Pick Cider Ideas for Thanksgiving 2018

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I actually remembered to do a Thanksgiving cider article this year, so here it goes!  A list of some suggestions (at least for folks who can get these in their area) for Thanksgiving-dinner friendly ciders.  Besides pairing with a variety of foods, I think the ideal holiday cider will appeal to a wide audience (presuming you will share it with the table).  However, these selections will of course sway towards my personal tastes.

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French ciders – French ciders are inherently food-friendly, and have a wide appeal, typically being mid-level sweetness and apple-forward, but often having surprising complexity.  Its fun to share something unique (imported) with guests too.  Plus, they have a lower ABV, which can be ideal for meals earlier in the day.  Some of my favorites are from Domaine de la MinotiereEric BordeletKystinLa ChouetteL’HermitiéreManoir de Grandouet, and Pierre Huet.  I recently picked up a 5L mini keg of Bordelet, but I’m saving that for Christmas.  The easiest French cider to find for some may be Dan Armor, sold at Trader Joe’s, and at only $5 / 750ml, its an excellent value, and something I wouldn’t hesitate to serve at my house.  My top American-made French-style cider pick is 2 Towns Cidre Bouche.

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AeppelTreow Appely Doux – This Wisconsin methode champenoise (naturally sparkling) selection is mid-level sweetness with a flavor profile of citrus, green apple, honey, and floral.  It would make a nice champagne alternative anytime.

Alpenfire Spark! – This Washington cider is a great introduction to heritage ciders, with some rich notes of apple pomace, honey, orange, and leather, but remaining mid-level sweetness and clean.

Bertolinos Hard Cider – This Italian cider is mid-level sweetness, has some good fizz, and notes of honey, pineapple, and grapefruit.  Especially wide crowd appeal from my experience.

Eden Specialty Ciders – This Vermont cidery may have started with ice ciders (which I cover later), but they make some amazing regular ciders with wide appeal, such as their super complex Sparkling Semi-Dry, rich Guinevere’s Pearls, or new canned Heritage cider, which has to be the highest quality cider I’ve ever seen in a can.

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Eve’s Rustica This New York mid-sweetness cider has some unique notes of honey, cream/vanilla, and fruit, all expertly crafted just from the apples and yeast.

Liberty Kingston Black This Washington single varietal is made only from the iconic Kingston Black apples, yet I think it would have a wide appeal, as it retains some sweetness (semi-dry), is flavorful, and doesn’t cross over into funky/sour/bitter territory.

Slyboro Old Sin This New York semi-dry cider has some rich tannic flavor reminiscent of English cider, with notes of butterscotch, caramel, and tropical fruit, and is another selection which would make a great introductory heritage cider.  Lovely color to it too!

Snowdrift – This Washington cidery has several Thanksgiving-worthy crowd-pleasing cider selections, such as their Cidermaker’s Reserve (semi-dry, sparkling, fruity, and complex), Seckel Perry (mid-level sweetness, made only from Seckel pears), and Cliffbreaks Blend (semi-sweet, tart, and fruity).

Tilted Shed Smoked This dry cider hails from California, and is unique, nuanced, oaky, and slightly smokey.  Probably a bit less likely to be widely appealing, but I think it would be appreciated by certain audiences, and to me seems uniquely suited to Thanksgiving dinner.

Wandering Aengus Bloom – This Washington cider is mid-level sweetness and made from heirloom apples, but has widely appealing familiar notes of honey, green apple, and tropical fruit.

Whitewood Jonathan – This Washington cider is a single-varietal of Jonathan apples, and dry to semi-dry, but super approachable, being apple-forward with notes of citrus and honey.

ice cider – For a special treat with dessert, try ice cider.  It is made from naturally concentrating apple juice using cold to increase the sugar content before fermenting, resulting in a higher ABV sweet dessert cider bursting with flavor.  One of my favorites is Eden Brandy Barrel Aged Heirloom.

Pommeau – Also, Pommeau (cider + apple brandy) is another great dessert cider option.  It is made by fortifying cider (either fermented or unfermented juice) with distilled apple juice (brandy).  Like ice cider, it is a nice sipping option, although it is available in a wide range of sweetness.  Some of my favorites are from 2 Towns, Etienne DupontEZ OrchardsHerout, and Wandering Aengus.

Visit the Pick Cider campaign website for lots more great info, and try your local fine bottle shop or online, such as through Cider in Love or VinoShipper.  No matter which cider/s you choose, I’d encourage you to pick up some extra bottles, as a good cider can easily turn even those who have sworn off cider into cider lovers, holidays are holidays, and plus with the lower ABV, a bottle doesn’t go as far as wine.

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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?

Snowdrift Cidermaker’s Reserve

Review of Snowdrift’s Cidermaker’s Reserve.  I have sampled it twice before (see here and here), but I’m doing a full review this time.  I’ve also tried most of Snowdrift’s line-up:  CorniceRedPerryCliffbreaks BlendDrySemi-DrySeckel Perry, and Orchard Select.

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Cider:  Cidermaker’s Reserve
Cidery:  Snowdrift
Cidery Location:  East Wenatchee WA
ABV:  9.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged champagne bottles
Style:  American artisan cider from heirloom & bittersweet apples (2014 harvest), Methode Champenoise, aged 3 years

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Availability:  Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey (see here), although this is a more limited release.  They also have an online store

Cider Description:  Taking the best of the best of our ciders, Cidermaker’s Reserve is a celebration of all the rich complexity cider apples have to offer. After a year of maturation, this cider then begins the full Méthode Champenoise process of in-bottle fermentation, which develops further layers of nuance. The labor of love pays off; its months of conditioning, riddling, and finishing yield a dry cider with continuously unfolding layers of spicy bittersweet apple character, citrusy brightness, and subtleties of toffee, aromatic wood and earth. 

Cidery Description:  We craft our ciders from great cider apples that we grow on our orchard in sunny East Wenatchee, WA. Our incredible region gives our trees the ideal conditions to grow apples packed with the flavors necessary to produce fine ciders. Hot sunny summers and cold snowy winters result in apples that mature with incredible aromatics and delicious flavors. When ripened to perfection, we pick these apples and craft them with the utmost care into fine cider blends, resulting in rich ciders full of delicious complexity.

Price:  $19
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I had tried it before, but my husband really wanted a bottle (this is probably his all time favorite cider).

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First Impression:  Light gold amber hue.  High carbonation.  Smells acidic and fruity/grapey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied with a fluffy fizzy texture.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low to moderate tannins.  No sourness.  Hints of funk.  Notes of pomegranate, white grape, stone fruit, leather, butterscotch, lemon, and orange.  Moderate to long warming finish, the only time when the 9% ABV is noticeable.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability and flavor intensity.  Moderate to high complexity.

My Opinion:  Great!  I enjoy this cider.  Unique, complex, and bubbly, whats not to like?  However, to me it almost tastes more like champagne than sparkling cider, except for the tannins.

Most Similar to:  Nothing all that close, but in the same ballpark is AEppeltreow Appley Doux (slightly sweeter, and more green apple & floral), Alpenfire Cinders (much drier), and 2 Towns Traditions Riverwood Brut (more subtle)

Closing Notes:  My favorites from Snowdrift are the Red, Cornice, Cliffbreaks Blend, and Cidermaker’s Reserve.

Have you tried Snowdrift Cidermaker’s Reserve?  What did you think?

Tasting Notes from NW Cider’s Preview of WA Cider Week 2017

I was recently invited to a Washington Cider Week preview for media and buyers.  The 7th annual Washington Cider Week is September 7th-17th 2017, and will include numerous cider events, with Cider Summit Seattle being a main highlight.  This preview event was hosted by the NW Cider Association, and held midday on a Tuesday at Capitol Cider in Seattle.

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It was a pretty sweet invite-only event, and I enjoyed the excuse to take a half day off work!  My husband even joined me; it was nice to have a driver, as there were eleven PNW cidery representatives pouring samples.  Even though there weren’t many new-to-me ciders, it was a great opportunity to get some face time with the pourers, which often isn’t possible at the larger events.

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<view of part of Capitol Cider’s basement event space>

Alpenfire Cider (Port Townsend WA):  I’ve tried most of their lineup, which includes many favorites, but my husband requested a sample of Glow.  It is one of their sweeter options, made from rare red-fleshed apples.  It was a good choice as they rarely pour it at events.  Awesome as always, semi-sweet, and crazy fruity flavorful without any additives.

Bad Granny (Chelan WA):  This was my first time seeing them at an event (the cidery is less than a year old).  I learned that they are associated with Karma Vineyards, one of the few producers of Methode Champenoise wine in the state.  The cidery is a combination of their MC wine experience and their apple orchard family roots.  I had tried their flagship Green Apple cider on draft previously (it is also sold in cans), which is a great simple semi-sweet cider option.  They also brought their currently draft-only black currant cider, which I found to have only a very mild flavor, but overall was easy to drink, semi-dry to semi-sweet, with a fuller body than expected.  I learned of their plans to release some specialty ciders in large format bottles, such as one from red-fleshed apples and one from Dabinett traditional cider apples.

Dragon’s Head (Vashon Island WA):  They just released this year’s vintage of Kingston Black single varietal cider (which I tried last year).  However, I decided to go for the Traditional cider, which is my favorite from them – a semi-dry cider with complex rich bittersweet cider apple flavor.  I also sampled the Perry, as I wanted to compare it to the Methode Champenoise version I tried recently; I enjoyed this regular version better as it was sweeter (almost semi-sweet), and more flavorful / fruitier.  Sometimes I find that a very high carbonation can impede a cider tasting for me as it makes a cider seem every drier and more acidic than it really is.

Finnriver (Chimacum WA):  I tried their newish Cider Summit collaboration cider (poured at all four Cider Summit events in 2017 – Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, and next, Seattle), called “Summit Saison”.  It is made with organic apples, Saison yeast, dried fruit such as apricots, and spices (which oddly enough included peppercorns).  I found it hazy, semi-dry to semi-sweet, with citrus & stone fruit notes with a hint of peppercorn on the finish.  I’m not a fan of pepper, even in food, so I wasn’t really sure what to make of it.  My husband however was a fan.

Liberty Ciderworks (Spokane WA):  This was a great opportunity to have a side-by-side tasting of their English-Style and Stonewall (barrel aged) ciders, which I’ve previously found very similar but hadn’t tried together.  I preferred the Stonewall, as it was a bit smoother, with less acidic bite, and the added whiskey & oak notes.  I also tried Turncoat, their hopped cider, which had nice herbal flavor without bitterness, which was my husband’s favorite.

Locust Cider (Woodinville WA):  At this stop, as I said I had tried all of the regular line up (which was being poured from their new cans), I was treated to a sample of their limited release Bourbon Barrel Aged cider.  It was semi-dry, and very mild at first (especially for 14% ABV), then all of a sudden Bam!, an intense bourbon finish.  I thought I hadn’t tried it previously, but I actually had, over a year ago at their tap room (good thing for my Cider List!).  I liked it better this time because it was served cold, but despite enjoying the flavor, its not something I would drink too often.

Pear UP  – formerly Neigel Vintners / NV Cider (East Wenatchee WA):  I had a chance to have a longish chat with the always energetic co-founder Kevin.  He shared about the recent NW Cider trip where 10 PNW cidermakers traveled to France & England to learn about keeving (see this article).  I also learned about the cidery’s packaging changes, such as new 12oz instead of 16.9oz green Aluminum bottles (with a digital wrap instead of labels), and four packs of 12oz clear glass bottles (which enables that SKU to be at a lower price point).  I also learned about some new products they have released, including an interesting new partnership with a distillery, a brewery, and a label artist, resulting in Centre Ring, with an initial release of a cider and a perry, at a nice price point of $11.99 / 750ml bottle.  Interestingly enough, Centre Ring doesn’t only focus on cider/perry, but craft beverages and food in general.

I started with the new Centre Ring Reserve Pear, which reminded me of a slightly drier and slightly more complex version of their flagship Pear Essentials, as it was semi-dry, medium bodied, and pear-forward with some citrus notes.  Next I tried another new-to-me release (draft and bottles), Pearjito Colada; I didn’t pick up any mint, but the coconut was a fun bold flavor in the tasty semi-sweet perry.  Lastly, my husband wanted to try the Pearfect Pie, which I had never tried either; it was a bit odd to drink in summer, but is a semi-sweet perry with a hint of pie spice.

Schilling Cider (Auburn WA):  I tried the Grapefruit & Chill, which I learned was a different recipe than a grapefruit cider I had previously tried which was flavored with SodaJerk grapefruit soda syrup and I wasn’t a fan of; this time it was a surprisingly pleasant citrus-forward and higher carbonation semi-dry cider.  I also re-tried the Pineapple Passion, which is one of my favorite Schilling varieties, with some strong tropical flavor, but it is definitely on the sweeter end (semi-sweet to sweet).  My favorite from them is the King’s Schilling.

Seattle Cider (Seattle WA):  I tried two new draft-only releases.  First – Lavender Lemon, a semi-dry cider with the as-advertised flavor notes.  Second – Cucumber Hibiscus, which was semi-dry to dry, and started with cucumber on the nose, primarily hibiscus (fruity/floral) in the flavor, and a cucumber finish.  They were both more flavorful than most of the ciders I’ve previously had from them.  I found both pretty average – plenty drinkable, but not something I would seek out.

Snowdrift Cider (East Wenatchee WA):  No new ciders to try, but I tried the cider I had tried the least of and is the most rare – the Cidermaker’s Reserve.  I learned it was made under Methode Champenoise with apples from their 2014 harvest, including bittersweet varieties, and aged 3! years.  It is a highly carbonated cider with an awesome texture, on the sweeter side of semi-dry, with a very unique flavor profile – fruity with pomegranate notes, and almost grape champagne-like.  I was surprised to hear it had bittersweet cider apples, as it definitely didn’t have the typical profile I’d expect.  A fun and unique cider and an excellent value too, at $19 / 750ml (this was my husband’s favorite cider of the event, and he insisted we pick some up afterwards).

Tieton Cider Works (Yakima WA):  No new to me ciders here either, so I re-tried the Sparkling Perry.  I re-learned that this is made by keeving and is wild yeast fermented (neither of which I would have guessed nor remembered from my taste nearly two years ago).  I’d describe it as a semi-sweet to semi-dry pear-forward perry with fruity citrus notes.

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They had some nice swag too – tote bags, brochures, postcards, and stickers.

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I did some serious cider shopping that day, about 12 bottles between Capitol Cider, the Schilling Cider House, and QFC.  My coolest finds were at Capitol Cider, as I don’t get there often:  EZ Orchards “Pomme” (Pommeau, a mix of apple brandy & cider), last year’s release of Finnriver Fire Barrel (which I liked better than this year’s batch), and two different single varietals from Liberty (that I only thought were available in their tasting room and online).  The Schilling Cider House also had a couple new to me releases, a peach wine from Mission Trail and Gasping Goose from Newton’s Court in England.  I also picked up a re-supply of Dunkertons Black Fox, my current go-to English cider, and a couple others favorites from Aspall and EZ Orchards.

Stay tuned for more posts on Washington Cider Week 2017, especially Cider Summit Seattle.

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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.

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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?