Schilling Cider House Visit 28 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 28th 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 random Friday afternoon.  There were only 2 ciders on the board out of 32 that I hadn’t tried, so that meant I got to order some of my favorites.

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<left to right:  Incline Rosé, Finnriver Lavender Black Currant, Portland Sangria, NV Cider Watermelon Pear, Aspall Dry, and Snowdrift Cornice>

Incline (Auburn WA) Compass Rosé (6.5% ABV):  This was the only new-to-me cider in my flight.  It appears to be a year round release, and is also available in cans.  Like all their ciders, it is hopped, plus hibiscus, elderflower, ginger, and rose petals were added (no grape, which is typical for a rosé).  Pale pink hue.  Very mild fruity scent.  Notes of grape, watermelon, and strawberry to start.  As it warmed up, I got a hint of hops and some floral & herbal flavor.  I didn’t pick up any ginger (which is good, as I don’t like it).  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied. Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Mild flavor intensity.  Interesting that I found it more fruity than floral, but maybe I was tasting what I expected (I only found out later what was added).  I enjoyed it.

Finnriver (Chimacum WA) Lavender Black Currant (6.9% ABV):  This is a special release, also available in bottles, which I’ve tried previously (see here), similar to their regular Black Currant (see here).  This batch seemed a bit less sweet, with more lavender.  Too bad it wasn’t on one of their 2 Nitro taps, as that is a special treat.  I enjoyed it.

Portland Cider (Portland OR) Sangria (5.5% ABV):  This is a relatively new year round release, also available in bottles, which I’ve tried previously (see here).  This batch was a bit less flavorful and a bit fuller bodied, but still plenty fruity.  I enjoyed it.

Pear Up / NV Cider (East Wenatchee WA) Watermelon Pear (5.3% ABV):  This is a year round release, also available in bottles, which I’ve tried previously (see here).  This batch had much more pear than watermelon flavor, and had a hint of vinegar flavor & sourness.  I didn’t really care for it this time around with the slightly off flavor.  Their raspberry perry is my favorite so far (see here).

Aspall (Suffolk England) Dry (6.8% ABV):  This is an English import, available year round, also in bottles, which I’ve tried previously (see here).  Their Dry is actually my least favorite of their line-up, but still plenty good.  Their Imperial is my favorite so far (see here); too bad they stopped selling the black label version of it though, as that was a truly amazing cider.

Snowdrift (Wenatchee WA) Cornice (7.5% ABV):  This is a year round release, also available in bottles, which I’ve tried previously see here).  This batch of this barrel agsed cider was a bit more fruity / less rich.  I enjoyed it.

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 26 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 26th 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 Thursday night when they had Schilling Cider’s 4th anniversary party.  I started with half a flight, waiting for them to put more on tap once the event started.

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Snowdrift (Wenatchee WA) Orchard Select (7.3% ABV):  The scent has hints of funk.  Fully dry.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low to moderate bitterness, especially on the finish.  Low funk.  Hints of sourness.  Low to moderate tannins.  Sharp flavor with citrus, herbal, and possibly crab apple notes.  I found this a bit harsh for my liking between the dryness, sharpness, and acidity.  I think their Cliffbreaks Blend is more likable, although that is significantly sweeter.  Fans of dry cider from cider apples will likely really enjoy it; I think it reminds me of a lot of ciders I’ve had from the Northeast.

Locust Cider (Woodinville WA) Hibiscus (5.0% ABV):  This appears to be a draft-only special release.  Pink hue.  Smells floral and fruity.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  More fruity than floral, with notes of rhubarb, strawberry, and watermelon.  I really enjoyed it.  I’m curious what they added to this.

Eric Bordelet (Normandy France) Nouvelle Vague Sidre (5.0% ABV):  This is the first time I’ve seen this variety in the U.S. (although we get a handful of their ciders in bottles).  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low carbonation.  Low tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate tannins.  Low bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Simple but tasty flavor profile, apple and yeast forward.  This reminded me a bit of English cider in addition to French cider, with a higher level of tannins, clean flavor (no funk), and lower carbonation (although likely to it being on draft vs. bottled).  I enjoyed it, especially as it warmed up.

Next Sarah shared some of a Hogan’s 3 liter bag-in-box variety (retails for $33, which works out to $8.25 / 750ml).

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Hogan’s Cider (Alcester United Kingdom) Hazy Daisy (3.9% ABV):  I’ve only seen this in the 3L bag-in-box in the U.S.  Semi-dry.  Still.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, and tannins.  Hints of bitterness, funk, and sourness.  The flavor is very mild, apple and citrus forward.  This would be a perfect summer session cider, and possibly my favorite from Hogan’s so far oddly enough (I’ve also tried Medium Cider and Picker’s Passion), as it had a bit less sourness (especially compared to the Medium).  I enjoyed it.

The full event lineup was finally on tap a bit after the event started at 6pm.  It ended up being a lot of the usual suspects, sours, and high ABV barrel aged spirit-style ciders.  I ended up only ordering one more thing, as it was getting late for me and very very busy.

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Schilling Cider (Auburn WA) French Bittersweet (unknown ABV):  A draft-only special release from French bittersweet apple juice.  Very dark hazy brown hue, like unfiltered non-alcoholic cider.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Moderate tannins and bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  The flavor was very cider apple juice forward–it really didn’t taste alcoholic.  I think this may have been the same cider I tried at Cider Rite of Spring which tasted just like juice to me (maybe it was there?).

My favorites were the Locust, Eric Bordelet, and Hogan’s.

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 23 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 23rd visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

taplist

I was there on a Thursday for a Portland Cider tap takeover / luau / potluck.  I started with a flight.

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<left to right:  Alpenfire Glow, Sandford The General, Liberty Cellar Series, Bad Granny Green Apple, Portland Mojito, and Tieton Russian Red>

Alpenfire Cider (Port Townsend WA) Glow (6.8% ABV):  This is a drier version of their Glow (made from red fleshed apples) than is found in bottles (which I’ve reviewed here), apparently as it had to be significantly more filtered when kegged.  Semi-dry, compared to the bottled version which is semi-sweet to sweet.  Compared to the bottled version, its not nearly as flavorful (strawberry and watermelon notes) or complex, and is more tart and lighter bodied.  Very nice, but I prefer the intensely flavorful and sweet bottled version (which I have a bottle of in the fridge that my husband got me for Valentine’s Day).

Sandford Orchards (Crediton UK) The General (8.4% ABV):  This is the first time I’ve seen any cider from this English cidery.  This variety is made from Devon cider apples, then spirit-aged and casked.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness, acidity, and bitterness.  Low tannins.  Apple-forward flavor with some sharpness.  Moderate to long finish.  Low to moderate complexity.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, and flavor intensity.  This tasted like a typical English cider, although more bitter and less complex than I prefer.  Its good to see an international cider on tap, and made from cider apples too.

Liberty Ciderworks (Spokane WA) Cellar Series (8.0% ABV):  This is an unknown variety of their Cellar Series (they are usually named with a letter and two numbers), draft only.  Most of their cellar series ciders are wild yeast fermented and barrel aged.  Orange amber hue.  Dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  Hints of sourness and funk.  Low bitterness.  Sharp flavor with crabapple notes and hints of oak.  Moderate to long finish length.  Moderate apple flavor.  Low to moderate sessionability.  Low flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  I didn’t really like this one, as I found it a bit harsh.

Bad Granny (Lake Chelan WA) Green Apple (6.9% ABV):  This cider is made from dessert apples and sold both in tallboy cans and on draft.  Nearly clear hue.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Definite green apple flavor, plus some white grape.  Moderate apple flavor.  Low complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.  High sessionability.  I liked it.

Portland Cider (Portland OR) Mojito (6.7% ABV):  This draft-only limited release cider had mint, lemon, and lime added.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Notes of mint, citrus, and a hint of soap?  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.  The flavor of this seemed weird, but maybe it is just me.

Tieton Ciderworks (Yakima WA) Russian Red (6.9% ABV):  This draft-only special release cider is made from red fleshed apples (like Snowdrift Red and Alpenfire Glow).  Bright red hue.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  Notes of cranberry and cherry.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate to high flavor intensity and sessionability.  Moderate complexity.  I liked it.

They also had Portland’s Sangria and Pineapple ciders on tap.  The Sangria is especially awesome by the way.

Sarah also shared a new Snowdrift release with me:

Snowdrift Cider (East Wenatchee WA) Cidermakers Reserve (8.3% ABV):  They have had this Méthode Champenoise cider listed on their website for awhile, but I haven’t ever seen it, so I think they took a few years off from production (or else it was very limited release).  This batch is only available in bottles.  Odd scent which none of us could accurately describe, but it didn’t transfer to the flavor.  Semi-dry.  High carbonation.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Hints of tannins and bitterness.  Fruity, with notes of sharp pomegranate and some crabapple.  I really liked the flavor and the bubbles, but the scent was bizarre.

My favorites were the Alpenfire Glow, Tieton Russian Red, and Snowdrift CIdermakers Reserve.  The Bad Granny was good too, especially for its simplicity.  I really wanted to like Sandford Orchards The General as I’m an English cider fan, but it was quite bitter.

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 22 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 22nd 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 random Thursday.  I started with a flight.

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<left to right:  Cockrell Jonastar, Schilling Blueberry Cobbler, Seattle Cider Heirloom, and Snowdrift Seckel Perry>

Cockrell Brewing (Puyallup WA) Jonastar (6.9% ABV):  This is a single varietal from Jonastar apples, and is likely draft-only.  Slightly hazy medium straw yellow hue.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Hints of bitterness and sourness.  No funk or tannins.  Notes of lemon, grapefruit, floral, and green apple.  Low apple flavor.  Low complexity.  Low flavor intensity.  High sessionability.  I thought it was pretty average.

Schilling Cider (Auburn WA) Blueberry Cobbler (6.6% ABV):  This is a spiced blueberry cider, barrel aged 12 months, primarily available in bottles at Bartell Drugs (a collaboration; see here).  Cherry hue.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of blueberry, pie spices, and a hint of vanilla.  No apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  I didn’t pick up any barrel influence, but I imagine the other flavors could have overwhelmed them.  This cider was a bit weird for my tastes.

Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) Washington Heirloom (7.0% ABV):  This is a special release made from heirloom and cider apple varieties, also available in bottles.  Higher carbonation.  Medium straw yellow hue.  Semi-dry to dry.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of lemon, lime, floral, and herbal.  Low flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  I thought it was pretty average.  There was more heirloom than cider apple flavor.

Snowdrift Cider (East Wenatchee, WA) Seckel Perry (8.6% ABV):  This is a single-varietal perry (no apples, only pears) made from Seckel pears, also available in bottles.  Slightly hazy light straw yellow.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness, tannins, and sourness.  No funk.  Notes of pear, citrus, green apple, and floral.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate pear flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  I enjoyed it (more than their regular Perry, which I found had a lot of bitterness).

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Sarah also shared a bottle pour with me of a Spanish Sidra which is new to the U.S.

Pomarina (Asturias Spain, 7.0% ABV):  This Spanish Sidra was made in the style of methode champenoise (to naturally carbonate it).  Semi-dry.  Light bodied, frothy texture (although it had been open awhile so it didn’t have much carbonation left).  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low sourness.  Hints of bitterness.  No tannins or funk.  Notes of citrus and green apple.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate sessionability.  Low apple flavor.  Low flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  I found this more approachable than most Sidra, as it was less sour.  I’m not a fan of sourness though, so I didn’t care for it.

The Snowdrift Seckel Perry was my favorite.

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 15 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my fifteenth visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.  I was there on a Tuesday evening for a tasting event with Longdrop Cider (from the Boise Idaho area).

I started with a flight before the event, then sampled four Longdrop ciders (2 on tap, 1 bottled, and 1 canned) and a bit of a Canadian ice cider which Sarah opened.  There were supposed to be 4 kegs from Longdrop, but 2 didn’t make it in time.  I hadn’t previously tried any of their ciders.  Longdrop is relatively new to Washington (their ciders are sold throughout Idaho and in Seattle WA and Portland OR).  I got to meet their “head apple wrangler” (Chris Blanchard) and they had some giveaways (I got a sweet t-shirt).

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<left to right: Schilling Peach Grapefruit Habanero, Red Tank Roughneck, Whitewood Winesap, Farnum Hill Dooryard, Jester & Judge Pineapple, and Snowdrift Semi-Dry>

Schilling Peach Grapefruit Habanero, 5.0% ABV, Auburn WA:  This is a one-off keg of their Grapefruit cider infused with peach and habanero.  I’ve tried many of their ciders.  Very hazy.  Smells like grapefruit with some definite spiciness.  Semi-sweet.  Moderate tartness.  Mild acidity.  I didn’t really taste any peach, only grapefruit, and the spiciness was overwhelming for me.  Long spicy finish.  I learned that the Cider House will maintain one “spicy” tap line, and this currently replaces their Sriracha Lime.  I couldn’t do more than two tiny sips of this one; my favorites from them remain King’s Shilling and Pineapple Paradise.

Red Tank Roughneck, 6.5% ABV, Bend OR:  This is one of their flagship ciders.  I’ve tried a few of their ciders.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  A hint of bitterness and sourness.  Kinda bland / low flavor intensity, but it had a bit of unfiltered apple juice flavor, yeast, and earthiness.  For unfiltered ciders, I prefer 2 Towns OutCider.

Whitewood Winesap, 6.8% ABV, Olympia WA:  A special release tap-only cider.  I’ve tried a few of their ciders.  Semi-dry. Moderate tartness and acidity.  A hint of tannins.  Slightly sharp, apple-forward, and citrus-forward.  It mellowed out a bit as it warmed up.  Medium bodied.  I found this similar to the other single varietal winesap apple ciders I’ve tried from Blue Mountain and Locust, and slightly wine-like.  My favorite from them is the Whiskey Barrel Aged Kingston Black, which is one of my all time favorite ciders (and I was only able to sample a bit twice; hopefully it is released in bottles sometime).

Farnum Hill Dooryard, 7.5% ABV, Lebanon NH:  This is one of their best selling / flagship ciders; Farnum Hill typically labels the different batches of this cider with a code, and you can look up what is in them online (they vary apple varieties and such quite a bit under the same Dooryard label), but I don’t know what batch this was.  Also available in bottles, and sold from their Poverty Lane Orchard in growlers.  I’ve previously only tried their Extra Dry cider.  Dry.  Mild tartness and acidity.  Mild to moderate bitterness.  Mild funk.  A hint of sourness as it warmed up.  Mild tannins.  Citrus, vanilla, mineral, and clove notes.  Wine-like and nuanced.  This isn’t really my cup of tea.

Jester & Judge Pineapple Express, 5.5% ABV, Stevenson WA:  This is a new tap-only release.  I’ve tried a few of their ciders.  Hazy.  Semi-sweet.  Strong fresh pineapple flavor!  Nice fizziness/frothiness.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Light bodied.  Quick finish.  I really enjoyed this one, despite its simplicity.  I found it similar to Schilling’s Pineapple Passion / Trouble in Paradise, but with slight lime instead of slight passion fruit notes.

Snowdrift Semi-Dry, 7.1% ABV, Wenatchee WA:  This is one of their flagship ciders, and although I’ve tried most of them, I had only seen their Dry variety previously.  Available in bottles and kegs.  Dry.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Mild bitterness.  Mild tannins.  Medium bodied.  Sharp flavor with some crabapple, apple pomace, and brown sugar notes, and slight richness.  Moderate length finish.  My favorites from them remain Red, Cornice, and Cliffbreaks Blend.

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Longdrop Tanager Pear Cider, 6.0% ABV, Eagle ID:  This is their spring seasonal release, a pear cider (apple + pear, not perry), available in 22oz bottles.  Smells like juicy pear.  Semi-dry.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Light bodied, with a fizzy/frothy mouthfeel.  Quick finish.  Simple apple & pear flavor, but it was nice & light and easy to drink.

Longdrop Vanilla Honey, 6.0% ABV, Eagle ID:  This is one of their two most commonly found ciders.  Available in 12oz cans and draft.  Made from Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith apples, with Madagascar Vanilla beans and Idaho honey.  Smells strongly of honey.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Honeycomb flavor with a hint of vanilla.  Quick finish.  I really loved the honeycomb flavor; you can tell it was high quality honey.

Longdrop Derby Canyon, 6.9%, Eagle ID:  This is a special release for the 2016 Apple Blossom Festival, named after a landmark in Washington nearby where the apples for this cider are from.  This cider was made with 100% Wenatchee Valley apples…”it’s got a big apple taste with some complexity – probably because it’s got one of every kind of apple out there in it”.  Available in 220z bottles and kegs.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Apple-forward with some unfiltered apple juice flavor.

Longdrop Semi-Sweet, 5.5% ABV, Eagle ID:  This is one of their two most commonly found ciders.  Available in 12oz cans and draft.  Made from Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith apples.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Apple-forward with some vanilla notes and a hint of vinegar/salt?

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Pomme De Coeur ice cider, 6.9% ABV, Rougemont Canada:  This is the first Canadian ice cider I’ve tried, and the lowest ABV I’ve seen.  Its pretty widely available in boxed tall 375ml bottles.  Ice cider originated in Quebec, and is made with either apples or apple juice which has been exposed to cold cycles, which concentrates the sugar (and thus flavor), and produces a higher ABV beverage as well.  Smells like caramelized sugar.  Sweet but not as sweet as other ice ciders such as from Eden.  Medium bodied.  Very juice-like, with less complexity than other ice ciders.  It also doesn’t have the body and higher ABV of most ice ciders.  I liked the first couple sips, but after that its inferior quality was apparent.  I like the super concentrated intense flavor of other ice ciders; Eden Northern Spy (barrel aged) is my favorite so far.  Although its about $15 (vs. $30+) for 375ml, I’d rather get the good stuff.  I imagine there are much better Canadian ice ciders available than this (often the more commercial beverages are the ones which have the means to export their products), so I hope to try another in the future.

My favorite Longdrop cider was the Vanilla Honey, and my favorite cider from my flight was Jester & Judge’s Pineapple cider.

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 6 Tasting Notes

Yes, I made yet another trip to the Schilling Cider House!  Check out my past posts here.  This time it was for a Sidra event, but that is one type of cider I’m just not into, so I sampled some non-Sidra selections from of the tap list (and some bottles).  The Cider Log crew was there, and brought an awesome spread of Spanish treats–thanks for sharing!

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I started with a flight of six, as usual.

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<from left to right: Tieton Cranberry, Doc’s Pumpkin, Rev Nat’s Ciderkin,
Liberty Gravenstein, Finnriver Cranberry Rosehip, & Apple Outlaw Blackberry>

Tieton Cider Works Cranberry, 6.9% ABV:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Very tart!  Lots of cranberry flavor.  More tart than the Finnriver cranberry cider I tried at the same time (see below).  A bit astringent.  I’m a bit over cranberry (I used to like it more), so I prefer most of Tieton’s other ciders to this one.  This is a new release for them, and its also available bottled.

Doc’s Draft Pumpkin, 5.0% ABV:  Sweet.  Lots of pumpkin pie spices with a bit of earthiness & pumpkin flavor.  Full bodied.  Unlike many pumpkin ciders & beers, this one uses actual pumpkin.  I’m not a pumpkin or spice fan, so needless to say I didn’t really enjoy this cider (I tried it more out of curiosity).  The folks who blind tasted it for this article were much bigger fans though, giving it the highest score of 23 pumpkin ciders & beers!  This is a yearly seasonal release for Doc’s, and also available bottled.  This was my second time trying Doc’s, but neither were flavors I’m a fan of…hopefully I get a chance to try something I have a better shot of actually enjoying soon (I’ve been eyeing their Sour Cherry, but alas it isn’t sold in the Seattle area, so I may need to make a trip down to Portland OR or order online).

Reverend Nat’s (and Cider Riot!) Ciderkin, 3.2% ABV:  Dry.  Ginger!  Moderate tartness, astringency, and acidity.  Slightly funky.  Ciderkin is a lower alcohol content cider traditionally made from the pommace (apple skin and pulp leftover after pressing apples into juice).  This one however is quite different than the version of ciderkin I had awhile back from Argus (tasting notes here).  The ginger (although admittedly mild) was overwhelming for my palate as I’m just not a fan of it.  My favorite cider from Rev Nat’s so far is their Revival.  They’ve released this Ciderkin cider a few times, but it doesn’t appear to be available bottled.

Liberty Ciderworks Gravenstein, 8.0% ABV:  Dry.  Moderate sourness, tartness, astringency, tannins, and acidity.  Almost no carbonation.  Very mild on the nose.  Although this was a Gravenstein single varietal, I picked up a lot of crabapple notes…it reminds me of their Crabenstein, which used Gravenstein and Crabapples, although not quite as harsh.  So far I prefer their Manchurian Crabapple, English Style, and Stonewall to this one.  This cider is also available bottled.

Finnriver Cranberry Rosehip, 6.5% ABV:  Semi-sweet.  Moderate tartness.  Lots of cranberry flavor.  I didn’t really pick up any herbal (rosehip) flavor, but I imagine it mellowed the cranberry a bit, especially drinking it side by side to the Tieton variety.  I liked this one better than the Tieton Cranberry, probably as it isn’t as tart.  However, my favorite “cranberry” cider so far is probably a tie for this and Schilling’s Mischief Maker (cranberry-pomegranate).  Cranberry Rosehip is part of Finnriver’s Elijah Swan Seasonal Botanical line, which is also available bottled, and includes some of my favorites such as Honey Meadow and Lavender Black Currant.

Apple Outlaw Blackberry Bounty, 5.5% ABV:  Semi-dry.  Very mild berry flavor.  Mild tartness.  This seems to be another one of the drier and milder flavored berry ciders coming out.  This one was pretty average in my book.  It is also available bottled.  This was my first time trying their regular line of ciders (although I tried their Oaked Sweet Dark Cherry at Cider Summit Seattle 2015, which appeared to be a special draft release).

I also had a sip of Whitewood Red Cap.  It was a bit weird…dry and almost Sidra-ish with some sourness and quite mild flavored.  They describe it as a Session cider, which usually indicates a low ABV and easy to drink cider, but its 6.2% ABV.  Also available bottled.  It reminded me some of their Summer Switchel, but without the salty & ginger notes.  Both are quite different from their Kingston Black Whiskey Barrel Aged cider, which is amazing!

I mostly wanted to sample what Schilling had on tap that I hadn’t tried, despite not being too excited about the varieties.  Therefore there were a few I didn’t really enjoy, so I ended up not finishing a lot of the flight.  Thankfully that freed up some ability to try more ciders!  Next up we sampled a couple bottles (which I don’t believe they sell at the Cider House).

Ace Space (blood orange) was another weird one.  Odd hazy orange hue.  Semi-dry.  The nose and some of the flavor was almost medicinal/artificial (like Tang or a Vitamin C supplement), but there is definitely some blood orange flavor too.  Mild tartness and sourness.  I wasn’t really a fan…not sure what they were thinking with this one?  This is Ace’s newest cider, a special release.  I kinda had the same opinion on their last special release, Blackjack 21, which tasted like Chardonnay to me (although admittedly it was aged in Chardonnay barrels, so maybe they were going for that).  Apparently I’m in the minority though as it sold well so they are releasing it again this year.

2015-11-01 13.55.58

Carlton Cyderworks Sugar and Spice.  Semi-sweet.  I was surprised I liked this, as I usually don’t tend towards spiced cider.  However, the spice was quite mild and balanced.  It also wasn’t overly sweet.  This is a seasonal bottled release for them, new for this year.

I also had a pint of Snowdrift Red–yum!  One of my favorites.  However, this batch seemed a bit more tart than previous, and with a bit less fruitiness.  There can definitely be variability from batch to batch in a craft product.  I like when cideries such as Snowdrift batch label their ciders, so you know whether what you buying may be slightly different.  Anthem is another example of a cidery which does this, but they actually go so far as to use different apple varieties in different batches of their flagship cider (and you can look up what was used by the batch number on the bottle).

Oddly enough the Carlton Sugar and Spice was the winner of the afternoon as far as a new cider I enjoyed the most!  I think it would taste really good warm (which is how I like mead, but I haven’t tried that for cider as I usually avoid spiced cider).

I definitely tried a lot of cider and had a blast, as always.  Stay tuned for more Schilling Cider House tasting notes here at Cider Says!  Have you had any good draft cider / cider flights recently?

Cider Tasting with Bill Bradshaw and 9 Washington Cideries at Capitol Cider in Seattle

The Washington Cider Week posts continue!  The previous week brought me to Seattle Cider and the Burgundian (Eden & Alpenfire event ) on Thursday night to kick off Washington Cider Week, and Cider Summit Seattle 2015 on Friday & Saturday (see post 1 for tasting notes and post 2 about the event & photos).  This week brought me to Capitol Cider for a tasting event with Bill Bradshaw and nine Washington cideries (Tues Sept 15 2015, covered here), and to the Schilling Cider House for the 2 Towns tap night (Thurs Sept 17 2015, covered soon).

[Additions after initial post release are in brackets, and incorrect information is struck through.  Thanks Dave from Whitewood for the corrections and extra info!]

I had been to Capitol Cider once before, but it was probably over a year ago.  I really didn’t like that first visit much at all, as nothing really went well, from the food (it was early lunchtime on a weekend but they mostly had brunch items, not lunch), to the service (grumpy bartender), to the cider (didn’t like anything I tried, and the bartender wasn’t too forthcoming with samples; I would have preferred a flight, which they now offer).

Much has changed there since then!  Their service was good this time (I give them some slack as they had to give everyone a few handouts and 9 different ciders! in addition to taking any other orders).  Their bottle list has much improved / expanded.  However, unfortunately it is mostly just a list (they only have the smaller bottles in some fridges literally at floor level near the entry).  As it is a printed list, it easily gets out of date (both times I bought bottles they only had half of what I wanted, although I was requesting more rare & special release selections).  However, Capitol Cider isn’t really my sort of scene.  Getting there & parking is a nightmare for one.  The Schilling Cider House is honestly more my style, plus they have more taps (32) and a larger bottle selection (which you can see and look at the labels).

Bill Bradshaw is a cider expert who hails from the UK and has written several books about cider, among other things.  This special event was a guided tasting through ciders from nine Washington cideries.  Dave White from Whitewood Cider apparently helped Bill Bradshaw choose the cideries, although I’m not sure how the ciders got chosen (it didn’t appear Bill, Dave, or the cideries themselves chose the cider selections, so it may have been availability / mostly what they already had on tap).  [The cidermakers chose the ciders poured, although there was some confusion from one of the cideries as far as their selection.]  They are for the most part some of the more traditional cideries in WA.  For $30, I got a flight of nine ciders (probably a 3 or 4 oz pour each), plus a full glass of the cider of my choice.  I unfortunately had to drive, so I made due with my flight (finishing my favorite ciders and leaving the rest) and a couple tastes afterward, but no full glass of cider.  Most of the cideries had one or more cidermakers on hand who came up on the stage and explained about their chosen cider.

They were also selling Bill’s books, he was signing autographs, and many of the cideries brought some bottles which they opened after the event and poured tastes.  During the event there was a slideshow of Bill’s photos.  They also played the teaser for a documentary titled ‘Cider Hunters’ that he and Pete Brown (co-author of World’s Best Ciders) are fundraising for, about the history of cider in the U.S.  Cider is “the drink that built America”.  He described how it disappeared, breweries moved in, the craft beer movement started in the ’80s, and now we are in the age of craft cider, built from the beer explosion.  Throughout the event there was some discussion on whether cider is more similar to wine or beer.  It depends on who you ask.  Bill seemed to lean towards beer, but I’d probably lean more towards wine as scientifically speaking cider is a type of fruit wine, although the ABV of most ciders is more similar to beer than wine.

The event was also unfortunately at 6pm on a weeknight, which is late for me as I go to work at 6am.  So, I didn’t get to stay too long after they were done with the guided tasting a bit after 8pm.  I was surprised there were still some empty seats, as I had expected this to easily sell out (I purchased my ticket a few days in advance over the phone to ensure I wouldn’t get turned away).  Considering that almost all of the 9 cideries were represented and that many brought more than one person, plus the Capitol Cider folks and such, there were almost as many folks that were working the event as attending the event!  They were setting up live music and it looked like the party kept going after I left.  The event was held in Capitol Cider’s basement bar area, which has a small stage, tables, bar height tables, a bar, pool tables & such, and restrooms.

I had an awesome time!  Many of the cidermakers I had been chatting with the previous week were there.  I also hadn’t previously tried 6 out of the 9 ciders they were pouring, which is quite good odds as they are all local.  I tried to take some photos, but the lighting was pretty horrible.  Click to biggify.

bar
<bar area on the left. tables in the middle, and the stage was to the right>

cider hunters
<Bill Bradshaw himself>

Upon sitting down I spotted a clipboard full of menus.  They had menus for their cider tap list, beer & regular cocktails, cider cocktails, cider flights, food, and a cider bottle list!  I focused on photographing the cider stuff.  Weird angles to avoid glare; sorry.  Their food menu (gluten free restaurant by the way) is on their website.  I ate some pho before the event as I wasn’t sure if it would work well to try to eat dinner during it, and their menu is a bit fru-fru for my liking.  That was a good call as its difficult enough to taste cider and take notes!  I did however order some creme brulee, which was pretty disappointing, as it was almost half fruit, small, and expensive.

tap list desserts

cocktails flights

Now, on to the nine ciders of the night!  They were tasted in an order to try to minimize the effect the last would have on the next, not in the numerical (alphabetical) order.  I believe that all the ciders which were on their tap list were tap pours, and the remaining two (Nashi and Westcott Bay) were bottle pours.  I really enjoyed hearing about the ciders as I was tasting them.  They also took audience questions / comments.

event list 9 pours

(6) Tieton Ciderworks  Sparkling Perry, 5.5% ABV.  I hadn’t tried this one before, but have tried a number of varieties from Tieton.  Its part of their “top shelf ciders” along with the Cidermaker’s Reserve (which I’ve reviewed), available in pretty 500ml bottles.  Craig Campbell, a grower at Tieton’s orchard (and the one who started Tieton with his wife), was the presenter.  It is made from 11 varieties of perry pears grown in their orchard (which is the largest cider apple & perry pear orchards in Washington, but still small by orchard standards).  Craig noted that pears are much more difficult to grow and press into juice than apples.  This perry was made using a French keeving technique, where it is slow fermented with wild yeast for 5 months.  He said this method can calm some of the tannins of the perry pears.  Craig also noted that this perry was just bottled/kegged in May, and may taste even better after bottle aging for 1-2 years.  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Mild tartness, bitterness, and tannins.  Medium bodied.  Unique strawberry notes.  I would have liked more carbonation, but I imagine my sample may have sat for a bit / not been able to be poured correctly due to the size.  Pretty tasty!

(5) Nashi Orchards Issho Ni “Together” Cider, 6.9% ABV.  This was my first time trying anything from Nashi Orchards, although I have one of their perries at home.  Jim Gerlach, owner and cidermaker, was there to present.  This is one of the few (two?) ciders that Nashi Orchards makes; they specialize in perry.  Their orchard is full of asian pear varieties and they pride themselves in using traditional cidermaking methods.  This cider was made using apples from the Vashon Island community, which included a lot of crabapples and heirloom apple varieties.  It was dry fermented and not backsweetened.  Smells like English cider, of rich bittersweet apples.  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Moderate to high tannins and bitterness.  Mild tartness.  I liked the bark better than the bite on this one (smelled better than it tasted).  It was a bit too high in tannins & bitterness for my liking, likely from the high crabapple content.  I imagine like most ciders, if I was having a full glass, I would have liked it better (vs. having a tasting glass).

(7) Snowdrift Dry, 7.6% ABV.  I’ve tried a number of Snowdrift cider varieties; my favorites so far are Red (made from red fleshed apples) and Cornice (barrel aged).  This one was presented by someone from Capitol Cider, but Snowdrift sent along some notes.  It was commented that they have a small orchard and cidery which is ideally located in East Wenatchee, with its hot summers and cold winters, ideal for cider apples which thrive with temperature variations.  Their orchard is mostly Yarlington Mill cider apples, but they have over 40 apple varieties.  They noted this cider won an international contest, which is rare for a PNW cider (vs. a UK cider).  Semi-dry.  Clean plain apple scent.  Low in tannins, bitterness, acidity, and tartness.  Some citrus notes, but I otherwise didn’t pick up much.  Smooth.  The alcohol is well hidden.  I found it kinda boring, but a very solid selection.

(2) Dragon’s Head Traditional, 6.9% ABV.  This is the variety I tried at Cider Summit.  I also have a bottle of their Wild Fermented at home.  Wes Cherry (co-owner with his wife) presented.  They are from Vashon Island, where they grow over 70 varieties of cider apples, mostly English and some French.  They moved their cidery from the Seattle area 5 years ago to start the orchard.  This year was their first significant harvest from their own orchard.  This cider underwent malolactic fermentation (which is when malic acid is converted to lactic acid, and can often be considered a fault but some cidermakers desire it) which was arrested to retain some residual sweetness and give some butterscotch notes.  Semi-dry.  Higher acidity.  Citrus and fruity notes.  Low to moderate tannins and bitterness.  Mild tartness.  I really enjoyed this cider.  Probably as it had a little more complexity to it and didn’t go too overboard on tannins and bitterness.

(8) Westcott Bay Semi-Dry, 6.8% ABV.  This was my first time trying any ciders from Westcott Bay.  Presented by Capitol Cider.  Westcott Bay has their own cider orchard in the San Juan Islands which dates back to the 1870s.  They re-planted in the mid 1990s and released their first cider in 1999.  They make more traditional apples using cider apple varieties such as Kingston Black, Yarlington Mill, Dabinett and Sweet Coppin.  Semi-sweet.  Similar to English cider.  Bitter finish, but still only mild to moderate.  Moderate tannins.  Bolder flavor.  I really enjoyed this cider.  I like ciders like this which have a bold flavor profile without being too bitter or too high in tannins.

(1) Alpenfire Simple Cider, 6.9% ABV.  I’ve had a number of ciders from Alpenfire, but hadn’t even heard of this one (it looks like it may be tap only at this time?).  I particularly like their Apocalypso and Spark! ciders.  Presented by Nancy Bishop.  They described themselves as a more traditional cidery whose ciders tend to be higher in tannins.  They planted their cider apple orchard in 2003, then needed to learn how to use it, and get people to buy their ciders!  This variety is their least traditional cider, made from basic heirloom and dessert apples.  It is sweeter and described as having some honeysuckle aromas, and was lightly oak aged.  On the sweeter side of semi-sweet.  Slightly hazy.  I picked up some honey, pear, and mild herbal notes.  No significant tannins, bitterness, acidity, tartness, etc.  I thought it was rather complex for a simple cider!  I really enjoyed it.

(4) Liberty Ciderworks Abbess, 7.6% ABV.  I’ve had a number of ciders from Liberty.  Presented by Rick Hastings.  This is a newer cidery from Spokane, open about a year and a half, and they currently produce 7,500 liters a year.  Unlike many of the cideries featured, they don’t have their own orchard.  However, they have found ways (probably at great expense) to obtain cider apples, primarily from three different orchards, including from Garfield WA.  They also use a lot of crabapples.  They aim to keep the apple centric, and don’t plan to do flavored ciders; their Turncoat Dry Hop cider and this one is as flavored as they get.  I particularly like their Manchurian Crabapple and English Style ciders.  Rick commented the Spokane cider market is growing slower than Seattle, but is still growing.  Liberty was tasting their new Abbess variety, with gin botanicals. Made from Empire, Macintosh, and Manchurian Crabapples.  Its been out for about a month in their tap room and has been popular.  English cider scent with a hint of botanicals.  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Bold flavored.  A hint of botanical flavor.  Significant tartness, bitterness, and tannins.  I’m not a huge fan of this one, but it didn’t have any faults and is a solid selection.

(9) Whitewood Cider Kingston Black, 9.7 ABV.  I had tried this cider at Cider Summit, but didn’t mind having it again in the least, as it was one of my favorites!  I’ve only tried Whitewood’s Summer Switchel and this one, but look forward to trying some others.  Presented by Dave White.  Whitewood released their first ciders in 2013, so this is their third season.  Dave aims to make more traditional ciders, with heirloom & cider apple varieties.  He noted their Southsounder cider is made from apples within 20 miles of Olympia.  This Kingston Black cider was made with champagne yeast, but Dave hopes to eventually make a wild fermented batch.  It is 80% Kingston Black and 20% Cornish [Porter’s] Perfection, much to Dave’s disappointment.  He aimed to make a single varietal, but apparently the Kingston Black apples were sliding around too much during pressing or something, as they were sweated to bring out more flavor.  Doing an almost single varietal Kingston Black cider must have been very expensive, as they are rare.  He noted some Woodinville Whiskey was added to the barrel before aging.  [The barrel was from Wishkah River Distillery in Aberdeen, WA.]  I don’t like aged spirits, but love the flavor in a cider.  This cider was taken out of fermentation in early 2014 and barrel aged until just recently.  Dry.  Whiskey and vanilla notes.  Rich bold flavor.  Very smooth, with hidden ABV.  Low to moderate bitterness.  Yum!

(3) Finnriver Fire Barrel, 6.5% ABV.  I’ve tried a large number of Finnriver ciders, and even tried this variety quite awhile ago.  I remembered really looking forward to it but being disappointed.  I bought another bottle recently as so many folks enjoy this cider, and I wanted to give it another chance, as my palate has changed. So, here will eventually be a full review of it here. Presented by Eric Jorgensen, a co-founder.  They were described as a small organic farm which started selling cider in 2010.  Eric thinks they were the least traditional of the nine cideries present.  However, he described this as their most traditional cider, as it is made from cider apples.  They started a second orchard three years ago and aim to remain sustainable and organic.  This cider recipe was original produced by Drew Zimmerman, who sold the rights when he retired.  It is made from Kingston Black, Yarlington Mill, and Dabinett cider apple varieties.  This cider is no longer aged in Kentucky whiskey barrels though, as they aim to keep it more local, instead using UT or WA barrels.  This cider has inspired Finnriver to take on other barrel aging projects.  They mentioned they are barrel aging a small batch of their Black Currant cider, which sounds awesome, as that is one of my favorites of theirs, along with Honey Meadow.  Very smooth.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Mild barrel notes.  Bold flavor.  Moderate tannins, bitterness, and acidity.  I was surprised with how much I enjoyed this cider, in contrast to my memory from awhile back.  I look forward to drinking the bottle I have at home!

I was interested in buying four bottles to take home from Capitol Cider, but they only had two of the ones I wanted, Virtue The Mitten and AeppelTreow Appely Doux.  I had heard of both but didn’t know they even sold them in WA!  I had been wanting to try The Mitten ever since I got into cider; it often makes top cider lists.  Note that the prices shown on their bottle list below are to drink there, but you get a 25% discount to take home.  That brings their prices just a bit over local bottle shops for most ciders.  The cost to drink a bottle is much less of a markup than most wine lists.  However, with all those ciders on tap, why would you want to?  They initially forgot to apply the 25% discount (they were very busy and I was asked them to go to the back and find specific bottles), so I was very glad I checked my receipt.

bottles

Unfortunately the cider list was stapled at the top, so even taking it off the clipboard I couldn’t get good photos.  The angles are again to avoid glare from overhead lighting.  Impressive bottle list!  However, the win still goes to the Schilling Cider House in Fremont, as you can look at the actual bottles.

list1  list2

list3  list4

list5

I got my new copy of World’s Best Ciders (which I reviewed here recently) autographed by Bill Bradshaw, and even got to chat with him for a few minutes.

book autograph

Stay tuned for the last but not least Washington Cider Week event post, from the 2 Towns night at the Schilling Cider House!  Like Cider Says on Facebook for the latest info.