Montana Ciderworks Darby Pub Cider

Review of Montana Ciderworks’ Darby Pub Cider.  I previously tried this at Cider Summit (see here), and have also had their North Fork TraditionalSpartan Dry-Style, and Small Batch Dolgo.

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Cider:  Darby Pub Cider
Cidery:  Montana CiderWorks
Cidery Location:  Darby MT
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from Montana-grown cider, heirloom, & crab apple varieties, back sweetened with juice & fructose

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Availability:  Year round in CO, MT, and WA (see here)

Cider Description:  Semi-Dry New World Style Cider.  An approachable, effervescent cider made for sharing with friends. By coaxing subtle flavors from a blend of Bitterroot Valley apples through a gentle fermentation process, then adding back a bit of sweet juice, we created a fruit-forward experience perfect for drinking anytime. Appley with wood, spice & Mac notes; a medium semi-dry cider….Darby Pub Cider was awarded a Gold medal at the 2018 Great Lakes International Cider Competition, a Gold medal at the 2017 Royal Bath & West Show (United Kingdom), Best of Show at the 2016 Portland International Cider Cup, and a Silver medal at the 2015 GLINTCAP. SIP Northwest magazine awarded it Best Traditional Apple Cider in 2016.  The crisp clean flavor of Darby Pub Cider is a prefect complement to light fare, and a wonderful après de lawn mowing refreshment.

Cidery Description:  Montana CiderWorks is a bonded winery located in Darby, Montana.  We offer exceptional English-style ciders crafted from Bitterroot Valley apples and other local fruits.  We support sustainable agriculture and the preservation of open spaces in our beautiful valley. We increase the value and usefulness of Montana’s orchards so that they may support and delight future generations.

Here is a nice article from CiderCraft on Montana Ciderworks.  The owner and cidermaker is Lee McAlpine, who I’ve met at Cider Summit Seattle.

Price:  $9.99
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing – I realized I’ve had tastes of this, but never reviewed a bottle

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First Impression:  Dark straw to light gold hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of tart heirloom apples.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of tannins and bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of sharp tart heirloom & crab apples, butterscotch, wood, earth, and lemon.  Long tart finish.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  However, I seemed to remember liking it more previously.  It seemed a bit more tart and dry this time.  That might have been my fault though, as I drank it at cellar temperature, like I do for most ciders of this style (vs. flavored ciders from dessert apples), but maybe this would be better at fridge temperature.

Most Similar to:  Finnegan Cider Semi-Dry and Grizzly Ciderworks The Ridge

Closing Notes:  This is a great selection at a nice price point.  I like that they use local cider-specific apples yet make ciders which are approachable.  I think my current favorite is North Fork Traditional (also available at Total Wine in my area).  As much as I like to support local bottle shops, Total Wine is very convenient, as they have a semi real time online inventory and keep their stock of cider pretty steady (vs. some of the smaller shops which may get some cooler smaller batch ciders, but also tend to have some items out of stock at times).  So, I go to both.

Have you tried Montana Ciderworks cider?  What did you think?

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Finnegan Cider Semi-Dry

Review of Finnegan Cider Semi-Dry.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Harvest Blend.

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Cider:  Semi-Dry
Cidery:  Finnegan Cider
Cidery Location:  Lake Oswega OR
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style: American orchard-based cider from cider apples, semi-dry

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Availability:  Oregon, Washington, and California (per Cider Journal, as of 2015, although I have not seen them in the Seattle area), and appear to be distributed through Shelton Brothers

Cider Description:  Our semi-dry cider is fermented to near-dryness and uses a blend of authentic, old-world English, American, and French cider apples such as Yarlington Mill, Foxwhelp, Domaines, Roxbury Russet, and others.  Our cider is a balance of the crucial elements of distinguished cider:  tannin, acidity, and aromaticity.  Finnegan cider features aromas of honeysuckle, melon, and ripe apples, with flavors of peach, apricot, and cognac.  It pairs superbly from appetizer to entree.

Cidery Description: An artisan crafted hard cider using only traditional cider apples – Our commitment to a quality-cider experience.

Finnegan Cider has been around since 2010, and planted their own orchard in 2012.  The owners/cidermakers are Colleen Finnegan and Josh Johnson.  Here is a nice writeup from Beervana, who visited with Josh Johnson at their orchard.

Price:  $22
Where Bought:  The Jug Shop in San Francisco CA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Light gold hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of rich sweet caramelized apple.

Tasting Notes:  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low tannins, bitterness, and funk.  Hints of sourness.  Notes of caramelized apple pomace, butterscotch, orange, lemon, and wood.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor and sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate to high complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it, especially the flavor notes.  However, I would have preferred more sweetness and/or less tartness & acidity, as it was a bit harsh.

Most Similar to:  Wandering Aengus Wickson and Eve’s Scatterseed

Closing Notes:  I preferred their Harvest Blend, plus that one was much lower priced (although I bought them from different stores in different states, several years apart).

Have you tried Finnegan cider?  What did you think?

Moonlight Meadery Virtue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most Similar to:  Moonlight Meadery Last Apple

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

Have you tried cyser?  What did you think?

Woodchuck Rosé

Review of Woodchuck Rosé.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had most of their line-up (see here).

>>This is a review of a sample can provided to Cider Says by Woodchuck.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Cider:  Bubbly Rosé
Cidery:  Woodchuck
Cidery Location:  Middlebury VT
ABV:  6.1%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz cans
Style:  American commercial cider from dessert apples with “red” (red-fleshed?) apple juice, and purple carrot for color

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Availability:  wide release

Cider Description:  A bubbly, fruit-forward blush cider made with a blend of red apples delivering a crisp mouth feel.

Cidery Description:  Vermont Cider Company is a leading hard cider maker in the United States, with a state of the art cidery located in Middlebury, Vermont. Vermont Cider Company crafts a variety of ciders for a variety of consumers. There’s ultra-craft Vermont Cider Co., iconic Woodchuck, fruit-forward Wyder’s as well as the classic Magners Irish Cider and Blackthorn, rounding out our import offerings. Vermont Cider Company reinvigorated American hard cider in 1991, with the launch of Woodchuck, and stays focused on the category today through our commitment to crafting innovative and refreshing hard ciders.

Price:  n/a (retails for $9.99-10.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

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First Impression:  Pink hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mildly fruity.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of strawberry with a hint of floral.  Quick finish.  Low apple flavor and complexity.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  Fruity and easy to drink.  However, I’m curious if I really tasted fruitiness from red-fleshed apples (looks like their unfermented juice was used to back-sweeten a drier cider), or my brain saw the pink hue and assumed it would be fruity.

Most Similar to:  Angry Orchard Rosé

Closing Notes:  This is yet another rosé cider release – it looks like every commercial cider brand has now jumped on the trend.

Have you tried Woodchuck Rosé?  What did you think?

Woodchuck Pearsecco

Review of Woodchuck Pearsecco.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had most of their line-up (see here).

>>This is a review of a sample can provided to Cider Says by Woodchuck.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Cider:  Bubbly Pearsecco
Cidery:  Woodchuck
Cidery Location:  Middlebury VT
ABV:  6.1%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz cans
Style:  American commercial cider from dessert apples with pear

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Availability:  wide release

Cider Description:  Inspired by sparkling wines, this dry pear cider is full of bubbles with a clean, crisp finish.

Cidery Description:  Vermont Cider Company is a leading hard cider maker in the United States, with a state of the art cidery located in Middlebury, Vermont. Vermont Cider Company crafts a variety of ciders for a variety of consumers. There’s ultra-craft Vermont Cider Co., iconic Woodchuck, fruit-forward Wyder’s as well as the classic Magners Irish Cider and Blackthorn, rounding out our import offerings. Vermont Cider Company reinvigorated American hard cider in 1991, with the launch of Woodchuck, and stays focused on the category today through our commitment to crafting innovative and refreshing hard ciders.

Price:  n/a (retails for $9.99-10.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells of yeast brought to the surface by carbonation.

Tasting Notes:  Dry to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  No sourness, bitterness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of green apple, pear, and pineapple.  Moderate length finish.  Low to moderate flavor intensity, complexity, and apple & pear flavor.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  This is probably the driest cider I’ve had from Woodchuck, but it still wasn’t completely dry (not that I really expected that from a commercial cidery).  Fuller bodied than I expected for the dryness, but all of Woodchuck’s ciders seem to end up that way.  Nice light flavor, easy to drink, and higher carbonation.

Most Similar to:  A drier and more bubbly version of Crispin Pear or Angry Orchard Pear.  Its actually pretty rare to have a drier pear cider – looking at my list the only one I can think of is Neigel Vintners (now Pear UP) Half Past Prudent, which is no longer made.

Closing Notes:  Next up will be a review of their Rosé, released at the same time – both are said to be inspired by wine and have higher carbonation.

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Have you tried Woodchuck Pearsecco?  What did you think?

Somersby Apple Cider

Review of Somersby Apple Cider.  It is my first time trying this, although I have had their Citrus Fruit cider.

Cider:  Apple Cider
Cidery:  Somersby
Cidery Location:  Copenhagen Denmark
ABV:  4.5%
How Supplied:  draft (and cans and bottles)
Style:  commercial cider from dessert apples, back sweetened

Availability:  wide release

Cider Description:  Somersby Apple is refreshing cider made from fermented apple juice and natural apple flavouring. No artificial sweeteners, flavours or colourings. Its uniquely juicy apple taste makes it a tasty and natural choice for the relaxed moments with your friends. Best served over ice for maximum happiness… Enjoy!

Cidery Description:  Lord Somersby is the father of many great discoveries – but the most famous of them all is probably Somersby cider, which was once known as the favorite drink of celebrities like Napoleon, Cleopatra and Newton. Or at least that is what we have heard.

Available in many different delicious variants but the most popular variants of the Somersby portfolio is Apple, Pear and Blackberry. Somersby has obtained a reputation of spreading joy and sunny togetherness where ever it is served and attracting curious and open-minded people from all over the world.

If you are attracted to Somersby – but not exactly in the mood of travelling all over the world to taste one, don’t worry. You can enjoy a refreshing bottle of Somersby in more than 43 countries.  

Price:  ~ $7 CAN / pint
Where Bought & Drank:  a bar in Victoria B.C. Canada
How Found:  this was their only cider on draft

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Low to moderate carbonation.  Smells of apple juice.  Served with a few ice cubes.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of apple juice with a hint of grapefruit.  Quick finish.  High apple flavor and sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  This was surprisingly tasty.  It really hit the spot after walking around all morning.  Way better tasting than their ‘Citrus Fruit’ variety (which I found to be overly sweet and artificial tasting).  Yes it is definitely in the alcoholic apple juice category, but for me this one wasn’t overly sweet, syrupy, fake, etc, and a better choice than many other commercial ciders.  As much as I enjoy craft and especially heritage ciders, sometimes you just want something easy to drink and/or have to drink whatever is the best available option.

Most Similar to:  Stella Artois Cidre

Closing Notes:  I don’t think I’ve seen this sold in my area, but I believe it is available in some other parts of the U.S.

Have you tried Somersby?  What did you think?

Portland Cider Pumpkin Spice

Review of Portland Cider’s Pumpkin Spice, a seasonal spiced cider (no pumpkin, just pie spices).  It is my first time trying this, although I have had their Passion FruitPearfect Perry, Kinda DryHop’RageousLondon Dry GinAppleCrooked Cock ScrumpyStrawperryPineappleSangriaMojitoCranberry, and Concord Grape.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Portland Cider.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Cider:  Pumpkin Spice
Cidery: Portland Cider
Cidery Location:  Portland OR
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  22oz bottles (and draft)
Style:  craft cider from dessert apples with pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, clove, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg)

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Availability:  seasonally, in fall (Sept-Nov), in Oregon and Washington

Cider Description:  Take the flavors of Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Allspice, and Ginger, blend them in just the right proportions, and you get our Pumpkin Spice cider. Full of all the spices of your favorite pumpkin pie, this cider is a delicious tribute to the flavors of autumn.  A familiar Fall spice blend blended to pair perfectly with a classic American semi-sweet apple cider made with 100% Northwest apples.

Cidery Description:  Portland Cider Company was started in October 2012 by an Oregonian and a family of British expats with the mission of bringing cider, handcrafted in the English tradition, to the Northwest. It has two taproom locations: Portland Cider House at 3638 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, OR 97214; and Portland Cider Co. Taproom & Cidery at 8925 SE Jannsen Rd, Bldg. F, Clackamas, OR 97015.

Price:  unknown
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells of sweet apple juice and spice.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Low acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of tart apple, pie spices, and citrus.  Moderate length finish with a hint of ginger.  Low apple flavor and complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity and sessionability.  Low to moderate spice level.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  Definitely drier than expected based on the style and the scent.  It also interestingly seemed to have more of a fresh tart apple flavor than the baked apple flavor which I more often pick up with spiced ciders, although maybe that is more of a perceived thing?  Spiced cider isn’t my favorite, but my husband enjoys it, and was especially a fan of this one, due to it being on the drier side.

Most Similar to:  Elemental Seasonal Spiced Apple

Closing Notes:  I always find it interesting when products are labeled as “pumpkin spice”, as I think pumpkin + spice, when the convention is just referring to the spices that go with pumpkin pie.  There are a handful of ciders that actually add pumpkin though, like Tieton Smoked Pumpkin, Woodchuck Pumpkin, Doc’s Pumpkin, Locust Pumpkin, and 2 Towns Hollow Jack.

Have you tried spiced cider?  What did you think?