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).
<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.
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?
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?