Farnum Hill Semi Dry

Review of Farnum Hill’s Semi Dry.  I got this as part of the September Cidrbox.  I previously tried samples of their Extra Dry and Dooryard, plus I reviewed Extra Dry and Kingston Black from this Cidrbox.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Cidrbox.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Cider:  Semi Dry
Cidery:  Farnum Hill
Cidery Location:  Lebanon NH
ABV:  7.4%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  American artisan cider from cider apples, semi dry

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Availability:  In general their ciders are distributed in CT, NH, MA, ME, NJ, NY, and RI (see here).  I haven’t seen their cider in the Seattle area for awhile.

Cider Description:  Golden, gently bubbly, with a delicious array of tropic fruits, citrus, and mysterious aromatic notes in the nose and on the palate. Our Semi-Dry cider is much less sweet than semi-dry champagnes.  On Farnum Hill, that much-abused word “dry” is taken literally, so our semi-dry balances the gentlest sweetness against sharpness, astringency, and fruit (which is different from sweet). Alcohol content 7.4% by volume. 750 ml bottle, mushroom cork finish with wire hood. The cork comes out by hand, with  a genial pop.

Till recently, this of all our ciders was the most popular among people first encountering true cider flavors. It is richer, more complex, and less overtly tannic than Farmhouse. (Also much harder to make, mostly for horticultural factors in any given crop year – if we’re short of certain apple varieties that make the best possible Semi-Dry, we tend not to make Semi-Dry.) Lately the American taste for extremely dry ciders has seemingly grown, so that our Extra Dry gets as much approval from first-time tasters as the Semi. But if you’re a host wondering which to foist on your innocent guests, we’d still lean slightly toward this one.

We aim in all our blends to complement good food, not compete with it. With Semi-Dry, try: seafood, cheeses, ham, poultry, sausage, rabbit, pork, omelettes or quiches, herbed saucy dishes such as non-red pastas, etc. But don’t be surprised if it does good things for baked potatoes or other ordinary pleasures. And look for your own pairings.

Semi-Dry offers a long, clean, aromatic finish that refreshes the flavors of many savory foods. It enjoyably re-interprets many roles played by white or red wines, though not where a buttery, malolactic feel or a huge, “operatic” wine “experience” are wanted. Some chefs, and fans of Norman dishes (e.g. the world of crepes), contend that our ciders, even the Extra Drys, are charming with certain fruit tarts, custards, etc. People who make fruit ices might like to throw some Farnum Hill in, and pour some more alongside. Please post your discoveries — we’d love to try new ideas!

Cidery Description:  On Farnum Hill, we use the word “cider” to mean an alcoholic beverage fermented from particular apples, just as “wine” is fermented from particular grapes.  Cider is a word that covers an enormous variety of adult beverages made from apples.  Our style is all about flaunting the delights of the fruit that grows best on this place.

Farnum Hill Ciders, at 6.5-7.5% alcohol, tend toward the dry, sharp, fruity and bountifully aromatic. We make them to gladden the moment and light up the flavors of food. During Prohibition, apple-growers urgently needed a new teetotal image. That PR problem helped cut the normal old word “cider” from its normal old meaning, and paste it to the sweet brown ephemeral juice of autumn, normally called “apple juice” or “sweet cider.”  So even now, a lot of our fellow Americans find Farnum Hill ciders a bit startling.

We are proud of Farnum Hill Ciders, and delighted to see more and more small-scale cider-makers coming onto the U.S. cider scene. Meanwhile, we’re also encouraged to see skilled commercial apple-growers planting for cider. As in the wine world, cider-apple growers may want to make their own, or to sell their fruit to cidermakers.  Already, the price of cider apples is many times the processing price that eating apples bring. That makes cider orchards valuable.  Here’s hoping the future of distinctive American orchard-based ciders will outshine the past!

Here is a nice podcast with transcript from an interview by Cider Guide’s Eric West with Nicole Leibon, a cidermaker at Farnum Hill.  Farnum Hill also worked with April White on a book, Apples to Cider – How to Make Cider at Home.

Price:  n/a (retails for $17.99+)
Where Bought:  n/a (through Cidrbox)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I’ve heard of Farnum Hill ever since I got into the cider world, as they were one of the first cideries in the new cider movement (around 1995).

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First Impression:  Light golden yellow.  Very low carbonation.  Flavorful scent, of rich cider apples and caramelized sugar.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acid.  Hints of bitterness.  Low to moderate tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of caramelized sugar, apple skin, brown sugar, and lemon.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, and complexity.  Low flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this one.  It was the most flavorful and richest of the three ciders, especially when drank at room instead of fridge temperature.  I think a bit of residual sugar really goes a long way in a cider such as this to bring out the flavor.

Most Similar to:  A mild English cider, or Dragon’s Head Traditional, Westcott Bay Semi-DryEve’s Kingston Black, and E.Z. Orchards Williamette Valley.

Closing Notes:  This concluded my Farnum Hill Cidrbox tasting.  Semi Dry ended up being my favorite, as well as the group’s favorite at my cider tasting, as it was the most flavorful (as it was sweeter).

Have you tried Farnum Hill cider?  What did you think?

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Farnum Hill Kingston Black

Review of Farnum Hill’s Kingston Black. I got this as part of the September Cidrbox.  I previously tried samples of their Extra Dry and Dooryard, plus I reviewed Extra Dry from this Cidrbox.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Cidrbox.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Cider:  Kingston Black Reserve
Cidery:  Farnum Hill
Cidery Location:  Lebanon NH
ABV:  8.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  American artisan cider, single varietal from Kingston Black

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Availability:  This is a special release so it will probably be more difficult to find, but in general their ciders are distributed in CT, NH, MA, ME, NJ, NY, and RI (see here).  I haven’t seen their cider in the Seattle area for awhile.

Cider Description:  Kingston Black technically is a “bittersharp” apple variety, which in the English-speaking cider world means that its high tannin and acid levels make it a suitable cider apple: however, its sugar level, at least growing here, regularly yields 8.5% alcohol. We release a hundred or so cases of ‘Special Reserve,’ made only from this apple, in years when our KB is showing all its charms.

This is a still cider, in a 750ml bottle with straight cork. Its aromatic and flavor hooks range from floral through fruity (muskmelon) through hormonal suggestions on to further sensory tricks, viz. whiffs of candle-flame and turning off the phone. Like many distinctive flavor signatures, that Kingston Black je ne sais quoi is loved by some but not all.

With food it performs a version of the FHC effect, lending savor and vividness to many different foods. However, unlike our other ciders, Kingston Black in our view belongs with subtle dishes, rather than with spicy or otherwise rowdy flavors. Note that not only Kingston Black’s alcohol but also its price is quite high for a cider. But it’s worth it when you have time to pay attention to the treats before you.

P.S. In old apple variety names, the word “black” means “extremely dark red.”

Cidery Description:  On Farnum Hill, we use the word “cider” to mean an alcoholic beverage fermented from particular apples, just as “wine” is fermented from particular grapes.  Cider is a word that covers an enormous variety of adult beverages made from apples.  Our style is all about flaunting the delights of the fruit that grows best on this place.

Farnum Hill Ciders, at 6.5-7.5% alcohol, tend toward the dry, sharp, fruity and bountifully aromatic. We make them to gladden the moment and light up the flavors of food. During Prohibition, apple-growers urgently needed a new teetotal image. That PR problem helped cut the normal old word “cider” from its normal old meaning, and paste it to the sweet brown ephemeral juice of autumn, normally called “apple juice” or “sweet cider.”  So even now, a lot of our fellow Americans find Farnum Hill ciders a bit startling.

We are proud of Farnum Hill Ciders, and delighted to see more and more small-scale cider-makers coming onto the U.S. cider scene. Meanwhile, we’re also encouraged to see skilled commercial apple-growers planting for cider. As in the wine world, cider-apple growers may want to make their own, or to sell their fruit to cidermakers.  Already, the price of cider apples is many times the processing price that eating apples bring. That makes cider orchards valuable.  Here’s hoping the future of distinctive American orchard-based ciders will outshine the past!

Here is a nice podcast with transcript from an interview by Cider Guide’s Eric West with Nicole Leibon, a cidermaker at Farnum Hill.  Farnum Hill also worked with April White on a book, Apples to Cider – How to Make Cider at Home.

Price:  n/a (retails for $17.99+)
Where Bought:  n/a (through Cidrbox)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I’ve heard of Farnum Hill ever since I got into the cider world, as they were one of the first cideries in the new cider movement (around 1995).

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Still.  Smells of rich cider apple.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, and tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of cider apple, caramel, brown sugar, lemon, and green apple.  Moderate length finish.  Low flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity, sessionability, and apple flavor.

My Opinion:  I liked this one.  It was less rich/intense and thinner than I was expecting though, more similar to a NE American heirloom apple cider than an English cider.  However, like the Extra Dry, it became more rich and flavorful at room temperature.  I’d recommend this to folks of dry still cider.

Most Similar to:  I’ve also had Kingston Black single varietals from Whitewood, Dragon’s Head, and Eve’s.  My favorite of those was the Whitewood, as it was intensely flavorful, likely at least partially due to the whiskey barrel aging.

Closing Notes:  Next up is Farnum Hill’s Semi Dry.

Have you tried Farnum Hill cider?  What did you think?

Farnum Hill Extra Dry

Review of Farnum Hill’s Extra Dry.  I got this as part of the September Cidrbox.  I previously tried samples of their Extra Dry and Dooryard, but haven’t done a full review.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Cidrbox.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Cider:  Extra Dry
Cidery:  Farnum Hill
Cidery Location:  Lebanon NH
ABV:  7.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  American artisan cider from cider apples, fully dry, lightly carbonated

Photo Sep 22, 5 07 24 PM Photo Sep 22, 5 07 52 PM

Availability:  This is their flagship cider so it is probably the easiest to find, but they appear to primarily be distributed in CT, NH, MA, ME, NJ, NY, and RI (see here).  I haven’t seen their cider in the Seattle area for awhile.

Cider Description:  Pale gold, bubbly, radically dry. Richly aromatic, suggesting myriad fruits of the earth, and the earth itself, with a complex, palate-cleansing balance of fruit, astringency, and acid. Sugar content zero, fruit notes rampant! Made, like Semi-Dry, from a range of specific apple varieties bred and/or selected for excellent cider.

Cidery Description:  On Farnum Hill, we use the word “cider” to mean an alcoholic beverage fermented from particular apples, just as “wine” is fermented from particular grapes.  Cider is a word that covers an enormous variety of adult beverages made from apples.  Our style is all about flaunting the delights of the fruit that grows best on this place.

Farnum Hill Ciders, at 6.5-7.5% alcohol, tend toward the dry, sharp, fruity and bountifully aromatic. We make them to gladden the moment and light up the flavors of food. During Prohibition, apple-growers urgently needed a new teetotal image. That PR problem helped cut the normal old word “cider” from its normal old meaning, and paste it to the sweet brown ephemeral juice of autumn, normally called “apple juice” or “sweet cider.”  So even now, a lot of our fellow Americans find Farnum Hill ciders a bit startling.

We are proud of Farnum Hill Ciders, and delighted to see more and more small-scale cider-makers coming onto the U.S. cider scene. Meanwhile, we’re also encouraged to see skilled commercial apple-growers planting for cider. As in the wine world, cider-apple growers may want to make their own, or to sell their fruit to cidermakers.  Already, the price of cider apples is many times the processing price that eating apples bring. That makes cider orchards valuable.  Here’s hoping the future of distinctive American orchard-based ciders will outshine the past!

Here is a nice podcast with transcript from an interview by Cider Guide’s Eric West with Nicole Leibon, a cidermaker at Farnum Hill.  Farnum Hill also worked with April White on a book, Apples to Cider – How to Make Cider at Home.

Price:  n/a (retails for $16.99+)
Where Bought:  n/a (through Cidrbox)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I’ve heard of Farnum Hill ever since I got into the cider world, as they were one of the first cideries in the new cider movement (around 1995).

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First Impression:  Light gold yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Mild scent, clean, with a hint of honey.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Very light bodied.  Creamy texture.  Low tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of honey, floral, lemongrass, orange, and green apple.  Moderate length warming finish.  Low flavor intensity and apple flavor.  Moderate complexity and sessionability.

My Opinion:  I didn’t dislike it, but this cider was a bit underwhelming for me and the others which tasted it with me.  It gained more flavor intensity and acidity as it warmed up from fridge to room temperature, which was helpful, so I’d recommend drinking it at nearly room temperature (and so does the cidery).  It was also really different from the version of Extra Dry I tried a couple years ago (see here), which my notes say was more acidic, tannic, and carbonated.  Craft ciders can really vary batch to batch.  However, it was very well made and food friendly.  I think it would appeal best to true dry cider lovers.  If you typically drink semi-dry to semi-sweet like I do, the flavor just won’t be there for you, as this is a very nuanced cider.  This is definitely a cider to take some time with to ponder.

Most Similar to:  Alpenfire Pirate’s Plank (although that one is a bit more intensely flavored, possible as it is less filtered) and Brooklyn Cider House Still Bone Dry

Closing Notes:  Next up are Farnum Hill’s Kingston Black and Semi Dry.

Have you tried Farnum Hill cider?  What did you think?

Cidrbox Cider Subscription Review

This time around I have a review of something fun, a one-time Cidrbox order.  Cidrbox is a subscription service that features a different artisan cidery each month.  Customers have the option of a one-time order, or to subscribe to 3, 6, or 12 bottles each month from that month’s featured cidery.  I am reviewing their September 2017 box, which contained selections from Farnum Hill (Poverty Lane Orchards) in New Hampshire – Kingston Black, Extra Dry, and Semi-Dry.

cidrbox.gif

>>This is a review of a sample box provided to Cider Says by Cidrbox.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

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Order Process – Very easy, through their website.  It asked for all the usual info such as name, address, and a credit card number.  There are options for a one-time order (such as a gift), monthly subscription (3, 6, or 12 bottles), bi-monthly subscription (3 bottles), or gift card.  A subscription can be paused, cancelled, increased, or decreased at any time.  E-mail updates are provided throughout the process, such as at the time of order and at the time of shipment (with UPS tracking number).  There is also the option to pre-pay for three months, and get free shipping each of those months.  The website also clearly states the order deadline to get the next month’s shipment and when it will ship, which is great, as often when signing up for a subscription it can be unclear when it actually starts / what the first box will be.

Accessibility – Cidrbox can currently ship to 32/50 states.  Orders ship from the cidery, so delivery time can vary slightly each month, but you’ll know when to expect it.

Pricing – $75, $135, or $265 for 3, 6, or 12 bottles per month, plus a flat $10 shipping (unless paying for 3 months in advance).  The shipping cost is actually a good deal as from my experience, I expect it costs them more than $10 / box, especially for the larger quantity ones, as this is still a relatively small operation.

Selection – The best of the best.  Most if not all cideries are orchard-based.  These are the types of cideries that make small batch artisan ciders from heirloom and cider apples (no flavored ciders from dessert apples).  Past selections have included Eden, South Hill, Alpenfire, Castle Hill, Kite & String, Windfall Orchards, Foggy Ridge, and Prima.

Rarity – These cideries don’t have a large distribution, and most don’t typically ship.  I love trying new ciders, especially those which are very different from what I can get locally, so this is very cool.

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Delivery – For me this was a bit of a negative, but only because they used UPS, which isn’t as alcohol-friendly.  Someone over 21 must be home to sign for it, or it can be held at the main UPS facility (which is 40+ minutes away for me).  In contrast, FedEx allows all packages to be held at any FedEx facility, and there is a FedEx Office place on my way home, so that would be so much easier for me.

Cidrbox’s website clearly states that someone 21 or over must be home to sign for it, so two thumbs up for full disclosure there.  Some other options include leaving a note on your door to leave it with a neighbor (if they would be home to sign for it), have it delivered to work, or pay $8 through UPS My Choice to get a two hour delivery window (but they only offered something like 9am-11am or 11am-1pm to me, which I’d still have to take a half day off work for).  There are typically three delivery attempts, but they tend to be at the same time of day.  It is something to keep in mind when ordering though.

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Packaging – The cider arrived in a typical box, with an insert made specifically to hold three bottles, plus inside an envelope there was an info sheet on the ciders, an info sheet on Farnum Hill, a booklet from Farnum Hill called “Inside Cider”, a 33 Mugs of Cider tasting notes book (see here for more info), an American Farmland Trust sticker, and a receipt/packing list.  Everything arrived safely, and I liked that the inserts were protected in an interior envelope.

The Competition – I am only aware of one other monthly cider subscription currently available in the U.S., Double Cider, which I reviewed here.  (For UK people, there is at least Crafty Nectar and Orchard Box.)

For comparison:

  • Cidrbox has the option of 3, 6, or 12 bottles a month (although with the 6 & 12 bottle boxes there will be some duplicates), where Double Cider only offers one option of 2 bottles per month.
  • Cidrbox features one cidery each month, while so far Double Cider has selected one cider from each of two cideries each month.
  • Both services have the option of a one-time order or a subscription (for Double Cider however to get a one-time order, you’d have to select that it is a gift, or cancel).
  • Double Cider also has an online store of some past selections.
  • Cidrbox starts at $75 + $10 shipping for 3 bottles per month (typically very high end 750ml), while Double Cider is $34.95 + $10 shipping for 2 bottles per month (typically moderate to high end 500-750ml).
  • Cidrbox currently ships to 32/50 states and Double Cider currently ships to 45/50 states.

Having tried both, I see pros & cons to each option.  My favorite thing about both companies is that you know what you will be receiving in advance, so you can choose to purchase or skip the selection.  Also, each offers additional backstory on the cideries and ciders.

The biggest negative I see to both is cost, as you are paying a premium on top of the retail price of the ciders, as a third party is curating the selection and they don’t work for free.  Cidrbox at least actually goes and visits the cideries, which can’t be cheap.  Plus you are typically paying for shipping.  However, most of these selections wouldn’t have otherwise been available, which is a pretty big positive.  I can also see several cases where folks would want to pay a bit of a premium to have top ciders selected for them, such as if they are new to cider or just plain busy.

Cidrbox appears to have a slightly higher end selection than Double Cider, focusing on orchard-based cideries, although Double Cider’s selections are still definitely craft (they have included some flavored ciders though).  Although both services offer good information about the cideries and ciders, Cidrbox goes above and beyond with a monthly Meet the Maker page, videos, and even a monthly Cider Sessions tasting notes podcast.  Also, kuddos to Cidrbox’s web designer, as it is a really classy looking webpage!

Another Option – If you want to expand your cider selection beyond what is available locally, but don’t want a subscription, are on a tighter budget, already know exactly what you want, and/or are picky and want to select exactly what to purchase, another option is to order cider straight from a cidery.  A growing number of cideries have direct to consumer sales, typically online.  That way you would also get to choose the exact selections from a cidery.  Vino Shipper is a popular option; it has a directory of mostly wineries, but also a good number of cideries and meaderies, which you purchase directly from.  This month’s Cidrbox at least was shipped through Vino Shipper (although Farnum Hill typically doesn’t ship).

One negative however is that because the cidery directly ships your order (ie. it doesn’t come from a warehouse), you can’t combine shipping between multiple cideries when using Vino Shipper.  I have had cider shipped from cideries such as Eden (they have their own online ordering system and use FedEx), Eve’s (they use Vino Shipper and it comes UPS), and Tilted Shed (they don’t have an online ordering system, but take orders by e-mail or phone, and then e-mail you an invoice to pay online).  There is still the shipping cost, which can often be quite high, but sometimes they have discounts.  Eve’s for example has had a coupon code for free shipping at least twice in the last year, and that was the deciding factor for me placing an order both times.

Bottom Line – I was pleased with Cidrbox.  I think they are an especially good option for people who are very open to trying all types of cider (ie. aren’t picky about style, sweetness, etc, such as folks just getting into higher end craft cider who may not yet know their preferences) and people who want to expand their cider selection.  They have had an excellent line-up so far of top cideries.  However, I am personally unlikely to subscribe to anything on a monthly basis as I am admittedly picky and cheap.  I’ve been keeping an eye on the selections to see if anything sounds too good to pass up that month though.  I likely would have been tempted by this selection if I hadn’t got a sample, as Farnum Hill only has limited distribution in my area, and I haven’t spotted anything from them for awhile.

Stay tuned for reviews of each of the three Farnum Hill varieties – Kingston Black, Extra Dry, and Semi-Dry.

My Favorite Ciders of 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your favorite ciders?

Schilling Cider House Visit 15 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my fifteenth visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.  I was there on a Tuesday evening for a tasting event with Longdrop Cider (from the Boise Idaho area).

I started with a flight before the event, then sampled four Longdrop ciders (2 on tap, 1 bottled, and 1 canned) and a bit of a Canadian ice cider which Sarah opened.  There were supposed to be 4 kegs from Longdrop, but 2 didn’t make it in time.  I hadn’t previously tried any of their ciders.  Longdrop is relatively new to Washington (their ciders are sold throughout Idaho and in Seattle WA and Portland OR).  I got to meet their “head apple wrangler” (Chris Blanchard) and they had some giveaways (I got a sweet t-shirt).

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<left to right: Schilling Peach Grapefruit Habanero, Red Tank Roughneck, Whitewood Winesap, Farnum Hill Dooryard, Jester & Judge Pineapple, and Snowdrift Semi-Dry>

Schilling Peach Grapefruit Habanero, 5.0% ABV, Auburn WA:  This is a one-off keg of their Grapefruit cider infused with peach and habanero.  I’ve tried many of their ciders.  Very hazy.  Smells like grapefruit with some definite spiciness.  Semi-sweet.  Moderate tartness.  Mild acidity.  I didn’t really taste any peach, only grapefruit, and the spiciness was overwhelming for me.  Long spicy finish.  I learned that the Cider House will maintain one “spicy” tap line, and this currently replaces their Sriracha Lime.  I couldn’t do more than two tiny sips of this one; my favorites from them remain King’s Shilling and Pineapple Paradise.

Red Tank Roughneck, 6.5% ABV, Bend OR:  This is one of their flagship ciders.  I’ve tried a few of their ciders.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  A hint of bitterness and sourness.  Kinda bland / low flavor intensity, but it had a bit of unfiltered apple juice flavor, yeast, and earthiness.  For unfiltered ciders, I prefer 2 Towns OutCider.

Whitewood Winesap, 6.8% ABV, Olympia WA:  A special release tap-only cider.  I’ve tried a few of their ciders.  Semi-dry. Moderate tartness and acidity.  A hint of tannins.  Slightly sharp, apple-forward, and citrus-forward.  It mellowed out a bit as it warmed up.  Medium bodied.  I found this similar to the other single varietal winesap apple ciders I’ve tried from Blue Mountain and Locust, and slightly wine-like.  My favorite from them is the Whiskey Barrel Aged Kingston Black, which is one of my all time favorite ciders (and I was only able to sample a bit twice; hopefully it is released in bottles sometime).

Farnum Hill Dooryard, 7.5% ABV, Lebanon NH:  This is one of their best selling / flagship ciders; Farnum Hill typically labels the different batches of this cider with a code, and you can look up what is in them online (they vary apple varieties and such quite a bit under the same Dooryard label), but I don’t know what batch this was.  Also available in bottles, and sold from their Poverty Lane Orchard in growlers.  I’ve previously only tried their Extra Dry cider.  Dry.  Mild tartness and acidity.  Mild to moderate bitterness.  Mild funk.  A hint of sourness as it warmed up.  Mild tannins.  Citrus, vanilla, mineral, and clove notes.  Wine-like and nuanced.  This isn’t really my cup of tea.

Jester & Judge Pineapple Express, 5.5% ABV, Stevenson WA:  This is a new tap-only release.  I’ve tried a few of their ciders.  Hazy.  Semi-sweet.  Strong fresh pineapple flavor!  Nice fizziness/frothiness.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Light bodied.  Quick finish.  I really enjoyed this one, despite its simplicity.  I found it similar to Schilling’s Pineapple Passion / Trouble in Paradise, but with slight lime instead of slight passion fruit notes.

Snowdrift Semi-Dry, 7.1% ABV, Wenatchee WA:  This is one of their flagship ciders, and although I’ve tried most of them, I had only seen their Dry variety previously.  Available in bottles and kegs.  Dry.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Mild bitterness.  Mild tannins.  Medium bodied.  Sharp flavor with some crabapple, apple pomace, and brown sugar notes, and slight richness.  Moderate length finish.  My favorites from them remain Red, Cornice, and Cliffbreaks Blend.

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Longdrop Tanager Pear Cider, 6.0% ABV, Eagle ID:  This is their spring seasonal release, a pear cider (apple + pear, not perry), available in 22oz bottles.  Smells like juicy pear.  Semi-dry.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Light bodied, with a fizzy/frothy mouthfeel.  Quick finish.  Simple apple & pear flavor, but it was nice & light and easy to drink.

Longdrop Vanilla Honey, 6.0% ABV, Eagle ID:  This is one of their two most commonly found ciders.  Available in 12oz cans and draft.  Made from Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith apples, with Madagascar Vanilla beans and Idaho honey.  Smells strongly of honey.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Honeycomb flavor with a hint of vanilla.  Quick finish.  I really loved the honeycomb flavor; you can tell it was high quality honey.

Longdrop Derby Canyon, 6.9%, Eagle ID:  This is a special release for the 2016 Apple Blossom Festival, named after a landmark in Washington nearby where the apples for this cider are from.  This cider was made with 100% Wenatchee Valley apples…”it’s got a big apple taste with some complexity – probably because it’s got one of every kind of apple out there in it”.  Available in 220z bottles and kegs.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Apple-forward with some unfiltered apple juice flavor.

Longdrop Semi-Sweet, 5.5% ABV, Eagle ID:  This is one of their two most commonly found ciders.  Available in 12oz cans and draft.  Made from Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith apples.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Apple-forward with some vanilla notes and a hint of vinegar/salt?

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Pomme De Coeur ice cider, 6.9% ABV, Rougemont Canada:  This is the first Canadian ice cider I’ve tried, and the lowest ABV I’ve seen.  Its pretty widely available in boxed tall 375ml bottles.  Ice cider originated in Quebec, and is made with either apples or apple juice which has been exposed to cold cycles, which concentrates the sugar (and thus flavor), and produces a higher ABV beverage as well.  Smells like caramelized sugar.  Sweet but not as sweet as other ice ciders such as from Eden.  Medium bodied.  Very juice-like, with less complexity than other ice ciders.  It also doesn’t have the body and higher ABV of most ice ciders.  I liked the first couple sips, but after that its inferior quality was apparent.  I like the super concentrated intense flavor of other ice ciders; Eden Northern Spy (barrel aged) is my favorite so far.  Although its about $15 (vs. $30+) for 375ml, I’d rather get the good stuff.  I imagine there are much better Canadian ice ciders available than this (often the more commercial beverages are the ones which have the means to export their products), so I hope to try another in the future.

My favorite Longdrop cider was the Vanilla Honey, and my favorite cider from my flight was Jester & Judge’s Pineapple cider.

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

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.

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