 21, which tasted like Chardonnay to me (although admittedly it was aged in Chardonnay barrels, so maybe they were going for that).  Apparently I’m in the minority though as it sold well so they are releasing it again this year.

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Carlton Cyderworks Sugar and Spice.  Semi-sweet.  I was surprised I liked this, as I usually don’t tend towards spiced cider.  However, the spice was quite mild and balanced.  It also wasn’t overly sweet.  This is a seasonal bottled release for them, new for this year.

I also had a pint of Snowdrift Red–yum!  One of my favorites.  However, this batch seemed a bit more tart than previous, and with a bit less fruitiness.  There can definitely be variability from batch to batch in a craft product.  I like when cideries such as Snowdrift batch label their ciders, so you know whether what you buying may be slightly different.  Anthem is another example of a cidery which does this, but they actually go so far as to use different apple varieties in different batches of their flagship cider (and you can look up what was used by the batch number on the bottle).

Oddly enough the Carlton Sugar and Spice was the winner of the afternoon as far as a new cider I enjoyed the most!  I think it would taste really good warm (which is how I like mead, but I haven’t tried that for cider as I usually avoid spiced cider).

I definitely tried a lot of cider and had a blast, as always.  Stay tuned for more Schilling Cider House tasting notes here at Cider Says!  Have you had any good draft cider / cider flights recently?

Cider Riot! 1763 (Revolutionary West Country Cider)

Review of 1763 (Revolutionary West Country Cider) from Cider Riot! from Portland OR.  This is the first bottled cider I’ve had from Cider Riot!, although I had their Never Give an Inch Oregon Blackberry on tap recently.

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Cider:  1763 (Revolutionary West Country Cider)
Cidery:  Cider Riot!
Cidery Location:  Portland OR
ABV:  7.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottle

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Availability:  Cider Riot! is available in bottles and on tap in OR, WA, and British Columbia.  1763 is part of their Reserve line, and available in bottles in OR & WA.  Its definitely a limited release, with only 100 cases of 12 bottles made.

Cider Description:  Our tribute to those who stand up against the status quo, 1763 commemorates the year of the Cider Riots in the English West Country, when cider lovers rose up and overthrew the nefarious Prime Minister Bute who imposed a tax on cider. 1763 is inspired by the West Country ciders that warranted such passion. Yamhill County grown Yarlington Mill, Harry Masters Jersey, Dabinett, & Kingston Black apples lend robust tannins, and rich flavours to a cider that’s worth fighting for.  Ranked #2 in the Traditional Apple Category in Sip magazine’s Best of the NW competition 2015.

Cidery Description:  Cider Riot! is an urban cidery located in a detached garage off East Burnside Street in Portland’s North Tabor neighborhood dedicated to the production of dry ciders. We use a variety of apples grown in Cascadia, including rare English and French cider variety apples, wild apples from Yamhill County, Oregon, and dessert apples from the Yakima and Hood River Valleys.

Price:  $12
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  This was a new release they had at the cash register.  Actually it was this year’s release, as this cider actually launched July 2014.  Here is a press release from NW Cider on this year’s release of the 2014 vintage of 1763.

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First Impression:  Slightly hazy amber-orange with a hint of pink oddly enough.  Almost still (little carbonation, just a bit of foam).  Smells of high tannin apples, a slight earthy funk, and a touch of honey.

Opinion:  Dry to semi-dry.  High tannins.  Moderate to high astringency.  Moderate bitterness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Mild sourness.  Earth, yeast, and wood notes.  Very mild funk.  Full bodied.  The flavor of the cider finished quickly, but bitterness lingered at the back & sides of my mouth.  I found the bitterness overwhelmed my palate and didn’t let the full richness of the cider apples shine through.  I think if the bitterness was decreased and/or the sweetness was increased it would have been a more balanced cider.  I also found it to be alcohol-forward, with a warm burn (it is 7.5% ABV though).  Oddly enough this cider had some of the flavor characteristics of being barrel aged, but it wasn’t.  I recommend drinking this cider between fridge and room temperature, as it mellowed a bit as it warmed up.

Most Similar to:  High tannin ciders (such as English-style), including Alpenfire Ember, Traditions Bourbon Barrel 2012, Whitewood Kingston Black, and Liberty English-Style, all of which I tried at Cider Summit Seattle 2015 (tasting notes here), and Worley’s Premium Vintage.

Closing Notes:   Unfortunately this cider was too bitter for my liking.  I think fans of high tannin ciders who don’t mind bitterness would really enjoy this one however.  Its commendable they were able to make a cider using only local cider apples, which are rare and expensive.  I also believe that this cider would have greatly benefited from cellaring…I wish I had given it a year or two before drinking, as it likely would have mellowed out some of the bitterness.  However, it appears they  already aged this cider a year, as it was noted the 2014 vintage was released this year.  I look forward to finding another variety to try from Cider Riot! that might be more to my liking.

Have you tried anything from Cider Riot?  What did you think?

Schilling Cider House Visit 5 Tasting Notes

This time an event brought me to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA, a great excuse to drink cider on a weeknight if you ask me.  It was their monthly potluck, which this month had a “sweet” theme, for both cider and food.  There were still plenty of drier cider options on tap too (and with 32 tap selections and hundreds of bottles, there is something for everyone).  I even found out there is one hush-hush bottled beer selection at Schilling.

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I started with a flight of six.  However, I ended up staying there for over 4 hours, so it definitely wasn’t the only thing I drank!  I picked up a nice weird dinner at PCC of some coleslaw, cheese, and pretzel bread (which is one of my favorite things to have with cider, unsalted though).

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<left to right: Fox Tail Sweet Tooth, Carlton Black Currant Scrumpy, Cragie’s Ballyhook Flyer, Bull Run Strawberry Fields, Finnriver Pear, and Elemental Atomic Root Beer>

Fox Tail Sweet Tooth, 5.0% ABV:  This is the second cider I’ve had from this Hood River OR cidery (the first was Fuzzy Haven, tasting notes here).  This was an interesting selection as they called it sweet, but it was more semi-dry?  Probably more that it was sweet for their cidery.  Straw yellow hue, no haziness.  Rather plain and on the mild & boring side, but I don’t have any complaints.  Mild tartness and acidity.  Nicely balanced.

Carlton Black Currant Scrumpy, 4.4% ABV:  This is the first cider I’ve had from this McMinnville OR cidery, although I have a bottle of their Slake at home to try.  Rich black currant scent and a lovely deep berry hue.  Semi-dry.  Sour!  Definitely wasn’t expecting that.  Unfortunately I’m not a fan of sour cider so I didn’t have more than a couple sips.

Cragie’s Ballyhook Flier, 5.8% ABV:  This is an Irish cider which I’ve seen in bottles and have wanted to try, so here was my chance.  Hazy yellow-orange hue.  Dry cider apple and yeast scent.  Dry.  Moderate bitterness.  Mild sourness, funkiness, tartness, and astringency.  Moderate tannins.  Complex and unique.  However, it was too bitter for my liking.  I think some additional sweetness to balance it would have been nice.  I’ve had some ciders made from higher tannin cider apples which weren’t bitter, but it appears to be difficult to pull off.

Bull Run Strawberry Fields, 6.5% ABV:  This is the first cider I’ve had from this Forest Grove OR cidery, although I’ve been meaning to try their ciders for awhile (way too much good stuff available around here).  Light cherry color.  Lovely real sweet strawberry scent.  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Moderate strawberry flavor.  I imagine it was difficult to develop this cider, to get a true strawberry flavor without seeming fake or being too sweet.  I have found very few fruity ciders that were full flavored without being very sweet or overpowering the apple (Snowdrift Red and Eaglemount Quince are two I love, but they are on the more spendy side).  I’m a fan!

Finnriver Pear, 6.5% ABV:  I’ve had a number of Finnriver selections, but hadn’t had this one before (Chimacum WA).  This is a cider (apple juice) with pear juice added (ie. its not perry, which are made only using pear juice).  Straw yellow, no haze.  Light clean pear scent.  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Plain, but it had a nice real pear flavor.  Quite good, but not my favorite from them (I’d recommend Lavender Black Currant, Honey Meadow, and Fire Barrel).

Elemental Atomic Root Beer, 6.5% ABV:  I’ve tried a couple of their ciders, but I was curious about this new one (Woodinville WA).  Its a hard root beer, but in contrast to other products (such as Not Your Father’s Root Beer), it is cider instead of malt based!  Nice caramely root beer hue.  Smells of root beer with a hint of baked apple.  Tastes like a nice mild root beer with a hint of baked apple at the core.  Only semi-sweet, which I appreciated.  It could have used some additional carbonation, but I say that about most ciders.  Tasty!  I can see why this one has been a huge hit for them.

I then realized I had finished my first flight and the actual event hadn’t started yet, as I got there so early (due to my work schedule).  So, I ordered a half flight.  Without realizing it I got three berry ciders (they were about the only ones left on the board I hadn’t tried, besides ginger & hops & such that I don’t care for).

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<left to right: Atlas Pom-Cherry, Cider Riot Never Give An Inch Oregon Blackberry, and Elemental Oxygen (Pomegranate)>

Atlas Pom-Cherry, 5.8% ABV:  I’ve had the Apple and Blackberry selections (reviews here and here) from this Bend OR cidery.  I also have their Apricot variety at home to try.  Tart cherry scent.  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Lots of pomegranate flavor.  Only mild tartness and the slightest hint of sour.  Thin bodied.  Bold flavored.  It was my favorite of these three, but I still think I like their plain apple best of the three varieties I’ve tried from them so far, and overall its not a favorite of mine or anything.

Cider Riot Never Give An Inch Oregon Blackberry, 6.9% ABV:  This is the first cider I’ve had from this Portland OR cidery, although I have a bottle of their 1763 at home to try.  Dry.  Very tart.  Only mild berry flavor.  I found it kinda unremarkable, and my least favorite of these three.  It was too tart for my liking and I don’t think I finished it.  Tart fans who like berry ciders but find them all too sweet may want to give this one a try though.

Elemental Oxygen (Pomegranate), 6.5% ABV:  I’ve had a number of ciders from this Woodinville WA cidery.  Poured very foamy.  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Tart.  Thin bodied.  Rather mild flavor, which appears typical for them.  Their Atomic Root Beer is definitely my favorite from them so far.

During this time the actual potluck started (5pm), and it got busy (for awhile I was the only customer!).  I got to see Mick from Click Distributing again, meet two guys from D’s Wicked Cider (Kennewick WA), meet Sarah’s mom, and see Merce from Cider Log again.  Plus I nimbled on some tasty treats.

I sampled D’s Wicked Baked Apple, their new 6.9% instead of 8.5% ABV variety.  Apparently most folks won’t be able to taste the difference.  One of the reasons they did this was because there is an apparent WA state rule against doing growler fills above 7% ABV.  This is the first cider I’ve tried from them.  I had avoided buying a bottle of this one as I assumed it would be too spiced for my liking (not a spiced cider fan, or any spices in general…not even pepper on food).  However, the cinnamon was quite mild (at least when the keg wasn’t fully cold yet), and it had more baked apple flavor.  Quite tasty actually.  They said the cinnamon showed up more when it was fully cold though.  Nice and frothy and on the unfiltered side.  Semi-sweet.  Medium to heavy bodied.  Its not something I’d buy, but I was pleasantly surprised, and definitely see why they are so popular.

Also, Sarah remembered about a bottle of Eric Bordelet Poire Authentique in the cool room (I think this was a sample or something, as its not one of the Bordelet varieties they carry).  It was definitely flat after being open about a week (apparently its typically quite sparkling), but we all found it tasty (there was enough for a couple sips each).  At only 3.5% ABV, this French perry is easy drinking at its finest.  I have only heard rave reviews about Bordelet and they’ve been on my want to try list.  Bold flavor, but clean, unlike some perries.  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Rich flavor and very balanced.  I really enjoyed this one, but I’m not sure I could bring myself to pay $15-20 for a 750ml bottle of a sub 4% ABV cider.  This reminded me of the bottle pour of another Poire I had here, Domaine Pacory Poire Domfront (tasting notes here).

They also had a Randall going that night where they infused Schilling Gold cider with oranges, coconut, and Chai tea.  An interesting combination, as always!  It was pretty tasty, although I would have preferred no tea and lots more coconut.  The tea seemed to make the cider seem drier than I remembered Gold tasting (which is one of Schilling’s sweeter varieties, and their only plain cider I believe).  Sarah said this was her favorite Randall so far.

Mick also decided to pick up a bottle of Millstone Farmgate Dry and share it with us.  I had this one at Cider Summit Seattle 2015 (tasting notes here), in an attempt to see if there was any variety from Millstone I’d enjoy (as I definitely didn’t like their Cobbler).  This variety is definitely sour & funky, but less harsh than Cobbler by a few times probably.  I’m always surprised to see Cobbler make cider lists without any notes of its sour flavor, but apparently a lot of folks like that sort of thing (like sour beer I guess).  Its a good thing they make so many ciders, so there is something for everyone.

I definitely tried a lot of cider and had a blast, as always.  Stay tuned for more Schilling Cider House tasting notes here at Cider Says!  Have you had any good draft cider / cider flights recently?