Schilling Cider House Visit 28 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 28th visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

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I was there on a random Friday afternoon.  There were only 2 ciders on the board out of 32 that I hadn’t tried, so that meant I got to order some of my favorites.

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<left to right:  Incline Rosé, Finnriver Lavender Black Currant, Portland Sangria, NV Cider Watermelon Pear, Aspall Dry, and Snowdrift Cornice>

Incline (Auburn WA) Compass Rosé (6.5% ABV):  This was the only new-to-me cider in my flight.  It appears to be a year round release, and is also available in cans.  Like all their ciders, it is hopped, plus hibiscus, elderflower, ginger, and rose petals were added (no grape, which is typical for a rosé).  Pale pink hue.  Very mild fruity scent.  Notes of grape, watermelon, and strawberry to start.  As it warmed up, I got a hint of hops and some floral & herbal flavor.  I didn’t pick up any ginger (which is good, as I don’t like it).  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied. Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Mild flavor intensity.  Interesting that I found it more fruity than floral, but maybe I was tasting what I expected (I only found out later what was added).  I enjoyed it.

Finnriver (Chimacum WA) Lavender Black Currant (6.9% ABV):  This is a special release, also available in bottles, which I’ve tried previously (see here), similar to their regular Black Currant (see here).  This batch seemed a bit less sweet, with more lavender.  Too bad it wasn’t on one of their 2 Nitro taps, as that is a special treat.  I enjoyed it.

Portland Cider (Portland OR) Sangria (5.5% ABV):  This is a relatively new year round release, also available in bottles, which I’ve tried previously (see here).  This batch was a bit less flavorful and a bit fuller bodied, but still plenty fruity.  I enjoyed it.

Pear Up / NV Cider (East Wenatchee WA) Watermelon Pear (5.3% ABV):  This is a year round release, also available in bottles, which I’ve tried previously (see here).  This batch had much more pear than watermelon flavor, and had a hint of vinegar flavor & sourness.  I didn’t really care for it this time around with the slightly off flavor.  Their raspberry perry is my favorite so far (see here).

Aspall (Suffolk England) Dry (6.8% ABV):  This is an English import, available year round, also in bottles, which I’ve tried previously (see here).  Their Dry is actually my least favorite of their line-up, but still plenty good.  Their Imperial is my favorite so far (see here); too bad they stopped selling the black label version of it though, as that was a truly amazing cider.

Snowdrift (Wenatchee WA) Cornice (7.5% ABV):  This is a year round release, also available in bottles, which I’ve tried previously see here).  This batch of this barrel agsed cider was a bit more fruity / less rich.  I enjoyed it.

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

Schilling Cider House Visit 27 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 27th visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

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I was there on a Sunday afternoon, with my husband and a friend from out of town.  The good thing about having folks with me was I got to order more ciders!  I chose all the ciders for our group, which was fun.

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<left to right:  Schilling Pippin, Locust Seckel Perry, Anthem Pear, Finnriver Dry Hopped, Cockrell Raspberry Habanero, and Schilling Afterglow>

Schilling (Auburn WA) Pippin (6.5% ABV):  This is a draft-only special release, a single varietal from Pippin apples I believe.  Semi-dry.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Mild to moderate bitterness.  Hints of sourness.  Lots of citrus!  I wasn’t really a fan with the sourness and acidity.

Locust (Woodinville WA) Seckel Perry (6.5% ABV):  I rounded out my flight with this, as I enjoyed it my last visit (see here).  However, this time I found it sour, and wasn’t a fan.  I’m curious if it was the same keg or not.

Anthem (Salem OR) Pear (6.5% ABV):  This is a pear-flavored cider, also available in bottles.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Very mildly flavored, apple and pear.  I found it plenty drinkable, but boring.

Finnriver (Port Townsend WA) Dry Hopped (6.9% ABV):  I’ve tried this previously, and mostly ordered it for my husband.  It is also available in bottles.  Semi-dry to dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness, acidity, and bitterness.  Citrus notes with hints of floral and hops.  Not bad.

Cockrell (Puyallup WA) Raspberry Habanero (7.8% ABV):  This is a popular cider of theirs, also available in bottles.  Semi-dry.  Moderate berry flavor.  Moderate to strong level of spiciness, especially on the finish.  I’m not a fan of spicy ciders, and mostly tried this out of curiosity.  This was the only one we didn’t finish.

Schilling (Auburn WA) Afterglow (5.1% ABV):  This is a special release, also available in bottles, made with cranberries, blood orange, and rose hips.  Semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Mild to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Mild to moderate berry flavor with a hint of herbs.  I didn’t pick up any blood orange.  I enjoyed it.

We also ordered 2 more flights, with:
– Schilling Pineapple Passion (which I’ve reviewed here)
– Schilling Grumpy Bear Cold Brew Coffee (which I’ve reviewed here)
– Schilling Blackberry Pear (which I’ve reviewed here)
– One Tree Huckleberry (which I’ve reviewed here)
– Elemental Margarita (which I’ve reviewed here)
– Elemental Blood Orange (which I’ve reviewed here)
– Schilling King’s Schilling (which I’ve reviewed here)
– Jester & Judge Pineapple (which I’ve reviewed here , although this batch wasn’t so great, as it was less flavorful than usual)
 – Elemental Pom-Lavender (which I really enjoyed, semi-sweet and flavorful, fruity with a hint of lavender)
– Elemental Black Currant (which I thought was good, but I like Finnriver’s better, as the flavor is more intense – see here)

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We also ordered a bottle of Aspall Imperial (which I’ve reviewed here).  I love that all their bottles at the cider house are pre-chilled and there isn’t a markup for drinking them onsite.

My favorite was the Aspall.  After that, the Schilling Afterglow, Elemental Pom-Lavender, Schilling Pineapple Passion, and Schilling’s King Schilling.

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

Schilling Cider House Visit 25 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 25th visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

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I was there on a Tuesday when they were having a 2 Towns event (they had Return of the Mac, Made Marion, Cherried Away, Flight of the Kiwi, and Sun’s Out Saison on tap).  I started with a flight.

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<left to right:  Finnriver Fire Barrel, 2 Towns Sun’s Out Saison, Locust Seckel Perry, Sea Cider Wolf in the Woods, Cockrell Dusty, and Alpenfire Heirloom Dry>

Finnriver (Chimacum WA) Fire Barrel (9.0% ABV):  This year’s Fire Barrel was just released (I’ve tried it previously; see here).  It is made from cider apples (this year they are all Organic and all from Finnriver’s own orchard), then Whiskey barrel aged for 5 months (previously it was aged in charred Bourbon barrels).  They have a detailed fact sheet on this and all their other ciders now too.  This time around it is a higher ABV, and is being released in a 750ml corked bottle (part of their Orchard Series) for $23, instead of a 500ml bottle for $11.  I prefer smaller bottles for lower prices.  I think it was underpriced before (I recognize these barrel aged ciders from real cider apples cost significantly more to produce), but $23 is a bit steep.
Darker hue.  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, bitterness, tannins, and funk.  No sourness.  Notes of apple pomace, caramel, and molasses.  Long warming finish. Oddly enough I liked this better as it warmed up, as it seemed to have more depth (often for a higher ABV cider, they become harsh as they warm). Moderate flavor intensity, apple flavor, sessionability, and complexity.  Low to moderate oak and spirit flavor.  I really enjoyed it, but the previous version was better, as it seemed more complex (I didn’t pick up the vanilla this time) and had more oak & spirit flavor, likely as it was a bit sweeter.

2 Towns (Corvallis OR) Peach Saison / Sun’s Out Saison (5.8% ABV):  I thought this was something I hadn’t tried, as it was labeled Peach Saison (they write whatever the keg label says on the tap list board, so sometimes it varies from the official name), but it turns out it is Sun’s Out Saison, back for its 2nd seasonal release (also available in bottles); I’ve tried it previously (see here).  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Notes of peach, pear, citrus, and green apple.  Quick finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate to high sessionability.  Low to moderate complexity.  I really enjoyed it.  This year’s release seemed slightly sweeter and more flavorful.

Locust Cider (Woodinville WA) Seckel Perry (6.0% ABV):  This draft-only perry is made from Seckel pears.  Smells slightly of vinegar, sourness, funk, and citrus.  Hazy hue.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied, with a nice texture.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Mouth-puckering without being overly tart or acidic.  Hints of sourness, funk, bitterness, and tannins.  Pear-forward with some citrus, even lime.  I enjoyed it.  Snowdrift also makes a nice Seckel Perry (see here).

Sea Cider (Saanichton B.C.) Wolf in the Woods (9.9% ABV):  This is a special release cider, part of their Canadian Invasion Series, with hops and pine tips, also available in bottles (for more info see here).  Dry to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate bitterness.  Low tannins.  Flavor notes were on the earthy and botanical side, with hops, wood, and citrus.  Long warming finish, but that was the first time the ABV showed up.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity and complexity.  Low sessionability.  I enjoyed it.

Cockrell Cider (Puyallup WA) Call Me Dusty / Dusty Dry (6.8% ABV):  This is their flagship dry cider, also available in bottles.  Dry to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  Rather apple-forward and flavorful for a drier cider.  Hints of peach, pineapple, and lemon.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate sessionability, complexity, and apple flavor.  I enjoyed it.

Alpenfire (Port Townsend WA) Traditional Heirloom Dry (8.0% ABV):  This is a draft-only new cider release from heirloom apples.  Dry to semi-dry.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Apple-forward flavor with some citrus and floral notes.  Moderate apple flavor, flavor intensity, complexity, and sessionability.  I enjoyed it.  Even Alpenfire’s simpler ciders are exceptional (like their Simple Cider).

Sarah also shared a few sample ciders with me.

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Carlton Cyderworks (McMinnville OR) Sidra Natural (6.9% ABV):  This is a special release Spanish Sidra-style cider (first available November 2016), made from bittersweet & bittersharp PNW apples.  Semi-dry to dry.  Low to moderate tartness, acidity, and sourness.  Low funk.  Notes of citrus but not much else.  Low flavor intensity and complexity.  I found this rather uninspiring, plus I’m not really a fan of Sidra / sour ciders.  However, this would be a good introductory Sidra for someone as it isn’t overly harsh.  Interestingly, imported real Spanish Sidra can be bought around here for significantly less than local Sidra-style cider, so I’m curious how these cider styles will sell.  Rustic and farmhouse-style ciders seem to be gaining in popularity in the PNW (or at least, in production).

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Aval (Bretagne France) Cidre Artisinal (6.0% ABV):  This is a semi widely available French cider from the Brittany region, known for sweeter and higher carbonated apple-forward ciders, typically without the sourness & funk which is common is ciders from the Normandy region.  Darker hue.  Smells sweet, of caramel.  Unknown carbonation level (this had gone flat, but I’m guessing it was higher to start with).  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Low tartness, acidity, tannins, and bitterness.  Notes of apple pomace and caramel.  Quick finish.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Low to moderate complexity.  I enjoyed this; it is a very easy-drinking French cider, similar to Celt, which is a staple cider in my house and a steal at $7.99 for four 11.2oz bottles.

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North Idaho Cider (Hayden ID) Logger (6.9% ABV):  This cidery’s ciders are new to the Seattle area (see this article), and this one retails for ~ $7.99 / 22oz.  Logger is a dry cider aged on oak and pine.  Dry.  Low sourness.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness.  Notes of oak/wood, earth, and citrus.  Mild flavor intensity and apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability and complexity.  I thought this was nice, and reminded me of Grizzly Ciderworks The Ridge.

For probably the first time, I actually enjoyed every cider in my flight.  However, my favorites were the Finnriver Fire Barrel and 2 Towns Sun’s Out Saison.  Of the bottle pours, I enjoyed the Aval best.  It was awesome to have several true artisan cider selections on tap (those made from cider apples by cideries with their own orchards), as most of the draft selections tend towards ciders made from dessert apples with added flavors (fruit, hops, etc).

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

Cider Rite of Spring 2017 – Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is Part 2/2 on Cider Rite of Spring 2017 in Portland Oregon, which includes tasting notes on the 18 ciders I tried.  See HERE for Part 1/2, covering the event itself.  Note that I have more notes on some ciders than others depending on how much of it I tried and what was going on at the event (kinda tough to take notes with one hand while holding on to your tasting glass in the other!)…its not a reflection on the cider itself.

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^ 5 Cider (Portland OR) Strawbasaurus Hop, 6.9% ABV, $6/500ml:  This is a flagship hopped strawberry cider, and the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied with a lot of foam.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate bitterness.  I couldn’t get past how overly hoppy the flavor was.  The light strawberry flavor with the intense hopped flavor was also odd.  I think hops are nice to enhance a cider’s flavor, but I don’t like when they overpower it.

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2 Towns (Corvallis OR) Pommeau, 19% ABV, $23/375ml, VIP offering:  This is an awesome Pommeau (apple brandy + apple cider, oak barrel aged for 1 year); see my previous review here.

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7 Bev / Queen Orchard (West Linn OR) Green Man, 6.7% ABV, draft only:  This cider is for the Willamette Ale & Cider House, expected to open in West Linn Oregon on June 15th, and is the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  It was described as inspired by English cider, but I found it more farmhouse-style than anything else (none of the characteristic tannins of English cider).  Hazy hue.  Smells of sulfur, sourness, and funk, but those qualities oddly enough didn’t transfer to the flavor.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Apple-forward with citrus notes.  Nice flavor, but the scent was off-putting.  It could be a first production issue.

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Alter Ego Cider (Portland OR) The Guardian Angel, 6.5% ABV, $8/500ml:  This is a flagship blueberry pomegranate cider, and the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Dark berry hue.  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  High flavor intensity, with blueberry, pomegranate, and grape, but not much apple.  High sessionability.  Juice-like.  Reminds me of Atlas’ ciders.  I liked it.

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Bauman’s Cider (Gervais OR) Peach Raspberry, 6.4% ABV, $12/22oz:  This summer seasonal cider adds peaches and raspberries, and is the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate to high flavor intensity, with rather straight-forward peach and raspberry notes.  Well balanced with a lot of flavor without being too sweet.  I really enjoyed it.

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Elk Horn Brewery (Eugene OR) Grape Perry, 6.0% ABV, draft only:  This is a perry made from dessert pears, sweetened with Concord grape juice, and the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Semi-dry.   Light bodied.  Very light fruity flavor, primarily grape.  I was expecting a sweeter more flavorful cider between the pear (unfermentable sugars typically lead to a higher residual sugar content even if fermentation isn’t stopped early) and grape, although you can tell even from the color than not a lot of grape juice was used.

Elk Horn Brewery (Eugene OR) Cherry’s Pie, 7.5% ABV, draft only:  This is a cider with cherries added.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  I found the flavor a bit weird…kinda bitter…but I just had a sip or two shared with me.

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Finnriver (Port Townsend WA) Apply Ol’ Fashion cocktail, VIP offering:  Made with Finnriver’s Spirited Apple Wine (brandy-fortified cider, 18.5% ABV, $25/500ml) and Oak and Apple cider (6.5% ABV, $10/500ml).  I’ve previously had both ciders on their own, but I didn’t like this cocktail in the least, and neither did my husband or friend, as none of us are fans of bitters.  Its likely the proportions may have got off since they made this rather rushed…it was quite an undertaking to serve a non-pre-mixed cocktail at a busy event like this.  They were also offering pours of just the Apple Wine, which is what I should have chosen.  See my Oak and Apple review here.  My favorite from Finnriver however is their Fire Barrel (see here); this year’s vintage was just released, and it is a great value at ~$11/500ml.

McMenamins Edgefield Winery (Portland OR) Black Cherry Cider, 6.8% ABV, draft only:  Semi-sweet.  Nice real cherry flavor.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  High flavor intensity.  I liked it.  I had previously only tried Edgefield’s flagship cider.

Pear UP (formerly NV Cider, East Wenatchee WA) Raspberry Perry, unknown ABV, $5/500ml:  This is a perry (only pears, no apples) with raspberries.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Nice moderate to strong fresh raspberry flavor with a hint of pear.  Refreshingly flavorful.  I was surprised how much more flavorful this was compared to their Watermelon Perry, as it is only slightly more sweet.  I like the flavor intensity of this best of all their perries I’ve tried, but the watermelon flavor remains my favorite (I’m a huge watermelon fan).

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Reverend Nat’s (Portland OR) New Moon Mandarin, 7.2% ABV, $7/500ml:  This seasonal cider is made with mandarin and tangerine juice, and finished with chamomile flowers.  Dry.  Light bodied.  High tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Very mild citrus flavor.  Warm boozy finish.  This was nice, but more subtle than I prefer.

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Runcible Cider (Mosier OR) Light of the Moon, 8.1% ABV, $17/750ml:  This is their flagship cider made using heirloom apple varieties, and the first I’ve tried from this cidery.  Hazy hue.  Semi-dry.  Low tartness, bitterness, and tannins.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of sourness and funk.   found this to be a slightly farmhouse-style apple-forward cider with some honey and citrus notes.  I liked it.

Runcible Cider (Mosier OR) Old Hoot, 7.4% ABV, $17/750ml:  This is their Farmhouse-style cider, made with English cider apple varieties.  Very hazy hue.  Dry.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low funk and tannins.  Hints of sourness.  This was well made, but a bit too rustic for my liking.

Shoutout to Kelly McCune of Runcible Cider – she had actually heard of Cider Says prior to the event, and said she likes my blog – very cool!  They are a brand new cidery (this was their first event) and have their own orchard of 500 cider apple trees, which is awesome, as so many cideries actually aren’t orchard-based.  I think it takes a cidery’s cider to the next level.

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Square Mile Cider (Portland OR) Rosé, unknown ABV, draft only, VIP offering:  This special release cider was made with hibiscus and rose hips.  Semi-dry to dry.  Light bodied.  High tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Very light fruitiness, with floral and herbal notes.  This was nice, but more subtle than I prefer.

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Swift Cider (Portland OR) Marionberry, 6.8% ABV, $8/22oz:  This is a dry flagship cider with marionberries, and the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low berry flavor intensity.  This was nice, but more subtle than I prefer.

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Tumalo Cider (Tumalo OR) Prickly Passion, unknown ABV, $6/500ml:  This is the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Semi-dry to dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Very low fruity flavor intensity.  This was nice, but more subtle than I prefer.

Tumalo Cider (Tumalo OR) Hibiscus, unknown ABV, $6/500ml:  Semi-dry to dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness acidity.  Low flavor intensity, more fruity than floral.  Slightly more flavorful than the Prickly Passion.  This was nice, but more subtle than I prefer.

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Woodbox (Portland OR) Double Barrel Whiskey Barrel Ice Cider, 12.7% ABV, $17/375ml:  This is a ice cider (made by using freezing temperatures to naturally concentrate the flavor and sugar content in apple juice before fermenting it) aged in whiskey barrels, and the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Full bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  Low tannins.  Rich flavor notes including caramel and vanilla.  High apple flavor.  Moderate to high whiskey flavor.  Moderate oak flavor.  Awesome!  They made a sign to highlight the cider’s price as the program had a mis-print of $33, which is quite a difference.

Closing Notes:

  • My favorite ciders of the event were the Woodbox Ice Cider and 2 Towns Pommeau (and my husband and friend agreed).
    • The ice cider was an especially good value too (often they run $30+ as they are so expensive to make), and the only bottle we ended up picking up (although our friend bought a number of ciders).
  • Of the non-specialty ciders, I most enjoyed Alter Ego Guardian Angel, Bauman’s Peach Raspberry, Pear UP Raspberry Perry, and Runcible Light of the Moon.
  • I was surprised how many dry ciders were being offered, and especially how many cideries were only offering dry ciders, which is nice.  However, especially when made from dessert apples, dry ciders can often end up very subtlety flavored, while I prefer a really in-your-face flavorful cider (whether an added flavor or due to use of cider apples).  I usually go for semi-dry to semi-sweet, as they tend to be more flavorful, but not too sweet.
  • There were also a number of cideries breaking from the pack and going more Farmhouse-style (like Runcible and Baird & Dewar), which isn’t typically as crowd-pleasing, but sticks to the roots of early American cider.
  • There were plenty of sweet offerings too, but mostly from the more established / larger cideries that I had already sampled (like Portland Cider Co., and the Seattle-area’s own Locust and Schilling cideries).

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That will do it for Cider Rite of Spring 2017.  Stay tuned for more tasting notes from my Portland trip, from Reverend Nat’s tap room and Bushwhacker Cider!

Cherry Cider Tasting

There was recently a cherry cider tasting at my house (thanks Sarah, Merce, Kevin, and Si from Cider Log for sharing all the ciders!).  I took a few tasting notes.

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<Woodchuck Sour Cherry, Anthem Cherry, Julian Cherry Bomb, Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry, Finnriver Chimacum Kriek, Griffin Cider Works Strong Woman, Doc’s Draft Sour Cherry, and Greenwood Cherry>

With all of these I didn’t pick up any flavor besides cherry, and maybe a bit of green apple or citrus.  The apple flavor was also none to mild.

Woodchuck (Middlebury VT) Sour Cherry (6.9% ABV):  This was part of their Cellar Series (since discontinued) and hasn’t been sold since July 2014, but this bottle held up better flavor-wise than the bottle I had that I opened a year ago (review here).  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Mild to moderate slightly cherry flavor.  Still.  Medium bodied.  Mild tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Not bad.

Anthem (Salem OR) Cherry (6.2% ABV):  This is sold year round and now also available in cans.  Semi-dry.  Mild cherry flavor.  Low carbonation.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Mild apple flavor.  I didn’t find it flavorful enough.

Julian (Julian CA) Cherry Bomb (6.99% ABV):  This is sold year round.  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Moderate real cherry flavor. Low carbonation. Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  I liked it.

Reverend Nat’s (Portland OR) Sacrilege Sour Cherry (6.5% ABV):  This is a seasonal release.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Moderate cherry flavor, slightly sour.  Low carbonation.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  I thought it was pretty average; I’d prefer no sourness.

Finnriver (Chimacum WA) Chimacum Kriek (6.0% ABV):  This sour cherry cider is part of their Crew Selection series, a limited release in May 2016.  Semi-dry.  Mild to moderate cherry flavor, moderately sour.  Still.  Medium to full bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  I didn’t care for this at all, due to the sourness.

Griffin Cider Works (Westlake OH) Strong Woman (6.5% ABV):  This is an English-style cider finished with cherry, sold March thru October, whose proceeds go towards fighting breast cancer.  Semi-sweet.  Moderate cherry flavor.  Low carbonation.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Mild tannins.  I thought it was pretty average.  There was an additional flavor in this that none of us could identify.  The tannins were unique.

Doc’s Draft (Warwick NY) Sour Cherry (6.0% ABV):  This is sold year round.  Semi-sweet.  Moderate to strong real cherry flavor.  Low carbonation.  Medium bodied.  Mild tartness.  Moderate acidity.  I really liked it.

Greenwood Cider (Seattle WA) Cherry (unknown ABV):  This appears to be draft only.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Mild weird cherry flavor.  Low carbonation.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  I thought this one was a bit strange, but ok.

Between the six of us at the tasting, the clear winner of the evening was from Doc’s.  Unfortunately this variety isn’t sold in Washington in bottles, but can be found in Oregon, or sometimes on draft here.  My second favorite was from Julian.  What both of these had in common was they were a bit sweeter, more intense cherry flavor, and more “real” flavor (not medicinal).  The least favorites were the Anthem, Greenwood, and Griffin varieties.

Finnriver Pommeau

Review of Finnriver’s Pommeau, which is a mix of cider and apple brandy.  I tried a bottle pour of this awhile back.  I picked up this bottle in February when my husband took me to Port Townsend for cider tasting for my birthday (see here, plus posts on Finnriver, Eaglemount, and Alpenfire).  I’ve previously tried most of Finnriver’s line-up; see here.

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Cider:  Pommeau
Cidery:  Finnriver
Cidery Location:  Chimacum WA
ABV:  18.5%
How Supplied:  500ml square short bottle (cork in cap)
Style:  American craft Pommeau apple wine (cider + apple brandy), oak aged

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Availability:  Likely difficult to find outside of their Port Townsend area cidery & farm and their booth at the Ballard Farmer’s Market.  In general, Finnriver ciders are sold in WA, OR, CA, AZ, NV, TX, IL, CO, and Alberta & BC Canada (detailed info here).  They also have an online store (which can ship to WA, OR, CA, AK, CO, MN, FL, & WA D.C.).

Cider Description: Fermenting at Finnriver is a process of discovery – a blend of ancient wisdom, modern chemistry, farm ingenuity, and nature’s magic.  We are inspired by the generosity of the orchard and by the possibilities of the apple.  We hope this bottle of elegant, aged apple wine gives you a rich and rewarding sip of the earth’s bounty.

Pommeau in general is made from apple juice (typically unfermented but sometimes fermented) and apple brandy.  This one was oak aged, and released in January 2016.

Cidery Description:  At Finnriver we gather and ferment the flavors of the land to offer you farmcrafted hard ciders and spirited fruit wines. We are inspired by the allure of the fruit, the ancient history of the craft of fermentation and the lively traditions we now seek to revive.  Our mission is to inspire a deeper connection to the land that sustains us….Some of these ciders are small-batch, seasonal and labor-intensive. Others are produced with contemporary methods and more readily available year-round…Finnriver grows over twenty varieties of traditional and heirloom apples in our organic orchard, to feature in our traditional and specialty ciders.  They have a tasting room open seven days a week, noon to 5pm, and are on the Olympic Pennsylvania cider route along with Eaglemount and Alpenfire cideries.

Price:  $40
Where Bought:  Finnriver’s tasting room in Chimacum WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I tried this awhile back when some friends brought it to a cider tasting party at my house.

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First Impression:  Medium amber.  Still.  Smells boozy, apple forward, and of caramelized and brown sugars.

Tasting Notes:  I preferred this with an ice cube or two.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, honey, leather, oak, and hints of spice.  Long warming finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Low sessionability.  Moderate complexity and flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I really liked it.  However, it wasn’t nearly as good as when I tried it before; the flavor seemed muted and it had an odd texture in the mouth.  Maybe as this bottle had a lot of floating particulates (yeast?).

Most Similar to:  Other Pommeau.  Besides Finnriver, I’ve tried selections from 2 Towns (2015 release), Traditions (2 Towns, 2013 release), Etienne Dupont, and Wandering Aengus.  I’d put Finnriver’s Pommeau somewhere in the middle of the list as far as my favorites go.  I like the sweet flavorful ones best.

Closing Notes:   This was a special treat!  One of the great things about Pommeau is that due to the high alcohol content, it has a longer shelf life after opening it than other ciders, so I can enjoy this bottle for weeks to come.

Have you tried Finnriver Pommeau?  What did you think?

Cider Summit Seattle 2016 Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is post 2/2 on Cider Summit Seattle 2016, covering tasting notes.  Post 1/2 (see here) covered the event.

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2 Towns (Corvallis Oregon) Hollow Jack (6.4% ABV) – This fall seasonal pumpkin cider was just released.  They added caramelized pumpkin, sweet potato, honey, and spices.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, and bitterness.  Notes of pumpkin, squash, and cinnamon.  It was very lightly flavored, unlike many other pumpkin (and more frequently found, “pumpkin” spice ciders, which actually don’t have any pumpkin) which are overwhelming.

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Apple Outlaw (Applegate Oregon) Chocolate Raspberry (unknown ABV) – This was their fruit cider challenge entry.  The chocolate was added by soaking cacao bean husks in the raspberry cider.  These husks would otherwise be discarded in the chocolate making process.  Smells delicious, purely chocolate and raspberry.  Semi-dry.  The flavor is almost all raspberry, but hints of dark chocolate shone through in the slightly bitter and tannic finish.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  This was a bit of a novelty, but nice.

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Aspall (Suffolk England) Perronelle’s Blush (4% ABV) – Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Light to medium bodied.  Lovely fruitiness with moderate blackberry flavor plus hints of cranberry and blueberry.  This is a nice sessionable summer sipper without forgoing flavor.  I’ve never been disappointed by Aspall.

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Boonville (Boonville CA) Bite Hard Semi-Sweet (6.9% ABV) – Their semi-sweet flagship cider is a follow up to their Dry Bite Hard variety.  I found it as advertised, semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Fruity, with notes of tropical fruit like pineapple, plus green apple (all from the apples).  I prefer this semi-sweet cider to their drier variety, which was more wine-like (which corresponds to their wine making background and methods).

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Bull Run (Forest Grove Oregon) Mango (unknown ABV) – This was their fruit cider challenge entry.  This hazy cider looked like mango juice.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Very juice-like and moderate mango flavor intensity.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Simple but tasty.

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Carlton Cyderworks (McMinnville Oregon) Impearial Asian Pear Hard Cider (5.8% ABV) – This is a pear cider (apples + Asian pears + Hood River Oregon pears).  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Light sourness.  Mildly flavored with notes of pear, pineapple, lemon, green apple, and mineral.  I prefer more flavor, but this would pair well with food.

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Coquerel (Victot-Pontfol, Normandy, France) Calvodos Fine VSOP (40% ABV) – This was my first time trying straight Calvados, an aged apple brandy (I’ve only had it with cider, as Pommeau).  Semi-dry.  Definitely boozy, with a very long warming finish.  It surprisingly had only a mild apple flavor, although its possible my palate was a bit overwhelmed by the alcohol.  I’m not really into straight alcohol (especially when served room temperature).  I think I’ll stick to Pommeau.

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d’s Wicked (Kennewick WA) Cranny Granny (6.9% ABV) – This is a granny smith apple cider with cranberry juice.  Hazy pink hue.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Simple with only notes of moderately tart granny smith apples and cranberry.  If you like tartness and cranberry, you’ll like this cider.

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Dragon’s Head (Vashon WA) Columbia Crabapple Cider (6.7% ABV) – A single varietal cider made from Columbia crabapples.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity with hints of bitterness and tannins.  Sharp flavor with notes of mineral, green apple, honey, white blossom, and lemon.  Wine-like and nuanced with low flavor intensity.  This is the sweetest variety I’ve tried from them.  Their Kingston Black or Traditional is probably my favorite though.

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Double Mountain Brewery –  I’ll add a bit about them as they aren’t yet distributed in Washington, only Oregon.  They have brewed beer for 9 years, but just started making cider, and have one introductory variety.

Double Mountain (Hood River Oregon) Jumpin Jack Heirloom Cider (7.3% ABV) – Fully dry.  Mild sourness.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Mild bitterness and tannins.  Notes of green apple and a hint of hops (not sure if they were added, or there might have been some tap line contamination).  I didn’t pick up the richness of any of the cider apple varieties they added, but there was definitely sharp heirloom apple flavor.  I thought it was ok.

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Finnriver (Chimanum WA) Apple Abbey (6.5% ABV) – A Belgian-inspired cider made from dessert apples.  Foamy and hazy.  Smells of sourness and citrus.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Yeast-forward.  Notes of citrus and green apple.  Hints of sourness.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  I liked it.

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Finnriver (Chimanum WA) Pomona’s Nectar (6.5% ABV) – This is a new Crew Selection sour nectarine cider.  Smells like Spanish Sidra.  Semi dry.  Mild to moderate sourness.  Notes of lemon, yeast, and mineral (I didn’t pick up any stone fruit).  I’m still trying to acquire the taste for sour ciders, but I found this one pretty tolerable; its a bit more approachable than the average Sidra.

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Incline Cider (Auburn WA) Scout (6.5%) – A hopped marionberry cider.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Light marrionberry and moderate hops flavor.  I think I prefer their plain Explorer hopped cider variety.

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J. Seeds (Fairfield CA) Apple Cider Whiskey (35% ABV) – Whiskey made including apple cider.  Semi-sweet.  Apple forward and quite tasty, although I don’t have anything to compare it to as I’m not a whiskey drinker (I’ve previously found it too harsh).  However, I’m not into straight booze, so I think I’d prefer it watered down or mixed.  It looks to be available locally and is quite affordable.  I wouldn’t mind trying this again.  Being sweeter, it reminds me of what flavored sweetened vodka is to plain vodka.

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Maeloc Cider (Galithia Spain) Dry (4.8% ABV) – This is a commercial Spanish Sidra.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet (despite the “Dry” name).  Medium bodied.  Mild sourness and funk.  Notes of citrus and green apple.  It is a more approachable Sidra, a style I’m still learning to acquire a taste for.  I learned they use apples from within 50 miles of the cidery, grown in a damp climate similar to the PNW, and use wild yeast fermentation for all their ciders.  Overall it was ok.

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Montana CiderWorks (Darby MT) Spartan Dry-Style (5.5% ABV) – This is a small batch oak aged single varietal made with Montana-grown Spartan apples, in the style of Northern Italy’s Sauvignon Blanc.  Dry.  Light bodied.  Nuanced and wine-like, with high acidity, and sharp green apple, herbal, and baked apple notes.  It was nice, but I prefer their fuller flavored Darby Pub cider.  This is a wine-lovers cider.

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Moonlight Meadery (Londonderry NH) Crimes of Passion (4.1% ABV) – A black currant seasonal cider.  Semi-dry.  Light sourness.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Mild to moderate black currant flavor intensity.  I enjoyed it, although without the sourness I would have enjoyed it more.  I was excited to learn they will soon be offering their How Do You Like Them Little Apples cider in cans (currently all their ciders are draft-only), starting in October/November, including in the Seattle area.

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Nectar Creek (Corvallis Oregon) Honeycone (6.9% ABV) – This is a hopped mead (no apples, just honey and water).  The smell is all hops, no honey.  Semi-dry.  Mild flavor intensity with more hops than honey.  I found this sessionable lightly carbonated mead to be lacking the full flavor I enjoy in the higher ABV sweeter meads.

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Number Six Cider (Seattle WA) Peach Fuzz (6.5% ABV) – This was their fruit cider challenge entry, a spiced peach cider.  Semi-dry.  Very full bodied (chunky and smoothie-like).  Low peach flavor and moderate to high spice intensity.  It was a bit too strange for my liking as it was so full bodied, and overly spiced.

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NV Cider (East Wenatchee WA) Watermelon Raspberry (unknown ABV) – This perry (no apples) with watermelon and raspberry was their fruit cider challenge entry, and was served through a watermelon.  Semi-sweet.  Light bodied.  Moderately flavorful, but with more raspberry than watermelon notes, and no pear.  I prefer their watermelon perry without the raspberry.  Both however are refreshing options.

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Reverend Nat’s (Portland Oregon) Sour Cherry (7.2% ABV) – This cider was made from granny smith apples, with pie cherry juice which was soured, pear juice, and “hint” of ghost chili peppers.  Semi-dry.  Moderate cherry flavor.  Low sourness.  Low to moderate heat/spiciness from the ghost chili peppers.  I liked the cherry portion of the cider, but spicy ciders aren’t my thing (and a bit of a palate killer too).  I’d love to see this without the spiciness (which I believe was new for this year).

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Reverend Nat’s (Portland Oregon) The Passion (6.9% ABV) – Cider with passion fruit juice, coconut, and vanilla.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Mild sourness.   Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  Strong passion fruit flavor with hints of vanilla, pineapple, and coconut. I really enjoyed it.  I liked how fruity it was without being too sweet.  I had heard this was very sour so I hadn’t got around to trying it, but I wish I had sooner!  I wonder if they did away with the sour aspect this year, as I really didn’t pick up any.  I’ll have to try this again to see if my sour taste buds were busted when I tried it.

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Reverend Nat’s (Portland Oregon) Whiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black Currant (9.5% ABV) – This is Wandering Aengus’ Golden Russet cider with black currant puree from Oregon Fruit Products, aged for 6 months in whiskey barrels.  It was made for the Portland and Seattle Cider Summits, but will be a Tent Show cider club release in October.  Semi-dry.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Mild tannins and bitterness.  Moderate barrel and spirit influence.  Awesome!  I really loved this cider.  I usually find berry ciders to be boring, but when barrel aged, they can be amazing.  This reminded me of Alpenfire Calypso and Apocalypso, except more boozy, and whiskey not rum barrel aged.  Too bad they weren’t selling bottles of this at the event, as I would have picked some up.

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Sea Cider (Saanichton, B.C., Canada) Ruby Rose (9.9% ABV) – This summer seasonal is made with rhubarb and rose hips.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Mild to moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  Intensely fruity, with floral, rhubarb, strawberry, and watermelon notes.  I really liked it!  Oddly enough I didn’t find it too boozy, despite being 9.9% ABV.

Sea Cider (Saanichton, B.C., Canada) Witch’s Broom (9.9% ABV) – I got a taste from the first bottle poured in the U.S. of this fall seasonal.  It was described as a “bouquet of pumpkin patch spices”.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  It was moderately spiced with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and baked apple.  Mild tannins, bitterness, tartness, and acidity.  Cinnamon was the most present, both in the nose and the finish.  One of my favorite spiced ciders, but I’m not usually a huge fan of them.

Both of these ciders from Sea Cider are part of their Canadian Invasion Series, meant to draw attention to invasive species and their threat to farms and natural areas.

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Seattle Cider (Seattle Washington) City Fruit (6.3% ABV) – This is a special release cider only sold at Whole Foods, made using apples collected in the Seattle community by the non-profit City Fruit.  Dry to semi-dry.  Wine-like and acid forward.  Notes of red grape and mineral.  Overall very mild flavor intensity.  This is a wine-lovers cider, and would pair well with food.

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Steelhead Cider (Manson WA) Chimera Cherry Apple (5.5% ABV) – This is a newer cidery who just started distributing (at least kegs) in the Seattle area.  I previously tried their Peargatory.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Moderate to strong real cherry flavor.  It was sweeter than I prefer, but I liked the intense cherry flavor.

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Summit Cider – I’ll add a bit about them as they aren’t yet distributed in Western Washington (only Idaho and Eastern Washington).  This cidery was started in 2014, making them the first in Idaho, and the only in Coeur d’Alene.  Their bestseller is Apricot, although of late their Hibiscus cider has been popular with wine drinkers.  They have a tap room in Coeur d’Alene.  I met co-founder Davon Sjostrom, who has a background in Botany, which I imagine brings something new to cidermaking.

Summit Cider (Coeur d’Alene Idaho) Apple (6.5% ABV) – Semi-dry.  Low tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  Rather plain, but likeable.

Summit Cider (Coeur d’Alene Idaho) Apricot (6.5% ABV) – Semi-dry.  Lots of (true) apricot flavor for the level of dryness (typically drier ciders have a less intense flavor than sweeter ciders).  I really enjoyed it.  Davon described testing out many varieties of apricots to find the one whose flavor came across best in cider.

Summit Cider (Coeur d’Alene Idaho) Hibiscus (6.9% ABV) – Semi-dry with nuanced light floral and herbal notes.  I can see why this would be a wine-lovers cider.

Summit Cider (Coeur d’Alene Idaho) Blackberry (unknown ABV) – This was their fruit cider challenge entry.  I found it semi-dry and very mild in flavor.  I think with some barrel aging it would have been nice though.

In Summary

My Favorite Cider – Reverend Nat’s Whiskey Barrel Aged Black Currant

Other Favorite Ciders – Reverend Nat’s The Passion, Summer Cider Apricot, Sea Cider Ruby Rose, and Steelhead Cherry

Most Interesting Cider – One Tree’s PB&J cider, a raspberry cider with peanut butter whipped cream (I didn’t try it, but a photo is available here – more dessert than cider).

Other Interesting Ciders – Reverend Nat’s Sour Cherry, due to the use of ghost chili peppers.  Schilling’s Grumpy Bear, due to the use of coffee and a Nitro can (my tasting notes here).  Schilling’s Sour Raspberry Smoothie, due to its high viscosity (apparently for some of their ciders with high fruit content, they have a keg or two per batch which are smoothie-like).  Apple Outlaw’s Chocolate Raspberry, due to the use of chocolate in a cider (I’ve only heard of Woodchuck doing this previously).  1o1 Ciderhouse Black Dog, due to the use of activated charcoal (poured last year, with my tasting notes here).