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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Cider Riot San Patricios

Review of Cider Riot Black Bloc series San Patricios Tequila Barrel Aged Irish Cider.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Never Give An Inch Oregon Blackberry1763Champeg X-17Burn Cider, and Everyday Semi-Dry.

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Cider:  San Patricios
Cidery:  Cider Riot
Cidery Location:  Portland OR
ABV:  6.2%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, Irish-style, tequila barrel aged

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Availability:  Limited release of 100 cases, at least 1 year ago.  In general their ciders are sold in Oregon, Washington, and California in the U.S., British Columbia in Canada, plus Norway and Japan (see here).

Cider Description:  After 6 months in a fresh Mexican tequila barrel our Irish-Style cider is revved up and ready for action. Dedicated to those who fight for freedom and against injustice, this cider allies spicy, fresh tequila notes with stalwart French and American oak tannins from the barrel. Born a rebel, the San Patricios will die just the same. With less than 100 cases produced be sure to get yours before the battle is over.

I sent them an e-mail asking about apple varieties, and they said dessert (supermarket) apples, then fermented warm with Australian white wine yeast, with the tannins coming from the American and French oak mezcal tequila barrels.

Cidery Description:  Cider Riot! is dedicated to producing high quality ciders from Cascadian grown apples.  With tradition as our guide and our roots firmly planted in the rich soils of our bioregion, our urban cidery produces refreshing, flavorful ciders.

They have a “pub” in the Portland area.

Price:  $14
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells mild, of cider apples.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of rich tannic apples & pomace, oak, caramel, and earth.  Long warm finish with a hint of tequila.  Moderate barrel influence, flavor intensity, and complexity.  Low tequila influence, apple flavor, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  I was a bit ambivalent about this one.  I liked the flavor, and was very surprised to hear it was only dessert apples, as it was rich & tannic (plus darker in color).  However, I think it was a bit too dry for my personal liking, which also made the bitterness prevalent, plus the tequila flavor was very mild.  I think this would have been awesome if they went a bit sweeter and added some tequila and lime to up the flavor profile.

Most Similar to:  The only tequila barrel aged cider I’ve had is Wyder’s Pear Reposado, which in contrast to this one is sweeter and more tequila-forward, plus was from pears not apples.  I also read that Austin Eastciders, Blake’s, Downeast, and Xylem make tequila barrel aged ciders.

Closing Notes:  I think this is the richest / most tannic cider from only dessert apples that I’ve tried.  Its crazy that just the barrel aging did that.

Have you tried any tequila barrel aged cider?  What did you think?

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).

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?