Cider Summit Seattle 2019 Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is post 2/2 on Cider Summit Seattle 2019, with tasting notes on 21 ciders.  Post 1/2 covered the event.

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The Tasting Notes

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2 Towns Ciderhouse (Corvallis OR) Kingston Black – A draft-only special release.  Semi-dry, tannic, lower acid, with a woody earthy flavor.

Alpenfire Cider (Port Townsend WA) Kingston Black – A small batch bottled release.  Semi-dry, with a lighter flavor than expected for a KB single varietal, with notes of citrus and wood, and mild tannins.

Archibald James (Leavenworth WA) Smash Apple – Their sweeter (1.5% residual sugar) flagship canned/bottled offering.  Semi-dry and very apple forward.  High level of flavor for the lower sweetness.

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Bauman’s Cider (Gervais OR) Kir Royale – A black currant and cherry barrel aged cider.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry, with bold cherry and oak flavor.

Bembel with Care (Germany) Apfelwein Pure – A flagship canned release.  Dry to semi-dry.  Yeast-forward, and reminiscent of beer.

Chatter Creek Cider (Woodinville WA) Kingston Black – A special bottled released.  Dry and acidic, with citrus and wood notes, but less complexity.

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Cider Riot (Porland OR) Kingston Black – A special bottled release.  On the sweeter side of dry.  Rich bitter tannic flavor with caramel, leather, and orange.

Herb’s Cider (Bellingham WA) Forte – A keeved golden russet single varietal (which is unique as typically only French bittersweet apple juice is keeved), Cognac barrel aged.  Semi-dry but tastes even sweeter, smooth, and apple-forward with hints of tropical fruit.

Herb’s Cider (Bellingham WA) Fruit Challenge – A one-off Foeder aged bittersweet plum jerkum.  Dry but fruity, more berry than plum (but I’ve never been able to pick out plum flavor in a cider).

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Manchester Road Cider (Chelan WA) Apple Sox Red – A flagship bottled offering with beets added for color.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Apple forward and non-specifically fruity.

Newtopia Cyder (San Diego CA) Passionate Mishap – A draft-only cider with passionfruit.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet, with notes of tart passionfruit and some citrus.

One Tree Cider (Spokane WA) Passionfruit Guava – A one-off fruit cider challenge entry.  Semi-sweet to sweet, and full flavored, with more passionfruit than guava.

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Pear UP (East Wenatchee WA) Peargria II – Take two on a one-off margarita-inspired perry (from 100% pears, no apples) for the fruit cider challenge.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet, with notes of lime, pear, and other fruit.

Pierre Huet (France) Calvados This apple brandy is aged 5-10 years, and imported by French Cider Inc.  I’m not big on spirits, especially served neat, so I’ll defer to my husband, who loved it.  I can however say it was smooth for the high ABV.  However, I think I’ll stick to cider and Pommeau.

Portland Cider (Portland OR) Peach Berry – A new canned release.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  More generally fruity than specific peach & berry, reminiscent of their Sangria, but slightly drier and less complex.  Speaking of their Sangria, I heard it will be going to draft-only for awhile due to lower sales, which is sad as its my favorite from them.

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Reverend Nat’s (Portland OR) Saint Citron – A new canned release.  Semi-dry and citrus-forward, primarily grapefruit, with a hint of ginger.

Seattle Cider Company (Seattle WA) Strawberry Guava – A limited release with strawberries and guava.  Dry, with mild fruitiness, but low flavor intensity.

Soundbite Cider (Everett WA) Two Plums Up – A limited release with plums.  Semi-dry and fruity, more strawberry-rhubarb than plum I thought.

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Union Hill Cider (East Wenatchee WA) Pinkheart – A blend with Red Fleshed, Cripps Pink, and Dabinett apples.  Semi-dry, with subtle fruity citrus flavor.

Union Hill Cider (East Wenatchee WA) Hard Harvest – A blend with Cripps Pink, Dabinett, Porters Perfection, Kingston Black, and Snowdrift Crab apples.  Dry to semi-dry, with subtle earthy citrus flavor.

Wildcraft Cider Works (Eugene OR) Rome Beauty – A single varietal of Rome Beauty apples.  Measurably dry but it tastes sweeter, apple-forward (cooked) and non-specifically fruity, and completely clean.  I liked the level of flavor (high) vs. sweetness (low).

I also had some 2 Towns Pommeau and Eden Heirloom Blend Ice Cider, because we still had tickets left, and they are awesome.

In Summary

It was impossible to taste all the ciders at the event, or even one from each producer, so I’d also like to share previous tasting notes and reviews of ciders from the other cideries I didn’t get to highlight:  Alter EgoAnthemAvid (previously Atlas)Bad Granny, Brownrigg, Browar Polska Imports (PossmannRuwet), Capitol Cider, Caple Road, d’s WickedDouble MountainDragon’s HeadEaglemountEdenFinnriver, Greenwood, Idun, Independent CiderInclineJester & Judge, J. Seeds, Liberty, Locust, Longdrop, MiloslawskiSamuel Smiths, Schilling, Sea Cider, Snowdrift, Swift, Tieton, Ulee’s, Virtue, Wandering Aengus, and Washington Gold.

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My favorites were Schilling Guava Mint (which I actually tried the night before but I’ll count as it was made for this event), Herb’s Forte, 2 Towns Kingston Black, and Alpenfire Kingston Black.  Two of those were draft only, but I picked up bottles of the other two.  Speaking of Kingston Black, single varietals from KB were popular, with at least 5 cideries offering them.

This event is always the highlight of Washington Cider Week, and the biggest and best cider event of the year in Western Washington.

Preview of Washington Cider Week 2019

I was recently invited to a preview of Washington Cider Week for media and industry folks.  The 9th annual Washington Cider Week is September 5th-15th 2019, and will include numerous cider events, with Cider Summit Seattle being a highlight (see my posts here).  The preview event was hosted by the NW Cider Association, and held in the orchard at Dragon’s Head Cider on Vashon Island in WA.

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It was a sweet invite-only event, and I enjoyed the excuse to take a half day off work and taste cider with my husband from about a dozen cideries, and chat with cidery reps.  New for this year they had a panel discussion, hosted by Erin James (of CiderCraft and Sip NW magazines), featuring Emily Ritchie (the Director of NW Cider) and folks from PCC, Zeek’s pizza, and Teku Tavern, who shared about the role of cider in their businesses.

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Erin James shared some interesting facts, like that cider grew 10 fold in 10 years (faster than craft beer did), 6-8% of beer sales in WA are cider (vs. 1-3% in most other states), and 1/3 of NW cideries are orchard-based (like Dragon’s Head).

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NW Cider also showed off their new interactive map of NW cideries, categorized the list of tasting options by United States Association of Cidermakers cider styles, and shared about the Certified Cider Professional program.

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They had some nice swag too – a bottle tote bag, brochures, keychain bottle opener, and a bottle stopper (as the NW Cider association is pushing the idea of bars & restaurants offering cider from bottle pours, not just kegs, especially as many of the smaller heritage cideries don’t keg their ciders).

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Now, on to the cider!

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2 Towns (Corvallis OR) Suns Out Saison (5.6%):  Their 2nd fruit seasonal release of the year, from dessert apples and peaches, fermented with Saison beer yeast, a re-release of the 2016 version (see my review here).  Semi-dry with notes of peach, citrus, yeast, and earth.  I learned their 3rd fruit seasonal will be Cosmic Currant, made with black currant and cranberry.  I was also told to be on the lookout for Marissimo later this year, a limited release marionberry barrel aged Pommeau.  A tasty summery cider with flavor but not to much sweetness.

Snowdrift (Wenatchee WA) Forefathers (7.5%):  A new draft-only release, from a combination of apples including both cider and dessert apple varieties.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, with notes of citrus, floral, and honey, and a hint of tannins.  Approachable.

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Pear UP (Wenatchee WA) Grapefruit:  A new canned release, a grapefruit perry (from 100% pears, no apples).  The grapefruit was stronger on the nose than the flavor.  Very refreshing, almost like a grapefruit soda, but only mid-level sweetness, and nearly still.  I wouldn’t have guessed it was perry.

Tieton (Yakima WA) Single Varietal Harrison:  A new release, bottled & kegged, a single varietal from Harrison bittersharp cider apples.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, with notes of citrus & honey.  I really enjoyed it, as its more approachable than a lot of other heritage ciders, being sweeter.  I was surprised with the lack of sharpness and/or bitterness.  Awesome.

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Finnriver (Port Townsend WA) Fire Barrel:  A whiskey barrel aged cider from cider apples.  I’ve tried this before (see here), but I think this is a newer vintage.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Super rich, with notes of smoke, oak, and orange.  I really enjoyed it, but prefer the original vintages (see here).

Finnriver (Port Townsend WA) Golden Russet:  Made from ‘russeted’ cider apples, primarily Golden Russet.  Dry to semi-dry, acidic, with notes of citrus and earth.  A bit nuanced for my tastes.

Bad Granny (Wenatchee WA) Reserve:  A new release using cider apples, and for the first time for them, methode champenoise, a traditional labor intensive method to make a naturally sparkling cider.  Dry to semi-dry.  Light fluffy texture with lots of bubbles.  Notes of sharp apple and citrus with hints of bitterness and tannins.  Also a bit nuanced for my tastes.

Bad Granny (Wenatchee WA) Honey Crisp:  A flagship offering, but per my notes I actually haven’t tried it.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, apple-forward, with a bit of honey flavor.  Nice.

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Herb’s (Bellingham WA) Blue Note:  Made from heirloom apples and blueberries, co-fermented (vs. being added in a secondary fermentation).  Fully dry.  Very light blueberry flavor.

Herb’s (Bellingham WA) Traditional Bittersharp:  Made from bittersharp & bittersweet cider apples.  Dry.  Sharp and rich.

Herb’s (Bellingham WA) Crescendo:  Made from Cox Orange Pippin apples.  Dry.  Lots of orange with a hint of floral notes.

I was impressed with all 3 selections from Herb’s as they had some awesome flavor profiles, but I wish they had a bit more sweetness.

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Nashi (Vashon WA) Idyllacres Bittersweet Cider:  Made from English & French bittersweet cider apples.  On the sweeter side of dry.  Tannic and complex.  Notes of apple pomace, orange, caramel, and leather.  Quite lovely.

Nashi (Vashon WA) Chojuro Asian Pear Perry:  Unique scent, of spice / black pepper.  However, the flavor profile was lemon and floral, with only a hint of pear.  Semi dry.  Perplexing.

You can tell what order I tasted these in, as I forgot to get photos of the last few…

Bauman’s (Portland OR) Dry:  Made from a variety of apples, including dessert and cider.  Dry, with notes of citrus & floral, and hints of bitterness & tannins.  A bit nuanced for my tastes.

Bauman’s (Portland OR) Orange Blossom:  Made with oranges and a hint of pineapple.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, tannic, with notes of orange.  Great.

Bauman’s (Portland OR) Loganberry:  Made with loganberries.  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Berry forward with mild tartness and hints of tannins.  I enjoyed the unexpected complexity.

Liberty (Spokane WA) Lafayette:  Made using French bittersweet cider apples and keeved, which creates a naturally sweet apple-forward flavorful cider.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Rich and tannic, with notes of bittersweet cider apple pomace and orange.  Awesome.

Dragon’s Head (Vashon WA) Heritage Rosé:  Made from Redfield and Mountain Rose red-fleshed apples.  Amazing fruity scent.  Semi-dry, with notes of strawberry and rhubarb.  Tasty, with more complexity than flavored rosé ciders.

Dragon’s Head (Vashon WA) Heritage:  Made from English and French cider apple varieties (previously named ‘Traditional’).  Dry to semi-dry.  Earthy, with sharp citrus heirloom apple flavor.  A bit nuanced for my tastes; I seem to remember the Traditional being sweeter.

Stay tuned for more posts on Washington Cider Week 2019 (especially Cider Summit Seattle) at Cider Says.

For those in WA, check out the WA cider week event calendar for Sept 5-15.

Also, for cider industry folks in the NW, save the date for the first-annual NW Cider Symposium, which has been announced for March 10th 2020 in Tacoma WA.

Cider Summit Seattle 2018 Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is post 2/2 on Cider Summit Seattle 2018, with tasting notes on 21 ciders.  Post 1/2 covered the event.  Sorry some of these photos aren’t that great, but this isn’t a photography blog…

The Tasting Notes

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2 Towns (Corvallis OR) Pommeau – I’ve had their Pommeau (cider + apple brandy) a number of times (see my full review here), and have a bottle in my “cellar”, but its probably my favorite U.S.-made Pommeau.  Both me and my husband didn’t want to pass up a sample.  Semi-sweet, rich, easy to drink despite the high ABV, and awesome as always.

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Angry Orchard (Walden, NY) Dear Brittany – This is one of the small batch ciders made at their Innovation Cider House, a French-style keeved cider.  Semi-dry, tart, and funky, with a hint of sourness, although I picked up more heirloom than bittersweet apple flavor.  As expected for a keeved cider, it was very apple-forward and flavorful in general for not being very sweet.

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Blue Mountain (Milton-Freewater, OR) Pete Limely – Semi-dry to dry with notes of tart citrus (especially lemon-lime).  This was a bit too dry and mildly flavored for me, but I liked the overall flavor notes.

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Brownrigg (Seattle WA) Rum Barrel Aged – This is apparently not a new cidery (I read they started in 2014), but this is my first time seeing them, and my first time trying their cider.  Dry.  Very mild flavor, slightly tart, with a rum finish.  I think I would have liked this better if it was a bit sweeter.

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Chelan Craft Cider (Chelan WA) Cider with Lemon – This is a new cidery, and my first time trying their cider.  Semi-dry, with lots of tart refreshing lemon flavor.  I liked it.  I’m curious how they will do in the market though, as their bottles were listed for $23 / 750ml [update – I was told that was a mistake and the real price is $15/bottle].  I couldn’t tell what type of apples they used – maybe dessert, maybe heirloom.  The price would be more in-line with heirloom, but still on the high end of what I see in stores.

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Cider Riot! (Portland OR) Everyday Passionfruit – Awesome tropical scent, on the drier side of semi-dry, but the passionfruit flavor was very mild and mostly on the finish, which was a bit of a let down.

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d’s Wicked (Kennewick WA) Tropical  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, tart, with notes of orange, pineapple, and passion fruit.  I liked how flavorful it was without being sweet.

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Herb’s Cider (Bellingham WA) Triplet Special Reserve French Oak Aged Semi-Dry – This is a new cidery, and my first time trying their cider.  Semi-dry to dry, thin bodied, super mild flavor intensity, with notes of heirloom apples and hints of oak.  This was a bit too mildly flavored for me.

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Hérout à Auvers (Normandy France) Pommeau de Normandie AOC – Imported by Beauchamp Imports (French Cider Inc.) – they have online sales too by the way.  This Pommeau is made from 3/4 apple cider and 1/4 Calvados (French apple brandy), then aged at least 14 months in oak barrels.  Semi-sweet, both rich/oaky/earthy and fruity (both my husband and I agreed on strawberry), clean (no funk or sourness), easy to drink for the higher ABV, and overall awesome.  I bought a bottle to take home, and think it was an awesome value at $40 / 750ml (as most local Pommeaux run $25 / 375ml).  Pommeau keeps very well by the way, and you can leave a bottle open for months and just have a bit at a time – I think this will be perfect at cellar temp in my cider fridge.  They also brought La Chouette Rosé, Kystin Opalyne, and Herout AOC Cotentin Extra-Brut, which I’ve previously sampled.

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Idun Cider (Seattle WA) Heirloom Dry – This is a new cidery, and my first time trying their cider.  They currently only have this single flagship release.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, medium bodied, very apple forward, but overall mild in flavor.  I didn’t really taste the heirloom apples (this is listed as having Gravenstein, Winesap, and Newtown Pippin), but I kinda liked it.

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Manoir du Parc (Normandy France) Authentic Rosé – Made from red-fleshed apples and pears.  Semi-sweet, lovely fluffy natural carbonation, and notes of strawberry, watermelon, and pear.  Very reminiscent of La Choute Rosé.  Awesome!

Manoir du Parc (Normandy France) Authentic Cidre – I also re-tried their flagship cidre.  On the drier side of semi-dry, funky and tannic, apple and yeast forward, with a hint of sourness.  My husband surprisingly liked this (usually he dislikes funk, like I dislike sourness).  I think it was because the cidermaker? (or at least some very knowledgeable French dude) was telling us all about it during the tasting.  That sort of experience is what makes me love Cider Summit.

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Miloslawski (Poland) Perry – Imported by Browar Polska Imports.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry, with a very mild canned pear flavor.  I surprisingly liked it.  I was expecting it to be super sweet, but it was a perfect sweetness level for me.

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Ole Swede (Tonasket, WA) Bada Bing! Cider – 90% apple and 10% cherries, co-fermented.  Semi-dry, tart, with a mild real cherry flavor.  They also have a Cherry Perry, which I thought I had tried, but I can’t find anything that I wrote about it, so I guess not!

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One Tree (Spokane WA) Tropical – Semi-sweet, full bodied, juice-like, with a very very similar flavor to Schilling’s Imperial Passionfruit that I tried the night before (as it was made using the same puree from Oregon Fruit Products), but with a hint of pineapple (which One Tree added in addition to the puree and apple juice).  I really enjoyed it, and think it would have been awesome to use it in a cocktail with rum.

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Pear UP (Wenatchee WA) Barrel Hoppin Pear – A barrel aged version of their hopped perry (100% pears, no apple).  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Smooth, mild flavor, with hints of pear, hops, and oak.  I usually don’t go for the mild flavored ones, but that worked well for this one, as hops isn’t something you want to go too overboard with.

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Possmann (Germany) Pure Cider Rosé Black Currant – Imported by Browar Polska Imports.  Semi-sweet with a light fruity flavor, although I couldn’t specifically identify black currant.  I surprisingly liked this, despite the commercialness.

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Ruwet (Belgium) Cidre – Imported by Browar Polska Imports.  Semi-dry, mild overall flavor with apple & citrus.  It tasted a bit commercial to me though, and I would have liked more flavor intensity.  I think this is my first Belgium cider, very cool.

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Schilling (Auburn, WA) Red Wine Barrel Aged Pommeau (paired with chocolate) –  Semi-dry, smells of red wine barrel, but for me the flavor was mostly apple-flavored alcohol burn.  A bit too boozy for my liking.  My husband was a bigger fan.  They also have this on tap at Schilling Cider House right now.

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Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) Red Wine Barrel Berry – On the drier side of semi-dry,  super mild, with hints of berry, oak, and botanicals, and a red wine finish.  Characteristically Seattle Cider.  Surprisingly complex, but for some reason I didn’t really like it, although I couldn’t say why.

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Tieton Ciderworks (Yakima, WA) Oak Barrel Aged Cider Summit Collaboration – Semi-dry, higher carbonation, tart, super mild smooth citrus & oak flavor.

In Summary

It was impossible to taste all the ciders at the event (or even one from each producer), so I’d also like to share previous tasting notes and reviews of ciders from the other cideries I didn’t get to highlight:  Alter Ego, AnthemAvid (previously Atlas), Bad GrannyChatter CreekDouble MountainDragon’s HeadEaglemount, Eden, ElementalFinnriverHi-WheelInclineJester & JudgeJ. Seeds, LibertyLocust, Longdrop, Louis RaisonMaeloc, MontanaMoonlight MeaderyPortlandReverend Nat’sSamuel SmithsSea CiderSnowdriftSteelhead, SwiftWandering Aengus, Washington GoldWildCraft, and Worley’s

My favorites of the day were Herout Pommeau, 2 Towns Pommeau, One Tree Tropical, d’s Tropical, and Manoir du Parc Authentic Rosé.

This event is always the highlight of Washington Cider Week, and the biggest and best cider event of the year in the Seattle area!

Centre Ring Reserve Pear

Review of Centre Ring Reserve Pear, made by Pear UP (previously NV Cider, Neigel Vintners).  I tried this perry at an event last year (see here).  I’ve also had Pear UP’s Pear Essentials, Half Past PrudentCherry PerryWatermelon PerryWatermelon Raspberry PerryRaspberry PerryPearjito ColadaPearfect Pie, and Pineapple Pear.

Note that in the U.S., “perry” is fermented pear juice, and “pear cider” is a fermented apple juice-based cider with pear juice for flavor.  However, elsewhere (such as in the UK), they don’t really do pear-flavored apple cider, and use “perry” only for the fermented juice of specialty perry pear varieties, and “pear cider” is for fermented common (dessert) pear juice.

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Cider:  Reserve Pear
Cidery:  Centre Ring (whose perry & cider are made by Pear UP)
Cidery Location:  Wenatchee WA
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft perry

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Availability:  very limited, likely only in WA

Cider Description:  After World War II, Kevin and Mark’s grandfather planted a small pear orchard in the Wenatchee Valley. Upon taking over the family orchard, they discovered that the native pear varieties provided a uniquely light and flavorful finish. Clean and honest flavors can be found throughout all their ciders, bringing simple gestures from the complex art of cider making without the weight of syrupy sugars. Join them in drinking the award-winning spoils of their harvest and the flavor of tradition.

Cidery Description:  Centre Ring expands outside selling spirits, wines, and craft beverages. We also represent select artisan foods, products, and reserves in addition to our alcohol selections.  We want to bring the experience of the homemade and personal touch of these products to everyone in the area.  We are including local cheese makers, bakers, jam & jellies, pickles, jerky, and much more from our local communities.  The key to building out your brand to reach consumers is to know what they are looking for. We study and follow industry trends and practices to help target the widest audience possible.  Each individual product has its own small directions that make them unique. However, we are beginning to see the lines between them blur as consumers are looking for new and different tastes to suit their needs

Price:  $12
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  a WA Cider Week 2017 preview event (see here)

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First Impression:  Clear hue with a hint of pink.  Very low carbonation with some foam.  Smells of pear with a hint of fruitiness.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Hints of sourness.  No bitterness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of canned & dried pear and pear juice, with hints of strawberry and vinegar.  Quick finish.  Moderate pear flavor.  Low to moderate complexity.  Low overall flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked this perry when I tried it previously.  However, due to the hint of vinegar, this time I wasn’t a fan.  I believe this was a bad batch; unfortunately this happens sometimes.

Most Similar to:  a drier more complex version of Pear UP’s Pear Essentials perry

Closing Notes:  Centre Ring appears to be an interesting brand, bringing together various local producers of all sorts of products.  As of this post, they have this perry as well as a cider from Pear UP, plus beer, wine, spirits, and lots more made by other producers.

Have you tried perry?  What did you think?

Pear Up Pearjito Colada

Review of Pear Up’s Pearjito Colada.  I previously tried this (see here), plus their Pear Essentials, Half Past PrudentCherry PerryWatermelon PerryWatermelon Raspberry PerryRaspberry PerryPearjito ColadaPearfect Pie, and Pineapple Pear.

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Cider:  Pearjito Colada
Cidery:  Pear Up (formerly NV Cider)
Cidery Location:  East Wenatchee WA
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  500ml green Aluminum bottles (and 4-packs of glass bottles, and draft)
Style:  American craft perry (from dessert pears, no apples) with coconut and spearmint

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Availability:  Washington and Oregon; see here.

Cider Description:  (none given; this is one of their newer varieties, and isn’t listed on the website)

Cidery Description:  Neigel Vintners is a family affair.  Our cider company is run on our family property.  Some of the first pears we press each year come off of remnants of the first pears planted by the family.  Over 100 years old, these trees have had their heart-wood rot out and survived. There are several places a person can reach through the center of the tree with a hand. These trees have been a staple of the property for generations.

Price:  $6
Where Bought:  a gift shop in Leavenworth WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing, as I found a large display of most of their perries.  I previously tried it at a tasting event (see here)

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue with a hint of pink.  Low carbonation.  Smells of coconut and mint.

Tasting Notes:  One the drier side of semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of canned pear, coconut flavor, and mint.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate pear flavor and flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, I enjoyed the batch I tried previously better, as the coconut flavor seemed more real & intense, and it had nearly no noticeable mint.

Most Similar to:  Nothing I’ve tried.  However, I’ve actually had a few ciders with mint – Portland Cider Co. Mojito, Jester & Judge Columbia Belle, and 101 Cider House Piña Menta.  I’ve also had a couple ciders with coconut – One Tree Pina Colada and Reverend Nat’s The Passion.

Closing Notes:  This would be even better in summer, but it is tasty and easy to drink anytime.

Have you tried Pear Up Pearjito Colada?  What did you think?

Cider Summit Seattle 2017 Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is post 2/2 on Cider Summit Seattle 2017, with tasting notes on 21 ciders.  Post 1/2 covered the event (see here).

The Tasting Notes

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Alpenfire (Port Townsend WA) – Although I had previously tried the three ciders they were pouring (see my previous reviews here), I’m including Alpenfire here as they were debuting their new branding and future new cider releases.  They have a new logo, bottle labels, and website.  The future new cider releases include a rosé Pommeau, “Tempest” New England style, 3 Pommes (apple/pear/quince), a new release of Smoke (my all time favorite cider, which hasn’t been out for a couple years), a Foxwhelp apple single varietal, and even a Pommeau with an apple grown in the bottle (which will only be for the initial members of their new cider club).  Sounds like they have been busy!

Alpenfire did however have a cask-aged version of their Pirate’s Plank which I had a sip of.  It seemed a tad sweeter (dry not bone dry) and a bit more oaky than I remembered previously.

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Alter Ego (Portland OR) The Brute (6.5% ABV) – This was their first time at Cider Summit, although they were founded in 2014.  The Brute is one of their two flagship ciders; the other is The Guardian Angel, a blueberry-pomegranate cider (see my tasting notes here).  Semi-dry, slightly apple-forward, tart, crisp, and easy to drink, but overall a bit boring as the flavor intensity was low, as is common with a drier cider from dessert apple varieties (which is why most ciders from dessert apples are sweeter and/or flavored).

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Anthem (Salem OR) Rye Barrel Aged Cider (8.5% ABV) – Anthem is part of Wandering Aengus.  This is a draft-only release, aged in Rye whiskey barrels.  Semi-dry to dry and sharp, with moderate whiskey flavor and a hint of oak.

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Bad Granny (Chelan WA) Rainier Cherry – They launched a little over a year ago and are new to Cider Summit.  Rainier Cherry is a draft-only release using local Rainier cherries, although they sell their Original green apple cider in cans.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry (I was told 9 grams sugar / 12oz), fuller bodied, moderate intensity real cherry flavor.

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Cider Riot (Portland OR) Everyday Semi-Dry (6.0% ABV) – I believe this was their first time at Cider Summit Seattle.  This cider is also available in cans.  Semi-dry to dry, with a hint of sourness, but very low flavor intensity and fairly blah.

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d’s Wicked (Kennewick WA) Bare Naked (6.7% ABV) – This is a new release, and currently draft-only.  It is a less sweet and non-spiced version of their flagship Baked Apple cider.  Semi-dry and flavorful, with unfiltered apple juice notes and a hint of honey flavor.

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Eden Specialty Ciders (Newport VT) Heirloom Blend Ice Cider (10.0% ABV) – I have tried this special treat previously, but my husband ended up getting a couple pours, burning the rest of his tickets, as it is amazing and a great value to get pours of at an event.  Ice cider is made using juice which has been frozen, concentrating the natural sugars and flavors, resulting in a sweet full-bodied intensely flavorful dessert cider.  See my previous review here, and my review of the brandy barrel-aged version of this cider here (which is my all time favorite ice cider).

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French Cider Inc. – I tried three French ciders imported by French Cider Inc. / Beauchamp Imports Inc.  They are Seattle based and fairly new to the market (I hadn’t even heard of them before I was looking over the Cider Summit list!), and thus this was their first time at Cider Summit.  French Cider’s focus is on importing French cidre (apple cider), poire (French perry, which is made from pears, not apples), and Calvados (French apple brandy).  The owner Joan Harkins (who I chatted with) speaks French and lives French culture.  She has hand-selected each variety in their collection after meeting with the cidermakers.  I hadn’t previously been aware of any of their selection being available in the U.S.  I found all three selections to likely be friendly to an unfamiliar palette, as they were all clean or fairly clean (no to low funk) and no sourness, lining up more with the style of the Brittany France ciders I’ve had more than the Normany France ciders I’ve had (although it appears all three were made in or near Normandy).  French Cider’s primary focus is on supplying shops and restaurants, but they also offer local pickup (appointment only) in Seattle, and soon, will ship.  Their website is amazingly informative, and they had a helpful handout for each of the three ciders (see below).  They are posting a photo blog featuring the French apple harvest season, which is currently underway (see their Facebook page).  Also, here is a recent article on the company from Seattle Dining.

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La Chouette (Mont-Saint-Michel Bay France) Cidre Demi-Sec (4.5% ABV) – This cider was produced in an area in between the Normandy and Brittany regions in France, from cider apples.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Lower carbonation and tannins than the other two I tried.  Clean (no funk).  Retails for $5-6 / 330ml bottle.

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Lefevre (Berville Normandy France) Cidre Brut (5.9% ABV) – This cider was produced just outside of Paris, by a 5th generation cidermaker, with cider apples.  The scent was the most complex of the three I tried.  Semi-dry.  Citrus in addition to apple notes, and more.  A hint of funk.  Low to moderate tannins.  French Cider’s website has an interview with the cidermaker, Eric Lefevre.  Retails for $5-6 / 330ml bottle.

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Pierre Huet (Cambremer Normandy France) Cidre Bouche Brut (4.5% ABV) – This cider underwent secondary fermentation in the bottle and was made with 7 or 8 varieties of cider apples by a 5th generation cidermaker.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Clean (no funk).  Low tannins.  Flavorful, apple forward, and easy to drink.  French Cider’s website has an article on their visit to Pierre Huet as well as an interview with the cidermaker, François-Xavier Huet.  Retails for $13-18 / 750ml bottle.

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Liberty Cider (Spokane WA) Spokane Scrumpy (6.4% ABV) – This cider was released in the Spring, and made with community harvested apples (of mostly unknown types, from dessert apples to crab apples) and wild yeast fermented.  $1 of each bottle sale goes to the Spokane Second Harvest food bank.  See this article.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry (probably their sweetest cider), buttery, and complex.  I couldn’t really put my finger on the flavor profile with the sample size and time frame, so I’d be interested in giving a full bottle a try.

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Louis Raison (Le Theil-sur-Huisne France) Organic Dry (4.5% ABV) – This cidery is brand new to the U.S., and first launched here in Seattle.  They will have this cider on draft to start in Washington and Oregon, and eventually increase up to three bottled varieties in 2018 (adding Rouge Delice – made from red fleshed apples, and Original Crisp).  See here for more info on their launch.  Organic Dry is made in France from certified Organic bittersweet cider apples grown on co-op farms.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Apple and yeast forward and easy to drink.  I look forward to this being available in bottles as it sounds like it’ll be fairly affordable to keep around as an everyday cider.

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Mission Trail (Bradley CA) Plum Jerkum (6.5% ABV) – They have been around since 2014, but are new to the Seattle market and Cider Summit.  Although Mission Trail makes ciders and perries, they are best known for their other fruit wines, and specifically, jerkum (which is fermented stone fruit juice; the term originated just for plums, but has more recently been used to encompass all stone fruits).  They were actually only pouring jerkums at this cider event.  In this case it was 100% plum juice from 14 red-fleshed varieties.  The Plum Jerkum was semi-sweet to semi-dry, tart, with a moderately intense fruity berry flavor (I didn’t really pick up the prune/plum).

Mission Trail (Bradley CA) Goldmine Nectarine (6.0% ABV) – This is another jerkum, with 100% nectarine juice, barrel aged.  Semi-dry, quite tart, with pure nectarine flavor.  I didn’t pick up any barrel influence, but often it isn’t obvious.  I also recently tried their Peach Coast (see here), a peach wine / jerkum, which was my favorite of the three.

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Montana Ciderworks (Darby MT) Small Batch Dolgo (5.5% ABV) – This is a single varietal from the Dolgo crabapple, oak aged, part of their Small Batch series.  Semi-sweet, tangy, fruity, and apple-forward.

Random note:  I got some insight into labeling special releases.  In this case, “Dolgo” was stamped on, making it look handwritten with less effort.  Very cool.  However, many small batch special releases do have actual handwritten labels, like this one.  Getting a label approved by the TTB is a time consuming process, so often cideries have a general label they use for multiple small batches.

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Ole Swede (Tonasket WA) Mulberry & Friends – It was the cidery’s first time at Cider Summit, and they were founded last year.  This is a new cider release made with eight different types of berries and currants (mulberry, blackberry, raspberry, elderberry, blueberry, gooseberry, black currant, and golden currant).  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, smooth, low tartness & acidity, with a light real berry flavor.

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One Tree (Spokane WA) Pina Colada – This is a new draft-only release, part of the fruit cider challenge (and it turned out to be the winner – 2nd year in a row for One Tree – congrats!).  Sweet, very full flavored, with a bit more coconut than pineapple.  I loved the flavor of this (it reminded me a bit of Pear Up’s Pearjito Colada with the coconut, which hasn’t been used much in cider), but it would be a bit sweet to have much of.

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Pear Up (Wenatchee  WA) Pineapple Pear – This was their fruit cider challenge entry, a one-off draft only release.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, low flavor intensity, with the flavor balanced between pear & pineapple.  They weren’t serving it through the pineapple, but it was a cool photo op nonetheless.

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Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) New England Style (9.5% ABV) – This is a seasonal release which appears to have not been released for a few years, possibly draft-only.  It was made in the New England style, typically characterized as a high ABV cider with brown sugar and raisins added.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry, sharp & acidic, with caramel notes and a boozy finish.

Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) 2015 Washington Heirloom (7.0% ABV) – This is part of their Harvest series, made with heirloom apple varieties, and also available in bottles.  Semi-dry, herbal scent, sharp, with citrus, floral, and herbal notes.

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Swift (Portland OR) Pineapple Hop (6.7% ABV) – They have been around since 2014, but it was their first time at Cider Summit Seattle.  Semi-dry, balanced flavor between the pineapple & hops with only hints of bitterness, but overall the flavor intensity was low.

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Washington Gold (Chelan WA) Northwest Raspberry (5.5% ABV) – This is a brand new small batch canned release.  Semi-sweet to sweet, with intense real raspberry flavor.

It was impossible to taste all the ciders at the event (or even one from each producer), so I’d also like to share previous tasting notes and reviews on some of the producers I didn’t get to highlight:  101 Cider House, 2 TownsAspall, Atlas, Bull Run, Chatter Creek, Double Mountain, Dragon’s Head, Dunkertons, Eaglemount, E.Z. Orchards, Finnriver, Greenwood, Hi-Wheel, Incline, Jester & Judge, J. Seeds, Le Brun, Locust, Maeloc, Manoir du Parc, Methow Valley, Moonlight Meadery, New West, North IdahoNumber 6 Cider, Reverend Nat’s, Portland, Rambling Route, Samuel Smiths, Schilling, Sea Cider, Snowdrift, Sonoma, Spire Mountain, Steelhead, Summit, Tieton, Ulee’s, Wandering Aengus, WildCraft, and Worley’s

In Summary

My Favorite Ciders – Of the ones I tasted at the event, my favorites were the 4 French ciders, some of the sweeter ciders that were very flavorful (such as One Tree’s Pina Colada and WA Gold Cider’s Raspberry), Montana Cider’s Dolgo, and Liberty’s Spokane Scrumpy.

Other Interesting Selections – There were also some interesting beverages I didn’t try, such as Schilling’s guava barrel-aged sour, a cocktail from Incline with gin and their Compass Rose cider, apple whiskey from J. Seeds, a Cider Summit themed cider from Finnriver which has been available at all four Cider Summit events this year (see here), 101 Ciderhouse’s Black Dog with activated charcoal (see here), and Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry with ghost peppers (see here).

Tasting Notes from NW Cider’s Preview of WA Cider Week 2017

I was recently invited to a Washington Cider Week preview for media and buyers.  The 7th annual Washington Cider Week is September 7th-17th 2017, and will include numerous cider events, with Cider Summit Seattle being a main highlight.  This preview event was hosted by the NW Cider Association, and held midday on a Tuesday at Capitol Cider in Seattle.

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It was a pretty sweet invite-only event, and I enjoyed the excuse to take a half day off work!  My husband even joined me; it was nice to have a driver, as there were eleven PNW cidery representatives pouring samples.  Even though there weren’t many new-to-me ciders, it was a great opportunity to get some face time with the pourers, which often isn’t possible at the larger events.

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<view of part of Capitol Cider’s basement event space>

Alpenfire Cider (Port Townsend WA):  I’ve tried most of their lineup, which includes many favorites, but my husband requested a sample of Glow.  It is one of their sweeter options, made from rare red-fleshed apples.  It was a good choice as they rarely pour it at events.  Awesome as always, semi-sweet, and crazy fruity flavorful without any additives.

Bad Granny (Chelan WA):  This was my first time seeing them at an event (the cidery is less than a year old).  I learned that they are associated with Karma Vineyards, one of the few producers of Methode Champenoise wine in the state.  The cidery is a combination of their MC wine experience and their apple orchard family roots.  I had tried their flagship Green Apple cider on draft previously (it is also sold in cans), which is a great simple semi-sweet cider option.  They also brought their currently draft-only black currant cider, which I found to have only a very mild flavor, but overall was easy to drink, semi-dry to semi-sweet, with a fuller body than expected.  I learned of their plans to release some specialty ciders in large format bottles, such as one from red-fleshed apples and one from Dabinett traditional cider apples.

Dragon’s Head (Vashon Island WA):  They just released this year’s vintage of Kingston Black single varietal cider (which I tried last year).  However, I decided to go for the Traditional cider, which is my favorite from them – a semi-dry cider with complex rich bittersweet cider apple flavor.  I also sampled the Perry, as I wanted to compare it to the Methode Champenoise version I tried recently; I enjoyed this regular version better as it was sweeter (almost semi-sweet), and more flavorful / fruitier.  Sometimes I find that a very high carbonation can impede a cider tasting for me as it makes a cider seem every drier and more acidic than it really is.

Finnriver (Chimacum WA):  I tried their newish Cider Summit collaboration cider (poured at all four Cider Summit events in 2017 – Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, and next, Seattle), called “Summit Saison”.  It is made with organic apples, Saison yeast, dried fruit such as apricots, and spices (which oddly enough included peppercorns).  I found it hazy, semi-dry to semi-sweet, with citrus & stone fruit notes with a hint of peppercorn on the finish.  I’m not a fan of pepper, even in food, so I wasn’t really sure what to make of it.  My husband however was a fan.

Liberty Ciderworks (Spokane WA):  This was a great opportunity to have a side-by-side tasting of their English-Style and Stonewall (barrel aged) ciders, which I’ve previously found very similar but hadn’t tried together.  I preferred the Stonewall, as it was a bit smoother, with less acidic bite, and the added whiskey & oak notes.  I also tried Turncoat, their hopped cider, which had nice herbal flavor without bitterness, which was my husband’s favorite.

Locust Cider (Woodinville WA):  At this stop, as I said I had tried all of the regular line up (which was being poured from their new cans), I was treated to a sample of their limited release Bourbon Barrel Aged cider.  It was semi-dry, and very mild at first (especially for 14% ABV), then all of a sudden Bam!, an intense bourbon finish.  I thought I hadn’t tried it previously, but I actually had, over a year ago at their tap room (good thing for my Cider List!).  I liked it better this time because it was served cold, but despite enjoying the flavor, its not something I would drink too often.

Pear UP  – formerly Neigel Vintners / NV Cider (East Wenatchee WA):  I had a chance to have a longish chat with the always energetic co-founder Kevin.  He shared about the recent NW Cider trip where 10 PNW cidermakers traveled to France & England to learn about keeving (see this article).  I also learned about the cidery’s packaging changes, such as new 12oz instead of 16.9oz green Aluminum bottles (with a digital wrap instead of labels), and four packs of 12oz clear glass bottles (which enables that SKU to be at a lower price point).  I also learned about some new products they have released, including an interesting new partnership with a distillery, a brewery, and a label artist, resulting in Centre Ring, with an initial release of a cider and a perry, at a nice price point of $11.99 / 750ml bottle.  Interestingly enough, Centre Ring doesn’t only focus on cider/perry, but craft beverages and food in general.

I started with the new Centre Ring Reserve Pear, which reminded me of a slightly drier and slightly more complex version of their flagship Pear Essentials, as it was semi-dry, medium bodied, and pear-forward with some citrus notes.  Next I tried another new-to-me release (draft and bottles), Pearjito Colada; I didn’t pick up any mint, but the coconut was a fun bold flavor in the tasty semi-sweet perry.  Lastly, my husband wanted to try the Pearfect Pie, which I had never tried either; it was a bit odd to drink in summer, but is a semi-sweet perry with a hint of pie spice.

Schilling Cider (Auburn WA):  I tried the Grapefruit & Chill, which I learned was a different recipe than a grapefruit cider I had previously tried which was flavored with SodaJerk grapefruit soda syrup and I wasn’t a fan of; this time it was a surprisingly pleasant citrus-forward and higher carbonation semi-dry cider.  I also re-tried the Pineapple Passion, which is one of my favorite Schilling varieties, with some strong tropical flavor, but it is definitely on the sweeter end (semi-sweet to sweet).  My favorite from them is the King’s Schilling.

Seattle Cider (Seattle WA):  I tried two new draft-only releases.  First – Lavender Lemon, a semi-dry cider with the as-advertised flavor notes.  Second – Cucumber Hibiscus, which was semi-dry to dry, and started with cucumber on the nose, primarily hibiscus (fruity/floral) in the flavor, and a cucumber finish.  They were both more flavorful than most of the ciders I’ve previously had from them.  I found both pretty average – plenty drinkable, but not something I would seek out.

Snowdrift Cider (East Wenatchee WA):  No new ciders to try, but I tried the cider I had tried the least of and is the most rare – the Cidermaker’s Reserve.  I learned it was made under Methode Champenoise with apples from their 2014 harvest, including bittersweet varieties, and aged 3! years.  It is a highly carbonated cider with an awesome texture, on the sweeter side of semi-dry, with a very unique flavor profile – fruity with pomegranate notes, and almost grape champagne-like.  I was surprised to hear it had bittersweet cider apples, as it definitely didn’t have the typical profile I’d expect.  A fun and unique cider and an excellent value too, at $19 / 750ml (this was my husband’s favorite cider of the event, and he insisted we pick some up afterwards).

Tieton Cider Works (Yakima WA):  No new to me ciders here either, so I re-tried the Sparkling Perry.  I re-learned that this is made by keeving and is wild yeast fermented (neither of which I would have guessed nor remembered from my taste nearly two years ago).  I’d describe it as a semi-sweet to semi-dry pear-forward perry with fruity citrus notes.

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They had some nice swag too – tote bags, brochures, postcards, and stickers.

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I did some serious cider shopping that day, about 12 bottles between Capitol Cider, the Schilling Cider House, and QFC.  My coolest finds were at Capitol Cider, as I don’t get there often:  EZ Orchards “Pomme” (Pommeau, a mix of apple brandy & cider), last year’s release of Finnriver Fire Barrel (which I liked better than this year’s batch), and two different single varietals from Liberty (that I only thought were available in their tasting room and online).  The Schilling Cider House also had a couple new to me releases, a peach wine from Mission Trail and Gasping Goose from Newton’s Court in England.  I also picked up a re-supply of Dunkertons Black Fox, my current go-to English cider, and a couple others favorites from Aspall and EZ Orchards.

Stay tuned for more posts on Washington Cider Week 2017, especially Cider Summit Seattle.

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