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.

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Schilling Cider House Visit 7 Tasting Notes

Yes, I made yet another trip to the Schilling Cider House!  Check out my past posts here.  This time it was for a monthly potluck, with a “Thanksgiving Recipe Trial Run” theme.  I actually opted out of the potluck as I’m not a big Thanksgiving type food fan (and it ended up having a low turnout anyways), but there were plenty of folks at the cider house.

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I started with a flight of six ciders.

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<from left to right: 2 Towns Nice & Naughty, Atlas Cinnamon Pear, Portland London Dry Gin, Julian Apple Pie, Attila Rapture, Schilling Grumpy Bear>

2 Towns Ciderhouse Nice & Naughty, 10.5% ABV:  I started off not really liking this one much at all, but it became one of my favorites of the night once it warmed up to closer to room temperature.  This one had less spice scent than the other two spiced ciders I had in this flight.  Semi-dry.  The spice hit more at the back of the palate, and wasn’t so much cinnamon as it was clove and nutmeg.  I bet this would be amazing served warm.  The alcohol remained pretty well-hidden, and it reminded me of Imperial-style cider.

Atlas Hard Cider Company Cinnamon Pear, 8.5% ABV:  Very mild cinnamon scent, and I don’t detect any pear scent.  This one is an apple-based cider with some pear juice (not perry).  Semi-sweet.  A bit boozy (alcohol-forward).  Only a hint of pear flavor.  The cinnamon came across more in the finish.  This one remained rather mild flavored.

Portland Cider Company London Dry Gin, 6.8% ABV:  Dry.  Smells like tannins, spice, herb, and dry cider.  Quick finish.  Acidic with some bitterness.  Higher tannins but light bodied, which is an interesting and rare combination.  Quite herbal.  This one grew on me a bit and I ended up liking it.  It reminds me of Liberty Ciderworks Abbess, which used gin botanicals.

Julian Hard Cider Apple Pie, 6.9% ABV:  Very strong cinnamon scent, but less so in the flavor.  Semi-sweet.  I was surprised with the moderate tartness.  I’m not a huge spiced cider fan to begin with, but this was my least favorite of the three spiced ciders I tried in this flight.  Its fairly popular though.

Attila Hard Apple Cider Rapture (Concord Grape), 6.5% ABV:  Deep berry color with foam from the Nitro process.  Semi-sweet to sweet.  I pick up grape, with hints of pomegranate, cranberry, and huckleberry.   Juice-like and the apple is well-hidden, but it was tasty and full flavored.

Schilling Cider Company Grumpy Bear Cold Brew Coffee Nitro, 5.0% ABV:  Another very unique cider.  Deep hazy amber with froth from the Nitro process.  Semi-sweet.  Smells mildly of coffee grounds, and I don’t pick up any apple.  Moderate to full bodied.  Some spice and herbal qualities.  The coffee comes across more in the scent than the flavor, but still, the apple remains hidden.  Its a bit like an iced coffee drink with some alcohol.  This one became a bit more bitter as it warmed up.  Its not really my thing, but not as bad as I was expecting.

I got handed a sample of Greenwood Sweet Orange Cinnamon.  This batch ended up having the carbonation really mellow out the flavor (per the cidermaker), so it mostly had a hint of spice in the scent and that was it.  They put together a Randall while I was there to add additional orange and cinnamon flavor, using ingredients from the cidery.

Next I got tastes from some sample bottles.

I had a few sips of Locust Washington Dessert Apple Aged Hard Cider.  I had this one a few months ago (review here), but this batch definitely was a bit wonky, as it continued to aggressively bottle condition.  Like my bottle, it was very fizzy, even after being open for awhile.  However, the additional time in the bottle had made it significantly drier than mine.

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William’s Excalibur:  This one tastes like a typical sweet commercial cider (and has an ingredient list to confirm this).  It had the slightest bittersweet flavor, but was otherwise quite disappointing.  I can’t believe they import this type of cider!

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William’s Sir Perry:  A bit more drinkable than Excalibur, but its still a sweet commercial cider.  I don’t pick up much pear flavor at all.  Slightly less sweet than Excalibur.

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Locust Bittersweet Reserve:  This is a special release cider for them which benefits Hydrocephalus (which the owner’s daughter and 1/1,000 babies has).  Only 1,000 bottles and some kegs were released Nov/20/2015.  Made from French and English bittersweet apple varieties.  Bittersweet apple scent with hints of orange and spice.  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Rich, smooth, and luscious!  Caramel notes, full flavored, and medium bodied.  Lovely mild to moderate tannins.  This reminds me of English-style cider, but its a bit more approachable than some, and the hints of orange and spice are nice (even though I usually don’t like those sorts of flavors).  No bitterness, which can be difficult to pull off.  This was definitely my favorite cider of the evening!  I’m happy I was able to pick up a bottle (so look for a future full review of it here).  $18 for 750ml, likely only found in the Seattle WA area.  Oddly enough I was told it must stay refrigerated (although it didn’t say that on the bottle)?

I definitely tried a lot of cider and had a blast, as always.  Stay tuned for more Schilling Cider House tasting notes here at Cider Says!  Have you had any good draft cider / cider flights recently?