Woodchuck Tank Series Belgian White

Review of Woodchuck Tank Series Belgian White.  They made this years ago, it went on hiatus, then they re-released it recently for a limited run.  I previously tried this pre-blog, plus I’ve had most of Woodchuck’s line-up (see here).

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

Cider:  Tank Series, Belgian White
Cidery:  Woodchuck
Cidery Location:  Middlebury VT
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz cans
Style:  American commercial cider from dessert apples, with Belgian beer yeast

Photo Feb 15, 6 35 37 PM Photo Feb 15, 6 35 55 PM Photo Feb 15, 6 35 46 PM

Availability:  semi wide release

Cider Description:  Crafted with a classic Belgian beer yeast, cloudy with a rich, golden huge, it presents a delicate aroma and taste, with coriander and orange notes.

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

Price:  n/a (retails for $8.99 / six pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

Photo Feb 15, 6 35 24 PM

First Impression:  Smells of orange with a hint of apple.  Hazy light orange brown hue.  Still (no carbonation).

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No sourness, bitterness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of apple juice, orange, and yeast.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate apple flavor and flavor intensity.  High sessionability.  Low to moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  Yum!  I really enjoyed it.  It actually tastes different than their other ciders, which all seem kinda similar to me.

Most Similar to:  It almost reminded me of a still French cider with orange.

Closing Notes:  This is one of my favorite Woodchuck special releases.

Have you tried Woodchuck Belgian White?  What did you think?

My Favorite Ciders of 2018

Happy New Year!  Now that it is nearly 2019, it is time for a list of some of my favorite ciders of 2018.  This is a tradition here at Cider Says; see here for my list from 2017, 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 2018.  Some of the categories overlap.  However, I cheated a bit, as I made the list first, then determined categories to put them in!

barrel aged:  Tieton Bourbon Peach – This has more juicy peach flavor than bourbon, but the two go well together, and there is some nice complexity for being made from dessert apples.

botanical-infused:  Finnriver Lavender Black Currant – This mouth-puckering tart cider is primarily black currant flavored, but also has hints of lavender.

brewery-made:  Central City Limited Edition Imperial Cider – Most ciders I’ve tried that were made by breweries were disappointing, but this one was awesome, complex, imperial-style, and bourbon barrel aged.

canned commercial:  Woodchuck 802 Collection ‘Lil Dry – Many commercial ciders are overly sweet and uninspired, but this was semi-dry, flavorful, and craft tasting.

cyser:  Merridale Cyser – This cyser was imperial style and had some nice flavor and complexity, beyond just tasting like apple and honey.

draft commercial:  Somersby Apple Cider – As much as I enjoy craft cider, sometimes a commercial cider really hits the spot, plus often that is all you can find.  This cider is from Denmark but I tried it in Canada on vacation.  Apple forward and not too sweet.

everyday English cider:  Newton Court Gasping Goose – I’m a huge fan of English cider, and this was a go-to of mine, although unfortunately it is no longer available.  Tannic, rich, flavorful, clean, and sessionable.

fancy English cider:  Oliver’s Gold Rush batch #2 – This cider is crazy rich and complex, and a lovely deep hue too.  A steal at $15/bottle.  Wish I could find more.  I picked some up on vacation, and got lucky when I returned the next year and they still had 1 bottle left, but haven’t seen it locally.

French cidre:  Eric Bordelet Sidre Brut Tender and Ferme de Beau Soleil Cidre Fermier Bio Brut – I’m also a big French cider fan, and tried a number of great selections this year, but these stood out.

French perry:  Pierre Huet Poire Demi-Sec – This French perry is unique, with its fluffy texture, tartness, great real pear flavor, and a bit less sweet.  I haven’t found any American perries like the French ones I’ve had.

French Pommeau:  Hérout à Auvers Pommeau de Normandie AOC – I tried this awesome Pommeau (cider + apple brandy) at Cider Summit.  I’m looking forward to opening the bottle of it that I bought.

fruity:  Portland Sangria – Very fruity, with unexpected complexity, a fruit salad sort of cider.

ginger-infused:  Kystin Kalysie – I’m not a ginger fan, but I actually enjoyed the hint of ginger in this French perry.

ice cider:  Woodbox Double Barrel – This is a less sweet ice cider, with rich concentrated flavor, and a twist, having been whiskey barrel aged.

large craft cider made with cider apples:  Schilling Excelsior – This was made using bittersweet cider apples in addition to regular varieties, but remains beginner-friendly, staying a bit sweeter and clean and such.  I’m seeing more mainstream ciders being made using cider apples, although often it seems like it must have been a small amount.  The cider apple influence was definitely noticeable in Excelsior though.

New England style:  Alpenfire Tempest – The style is characterized by the use of brown sugar and raisins, and this is a great example.  It even reminded me of English cider.

pineapple cider:  2 Towns Pacific Pineapple – This cider is bursting with real fresh pineapple flavor, yet its less sweet.

Pommeau:  Phillippi Fruit Snow Dance – This U.S.-made Pommeau is super flavorful and complex, and reminiscent of cyser.

rosé:  Manoir du Parc Authentic Rosé and La Chouette Cidre Rosé – Both of these sweet French rosés are made from red-fleshed apples plus pears, and have a lovely fluffy texture.  I’m not sure if I could even tell them apart in a taste comparison, they are so similar.

single varietal:  Liberty Kingston Black – Made from only Kingston Black cider apples.  Tart, rich, and complex, with a hint of sweetness, which I appreciated, as often these sorts of ciders go completely dry.

tannic cider:  Finnriver Fire Barrel version 1 – Super tannic, flavorful, and complex, reminiscent of English cider.  I wasn’t as much of a fan of their more recent version 2 of it though.

tropical:  One Tree Staycation – I loved the complexity of this, which was unexpected for a cider from dessert apples.  I drank way too much of this over the summer!

unexpected:  Fresh Cut Watermelon Cider – Based on the can design and flavor, I was expecting this Canadian cider to be fake and syrupy, but this was superbly done, real tasting and semi-dry.

unique:  Kystin Cuvée XVII – 16 varieties of apples plus chestnuts are used in this unique, complex, tannic, and nutty French cider.

Well, there you have it, a list of 26 of my favorite ciders from 2018.  They have a lot in common – most are mid-level sweetness, rich, complex, and full-flavored.  What are some of your favorite ciders?

Woodchuck 802 Collection Lil’ Dry

Review of Woodchuck 802 Lil’ Dry.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had most of their line-up (see here).

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

Cider:  802 Collection Lil’ Dry
Cidery:  Woodchuck
Cidery Location:  Middlebury VT
ABV:  5.1%
How Supplied:  four pack of 16oz cans
Style:  American commercial cider from fresh-pressed Vermont apples

Photo Nov 15, 3 50 17 PM Photo Nov 15, 3 50 26 PM Photo Nov 15, 3 50 33 PM

Availability:  only in Vermont to start, then limited in Maine and New Hampshire

Cider Description:  A traditional cider made with only fresh pressed Vermont juice from our orchard partners. Enjoy this semi-dry cider with good friends and good company.

See this article for detailed info.

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

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

Photo Nov 16, 4 55 43 PM.jpg

First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of sweet green apple.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Low acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of green apple, honey, and tropical fruit.  Moderate tart finish.  Moderate apple flavor and flavor intensity.  High sessionability.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it.  Never would have guessed it was Woodchuck actually, as it lacks the characteristics that I associate with every Woodchuck cider, as to me they all have a bit of the same baseline flavor (likely the same apple blend), and a fuller body than expected for the level of sweetness.  This tastes like it was made with a different blend of apples, maybe some heirloom ones thrown in with the dessert ones.  The quality was characteristic of their ‘Vermont Cider Company‘ line (released in 2016 and 2017).

Most Similar to:  Vermont Cider Co, Addison, although this was a touch drier, lighter bodied, and more craft tasting

Side Note:  They previously had a cider called ‘802’, a caramelized brown sugar type cider, but that was discontinued a few years back.  They also did this previously, re-using the name Summer Time, but having it be a different cider, ginger pear instead of blueberry.  As cool as using the ‘802’ area code is, I could see it being confusing.

Closing Notes:  Too bad it doesn’t sound like this will make it out to the PNW (or at least not soon).

Have you tried Woodchuck 802 Lil’ Dry?  What did you think?

Woodchuck Rosé

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

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

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

Photo Oct 03, 6 48 09 PM Photo Oct 03, 6 48 20 PM Photo Oct 03, 6 48 27 PM

Availability:  wide release

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

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

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

Photo Oct 05, 5 53 18 PM

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

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

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

Most Similar to:  Angry Orchard Rosé

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

Have you tried Woodchuck Rosé?  What did you think?

Woodchuck Pearsecco

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

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

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

Photo Oct 03, 6 48 43 PM Photo Oct 03, 6 48 55 PM Photo Oct 03, 6 49 03 PM

Availability:  wide release

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

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

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

Photo Oct 05, 5 08 04 PM.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Oct 03, 6 47 15 PM.jpg

Have you tried Woodchuck Pearsecco?  What did you think?

Woodchuck Cucumber Mint

Review of Woodchuck Tank Series release #2, Cucumber Mint.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Spring, Summer Time, Fall Harvest, Winter Chill, Amber, Granny Smith, 802, Raspberry, Pear, Crisp, GumptionPink, Hopsation, Ciderbration, Local Nectar (VT)Sour Cherry, Chocolate, Farmhouse ’91, Barrel Select, Pumpkin, Belgian White, Mint, Splitter Splinter, Oopsy DaisyLazy Hazy Lemon CrazyHot Cha Cha ChaCampfire PancakesBarrel Aged CherryDay ChaserJune and JuiceSemi-DryGinger Lovin’Summer Time Pear GingerGumption Citrus Freak, and Tank Series Pear Ginger.

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

Cider:  Cucumber Mint
Cidery:  Woodchuck
Cidery Location:  Middlebury VT
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz cans
Style:  American commercial cider from dessert apples, with cucumber and mint

Photo Jun 21, 6 43 30 PM Photo Jun 21, 6 43 50 PM Photo Jun 21, 6 43 41 PM

Availability:  wide release, July-September 2018, until the next Tank Series release (#3/3, due out later this year)

Cider Description:  Cucumber Mint cider is bursting with bright cucumber and mint for a light, refreshing taste experience.

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

Price:  n/a (retails for $8.99-9.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

Photo Jun 24, 5 12 40 PM_preview.jpeg

First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild, of mint.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  The flavor was primarily citrus (I didn’t detect any specific cucumber flavor), with a long mint finish.  Low apple flavor and complexity.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I thought it was ok.  I personally wasn’t super into the mint flavor, but it was mild, not at all overpowering, and the cider was quite drinkable overall.

Most Similar to:  Schilling Watermelon Mint, which was similar to this in that the flavor overall was rather mild, and the mint was only on the finish.

Closing Notes:  This is the second mint flavored cider I have known Woodchuck to make – the first was cellar series “Mint”.

Have you tried Woodchuck Cucumber Mint?  What did you think?

Woodchuck Tank Series Pear Ginger

Review of Woodchuck’s Pear Ginger, the first release in their new “Tank Series”, about which they said “Woodchuck has always been synonymous with innovation and our cider makers honor this pioneering spirit with the Tank Series.”  I’ve tried most of their lineup; see here.

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

Cider:  Pear Ginger
Cidery:  Woodchuck
Cidery Location:  Middlebury VT
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz cans (and kegs)
Style:  American commercial cider with ginger and pear flavors

Photo Feb 27, 3 50 17 PM Photo Feb 27, 3 50 29 PM Photo Feb 27, 3 50 42 PM

Availability:  wide release for 3-4 months, then replaced by the next Tank Series

Cider Description:  A crisp ripe pear cider bursting with ginger for a taste that is light and refreshing.

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

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $8.99 / six pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

Photo Mar 02, 4 29 21 PM.jpg

First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells of sweet pear juice with spicy ginger.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of syrupy pear, pineapple, spicy ginger, and a hint of citrus.  Moderate finish with lingering ginger.  Low apple flavor.  Mild to moderate ginger flavor (more spicy than burning).  Moderate pear flavor, sessionability, and flavor intensity.  Mild complexity.

My Opinion:  I’m not a ginger fan, so I was a bit ambivalent, but my husband really liked it.  Light and refreshing, with the mild ginger made even milder with the sweet pear.

Most Similar to:  Woodchuck Out On a Limb Ginger Lovin’, except with more ginger and the added pear.

Closing Notes:  This was originally released in summer 2017, as a new version of their Summer Time (which was previously blueberry).  They also plan to have two more Tank Series releases this year.

Have you tried Woodchuck Pear Ginger?  What did you think?