Grand Illusion Mystic Citra Pineapple

Review of Grand Illusion Hard Cider’s Mystic Citra Pineapple, a hopped pineapple cider.  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery.

Cider:  Mystic Citra Pineapple
Cidery:  Grand Illusion Hard Cider
Cidery Location:  Carlisle PA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz cans (and draft)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with Citra & Cascade hops and pineapple

>>This is a review of a sample can provided to Cider Says by Grand Illustion.  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.<<

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Availability:  in Pennsylvania, primarily at their taproom, but soon, at some other locations

Cider Description:  Has a pineapple ever played tricks on you? This cider will. Floral and fruity with passion fruit, grapefruit, pineapple and lemongrass overtones. Dry hopped with a combination of Cascade and Citra hops.

Cidery Description:  We are Grand Illusion, a hard cider production company located in Carlisle, PA.  We use fresh pressed apples from Adams and York County to create magical ciders for all to enjoy.  Our taproom in downtown Carlisle has become a destination, with 15 ciders, 5 beers, and 8 wines – all on draft and all from Pennsylvania.

Here is an article from a local newspaper on the cidery.  They serve both their own ciders and ciders from other cideries at their taproom; see their tap list here.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $44 / case, likely ~ $11 / six pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the cidery owners contacted me

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First Impression:  Light yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of hops, pineapple, and stone fruit.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low bitterness.  Hints of sourness.  No funk or tannins.  Notes of hops, pineapple, apricot/peach, and grapefruit.  Long slightly bitter hoppy finish.  Moderate hops intensity and overall flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate to high sessionability.

My Opinion:  I would have liked it better with less bitter of a finish, but overall the flavor combination and level of sweetness were nice.  My husband was a bigger fan.  It was neat how many extra flavors there were.  Also, more fruity than citrus or floral, which I’d expect from Citra hops (they did say Cascade were also used though).  I think this would appeal well to beer drinkers.  It tasted less sweet than the labeled 17 grams of sugar; possibly as the acidity and bitterness helped cut that, or else this was less sweet of a batch.

Most Similar to:  Swift Pineapple Hop

Closing Notes:  Next up I have their blueberry-lavender and hopped grapefruit varieties.

Have you tried hopped cider?  What did you think?

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Kystin Kalysie

Review of Kystin’s Kalysie, a French perry (from 100% pears) with ginger.  I’ve previously tried their Opalyne and Cuvée XVII.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by French Cider Inc. / Beauchamp Imports.  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:  Kalysie
Cidery:  Kystin
Cidery Location:  Brittany France
ABV:  2.0%
How Supplied:  330ml bottles
Style:  Breton French Demi-Sec (sweet) perry (100% pear) with ginger

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Availability:  limited, imported by French Cider Inc.

Cider Description (translated):  A hint of temptation.  A crystalline dress, a nose with tonic accents of Ginger. A fruity attack, delicate to finish on a spicy lemon note.  Ginger bursts to the pear for a striking union.  Ideal as an aperitif, it will accompany fish and shellfish, pasta cheese parsley, and of course chocolate.

Cidery Description:  Created in 2012, Kystin offers a range of original and very unique gourmet ciders, made of unusual ingredients such as chestnuts, pears and ginger. With a history dating back to the 14th century, Kystin ciders combine fruit, tradition and authenticity to create an unforgetabble taste. The brand recently released “Kalysie” – a pear ginger cider named as a tribute to the Khaleesi character from popular TV series Game of Thrones.

Price:  n/a
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  through French Cider Inc.

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild, of candied ginger with a hint of pear.

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

My Opinion:  Great!  I don’t usually like ginger, but it was quite mild, and the bit of ginger bite added to the overall flavor profile, to help balance the sweetness of the perry.  The ginger was stronger in the scent than the taste.  Nice pear flavor and not too sweet.  However, there wasn’t anything about this perry that seemed French-like; I would have guessed this was a U.S. perry.  Nothing wrong with that though.  This would be a nice selection for brunch or lunch, at only 2% ABV.

Most Similar to:  A more refined/craft version of Woodchuck Tank Series Pear Ginger

Closing Notes:  This is the third of three Kystin varieties currently available in the U.S. (also see my reviews of their Opalyne and Cuvée XVII).  Its interesting to see European cideries release flavored ciders/perries, similar to the U.S., when they have all the ideal apple and pear varieties for cider and perry making and such a long history of doing so.  However, I can see new products increasing sales and expanding their target market.  Some other flavored European ciders I’ve tried are Ramborn Cascade Hopped Cider and Lefevre Winter Cidre.

Have you tried French perry?  What did you think?

Kystin Cuvée XVII

Review of Kystin’s Cuvée XVII, a French cidre.  The “XVII” refers to the 16 apple varieties plus a 17th ingredient, chestnuts.  I’ve previously tried their Opalyne.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by French Cider Inc. / Beauchamp Imports.  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:  Cuvée XVII
Cidery:  Kystin
Cidery Location:  Brittany France
ABV:  4.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  Breton French Demi-Sec (sweet) cidre from 16 varieties of cider apples, with chestnuts

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Availability:  limited, imported by French Cider Inc.

Cider Description (translated):  After seven long years of experimentation, a maceration of chestnut, raw, crushed, for many months in the juice will finally be retained to tie apple and chestnut: La Cuvée XVII is born!  Today, it offers us a particularity and unique flavor, amazing Chefs and Sommeliers of very beautiful establishments, honoring the Gastronomy and knowing how to put forward the difference.  Its sublime amber color, its tuberous nose, its attack very fresh honeyed apples gradually gives place to the flavors of Chestnut and its notes of undergrowth.  There is also the creamy chestnut, cocoa and floral notes very intense. 

Cidery Description:  Created in 2012, Kystin offers a range of original and very unique gourmet ciders, made of unusual ingredients such as chestnuts, pears and ginger. With a history dating back to the 14th century, Kystin ciders combine fruit, tradition and authenticity to create an unforgetabble taste. The brand recently released “Kalysie” – a pear ginger cider named as a tribute to the Khaleesi character from popular TV series Game of Thrones.

Price:  n/a
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  through French Cider Inc.

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First Impression:  Light orange hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells of sweet apple with earth and nut.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of bittersweet cider apple & pomace, yeast, nuts, orange, leather, and earth.  Long tannic nutty finish.  High apple flavor, sessionability, and complexity.  Moderate to high flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  Excellent!  I love the uniqueness of this cider.  Quite complex and flavorful.  Probably the most tannic French cidre I’ve ever had, which I enjoyed, and the nuttiness paired perfectly.  Also less sweet than I was expecting for a Demi-Sec, which makes it quite versatile.  I drank this at cellar temperature (in between fridge & room temps), which the cidery recommended, and I agree with.

Most Similar to:  I’ve actually tried two Chestnut themed ciders, an English cider aged in a Chestnut wood cask (Sandford Orchards Chestnut Cask), and a cider with Chestnut crabapples and aged with toasted oak spirals (Number 12 Chestnut), but neither were with actual chestnuts.  The most nutty cider I’ve had was an English Perry from Hogan’s, but again, no nuts.

Closing Notes:  Next up is Kystin’s Kalysie, a perry (100% pears) with ginger.  So far I’m quite impressed, especially considering this is a relatively new cidery (2012), especially in comparison to the age of many other French cideries which have been around for generations.

Have you tried French cidre?  What did you think?

Tart Cidery Granny’s Grudge

Review of Tart Cidery’s Granny’s Grudge.  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery

Cider:  Granny’s Grudge
Cidery:  Tart Cidery
Cidery Location:  Olympia WA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  four pack of 500ml cans
Style:  American craft cider from dessert bittersharp apples

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Availability:  only in WA, retail and online sales

Cider Description:  Our take on a classic, American Cider. Tangy, Tart and full of flavor, you’ll swear you’re biting into a fresh Granny Smith Apple straight from the tree.

Cidery Description:  Tart Cider, LLC was formed in late 2016 as a collaboration between Zoe Van Schyndel and Nicholas E. Timm, after the two discovered a mutual love for cider and apples. The company is committed to sourcing products locally, maintaining a U.S. base for raw materials, doing things naturally and creating a delicious, natural product for any person older than 21. The company HQ is located in Olympia, Washington and currently distributes around the entire state of Washington.

Price:  $3.99 / single can (runs $11.99 / four pack)
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Hazy lemonade hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild, of citrus.

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

My Opinion:  I wasn’t personally a fan of this, as it was too dry and bland for my liking.  I think often ciders from dessert (not heirloom or cider) apples which are fermented dry and not flavored (with fruit, hops, spices, etc) can tend towards blah.  However, I could see folks liking this who find most other ciders too sweet, even those advertised as being dry (which especially if in a multipack often aren’t).  Also, they appear to be doing quite well on untappd and such.  Based on the description saying they added maple syrup (which I didn’t taste) and it being a canned multipack cider, I had guessed it would be sweeter.

Most Similar to:  Cascadia Ciderworks Green Apple

Closing Notes:  They also offer a few other varieties (that I haven’t seen yet) –  a mojito one, a spiced version, and a tannic rosé one.

Have you tried Tart Cidery’s Granny’s Grudge?  What did you think?

Kystin Opalyne

Review of Kystin’s Opalyne, a Brut French cidre.  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by French Cider Inc. / Beauchamp Imports.  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:  Opalyne
Cidery:  Kystin
Cidery Location:  Brittany France
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  330ml bottles
Style:  Breton French cidre from cider apples, Brut (dry)

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Availability:  limited, imported by French Cider Inc.

Cider Description (translated):  This is our last born, after intense demand from our customers.  The Opalyne cuvée finally offers us a cider of haute couture with creamy foam.  Its composition of sweet fruit, sweet bitter make it a delight on the palate.  Let yourself be seduced and travel again in our history that is written day after day thanks to you.

Cidery Description:  Created in 2012, Kystin offers a range of original and very unique gourmet ciders, made of unusual ingredients such as chestnuts, pears and ginger. With a history dating back to the 14th century, Kystin ciders combine fruit, tradition and authenticity to create an unforgetabble taste. The brand recently released “Kalysie” – a pear ginger cider named as a tribute to the Khaleesi character from popular TV series Game of Thrones.

Price:  n/a
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  through French Cider Inc.

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Low to moderate carbonation.  Smells apple and yeast forward.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied, with some fluffiness.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of bittersweet apple juice and pomace, yeast, and orange.  Moderate length finish.  High apple flavor and sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity and complexity.

My Opinion:  Great!  More complex than the average American cider, apple (but not apple juice) forward, full on flavor, and not too sweet.  Not quite as much of that fluffy texture that is common with French ciders, but a bit.  I’d love to see this available in a multipack, as this is a great every day selection.

Most Similar to:  a more refined version of Celt

Closing Notes:  This is French Cider Inc‘s first Brittany (vs. Normandy region) cidery.  I have two more ciders from them for review.

Have you tried French cidre?  What did you think?

Schilling Excelsior

Review of Schilling Excelsior.  I first tried this on draft (see here), but I wanted to do a full review of a bottle.  I’ve also tried Schilling’s Oak Aged, Gold, Grapefruit, ChaiderGingerHoppedSriracha LimeBarrel #1Barrel #2Mischief Maker Pom-CranGrumpy Bear Coffee NitroPineapple PassionLumberJack (Rhubarb)Blackberry PearDryKing’s ShillingVanilla CloveRaspberry SmoothiePeach Grapefruit HabaneroBailoutTrouble in ParadiseBlueberry CobblerFrench BittersweetPippinAfterglowRoad Trip (Peach Citra)Grapefruit & ChillBoysenberry PommeauCampfire, and Watermelon Mint,

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Cider:  Excelsior
Cidery:  Schilling Cider
Cidery Location:  Auburn (Seattle) WA
ABV:  8.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (plus draft, and soon, six packs of 12oz cans)
Style:  American craft imperial-style cider from dessert & bittersweet cider apples

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Availability:  Schilling Cider is sold at least in AK, AZ, CA, CT, ID, MN, NC, NV, OR, SC, VA, and WA, but this July 2018 release may have more limited distribution.  Also, it is unclear whether this is a limited release, seasonal release, or new year-round offering.

Cider Description:  Dear Earthlings, Schilling Cider has been on a lifelong quest to create a revolutionary cider.  We have dreamt of a world that offers an imperial canned cider that stays true to its roots, without any added nonsense.  Today, we introduce you to Excelsior, an Imperial Apple Cider that combined old world cider techniques with new world innovation.  We start with fresh-pressed Washington-grown apples, add heirloom cider fruit, then ferment with a hand-selected yeast strain.  This unique process highlights the apples’ aroma and tannin structure.  The addition of traditional cider apples builds complexity, adds depth, and creates a sessionable imperial cider.  Grab a bottle and get ready to blast off!

Cidery Description:  In 1881, Colin Schilling’s great-great-grandfather, August, founded the Schilling Spice Company in San Francisco. He brought pure, natural, spices to everyone, at a fair price. Today, at Schilling Cider, we carry August’s core values forward and pair them with innovative cider-making techniques to produce quality, complex, hard ciders.  Based in Seattle, Washington, Schilling Cider captures the essence of the Pacific Northwest by creating ciders that are deliberately innovative, bold and flavor forward. Never back-sweetened, we use only 100% fresh pressed apples, locally sourced non-GMO ingredients and individually hand select yeast strains to create a cider experience that is truly unique.

Price:  $6.99
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I tried it on draft that day

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First Impression:  Medium golden hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells mild, apple-forward, with a hint of richness.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of apple pomace (skin), caramel, orange, leather, lemon, and brown sugar.  Long tart tannic finish.  Moderate apple flavor, complexity, flavor intensity, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  This has some great flavor.  The level of sweetness is perfect, as it helps cut the acidity and bitterness, and hides the higher ABV.

Most Similar to:  a cross between English, American heritage, and American modern ciders

Closing Notes:  Its really neat to see a very large craft cidery do a large release of a cider made even partially from cider apples.  Although others have done this, it wasn’t on as large of a scale.  Also, even though the cider apples were used in a blend, unlike most others I’ve tried, the bittersweet characteristics were still quite evident.  A big benefit of this being a large release and the cider apples being only part of the blend is the lower price, which at under $7 is in-line with most other ciders in 500ml bottles.

Have you tried any ciders made from bittersweet cider apples?  What did you think?

Tieton Bourbon Peach

Review of Tieton Bourbon Peach.  I tried this on draft 2 years ago (see here), and heard last year that it came out in bottles but never saw it.  Now that I found it this year, I wanted to do a full review.  I’ve also had their Cidermaker’s Reserve, Apricot, Smoked Pumpkin, Wind (Pommeau), Wild Washington, Cherry, Blossom Nectar, Sparkling PerryCranberryFrost (ice cider), Spice RouteRussian Red, and Lavender Honey.

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Cider:  Bourbon Peach
Cidery:  Tieton Cider Works
Cidery Location:  Yakima WA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and draft)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with peach, bourbon barrel aged

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Availability:  summer seasonal, since 2016, sold in Washington, Oregon, California, and Nevada

Cider Description:  Juice from hand-picked Washington State peaches is married with the richness of Kentucky bourbon barrels. This creates the perfect balance of sweet, ripe peaches and tartness of green apples. The charred oak of bourbon barrels gives this cider a deep vanilla and plum character. A touch of oak tannin finishes this cider off perfectly. Our love of what Northwest farmers have to offer has led us to create this “Limited Release” program. Featuring the bounty of our local agriculture, Tieton Cider Works’ Limited Releases will focus on some of the very best products the Northwest has to offer. Bourbon Peach is the perfect summertime libation with a refreshing blend of juicy peaches with and aged bourbon barrel flavors.

Cidery Description:  From branch to bottle, Tieton Cider Works controls every aspect of the growing and cidermaking process. Tieton Cider Works boasts the largest orchard of cider varieties in Washington state and the largest Perry pear orchard in the United States. We blend our gnarly, inedible cider fruit with our organically grown dessert fruit. We’ve been growing apples, apricots, cherries and pears on Harmony Orchards – our family farm – since the 1930’s and are thrilled to be involved in Re:interpreting the tradition of cider making.

Price:  $7.99
Where Bought:  a weird bottle shop / bar inside a mini mart in Lynnwood WA called Stogies N Hops (we won’t be going back as it stank horribly of cigarette/cigar smoke and had a weird vibe)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I first tried it on draft 2 years ago

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild, of peach.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of peach with some other fruit (pineapple, mango, pear) and oak.  Moderate length finish with mild bourbon.  Moderate sessionability.  Low apple flavor, barrel influence, and bourbon influence.  Moderate complexity and flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  I love the flavor profile, and it has a nice complexity for being made from dessert apples.  This is exactly the type of cider that I go for when drinking non-cider-apple ciders – full flavored and semi-sweet to semi-dry.  If anything though I would have liked more bourbon.  I’m really glad they went a bit sweeter on this, as I think many barrel aged ciders often go too dry, which combined with the barrel & spirit influence can come across as harsh.

Most Similar to:  I’ve had a number of peach ciders, such as Black Fin Pacific Peach, Red Branch Peach, Schilling Road Trip (Peach Citra), Sancho Libre Peach Sangria, Fox Tail Fuzzy Haven, and Mission Trail Peach Coast (100% peach, so fruit wine not cider).  This reminds me most of the Schilling Road Trip, except it has bourbon instead of hops.  Most of the others were drier and more tart.

Closing Notes:  The price point on this is great too, for what you are getting (I checked Total Wine’s website and found out they just got it in stock, and sell it $1 cheaper, for $6.99).  I think this would do well in cans, but I think Tieton only does that for their ‘Rambling Route’ line (which I’m not a huge fan of, although its plenty drinkable).

Have you tried Tieton Bourbon Peach?  What did you think?