Schilling Cider House Visit 33 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 33rd visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  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 there on a Thursday afternoon, before the event for the 4th anniversary of the cider house.  It has been so long since my last visit as its not on my way home from work anymore, as I now both live and work up North, so its a bit of a long drive.  I got a flight, as usual.  Its pretty sweet that even with all the ciders I’ve tried, there were still plenty of new-to-me varieties (I skipped some which didn’t sound interesting though).

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<left to right:  Schilling Passionfruit Lime, Schilling Imperial Passport, Channel Marker Cucumber Blackberry, Schilling Impearial, and Cider Head Pineapple Rum>

Schilling (Auburn WA) Passionfruit Lime (8.0% ABV):  This is a draft-only trial of a passionfruit cider with lime.  Semi-sweet.  Full bodied, and juice-like.  Notes of tart passionfruit and orange with a lime finish.  Hidden ABV.  I especially enjoyed the lime flavor.

Schilling (Auburn WA) Imperial Passport (8.5% ABV):  This is a draft-only trial of an imperial (higher ABV) version of their “Passport” cider, pineapple-passionfruit.  Very similar to the one above, except with pineapple instead of lime.  On the sweeter side of semi-sweet.  Full bodied, and juice-like.  Tart notes of passionfruit with hints of pineapple and mango.  Hidden ABV.  I like both this and the original version of Passport (see my review of a similar cider here).

Channel Marker (Seattle WA) Cucumber Blackberry (7.0% ABV):  This is my second time trying their cider.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Very tart.  Slightly fruity, but to me it was more cranberry-pomegranate than blackberry, and I didn’t pick up any cucumber.  I thought it was average.

Schilling (Auburn WA) Impearial (8.5% ABV):  This is a draft-only trial version of sweeter version of their new Excelsior (see my review here), except with pear.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Notes of tart pear, bittersweet apple, and oak.  Hidden ABV.  I liked this, especially as it is less tart as the canned version of Excelsior.

Honey Moon Mead & Cider (Bellingham WA) Cider Head Pineapple Rum (6.1% ABV):  This appears to be a draft-only new release.  Nearly clear and nearly scent-less.  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Mild pineapple flavor with an alcohol-forward rum & oak finish.  I would have preferred more flavor with this one.

My favorites were the three Schilling releases.  I also got a pint of the Passionfruit Lime, but didn’t finish it, as it was a bit filling and sweet to have in that quantity.  I was able to pick up some bottles to take home, but they were out of my favorite English ciders, so I guess I’ll just have to come back!  I tried a new food option this time, a poke bowl from Just Poke (a few doors down the street), which was awesome.

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

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Cider Summit Seattle 2018 Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

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

The Tasting Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Summary

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

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

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

Schilling Excelsior

Review of Schilling Excelsior.  I first tried this on draft (see here), but I wanted to do a full review of a bottle.  I’ve also tried Schilling’s Oak Aged, Gold, Grapefruit, ChaiderGingerHoppedSriracha LimeBarrel #1Barrel #2Mischief Maker Pom-CranGrumpy Bear Coffee NitroPineapple PassionLumberJack (Rhubarb)Blackberry PearDryKing’s ShillingVanilla CloveRaspberry SmoothiePeach Grapefruit HabaneroBailoutTrouble in ParadiseBlueberry CobblerFrench BittersweetPippinAfterglowRoad Trip (Peach Citra)Grapefruit & ChillBoysenberry PommeauCampfire, and Watermelon Mint,

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Cider:  Excelsior
Cidery:  Schilling Cider
Cidery Location:  Auburn (Seattle) WA
ABV:  8.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (plus draft, and soon, six packs of 12oz cans)
Style:  American craft imperial-style cider from dessert & bittersweet cider apples

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Availability:  Schilling Cider is sold at least in AK, AZ, CA, CT, ID, MN, NC, NV, OR, SC, VA, and WA, but this July 2018 release may have more limited distribution.  Also, it is unclear whether this is a limited release, seasonal release, or new year-round offering.

Cider Description:  Dear Earthlings, Schilling Cider has been on a lifelong quest to create a revolutionary cider.  We have dreamt of a world that offers an imperial canned cider that stays true to its roots, without any added nonsense.  Today, we introduce you to Excelsior, an Imperial Apple Cider that combined old world cider techniques with new world innovation.  We start with fresh-pressed Washington-grown apples, add heirloom cider fruit, then ferment with a hand-selected yeast strain.  This unique process highlights the apples’ aroma and tannin structure.  The addition of traditional cider apples builds complexity, adds depth, and creates a sessionable imperial cider.  Grab a bottle and get ready to blast off!

Cidery Description:  In 1881, Colin Schilling’s great-great-grandfather, August, founded the Schilling Spice Company in San Francisco. He brought pure, natural, spices to everyone, at a fair price. Today, at Schilling Cider, we carry August’s core values forward and pair them with innovative cider-making techniques to produce quality, complex, hard ciders.  Based in Seattle, Washington, Schilling Cider captures the essence of the Pacific Northwest by creating ciders that are deliberately innovative, bold and flavor forward. Never back-sweetened, we use only 100% fresh pressed apples, locally sourced non-GMO ingredients and individually hand select yeast strains to create a cider experience that is truly unique.

Price:  $6.99
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I tried it on draft that day

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First Impression:  Medium golden hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells mild, apple-forward, with a hint of richness.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of apple pomace (skin), caramel, orange, leather, lemon, and brown sugar.  Long tart tannic finish.  Moderate apple flavor, complexity, flavor intensity, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  This has some great flavor.  The level of sweetness is perfect, as it helps cut the acidity and bitterness, and hides the higher ABV.

Most Similar to:  a cross between English, American heritage, and American modern ciders

Closing Notes:  Its really neat to see a very large craft cidery do a large release of a cider made even partially from cider apples.  Although others have done this, it wasn’t on as large of a scale.  Also, even though the cider apples were used in a blend, unlike most others I’ve tried, the bittersweet characteristics were still quite evident.  A big benefit of this being a large release and the cider apples being only part of the blend is the lower price, which at under $7 is in-line with most other ciders in 500ml bottles.

Have you tried any ciders made from bittersweet cider apples?  What did you think?

Schilling Cider House Visit 32 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 32nd visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  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 there on a Friday around lunchtime as I got off work early.  It has been so long since my last visit as its not on my way home from work anymore, as I now both live and work up North, so its a bit of a long drive.  I got a flight, as usual.  Its pretty sweet that even with all the ciders I’ve tried, there were 5 new-to-me varieties.

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<left to right:  Schilling Excelsior, Schilling Campfire, Woodbox Heritage,
Channel Marker Lavender Bergamot, and Redstone Cyser>

Schilling (Auburn WA) Excelsior (8.5% ABV):  This is their new Imperial-style cider made from bittersweet and dessert apples, also available in bottles (I picked one up – $7 / 500ml – an amazing value), and soon, cans.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Nice rich bittersweet apple flavor with some caramel and orange.  Hints of tannins and bitterness.  Noticeable ABV.  The tartness picked up as it warmed.  I liked that they left this a bit sweeter, which makes it even more flavorful, and likely helps cut down on the bitterness.  This is quite different from English cider, but was not advertised as English-style, which I appreciate (it seems like every U.S. cider I’ve had that was labeled as English-style didn’t come even close, which is understandable as even if the same techniques and apples were used, which often isn’t the case, the terrior and cidermaker experience is different here).  Excellent, and a great use of the bittersweet apples.  Lately I’ve been seeing them used in blends with heirloom apples, which I think tends to hide their flavor.  Its great to see a cidery use them exclusively, make a product that is likely to be fairly widely appealing (vs. going dry & bitter with it), and still come in at an awesome price point!

Schilling (Auburn WA) Campfire (6.5% ABV):  This is their new draft-only “Smokey Vanilla Bourbon” cider, bourbon barrel aged.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Smells of vanilla extract.  The vanilla flavor is less intense than it smells, and it finishes with smoke, bourbon, and oak.  Moderately flavored.  I really enjoyed it, and wouldn’t consider it a novelty at all.  It would be neat to see this bottled.

Woodbox (Portland OR) Heritage (8.1% ABV):  This is the first cider I’ve tried from them besides their barrel aged ice cider (see here).  This is their flagship cider, made from heirloom, English, and French apple varieties, partially wild fermented, and also available in bottles.  Smells sour.  Semi-dry to dry.  The flavor is tart heirloom apples with some citrus.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  Hints of sourness.  I didn’t personally care for this due to the sourness and bitterness and as the flavor was a bit nuanced.  These sorts of farmstyle ciders seem to be getting more common though, so there must be a demand.

Channel Marker (Seattle WA) Lavender Bergamot (6.9% ABV):  This is the first time I’ve tried anything from this cidery, which was established in 2016 but I didn’t start to hear about until quite recently.  This variety is made with lavender and bergamot (a type of oranage – I had to look that up), and said to be their cidermaker’s favorite.  Hazy hue.  Semi-dry to dry.  Very tart and bitter.  The lavender was only present in the scent and the finish for me.  In between was a tart bitter apple-citrus flavor.  I didn’t like this one at all.

Redstone (Boulder CO) Cyser (8.0% ABV):  The meads (honey wines) from this meadery are fairly widely distributed, in blue glass bottles.  This is the first cyser (from apples and honey) I’ve seen from them, although I’ve tried at least one of their meads previously.  Sweet.  Full bodied.  Simple honey-apple flavor (with more honey than apple) with hints of caramel.  Well-hidden ABV.  I liked it.  However, although they are a nice budget-friendly mead & cyser option, but don’t really stand up against some of the higher quality more complex (and admittedly mostly more expensive) meads I’ve tried, such as from Superstition (Prescott AZ), Æsir (Everett WA), Sky River (Woodinville WA) and Moonlight (Londonderry NH).

I also had a taste of a new cider they just tapped.

Schilling (Auburn WA) Watermelon Mint (6.6% ABV):  This is a brand new tap-only release.  Smells of watermelon toothpaste.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Very light bodied.  The mild flavor was all watermelon, with a hint of mint on the finish.  Refreshing.  I liked it, although its not something I’d really choose to drink a pint of.

My favorites were Schilling’s Excelsior and Campfire and the Redstone Cyser.  I also picked up some bottles, as usual, as they have an excellent selection (and prices) – I got a bottle of the Excelsior (for $7, why not?), Alpenfire’s new Foxwhelp single varietal, a new to this area Worley’s English cider (Red Hen), restocked my supply of go-to English ciders (Newton Court’s Gasping Goose and Dunkertons Black Fox), and got a fancy barrel aged Moonlight cyser.  Plus at PCC down the street I picked up a four-pack of Locust Watermelon (it was the first time I had seen it in cans – I tried it on draft awhile back).

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

Schilling Cider House Visit 31 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 31st visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

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I was there on a Tuesday afternoon with my husband, during our Winter Break.  I got a flight, as usual.

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<left to right:  Dragon’s Head Manchurian, Number 6 Peach, Sea Cider Sassamanash, Alpenfire Traditional Heirloom, Elemental Acai, and 2 Towns Naughty & Nice>

Dragon’s Head (Vashon WA) Manchurian (6.9% ABV):  This is made from Manchurian Crabapples, and also available in bottles.  Dry.  Moderate tartness and high acidity.  Mild flavor, with notes of citrus, honey, stone fruit, and floral.

Number 6 (Seattle WA) Peach (unknown ABV):  This appears to be a draft-only cider, but I couldn’t find anything online about it.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Definite moderate peach flavor, but it finished with an odd sourness I wasn’t a fan of.

Sea Cider (Saanichton, B.C., Canada) Sassamanash (9.9% ABV):  This is a new seasonal release, with cranberry and hibiscus, and also available in bottles.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Mild cranberry flavor with a hint of floral.  I enjoyed this more once it warmed up a bit, and you’d never guess it was nearly 10% ABV.

Alpenfire (Port Townsend WA) Traditional Heirloom (6.9% ABV):  This is the name for their rotating draft-only cider from heirloom apples.  Dry.  Low tartness and moderate acidity, with some mild tannins.  The flavor was very mild, mostly citrus with some floral.  This one was also more enjoyable once it warmed up a bit, as it was less sharp.  I’ve had this previously, but it was likely a different batch; see here.

Elemental (Woodinville WA) Acai (6.0% ABV):  This appears to be a tap-only release.  Semi-dry.  I don’t know what acai tastes like, but I found it to have a mild pomegranate-cranberry flavor.  Moderate tartness and acidity.

2 Towns (Corvallis OR) Nice & Naughty (10.5% ABV):  This is an imperial spiced cider, also available in bottles.  Semi-dry.  Apple-forward with some mild pie spices.  I’ve had this before, see here (and I’ve also had the draft-only barrel aged version of it; see here).

I also got a larger pour of Reverend Nat’s The Passion, which I’ve had previously (see here).  Then, my friend and manager of the cider house Sarah shared some ciders.

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Reverend Nat’s (Portland OR) The Passion (6.9% ABV):  This cider is made using passion fruit juice, coconut, and vanilla, and also available in bottles.  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate passion fruit flavor with hints of coconut, vanilla, and pineapple.  Yummy!

Carlton Cyderworks (McMinnville OR) Summer Set (7.1% ABV):  This is made from heirloom apples.  Semi-dry.  Moderate tartness and high acidity.  Sharp heirloom apple flavor, with notes of citrus, floral, and honey.

Oliver’s (Hereford UK) Desire (4.2% ABV): This is a keeved English cider, which drank similar to a French cider, except it was still.  Semi-sweet.  Lovely rich bittersweet apple flavor with some caramel and brown sugar notes, and even some tannins.  Awesome!

My favorites were the selections from Sea Cider, Alpenfire, Reverend Nat’s, and Oliver’s.

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

My Favorite Ciders of 2017

Happy New Year!  Now that it is 2018, it is time for a list of some of my favorite ciders of 2017.  This is becoming a tradition; see here for my list from 2016 and 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 enjoy, as it would be an impossible task to try every cider out there and be impartial.  The cider world is very regional, so likely only readers in the NW would have a similar selection.  My only criteria for this list is that I drank the cider in 2017.  Some of the categories overlap.  Truth be told, for the most part, I made the list first, then determined categories to put them in!

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Budget-Friendly French Cidre:  Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidre Brut (Brittany) or L’Hermitiére Cidre Brut (Normandy) – These selections retail for $4.99 and $7.99 respectively.  The Dan Armor is only sold at Trader Joe’s.  Both are on the sweeter side of semi-dry and are true to their respective styles (although the Normandy one is more beginner friendly than many others, as it lacks sourness and only has minimal funk).  The Dan Armor is one of my top picks to introduce folks to good cider with, as it is different from sweet commercial selections, but not so out there as to turn folks off to it.  Its also a nice gauge on sweetness, as it is in the middle of the range.

 

Fancy French Cidre:  Domaine de la Minotiere Cidre Fermier Bio Doux or Pierre Huet AOC Pays D’Auge Cidre – I tried so many amazing French cidres this year that I had to include more than one!  These selections cost a tad more than the previous two, $12 and $19.99 respectively, but also have more complexity.  Both of these are low ABV selections, and the Doux was significantly sweeter, as expected for the classification.

 

English Cidre:  Newton Court Gasping Goose (330ml bottles) or Henney’s Vintage (500ml bottles) – Both of these English imports are very budget friendly and tasty.  A bit sweeter than some English ciders (on the sweeter side of semi-dry), rich, and tannic, but not bitter.  Newton Court is available in Seattle, but I’ve only seen the Henney’s in Portland (and only tried the one bottle).

 

Swiss cider:  Cidrerie du Vulcain Premiers Emois – This cider from Switzerland reminds me of French cidre, but has a style all its own.  It was made from Organic native heirloom apples, and wild yeast fermented using traditional methods.  The result was a semi-sweet cider with an awesome fluffy texture and complex fruitiness (but with less apple and yeast forward flavor as most French cidres).

European-Style U.S. cider:  2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche – This cider is by far the closest to a French cidre than any other U.S. cider I’ve tried.  It was a noticeable improvement from last year’s vintage as well.  Lots of rich ripe bittersweet apple flavor.  Unfortunately it costs more than most French cidres, as even with the import cost, their production costs are lower, as cider apple varieties aren’t rare like they are here.

 

Perry:  Ramborn Perry – I tried two selections from Ramborn Cider in Luxembourg.  This perry was complex and amazing, with notes of canned pear, dried pear, mango, pineapple, and guava.  Like most perries, as pears have unfermentable sugars, it was a bit sweeter, semi-sweet to semi-dry.

New England style:  Cockrell Colonial Winter – This cider is of true New England style, a high ABV cider with the addition to raisins and brown sugar.  Rich, complex, and perfect for winter.  It is my favorite version of this style so far.

 

Food-Friendly Cider:  Eden Semi-Dry or Eden Guineveres Pearls – Of these, the Semi-Dry is drier, much easier to find, and less expensive.  Both however are excellent selections, quite flavorful, but without anything that would overwhelm or clash with most meals.  They are also some of the most tannic on this list, same as the English selections.

 

Rosé:  Alpenfire Glow – This sweet cider is made from rare red fleshed apples, and similar to Eve’s Rustica (listed below), is amazingly fruity, with a high flavor intensity.  Here the flavor notes were watermelon, strawberry, and rhubarb.  It was a perfect Valentine’s Day cider (a gift from my husband – he knows me well)!

Barrel Aged:  Finnriver Fire Barrel – Note that this pertains to the previous releases of this cider.  I haven’t been nearly as big of a fan of Fire Barrel once they moved to 750ml bottles, as it was not nearly as flavorful (plus the price increased significantly).  In the older version, I love the complexity, intense barrel aged flavor (which is rarely found in cider), and high tannins.

 

Fruity:  2 Towns Prickle Me Pink ^2 – This cider was made using prickly pear cactus fruit, plus, new for this year, watermelon.  The result is a fluorescent pink fruity cider which is surprisingly complex and flavorful, yet fairly dry.

Rich:  Angry Orchard Maple Wooden Sleeper – This cider was made from bittersweet apples, with Crown maple syrup, then bourbon barrel aged for 12 months.  It resulted in a 12% ABV cider, super rich and complex, with a flavor profile including caramel, brown sugar, maple, oak, vanilla, bourbon, and molasses.  This was a truly artisan small batch cider, worlds away from their typical commercial releases.

 

Spicy:  2 Towns Man Gogh – I’ve never been a fan of spicy ciders, but I finally found one I could enjoy!  Here the hint of spice (from habaneros) was balanced by the fruitiness, sweetness, and acidity of the cider with mango.  This was an imperial cider, but way too easy to drink.

Commercial:  Spire Mountain Dark & Dry – I typically drink craft ciders, but I still drink commercial ciders from time to time.  This one is far from dry (more like semi-sweet), but is dark, and has some great molasses flavor.  It pairs really well with greasy food, like a burger or fish & chips.

 

Unique:  Eve’s Rustica – This is Eve’s sweetest cider (besides their ice cider), and my favorite.  I loved all the flavor they were able to showcase without any additions (just apples & yeast), with notes of honey, cream, vanilla, melon, strawberry, watermelon, pineapple, and peach.

Unexpected:  Snowdrift Cidermaker’s Reserve – This cider was made from heirloom & cider apples, but in contrast had a very unique unexpected flavor profile, with pomegranate, white grape, stone fruit, leather, butterscotch, and citrus notes.  It is unique, complex, and bubbly.  My husband is also an especially big fan of this cider.

 

Value:  Schilling King’s Shilling – I’ve picked up a 22oz bottle of this for as low as $4 (at Total Wine, actually cheaper than at the Cider House), which is a steal for a tasty barrel aged brandy infused cider.  This is more sessionable than you’d expect too.  Semi-dry and semi-sweet, with notes of honey and citrus, plus hints of maple syrup, oak, and spice.

Unexpected & Value:  Finnegan Cider Harvest Blend – This was another unexpectedly awesome cider which was also a great value.  I picked this up in Portland, for just over $7 for 500ml of cider from cider apples.  Semi-dry, with richness, high carbonation, and notes of rich ripe apples, caramel, leather, orange, stone fruit, honey, oak, and apple brandy.

 

Favorite from a New-to-Me cidery:  Woodbox Double Barrel Whiskey Barrel Ice Cider – This was the first (and only) cider I have tried from Woodbox, at Cider Rite of Spring in Portland.  I bought a bottle, but haven’t wanted to open it yet.  Lots of whiskey flavor in addition to caramel, vanilla, oak, and more.  It was rather budget-friendly for an ice cider too, at $17 / 375ml.

Pommeau:  2 Towns Pommeau – This remains my favorite Pommeau.  Super flavorful, rich, and complex, with notes of ripe apples, oak, dried fruit, leather, brown sugar, caramel, burnt sugar, vanilla, tropical fruit, and peaches.

 

Ice Cider:  Eden Cellar Series The Falstaff – This year I was spoiled with an amazing treat, a bottle of Eden’s 7! year barrel aged ice cider.  This ties with Alpenfire Smoke for the most complex cider I’ve ever drank.  The flavor was all over the place, from molasses, caramel, and brown sugar, to tart green apple and lemon, to raisin, to pie spices.

Overall:  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 be it.  However, it is not an everyday sort of cider.  They recently released a new batch of it, but I haven’t tried it yet (I’m still working on my stockpile of the old version).

Other:  Also, while I’m at it, my favorite cider event in 2017 was Cider Summit Seattle, my favorite (and only) class was by Rev Nat, and my favorite bottle shop & bar was Schilling Cider House.

Well, there you have it, a list of 26 of my favorite ciders from 2017.  They have a lot in common–most are rich and full-flavored.  What are some of your favorite ciders?

Schilling Cider House Visit 30 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 30th visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

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I was there on a Monday during Washington Cider Week.  They had a Finnriver event with cider trivia that evening, but I left before it got underway.  I got a flight, as usual.  Four were new to me, and the two Alpenfire ciders were repeats that I’m always happy to retry.

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<left to right:  Greenwood Wild Blush, Hi Five Hop Hearder, Greenwood Peach, Schilling Boysenberry Pommeau, Alpenfire Apocalypso, and Alpenfire Glow>

Greenwood (Seattle WA) Blush (7.3% ABV):  Hazy orange hue.  This is also newly available in bottles (as well as their Dry, Hopped, and Huckleberry ciders).  Smells of citrus, specifically, tangerine.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Low sourness, tartness, and acidity.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  The flavor was odd for me, sour tangerine with a hint of berry, but my palate doesn’t like sour / it tends to overwhelm the other flavors for me.

^ Five (Portland OR) Hop Hearder (6.5% ABV):  Hi Five is newly distributed to the Seattle area, and this cider is also available in cans (including at the Schilling Cider House).  Dry.  Moderate to strong hops flavor, plus citrus.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate bitterness.  Moderate flavor intensity.  I’ve been getting more into hopped ciders, but I think this was a bit much for me, between it being fully dry and quite hoppy.

Greenwood (Seattle WA) Peach (7.8% ABV):  Another likely tap only release, left over from the Greenwood tap night.  Semi-dry.  Low tartness, acidity, and sourness.  More citrus and general stone fruit than specific peach flavor.  Low flavor intensity.  It was a popular option for folks who like sour ciders, but I don’t.

Schilling (Auburn WA) Boysenberry Pommeau (21.5% ABV):  This is a tap-only special release, probably from the Schilling Cider House’s 3rd birthday party the previous week.  Pommeau is a mix of apple brandy (distilled) and apple cider (either fermented or non-fermented).  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, bitterness, and tannins.  Intense berry and rich red wine flavor (I wouldn’t be surprised if it was apple brandy + apple juice + boysenberry juice, then red wine barrel aged).  Long warming finish.  High flavor intensity.  This was really unique and tasty, and the first flavored Pommeau I can remember trying or even hearing about.

I’ve had the two Alpenfire ciders a number of times, but I always order their ciders if I see them on draft, as they don’t do many kegs (mostly Apocalypso and their Traditional Heirloom Cider series, plus some Glow every so often).

Alpenfire (Port Townsend WA) Apocalypso (6.9% ABV):   This is a tap-only version of their Calypso rum barrel aged blackberry cider which has extra blackberries.  Semi-sweet.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of tannins.  Compared to other batches I’ve tried (like this one), it seems like it had less rum & oak influence, but more berry flavor.  I liked it, but I wish it had been the other way around.

Alpenfire (Port Townsend WA) Glow (6.8% ABV):  This cider is made from red-fleshed Hidden Rose apples.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Less flavorful than I remember, likely as this batch is drier than I remember as well.  Small cideries often have some variation in their ciders batch to batch.  However, it still had the characteristic strawberry and watermelon notes from the special apples, and maybe even a hint of kiwi type flavor and extra tartness this time around.  See my previous review here.

My favorites were the Pommeau and the two Alpenfire ciders.  I didn’t really care for the other three, as two were sour and the other was a bit too hoppy.

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