Preview of Washington Cider Week 2019

I was recently invited to a preview of Washington Cider Week for media and industry folks.  The 9th annual Washington Cider Week is September 5th-15th 2019, and will include numerous cider events, with Cider Summit Seattle being a highlight (see my posts here).  The preview event was hosted by the NW Cider Association, and held in the orchard at Dragon’s Head Cider on Vashon Island in WA.

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It was a sweet invite-only event, and I enjoyed the excuse to take a half day off work and taste cider with my husband from about a dozen cideries, and chat with cidery reps.  New for this year they had a panel discussion, hosted by Erin James (of CiderCraft and Sip NW magazines), featuring Emily Ritchie (the Director of NW Cider) and folks from PCC, Zeek’s pizza, and Teku Tavern, who shared about the role of cider in their businesses.

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Erin James shared some interesting facts, like that cider grew 10 fold in 10 years (faster than craft beer did), 6-8% of beer sales in WA are cider (vs. 1-3% in most other states), and 1/3 of NW cideries are orchard-based (like Dragon’s Head).

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NW Cider also showed off their new interactive map of NW cideries, categorized the list of tasting options by United States Association of Cidermakers cider styles, and shared about the Certified Cider Professional program.

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They had some nice swag too – a bottle tote bag, brochures, keychain bottle opener, and a bottle stopper (as the NW Cider association is pushing the idea of bars & restaurants offering cider from bottle pours, not just kegs, especially as many of the smaller heritage cideries don’t keg their ciders).

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Now, on to the cider!

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2 Towns (Corvallis OR) Suns Out Saison (5.6%):  Their 2nd fruit seasonal release of the year, from dessert apples and peaches, fermented with Saison beer yeast, a re-release of the 2016 version (see my review here).  Semi-dry with notes of peach, citrus, yeast, and earth.  I learned their 3rd fruit seasonal will be Cosmic Currant, made with black currant and cranberry.  I was also told to be on the lookout for Marissimo later this year, a limited release marionberry barrel aged Pommeau.  A tasty summery cider with flavor but not to much sweetness.

Snowdrift (Wenatchee WA) Forefathers (7.5%):  A new draft-only release, from a combination of apples including both cider and dessert apple varieties.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, with notes of citrus, floral, and honey, and a hint of tannins.  Approachable.

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Pear UP (Wenatchee WA) Grapefruit:  A new canned release, a grapefruit perry (from 100% pears, no apples).  The grapefruit was stronger on the nose than the flavor.  Very refreshing, almost like a grapefruit soda, but only mid-level sweetness, and nearly still.  I wouldn’t have guessed it was perry.

Tieton (Yakima WA) Single Varietal Harrison:  A new release, bottled & kegged, a single varietal from Harrison bittersharp cider apples.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, with notes of citrus & honey.  I really enjoyed it, as its more approachable than a lot of other heritage ciders, being sweeter.  I was surprised with the lack of sharpness and/or bitterness.  Awesome.

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Finnriver (Port Townsend WA) Fire Barrel:  A whiskey barrel aged cider from cider apples.  I’ve tried this before (see here), but I think this is a newer vintage.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Super rich, with notes of smoke, oak, and orange.  I really enjoyed it, but prefer the original vintages (see here).

Finnriver (Port Townsend WA) Golden Russet:  Made from ‘russeted’ cider apples, primarily Golden Russet.  Dry to semi-dry, acidic, with notes of citrus and earth.  A bit nuanced for my tastes.

Bad Granny (Wenatchee WA) Reserve:  A new release using cider apples, and for the first time for them, methode champenoise, a traditional labor intensive method to make a naturally sparkling cider.  Dry to semi-dry.  Light fluffy texture with lots of bubbles.  Notes of sharp apple and citrus with hints of bitterness and tannins.  Also a bit nuanced for my tastes.

Bad Granny (Wenatchee WA) Honey Crisp:  A flagship offering, but per my notes I actually haven’t tried it.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, apple-forward, with a bit of honey flavor.  Nice.

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Herb’s (Bellingham WA) Blue Note:  Made from heirloom apples and blueberries, co-fermented (vs. being added in a secondary fermentation).  Fully dry.  Very light blueberry flavor.

Herb’s (Bellingham WA) Traditional Bittersharp:  Made from bittersharp & bittersweet cider apples.  Dry.  Sharp and rich.

Herb’s (Bellingham WA) Crescendo:  Made from Cox Orange Pippin apples.  Dry.  Lots of orange with a hint of floral notes.

I was impressed with all 3 selections from Herb’s as they had some awesome flavor profiles, but I wish they had a bit more sweetness.

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Nashi (Vashon WA) Idyllacres Bittersweet Cider:  Made from English & French bittersweet cider apples.  On the sweeter side of dry.  Tannic and complex.  Notes of apple pomace, orange, caramel, and leather.  Quite lovely.

Nashi (Vashon WA) Chojuro Asian Pear Perry:  Unique scent, of spice / black pepper.  However, the flavor profile was lemon and floral, with only a hint of pear.  Semi dry.  Perplexing.

You can tell what order I tasted these in, as I forgot to get photos of the last few…

Bauman’s (Portland OR) Dry:  Made from a variety of apples, including dessert and cider.  Dry, with notes of citrus & floral, and hints of bitterness & tannins.  A bit nuanced for my tastes.

Bauman’s (Portland OR) Orange Blossom:  Made with oranges and a hint of pineapple.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, tannic, with notes of orange.  Great.

Bauman’s (Portland OR) Loganberry:  Made with loganberries.  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Berry forward with mild tartness and hints of tannins.  I enjoyed the unexpected complexity.

Liberty (Spokane WA) Lafayette:  Made using French bittersweet cider apples and keeved, which creates a naturally sweet apple-forward flavorful cider.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Rich and tannic, with notes of bittersweet cider apple pomace and orange.  Awesome.

Dragon’s Head (Vashon WA) Heritage Rosé:  Made from Redfield and Mountain Rose red-fleshed apples.  Amazing fruity scent.  Semi-dry, with notes of strawberry and rhubarb.  Tasty, with more complexity than flavored rosé ciders.

Dragon’s Head (Vashon WA) Heritage:  Made from English and French cider apple varieties (previously named ‘Traditional’).  Dry to semi-dry.  Earthy, with sharp citrus heirloom apple flavor.  A bit nuanced for my tastes; I seem to remember the Traditional being sweeter.

Stay tuned for more posts on Washington Cider Week 2019 (especially Cider Summit Seattle) at Cider Says.

For those in WA, check out the WA cider week event calendar for Sept 5-15.

Also, for cider industry folks in the NW, save the date for the first-annual NW Cider Symposium, which has been announced for March 10th 2020 in Tacoma WA.

Cider Summit Seattle 2018 Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is post 2/2 on Cider Summit Seattle 2018, with tasting notes on 21 ciders.  Post 1/2 covered the event.  Sorry some of these photos aren’t that great, but this isn’t a photography blog…

The Tasting Notes

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2 Towns (Corvallis OR) Pommeau – I’ve had their Pommeau (cider + apple brandy) a number of times (see my full review here), and have a bottle in my “cellar”, but its probably my favorite U.S.-made Pommeau.  Both me and my husband didn’t want to pass up a sample.  Semi-sweet, rich, easy to drink despite the high ABV, and awesome as always.

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Angry Orchard (Walden, NY) Dear Brittany – This is one of the small batch ciders made at their Innovation Cider House, a French-style keeved cider.  Semi-dry, tart, and funky, with a hint of sourness, although I picked up more heirloom than bittersweet apple flavor.  As expected for a keeved cider, it was very apple-forward and flavorful in general for not being very sweet.

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Blue Mountain (Milton-Freewater, OR) Pete Limely – Semi-dry to dry with notes of tart citrus (especially lemon-lime).  This was a bit too dry and mildly flavored for me, but I liked the overall flavor notes.

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Brownrigg (Seattle WA) Rum Barrel Aged – This is apparently not a new cidery (I read they started in 2014), but this is my first time seeing them, and my first time trying their cider.  Dry.  Very mild flavor, slightly tart, with a rum finish.  I think I would have liked this better if it was a bit sweeter.

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Chelan Craft Cider (Chelan WA) Cider with Lemon – This is a new cidery, and my first time trying their cider.  Semi-dry, with lots of tart refreshing lemon flavor.  I liked it.  I’m curious how they will do in the market though, as their bottles were listed for $23 / 750ml [update – I was told that was a mistake and the real price is $15/bottle].  I couldn’t tell what type of apples they used – maybe dessert, maybe heirloom.  The price would be more in-line with heirloom, but still on the high end of what I see in stores.

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Cider Riot! (Portland OR) Everyday Passionfruit – Awesome tropical scent, on the drier side of semi-dry, but the passionfruit flavor was very mild and mostly on the finish, which was a bit of a let down.

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d’s Wicked (Kennewick WA) Tropical  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, tart, with notes of orange, pineapple, and passion fruit.  I liked how flavorful it was without being sweet.

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Herb’s Cider (Bellingham WA) Triplet Special Reserve French Oak Aged Semi-Dry – This is a new cidery, and my first time trying their cider.  Semi-dry to dry, thin bodied, super mild flavor intensity, with notes of heirloom apples and hints of oak.  This was a bit too mildly flavored for me.

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Hérout à Auvers (Normandy France) Pommeau de Normandie AOC – Imported by Beauchamp Imports (French Cider Inc.) – they have online sales too by the way.  This Pommeau is made from 3/4 apple cider and 1/4 Calvados (French apple brandy), then aged at least 14 months in oak barrels.  Semi-sweet, both rich/oaky/earthy and fruity (both my husband and I agreed on strawberry), clean (no funk or sourness), easy to drink for the higher ABV, and overall awesome.  I bought a bottle to take home, and think it was an awesome value at $40 / 750ml (as most local Pommeaux run $25 / 375ml).  Pommeau keeps very well by the way, and you can leave a bottle open for months and just have a bit at a time – I think this will be perfect at cellar temp in my cider fridge.  They also brought La Chouette Rosé, Kystin Opalyne, and Herout AOC Cotentin Extra-Brut, which I’ve previously sampled.

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Idun Cider (Seattle WA) Heirloom Dry – This is a new cidery, and my first time trying their cider.  They currently only have this single flagship release.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, medium bodied, very apple forward, but overall mild in flavor.  I didn’t really taste the heirloom apples (this is listed as having Gravenstein, Winesap, and Newtown Pippin), but I kinda liked it.

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Manoir du Parc (Normandy France) Authentic Rosé – Made from red-fleshed apples and pears.  Semi-sweet, lovely fluffy natural carbonation, and notes of strawberry, watermelon, and pear.  Very reminiscent of La Choute Rosé.  Awesome!

Manoir du Parc (Normandy France) Authentic Cidre – I also re-tried their flagship cidre.  On the drier side of semi-dry, funky and tannic, apple and yeast forward, with a hint of sourness.  My husband surprisingly liked this (usually he dislikes funk, like I dislike sourness).  I think it was because the cidermaker? (or at least some very knowledgeable French dude) was telling us all about it during the tasting.  That sort of experience is what makes me love Cider Summit.

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Miloslawski (Poland) Perry – Imported by Browar Polska Imports.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry, with a very mild canned pear flavor.  I surprisingly liked it.  I was expecting it to be super sweet, but it was a perfect sweetness level for me.

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Ole Swede (Tonasket, WA) Bada Bing! Cider – 90% apple and 10% cherries, co-fermented.  Semi-dry, tart, with a mild real cherry flavor.  They also have a Cherry Perry, which I thought I had tried, but I can’t find anything that I wrote about it, so I guess not!

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One Tree (Spokane WA) Tropical – Semi-sweet, full bodied, juice-like, with a very very similar flavor to Schilling’s Imperial Passionfruit that I tried the night before (as it was made using the same puree from Oregon Fruit Products), but with a hint of pineapple (which One Tree added in addition to the puree and apple juice).  I really enjoyed it, and think it would have been awesome to use it in a cocktail with rum.

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Pear UP (Wenatchee WA) Barrel Hoppin Pear – A barrel aged version of their hopped perry (100% pears, no apple).  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Smooth, mild flavor, with hints of pear, hops, and oak.  I usually don’t go for the mild flavored ones, but that worked well for this one, as hops isn’t something you want to go too overboard with.

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Possmann (Germany) Pure Cider Rosé Black Currant – Imported by Browar Polska Imports.  Semi-sweet with a light fruity flavor, although I couldn’t specifically identify black currant.  I surprisingly liked this, despite the commercialness.

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Ruwet (Belgium) Cidre – Imported by Browar Polska Imports.  Semi-dry, mild overall flavor with apple & citrus.  It tasted a bit commercial to me though, and I would have liked more flavor intensity.  I think this is my first Belgium cider, very cool.

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Schilling (Auburn, WA) Red Wine Barrel Aged Pommeau (paired with chocolate) –  Semi-dry, smells of red wine barrel, but for me the flavor was mostly apple-flavored alcohol burn.  A bit too boozy for my liking.  My husband was a bigger fan.  They also have this on tap at Schilling Cider House right now.

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Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) Red Wine Barrel Berry – On the drier side of semi-dry,  super mild, with hints of berry, oak, and botanicals, and a red wine finish.  Characteristically Seattle Cider.  Surprisingly complex, but for some reason I didn’t really like it, although I couldn’t say why.

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Tieton Ciderworks (Yakima, WA) Oak Barrel Aged Cider Summit Collaboration – Semi-dry, higher carbonation, tart, super mild smooth citrus & oak flavor.

In Summary

It was impossible to taste all the ciders at the event (or even one from each producer), so I’d also like to share previous tasting notes and reviews of ciders from the other cideries I didn’t get to highlight:  Alter Ego, AnthemAvid (previously Atlas), Bad GrannyChatter CreekDouble MountainDragon’s HeadEaglemount, Eden, ElementalFinnriverHi-WheelInclineJester & JudgeJ. Seeds, LibertyLocust, Longdrop, Louis RaisonMaeloc, MontanaMoonlight MeaderyPortlandReverend Nat’sSamuel SmithsSea CiderSnowdriftSteelhead, SwiftWandering Aengus, Washington GoldWildCraft, and Worley’s

My favorites of the day were Herout Pommeau, 2 Towns Pommeau, One Tree Tropical, d’s Tropical, and Manoir du Parc Authentic Rosé.

This event is always the highlight of Washington Cider Week, and the biggest and best cider event of the year in the Seattle area!