The last Washington Cider Week event I attended was the 2 Towns Tap Night at the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood from Seattle (Thurs Sept 17, 2015). I honestly would have rather gone to the Barrel Aged event they had the night before, but that didn’t work for my schedule. I’m a fan of 2 Towns, and got to meet up with some great cider folks, so I was very happy nonetheless.
You can’t beat their 32 cider tap selection! Plus they have a huge bottle selection, all chilled, and you can see every bottle and look at the label and such. It was only my second time there, but I’ve already gone back for a third visit the following week. Sarah from Cider Log is the manager at the Schilling Cider House now, I finally got to meet Mick from Click Distributing (we’ve chatted on Facebook quite a bit), and I also met some folks from some other distributors as well.
I got there quite awhile before the event started. It was officially 6-9pm (when the 2 Towns guys were there), but they had the 2 Towns selections on tap much earlier. I picked up a tasty Caprese sandwich from across the street. I sat at the cider house bar for a few minutes to figure out what I wanted to start with. Then Mick found me and I went over to the cool kids table with the distributor dudes.
I started with a flight of 4 ciders. I should have just gone for the full 6, as I think it ends up being cheaper, but I was holding out to try some 2 Towns stuff later. Also, although I didn’t yet know it, I would also be trying some bottled cider!
<left to right: Schilling Barrel #2, Moonlight Meadery Last Apple,
Aspall John Darington, Finnriver Barrel Berry Sour>
Schilling Barrel #2: A 21% ABV concoction which was barrel aged. I’m a little unclear as to how it was made (I heard once it was fortified with brandy and another time it was distilled cider). However, its not really cider at this ABV, more like apple brandy, apple jack, Pommeau, apple spirits, whatever you want to call it. Definitely booze-forward, but I found it easily drinkable on its own when it was cold (and I usually don’t do straight alcohol). I loved the honey and almost floral notes. Semi-sweet to sweet. Highly recommended! They still had some of this on tap as of Sept 25 by the way.
Moonlight Meadery The Last Apple: A 16% ABV cyser (when apple juice is blended with honey, then fermented). It was then barrel aged in Jim Beam barrels for 6 months. I’ve had both meads and ciders from Moonlight, and now a cyser. On the sweet & syrupy side, but very flavorful. Well hidden ABV. I loved the honey flavor which was bold but not overdone. All around complex and tasty! This was also still on tap as of Sept 25.
Aspall John Barrington: A 8.4% cider from Aspall in the UK. I didn’t know anything about this cider going into it, but put it on my flight card as I’ve been impressed by Aspall so far. The scent was quite dry, but it came across as semi-sweet to me in taste (although Schilling had it listed as dry per their taste test). Almost still (very low carbonation). Very smooth and rich flavor. Acidic and slightly tart. Lovely tropical notes. I liked this one.
Finnriver Barrel Berry Sour: A 6.5% sour blueberry-apple cider which was barrel aged. Although I’m not a fan of sour cider (about the only sour thing I like is candy), I decided to give it a try as it was barrel aged, and I’m a sucker for barrel aged! Definitely sour, and I thought more so than their Country Peach I tried at Cider Summit which was described as a sour (but didn’t have sour in the name). Semi-dry. For me the sour overwhelmed the flavor so much I couldn’t pick up the barrel influence or any other flavors I’m not a fan, but glad I tried it. Apparently lots of folks like sour ciders, beer, etc…I’m just not one of them.
Next, I got to partake in samples of two bottled ciders that some of the guys bought, Poire Domfront from Domaine Pacory and Roman Beauty from E.Z. Orchards. The Schilling Cider House doesn’t charge an extra fee beyond the bottle price to drink any of their bottled ciders on the premises, but I don’t see why you would want to with 32 ciders on tap?
Domaine Pacory Poire Domfront: A 5% ABV French perry made primarily with “plant de blanc” pears. Rich sweet scent. Fizzy / high carbonation. Mick thought it was hilarious the first comment out of my mouth upon tasting it was “that’s fizzy!”. I really do love a highly carbonated cider though, and we don’t get it too often here. Semi-sweet. Very light bodied. I wouldn’t have guessed this was perry at all, as it really tasted similar to French ciders I’ve enjoyed. Easy drinking and very tasty. There was the slightest bit of funk when it warmed up a bit.
E.Z. Orchards Roman Beauty: A 4% ABV cider from Oregon. Made primarily from Roman Beauty apples, bottle conditioned, and cold spontaneous fermentation. Clean & crisp scent. This one was also easy drinking and very tasty. I didn’t mind at all that there was still cider left in the bottle after the guys left, and I continued to sample it.
Next, since it was 2 Towns time, I got a small pour of their Made Marion on Nitro. I had tried or wasn’t interested in their other selections on tap:
Bad Apple, high ABV imperial style cider – awesome
Hop & Stalk, Sitra hops & rhubarb – didn’t care to try as I’m not a fan of either of its namesakes
Prickle Me Pink, pink from cactus fruit – quite good
Outcider, their unfiltered variety – average
2 Towns Made Marion: A 6% ABV marionberry cider. I’m pretty sure I had this one awhile back, but 2 Towns makes a number of berry ciders, so I’m not 100%. This one had lots of foam due to the Nitro tap. Deep berry color and a tart berry scent. Very smooth. Semi-sweet. I also picked up some boysenberry flavor in addition to the marionberry for whatever reason. Mild tartness. I found this a bit predictable, although I haven’t ever been too amazed by a berry cider; often they are quite juice-like.
They came around with samples of some 2 Towns ciders, which was quite nice. Aaron Sarnoff, a co-founder and cider guru at 2 Towns whom I met at Cider Summit, was there with another co-worker. It wasn’t very crowded (probably due to the rain), so Aaron chat with us all at the cool kids table for awhile. I got a sweet 2 Towns pint glass! My husband has been enjoying drinking his beer from it lol. I’m not a huge fan of cider in a pint glass (its a bit too large for starters), but its a great collectible.
On my way out I picked up a bottle of Cider Riot! 1763 (made from cider apples). Earlier in the afternoon I had stopped at Full Throttle Bottles and got Traditions Ciderworks Bourbon Barrel 2012 (my favorite from Cider Summit…I’m very happy Erika from Full Throttle got some for me) and Carlton Cyderworks Slake (whiskey barrel aged). I haven’t tried any ciders from Cider Riot or Carlton Cyderworks, and these seemed like good starting points as I love barrel aged cider! Three bottles of cider added to my collection that I definitely didn’t need. Its very tough to not buy cider that sounds amazing though.
This concludes the Washington Cider Week festivities. However, stay tuned for more trip reports. I have posts in work for another trip I made to the Schilling Cider House, and to mix it up a bit, Aesir Meadery in Everett WA.