E.Z. Orchards Williamette Valley Cidre 2011

Review of E.Z. Orchards’ Williamette Valley Cidre 2011.  It is my first time trying this cider, but I have previously sampled their Semi Dry, Roman Beauty, Hawk Haus, and Poire.

ez1

Cider:  Williamette Valley Cidre 2011
Cidery:  E.Z. Orchards
Cidery Location:  Rickreall OR
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American Artisan cider from French cider apple varieties, nothing else (no sulfites)

ez2 ez3

Availability:  CA, OR, and WA, although this is a very old release

Description:  The Pioneers who settled Oregon’s Willamette Valley in the 1850’s must have marveled at their good fortune. The soil was rich, the water plentiful, the winters mild, and summers ideal, crops seemed to burst from the ground. For more than 150 years small family farms have dominated the Willamette Valley – one of the most productive and diverse agricultural areas in the world. The Zielinski Family and E.Z. Orchards are part of this history and ongoing commitment to the land.

E.Z. Orchards Willamette Valley Cidre is the culmination of 10 years effort to develop our orchard and refine our fermentation technique. We grow a selection of French, English, and Early American apple varieties. The fruit contain essential characteristics, necessary to impart structure and aroma in our Cidre.

They use traditional French cider making methods–pressing their apples in a rack and cloth press, fermenting with wild yeast in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for 4-6 months, and bottling before fermentation is complete to allow secondary fermentation to take place in the glass.  EZ Orchards has been growing apples since the 1920s.  They were one of the first in the U.S. to plant cider apple varieties, starting in 2000.

Price:  $17.99
Where Bought:  A natural grocery store in a small town in Northern California in December.  I haven’t seen this variety sold in the last couple years in the Seattle area.
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I was super impressed with this store’s selection for now being in a major city or cider region.  I picked up a number of bottles from several cidermakers and packed them in my suitcase for the flight home to Seattle.

Xez4

First Impression:  Light pumpkin amber hue.  Moderate carbonation with significant foam.  Smells rich, apple-forward, and tannic.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied with a frothy texture.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low tannins.  Low bitterness.  Moderate funk.  Hints to low sourness.  Notes of apple pomace, yeast, orange, grapefruit, and lemon.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it but didn’t love it.  From the scent, I was hoping for more richness and tannins.  The citrus notes and sourness were a surprise.

Most Similar to:  A mix of a French and Spanish cider.  It had the apple and yeast forward flavor of a French cidre with the citrus, funk and sourness of a Spanish cider.  It was the later I didn’t like as much.

Closing Notes:  I look forward to trying more E.Z. Orchards ciders.  So far my favorite is Roman Beauty.

Have you tried E.Z. Orchards Williamette Valley Cidre?  What did you think?

 

My Favorite Ciders of 2016

What an awesome year 2016 was in the cider world!  Cider Says has now been up for a year and a half.  Like other cider bloggers, I thought it would be fun to make a list of my favorite ciders of 2016.  See here for my list from 2015.  To make it a bit different and easier, I put them into categories instead of trying to do a top ten list or similar.

Note that I wouldn’t try to make a list of the best ciders, just those I enjoyed, as it would be an impossible task to try every cider out there and be impartial.  My only criteria for this list is that I drank the cider in 2016.

Multi pack:  Reverend Nat’s Revival – This one is complex for being made from dessert apples, with lots of unique flavor just from the yeast varieties used.  Celt – I always keep this easy drinking apple & yeast forward French cider in the house as its convenient & affordable.  Thatchers Green Goblin – For how commercial it is, I ended up really enjoying this sweeter simple English cider.

Canned:  One Tree Crisp Apple – I don’t usually go for plain flagship ciders, but this one had some nice unfiltered apple juice flavor without being over the top sweet.  Cidergeist Semi Dry – This reminded me of French cider; too bad it isn’t available locally.  Long Drop Vanilla Honey – Awesome honeycomb flavor.

French:  Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidre Brut – A $5 selection from Trader Joe’s which doesn’t disappoint and has some great apple forward sparkling goodness.  Christian Drouin Pays d’ Auge – I loved the bittersweet apple flavor, and that the funk remained mild.

English:  Aspall Imperial – Rich flavor, high ABV, and a low price tag.  Dunkertons Dry  (awesomely tannic) and Black Fox (nice fruity twist on an English cider), which I hope to find locally now that they are distributed in the U.S.

Italian:  Bertolinos – My first Italian cider, which I found to be simple but tasty, and budget friendly too.

Swiss:  Cidrerie du Vulcain Transparente – My first Swiss cider, which reminded me of French cider, in between the typical Brittany & Normandy styles.

Canadian:  Sea Cider Ruby Rose – This fruity high ABV cider is made with rhubarb and rose hips, making it a unique summer sipper.

Fruity:  Doc’s Draft Sour Cherry – A cherry cider is difficult to pull off without tasting medicinal, but the flavor is spot-on with this one.  Jester & Judge Pineapple Express – Although simple, this cider has some awesome pineapple flavor, a nice frothy texture, and a hint of lime.

Rosé:  Eden Imperial 11 Rosé – This drier cider with red currant is high ABV and amazingly fruity.  Alpenfire Glow – This sweeter cider is made from rare red fleshed apples and also amazingly fruity, with a high flavor intensity.

Limited Release:  Angry Orchard & Eden collaboration, Understood in Motion: 01 – This cider is only available at Angry Orchard’s Walden NY cider house, and was made from Vermont heirloom apples, barrel aged, and mixed with some ice cider; awesome!

Hopped:  2 Towns Hop & Stalk – I wouldn’t call myself a fan of either rhubarb or hops, but for whatever reason I really enjoyed this cider; the flavors really complimented each other and created a unique and surprisingly complex cider (I’m also a sucker for Imperial / high ABV ciders).

High ABV:  Alpenfire Smoke – This 16% ABV sipping cider has an amazing complexity, with rich oaky smokey flavor.  If I had to name just one favorite cider, this would probably be it, although its not an everyday sort of cider.  I hope it gets released again soon, as I’m down to only one bottle!

Oaked:  Sheppy’s Oak Matured – I love the strong oak flavor in this cider; as a bonus, it is budget friendly too.

Barrel Aged:  Reverend Nat’s Whiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black Currant – This was my favorite cider from Cider Summit Seattle 2016, with awesome berry, oak, and whiskey flavor.

Sparkling:  AEppelTreow Appely Doux – This methode champenoise cider has a wonderful texture & flavor, and would be a great champagne alternative.

Perry:  EZ Orchards Poire – I’m not a huge Perry fan, but those I do like tend towards the French Poire style; this one has a creamy texture and complex fruitiness.

Pommeau:  Etienne Dupont Pommeau – This is their Cidre Bouche aged in Calvados barrels with Calvados added, and is flavorful, rich, and complex.  Wandering Aengus Pommeau – Milder in flavor than some other Pommeaus, but still rich and complex.

Ice Cider:  Eden Heirloom Blend Apple Brandy Barrel Aged – I’ve enjoyed all of Eden’s ice ciders, but this is my favorite, as it had the added depth from barrel aging in addition to all the rich complexity of their typical ice cider.

Great Value:  Schilling King’s Shilling – I’ve picked up a 22oz bottle of this for as low as $4 (and as high as $7), which is a steal for a tasty barrel aged brandy infused cider.

Wine-like:  Honeywood Winery Hard Apple Cider – Quite different than I was expecting, but I liked it; this one reminded me of dessert wine with the white grape notes, higher ABV, and sweetness.

Draft-only:  Wandering Aengus Bittersweet – An amazingly rich and tannic cider made from bittersweet apple juice from Poverty Lane Orchards (Farnum Hill); wild fermented but it wasn’t funky.

Unexpected:   Gowans 1876 Heirloom – This cider almost seemed to good to be true, as it was so full flavored and apple forward.

Well, there you have it, a list of 32 of my favorite ciders from 2016.  They have a lot in common–most are rich and full-flavored.  Still, it seems like so many great ciders didn’t make the cut, which is unfortunate.

What are your favorite ciders?

EZ Orchards Poire

Review of EZ Orchards’ Poire, a French-style perry.  Note that perry (made only from pears) varies from pear cider (made from apples & pears).  I’ve tried a few varieties from them–Semi Dry, Roman Beauty, Hawk Haus.

2016-05-01 17.02.12.jpg

Cider:  Poire
Cidery:  EZ Orchards
Cidery Location:  Rickreall OR
ABV:  5.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottle
Style:  French-style perry made from heirloom & dessert pear varieties

2016-05-01 17.02.21 2016-05-01 17.02.31

Availability:  As seasonally available / while supplies last, at least in OR, WA, IL, and NY.

Cider Description:  Poire is named from the French word for “pear”, and is completely appropriate, natural and perfect for this uniquely delicious drink. EZ Orchards Poire is made entirely from estate-grown Forelle, Comice and Bosc winter pears—no apples. The fruit is carefully cleaned, milled and pressed. No yeast is added to the juice and no sulfites are added. Naturally-occurring yeasts are allowed to ferment over months at low temperatures. Finally, when the sugars are depleted—or nearly so—Poire is bottled and allowed to mature and condition. Like all EZ Orchards cider and cidre, it is never released until it is ready.

Cidery Description:  The Pioneers who settled Oregon’s Willamette Valley in the 1850’s must have marveled at their good fortune. The soil was rich, the water plentiful, the winters mild, and summers ideal, crops seemed to burst from the ground. For more than 150 years small family farms have dominated the Willamette Valley – one of the most productive and diverse agricultural areas in the world. The Zielinski Family and E.Z. Orchards are part of this history and ongoing commitment to the land.

E.Z. Orchards Willamette Valley Cidre is the culmination of 10 years effort to develop our orchard and refine our fermentation technique. We grow a selection of French, English, and Early American apple varieties. The fruit contain essential characteristics, necessary to impart structure and aroma in our Cidre.

They use traditional French cider making methods–pressing their apples in a rack and cloth press, fermenting with wild yeast in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for 4-6 months, and bottling before fermentation is complete to allow secondary fermentation to take place in the glass.

Price:  ~$9
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I remembered that although I haven’t had much luck with enjoying American perries, I have liked a couple French poires, so I thought I’d give it a try.

2016-05-01 17.04.30

First Impression:  Pale straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation with tiny bubbles.  Smells of juicy pear, mango, pineapple, lemon, mineral, and vanilla.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Frothy and creamy texture.   Moderate carbonation (more than visibly apparent).  Mild tartness.  Moderate acidity.  A hint of tannins.  A hint of bitterness.  No sourness.  No funk.  Notes of juicy pear, mango, pineapple, lemon, mineral, and vanilla.  Compared to the scent, the pear was less intense and the tropical & citrus were more intense.  Moderate length finish.  Mild pear intensity.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  Refreshing for summer, with subtle complexity, and wine-like qualities.  I liked it, as did my husband.  This is the first American perry I’ve truly enjoyed.  Oddly enough I tend more towards pear ciders, as they typically are more flavorful (although less complex), although neither perry or pear cider is a favorite of mine.

Most Similar to:  Nashi Orchards Chojuro Blend Asian Pear Perry (it was also complex, wine-like, and semi-dry, although it had some sourness & funk).  The style of Poire seemed in between that of the American and French perries I’ve tried…the American Snowdrift Perry for example had a low flavor intensity, less complexity, and some bitterness…the French perry Domaine Pacory Poire Domfront for example was sweeter, richer, and higher carbonation.  Although this perry remained fairly dry, it was complex.

Closing Notes:   This was enjoyable.  Roman Beauty (cider) remains my favorite from EZ Orchards though.  I look forward to trying more from them–I think the only variety I haven’t tried is their Dry.

Have you tried EZ Orchards Poire?  What did you think?

E.Z. Orchards Hawk Haus

Review of Hawk Haus from E.Z. Orchards in Salem Oregon.  I’ve previously tried their Roman Beauty and Semi-Dry ciders.

2016-01-03 16.40.21

Cider:  Hawk Haus
Cidery:  E.Z. Orchards
Cidery Location:  Salem OR
ABV:  6.6%
How Supplied:  500ml bottle
Style:  American French-Style wild fermented cider

2016-01-03 16.40.31 2016-01-03 16.40.40

Availability:  At least OR, WA, IL, and NY.  Also sold at ShipCider.com.

Cider Description:  Hawk Haus is named after the kestrel nests found on the property and is a blend of Jonathan and Yarlington Mill apples. Pale, yellow-golden in color and lightly hazed with modest, tiny carbonation bubbles like the finest sparkling wines. The aroma is fresh cut apples and an earthy farmyard character. Very pleasant and grounded. Hawk Haus is big, soft and round on the palate with gentle acidity. Notes of cinnamon and brown sugar are reminiscent of apple turnover. The finish is just short of total dryness, with appealing fresh apple flavors from beginning to end.

Fermented at cold temperatures for 6 months using wild yeast.  Bottle conditioned (allowed to finish fermenting in the bottle, which provides natural carbonation).

Cidery Description:  The Pioneers who settled Oregon’s Willamette Valley in the 1850’s must have marveled at their good fortune. The soil was rich, the water plentiful, the winters mild, and summers ideal, crops seemed to burst from the ground. For more than 150 years small family farms have dominated the Willamette Valley – one of the most productive and diverse agricultural areas in the world. The Zielinski Family and E.Z. Orchards are part of this history and ongoing commitment to the land.

E.Z. Orchards Willamette Valley Cidre is the culmination of 10 years effort to develop our orchard and refine our fermentation technique. We grow a selection of French, English, and Early American apple varieties. The fruit contain essential characteristics, necessary to impart structure and aroma in our Cidre.

Price:  $8
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I’ve been wanting to try more ciders from E.Z. Orchards as I enjoyed their Semi-Dry and especially their Roman Beauty.

2016-01-03 16.42.11

First Impression:  Pale straw yellow.  Low carbonation with tiny bubbles and foam upon pouring.  Smells deliciously rich, of sweet ripe apples, honey, floral, and oak.

Tasting Notes:  Dry to semi-dry.  Moderate acidity and tartness.  Hints of bitterness, funk, sourness, and tannins.  Notes of honey, citrus, green apple, and floral.  Light bodied.  Medium carbonation.  Moderate apple flavor and flavor in general.  Quick finish.  Low to moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  My nose was deceiving–I was expecting something richer and sweeter based on the scent.  Instead, this was a nice light fairly dry cider, almost champagne-like (although not as high carbonation).

Most Similar to:  Boonville Bite Hard, Eden Sparkling Dry, and Finnriver Artisan Sparkling Brut.

Closing Notes:   This was enjoyable, but I enjoyed Roman Beauty more, which seemed to have a richer and sweeter flavor.

Have you tried E.Z. Orchards Hawk Haus?  What did you think?

Schilling Cider House Visit 9 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my ninth visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts here.  I hadn’t thought I’d have time for another visit in December, but managed to fit it into my schedule.

I was there for a Finnriver Bingo event, although I didn’t have much interest in the actual game & prizes, just used it as an excuse to go.  The event was a packed house!  There were six Finnriver ciders on tap:  Habanero, Black Currant, Barrel in the Forest, Cranberry Rosehip, Fresh Hopped, and Pear (all of which I’ve had except Fresh Hopped).

2015-12-21 18.54.55
<tap list of 32 ciders>

I started with a flight of six ciders.

2015-12-21 16.11.48
<left to right: Blue Mountain Estate Winesap, Seattle Cider Oaked Maple, Finnriver Barrel in the Forest, Locust Pumpkin, E.Z. Orchards Semi-Dry, Grizzly Pomnivore>

Blue Mountain Estate Winesap, 6.75% ABV, Milton-Freewater OR:  This is a single varietal made with Winesap apples which Blue Mountain sells year round.  Nearly clear.  Tart, dry, and slightly funky smell.  Dry to semi-dry.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Mild bitterness.  Very mild tannins.  Hint of funk.  Slight floral and oak notes.  Light bodied.  Moderate to long finish.  I thought this was a basic dry & tart cider, and pretty low on flavor.

Seattle Cider Oaked Maple, 6.9% ABV, Seattle WA:  This is one of Seattle Cider’s winter seasonals (they also did a Cranberry cider this year).  I couldn’t remember if I had tried this before, but I’m leaning towards yes.  Dark straw yellow hue.  Smells of sweet maple and oak.  Semi-dry.  Moderate acidity.  Mild tartness.  Light bodied.  Very light oak and light maple flavor.  Quick finish.  I thought this was pretty good, but I would have liked more flavor.

Finnriver Barrel in the Forest, 6.5% ABV, Chimacum WA:  This is a limited release of a barrel aged version of Finnriver’s Forest Ginger cider (which I haven’t tried).  I usually don’t like ginger, but this sounded interesting.  Smells of sweet ginger.  Semi-sweet.  Light oak notes.  Very mild ginger notes, much less than most ginger ciders (which usually seem to hit me at the back of the throat and linger).  Low acidity, tartness, and bitterness.  Light bodied.  Moderate length finish.  The ginger flavor however increased as it warmed up.  This paired well with the Thai food I had for dinner.  Overall I didn’t mind this one, despite the ginger, but probably wouldn’t get it again.

Locust Ciderworks Pumpkin, 5.0% ABV, Woodinville WA:  This is a seasonal release from Locust, apparently draft-only.  Hazy pumpkin orange-yellow hue.  Smells of sweet pumpkin spice.  Very sweet.  Mild pumpkin and spice flavors, but overall very full flavored.  Low acidity and tartness.  Full bodied.  Moderate length finish.  I really liked this (even though I usually don’t go for pumpkin or spice), except it was too sweet for my liking, so not something I could have a pint of.

E.Z. Orchards Semi-Dry, 6.9% ABV, Salem OR:  This is a regular release cider from E.Z. Orchards which uses French bittersweet apples.  After ordering this I remembered I had tried it before, at Cider Summit Seattle 2015.  Light amber.  Smells slightly rich.  Semi-dry.  Herbal notes.  Very light boded.  Low tannins and tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Quick finish.  Overall mildly flavored.  It tasted a bit off, and I wondered if the tap line could have used more flushing.  I also liked it much better at Cider Summit.  Different batches can turn out much differently.

Grizzly Ciderworks Pomnivore on Nitro, 6.7% ABV, Woodinville WA:  This is a tap-only release from Grizzly.  Light ruby red.  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Low acidity and tartness.  Moderately flavored.  Quick finish.  I liked the pomegranate flavor without too much tartness like many pomegranate ciders have.

I met Nathan from Cider Chronicles (we just happened to sit next to each other at the bar!), who was awesome enough to share bottle pours of a couple ciders with me.  He said Sea Cider Wassail, J.K.’s Scrumpy Winterruption, and Elemental Seasonal Spiced Apple were his three favorite seasonal ciders, although Reverend Nat’s Winter Abbey Spiced may be replacing J.K.’s Scrumpy Winterruption in his cue.  I haven’t seen Rev Nat’s Winter Abbey, but picked up a bottle of Elemental Spiced, and tried the other two.

2015-12-21 18.01.13

Sea Cider Wassail, 14% ABV, Saanichton BC Canada:  This is Sea Cider’s winter seasonal.  Rich amber-orange hue.  Smells like orange and holiday spices.  Semi-dry.  Well-hidden ABV!  Low acidity, tartness, and bitterness.  The orange and spice notes continued into the flavor.  Rich and full-flavored.  Medium bodied.  Moderate length finish with lots of heat.  I liked this a bit more as it warmed up from fridge temperature.  Overall this was enjoyable, but I like their Prohibition best.

2015-12-21 18.57.39

J.K.’s Scrumpy Cuvee Winterruption, 6.9% ABV, Flushing MI:  This is J.K. Scrumpy’s winter seasonal.  Very sweet.  Honey, orange, and mild spice notes.  Mild acidity and tartness.  Moderate to full bodied.  Apparently this cider usually has much more spice.  It was very easy drinking, between the sweetness and low ABV.  Overall I found it ok.

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 – Washington Cider Week – 2 Towns Tap Night

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.

2015-09-17 18.03.31

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!

2015-09-17 17.01.07 - Copy
<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.

2015-09-17 18.20.41

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?

2015-09-17 17.41.47

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.

2015-09-17 18.12.44 2015-09-17 18.21.21

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

2015-09-17 18.42.01

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.

2015-09-19 14.04.25

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.

2015-09-17 20.36.33

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.

Cider Summit Seattle 2015 Tasting Notes

What an epic event!  This long-awaited post will cover my tasting notes on the 32 ciders I tried at Cider Summit 2015 (Sept 11 & 12 2015 at South Lake Union).  Another post (post 2/2 now up HERE) will cover information about the event and have lots of photos, including of the swag I picked up and the event program.  I was lucky enough to attend both days, and after a couple tastes I learned to ask for a smaller pour!

When you are going for quantity (vs. many of the folks who were just there to drink some cider and didn’t care so much what type or trying as many as they could), the smaller the taste the better, as long as you can get a couple good gulps in.  Sorry in advance I don’t have too many cider photos (its difficult at an event like this to juggle a glass, notepad, camera phone, etc), but post 2 will have more event & booth photos.  Hopefully someone enjoys these notes, as it took me many hours.

101 Cider House Black Dog Black Cider (Westlake Village CA).  6.9% ABV.  This is a unique “black cider”, which is from adding activated charcoal (apparently a new beverage trend, and is good for the digestion too).  It also includes lemon and agave nectar.  The color turned out a very weird green-blue-black tint (see below).  Fairly dry.  I’d say similar to Spanish Sidra (as it had a lot of sour citrus flavor) with a hint of weird from the charcoal.  I thought of it as more of a novelty, but some of my tasting buddies said they would actually buy a bottle.  This was more drinkable than their Cactus Red (which was crazy tart), but not my thing.

black dog

2 Towns Prickle Me Pink (Corvallis OR).  6.0% ABV.  This cider was released just this week, and uses prickly pear cactus fruit juice from California (reminiscent of my time in Arizona).  Semi-dry.  Fluorescent pink color!  Tart.  Nice and flavorful.  Some cactus fruit flavor (yes I’ve actually eaten one before and know what they taste like), but also some berry and watermelon notes.

prickle

Alpenfire Ember (Port Townsend WA).  7.2% ABV.  This one is made from French & English bittersweet apples, organic, wild fermented, and bottle conditioned.  Semi-dry.  Higher carbonation.  Very high tannins and moderate astringency (I’d almost describe the mouthfeel as “chunky” lol).  I wasn’t really a fan, but folks who like a really high tannin ciders probably would.  I really love their Spark! and Apocalypso though, which are their more approachable and sweeter varieties.  Their Smoke was also pretty tasty.

Anthem Ap-Bee-Cot (Salem OR).  6.5% ABV.  Apple-apricot cider fermented with natural yeast from bee pollen.  Draft only.  Semi-dry, unfiltered, and tart, with mild apricot & honey notes.  I’ve not really been a fan of any of Wandering Aengus / Anthem’s ciders.

Apple Outlaw Oaked Sweet Dark Cherry (Applegate OR).  unknown ABV.  Tart with mild cherry notes and the slightest hint of oak barrel flavor.  Not really impressed, but it wasn’t bad at all either.  The first time I’ve tried their ciders.  At this time they also offer Original, Rabid Dry, Ginger Bite, Cranberry Jewel, Hoppin’ Holdup, and Tangerine Twist in bottles.

Dragon’s Head Traditional (Vashon Island WA).  6.8% ABV.  Semi-dry, rather still, smooth, acidic, mild tartness, and moderate tannins.  My first time trying their cider (although I have a bottle of their Wild Fermented at home).  A pretty solid selection.

Eaglemount Homestead Dry (Port Townsend WA).  8.0% ABV.  Hazy.  Dry, tart, and bitter.  Made with heirloom apple varieties including Gravenstein, White Pippin, Stayman’s Winesap, and Tolman Sweet.  Not really my thing.  I love their Quince though!  I mostly tried it as I wanted to try another one of their offerings, and nothing else sounded interesting (Rhubarb, Raspberry Ginger, and Boot Brawl, which is hopped).  A solid choice for those who like this style of cider though.

Eden Heirloom Blend Ice Cider (Newport VT).  10% ABV.  Very sweet.  Syrupy but awesome bold full flavor.  Well-hidden ABV.  Vanilla and brown sugar notes.  I look forward to trying more from Eden!  It was awesome to meet Eleanor at the Burgundian event the night before and try two of their other ciders.  I hadn’t tried any of their ciders before this weekend.  My husband surprised me with a bottle of this for our anniversary!  Happy wife.

E.Z. Orchards Semi-Dry (Salem OR).  6.4% ABV.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Uses French bittersweet apples, which have lower acidity and bring in some tannins and tartness.  This was my first time trying their ciders.  Pretty tasty.

Farnum Hill Extra Dry (Lebanon NH).  7.5% ABV.  I’d still call this one dry, not extra dry, as I picked up a hint of residual sugar.  Very tannic and acidic with moderate bitterness.  Significant carbonation.  Not really my cup of tea, but I think this is a great wine-lovers cider.  I had wanted to try their Dooryard, which had been on the tasting list, but they didn’t have it.

Finnriver Country Peach (Chimacum WA).  6.5% ABV.  Hazy slightly pink lemonade color.  Semi-dry.  Sour and tart, but a more approachable sour than some (vs. their Barrel Berry Sour and traditional Sidra and such).  More of a peach skin than peach taste.  Acidic and slightly vinegary.

Finnriver Cyser Cider (Chimacum WA).  6.9% ABV.  Honey cider made with mead yeast.  Semi-dry.  Similar to their Honey Meadow, but without the hint of herbal flavor (I like Honey Meadow better).  Low acidity, tartness, and bitterness.  Earthy.

cyser

Liberty Ciderworks English Style Cider (Spokane WA).  8.0% ABV.  Made with cider apples (including Dabinett, Yarlington Mill and Ashton Bitter) and aged for over a year.  Semi-dry.  Lovely bittersweet flavors with a bit of a “bite”.  Tannic and acidic.  Bright amber.  Very tasty, and definitely English-style.  I’m a big fan of theirs, and looking forward to trying the bottle of their Stonewall Dry Fly Barrel-Aged cider I have at home.

liberty

Manoir du Parc Authentic Cidre (Normandy France).  5% ABV?  A naturally carbonated (bottle conditioned) wild yeast fermented traditional French cider with “no shit added” per the French dude pouring it lol.  Semi-dry.  Funky, tart, high carbonation, and high tannin.  A bit too traditional / funky for my tastes, maybe from the wild fermentation?  So far I’ve been more impressed with Dan Armor and Domaine Pacory Poire Domfront from France.

Millstone Cellars Farmgate Dry (Monkton MD).  8.5% ABV.  I really wanted to give Millstone another chance, as I didn’t care for their Cobbler at all.  I chose this one mostly as the other varieties they were pouring weren’t appealing (hopped, ginger, and strawberry rhubarb).  Barrel aged and made from 40% Stayman Winesap, 30% Northern Spy, 25% Jonathan, and 5% Cameo apples.  Apparently they are known for tart, funky, and astringent ciders which are similar to Sidra, although of course no one told me!  In contrast to Cobbler, I found this drinkable, but I still didn’t care for it.  Definitely dry, tart, sour, funky, and astringent.  To me all those qualities were overpowering such that that the cider couldn’t shine and I couldn’t detect any barrel influence, etc.  A lot of folks really like sour ciders (and beers) though.  Shoutout to Kyle who I e-mailed with, was there pouring cider, and really wanted me to find something from them I liked!  I also saw him at the Burgundian the night before.  They recently re-did their website, and I think it does a much better job of describing their cider style.  The mis-advertisement on the bottle and their website was my main complaint about Cobbler (I get not everyone likes every cider so I never fault a cider because I didn’t like it)…that it wasn’t described as sour, tart, astringent, funky, etc.

Montana Ciderworks Darby Pub Cider (Sula MT).  5% ABV.  Semi-sweet.  Described as “semi-dry new world style”.  Sold in MT, WA, and CO.  English cider flavor with some woody & earthy notes, but its an easy drinking and approachable variety.  Fuller bodied and effervescent.  Mostly Spartan (Montanan) apples, but the earthy notes are from some bittersharp and crab apples.  I wasn’t expecting it to be as sweet as it was (slightly back sweetened), but it was nice.  This was my first time trying their cider, and I’m impressed!

Moonlight Meadery How do you like them Apples Bourbon Barrel Cider (Londonderry NH).  13.5% ABV.  Draft-only cider with honey and brown sugar, aged at least 3 months in Jim Beam bourbon barrels they used for their Last Apple mead.  Very similar to their How do you like them Little Apples I tried at the Schilling Cider House, which was also bourbon barrel aged (this one was slightly sweeter and had more barrel flavor).  Very tasty!  Definitely sweet and syrupy, but it has a lovely rich barrel flavor too.

Moonlight Meadery Kurt’s Apple Pie Mead (Londonderry NH).  16.8% ABV.  Mead bottle pour.  Made from local apple cider, Madagascar-bourbon vanilla, and Vietnamese cinnamon spice.  My husband got a small pour and I tried a sip.  Not really my thing because of the spice, but very smooth.  This is one of their most popular products.

Neigel Vintners (NV) Cider Cherry Perry (Wenatchee WA).  5.1% ABV.  They announced this new variety when I interviewed brothers and co-founders Kevin & Mark Van Reenen, and this weekend was its release.  They left this fairly unfiltered, so there was a nice thicker mouthfeel with both pear and cherry flavors.  Very balanced between the two flavors.  Sweet but not overly.  Yum!  I was surprised to see a couple other local cideries also make a “Cherry Perry”, Wildcraft and Carlton.  They don’t currently plan to bottle it, but if they do, they noted it would have to be slightly more filtered so it would be more stable.

One Tree Caramel Cinnamon (Spokane Valley WA).  6.8% ABV.  Sweet.  Cinnamon with a hint of caramel.  Syrupy.  Spiced cider isn’t really my thing, but I was intrigued.  Their booth was very popular at the event.

One Tree Lemon Basil (Spokane Valley WA).  6.5% ABV.  Semi-sweet.  Nice lemonade-type tartness with a hint of herbal basil flavor.  Very unique.  This was my first time trying ciders from One Tree.  They are fairly new, but seem to quickly be building a following.  At this time they also offer Cranberry, Huckleberry, and Ginger in bottles, and Crisp Apple in cans.

Sea Cider Bramble Bubbly (Saanichton B.C.).  9.9% ABV.  Semi-sweet.  My sample didn’t have much if any carbonation, so I missed out on the “bubbly” part, but it was the end of the bottle.  Lovely berry/rosé color but the blackberry flavor was a bit underwhelming and sorta standard.  Some tartness.  Overall it was disappointing…I had really been looking forward to trying this one (its difficult to find this side of the border and I’d always rather taste something than commit to a bottle, especially when its in that $20 price range for a 750ml).  I will say that it hid the alcohol very well though, and was well-crafted.  I really love their Prohibition, but that is a completely different flavor profile!

bramble bubbly

Snowdrift Cliffbreaks Blend (Wenatchee WA).  7.6% ABV.  Semi-sweet.  I picked up a lot of pear notes with this one for some reason?  Its supposed to be more of an English / bittersweet apple cider with some melon & dried fruit notes.  A bit tart with a hint of citrus too.  I tried it at a different time than the Perry (below) too.  Bold flavor, but I didn’t really get that richness I was expecting.  Very tasty nonetheless.  This is probably the most popular of their regular line.  Their Red & Cornice are probably their most popular overall.  I was happy to hear they are increasing production & distribution of both of those, as they are my favorites…the Red slightly more so, which is odd as barrel aged is usually my favorite.  I was very happy to pick up two bottles of Red for $12 each at Whole Food’s 20% off cider day (Friday of Cider Summit).  Its a good thing I picked them up near home, as they were out at the one near the Summit.

Snowdrift Perry (Wenatchee WA).  10.1% ABV.  Semi-dry.  I was expecting different with this one…I tasted a lot of bitterness & tartness, and only a very mild pear flavor.  I haven’t had too many true perries though, so I probably didn’t know what to really expect.  Its made in the labor-intensive way of Méthode Champenoise (secondary fermentation).  I wasn’t really a fan.  Red is definitely still my favorite from Snowdrift….and it was getting a lot of love at the Summit!

Sonoma Cider Dry Zider (Healdsburg CA).  6.9% ABV.  Cider aged in Red Zinfandel oak barrels for 7 months.  Rosé wine-like cider.  Very dry (0.3 BRIX).  Light berry/salmon color.  A bit tart.  Nice fizz.  Not bad, but not really my sort of cider.  This one is a special release that is available now (has slowly been rolling out for a few months).

Sonoma Cider The Pulley (Healdsburg CA).  unknown ABV.  This is a brand new variety for them, and launched at the event (not even bottled yet)!  They referred to it as absinthe-style, and said the only addition was fennel.  Dry.  Slight herbal flavor.  Very unique.  Not bad, but not my sort of cider.  I got to meet David (one of the cidermakers, with his son Robert).

Traditions Ciderworks (by 2 Towns) Amity Rose 2012 (Corvallis OR).  6.5% ABV.  Made from traditional French and English cider apples grown in Amity OR.  Semi-sweet (but maybe it just came across that way?  I’m guessing it would test drier).  Rather plain, but wine-like with some honey notes.

Traditions Ciderworks (by 2 Towns) Bourbon Barrel 2012 (Corvallis OR).  6.9% ABV.  On the sweeter side of dry.  Strong unique bourbon barrel flavor, but not overwhelming.  Very smooth.  Light bodied.  Higher in tannins.  Aged in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels for 4 months (apparently they got their barrels very wet, so it adds more of the flavor of the spirit).  Made with Dabinett & Kingston Black cider apples and wine yeast.  Awesome!  This was my first time trying their Traditions line, which uses cider apples and is sold in 750 ml bottles (vs. the regular 2 Towns line which uses dessert apples and is sold in 500ml bottles, plus a couple selections in cans).  Definitely try this one if you can find some!  I was very happy to get my hands on a bottle (at Full Throttle Bottles, as they ran out at Cider Summit, or couldn’t find it or whatever).

Traditions Ciderworks (by 2 Towns) Riverwood 2013 (Corvallis OR).  6.9% ABV.  Semi-sweet.  Made with Jonagold apples (a cross between Golden Delicious and Jonathan) and inspired by sparkling brut champagnes.  I found it very similar to their Amity Rose but slightly sweeter, with some floral notes.  I imagine if I sat down with both of them I’d have better tasting notes, but I had just a few sips of each one after the other.

Wandering Aengus Oaked Dry (Salem OR).  6.8% ABV.  Made from English and French bittersweet apples.  Dry.  Mild barrel earthy flavor.  Fairly easy drinking for a barrel aged cider.  Like all of their ciders though, I picked up more bitterness than I prefer, so I’m not a big fan.

Whitewood Whisky Barrel Aged Kingston Black (Olympia WA).  9.7% ABV.  I was really looking forward to this one (mostly as Kingston Black is a famous epitome of a cider apple and I’ve never had a single varietal of it), and it didn’t disappoint!  Apparently this isn’t a true single varietal (ended up 80% Kingston Black and 20% Porter’s Perfection due to some pressing difficulty due to the type of apples), but very close.  Aged almost 2 years in Wishkaw River whiskey barrels!  Dry.  Significant rich barrel flavor.  Higher acidity and tannins with some tartness.  Longer finish.  Very similar to Traditions Bourbon Barrel, but more cider apple than (good) boozy flavor (although this one is higher ABV as Kingston Black has a high sugar content).  Quite different from their Summer Switchel I tried previously.  Definitely try this one if you can find some (very small run)!

Woodinville Ciderworks Tropical (Woodinville WA).  6.3% ABV.  Tap pour.  Cider from dessert apple juice (granny smith, gala, fuji, etc, from Fruit Smart) with mango & passionfruit essence (fresh made concentrate) to backsweeten.  Semi-sweet.  Definitely some nice bold tropical flavor going on.  Mild tartness.  Good fizz.  Definitely a tasty easy drinking cider that I think with the right price and advertising would sell well.  I found it very interesting that the cidermaker/owner Leroy said he made this (added: put the finishing touches on this) Tuesday for the weekend event, comparing to his experience in the wine industry where it takes much longer to get out a product.  (added: the cider was tank aged for 4 months and back sweetened just before the event)  Most craft cidermakers I’ve talked to will at least tank age then bottle age a bit, if not bottle condition, their ciders, so although the product is done quickly, they don’t consider it ready for many months.  This event was their release!  They said bottles should be in stores in about a month.  Overall I think its a solid introductory craft cider, kinda similar to Atlas.  The flavor of their Tropical reminded me a bit of Rev Nat’s Revival, although Rev Nat didn’t add any tropical flavor to the cider (it was all from the yeast, which must have been difficult).  I’m very intrigued to see what they will price their bottles at.

Worley’s Special Reserve (Shepton Mallet England).  5.4% ABV.  A keeved bottle conditioned cider made from cider apple varieties.  Semi-sweet.  Slightly hazy, moderate tartness, and high tannins.  This was my first time trying their cider, although I have a bottle of their “Premium Vintage” at home.  It was a solid selection, but nothing too remarkable.  Maybe as it wasn’t all that cold and had lost some fizz, which is a drawback of bottle pours from events like this.

So, what were my favorite ciders you may ask?  Traditions Bourbon Barrel followed by Whitewood Kingston Black.  Both were fairly similar bold barrel aged ciders, which is my typical favorite cider type.  I was disappointed I couldn’t get a bottle of either at the event (they were out or couldn’t find them or whatever).  However, I was able to try the Whitewood Kingston Black again at the Bill Bradshaw tasting event with 9 local cideries at Capitol Cider the Tuesday after Cider Summit, and found a bottle of the Traditions Bourbon Barrel at Full Throttle Bottles.

Other favorites included Liberty’s English Style, Eden Heirloom Blend, Moonlight Meadery How do you like them apples bourbon barrel, and Montana Ciderworks Darby Pub Cider.  Definitely impressed.  I didn’t really have a single bad cider (there aren’t too many out there), although there were some I didn’t care for.  Stay tuned for Cider Summit 2015 post 2/2, and posts on the remaining two Washington Cider Week events I went to!

Let me know what you think!  Comments please.

Like Cider Says on Facebook for the latest info, shared links, post notifications, etc.