Summer Cider Day 2016 in Port Townsend WA – Tasting Notes

This is Part 2/2 on Summer Cider Day 2016 in Port Townsend Washington, which includes tasting notes on the ciders I tried.  See HERE for Part 1/2, covering the event itself.

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Bull Run Pear Ice Wine, 12% – This is a 9% residual sugar ice perry, made from Hood River Oregon Bosc and Anjou pears, similar to how ice cider or ice (grape) wine is made (using the natural cold to concentrate the sweetness & flavor of the fruit).  Semi-sweet to sweet (less sweet than a typical ice cider oddly enough, despite perries usually being sweeter than ciders as pears have non-fermentable sugars).  Moderate to full bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  I found this unique, like a complex pear syrup, with a well-hidden ABV.  In addition to all the pear flavor, there were some honey, citrus, and melon notes.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate pear flavor.  Low sessionability.  Moderate complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.

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Nashi Orchards Barrel Fermented Cider, 6.9% – This is a cider made from primarily Winesap apples with some French & English bittersweets (from the WSU Mt. Vernon Cider Research Center), aged in neutral French oak barrels.  Dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  Definite Winesap apple flavor with hints of richness from the bittersweet apples.  Notes of oak (low) and honey.  Moderate to long slightly boozy finish.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  Low sessionability.  Moderate complexity.  Low flavor intensity.  Overall this is quite subtle, similar to their other products I’ve tried.  I would love to see them do something made from only bittersweet apples and barrel aged, as those are my favorites, but alas, good cider apples are hard to come by / expensive, so its not done much here in the U.S. (which is why I am also a big fan of English & French imports).

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Nashi Orchards Island Harvest Perry, 6.7% – This perry is from 90% Asian pears (Shinsseiki and perry pears) and 10% seedling pears foraged on Vashon island.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  Hints of bitterness.  Notes of pear, lemon, lime, and mineral.  Moderate sessionability.  Low pear flavor.  Low flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  I found it to be very light; I think this would be great to pair with food.  It was also very subtle.

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New West Cidery – I thought I’d add a little about this cidery, as I hadn’t even heard of them before this event (their cider isn’t distributed to Seattle).  They are part of Sasquatch Brewing in Portland Oregon, which was founded in 2011.  They started making cider a few years ago under the New West name.  They are opening a separate cidery in Northwest Portland in a couple months which will have 90 barrel fermenters (which is very large capacity considering a standard keg holds half a barrel).  At the brewery’s tap room in Portland they currently offer 12 cider taps (including guest taps).

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New West Black & Blue, 6.8% – Lovely deep berry hue.  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low carbonation.  Low tartness and acidity.  Very mild pure berry flavor, 50-50 blackberry and blueberry.  Quick finish.  No apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Low complexity.  Low flavor intensity.  I like a more flavorful cider, so I didn’t really care for this.

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New West Señor Cider, 6.8% – Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Notes of several different hot peppers and a hint of citrus & honey.  Moderate heat, mostly at the end of the sip, which lingers with a long finish.  Low apple flavor, sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.  I don’t like spicy ciders, so I didn’t like this at all.  I think a spicy cider works better when the spice level is low, it has higher residual sugar, and there is some flavor balance (like significant honey notes).  Enough people must like these though, as cideries keep making them (for example – the Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA actually has a tap line dedicated to a rotating selection of spicy Schilling ciders).

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Rambling Route Pear, 6.9% – This is the second cider in Tieton’s Rambling Route line, their Apple variety with Bartlett pear juice added.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Nearly still.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Moderate apple flavor.  Very light pear flavor.  High sessionability.  Low flavor intensity and complexity.  I think I prefer their Apple variety, although I’m not really a fan of either.  I think Tieton’s regular line of ciders is superior (although that is likely to be expected from the price point), especially the recent draft-only Bourbon Peach (my tasting notes here).

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Snowdrift Cornice, 7.3% – I’ve tried this before (see here), but it was awhile back, and I was curious how this year’s version turned out.  This is their barrel aged cider made from cider apple varieties.  Smells mildly oaky.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low tannins.  Notes of oak, smoke, and honey.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate complexity.  Low flavor intensity.  I found this vintage to be more approachable than their previous one, but I really enjoyed both.

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Spire Mountain Dark & Dry, Jack Daniels Barrel Aged, 5.0% – This is a special version of their typical Dark & Dry cider which was aged in Jack Daniel whiskey barrels for 8 months.  Smells strongly of whiskey, plus some oak and brown sugar.  Semi-dry to dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate to high bitterness.  Low tartness and acidity.  Notes of brown sugar, molasses, whiskey, vanilla, and coffee.  Long bitter finish.  High spirit influence.  Low barrel influence.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low sessionability.  Moderate complexity.  Its crazy how the barrel aging changed this cider from a fairly simple sweet cider to a bitter complex dry cider!  I think they are on to something with barrel aging this cider, but it was aged too long for my liking (something I thought I’d never say…I always say I wish a cider was aged longer!), as it was too intensely bitter.

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Spire Mountain Dry Hop Apple, 5.0% – This is their Red Apple cider with Citra hops, their new Summer Seasonal.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied, slightly syrupy.  Low tartness, acidity, and bitterness.  Subtle hops flavor, more herbaceous than citrusy, which is unusual for a Citra hopped cider.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  I thought this was pretty decent for a commercial cider; I liked how the hops flavor wasn’t overwhelming, although I think I like a more citrus-forward hopped cider.

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Wandering Aengus Wanderlust, 6.9% – This was their first cider variety they made 12 years ago.  Its an off-dry (0.5% residual sugar) English-style cider made from primarily heirloom sharp plus some bittersweet apples.  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low tannins.  Notes of bittersweet apples, oak, and mineral.  Sharp flavor with hints of richness.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability, complexity, and flavor intensity.  This time around I enjoyed it better than when I tried it awhile back; either this batch had less bitterness than previously and/or I’m not as sensitive to it anymore.

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Whitewood Gibb’s Farm, 6.7% – They nicknamed this limited release cider a “Farmer’s Reserve”.  It was made from a large number of varieties of apples only from Grant Gibbs’ farm outside of Leavenworth WA.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Low carbonation.  Medium bodied with a nice texture, slightly syrupy.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  Notes of sharp apples, honey, and lemon.  Moderate to long slightly boozy finish.  Moderate to strong apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability and flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  I enjoyed it.

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Whitewood Newtown Pippin, 6.9% – This is a Newtown Pippin apple single varietal, part of their Old Fangled Series, made from 2016 harvest apples from Hood River Oregon.  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied, with a nice frothy texture.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  Quick finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  Low flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  Moderate sessionability.  I found this to be very mild, which is characteristic of Newtown Pippins, but not something I prefer.

I didn’t taste ciders from every cidery there (as I had tried the remainder of the lineup), but here are photos of the other booths.

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<I agree with this sentiment!>

Summer Cider Day 2016 in Port Townsend WA – The Event

Last weekend I attended the 6th annual Summer Cider Day in Port Townsend Washington.  It was my first time at this event and my second time in Port Townsend (Northwest of Seattle; see my previous 4 posts here on the Olympic Peninsula Cider Route with Alpenfire, Eaglemount, and Finnriver).  I’ll have two posts; this first one covers the event and a second will cover tasting notes on the ciders I tried (post 2/2 now up – see HERE).  Check out my previous post here, which was a preview of the Summer Cider Day event.

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<the event program cover>

I took the Edmonds-Kingston ferry fairly early (note there is a Port Townsend ferry, but the route is from Coupville) to ensure I got there before 11am, when the VIP tasting started (an hour earlier than the noon-5pm event).  VIP is definitely the way to go by the way (for an extra $10 per ticket) as I got a chance to try a number of ciders, chat up the cidermakers pouring them, and take photos of the venue and lovely table setups before it got too busy.  I actually did nearly all my cider tasting in that hour.  By arriving early I also had a chance to get a great parking spot, walk around town, grab some coffee, etc.

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The Northwest Maritime Center was a great venue for this small ish cider festival.  It was primarily indoors (which is rare for a summer tasting event, but I appreciated it as sun + cider isn’t the best combo), except for food and seating on the deck (with an amazing waterfront view).

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It was also a unique event in that it was family-friendly (although there wasn’t really anything for kids to do, just a corner set up with some coloring books).

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Admission included a tasting glass and 8 drink tickets.

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The venue on the second floor of the building was beautiful, with high ceilings.  Each cidery had a booth to pour their ciders (a mix of draft and bottle pours).  Many had the actual cidermakers pouring the cider, but if not, it was someone very familiar with it (vs. some events which have volunteers pour cider).

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They had catering on the deck from Siren’s Pub, a restaurant down the street.  The menu was cider-themed and had suggested cider pairings.  I had a shrimp skewer with rice and mango salsa that was pretty good, although I imagine it would have better if it didn’t get cold right away since it was a bit cool & windy outside.  The outdoor seating was nice though (especially as there was no indoor seating, only stand up tables).

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They also had a bottle shop, where many of the ciders were available for purchase.

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The attending cideries were announced in advance, but not the ciders they were pouring.  Here is the final lineup:

2 Towns Ciderhouse (Corvallis OR) Outcider, Bade Apple, Made Marion
Alpenfire Cider (Port Townsend WA) Pirate’s Plank, Spark!, ApoCalypso
Bull Run Cider (Forest Grove OR) Dry Hop, Pear Wine, Bramble Berry
Eaglemount Wine & Cider (Port Townsend WA) Ginger, Rhubarb, Cyser
Finnriver Farm & Cidery (Chimmacum WA) Chimacum Kriek, Sidra, Oak & Apple
Liberty Ciderworks (Spokane WA) Heirloom Series Gravenstein, Turncoat Dry Hopped New World, Stonewall Barrel-Aged
Locust Cider (Woodinville WA) Thai Ginger, Apricot, Wabi Sabi
Nashi Orchards (Vashon WA) Chojuro Perry, Island Harvest Perry, Barrel Fermented Cider
New West Cider (Portland OR) Black & Blue, Señor Cider
Schilling Cider (Auburn WA) Ascender Ginger, Grapefruit & Chill, Bailout Lemongrass Cider
added: Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) Berry, Semi Sweet, Dry
Snowdrift Cider Co. (East Wenatchee WA)
Spire Mountain Ciders (Olympia WA) Crisp & Dry, Dark & Dry, Dry Hopped Apple
Pear UP , formerly NV Cider (Wenatchee WA) Watermelon Pear, Pear Essentials, and Ginger Pear
Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider (Portland OR) The Passion, ¡Tepache!, Revival
Tieton Cider Works (Yakima WA) Rambling Route Pear, Apricot, Tieton
Wandering Aengus Ciderworks (Salem OR) Anthem Cherry, Golden Russet, Wanderlust
Whitewood Cider (Olympia WA) Gibb’s Darm, Newtown Pippin, Old Fangled Heirloom
Woodbox Cider (Portland OR)

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<a neat banner they had on the Cider Making Process>

Next up in the Seattle area is Washington Cider Week (Sept 8-18), including the epic Cider Summit (Sept 9 & 10).

Preview of Summer Cider Day 2016 (Saturday August 6th in Port Townsend WA)

There is an awesome sounding cider tasting event coming up in Port Townsend Washington at the Northwest Maritime Center on Saturday August 6th 2016, the 6th annual Summer Cider Day.  Port Townsend is a beautiful seaside town West of the Seattle area.  I haven’t been to this event before, but I want to make the trek this year.  The quickest route involves a ferry for those in Seattle and Northward, but is within a couple hours of the greater Seattle area.  Port Townsend is home to the Alpenfire, Eaglemount, and Finnriver cideries (see my trip report from earlier this year here).

summer cider day

Summer Cider Day is from noon to 5pm, and they are expecting at least 20 cideries and 70 ciders.  The cidermakers themselves typically pour the cider at this event, and I’ve heard it isn’t as crowded as some others (such as Cider Summit), so there should be some great opportunities for schmoozing.  Another plus is its indoors (although our summers aren’t overly warm, a hot day isn’t exactly conducive for partaking in lots of cider!).

Current List of Cidermakers:
2 Towns Ciderhouse (Corvallis OR)
Alpenfire Cider (Port Townsend WA)
Bull Run Cider (Forest Grove OR)
Eaglemount Wine & Cider (Port Townsend WA)
Finnriver Farm & Cidery (Chimmacum WA)
Liberty Ciderworks (Spokane WA)
Locust Cider (Woodinville WA)
Nashi Orchards (Vashon WA)
New West Cider (Portland OR)
Schilling Cider (Auburn WA)
Snowdrift Cider Co. (East Wenatchee WA)
Spire Mountain Ciders (Olympia WA)
Pear UP , formerly NV Cider (Wenatchee WA)
Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider (Portland OR)
Tieton Cider Works (Yakima WA)
Wandering Aengus Ciderworks (Salem OR)
Whitewood Cider (Olympia WA)
Woodbox Cider (Portland OR)

Of those, New West Cider and Woodbox Cider (both in Portland Oregon) are both new to me / not available in the Seattle area.

Tickets are on sale online (here) for $25 (goes up to $30 at the door), and includes admission, a tasting glass, and 8 tasting tokens.  There are also VIP tickets available for $35 which will get you in an hour early, at 11am.  Its a family-friendly but dog-free event, and includes a bottle shop, food for purchase, and live music.  It is hosted by the Northwest Cider Association.

Stay tuned for my trip report and tasting notes!