Schilling Cider House Visit 35 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 35th visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  However, its actually been a few times more than that as sometimes I just pop in to buy bottles.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

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I was a bit distracted and totally forgot pictures this time, but I thought I might as well share tasting notes.  I was there on a Thursday afternoon, the day before Cider Summit Seattle 2019, for the cider house’s 5th birthday.  I ordered a flight, as always.  Its awesome even with how many ciders I’ve tried, they always have at least a few new to me selections.

Alpenfire (Port Townsend WA) Golden Fox (6.9% ABV):  This is their 17th draft-only Traditional Heirloom Cider release, this time from Golden Russet, Golden, and Foxwhelp apples.  Dry, with notes of heirloom apple and lemon, with hints of bitterness & tannins.

Brownrigg (Seattle WA) Rum Barrel (7.5% ABV): I had forgotten I actually tried this 1 year ago.  Their rum barrel aged cider, which like all their ciders appears to be draft-only, and super limited release.  Dry and tart, with oak, citrus, and herbal flavor, and low sourness (back of the palate).

Longdrop (Boise ID) Strawberry Vanilla (5.5% ABV):  This appears to be a draft-only release.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet, with mild berry flavor, and vanilla on the nose and finish.

Reverend Nat’s (Portland OR) Watermelon (4.5% ABV):  This is seasonal, and also available in bottles, as Holy Water(melon), and advertised to also have ginger and lime in addition to the walermelon.  Semi-dry, with a mild watermelon flavor and a hint of grapefruit and ginger, and a sour finish (back of the palate).

Schilling (Auburn WA) Blueberry Pommeau (21% ABV):  This is a draft-only birthday release, where Pommeau = apple brandy + apple juice, then barrel aged, with blueberry added.  Semi-sweet, fuller bodied, with a tart fruity berry start and a rich boozy finish.

Schilling (Auburn WA) Guava Mint (8.5% ABV):  This is a draft-only release for the fruit cider challenge at Seattle Cider Summit.  Semi-sweet, full bodied with a guava pulp mouthfeel, lots of guava flavor, and a hint of mint on the finish.  Hidden ABV.

I didn’t care for the Rev Nat’s or Brownrigg selections, due to the sourness, but liked all the others, especially the Schilling Guava mint, which I ordered more of.

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

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.

Reverend Nat’s Viva La Pineapple

Review of Reverend Nat’s Viva La Pineapple.  I first tried this cider awhile when I visited their tap room (see here), during my Portland cider trip, which also included Cider Rite of Spring (see my event review and my cider tasting notes).

I have also tried Rev Nat’s Revival¡Tepache!Hopland #5 / EnvyNewtown PippinCiderkinWinter Abbey SpiceHallelujah HopricotDeliverance Gin & TonicRevival DrySacrilege Sour CherryThe PassionWhiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black CurrantNew Moon MandarinRevelation Belle de BoskoopWooden Hellfire, and Tassjara Peach Book.

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Cider:  Viva La Pineapple
Cidery:  Reverend Nat’s
Cidery Location:  Portland Oregon
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  craft cider from dessert apples with pineapple juice and a touch of spices

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Availability:  Summer seasonal.  Rev Nat’s ciders are in general sold in AK, CA, HI, ID, MT, NY, OR, and WA, as well as Alberta & B.C. Canada, and Japan.  They have a cider finder and also have online sales for Tent Show ciders.

Cider Description:  This cider is a blend of fermented fresh apple juice (sourced, like all the apples I use, from Oregon and Washington, but mostly Eastern Washington in the case of this cider), and unfermented fresh pineapple juice. A touch of spice is added (cinnamon and cloves and allspice) and it is not to be consumed by those allergic to pineapples.

Cidery Description:  Reverend Nat is a single-minded cider evangelist who searches the world for superior ingredients to handcraft the most unusual ciders that no one else will make.

Price:  ~$7.99
Where Bought:  Whole Foods in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I first tried this at the cidery’s Portland tap room

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First Impression:  Still (no carbonation).  Dark straw yellow hue.  Smells of pineapple juice.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of pineapple juice and lime.  Low apple flavor and complexity.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  However, I didn’t pick up any of the spices mentioned in the description, which was just fine with me.  Definitely on the easy drinking side.  It would be perfect on a hot summer day.  I recommend lightly shaking the bottle before pouring as otherwise it will be a bit chunky at the end.

Most Similar to:  Jester & Judge Pineapple Express (although I’ve also previously tried pineapple ciders from Ace, Atlas, Locust, Pear Up, Portland Cider, Schilling, Swift, and Wyder’s)

Closing Notes:  My favorite ciders from Reverend Nat’s have been the most mainstream ones, like this one, Revival, and The Passion, plus Whiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black Currant.

Have you tried Reverend Nat’s Viva La Pineapple?  What did you think?

Notes from a Cider Tasting Class with Reverend Nat

For my third Washington Cider Week 2017 event, I attended a cider tasting class with Nat West of Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider (in Portland Oregon), at Downtown Spirits in downtown Seattle.  It was my first time at that store, which had a large selection (spirits, wine, beer, cider, mead, etc), plus an area set up with chairs & tables for classes & tastings.

The Event

I only read about the event the day before, but it sounded like a cool opportunity, as The Reverend (as he is commonly referred to – and he is an actual online ordained Reverend) has a lot of interesting insight on the industry.  I already missed out on some fun cider week events as I didn’t find out about them until after the fact (apparently the official NW Cider calendar stopped accepting submissions pretty early), so I didn’t want to pass this up.

The tasting list was a bit underwhelming with multiple mass market PNW canned ciders, but the two hour event with 10 ciders only cost $10.  That was crazy good deal, as that probably only covered the cider (and maybe even not), so Nat was basically volunteering his time.  He took the train up from Portland just for this and one other event.  There were only 11 of us who attended (and 2 of those were store employees).

I liked that the class was very informal.  We were encouraged to ask questions whenever, and we were even allowed to just pass the ciders around and pour how much we wanted (with a suggested amount so everyone got to try some).  Although that meant we couldn’t go back and taste anything (unless there were leftovers), it also meant I didn’t have cider poured into my glass which I would have felt obligated to drink to move on.

Cider Tasting Notes

We tasted the following ciders, in this order:  Cascadia Granny Smith, Liberty McIntosh, Wandering Aengus Golden Russet, Seattle Cider Winesap Rosé , Seattle Cider Semi Sweet, Rambling Route Apple, Reverend Nat’s Revival, Bull Run Bramble Berry, 2 Towns Cot in the Act, and Reverend Nat’s The Passion.  The first was described as a palette cleanser, the next three as American Heirloom, the following three as American common, and the last three as flavored.  Most of the time he would also include some European ciders, like English, French, and/or Spanish, but I think he was limited to what this store had in stock and cold.

The only new-to-me cider was Seattle Cider Winesap Rosé.  Nat asked if anyone had tried all the ciders, and I said 9/10, and it was the same for him (apparently that is a new ish Seattle Cider release).  The majority of the class seemed to be more so fans of Reverend Nat’s cider (which tend to be beer fans), than overall cider enthusiasts like me.

Cascadia Ciderworks United (Portland OR) Green Apple (6.9% ABV) – This retails for $9.99 / four pack of 16oz cans, and is made by Reverend Nat’s.  Semi-dry, very tart, and definitely green apple flavor (single varietal).

Liberty Ciderworks (Spokane WA) McIntosh (8.1% ABV) – See my previous notes here.  Liberty was described as a more traditional cidermaker, plus I know they are unique in that they are not orchard based, but only use heirloom & cider apples.  This single varietal is available in bottles and on draft, and retails around $16 / 750ml.  Nat described this apple variety as making a juice which is very appley (more than many other heirloom apple varieties), and it not being as common in the PNW as it is in the NE.  Semi-dry.  Low to moderate tannins.  Notes of apple juice, caramel, honey, and must.  Some other folks in the class were picking up hints of “bandaid” flavor (which is from a combination of Brettanomyces, tannins, and polyphenols).  I must not be sensitive to that, as I’ve never noticed it with any cider.  However, in contrast, I am very sensitive to sourness, common in farmhouse and Spanish style ciders.

Wandering Aengus (Salem OR) Golden Russet (9.0% ABV) – See my previous notes here.  Wandering Aengus was described as one of the first cideries in the NW, starting in the 1990s, under the name “The Traditional Company”.  This is a single varietal made using Golden Russet apples which they grew themselves, and dry farmed (no irrigation).  It retails for around $9 / 500ml.  I would have described it as on the sweeter side of semi-dry, but apparently this measures full dry (my all have different palettes!).  Tart, acidic, bitter, and slightly tannic.  Rich flavor.  Long acidic tannic finish.

Seattle Cider Co. (Seattle WA) Winesap Rosé (6.0% ABV) – I’ve tried multiple single varietals from Winesap apples, and multiple rosé ciders, but not this one.  Winesap Rosé is a single varietal from Winesap apples, and pink/rosé from being aged in red wine barrels.  It retails for around $11 / 500ml.  Semi-dry.  Watery.  Slightly fruity, with a hint of oak.  The carbonation was visible but not detectable.  Low tartness and acidity.  Hints of tannins.  Quick finish.  I think this would appeal more to wine folks.  Like most of their ciders, the flavor was very mild.

Seattle Cider Co. (Seattle WA) Semi Sweet (6.5% ABV) – See my previous notes here.  This is a very commonly found cider in Seattle, and retails for about $11 / four 16oz cans.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Fuller bodied.  Low acid.  Notes of apple juice, honey, and citrus.

Rambling Route (Yakima WA) Apple (6.9% ABV) – See my previous notes here.  This is made by Tieton, and retails for about $9 / four 16oz cans.  Higher carbonation.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Very similar to Seattle Cider, but slightly more apple-forward.  We were told these two ciders are so similar as they use the same dessert apple juice blend, same wine yeast, sugar for back-sweetening, etc.

Reverend Nat’s (Portland OR) Revival (5.8% ABV) – See my previous notes here.  This retails for about $15 / six 12oz bottles or $6 / 500ml bottle.  This is a very unique cider as it gets a lot of different flavors just from the use of multiple yeast strains, piloncillo sugar, and a secret ingredient which he told us but said I couldn’t write down.  It is made by mixing two batches of cider together.  One has yeast strain 1 and the sugar, and results in a high ABV.  The other has yeast strain 2, and results in a more typical ABV.  Then fresh juice is added, which is about 20% of the makeup.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Notes of apple juice, yeast, brown sugar, honey, and hints of tropical fruit.

Bull Run (Forest Grove OR) Bramble Berry (6.8% ABV) – See my previous notes here.  This cider with marionberries, blackberries, and boysenberries retails for $8 / 500ml.  Semi-dry, with the berry more in the nose than the flavor, low acid, and hints of tannins from the berries.

2 Towns (Corvallis OR) Cot in the Act (6.2% ABV) – See my previous notes here.  This is a seasonal apricot cider (made using the whole fruit, not just juice) which retails for about $12.50 / six 12oz cans or $8 / 500ml.  Very strong apricot scent.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry, juicy, notes of stone fruit, and flavorful.

Reverend Nat’s (Portland OR) The Passion (6.9% ABV) – See my previous notes here.  This is a seasonal cider made with Ecuadorian passion fruit juice, toasted coconut, and vanilla, and retails for about $14 / 500ml.  I had previously heard this described as a sour cider, but this bottle pour and my previous draft pour were both free from sourness, so I’m game to buy it sometime as I really enjoy the flavor.  Semi-sweet (his sweetest cider).  Tart.  High flavor intensity, with a strong passion fruit scent & flavor, with hints of vanilla & coconut.

My favorite ciders of those were from Liberty, 2 Towns, and Rev Nat’s.

Info from Rev Nat

  • We discussed some cider basics such as sweetness vs. acidity and the cidermaking process.  However, I was surprised that I don’t think the word “tannins” came up at all (although it was on the handout, which had one side of general cider info and one side with info about the 10 ciders), despite at least the Liberty and Wandering Aengus ciders being good examples.
  • Rev Nat’s has five cider bases, and two of them are the Cascadia green & blue cans
  • 2 Towns (another common Oregon cidery) is six times as large as Rev Nat’s (I assume in context of cider produced/year)
  • Rev Nat’s currently has 22 employees
  • Rev Nat’s will be moving into a new 25,000 sq ft cidery space, and will then convert their current 8,000 sq ft space into only a tap room, including food.  It doesn’t look like the news about this being finalized has been officially announced, but this article from last year mentioned the same info.
  • Profit margins are about the same for all cideries, so ciders that cost more do actually cost more to make.
  • Specific gravity is a way to measure the sweetness of a cider, using the weight of the cider compared to the weight of the same amount of water.  The interesting thing with SG however is that you can have a cider with a specific gravity lower than water, so that would say the cider was drier than water lol.
  • Single varietal ciders are apparently more of an American thing, due to our new experimental cider culture.  They are probably second most common in England.
  • Wine/champagne yeast is often used in cidermaking as it ferments cleanly at low temperatures, is easy to remove (it will clump at the bottom of the tank), and it is designed to not impact the flavor.
  • Rev Nat’s in contrast uses beer yeast, which is designed to impart flavor (we were told the yeast in beer is actually what has the most impact on a beer’s flavor, not the grains or hops).  I think this class did a good job showcasing Rev Nat’s ciders, as they were two of the 2-4 most flavorful ciders of the group of 10.
  • Nat said cider that is cloudy is more of a marketing gimmick, and cloudy ciders don’t really retain more flavor than the more commonly found filtered ones.  Cloudiness in a cider can be from suspended yeast, apple debris/pulp, or pectin (naturally in apples).  The first two can be filtered out, but not the last.  This really made me think, as I’ve had a number of ciders which were cloudy and very flavorful (Downeast comes to mind).  They did tend to be sweet and apple juice forward though, so its quite plausible they would have still tasted like that after filtering.  Also, I’ve never tried the same cider before and after filtering, which I think would be the real test.
  • Nat often does an expanded cider tasting class during Oregon Cider Week, which includes 30! ciders in 3 hours

After the Event

I forgot to snag a photo before the tasting, but I got one of the aftermath:

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After the event I looked around the Downtown Spirits shop and was excited to find an entire shelf of cider that was 50% off – Alpenfire, Eden, Eric Bordelet, Slyboro, etc.  Its sad, but the high end and/or imported ciders just don’t sell very quickly.  I’ve heard from several shops that they won’t be re-stocking those sorts of items.  It has got more difficult for me to get imports especially.  I hadn’t planned to pick up any cider as my cabinet is full, but I picked up six bottles of high end ciders for under $50, as it was too good of a deal to pass up.  Very cool!

Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry

Review of Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry cider.  I tried this at Cider Summit Seattle 2017 (although that draft version was listed at a higher ABV).  I’ve also previously tried Rev Nat’s Revival¡Tepache!Hopland #5 / EnvyNewtown PippinCiderkinWinter Abbey SpiceHallelujah HopricotDeliverance Gin & TonicRevival DryThe PassionWhiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black CurrantNew Moon MandarinViva la PineappleRevelation Belle de BoskoopWooden Hellfire, and Tassjara Peach Book.

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Cider:  Sacrilege Sour Cherry
Cidery:  Reverend Nat’s
Cidery Location:  Portland OR
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from granny smith apples with sour cherries, pear juice, and a hint of spice from ghost peppers

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Availability:  Year round.  Rev Nat’s ciders are in general sold in AK, CA, HI, ID, MT, NY, OR, and WA, as well as Alberta & B.C. Canada, and Japan.

Cider Description:  Others profess to produce a cherry cider, but none begin with 100% sour Granny Smith apples (eschewing all other apple varieties for their lack of sourness) unified with the superior Montmorency sour cherry (aka Prunus cerasus, a superior and vastly dissimilar cherry to Prunus avid, the bird cherry, the mere mazzard, so commonly used in cough syrup and children’s sweet-snacks) and the exotic Baladon sour cherry (hailing from my native country of Hungary), fermented with an English Ale yeast (procured from a fine brewery in Chiswick, London), rounded out with a spot of Bartlett pear juice (undeniably the world’s greatest pear-flavored pear) and completed with a touch of spiciness (largely attributable to the ghost chili pepper, although married with a secret spice), precisely enough to make your vigor race and spirits embrace another gulp. 

Cidery Description:  Reverend Nat is a single-minded cider evangelist who searches the world for superior ingredients to handcraft the most unusual ciders that no one else will make.

Price:  $7.00
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  My husband remembered liking this and bought a bottle (this appears to be his favorite cidery…he likes the weird stuff, like Wooden Hellfire), and I tried some.

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First Impression:  Cherry red-brown hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells of cherry and hot peppers (silly me made the mistake of taking a huge whiff of it too!).

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Low spiciness (heat).  Notes of real cherry, green apple, lemon, and hot peppers.  Long lingering spicy finish.  Low to moderate cherry flavor, flavor intensity,  complexity, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  As expected, same as my previous trial, I didn’t like this due to the spiciness (although it was admittedly mild…I just don’t enjoy spicy beverages).  The cherry part of the cider was nice though.  My husband said the spiciness dissipated some by the time he got to the end of the bottle, but I only wanted two sips.  My husband however really enjoyed it, and was happy he got the whole bottle to himself (he is a big fan of both cherry and anything spicy).

Side Note:  Some other reviews said this was sour (like sour beer, from wild yeast), but I only picked up tart (like lemons and granny smith apples); I think the variety of cherries used are called sour cherries (similar to Doc’s Sour Cherry, my favorite cherry cider), but this wouldn’t be classified as an actual sour cider.

Most Similar to:  I’ve had plenty of cherry ciders (28 last I counted), but none that were also spicy.

Closing Notes:  My favorites from Rev Nat’s remain RevivalThe PassionWhiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black Currant, and Viva la Pineapple….ie. his more mainstream and sweeter selections.

Have you tried Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry?  What did you think?

Tasting Notes from Reverend Nat’s Tap Room in Portland Oregon

Reverend Nat’s tap room was the next stop in our Portland Oregon cider weekend adventure after Cider Rite of Spring (see my event review and tasting notes), checking into our hotel (the Embassy Suites on Pine St – nice for being in a historic building), and dinner at The Ringside steakhouse (I’m not a steak eater but my husband was a big fan…dinner there was his only request of the weekend).

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Reverend Nat’s Cider has been around officially since 2011, and moved into the current building in 2013, although “The Reverend” Nat West (he is actually ordained online) has been making cider since 2004.  They specialize in making weird & interesting ciders that no one else would have the guts to make, and they actually sell very well.

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It was shockingly quiet in the tap room for a Saturday night, but I guess its not really in an area which gets a lot of foot traffic, despite being in the downtown area.  Its a cool building, with high ceilings, and one wall was a roll-up garage door.  There were about four barstools at the main bar, a few at a center bar, one booth, and the rest were stools pulled around wine barrel tables.  There were maybe six other patrons and one bartender there with us.

They have 12 ciders on tap (and sometimes bottle pours), and sell bottles & growlers of their ciders as well as some merchandise.  Many of the ciders poured in the tap room are varieties which never leave the tap room.  They also offer a “Tent Show” cider club which gives members first pick at special release ciders (and only if any bottles are left are they sold in the tap room); there is currently a waiting list to even sign up for their cider club.

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The tap room is also the production area (although obviously not in use late at night), so I got to have a peek at the cidery itself.  I was surprised how small it was compared to how large Reverend Nat’s (and Cascadia Ciderworks United‘s) cider distribution is.

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My husband and I ordered some tasters to share ($2-$5 for 4oz) of #7 Viva la Pineapple!, #10 Tent Show Wooden Hellfire, #11 Tassjara Peach Book, and #12 Belle de Boskoop (I’ve previously tried the Revival, Sour Cherry 2016 and 2015 versions, Hallelujah Hopricot, and New Moon Mandarin).

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<left to right:  Viva la Pineapple!, Revelation Belle de Boskoop, Tent Show Wooden Hellfire, and Tassjara Peach Book>

Viva la Pineapple! (6.0% ABV):  Described as a granny smith apple cider with pineapple juice and cinnamon.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate pineapple flavor.  Mild spice.  This was reminiscent of their Tepache, but apple not pineapple based, less spiced, and more drinkable by itself.  I really liked it.

Revelation Belle de Boskoop (6.8% ABV):  Described as a single varietal cider from an heirloom apple variety.  Semi-dry.  Apple forward.  However, the flavor for me was overwhelmingly vinegary with some sourness too.  I wasn’t a fan.

Wooden Hellfire (16.6% ABV):  This is a very unique cider which was started by boiling cider for 18 hours, making a concentrate (similar to freezing is used when making ice cider), then barrel aged for one year.  Very dark hue.  Dry to semi-dry.  Rich flavor with notes of caramel, prune, oak, and smoke.  High complexity and flavor intensity.  I liked the flavor (although the prune was odd), but this is something more to sip on a shot of than drink in any quantity or frequency.  My husband fell in love with it, saying it was the best cider he had ever tried, and ended up buying a bottle ($30, although its 750ml of 16.6% cider, if you can really call it cider anymore), plus two more bottles for some friends he told it about.  I really wish they would have sold this in smaller bottles, as 750ml is a lot of an intense high ABV cider, plus that would decrease the price point.

Tassjara Peach Book (8.5% ABV):  A cider with Mosaic hops, which are described as adding the scent and flavor of peaches to this cider without using any actual peaches.  Semi-dry.  There was definitely a very subtle peach flavor in addition to some citrus and hops notes.  Moderately bitter finish.  I found it to be average.

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Bottom Line:  To be honest, most of the ciders Rev Nat’s makes aren’t to my liking…they tend towards the weird, dry, spicy, sour, etc.  However, some of the staples such as Revival are awesome.  I also had a draft-only special release from them for last year’s Cider Summit (Whiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black Currant) which I really enjoyed.

Cider Rite of Spring 2017 – Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is Part 2/2 on Cider Rite of Spring 2017 in Portland Oregon, which includes tasting notes on the 18 ciders I tried.  See HERE for Part 1/2, covering the event itself.  Note that I have more notes on some ciders than others depending on how much of it I tried and what was going on at the event (kinda tough to take notes with one hand while holding on to your tasting glass in the other!)…its not a reflection on the cider itself.

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^ 5 Cider (Portland OR) Strawbasaurus Hop, 6.9% ABV, $6/500ml:  This is a flagship hopped strawberry cider, and the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied with a lot of foam.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate bitterness.  I couldn’t get past how overly hoppy the flavor was.  The light strawberry flavor with the intense hopped flavor was also odd.  I think hops are nice to enhance a cider’s flavor, but I don’t like when they overpower it.

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2 Towns (Corvallis OR) Pommeau, 19% ABV, $23/375ml, VIP offering:  This is an awesome Pommeau (apple brandy + apple cider, oak barrel aged for 1 year); see my previous review here.

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7 Bev / Queen Orchard (West Linn OR) Green Man, 6.7% ABV, draft only:  This cider is for the Willamette Ale & Cider House, expected to open in West Linn Oregon on June 15th, and is the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  It was described as inspired by English cider, but I found it more farmhouse-style than anything else (none of the characteristic tannins of English cider).  Hazy hue.  Smells of sulfur, sourness, and funk, but those qualities oddly enough didn’t transfer to the flavor.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Apple-forward with citrus notes.  Nice flavor, but the scent was off-putting.  It could be a first production issue.

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Alter Ego Cider (Portland OR) The Guardian Angel, 6.5% ABV, $8/500ml:  This is a flagship blueberry pomegranate cider, and the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Dark berry hue.  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  High flavor intensity, with blueberry, pomegranate, and grape, but not much apple.  High sessionability.  Juice-like.  Reminds me of Atlas’ ciders.  I liked it.

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Bauman’s Cider (Gervais OR) Peach Raspberry, 6.4% ABV, $12/22oz:  This summer seasonal cider adds peaches and raspberries, and is the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate to high flavor intensity, with rather straight-forward peach and raspberry notes.  Well balanced with a lot of flavor without being too sweet.  I really enjoyed it.

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Elk Horn Brewery (Eugene OR) Grape Perry, 6.0% ABV, draft only:  This is a perry made from dessert pears, sweetened with Concord grape juice, and the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Semi-dry.   Light bodied.  Very light fruity flavor, primarily grape.  I was expecting a sweeter more flavorful cider between the pear (unfermentable sugars typically lead to a higher residual sugar content even if fermentation isn’t stopped early) and grape, although you can tell even from the color than not a lot of grape juice was used.

Elk Horn Brewery (Eugene OR) Cherry’s Pie, 7.5% ABV, draft only:  This is a cider with cherries added.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  I found the flavor a bit weird…kinda bitter…but I just had a sip or two shared with me.

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Finnriver (Port Townsend WA) Apply Ol’ Fashion cocktail, VIP offering:  Made with Finnriver’s Spirited Apple Wine (brandy-fortified cider, 18.5% ABV, $25/500ml) and Oak and Apple cider (6.5% ABV, $10/500ml).  I’ve previously had both ciders on their own, but I didn’t like this cocktail in the least, and neither did my husband or friend, as none of us are fans of bitters.  Its likely the proportions may have got off since they made this rather rushed…it was quite an undertaking to serve a non-pre-mixed cocktail at a busy event like this.  They were also offering pours of just the Apple Wine, which is what I should have chosen.  See my Oak and Apple review here.  My favorite from Finnriver however is their Fire Barrel (see here); this year’s vintage was just released, and it is a great value at ~$11/500ml.

McMenamins Edgefield Winery (Portland OR) Black Cherry Cider, 6.8% ABV, draft only:  Semi-sweet.  Nice real cherry flavor.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  High flavor intensity.  I liked it.  I had previously only tried Edgefield’s flagship cider.

Pear UP (formerly NV Cider, East Wenatchee WA) Raspberry Perry, unknown ABV, $5/500ml:  This is a perry (only pears, no apples) with raspberries.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Nice moderate to strong fresh raspberry flavor with a hint of pear.  Refreshingly flavorful.  I was surprised how much more flavorful this was compared to their Watermelon Perry, as it is only slightly more sweet.  I like the flavor intensity of this best of all their perries I’ve tried, but the watermelon flavor remains my favorite (I’m a huge watermelon fan).

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Reverend Nat’s (Portland OR) New Moon Mandarin, 7.2% ABV, $7/500ml:  This seasonal cider is made with mandarin and tangerine juice, and finished with chamomile flowers.  Dry.  Light bodied.  High tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Very mild citrus flavor.  Warm boozy finish.  This was nice, but more subtle than I prefer.

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Runcible Cider (Mosier OR) Light of the Moon, 8.1% ABV, $17/750ml:  This is their flagship cider made using heirloom apple varieties, and the first I’ve tried from this cidery.  Hazy hue.  Semi-dry.  Low tartness, bitterness, and tannins.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of sourness and funk.   found this to be a slightly farmhouse-style apple-forward cider with some honey and citrus notes.  I liked it.

Runcible Cider (Mosier OR) Old Hoot, 7.4% ABV, $17/750ml:  This is their Farmhouse-style cider, made with English cider apple varieties.  Very hazy hue.  Dry.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low funk and tannins.  Hints of sourness.  This was well made, but a bit too rustic for my liking.

Shoutout to Kelly McCune of Runcible Cider – she had actually heard of Cider Says prior to the event, and said she likes my blog – very cool!  They are a brand new cidery (this was their first event) and have their own orchard of 500 cider apple trees, which is awesome, as so many cideries actually aren’t orchard-based.  I think it takes a cidery’s cider to the next level.

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Square Mile Cider (Portland OR) Rosé, unknown ABV, draft only, VIP offering:  This special release cider was made with hibiscus and rose hips.  Semi-dry to dry.  Light bodied.  High tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Very light fruitiness, with floral and herbal notes.  This was nice, but more subtle than I prefer.

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Swift Cider (Portland OR) Marionberry, 6.8% ABV, $8/22oz:  This is a dry flagship cider with marionberries, and the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low berry flavor intensity.  This was nice, but more subtle than I prefer.

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Tumalo Cider (Tumalo OR) Prickly Passion, unknown ABV, $6/500ml:  This is the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Semi-dry to dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Very low fruity flavor intensity.  This was nice, but more subtle than I prefer.

Tumalo Cider (Tumalo OR) Hibiscus, unknown ABV, $6/500ml:  Semi-dry to dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness acidity.  Low flavor intensity, more fruity than floral.  Slightly more flavorful than the Prickly Passion.  This was nice, but more subtle than I prefer.

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Woodbox (Portland OR) Double Barrel Whiskey Barrel Ice Cider, 12.7% ABV, $17/375ml:  This is a ice cider (made by using freezing temperatures to naturally concentrate the flavor and sugar content in apple juice before fermenting it) aged in whiskey barrels, and the first I’ve tried from the cidery.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Full bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  Low tannins.  Rich flavor notes including caramel and vanilla.  High apple flavor.  Moderate to high whiskey flavor.  Moderate oak flavor.  Awesome!  They made a sign to highlight the cider’s price as the program had a mis-print of $33, which is quite a difference.

Closing Notes:

  • My favorite ciders of the event were the Woodbox Ice Cider and 2 Towns Pommeau (and my husband and friend agreed).
    • The ice cider was an especially good value too (often they run $30+ as they are so expensive to make), and the only bottle we ended up picking up (although our friend bought a number of ciders).
  • Of the non-specialty ciders, I most enjoyed Alter Ego Guardian Angel, Bauman’s Peach Raspberry, Pear UP Raspberry Perry, and Runcible Light of the Moon.
  • I was surprised how many dry ciders were being offered, and especially how many cideries were only offering dry ciders, which is nice.  However, especially when made from dessert apples, dry ciders can often end up very subtlety flavored, while I prefer a really in-your-face flavorful cider (whether an added flavor or due to use of cider apples).  I usually go for semi-dry to semi-sweet, as they tend to be more flavorful, but not too sweet.
  • There were also a number of cideries breaking from the pack and going more Farmhouse-style (like Runcible and Baird & Dewar), which isn’t typically as crowd-pleasing, but sticks to the roots of early American cider.
  • There were plenty of sweet offerings too, but mostly from the more established / larger cideries that I had already sampled (like Portland Cider Co., and the Seattle-area’s own Locust and Schilling cideries).

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That will do it for Cider Rite of Spring 2017.  Stay tuned for more tasting notes from my Portland trip, from Reverend Nat’s tap room and Bushwhacker Cider!