Apple Outlaw Cider Tasting & More at Around The Table

I recently attended an Apple Outlaw cider tasting at Around the Table, a game pub in Lynnwood Washington, North of Seattle.  Its a unique game shop with tables to play at, snacks, and beer/cider/mead/soda/etc on tap.  They have quite a tap list, which usually includes a few ciders and a mead (which is more ciders than most places with even more taps have).  They’ve had a few other cider tastings prior to this, which include having a mini cider tap takeover and bringing in a cidery representative to pour them and chat.

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They had Apple Outlaw’s Ginger Bite, Original, and Tangerine Twist on tap.  The rep Meghan also opened a bottle of their Cranberry Jewel while I was there.  I met up with Nathan from The Cider Chronicles, who now also works part time for Elemental Hard Cider.  He brought a growler of their Pomegranate-Rose cider with him.  Around the Table also had Elemental’s NW Atomic Root Beer cider on tap (a cider-based hard root beer, which I reviewed here), and Moonlight Meadery’s Sumptuous Mango mead.

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<the full tap list that evening>

Apple Outlaw is an orchard-based cidery in Applegate Oregon, in the Applegate Valley in the Southern portion of the state.  They actually sold non-alcoholic cider (juice) for quite awhile before starting to sell hard cider, which they make from dessert apples.  Oddly enough they no longer sell their unfermented juice.  Although the place was rather busy, the cider tasting wasn’t, so Nathan and I got to chat with Meghan for awhile.  We learned that Apple Outlaw is still on the small side, and mainly family-run.  They don’t currently have a tasting room, but their bottled (and draft) ciders have been sold since 2013, and are available in Oregon and Washington.

Elemental Hard Cider Pomegranate-Rose, 6.5% ABV:  Light cherry pink hue.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Mild to moderate tartness.  I mostly tasted pomegranate, but it was smoother than typical, presumably from the infusion of rose petals (although I didn’t pick up any floral notes).  Elemental has infused rose petals with other ciders as well, such as Lavender-Rose (which I reviewed here).

Apple Outlaw Tangerine Twist, 5.5% ABV:  Cider with tangerines and hops.  It is their Spring/Summer seasonal. Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  The flavor started distinctly citrus and tart, and the finish was hopped (light bitterness and floral notes).

Apple Outlaw Original Hard Cider, 5.5% ABV:  This is their flagship cider.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Mild tartness.  Easy to drink and sessionable.  Very apple forward (back sweetened).

Apple Outlaw Ginger Bite, 5.5% ABV:  Made with Peruvian yellow ginger.  Moderate to strong ginger scent.  Semi-sweet.  I’m not a ginger fan, but this was definitely more approachable for me than most ginger ciders, as most of the ginger remained in the scent…I really didn’t pick up too much ginger flavor.  Most of all, it didn’t have any sinus burn.  I think the sweetness also helped its approachability.  This was described as being great for food pairings.

Apple Outlaw Cranberry Jewel, 5.5% ABV:  This was a bottle pour.  Made with cranberries, rose hips, and orange peel.  I didn’t pick up the rose hips or orange peel (which I only read about later).  It was definitely very cranberry (moderate to strong) and tasted juice-like to me.  Semi-dry.  Moderate tartness.  Medium bodied.

Moonlight Meadery Sumptuous Mango Mead, 13.6% ABV:  Nathan let me taste the glass he ordered.  Very fruity and alcohol-forward, but the mango flavor isn’t particularly strong.  Sweet.  Moderate tartness.  Full bodied.  This was the first beverage from Moonlight Meadery that I didn’t think was amazing…I think I much prefer their ciders, meads, and cysers which are more honey-forward, with richer brown sugar type notes (see my prior reviews here).  The fruitiness just didn’t seem to mesh with the whole 14% ABV mead vibe.  I think as a lower ABV cyser (apple + honey) it would have worked better.

Of the Apple Outlaw selections, I liked the Original best.  I’ve previously tried their Oaked Sweet Dark Cherry and Blackberry Bounty ciders on tap.  However, none of the Apple Outlaw ciders are really a style I enjoy (and I’m not really a fan of hops, ginger, or cranberry).  My favorite ciders are typically richer and/or made from cider apples.  Its always fun to try new ciders though!

Schilling Cider House Visit 12 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my twelfth visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts here.  I was there on St. Patrick’s Day, and they were having a potluck.  I also met David from Cider Expert (apparently I’m a superuser there and he wanted my feedback) and we had a spirited cider discussion for almost a couple hours.  Cider Expert is a cider rating & review website currently in Beta testing.  I think once it goes live it will be great, as the other beverage review websites like Untappd and RateBeer don’t really work well for cider (plus this one has ratings for taste properties specific to cider, and algorithms to actually suggest ciders).

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I got there after work, around 4pm, and had a flight of 6 ciders.  I was there for a few hours so I was expecting to order something else too, but they were large pours and one was high ABV, so that was it for me.  I had thought that 5/6 were new for me, but after I ordered I realized I had 2 of them before, so only 4/6 were new for me.  There were a couple other ciders on the tap list I hadn’t tried, but weren’t of interest.  I brought in some Thai food takeout; I guess I must be picky as I’m 0/3 as far as liking the local Thai food options in Fremont.  The PCC (natural grocery store with a large ready-made food section) remains my favorite takeout option nearby.

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<left to right: Carlton Cyderworks First Fruits, Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Apples, Red Tank Yukon Cornelius, Grizzly Ciderworks Woodlander Wit, Anthem Rose Pinot, and Cider Riot! Burn Cider>

Carlton Cyderworks First Fruits, 6.5% ABV, McMinnville OR:  Described as an apple cider fermented with plums and mulberry juice, aged in wine barrels for 5 months, which appears to be tap only.  Light pink grapefruit hue.  Semi-dry.  Moderate acidity and mild tartness.  Light bodied.  I really liked the texture most of all with this cider; kinda frothy (note the foam in the photo). I didn’t recognize it as being barrel aged though (only read that later). It was lightly fruity and really refreshing.

Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Apples (cider), 13.5% ABV, Londonderry NH:  I’ve absolutely loved everything I’ve tried from Moonlight Meadery.  I had tried this one before, and knew I wanted to include it in my flight as its a rare, and like all their ciders, tap-only.  Them Apples is described as being aged with brown sugar for 6+ months in barrels from their Last Apple cyser (which were barrels from Jim Beam whiskey).  Note that they also have a “How Do You Like Them Little Apples”, which is similar, but only 6.5% ABV (see my review here).  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Low acidity, low tartness, a hint of bitterness, and a hint of sourness.  Very smooth, with a well hidden ABV.  Medium bodied.  Notes of baked apple, whiskey, oak, citrus, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla.  This was different than I remembered previously…much less sweet, and with hints of bitterness and sourness.  It was very good, but I think I prefer the Little Apples version (or at least the batch of this one I tried previously).  On a side note as this was aged in Last Apple barrels, I also love that one, and have a bottle at home.

Red Tank Cider Yukon Cornelius, 6.0% ABV, Bend OR:  Described as including vanilla, cranberry, and cinnamon.  Schilling actually called it Vanilla-Cran-Cinnamon, probably as the keg was labeled that way, but with some research it looks like Yukon Cornelius is the actual name.  Light punk hue.  Strong cinnamon scent.  Semi-dry.  Mild vanilla, moderate cinnamon spice, and a hint of fruitiness but mostly tartness from the cranberry scent.  Light bodied.  Interesting combination, but it worked.

Grizzly Ciderworks Woodlander Wit, 6.9% ABV, Milton-Freewater OR:  This is the one I thought I hadn’t tried before, but I had (see here).  They modeled this cider after Belgian wit-style beer (they used that variety of beer yeast), and added orange peel and coriander.  Semi-dry.  Moderate acidity, low tartness, and low bitterness.  Medium bodied.  Mildly flavored, with notes of oak, spice, herbs, and citrus (I didn’t specifically identify orange or coriander).  I like The Ridge from them better, which has more woody earthiness without the herbal & citrus flavors of this one, although is even drier.

Anthem Rose Pinot, 6.5% ABV, Salem OR:  Described as being aged with pinot noir grapes (its unclear whether in a barrel or tank).  Bright red hue.  Semi-dry.  Moderate tartness and mild acidity.  Light bodied.  Very mild flavor which to me had a lot of cranberry notes.  I didn’t really like the flavor of this one.  I imagine wine lovers would enjoy it.

Cider Riot! Burn Cider, 6.8% ABV, Portland OR:  Described as being made with Oregon-grown English cider apples, tart wild apples, and dessert apples, and being inspired by English West Country pub draught ciders.  Dry.  Moderate bitterness, moderate acidity, low tannins, and low tartness.  Light bodied.  Hints of bittersweet cider apples, but overall it was on the mild end of the flavor spectrum, and kinda watered down tasting.  Notes of vanilla and spice as well.  I think if it had been more flavorful, slightly less bitter, and slightly more sweet, this would have been nice.

My favorite of the evening was the Moonlight Meadery cider, which I also loved the last time I had it (see my Cider Summit Seattle 2015 tasting notes here).  I also enjoyed First Fruits, even though I usually don’t go for fruity ciders.  Lately I’ve realized I enjoy ciders that best I can explain are very “textural” (Locust Winesap was another example; see my tasting notes here).  Overall though I was a bit underwhelmed by my flight, but many I tried mostly just to try them.  I wish Schilling would offer more unflavored ciders (not fruity, hopped, spiced, etc), English & French imports, etc, on tap, but I imagine the flavored stuff sells well.

On my way out I picked up another bottle of 2 Towns Pommeau, as its that awesome (see my review here), a great value, and the bottle says it ages well (up to 20 years?).  I also bought a cider I hadn’t seen in this area before from ÆppelTreow, Kinglet Bitter, which sounds like something I’ll like (made from bittersweet apples); I’ve enjoyed a couple other ciders from them (Appely Doux and Barn Swallow).

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

Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Little Apples Cider

Review of “How Do You Like Them Little Apples”, a cider from Moonlight Meadery.  Note that they also offer “How Do You Like Them Apples” (without “Little”), which is quite a different cider, mostly as it has a significantly higher ABV, 13.5% instead of 6.9%.  I’ve also tried that one (at Cider Summit Seattle 2015; tasting notes here).

Cider:  How Do You Like Them Little Apples
Cidery:  Moonlight Meadery
Cidery Location:  Londonderry NH
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  draft-only (I got a half growler, 32 oz)

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Side Note:  This is the first time I’ve got a growler fill of cider!  I’ve always decided against it as 64 oz of cider is way too much for just me to drink in a short period of time, but my husband came home with a half growler of beer recently.  These half growlers (and even quarter growlers, only 16 oz) seem to be a newer thing.  Two pints of cider is more easily doable.  The place where I got it filled (see below) actually only sells half growlers, although I’m sure if you brought in a full size one they would fill it for double the cost.  Also, check out my new cider glass!

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I’ve been wanting to buy some real cider glasses for awhile, and picked up three (see above, with one of my usual cider glasses on the right for reference) at World Market, each between $2 and $4.  They are officially a goblet, brandy snifter (pictured with cider above), and sangria glass (curved).  I think the brandy one is my favorite as it isn’t as large/tall as the other two, although similar to wine glasses, none of these would be filled up all the way.

Availability:  Regional.  See the list on Moonlight Meadery’s website.

Cider Description:  A 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 rye whiskey barrels, for a minimum of 3 months.  This is a DRAFT only release.

Cidery Description:  We are a world class, cidery and meadery from Londonderry New Hampshire, specializing in meads: wines made from honey, and ciders. The diversity of the offerings often leaves people speechless, while the flavors have them asking for it at their local stores. Stop by to find out why “History never tasted so good”™. Try the oldest fermented beverage, “Romance By the Glass”®. Distributed nationwide both here in the United States, and Australia.  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.

Since that first sip Michael has developed a passion, and a masterful skill at making international award winning meads. Michael Fairbrother has started Moonlight Meadery®, with a mission to bring ultra premium meads to the market place.  It is more than a product and it is more than a process, it’s our obsession.  Our meads will be unique, and unlike anything you have ever tried, you will find it incredible!   We are going to embrace the unique nature of natural honey as minimally processed as possible.  Since starting production in May of 2010, we have grown beyond our wildest dreams. We hope you will stop by to hear our story and try our meads, and tell your friends.

Moonlight has a tasting room in Londonderry NH, and an online store selling their products which ships to 20 states (WA not included unfortunately).  We get a few of their bottled meads in the Seattle area, but nowhere near the full lineup.

Price:  $10 / 32 ounce half growler
Where Bought:  Around the Table Game Pub in Lynnwood WA.  This is a great option for draft craft cider in the greater Seattle area by the way, as they typically have 3 ciders and 1 mead on tap (and 8 beers, a coffee, and a soda).  Although its not really my type of atmosphere (gamer types), the cider selection is pretty awesome.  Special Brews up the street has more taps but less cider on tap (although they have a bottle shop).
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I tried this for the first time at the Schilling Cider House (see my post here).  Schilling Cider House has Moonlight Meadery’s ciders & cysers on tap pretty often.  When I saw this cider was on tap at Around the Table, I went out of my way to get a half growler of it!  Very reasonably priced too.  I’m doing a full review of it now vs. my previous one which was only a quick writeup.  I typically only do tasting notes when sampling ciders away from home as its tough to get a full picture of a cider when doing a quick tasting, and especially when trying it with other ciders.

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First Impression:  Shiney straw yellow champagne-like hue.  Large bubbles.  Complex rich sweet apple scent with a hint of oak wood.

Opinion:  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Rich ripe apple, honey, oak, brown sugar, and floral notes.  The slightest hint of whiskey from the barrel in addition to the oak flavor from the barrel itself (which is on the mild side).  Complex flavor, but low acidity, tannins, tartness, astringency, bitterness, etc.  No funk (clean).  Very low carbonation.  Medium to full bodied.  Longer finish, which is where some mild tarrtness and bitterness presents.  Very smooth.  I’d guess it was a higher ABV (maybe due to how full bodied it is), but its not really booze-forward.

Most Similar to:  Not too much.  Most barrel aged ciders don’t also have other flavors (honey & brown sugar in this case), and there aren’t too many barrel aged ciders that are this sweet (although Thistly Cross Whisky Cask comes to mind).

Closing Notes:   Awesome!  One of my favorite ciders.  Even my friend who is very new to hard cider and whose tastes haven’t extended beyond very plain sweet juice-like commercial ciders enjoyed it (I thought she might be put off by the barrel notes).  So, I can recommend this as a good introduction to barrel aged ciders (vs. some others that are very dry, strong barrel influence, lots of spirit notes, etc).  I’ve been very impressed with everything I’ve tried from Moonlight Meadery so far (a few ciders, a cyser, and a mead)!

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

Schilling Cider House Visit 3 and Portland Cider Tasting at Total Wine

I enjoyed my last visits (one and two) to the Schilling Cider House so much that I was looking for another opportunity to visit.  I got my chance the following week when my husband had Friday night plans that didn’t interest me, so I went my own way.  I arrived at the Schilling Cider House around 3:30pm, and it was already pretty busy.

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I had tried a number of their tap selections (especially since I was there only the week before), but found six of interest that I hadn’t tried yet.

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<left to right: Schilling Mischief Maker, Schilling Barrel #1, Moonlight Boys ‘nd Berries,
Rootwood Lot 17, Greenwood Huckleberry, and One Tree Huckleberry>

Schilling Mischief Maker Cran-Pom, 5.8% ABV:  This is a newish cranberry-pomegranate cider by Schilling (available in bottles too).  A bit foamy of a pour.  On the drier side of sweet.  Nice balanced sweet & tart.  However, it was a bit too heavy on the cranberry for my liking, and quite juice-like.

Schilling Barrel #1, 21% ABV:  This is similar to their Barrel #2 I had the previous week, some sort of spirit (not sure if it was distilled or fortified with brandy).  I was able to find out that this one is whiskey barrel aged  However, this was much drier than Barrel #2, on the sweeter side of dry.  It was very very boozy in comparison to Barrel #2.  I really didn’t like it much at all.  It didn’t have nearly as much flavor as Barrel #2.

Moonlight Meadery Boys ‘nd Berries, 6%:  Cherry color.  Boysenberry scent.  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Moderate tartness.  Kinda boring, but it is one of the better berry ciders I’ve had.  I’ve found I’m just not a fan of berry ciders, as they are often really juice-like.  This cider oddly enough though came across as a bit boozy, tasting higher than 6% ABV, which is unusual for a berry cider.

Rootwood Cider Company Lot 17, 7.2% or 7.5% ABV:  This is the first cider I’ve tried from Rootwood, which hails from the Lake Chelan WA area.  They are newish to cider (launched about a month ago and had a launch party at the Schilling Cider House during Washington Cider Week), but have been growing apples for over 100 years.  They have their own tasting room in Manson WA, which offers growler fills.  They are working on getting their ciders bottled and out to stores, but for now, can be found on tap in the greater Seattle area (such as the Schilling Cider House and 192 Brewing Company in Kenmore).  “Lot 17” refers to the name of one of the family’s original orchard plots in the hills outside of Manson, and it is primarily made using Fuji apples (but also includes Jonagold, Elstar, Foxwelp, Browns, and Kingston Black).  Semi-dry. Fairly simple.  Mild tartness.  Moderate acidity & bitterness.  Light bodied.  It had hints of a rich flavor, and some mild fruity notes, but left me wanting more.  Overall I found this rather boring.

Greenwood Cider Company Huckleberry Wedding Cider, 6.5% ABV:  This is the first cider I’ve tried from Greenwood, which hails from the Seattle WA area.  I hadn’t even heard of them, despite them being local and my interest in cider.  I really couldn’t find any info on them online oddly enough, just a Facebook page, so I e-mailed them.  They are about a year old and currently only sell kegs of their small batch ciders.  In the Seattle area, their customers include Capitol Cider, the Schilling Cider House, and Chuck’s Hop Shop.  I found out this cider was primarily huckleberry, but also included blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries (the “wedding” part), and made from piñata, golden delicious, fuji, braeburn, granny smith, and golden russet apples.  It had an orange-pink hue, which was interesting for what I thought was only a huckleberry cider, especially compared to the very dark colored One Tree Huckleberry cider.  I picked up much more citrus (grapefruit?) than berry in it.  Ryan from Greenwood thought I may have been picking up some of the tartness of the raspberries or acidity of the heirloom golden russet apples in detecting citrus notes.  Still, this one was a bit too unique for me, and my least favorite of the seven ciders I ended up trying.  I’m definitely game to try other ciders from them though!

One Tree Hard Cider Huckleberry on Nitro, 6.8% ABV:  Deep deep berry hue.  Excessive foam from the Nitro process and the scent I have come to associate with it.  Very sweet.  I found this to be just your standard juice-like berry cider.  Medium bodied.  There actually wasn’t any perceivable tartness, which was surprising, and would have been welcomed.

All in all I wasn’t impressed with any of my selections.  The Moonlight Meadery Boys ‘nd Berries was probably my “favorite” of the six (actually seven; see below).  They had ciders I really liked still on tap though, such as Moonlight Meadery Last Apple, Schilling Barrel #2, NV Cider Pear Essentials, and 2 Towns Bad Apple & Prickle Me Pink…I just wanted to get ciders I hadn’t tried before.

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They also ended up putting a Randall together while I was there, which was a cool process to watch.  Apparently they often will do this on the weekend.  It doesn’t appear they charge any extra for a Randalled cider either.  The process appeared to be a seat of the pants sort of thing, with ingredients they picked up from the PCC grocery store down the street.  I had a front & center view of it all too!  They started with Rootwood Lot 17, then added corn, cilantro, and hot peppers to the infuser chamber.

I got a sample of the resulting cider, and it was pretty good!  It mostly had cilantro flavor, with a hint of heat (the peppers were placed at the top of the chamber so the cider didn’t get much of their influence).  I really love Cilantro, so it was nice.  This would have paired very well with Mexican food, which few ciders do (my choice would be Wyder’s Reposado Pear).  I didn’t really pick up the corn in the flavor, but I think it added a bit of color & texture.  You can really see a difference in hue between the pre-Randall Lot 17 (fourth cider from left in flight photo above) vs. the post-Randall Lot 17.

I didn’t have a good view of the cutting board of ingredients, but here is a photo from their Twitter feed:

randall

After going to the Schilling Cider House, on my way home, I stopped at the Northgate Total Wine, where they were having a Portland Cider Company cider tasting (4-7pm).  I had spotted it on Total Wine’s event calendar and taken note.  I met their rep Ingrid (whose business card says “cider maven” lol) and tried three of their ciders.  They were pouring Kinda Dry, Pearfect, and Hop’Rageous.  I had tried a bottle of Kinda Dry (review here) and had Pearfect Perry on tap awhile back at my first visit to the Schilling Cider House (tasting notes here), but gave them another go.

Even though I don’t like hops, I thought I might as well try a sip of the Hop’Rageous.  It was surprisingly good!  There was very very little hop flavor, more of an aftertaste.  Apparently they use Citra hops, which are mild, and apparently they didn’t use a huge amount of them.  They also incorporated some orange peel.  Most hopped ciders go quite overboard on the amount of hops.  It had a lovely aroma & flavor of both floral (probably from the hops) and citrus (probably from the orange peel).  I found it dry to semi-dry.  Nice and refreshing, and very light in flavor overall.  I’d actually consider getting a bottle of it, although I imagine I might not like the hops aftertaste when drinking a larger amount.  This is a great example of a well-done hopped cider that even someone who doesn’t like hops/beer can probably enjoy!

As a side note, I’m quite proud of myself for not buying any bottles of cider at the Schilling Cider House or Total Wine, which is unheard of for me.  I have so much cider at home that I can’t justify buying anything but a special release / rare find.

Schilling Cider House – Washington Cider Week – 2 Towns Tap Night

The last Washington Cider Week event I attended was the 2 Towns Tap Night at the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood from Seattle (Thurs Sept 17, 2015).  I honestly would have rather gone to the Barrel Aged event they had the night before, but that didn’t work for my schedule.  I’m a fan of 2 Towns, and got to meet up with some great cider folks, so I was very happy nonetheless.

You can’t beat their 32 cider tap selection!  Plus they have a huge bottle selection, all chilled, and you can see every bottle and look at the label and such.  It was only my second time there, but I’ve already gone back for a third visit the following week.  Sarah from Cider Log is the manager at the Schilling Cider House now, I finally got to meet Mick from Click Distributing (we’ve chatted on Facebook quite a bit), and I also met some folks from some other distributors as well.

I got there quite awhile before the event started.  It was officially 6-9pm (when the 2 Towns guys were there), but they had the 2 Towns selections on tap much earlier.  I picked up a tasty Caprese sandwich from across the street.  I sat at the cider house bar for a few minutes to figure out what I wanted to start with.  Then Mick found me and I went over to the cool kids table with the distributor dudes.

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I started with a flight of 4 ciders.  I should have just gone for the full 6, as I think it ends up being cheaper, but I was holding out to try some 2 Towns stuff later.  Also, although I didn’t yet know it, I would also be trying some bottled cider!

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<left to right: Schilling Barrel #2, Moonlight Meadery Last Apple,
Aspall John Darington, Finnriver Barrel Berry Sour>

Schilling Barrel #2:  A 21% ABV concoction which was barrel aged.  I’m a little unclear as to how it was made (I heard once it was fortified with brandy and another time it was distilled cider).  However, its not really cider at this ABV, more like apple brandy, apple jack, Pommeau, apple spirits, whatever you want to call it.  Definitely booze-forward, but I found it easily drinkable on its own when it was cold (and I usually don’t do straight alcohol).  I loved the honey and almost floral notes.  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Highly recommended!  They still had some of this on tap as of Sept 25 by the way.

Moonlight Meadery The Last Apple:  A 16% ABV cyser (when apple juice is blended with honey, then fermented).  It was then barrel aged in Jim Beam barrels for 6 months.  I’ve had both meads and ciders from Moonlight, and now a cyser.  On the sweet & syrupy side, but very flavorful.  Well hidden ABV.  I loved the honey flavor which was bold but not overdone.  All around complex and tasty!  This was also still on tap as of Sept 25.

Aspall John Barrington:  A 8.4% cider from Aspall in the UK.  I didn’t know anything about this cider going into it, but put it on my flight card as I’ve been impressed by Aspall so far.  The scent was quite dry, but it came across as semi-sweet to me in taste (although Schilling had it listed as dry per their taste test).  Almost still (very low carbonation).  Very smooth and rich flavor.  Acidic and slightly tart.  Lovely tropical notes.  I liked this one.

Finnriver Barrel Berry Sour:  A 6.5% sour blueberry-apple cider which was barrel aged.  Although I’m not a fan of sour cider (about the only sour thing I like is candy), I decided to give it a try as it was barrel aged, and I’m a sucker for barrel aged!  Definitely sour, and I thought more so than their Country Peach I tried at Cider Summit which was described as a sour (but didn’t have sour in the name).  Semi-dry.  For me the sour overwhelmed the flavor so much I couldn’t pick up the barrel influence or any other flavors  I’m not a fan, but glad I tried it.  Apparently lots of folks like sour ciders, beer, etc…I’m just not one of them.

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Next, I got to partake in samples of two bottled ciders that some of the guys bought, Poire Domfront from Domaine Pacory and Roman Beauty from E.Z. Orchards.  The Schilling Cider House doesn’t charge an extra fee beyond the bottle price to drink any of their bottled ciders on the premises, but I don’t see why you would want to with 32 ciders on tap?

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Domaine Pacory Poire Domfront:  A 5% ABV French perry made primarily with “plant de blanc” pears.  Rich sweet scent.  Fizzy / high carbonation.  Mick thought it was hilarious the first comment out of my mouth upon tasting it was “that’s fizzy!”.  I really do love a highly carbonated cider though, and we don’t get it too often here.  Semi-sweet.  Very light bodied.  I wouldn’t have guessed this was perry at all, as it really tasted similar to French ciders I’ve enjoyed.  Easy drinking and very tasty.  There was the slightest bit of funk when it warmed up a bit.

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E.Z. Orchards Roman Beauty:  A 4% ABV cider from Oregon.  Made primarily from Roman Beauty apples, bottle conditioned, and cold spontaneous fermentation.  Clean & crisp scent.  This one was also easy drinking and very tasty.  I didn’t mind at all that there was still cider left in the bottle after the guys left, and I continued to sample it.

Next, since it was 2 Towns time, I got a small pour of their Made Marion on Nitro.  I had tried or wasn’t interested in their other selections on tap:
Bad Apple, high ABV imperial style cider – awesome
Hop & Stalk, Sitra hops & rhubarb – didn’t care to try as I’m not a fan of either of its namesakes
Prickle Me Pink, pink from cactus fruit – quite good
Outcider, their unfiltered variety – average

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2 Towns Made Marion:  A 6% ABV marionberry cider.  I’m pretty sure I had this one awhile back, but 2 Towns makes a number of berry ciders, so I’m not 100%.  This one had lots of foam due to the Nitro tap.  Deep berry color and a tart berry scent.  Very smooth.  Semi-sweet.  I also picked up some boysenberry flavor in addition to the marionberry for whatever reason.  Mild tartness.  I found this a bit predictable, although I haven’t ever been too amazed by a berry cider; often they are quite juice-like.

They came around with samples of some 2 Towns ciders, which was quite nice.  Aaron Sarnoff, a co-founder and cider guru at 2 Towns whom I met at Cider Summit, was there with another co-worker.  It wasn’t very crowded (probably due to the rain), so Aaron chat with us all at the cool kids table for awhile.  I got a sweet 2 Towns pint glass!  My husband has been enjoying drinking his beer from it lol.  I’m not a huge fan of cider in a pint glass (its a bit too large for starters), but its a great collectible.

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On my way out I picked up a bottle of Cider Riot! 1763 (made from cider apples).  Earlier in the afternoon I had stopped at Full Throttle Bottles and got Traditions Ciderworks Bourbon Barrel 2012 (my favorite from Cider Summit…I’m very happy Erika from Full Throttle got some for me) and Carlton Cyderworks Slake (whiskey barrel aged).  I haven’t tried any ciders from Cider Riot or Carlton Cyderworks, and these seemed like good starting points as I love barrel aged cider!  Three bottles of cider added to my collection that I definitely didn’t need.  Its very tough to not buy cider that sounds amazing though.

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This concludes the Washington Cider Week festivities.  However, stay tuned for more trip reports.  I have posts in work for another trip I made to the Schilling Cider House, and to mix it up a bit, Aesir Meadery in Everett WA.

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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Schilling Cider House – Cider Tasting Notes

This is Part 2 of a trip report on the Schilling Cider House, covering the 18 ciders I tasted (of the 32 on tap).  Pretty impressive, right?  See Part 1 here, which covered the Cider House itself.  I tried to take a photo of each cider, but some of them didn’t turn out, so I’ve only included photos of some of the ciders with interesting hues.  Thankfully though, I took notes!  I had two flights of six ciders (3oz) each, and six tastes from our bartender.

Schilling’s Ciders

Chaider, 6.5% ABV, Semi-Sweet:
This is one of their most popular ciders, and is available bottled (22oz) in the winter.  It smelled of cinnamon and definitely had a Chai tea-like taste.  Definitely not my thing, but it was my husband’s favorite taste of the day.

Chaider (Nitro), 6.5% ABV, Semi-Sweet:
This is the same cider as above except on Nitro, which added some additional smoothness.  It was quite foamy from the tap from the nitrogenation, and needed a couple minutes to calm down.

Ginger, 6.5% ABV, Semi-Dry (noted Semi-Sweet):
I’m not a ginger fan, but this was handed to me, so I tried it!  It had a much milder initial ginger taste than smell, but had more of a ginger aftertaste.  I think Ginger fans would really like this one.  Its not too overwhelming with Ginger.

Hopped, 6.5% ABV, Semi-Dry:
Hopped ciders aren’t my thing, but my husband wanted this, and thought it was pretty decent.  I had one sip and it is definitely hoppy, but way less than Reverend Nat’s Envy / Hopland #5.  Otherwise I can’t really comment on it.

Sriracha Lime, 6.7% ABV, Semi-Dry (noted Dry):
This cider seemed intriguing, I like Sriracha & Lime, and there was some chatter online of folks liking it, so why not?  It definitely smelled of Sriracha & Lime, but all I picked up in the taste was the Sriracha (no Lime).  Definitely spicy!  I don’t think I like spicy ciders.  I can tolerate spicy food, but the spiciness seemed to overwhelm the cider here.  I think this would have been better to do with a sweet citrus/lime cider with only a hint of Sriracha.

(I’ve also previously tried Schilling Oak Aged, Gold, & Grapefruit)

Other Ciders

101 Ciderhouse Cactus Red, 6.5% ABV, Los Angeles CA, Dry:
I tried this on a whim as it sounded unique/odd.  I picked up a citrus scent and it had a lovely pink color, similar to grapefruit juice.  It was definitely dry, and very very tart!  I unfortunately couldn’t take more than two sips of this one.

Elemental Cherry, 6.5% ABV, Woodinville WA, Semi-Dry:
Pretty rosé color.  Smelled like cherries.  However, I barely picked up any cherry flavor when tasting it.  Folks who like drier ciders but want a fruity cider may like this, as many fruit infused ciders tend to be sweeter.

Finnriver Habenero, 6.9% ABV, Chimacum WA, Semi-Sweet:
Another cider handed to me from the bartender, who was trying it for the first time as they just tapped it.  It didn’t smell spicy, but it was!  The bite hit my sinuses about 10 seconds after drinking it.  Again, the spice was overwhelming.  I wasn’t a fan, but my husband didn’t mind it.

Finnriver Lavender Black Currant (Nitro), 6.5% ABV, Chimacum WA, Sweet:
Very dark & vibrant hue.  Extra smooth taste (from the nitrogenation).  I’ve tried their Black Currant flavor, and I honestly couldn’t pick up the added Lavender in this one.  However, my husband did.  In addition to the black current, I picked up some cherry notes.  This was much better than the bottled Black Currant I had of their’s (which was also quite good).  I imagine tap + Nitro did it.  Excellent!

Finnriver Oak & Apple, 6.5% ABV, Chimacum WA, Semi-Dry:
The bartender said this was very similar to Schilling’s Oak Aged (which was surprisingly absent from the tap list).  I’m a huge fan of barrel aged ciders, so I was anxious to try it.  This is a milder barrel aged cider, and quite tasty.  I think I give the slight edge to Schilling’s Oak Aged though.  And, overall, my favorite barrel aged ciders so far are Woodchuck Winter Chill (which also has some vanilla flavor) and Thistly Cross Whisky Cask (very smooth), both of which are significantly sweeter than Schilling’s & Finnriver’s oak aged selections, but I do enjoy Schilling Oak Aged.  Yum!

Locust Sweet & Dark Cherry, 6.5% ABV, Woodinville WA, Semi-Sweet:
For a cherry cider, I was expecting more flavor, but it was quite mild, and there was little cherry scent or flavor.  This has a sweeter start and more tart finish.  This was pretty similar to the Elemental Cherry (which also had a mild cherry flavor), except a bit sweeter.

Moonlight Meadery How do you Like them Little Apples?, 6.0% ABV, Londonderry NH, Sweet:
Hard cider blended with honey & brown sugar, fermented, then barrel aged (draft only release).  Honey smell (duh).  Quite sweet.  Very smooth.  Tastes like it would be a higher ABV than it is (but I wouldn’t call the taste boozy).  I wouldn’t have guessed it was barrel aged.  Awesome!

Portland Cider Passion Fruit, 6.5% ABV, Portland OR, Semi-Sweet:
I was excited to try this one.  The passion fruit smell was amazing!  However, the passion fruit taste was quite mild, and it had a bit of a tart & bitter finish, which I wasn’t expecting.  It is however a refreshing and easy-drinking cider.

Portland Cider Pearfect Perry, 6.5% ABV, Portland OR, Semi-Dry (noted Semi-Sweet):
This was a very mild Perry; I could barely pick up any pear flavor.  It was however pretty tasty and smooth.

Reverend Nat’s Newtown Pippin, 6.9% ABV, Portland OR, Semi-Dry:
One of Rev Nat’s regular release ciders.  This was a mild & crisp cider which I found to have a fairly bitter finish.  Pretty boring for my tastes.

Viuda de Angelon Sidra Brut, 6.5% ABV, Spain, Dry:
A refreshing & smooth Spanish cider.  I can’t really put the flavor into words, but it is one of those ciders which has a flavor profile which seems sweeter than it really is.  It was Schilling’s most expensive offering by the way, at $11/pint, but only $2 for a 3oz taste.  This makes me want to try more Spanish ciders!

Wandering Aengus Wanderlust, 6.5%, Salem OR, Dry (noted Semi-Dry):
Fairly plain, and I found it tart & bitter.  Taste profile was in-line with the two Wandering Aengus and two Anthem (also made by them) ciders I’ve tried.  Also fairly boring for my tastes.

Whitewood Summer Switchel, 4.6% ABV, Olympia WA, Semi-Sweet:
This is a mild & refreshing cider with a hint of ginger.  The bartender said he picks up almost a salty flavor, which after hearing that, I agreed somewhat.

Photos

cactus
101 Ciderhouse Cactus Red

elemental cherry
Elemental Cherry

Finnriver Lavendar Black Currant
Finnriver Lavender Black Currant

Locust cherry
Locust Cherry

mead
Moonlight Meadery How do you like them Little Apples

Closing Notes

My favorites from this tasting were the Moonlight Meadery “How do you Like them Little Apples?”, Finnriver Oak & Apple, Finnriver Lavender Black Currant, and Viuda de Angelon Sidra Brut.  Quite an interesting combination, right?

I also learned that in addition to hopped, ginger, and overly dry ciders, I definitely don’t like spicy ciders!

I look forward to returning to the Schilling Cider House to try more ciders, as their selections change all the time.  Stay tuned for reviews of the five ciders I picked up from their bottle shop (shown in Part 1).