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?

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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!

My Favorite Ciders of 2016

What an awesome year 2016 was in the cider world!  Cider Says has now been up for a year and a half.  Like other cider bloggers, I thought it would be fun to make a list of my favorite ciders of 2016.  See here for my list from 2015.  To make it a bit different and easier, I put them into categories instead of trying to do a top ten list or similar.

Note that I wouldn’t try to make a list of the best ciders, just those I enjoyed, as it would be an impossible task to try every cider out there and be impartial.  My only criteria for this list is that I drank the cider in 2016.

Multi pack:  Reverend Nat’s Revival – This one is complex for being made from dessert apples, with lots of unique flavor just from the yeast varieties used.  Celt – I always keep this easy drinking apple & yeast forward French cider in the house as its convenient & affordable.  Thatchers Green Goblin – For how commercial it is, I ended up really enjoying this sweeter simple English cider.

Canned:  One Tree Crisp Apple – I don’t usually go for plain flagship ciders, but this one had some nice unfiltered apple juice flavor without being over the top sweet.  Cidergeist Semi Dry – This reminded me of French cider; too bad it isn’t available locally.  Long Drop Vanilla Honey – Awesome honeycomb flavor.

French:  Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidre Brut – A $5 selection from Trader Joe’s which doesn’t disappoint and has some great apple forward sparkling goodness.  Christian Drouin Pays d’ Auge – I loved the bittersweet apple flavor, and that the funk remained mild.

English:  Aspall Imperial – Rich flavor, high ABV, and a low price tag.  Dunkertons Dry  (awesomely tannic) and Black Fox (nice fruity twist on an English cider), which I hope to find locally now that they are distributed in the U.S.

Italian:  Bertolinos – My first Italian cider, which I found to be simple but tasty, and budget friendly too.

Swiss:  Cidrerie du Vulcain Transparente – My first Swiss cider, which reminded me of French cider, in between the typical Brittany & Normandy styles.

Canadian:  Sea Cider Ruby Rose – This fruity high ABV cider is made with rhubarb and rose hips, making it a unique summer sipper.

Fruity:  Doc’s Draft Sour Cherry – A cherry cider is difficult to pull off without tasting medicinal, but the flavor is spot-on with this one.  Jester & Judge Pineapple Express – Although simple, this cider has some awesome pineapple flavor, a nice frothy texture, and a hint of lime.

Rosé:  Eden Imperial 11 Rosé – This drier cider with red currant is high ABV and amazingly fruity.  Alpenfire Glow – This sweeter cider is made from rare red fleshed apples and also amazingly fruity, with a high flavor intensity.

Limited Release:  Angry Orchard & Eden collaboration, Understood in Motion: 01 – This cider is only available at Angry Orchard’s Walden NY cider house, and was made from Vermont heirloom apples, barrel aged, and mixed with some ice cider; awesome!

Hopped:  2 Towns Hop & Stalk – I wouldn’t call myself a fan of either rhubarb or hops, but for whatever reason I really enjoyed this cider; the flavors really complimented each other and created a unique and surprisingly complex cider (I’m also a sucker for Imperial / high ABV ciders).

High ABV:  Alpenfire Smoke – This 16% ABV sipping cider has an amazing complexity, with rich oaky smokey flavor.  If I had to name just one favorite cider, this would probably be it, although its not an everyday sort of cider.  I hope it gets released again soon, as I’m down to only one bottle!

Oaked:  Sheppy’s Oak Matured – I love the strong oak flavor in this cider; as a bonus, it is budget friendly too.

Barrel Aged:  Reverend Nat’s Whiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black Currant – This was my favorite cider from Cider Summit Seattle 2016, with awesome berry, oak, and whiskey flavor.

Sparkling:  AEppelTreow Appely Doux – This methode champenoise cider has a wonderful texture & flavor, and would be a great champagne alternative.

Perry:  EZ Orchards Poire – I’m not a huge Perry fan, but those I do like tend towards the French Poire style; this one has a creamy texture and complex fruitiness.

Pommeau:  Etienne Dupont Pommeau – This is their Cidre Bouche aged in Calvados barrels with Calvados added, and is flavorful, rich, and complex.  Wandering Aengus Pommeau – Milder in flavor than some other Pommeaus, but still rich and complex.

Ice Cider:  Eden Heirloom Blend Apple Brandy Barrel Aged – I’ve enjoyed all of Eden’s ice ciders, but this is my favorite, as it had the added depth from barrel aging in addition to all the rich complexity of their typical ice cider.

Great Value:  Schilling King’s Shilling – I’ve picked up a 22oz bottle of this for as low as $4 (and as high as $7), which is a steal for a tasty barrel aged brandy infused cider.

Wine-like:  Honeywood Winery Hard Apple Cider – Quite different than I was expecting, but I liked it; this one reminded me of dessert wine with the white grape notes, higher ABV, and sweetness.

Draft-only:  Wandering Aengus Bittersweet – An amazingly rich and tannic cider made from bittersweet apple juice from Poverty Lane Orchards (Farnum Hill); wild fermented but it wasn’t funky.

Unexpected:   Gowans 1876 Heirloom – This cider almost seemed to good to be true, as it was so full flavored and apple forward.

Well, there you have it, a list of 32 of my favorite ciders from 2016.  They have a lot in common–most are rich and full-flavored.  Still, it seems like so many great ciders didn’t make the cut, which is unfortunate.

What are your favorite ciders?

Cherry Cider Tasting

There was recently a cherry cider tasting at my house (thanks Sarah, Merce, Kevin, and Si from Cider Log for sharing all the ciders!).  I took a few tasting notes.

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<Woodchuck Sour Cherry, Anthem Cherry, Julian Cherry Bomb, Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry, Finnriver Chimacum Kriek, Griffin Cider Works Strong Woman, Doc’s Draft Sour Cherry, and Greenwood Cherry>

With all of these I didn’t pick up any flavor besides cherry, and maybe a bit of green apple or citrus.  The apple flavor was also none to mild.

Woodchuck (Middlebury VT) Sour Cherry (6.9% ABV):  This was part of their Cellar Series (since discontinued) and hasn’t been sold since July 2014, but this bottle held up better flavor-wise than the bottle I had that I opened a year ago (review here).  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Mild to moderate slightly cherry flavor.  Still.  Medium bodied.  Mild tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Not bad.

Anthem (Salem OR) Cherry (6.2% ABV):  This is sold year round and now also available in cans.  Semi-dry.  Mild cherry flavor.  Low carbonation.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Mild apple flavor.  I didn’t find it flavorful enough.

Julian (Julian CA) Cherry Bomb (6.99% ABV):  This is sold year round.  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Moderate real cherry flavor. Low carbonation. Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  I liked it.

Reverend Nat’s (Portland OR) Sacrilege Sour Cherry (6.5% ABV):  This is a seasonal release.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Moderate cherry flavor, slightly sour.  Low carbonation.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  I thought it was pretty average; I’d prefer no sourness.

Finnriver (Chimacum WA) Chimacum Kriek (6.0% ABV):  This sour cherry cider is part of their Crew Selection series, a limited release in May 2016.  Semi-dry.  Mild to moderate cherry flavor, moderately sour.  Still.  Medium to full bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  I didn’t care for this at all, due to the sourness.

Griffin Cider Works (Westlake OH) Strong Woman (6.5% ABV):  This is an English-style cider finished with cherry, sold March thru October, whose proceeds go towards fighting breast cancer.  Semi-sweet.  Moderate cherry flavor.  Low carbonation.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Mild tannins.  I thought it was pretty average.  There was an additional flavor in this that none of us could identify.  The tannins were unique.

Doc’s Draft (Warwick NY) Sour Cherry (6.0% ABV):  This is sold year round.  Semi-sweet.  Moderate to strong real cherry flavor.  Low carbonation.  Medium bodied.  Mild tartness.  Moderate acidity.  I really liked it.

Greenwood Cider (Seattle WA) Cherry (unknown ABV):  This appears to be draft only.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Mild weird cherry flavor.  Low carbonation.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  I thought this one was a bit strange, but ok.

Between the six of us at the tasting, the clear winner of the evening was from Doc’s.  Unfortunately this variety isn’t sold in Washington in bottles, but can be found in Oregon, or sometimes on draft here.  My second favorite was from Julian.  What both of these had in common was they were a bit sweeter, more intense cherry flavor, and more “real” flavor (not medicinal).  The least favorites were the Anthem, Greenwood, and Griffin varieties.