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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East Meets West: An Evening with Eden and Alpenfire Ciders at Burgundian Bar

Stop 2 on Thursday night brought me to the Burgundian bar in Seattle.  Cidermakers from Eden Ice Cider (Newport VT) and Alpenfire Organic Hard Cider (Port Townsend WA) were on hand to chat, they were pouring ciders from each, and there were even specialty cocktails using their ciders.  It started off very slow at 5pm, but that worked very well for me as I got some awesome conversations in while there were more industry folks than customers.  I met Kyle from Millstone Cellars (Monkton MD); I had e-mailed with him about their Cobbler cider and he remembered me.  I also met Dan from Orcas Distributing, which is one of the main cider distributors in the Seattle area.  I got to see both again the next day at Cider Summit.

The special event menu is below (click to biggify).  They also had a number of bottle pour ciders from Eden, Alpenfire, and more.  There was unfortunately only one draft cider as they apparently had some logistical issues.

2015-09-10 17.23.09

I started with a glass of Alpenfire Apocalypso, a double rum barrel aged blackberry cider.  This is their Calypso cider but rum barrel aged for four instead of two months.  This draft-only cider was $6 for 6oz (Calypso runs about $13 for a 500ml bottle).  6.9% ABV.  Middle of the road sweetness.  Berry with a touch of wood scent.  Lovely berry hue.  Fruity, moderately tart, with a hint of barrel influence.  Very tasty!  It had more complexity than your average fruity cider, which I really enjoyed.  There haven’t been too many fruity ciders I’ve been impressed with, but this is one.  Apocalypso is probably a tie with Spark! for my favorite Alpenfire cider so far.

2015-09-10 17.22.37

I chatted with Eleanor Leger from Eden Ice Cider for quite awhile.  it was awesome to learn more about Eden’s ciders, as I had seen them and was very interested, but hadn’t tried any yet.  Eden’s ciders are made by husband & wife team Eleanor & Albert Leger.  They specialize in and started with ice ciders, but have also branched out into aperitif and traditional ciders.  In addition to offering their customers more variety, both of these products are a way for them to use the same juice as their ice ciders, from a second and third pressing (the sugar content decreases).  They may actually be the only company selling cider apertifs at this time.  It was interesting to hear they are even trying to find uses for the “apple water” which is left after making the cider, such as selling it to a gin distillery which would use it in place of water for added flavor.

They were the first ice cider company in the U.S. and also have their own orchard of cider apples.  Ice cider by the way is a dessert wine variety which was developed in Canada, and is made from apples which have been concentrated by natural winter cold.  The apples are harvested at peak ripeness then kept in cold storage.  After pressing, the juice is set outdoors to freeze for 6-8 weeks, which results in a residual concentrate which is high in sugar and flavor.  The concentrate is then fermented, cold stabilized, filtered, and bottled, leaving a high alcohol and high residual sugar cider.  The final amount of cider is typically less than 1/4 of the original amount of juice pressed.  Eleanor told me approximately 20% of their juice is used for ice cider, 7% for apertif, 8% for cider, and the remaining 65% is “apple water”.

I then tried Eden’s Oak Aged Sparkling Dry Cider, 8.5% ABV, $9 for a 6oz bottle pour (runs around $10 for a 375ml bottle).  This is Eden’s first traditional cider (also available in Semi-Dry), released in 2013, and distribution was expanded outside of VT in 2014.  It is naturally sparkling from bottle conditioning using juice, not sugar (Methode Champenoise, which is VERY labor intensive; here is a great explaination).  This cider is crafted from traditional and heirloom apples (50% Kingston Black) grown within 200 miles of their cidery, aged in French oak puncheons (twice the size of typical barrels) for one year, then bottle conditioned for six months..  The purpose of the barrel aging in this case is to impart a more mature flavor, and it can actually increase the amount of tannins as well (vs. when a barrel from spirits is used it would also impart the flavor of the spirit, such as bourbon).

2015-09-11 12.36.32  2015-09-11 12.36.40
<disclaimer: these bottle label photos were taken at Whole Foods the following
day as I didn’t get a chance to ask the bartender to see the bottle>

Using such a large amount of Kingston Black apples is expensive, and Eleanor discussed the cost difference between using juice pressed from dessert apples ($2.50-4.00 / gallon) and juice pressed from cider apples ($8.00-10.00 / gallon) to make cider.  The high cost is primarily due to their rarity.  Hopefully in the coming years the cost will go down as availability increases, which will also increase the quality of ciders as more cidermakers use cider instead of dessert variety apples.  In addition to apples from Eden’s own orchard (which has about 1,000 trees and took approximately 5 years to go from planting to first harvest), they use a lot of apples from the nearby Scott Farm on Kipling’s estate, which is an old Macintosh orchard which was top grafted with many heirloom and cider apple varieties.  I also learned about Eden’s newest product addition, Imperial 11 Rose, which is an off-dry lightly sparkling 11% ABV cider made from heirloom apples and red currant.  Perfect for the wine-loving cider drinker.

On to the Eden Sparkling Dry cider tasting notes:  Lovely brilliant amber with tiny bubbles and a light foam ring.  Definitely dry, but there was a touch of residual sweetness.  Ripe apple scent and taste.  Moderate amounts of acidity, tannins, and bitterness.  Mild tartness.  Medium bodied.  High carbonation.  Hints of earthiness and funk.  Very well crafted and balanced.  I could really taste the difference from using cider apples (vs. dessert apples) and bottle conditioning (vs. force carbonating).  A perfect cider alternative to champagne.  Yum!

It was a special treat to enjoy it while sitting and chatting with the cidermaker.  I typically have trouble tolerating both dryness and bitterness in a cider, but both were so well balanced with the acidity, tannins, and carbonation that I found the cider enjoyable.  I may have to pick up a bottle of this to have on hand; the small bottle size and reasonable cost (moreso per bottle not per ounce) are nice.

2015-09-10 17.54.29

I also met Nancy Bishop and her son Philippe from Alpenfire.  Ron from DrinkingCider.com and crew also showed up later!

Eleanor from Eden even brought some specialty ciders with her all the way from VT that aren’t available here in WA.  I had to leave before the event was over as I had work at 6am the next day (Friday) so I was unfortunately only able to taste one, dubbed “Cinderella’s Slipper”.  It was a very special variety that hasn’t been released.  It was their first cider made only from (35 varieties of) apples from Eden’s own orchard.  It had literally been forgotten about, sitting in a tank at Eden’s old facility for a year.  I found it to be dry, still, slightly tart, highly acidic, and high in tannins.  Very unique!

Here is a photo of the bartender at the Burgundian making one of the specialty cocktails by the way.  They were all very pretty and involved many interesting ingredients (time consuming for the bartender when Eleanor decided to try all four lol).  See the photo of the menu at the top of this post.

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However, I didn’t try any, as I am pretty picky when it comes to food & drink, especially cocktails (I don’t like gin or any aged spirits for example), and none of them sounded good to me.  Plus, I don’t really get the point of mixing high end cider into a cocktail; to me it would be like mixing expensive vodka with orange juice or whatever.  I’d rather drink the cider on its own and get the full experience of it!  I will admit I haven’t tried a cider cocktail though, and its something I want to do.

Cider cocktails seem all the rage lately around here, with Capitol Cider pouring them at Cider Summit, and Darlene Hayes even wrote a book all about them!  I was lucky enough to meet Darlene Hayes at Cider Summit and chat with her for a bit (she likes my blog by the way–very cool).  Check out her blog as well, All Into Cider, which has some great stories and information about cider.

Stay tuned for more Washington Cider Week posts at Cider Says.  Up next are posts about Cider Summit itself (including more tasting notes on Eden and Alpenfire ciders), then the Bill Bradshaw tasting event at Capitol Cider, and Schilling Cider House (2 Towns night but also hoping for some barrel aged ciders left from the night before).  I have quite a lot of photos and tasting notes to go through from Cider Summit though, so I apologize if there is a delay in the Cider Summit post/s.  To give a hint, I believe the final count is 33 ciders that I tried!  However, I have some other cider review posts to cue up in the meantime.  Cheers!

Washington Cider Week Kickoff at Seattle Cider

Thursday night was a great kickoff to Washington Cider Week!  I started the evening at Seattle Cider (opening ceremonies, although I left before that), then moved on to the Burgundian Bar (East Meets West, An Evening with Eden and Alpenfire Ciders).  This post will cover Seattle Cider and another will cover the Burgundian (plus many posts to come on Cider Summit and other Washington Cider Week events!).  I mostly chose to stop by Seattle Cider as it was a Washington Cider Week event to fill the time between when I got off work and the event at the Burgundian started at 5pm, as the events were located between work and home.  Plus I hadn’t ever been to their tasting room, The Woods (which they share with their sister brewery, 2 Beers Brewing Company).

seattle cider

Seattle Cider ended up a bit disappointing of a stop as they only opened at 3pm, and nothing was actually going on for the Washington Cider Week kickoff yet.  There were plenty of folks there though, lots of growler fills, etc.  They were only setting up while I was there, but they did however have 16 ciders on tap (6 of their own and 10 from 10 other cideries), some free cider swag, and a hot dog cart.  Also, I got to meet fellow cider blogger Ron from DrinkingCider.com!  He had reached out that he would be in town for Cider Summit, and I let him know my schedule.  We ended up meeting up at Seattle Cider, the Burgundian, and Cider Summit, which was pretty awesome.  He even brought me some cider from Tod Creek in Victoria BC which I look forward to trying; very cool.  Too bad he couldn’t take cider back to CT.

We even got a mini tour from their tasting room manager.  They were in production so we couldn’t walk through the cidermaking area (although they have an opening you can look through to see it), but we got to see a few areas.  I learned that Seattle Cider currently only uses apples from Washington (all dessert varieties except their Harvest series).  It was also interesting to hear about and see their current construction project, a kitchen!  Probably a very welcome addition…more tasting room need to offer food, even if its only chips, crackers, pretzels, whatever.

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<view of their outside seating area from inside>

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<malt sack light fixtures>

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<game area>

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<game area and view into barrel storage>

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<view of cidery tanks from the cutout inside the tasting room>
<their current largest is 280 gallons, but they plan to literally raise the roof to fit larger ones>

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<manager at the Woods (left) and Ron from DrinkingCider.com (right) in their storage area>
<yes, those are 2/4 palates I saw of cans of their Dry and Semi-Sweet>

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<taps, bar area, and fridges of canned/bottled beer/cider for purchase>

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<half of their taps>

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<Seattle Cider’s Harvest series:  Perry, Washington Heirloom, and Gravenstein Rose>

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<cider tap list part 1; I don’t care for Ginger and previously had the Green Tea,
but I tried the Valley Red and Woodlander Wit; see below>

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<cider tap list part 2, where 13-18 are from Seattle Cider>
<I’ve had their Semi-Sweet and tried the Olympic Honey & Plum Gose; see below>
<I don’t care for hopped & green apple, previously had the Grapefruit & Black Currant,
and tried the Crabenstein; see below>

I ended up sampling five ciders at The Woods / Seattle Cider.  Unfortunately they didn’t have a sampler, but would pour tastes.  I really think a sampler is the best way to go anywhere which has multiple cider choices on tap.  So, I had a couple tastes, got a glass of one, then had a few more tastes.

Seattle Cider Olympic Honey.  This cider is a special release (August 2015) Seattle Cider did with the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, and only available at Seattle Cider and the restaurant/bar at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel.  This used honey from the rooftop apiary at the hotel.  I had really wanted to try this after seeing a segment they did on King 5 local news on Facebook, so I was pleased they still had some.  Retail is $9 for a 22oz bottle, but I had a 13oz tap pour for $6.  6.9% ABV.  Semi dry.  I picked up only hints of honey, but it was refreshing, and probably my favorite Seattle Cider variety so far (I’m not a huge fan of their ciders, although they have a large local following).  Moderate acidity and and mild tartness.

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<Seattle Cider Olympic Honey>

Seattle Cider Plum Gose.  This is Seattle Cider’s twist on gose (a unique style of German beer which includes coriander and salt).  It includes Jacobsen sea salt (from Portland OR), coriander, and plums, and was made using Chardonnay yeast and added malic acid.  6.9% ABV.  Semi-dry.  Very unique but mild flavor from the ingredient additions.  Lovely light berry hue from the plums, but my taster was too small to get a clear photo of the cider’s color.  Higher carbonation.  A touch of saltiness.  Apparently they previously had a full Gose cider, and would often get requests to mix it with their PNW Berry, so they decided to make something similar with plums.

Liberty Ciderworks Crabenstein.  Made using Dolgo crabapples and Gravenstein apples with wild yeast fermentation.  7.3% ABV.  Dry.  Tart and mouth-puckering with a touch of funk, but the flavor profile is pretty mild.  I like Liberty’s Manchurian Crabapple single varietal better as it is bolder, but they are completely different styles of cider (for example, the Manchurian is 12.5% ABV).

Cockrell Valley Red.  Cider with Puyallip WA raspberries.  This is the first time I’ve tried a cider from Cockrell.  6.2% ABV.  Semi-dry.  Lovely fruity nose and red hue (again, no photo; sorry), acidic, and tart.  I didn’t pick up raspberries (nor did I know that was the fruit they used until I researched this cider), but for me it was more of a general tart berry than a specific flavor.  It reminded me some of Snowdrift Red (which I prefer).

Grizzly Ciderworks Woodlander Wit-Style.  They modeled this cider after Belgian wit-style beer (they used that variety of beer yeast).  I’ve previously tried their Ridge.  6.7% ABV.  Semi-dry.  Smells slightly woody.  I didn’t pick up any of the orange peel or coriander they included in this cider, but again, it was a pretty small taste.  I found it very similar to their Ridge, but slightly more sweet, tart, and complex, and slightly less flavorful.  I prefer the Ridge, which I found to have more of the woody & earthy notes I enjoy.

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This is just the start of my Washington Cider Week posts, so stay tuned for posts on Thursday night part 2 (Burgundian with Eden & Alpenfire ciders), Cider Summit, and events I’ll be attending next week at Capitol Cider and the Schilling Cider House!  Subscribe to Cider Says using the sidebar (on the right or at the bottom of the page on mobile devices) and like us on Facebook to ensure you don’t miss out!

where will I be this week? tasting cider of course! (Washington Cider Week & Cider Summit Seattle)

For all my Seattle peeps, if you see me at any upcoming event, say hello!  I’ll be wearing a pink CIDER SAYS t-shirt.  If you also want to meet up before or after an event, let me know.

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Here is my schedule so far for the 5th annual Washington Cider Week and Cider Summit Seattle:

Washington Cider Week opening ceremonies at Seattle Cider with 10 cideries on tap and a food truck, Thursday September 10th, 3:00-4:30pm ish (event is 3-9pm)

East Meets West: An Evening with Eden and Alpenfire Ciders at the Burgundian Bar, Thursday September 10th, 5-7pm ish (event is 5-9pm)

Cider Summit Seattle at South Lake Union Discovery Center, Friday September 11, 2-8pm ish (VIP starts at 2pm and regular at 3pm)

Cider Summit Seattle at South Lake Union Discovery Center, Saturday September 12, noon-6pm ish

Meet & Greet, Tasting, & Book Signing with Bill Bradshaw at Capitol Cider, Tuesday September 15, 6-8pm

2 Towns Tap Night at Schilling Cider House, Thursday September 17, 6-8pm ish (event is 6-9pm)

Check out the complete Washington Cider Week event calendar here, as there is a crazy amount of events going on!  And, stay tuned for lots of Cider Summit related posts here at Cider Says.  I know a lot of folks aren’t so lucky to live in Washington, so I’ll try to make it seem like you’re here with me!  Like Cider Says on Facebook for other updates as well.

Washington Cider Week Events Surrounding Cider Summit Seattle

For my Seattle peeps…what Washington Cider Week events are you going to?  I’m thinking of the following:

East Meets West: An Evening with Eden and Alpenfire Ciders (Thurs Sept 10, 5-9pm, Burgundian Bar)

Tasting and book signing with Bill Bradshaw (Tues Sept 15, 6-8pm, Capitol Cider, $30)

One or more events at the Schilling Cider House, such as the wood aged, Finnriver, Portland Cider Co, 2 Towns, and/or Schilling nights (they have something every night 09/10-09/18, then 09/20, each from 6-9pm).

There is also a cool sounding one the day after Cider Summit, Cider Fete (Sun Sept 13, 3-7pm, Bottlehouse), but I’m guessing my liver may need a break by then…

Keep an eye on the calendar at http://www.nwcider.com/cider-events/, although some of these aren’t even on there yet.

cider week

Cider Summit Seattle, 218 Ciders Paired Down to a List of 33 I Want to Try

The countdown to Cider Summit Seattle continues!  Last week they released their list of cideries & ciders.  I count 218 ciders.  I spent several hours making a spreadsheet of them, researching, and prioritizing, as unfortunately it will be impossible to try them all (and would be cost-prohibitive at $2 a taste).

I decided to choose ciders that were more expensive, rare, not available here, and of course, likely to be to my tastes.  I ended up with 33, which sounds doable over two days.  I was surprised how many cideries I haven’t had a chance to try anything from.  I also have some second tier options, even after eliminating those I’ve tried before and didn’t sound interesting, but I kinda doubt I’ll get to them!

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Eden Specialty Ciders:  Heirloom Blend and Sparkling Semi-Dry  (I have never tried their ciders)

Attila Hard Cider Co.:  Rapture  (I have their Scourge of God at home to try)

Neigel Vintners (NV) Cider:  Cherry Perry  (I’ve tried a couple of their perries, and even had an interview with them)

2 Towns CIderhouse:  Bourbon Barrel 2012  (I recently tried their Cider Master Reserve Batch 01 that was barrel aged)

Apple Outlaw:  Oaked Sweet Dark Cherry  (I have never tried their ciders)

Artisinal Imports, Farnum Hill Ciders:  Dooryard and Extra Dry  (I have never tried their ciders)

E.Z. Orchards:  Roman Beauty, Hawk Haus, Semi Dry, and Poire  (I have never tried their ciders)

Dragon’s Head Cider:  Traditional, Manchuian, and Pippin  (I have Wild Fermented at home to try)

Eaglemount Wine and Cider:  Homestead Dry  (their Quince is amazing!)

Finnriver:  Cyser, Country Peach, and Cacao Brandywine  (I have never seen any of these in stores but I’ve tried several of their ciders)

Bull Run Cider:  Pear Wine  (I have never tried their ciders)

Half Pint Ciders, 101 Ciderhouse:  Black Dog Black Cider  (sounds really interesting with activated charcoal; really didn’t like their Cactus Red though)

Liberty Ciderworks:  Macintosh Single Varietal, English Style Cider  (I liked their Manchurian Crabapple and have their Stonewall Dry Fly Barrel Aged at home to try)

Millstone Cellars:  Farmgate Dry  (I want to give them another try after not caring for Cobbler)

Montana CiderWorks:  Darby Pub Cider  (I have never tried their ciders)

Moonlight Meadery:  How do you like them Apples Bourbon Barrel  (I loved their How do you like them Little Apples Bourbon Barrel; note these are ciders with honey, not mead, and are not available in bottles)

J.K.’s Scrumpy:  The Pair Perry  (their Northern Neighbor is pretty good; this one doesn’t appear to be sold in my area yet though)

Sea Cider:  Bittersweet, Bramble Bubbly, and Perry  (their Prohibition is awesome)

Snowdrift Cider Co.:  Perry and Cliffbreaks Blend  (I love their Cornice and Red)

Whitewood Cider Co.:  Kingston Black Whiskey Barrel Aged  (I’ve heard this is good but isn’t out in bottles yet; I wasn’t a fan of their Summer Switchel though)

Has anyone tried any of these ciders?  If you are going to Cider Summit Seattle, what do you plan to try?

Cider Summit Seattle Announces Cideries & Ciders

Two weeks until Cider Summit Seattle–I’m so excited!  The full list of cideries and the ciders they will be pouring is now available!!  Stay tuned for lots of Cider Summit related posts, as I’ll be covering the event both days, tasting as many ciders as possible.

The following is the updated press release info (thanks Alan Shapiro from SBS Import Brands).

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What:  6th annual festival. 200+ ciders expected from 57 producers. Ciders from 8 states and 6 countries. 102 from WA, 37 from OR. At least 90 ciders never previously poured at event.

When:

  • Friday 09/11 from 3-8pm (VIP ticket session starts at 2pm)
  • Saturday 09/12 from noon-6pm

Where:  South Lake Union Discovery Center Lawn (101 Westlake Ave North)

Cost:  $30 if purchased in advance online or at sponsors & local bottle shops. Admission includes a souvenir tasting glass and 8 tasting tickets.

Additional tasting tickets available onsite for $2 each.

VIP ticket is $40, available online only. Includes glass and 12 tasting tickets along with 2pm admission on Friday. Limited quantity available.

Designated driver tickets available for $5 and includes a bottle of water. May be purchased at the gate only.

All tickets allow re-admission Fri/Sat with wristband and glass.

Food:  Specially paired foods available for purchase from Whole Foods Market, Capitol Cider and three twins ice cream. Additional snack vendors planned.

Music:  Live music on both Friday & Saturday on the Jim Miller Festival Stage.

Sponsors:  Presented by Whole Foods Market. Supporting sponsors include Capitol Cider, Oregon Fruit Products Company, Umpqua Bank, Hood River Juice Company, ILY Pet, Click Wholesale and media sponsors CIDERCRAFT Magazine, KEXP, and The Stranger.

Other:

  • The Oregon Fruit Products Fruit Cider Challenge. 17 ciders made exclusively for Cider Summit with consumer voting.
  • Cider cocktails created by Capitol Cider & Eden Ice Cider Company.
  • The ILY Pet/Seattle Humane Dog Lounge. Dogs of all ages are welcome.
  • Event store featuring bottles-to-go, wearables, cider books, & more.
  • THIS EVENT IS STRICTLY 21 & OVER.

Beneficiaries:

  • Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research
  • Northwest Cider Association
  • Seattle Humane

Tickets and Info: