Schilling Cider House Visit 34 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 34th visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Its actually been a few times more than that as sometimes I just pop in to buy bottles.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

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<tap list>

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<“firkin” options from Wildcraft Ciderworks – my husband tried both and liked them, but I don’t do 20% ABV at room temperature>

I was there on a Friday afternoon with my husband and two out of town friends, after taking the day off and visiting Pike Place market.  I got another awesome poke (sushi) bowl from Just Poke a few doors down to share with my husband.  I ordered a couple flights for our friends and a few tasters for me, getting about half of the 32 ciders on tap (basically everything but the driest and sweetest ones).

Its awesome even with how many ciders I’ve tried, they always have at least a few new to me selections.  And they always have some really interesting stuff too, like Earl Grey tea infused, rhubarb-hops, and grapefruit gin, plus occasionally some imported selections (this time they had Louis Raison – see my previous tasting notes here).  I only have tasting notes on the few I ordered just for myself though.

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<left to right:  Moonlight Meadery Last Apple, Cider Riot La Luna, Liberty Kingston Black>

Moonlight Meadery (Londonderry NH) Last Apple (16% ABV):  A barrel aged cyser (cider from apples + mead from honey).  Also available in bottles, such as on their website, $27-28 / 375ml.  See my previous full review here.  Sweet.  Full bodied.  Full flavored sweet rich apple and honey notes with a quick finish.  I didn’t detect any barrel influence this time, but I’m guessing it smoothed out the flavor and contributed to the well-hidden ABV.  I may have drank it a bit too cold – warmed may have maximized its complexity.

Cider Riot! (Portland OR) La Luna (7.0% ABV):  Made from bittersweet cider apples with some dessert apples, then oak barrel aged.  Also available in bottles, but probably only in their taproom.  Completely dry.  Predominately oaky (more so than most barrel aged ciders I’ve had) with a hint of rich bittersweet cider apple flavor.  Low tartness and tannins.  I think I would have liked this more with some sweetness, as it had a low flavor intensity, especially in comparison to the next selection – the oak was my favorite part.

Liberty Ciderworks (Spokane WA) Kingston Black (8.0% ABV):  A single varietal from Kingston Black cider apples.  Previously available in bottles for ~ $15, although they don’t have any current availability on their website, and I haven’t seen it locally, so this specific batch may be draft-only.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Lovely bold bittersweet cider apple flavor with hints of honey and oak.  High tartness and moderate tannins.  I liked that they went a tad sweeter with this, as often they seem to go full dry, which can make a cider seem a bit harsh, especially if it is tart.

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Both me and my husband loved the Liberty Kingston Black – its probably my favorite Kingston Black single varietal to date (including from Farnum Hill, Eve’s, Whitewood, and Dragon’s Head).  So, we split a pint.

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I picked up some awesome bottles to take home, and even an Eric Bordelet (French cidre) 5L mini keg!  A bit spendy, but a rare opportunity.  Unfortunately it is getting more difficult to get English ciders, like Newton’s Court Gasping Goose and Dunkertons Black Fox, due to distributors going out of business or dropping cideries, but at least I was able to pick up some Worley’s Mendip Hills, my favorite of their four varieties available in the U.S.

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

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Moonlight Meadery Virtue

Review of Moonlight Meadery’s Virtue, a cyser (25% honey + 75% apple).  It is my first time trying this, although I’ve had their How do you Like them Little ApplesHow do you like them ApplesBoys N BerriesLast AppleCrimes of Passion, and Thirteen 5.

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Cider:  Virtue
Cidery:  Moonlight Meadery
Cidery Location:  Londonderry NH
ABV:  18%
How Supplied:  375ml bottle
Style:  American craft cyser (from honey & apples), barrel aged

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Availability:  limited, although their products are sold in ~ 28/50 states (see here), and their online store ships to ~ 36/50 states (see here, although I didn’t see it listed)

Cider Description:  Conditioned in our Utopian barrels for up to six months. Hints of vanilla and coconut from the oak, blend with the apple and honey. A deep rich apple with the hints of bourbon and a smooth honey finish. Clearly something of special worth.

Cidery Description:  We are a world class meadery from Londonderry, New Hampshire. We specialize in meads, the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage made from honey, and ciders. The diversity of our offerings often leave people speechless, while the flavors have them coming back time and time again.  It all started back in 1995 when Michael, our founder and head mead maker, tried a cyser (apple and honey mead) for the first time.

Price:  $27
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Still.  Smells of honey, apple, caramel, and alcohol.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Hints of tannins.  No sourness, funk, or bitterness.  Notes of honey, apple, caramel, oak, alcohol, and a hint of floral.  Long finish.  High complexity.  Low sessionability.  Moderate to high flavor intensity and honey flavor.  Low to moderate apple flavor.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it, but with the price and description, I was expecting a bit more.  I didn’t pick up the vanilla & coconut that the description enticed me with – we all taste things slightly differently though.

Most Similar to:  Moonlight Meadery Last Apple

Closing Notes:  I picked up more honey than apple, surprising with the 25-75 ratio.

Have you tried cyser?  What did you think?

Moonlight Meadery Thirteen 5

Review of Moonlight Meadery’s Thirteen 5.  This appears to be their ‘How Do You Like Them Apples’ with a new name, plus apparently it is now aged in new oak instead of whiskey barrels.  I assume Thirteen 5 refers to this being 13.5% ABV.  The name change is likely to differentiate it from their ‘How Do You Like Them Little Apples’, which is a lower ABV cider (instead of a higher ABV cyser like this).

I have previously tried How Do You Like Them Apples (canned), How Do You Like Them Little Apples (canned), and How Do You Like Them Little Apples (draft).  I’ve also tried a few other beverages from Moonlight Meadery:  Boys N BerriesLast Apple, and Crimes of Passion

Cider:  Thirteen 5
Cidery:  Moonlight Meadery
Cidery Location:  Londonderry NH
ABV:  13.5%
How Supplied:  12oz cans
Style:  American craft cyser (made from apple juice & honey), with brown sugar, barrel aged

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Availability:  Semi wide release, in the U.S., since January 2018.  In general Moonlight products are available in at least AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, VA, VT, WA, WA D.C., and WI, and Australia, China, and Japan.  They also have an online store.

Cider Description:  A New England Hard Cider, made from freshly pressed apple cider with a bit of natural sugar used to help reach the impressive strength, then we let it age in hand made American Foeders.

Cidery Description:  We are a world class meadery and cidery from Londonderry, New Hampshire that specializes in meads, the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage made from honey, as well as hard ciders.  The diversity of our offerings often leave people speechless, while the flavors have them asking for it from their local retailers.  Stop by and try the oldest fermented beverage to find out why “History never tasted so good”™.

They have been around since May 2010 and have a tasting room in Londonderry NH.

Price:  ~$6 / single can
Where Bought:   Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing; I was curious if this was a new or renamed product, and if they had fixed a previous issue I’ve noticed with their canned ciders turning sour/vinegary over time

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First Impression:  Medium amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells rich and apple & honey forward.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, and tannins.  No bitterness or funk.  Hints of sourness, especially on the finish.  Notes of concentrated apple, honey, orange, oak, caramel, and brown sugar.  Moderate length finish, which is also the only time when the high ABV is noticeable.  Low oak/barrel influence.  Moderate to high apple and honey flavor.  Low sessionability.  High flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  At first I liked it.  However, same as I had experienced with previous canned batches of their ciders, with the finish, there were hints of sourness and vinegar.  So, it appears the issue hasn’t been fixed.  The longer these sit around, the worse they get (this batch said Dec 2017).  Unfortunately this makes it quite unlikely I’ll want to try any cans from them again, as now this is three different batches in a row spread out over time with apparently the same defect.

Most Similar to:  Ice cider and Moonlight Meadery Last Apple (although that one had more honey than apple flavor, in contrast to this one), which are both high ABV, sweet, and have concentrated rich flavor notes.

 

Have you tried Moonlight Meadery Thirteen 5?  What did you think?

Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Little Apples

Review of Moonlight Meadery’s How Do You Like Them Little Apples, a whiskey barrel aged cider.  I have tried this cider a couple times previously on draft, but now it is available in cans.  I’ve also previously sampled their How Do You Like Them Apples, Boys N Berries, Last Apple, and Crimes of Passion.

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Cider:  How Do You Like Them Little Apples
Cidery:  Moonlight Meadery
Cidery Location:  Londonderry NH
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  12oz cans
Style:  American craft cider, aged in whiskey barrels

Availability:  Semi wide release, in the U.S. in AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, VA, VT, WA, WA D.C., and WI, and Australia, China, and Japan.  They also have an online store.

Cider Description:  This hard cider is made from the finest New Hampshire apples that are available to us, usually a blend of Cortland, McIntosh, Gala, and Red Delicious varieties. We blend the fresh-pressed cider with just a touch of  honey and natural sugar before we let it ferment and age in newly emptied rye whiskey barrels.

Cidery Description:  We are a world class meadery and cidery from Londonderry, New Hampshire that specializes in meads, the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage made from honey, as well as hard ciders.  The diversity of our offerings often leave people speechless, while the flavors have them asking for it from their local retailers.  Stop by and try the oldest fermented beverage to find out why “History never tasted so good” ™.

They have been around since May 2010 and have a tasting room in Londonderry NH.

Price:  $3 / single can
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  My husband bought it for me.

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First Impression:  Hazy medium straw yellow hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells musty, of vinegar, honey, and whiskey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low sourness, funk, and bitterness.  Hints of tannins.  Notes of vinegar, honey, must, and lemon, plus hints of oak and whiskey.  Moderate length finish.  Very low barrel influence.  Low whiskey influence and apple flavor.  Moderate complexity, flavor intensity, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  This was very different than previous versions.  I didn’t really enjoy the odd vinegar flavor with sourness and funk.  Previously it was sweeter and richer, with more honey, oak, and whiskey.

Most Similar to:  Spanish Sidra

Closing Notes:  This was disappointing.  Previous versions (like this) were much more enjoyable.  Hopefully this was a one-time error or something, but it puts me off from wanting to buy it again and taking the chance it’ll happen again.  I have heard that can liners sometimes don’t stand up to acidic cider, so over time the cider can turn vinegary.  The second can was just as bad.

Have you tried Moonlight Meadery’s How Do You Like Them Little Apples?  What did you think?

Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Apples

Review of Moonlight Meadery’s How Do You Like Them Apples.  I had previously tried this on draft, but they recently began offering this (and the “Little Apples” version) in cans.  I’ve tried a number of beverages from Moonlight Meadery:  How Do You Like Them Little Apples, How Do You Like Them Apples, Boys N Berries, Last Apple, and Crimes of Passion

Cider:  How Do You Like Them Apples
Cidery:  Moonlight Meadery
Cidery Location:  Londonderry NH
ABV:  13.5%
How Supplied:  12oz cans
Style:  American craft honey apple wine (apple cider with honey and brown sugar), rye whiskey barrel barrel aged

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Availability:  Semi wide release, in the U.S. in AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, VA, VT, WA, WA D.C., and WI, and Australia, China, and Japan.  They also have an online store.

Cider Description:  A New England Hard Cider, made with the finest New Hampshire apples that were available to us, which we had fresh pressed into apple cider. This fresh cider was delivered the day it was pressed to our Meadery, where we blended it with just a touch of honey, and some brown sugar and let it ferment, then we let it age in freshly emptied Last Apple barrels, for a minimum of 6 months.

Cidery Description:  We are a world class meadery and cidery from Londonderry, New Hampshire that specializes in meads, the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage made from honey, as well as hard ciders.  The diversity of our offerings often leave people speechless, while the flavors have them asking for it from their local retailers.  Stop by and try the oldest fermented beverage to find out why “History never tasted so good”™.

They have been around since May 2010 and have a tasting room in Londonderry NH.

Price:  ~$6 / single can
Where Bought:   Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  my husband picked this up

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First Impression:  Medium amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells rich, syrupy sweet, apple-forward, of honey, whiskey, and oak.

Tasting Notes:  Sweet.  Medium to full bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, and tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of concentrated apple, honey, orange, oak, whiskey, caramel, and brown sugar.  Moderate length finish, which is also the only time when the high ABV is noticeable.  Low oak/barrel influence.  Low to moderate whiskey influence.  High apple flavor.  Low sessionability.  High flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  Amazing.  I really love the in-your-face rich complex flavor of this cider.  However, it is best suited as an after dinner sipper, splitting the can among at least 2 people.  By the end of the can I was a bit over it, as it was so sweet, even though I sipped on it throughout the evening.  This tasted good anywhere between ice cold and close to room temperature.

Most Similar to:  Ice cider and Moonlight Meadery Last Apple (although that one had more honey than apple flavor, in contrast to this one), which are both high ABV, have concentrated rich flavor notes, and are sweet

Side Note:  I like that they added a dry-sweet indicator on the can, but I think they were off on this one…it is way closer to the sweet end of the spectrum than the middle (although maybe it was an appropriate rating based on the beverages they make at Moonlight.

Closing Notes:  My husband also picked me up a couple cans of the “Little Apples” version of this cider, so stay tuned.

UPDATE:  Like the canned How Do You Like Them Little Apples, the can of this I opened a month or two later was starting to turn vinegary.

Have you tried Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Apples?  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).

Moonlight Meadery Last Apple Cyser

Review of Moonlight Meadery’s Last Apple, a cyser (made from apples and honey).  I tried this previously on tap (see here), and have also previously tried some ciders, meads, and cysers from Moonlight Meadery (see here).

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Cider:  Last Apple
Cidery:  Moonlight Meadery
Cidery Location:  Londonderry New Hampshire
ABV:  16.0%
How Supplied:  375ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft cyser (made from apple juice and honey), barrel aged

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Availability:  AL, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, MD, ME, MI, MO, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, TX, VA, WA, and WA D.C. in the USA (see here), plus Australia, China, Japan, and through their online shop (shipped to 36/50 states)

Cider Description:  We took the very last New Hampshire apples that were available to us and had them fresh pressed into apple cider. We then blended it with True Source Honey and let it ferment and age in freshly emptied Jim Beam barrels for over 6 months.  The end result is nothing short of heavenly. It is unlike any of the other honey apple meads that we make, that’s why we felt it deserved its own unique label design.  Take your time with this precious liquid and allow its complexities to dance along your palate.

Cidery Description:  We are a world class meadery and cidery from Londonderry, New Hampshire that specializes in meads, the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage made from honey, as well as hard ciders.  The diversity of our offerings often leave people speechless, while the flavors have them asking for it from their local retailers.  Stop by and try the oldest fermented beverage to find out why “History never tasted so good”™.

Price:  $26.99
Where Bought:  The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I tried this previously at the Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA and remembered loving it, and didn’t even know bottles were available (I picked this up awhile back and haven’t seen it since), so I decided to jump on it, despite the high price tag.

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First Impression:  Light to medium amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells boozy, of honey and caramel.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Full bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of honey, sweet ripe apples, caramel, oak, and coffee.  Long warming finish.  Low apple influence.  Low barrel influence.  Moderate to high honey influence.  Very low sessionability.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this, but I think the batch I tried awhile back which was kegged was far superior; it didn’t have the coffee notes, had more oak flavor, was sweeter & fuller bodied, and was more complex.  In this price range, I think I’d prefer an ice cider from Eden (see here).  This reinforces how much I like cider bars, especially for high end ciders, as a sample can be had for $2-$5, vs. spending a good deal on an entire bottle.

Most Similar to:  This is more mead than cider, both in flavor and its high ABV.  It has more honey notes and a higher ABV than most cysers, such as the ones I’ve tried from Finnriver (Cyser Cider),  Eaglemount (Cyser), and Sea Cider (Birds and the Bees).  Its even higher ABV than the meads I’ve tried, such as Skyriver Solas (see here) and Superstition Honey Highway (see here), yet is smooth and easy to drink.

Closing Notes:   I look forward to continuing to try more ciders, meads, and cysers from Moonlight Meadery; they offer quite a large selection.

Have you tried Moonlight Meadery Last Apple?  What did you think?