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?

Advertisements

Pick Cider Ideas for Thanksgiving 2018

CID-002-Pick-Cider-Logo-Design_BLACK_Large_Thanksgiving.jpg

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.

photo-oct-28-5-37-00-pm.jpg photo-dec-24-6-19-12-pm.jpg photo-jul-06-7-22-41-pm 2017-01-06-17-15-58.jpg photo-oct-17-4-43-50-pm.jpg

photo-nov-22-3-26-44-pm.jpg photo-oct-31-3-34-43-pm 2015-08-09-18-00-10 photo-apr-04-5-02-33-pm photo-oct-06-11-00-43-am

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.

2016-01-06-16-39-57-2 2016-10-14-20-31-54 2016-07-24-17-11-01 2016-01-15-20-01-09 2017-05-17-19-14-18 photo-jun-14-3-45-58-pm.jpg

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.

2017-04-08-17-38-09 2015-12-24-19-43-22.jpg 2017-08-18-17-23-51 2017-01-07-17-38-14 2017-02-05-17-54-06 2016-09-22-18-38-38

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.

Hérout Coup de Foudre Cidre Biologique

Review of Hérout’s ‘Coup de Foudre Cidre Biologique’, a French Calvados cask fermented cidre.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Cotentin Extra-BrutCotentin Brut, and Pommeau.

Photo Nov 10, 5 21 24 PM.jpg

Cider:  Coup de Foudre Cidre Biologique
Cidery:  Hérout
Importer:  Beauchamp Imports, French Cider Inc.
Cidery Location: Cotentin Peninsula, Normandy, France
ABV:  7.5%
How Supplied:  375ml corked bottles
Style:  Organic craft French cidre from cider apples, Calvados cask fermented

Photo Nov 10, 5 21 33 PM Photo Nov 10, 5 21 54 PM Photo Nov 10, 5 21 43 PM

Availability:  In Washington, through Beauchamp Imports, plus online sales though their French Cider Inc. website (but this one isn’t specifically listed – I’m guessing it is very new).  Also see Hérout’s Cotentin BrutCotentin Extra-Brut, Pommeau, apple juiceapple cider vinegar, and gift pack.

Cider Description (translated):  The vintage Thunderbolt is the latest Cider House Herut. 
100% pure juice, it naturally fermented in Calvados casks. The exchange with the Calvados cask brings to this cider clog an aromatic complexity broad and slightly reinforced in alcohol.  The vintage Coup de Foudre is rather raw and serves as an aperitif, but will also delight your “Happy Hours”!

Always in search of original and elaborated flavors, the corked Normandy organic ciders of the Hérout House combine authenticity and novelty.  Thus the Coup de Foudre vintage respects the tradition of natural fermentation and bottled foam; but it brings a novelty by letting fermentation take place in oak barrels that have contained Calvados.  Non-gasified and unpasteurized, the cask in Calvados boosts the alcohol content giving body to the cider, while exalting raw and authentic flavors.

Cidery Description:  Since the 1940s, Hérout cidre has been produced by the Hérout family on the Cotentin Peninsula on the Northwest coast of Normandy France, in Auvers, where apples thrive in its lush and oceanic climate.  They are the newest cidre AOC in France, since May 2016.  The cidermaker Marie-Agnes Herout was just awarded the highest civilian honor in France for her 16 years of work getting the AOC recognized – Le Croix de Chevalier, Legion d’Honneur (Knights Cross for the Legion of Honneur).

See here for more information on the cidery.

Price:  $16
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

Photo Nov 10, 5 24 33 PM.jpg

First Impression:  Medium orange hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild, of tart apple, cork, and funk.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low tannins, bitterness, and funk.  No sourness.  Notes of bittersweet cider apple, oak, cork/earth, orange, leather, and alcohol.  Long tannic finish.  Moderate apple flavor and flavor intensity.  Low to moderate sessionability.  High complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this because of its uniqueness.  You don’t see a Calvados (French Pommeau, apple brandy + cider) cask fermented cider very often.  Most French ciders are rather similar to each other (apple and yeast forward, mid level sweetness, carbonated, etc), but this was quite different (tart, earthy, more complex, higher ABV, less carbonated).  It was nice to try, but not really something I’d drink regularly, especially with the price point.  My husband was an even bigger fan.

Most Similar to:  French cidre with a hint of Pommeau and more earthiness & complexity

Closing Notes:  I liked this better then Herout’s Cotentin Extra-Brut and Cotentin Brut, but so far my favorite from them is the Pommeau, by far.  Also, the Pommeau is an excellent value.

Have you tried French cidre?  What did you think?

Alpenfire 3 Pommes (Apple, Pear, Quince)

Review of Alpenfire’s 3 Pommes, made with apples, pears, and quince (which is a pomme fruit most similar to pears and apples).  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their DungenessSparkSmokeApoCalypsoEmberSimple CiderCalypsoPirate’s PlankGlowCindersShrubSpiced Tonic ShrubTraditional Heirloom CiderFlameTempestFoxwhelp SV, and Rosy Pommeau.

Photo Nov 04, 4 59 26 PM.jpg

Cider:  3 Pommes – Apple, Pear, Quince (2016 vintage, released 2018)
Cidery:  Alpenfire
Cidery Location:  Port Townsend WA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American artisan cider from estate pomme fruit (apples, pears, & quince)
Varietals:  Muscadet de Dieppe, Dolgo Crab, Vilberie, Dabinett, & Pink Pearl apples; Bosc, Hendre Huffcap, & Romanian pears; Quince

Photo Nov 04, 4 59 36 PM Photo Nov 04, 5 00 01 PM Photo Nov 04, 4 59 49 PM

Availability:  likely limited to Western Washington, plus online sales

Cider Description:  A blend of estate bittersweet apples, perry & wild foraged pears, and locally grown quince. The early pears, crab apples and quince are hand pressed macerated and fermented in stainless. The late season apples are pressed and fermented then blended with the early fruit for aging. Very light bottle conditioning gives this cider a petulant carbonation, just enough to tease the nose.

Cidery Description:  We invite you to experience the distinctive flavors of our estate grown ciders. Shaped by our maritime climate’s mild summers and tempered by the foggy mist rolling off of Discovery Bay, our apples maintain the qualities they’ve been treasured for by generations of cider lovers.  Soft tannins, high sugars, hints of bitterness, and an incredible flavor range are the tools the apples bring us.  Slow, cool fermentation, lengthy maturation, and attention to detail is the way we say thank you!

Price:  ~ $17.99
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

Photo Nov 04, 5 02 34 PM.jpg

First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells primarily of canned pear.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate tannins.  Hints of bitterness and funk.  No sourness.  Notes of pear, tropical fruit, tart heirloom apples, and honey.  Long tannic finish.  Low apple flavor, Moderate pear flavor, flavor intensity, complexity, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it, and so did the others I tasted it with.  Way unique.  Wine-like.  Fruity, but barely sweet.  However, it wasn’t sparkling like I had expected per the label, although it worked as a nearly still cider, and was probably easier to drink.

Most Similar to:  I’ve had cider with quince from Eaglemount and CiderHead, and this had some of the same tart tropical & honey notes, but the pear was more prominent.

Closing Notes:  Alpenfire is one of my favorite PNW cideries, and has a wide variety of unique selections.  My favorites however are probably their richest selections, Smoke and Ember.

Have you tried cider with quince?  What did you think?

Le Pere Jules Cidre de Normandie

Review of Le Pere Jules Cidre de Normandie.  I previously tried this (see here), but it was a bad bottle, so especially as I was able to find a small bottle, I wanted to give it another go.

Photo Nov 03, 5 40 23 PM.jpg

Cider:  Cidre de Normandie
Cidery:  Le Pere Jules
Cidery Location:  Normandy France
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  11.2 oz bottle
Style:  French cidre from bittersweet cider apples

Photo Nov 03, 5 40 28 PM Photo Nov 03, 5 40 37 PM Photo Nov 03, 5 40 46 PM

Availability:  semi wide release, although easier to find in 750ml corked bottles

Cider Description (translated):  Pours a hazy amber color with a thin ring of head.  Aroma of dry apples, mild barnyard, hay, glue and vinous notes. The taste is sweet apples, tannic notes, mild must and vanilla.  Medium bodied, good balance, soft carbonation.

Cidery Description (translated):  Since 1919, quality and rigor are the key words of four generations of producers, faithful to ancestral traditions and lovers of their craft.  Their one and only wish, to offer you great products.  All our products are elaborated from varieties of apples and pears carefully selected from traditional orchards high stems in zone protected designation of origin.

Price:  ~$5 / single bottle
Where Bought:  The Jug Shop in San Francisco CA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

Photo Nov 03, 5 47 21 PM.jpg

First Impression:  Dark orange hue,  Moderate to high carbonation.  Smells of bittersweet apple juice and yeast.

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

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  Distinctively French and easy to drink.

Most Similar to:  A slightly less complex version of Kystin Opalyne

Closing Notes:  I’m glad I gave this one another try.

Have you tried Le Pere Jules?  What did you think?

Schilling Cider House Visit 34 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 34th visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Its actually been a few times more than that as sometimes I just pop in to buy bottles.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

Photo Nov 02, 3 39 10 PM.jpg
<tap list>

Photo Nov 02, 3 39 04 PM.jpg
<“firkin” options from Wildcraft Ciderworks – my husband tried both and liked them, but I don’t do 20% ABV at room temperature>

I was there on a Friday afternoon with my husband and two out of town friends, after taking the day off and visiting Pike Place market.  I got another awesome poke (sushi) bowl from Just Poke a few doors down to share with my husband.  I ordered a couple flights for our friends and a few tasters for me, getting about half of the 32 ciders on tap (basically everything but the driest and sweetest ones).

Its awesome even with how many ciders I’ve tried, they always have at least a few new to me selections.  And they always have some really interesting stuff too, like Earl Grey tea infused, rhubarb-hops, and grapefruit gin, plus occasionally some imported selections (this time they had Louis Raison – see my previous tasting notes here).  I only have tasting notes on the few I ordered just for myself though.

Photo Nov 02, 2 38 06 PM

Photo Nov 02, 2 38 00 PM.jpg
<left to right:  Moonlight Meadery Last Apple, Cider Riot La Luna, Liberty Kingston Black>

Moonlight Meadery (Londonderry NH) Last Apple (16% ABV):  A barrel aged cyser (cider from apples + mead from honey).  Also available in bottles, such as on their website, $27-28 / 375ml.  See my previous full review here.  Sweet.  Full bodied.  Full flavored sweet rich apple and honey notes with a quick finish.  I didn’t detect any barrel influence this time, but I’m guessing it smoothed out the flavor and contributed to the well-hidden ABV.  I may have drank it a bit too cold – warmed may have maximized its complexity.

Cider Riot! (Portland OR) La Luna (7.0% ABV):  Made from bittersweet cider apples with some dessert apples, then oak barrel aged.  Also available in bottles, but probably only in their taproom.  Completely dry.  Predominately oaky (more so than most barrel aged ciders I’ve had) with a hint of rich bittersweet cider apple flavor.  Low tartness and tannins.  I think I would have liked this more with some sweetness, as it had a low flavor intensity, especially in comparison to the next selection – the oak was my favorite part.

Liberty Ciderworks (Spokane WA) Kingston Black (8.0% ABV):  A single varietal from Kingston Black cider apples.  Previously available in bottles for ~ $15, although they don’t have any current availability on their website, and I haven’t seen it locally, so this specific batch may be draft-only.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Lovely bold bittersweet cider apple flavor with hints of honey and oak.  High tartness and moderate tannins.  I liked that they went a tad sweeter with this, as often they seem to go full dry, which can make a cider seem a bit harsh, especially if it is tart.

Photo Nov 02, 3 11 27 PM.jpg

Both me and my husband loved the Liberty Kingston Black – its probably my favorite Kingston Black single varietal to date (including from Farnum Hill, Eve’s, Whitewood, and Dragon’s Head).  So, we split a pint.

IMG_6441.JPG

I picked up some awesome bottles to take home, and even an Eric Bordelet (French cidre) 5L mini keg!  A bit spendy, but a rare opportunity.  Unfortunately it is getting more difficult to get English ciders, like Newton’s Court Gasping Goose and Dunkertons Black Fox, due to distributors going out of business or dropping cideries, but at least I was able to pick up some Worley’s Mendip Hills, my favorite of their four varieties available in the U.S.

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

Portland Cider Cranberry 2018

Review of Portland Cider Company’s Cranberry seasonal cider.  I had this last year, plus I’ve had their Passion FruitPearfect PerryKinda DryHop’RageousLondon Dry GinAppleScrumpyStrawperryPineappleSangriaMojitoConcord GrapePerfect 10, and Pumpkin Spice.

<This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Portland Cider.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received this for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review que, considering it is a new release and the info may be helpful for folks deciding to purchase it.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.>

Photo Oct 29, 4 58 33 PM.jpg

Cider:  Cranberry
Cidery:  Portland Cider Co.
Cidery Location:  Portland OR
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  22oz clear bottles (and draft)
Style:  seasonal American craft cider from dessert apples, with cranberries

Photo Oct 29, 4 58 42 PM Photo Oct 29, 4 58 55 PM Photo Oct 29, 4 59 06 PM

Availability:  seasonably (~ Nov-Jan), in Oregon and Washington

Cider Description:  Our cranberry cider is a blend of fresh NW grown cranberries & apples, Slightly tart & semi-sweet, with a rich apple taste at its core. Tastes like fresh cranberry relish!

Cidery Description:  Authentically crafted Cider with quality Northwest ingredients.  Our business is based on the belief that good cider comes from good fruit, honest practices, and attention to detail.  Our cider starts with fresh pressed juice from 100% Northwest grown apples.  We then carefully ferment it, using yeast that protects the delicate characteristics of the fruit.  The results are ciders that are high quality – easy to drink, refreshing, and downright delicious.  That’s why we say, Drink it, it’s Good!

They were founded in 2012 and have tap rooms in Hawthorne and Clackamas in Portland Oregon.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $6.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the cidery contacted me

Photo Nov 01, 7 25 16 PM.jpg

First Impression:  Red-pink hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells mild – fruity and tart.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate to high tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness.  No tannins, sourness, or funk.  Notes of berry and citrus to start, then distinctive tart cranberry on the long finish.  Low apple flavor and complexity.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate to high flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  This had some great real cranberry flavor.  However, due to that, if you are like me and not really a fan of cranberry, it may not be appealing.  If you like cranberry, you are likely to enjoy it.

Most Similar to:  Tieton Ciderworks CranberryApple Outlaw Cranberry Jewel, and d’s Wickled Cranny Granny (which is sweeter).

However, I prefer the less intensely cranberry ciders, like Downeast Cranberry BlendFinnriver Cranberry Rosehip, and Schilling Mischief Maker Pom-Cran,

Closing Notes:  The cidery has three suggested cocktail recipes – one with vodka (similar to a Cosmo)a cranberry Sangria, and another with Vodka & ginger.

Do you like cranberry cider?  What did you think?