Kite & String Royal Cider

Review of Kite & String’s Royal Cider, ice cider fortified with apple brandy then oak barrel aged.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Baldwin and Honeoye.

Photo Jan 24, 8 47 08 PM

Cider:  Royal Cider
Cidery:  Kite & String (Finger Lakes Cider House)
Cidery Location:  Interlaken NY
ABV:  18%
How Supplied:  375ml bottles
Style:  American craft barrel-aged brandy-fortified ice cider

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Availability:  limited, probably only in the Northeast, plus online sales

Cider Description:  Fortified desert cider. A cold concentrated ice cider partially fermented then blended with a young apple brandy. Aged briefly in American oak. Deeply textured layers of caramel and vanilla balanced with refreshing acidity. Unfiltered and unfined.

Cidermaker’s Notes:  Following a passion for port wines, Royal Cider was born.  Beginning with a a high acid blend of heirloom apples cold concentrated in the winter of 2015 to 40+ brix. Fermented to 13% ABV then fermentation was arrested via fortification with apple brandy to 18% ABV. Then barrel aged to soften the edges and allow the brandy to settle in. Naturally clarifying, requiring no filtration.

Apple Varieties:  Newtown Pippin, Northern Spy, Honeycrisp, & Baldwin

Cidery Description:  ‘Kite’ means light, playful, balanced, fun.  ‘String’ means grounded to a place, our small farm.  Kite & String Ciders are produced at Finger Lakes Cider House on our organic and diversified farm in Interlaken, New York.  Please come visit us in the tasting room any time of year.

Price:  $28
Where Bought:  their website
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  online discussion

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First Impression:  Medium caramel amber hue.  No carbonation.  Smells sweet, high ABV, and of caramel & spice.

Tasting Notes:  Sweet.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of rich baked apple, caramel,  vanilla, and spice.  Long warm finish.  High apple flavor, overall flavor intensity, and complexity.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  More ice cider than Pommeau.

Most Similar to:  ice cider + a bit of Pommeau

Closing Notes:  I think Eden ice ciders are still my favorite so far.  My favorites from Eden are are The Falstaff and Brandy Barrel Aged Heirloom.

Have you tried Kite & String Royal Cider?  What did you think?

 

Schilling Cider House Visit 36 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes #36 from the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts from the cider house here.

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I was here on a Monday afternoon with my husband and a friend from out of town.  We skipped work to hang out with our friend at Pike Place and the cider bar.  I ordered most of the ciders they had that I hadn’t previously tried.  It appears that most if not all of these are draft-only.

Photo Jan 27, 2 02 25 PM<left to right:  Schilling Brut, Independent Barreled Blackberry Perry, Channel Marker Quince, Finnriver Bourbon Barrel Aged Heritage, and Cider Riot New Wave>

Schilling (Auburn WA) Imperial Brut (8.5% ABV):  On the sweeter side of dry, tart, with rich bittersweet cider apple flavor

Independent Cider (Dryden WA) Barreled Blackberry Perry (5.9% ABV):  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, with berry, and a hint of oak (barrel), but no detectable pear

Channel Marker Cider (Seattle WA) Quince (7.8% ABV):  Dry to semi-dry, tart, with mild general fruitiness

Finnriver (Port Townsend WA) Bourbon Barrel Aged Heritage (9.5% ABV):  Semi-dry, with heirloom apple flavor with some tannins and bitterness

Cider Riot (Portland OR) New Wave (5.1% ABV):  Dry to semi-dry with sharp heirloom apple flavor

I liked the Blackberry Perry, but wasn’t too into the others, mostly as they were on the drier / tart / sharp / bitter side.  I probably should have just ordered something I knew I would like, but I like to try new ciders, especially at the lower price of a taster.  I was more excited about the bottle shopping I did – I picked up a bunch of Dunkertons (an English cider which is a favorite of mine that hasn’t been available for quite awhile) and Alpenfire (a local favorite), plus a few others.

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

Hemly Pear Cider

Review of Hemly’s Pear Cider (cider from apple & pear juice).  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery.

Photo Jan 04, 7 19 23 PM

Cider:  Pear Cider
Cidery:  Hemly Cider
Cidery Location:  Cortland CA
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  four-pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  American craft pear cider, from apple & pear juice

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Availability:  probably only in CA; see here

Cider Description:  Our flagship and most popular cider. This pear cider is medium sweet, tastes of fresh pear and has a beer like body. Our Original is made from Bosc and Bartlett Pears and a small amount of Gala Apples, is aged on oak and unfiltered. At 5.5% alc. Hemly Original is bright, refreshing and sessionable.

Cidery Description:  It may have taken us 165 years, but it’s definitely worth the wait! Six generations later, thanks to Josiah, we can share the heart of our pear ciders with you: fermented dry,aged on oak, unfiltered. A light refreshing, authentic and cloudy pear cider crafted for you to enjoy.  Our cider is made from 100% fresh pressed fruit straight from our orchards, never artificially flavored. We control the entire process from the roots to the glass. After six generations of growing pears, we have a gold worth sharing.

Price:  $11.99 / four pack
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  on a business trip to Southern CA I picked up a number of singles

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First Impression:  Hazy yellow hue.  No carbonation.  Smells mild, of pear.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of green apple, pear, and lemon.  Quick finish.  Low pear flavor, apple flavor, overall flavor intensity, and complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed the flavor.  However, it was quite mild overall.

Most Similar to:  Anthem Pear and Longdrop Tanager Pear Cider

Closing Notes:  Hemly also has at least two other pear ciders, Dry, and Sloughhouse (with Jalapeño).

Have you tried Hemly Pear Cider?  What did you think?

Eden Extra Sec

Review of Eden’s Extra Sec, their dry sparkling methode champenoise cider made from heirloom and bittersweet apple varieties grown in Vermont and New Hampshire.  It is my first time trying this, although I have had their Sparkling DryCinderella’s SlipperHeirloom Blend Ice CiderSparkling Semi-DryNorthern Spy Ice CiderHoneycrisp Ice CiderImperial 11 RoséHeirloom Blend Apple Brandy Barrel AgedGuinevere’s PearlsWindfall Orchard Ice CiderTwo Ellies, FalstaffHeritage 2018Siren SongEzekiel Kingston Black, and Harvest 2019.

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Cider:  Extra Sec
Cidery:  Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Newport VT
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  375ml & 750ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from heirloom & cider apples, methode champenoise, dry

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Availability:  limited, although they have online sales

Cider Description:  Champagne-method cider made from heirloom and bittersweet apple varieties grown in Vermont and at Poverty Lane Orchards in New Hampshire. It is naturally sparkling and clean – we hand-disgorge the yeast from every bottle! Beautifully balanced between fruit, acid, and tannin. The barely perceptible dosage serves to bring forth the fruit character of the cider. Perfect with roast pork, turkey and vegetable gratin dishes.

Cidery Description:  Our specialty ciders reflect the cold winter climate and apple heritage of Northern New England. We make ciders that are unique and innovative, but that also respect the rare and expensive apples we use, and refrain from aggressive manipulation and industrial beer and wine processing techniques.

Price:  ~ $15
Where Bought:  their website
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Light gold hue.  Low to moderate carbonation.  Smells mild, of dry acidic heirloom apple cider.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate to high tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of complex tart heirloom apples, lemon, wood/earth, and pineapple.  Long tart finish.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it, especially as it isn’t fully dry, and has some complexity, but this isn’t my favorite style of cider.  My husband was predictably even a big fan, as its a favorite style of his.  I recommend this to fans of complex dry tart sparkling ciders; its very well made and an excellent value.

Most Similar to:  Eden Harvest cider, but sparkling, a touch drier, and more complex

Closing Notes:  Awhile back Eden replaced their flagship ‘Dry’ and ‘Semi-Dry’ ciders with ‘Brut Nature’ and ‘Extra Sec’, all of which are sparkling, with the former at 0% residual sugar and the later (reviewed here) at 0.9% residual sugar.  I think I preferred the ‘Semi-Dry’ a bit over Extra Sec, as it was a touch sweeter and richer, but anything from Eden is a good choice.

Have you tried Eden Extra Sec?  What did you think?

Superstition Meadery Hawaiian Honeymoon

Diverging a bit from cider, this is a review of Superstition Meadery’s Hawaiian Honeymoon, a pineapple-vanilla mead.  Mead is made by fermenting watered down honey.  It is my first time trying this one, but I sampled a number of Superstition’s varieties when I visited their tasting room (see here).

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Mead:  Hawaiian Honeymoon
Meadery:  Superstition Meadery
Location:  Prescott AZ
ABV:  13.5%
How Supplied:  375ml corked bottles
Style:  American craft mead (honey wine), with pineapple & vanilla added

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Availability:  limited; see here, plus they have online sales

Mead Description:  Hawaiian Honeymoon is a recent Superstition creation which has become an instant staff favorite. Big juicy Tahitian vanilla beans and pineapple, aged on toasted American oak staves, join forces with Arizona honey in this delicious craft beverage that will take you on vacation.

Meadery Description:  We have introduced over 200 unique meads and hard ciders since 2012.
Our products range from dry to sweet, still to sparkling, and easy drinking to the most flavorful beverage you have ever imagined.

Price:  ~ $24
Where Bought:  unknown
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  my husband got me this (and 1 other Superstition mead) for Christmas

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First Impression:  Light yellow hue.  No carbonation.  Smells of pineapple and honey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness.  No tannins, funk, or sourness.  Notes of pineapple, honey, lemon, vanilla, and stone fruit.  Long warm finish, due to the high ABV.  Moderate honey flavor.  High flavor intensity and complexity.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  It was more pineapple than honey forward, and the vanilla was barely perceptible.  I see mead as a nice option in between cider and wine, and although there are more sessionable (low ABV) mead options, which often tend drier, I usually prefer the more traditional sweeter higher-ABV meads, which tend to be full-flavored.

Most Similar to:  High-ABV pineapple cider, or pineapple wine, with a hint of honey.

Closing Notes:  Superstition’s meads are at the higher end of the price spectrum, but they are also high quality.

Have you tried mead?  What did you think?

Tieton Single Varietal Harrison

Review of Tieton’s single varietal cider from Harrison apples.  I first sampled this at a tasting event in August (see here), but this time I’m doing a detailed review of a bottle.  I’ve also had their Apricot, Smoked Pumpkin, Wind (Pommeau), Wild Washington, Cherry, Blossom Nectar, Cidermaker’s ReserveSparkling PerryCranberryBourbon PeachFrost (ice cider), Spice RouteRussian RedLavender HoneyOak Barrel Aged Cider Summit Collaboration, and Organic.

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Cider:  Single Varietal Harrison
Cidery:  Tieton Cider Works
Cidery Location:  Yakima WA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft cider from heirloom Harrison apples

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Availability:  special release, at least in AZ, CA, CO, FL, ID, IL, NJ, NM, NV, OR, TX, and WA; check their cider finder

Cider Description:  This is our second cider in our single varietal series. We use Harrison apples it in our ciders often because its great for blending with other apples, but since it makes such good cider on it’s own, we chose too make a single variety cider. It is golden colored, with spiced apple, honey notes and a deeply rich mouthfeel finished by a lingering hint of ginger.

Cidery Description: From our orchards to your glass, TCW controls every aspect of the growing and cidermaking process. TCW boasts the largest orchard of cider apple varieties in Washington state and the largest Perry pear orchard in the United States. We blend our cider fruit with all Washington apples. 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:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  initially at a tasting event

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First Impression:  Light gold hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild and slightly rich.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of heirloom & green apples, honey, pear, lemon, and an overall flavor which I would best describe as creamy.  Moderate length tart finish.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, overall flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  Very approachable for an heirloom apple cider, as many tend towards super dry and tart.  Its at a nice price point too.

Most Similar to:  Snowdrift Forefathers and Locust Honey Pear

Closing Notes:  I always like finding ciders from heirloom and/or cider apples which are a bit sweeter, as I’m not usually into fully dry ciders, but like their flavor and complexity.

Have you tried Tieton Harrison?  What did you think?

2 Towns Branch & Barrel

Review of 2 Towns Branch & Barrel, an Imperial-style cider made from heirloom apples, then barrel aged.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve had most of their line-up (see here).

Photo Dec 14, 5 10 59 PM

Cider:  Branch & Barrel
Cidery:  2 Towns Ciderhouse
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  8.2%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft Imperial-style cider from heirloom apples, barrel aged

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Availability:  seasonal, in fall, in select states where 2 Towns is typically sold (Oregon, Washington, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Chicago, and parts of Minnesota & Montana)

Cider Description:  Pomona, goddess of orchards, blessed our crop this year with a bounty of eclectic heirloom apples which, when fermented & aged in French oak foeders, yield a deliciously aromatic cider fit for the gods!

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We never add any sugar, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing true Northwest craft cider.

Price:  $6.99
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing; I was surprised to see this on shelves vs. usually receiving samples of their new releases in the mail (they did however send me an awesome holiday gift – a bottle of their Pommeau!)

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild, dry, of complex heirloom apples.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  Notes of heirloom apple, stone fruit, and honey.  Moderate length tart finish.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it, especially because they went a bit sweeter with this one than their others and its flavor profile.  It tasted sweeter than it smelled.  My husband was also a fan, especially due to it being Imperial-style (higher ABV), which is his favorite.

Most Similar to:  Tieton SV Harrison and Snowdrift Forefathers

Closing Notes:  2 Towns is always a good choice, as they make so many different varieties of ciders, and they are all pretty middle of the road, to appeal to the masses.

Have you tried 2 Towns Branch & Barrel?  What did you think?

Angry Orchard Unfiltered Crisp Apple

Review of Angry Orchard’s newest regular release, an unfiltered less sweet version of their Crisp Apple.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve had a number of their other selections (see here).

Photo Nov 28, 3 45 09 PM

Cider:  Unfiltered Crisp Apple
Cidery:  Angry Orchard
Cidery Location:  Walden NY (their R&D facility)
Cider Production Locations:  Cincinnati OH & Breingsville PA
ABV:  6%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  American commercial cider from dessert & bittersweet apple varieties, unfiltered, less sweet

Photo Nov 28, 3 45 29 PM Photo Nov 28, 3 45 54 PM

Availability:  wide release

Cider Description:  Crisp Apple Unfiltered is an homage to traditional cider with a natural, less sweet, fresh apple taste.  It is made with bittersweet apples, the gold standard in cider making.

Ingredients:  hard cider, water, cane sugar, apple juice from concentrate, malic acid, honey, natural flavor, carbon dioxide, and sulfites to preserve freshness

Price:  ~ $2 / single bottle (runs ~ $8.99 / six pack)
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

Photo Nov 28, 3 49 33 PM.jpg

First Impression:  Hazy light amber hue.  Smells of sweet baked apple.  Very low carbonation.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of tannins and bitterness.  Notes of unfiltered apple juice, orange, honey, and chemicals.  Moderate length tart finish.  Moderate apple flavor and flavor intensity.  High sessionability.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  The weird chemical flavor ruined it for me, and my husband agreed – we ended up dumping it out.  Maybe it had gone bad, but it didn’t taste like ciders I have had before which were truly flawed (the most common I’ve found is those which have turned vinegary).

Most Similar to:  Angry Orchard Easy Apple, Crispin The Saint, and some favorites of mine, Downeast Original Blend and 2 Towns Return of the Mac, except with a chemical twist…ick

Closing Notes:  I was hoping this would be a full-ABV version of their Easy Apple (their less sweet, less filtered, low ABV cider), but that one is much better.

Have you tried Angry Orchard Unfiltered?  What did you think?

2 Towns Cosmic Currant

Review of 2 Towns Cosmic Currant, a new fruit seasonal with cranberries and black currants.  It is my first time tying 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 2 Towns.  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:  Cosmic Currant
Cidery:  2 Towns Ciderhouse
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  6.2%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz cans (and 500ml bottles and kegs)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples with cranberries and black currants

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Availability:  seasonal (winter), in Oregon, Washington, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Chicago, and parts of Minnesota & Montana

Cider Description: Crafted with a transcendent blend of Oregon-grown cranberries, black currants, and Northwest apples, Cosmic Currant’s complex profile takes you on a voyage to the cosmos. Deep ruby red hues radiate with a hint of cane fruit sweetness and earthy cassis liqueur, finishing with a robust cranberry tannin. This brilliant winter warmer creates a celestial cider experience best enjoyed on a crisp, clear night under a blanket of stars.

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality, whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We refuse to add processed sugars, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing a true Northwest craft cider.

Price:  retails for ~ $11.99 / six pack
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

Photo Nov 28, 3 36 36 PM.jpg

First Impression:  Medium red hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells mild, of tart berry.

Tasting Notes:  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  High tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No funk or sourness.  Notes of cranberry with hints of black currant, green apple, and lemon.  Long tart finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low to moderate complexity.  Moderate sessionability and flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I’m not a big fan of cranberry, drier ciders, or tart ciders, so I wasn’t really into this.  However, my husband loved it, as he likes all of those things.

Most Similar to:  Portland Cider Cranberry, Apple Outlaw Cranberry Jewel, and Tieton Cranberry

Closing Notes:  Its interesting that they only put currant in the title when it tastes more like cranberry.

Have you tried 2 Towns Cosmic Currant?  What did you think?

Author Semi-Sweet Draft Mead

Not a cider review, but a mead (honey wine) review, of Author Mead’s “draft” Semi-Sweet variety.

Mead Name:  Semi-Sweet
Meadery Name:  Author Mead Co.
Meadery Location:  Vancouver WA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  four pack of 12oz cans
Style:  American craft “draft” style mead, lower ABV and carbonated, and made using brewing techniques

Photo Nov 22, 6 54 59 PM Photo Nov 22, 6 55 08 PM Photo Nov 22, 6 55 19 PM

Availability:  Washington and Oregon (see here)

Mead Description:  Thanks to the simplicity of ingredients – water, Raw American Honey and yeast – Semi-Sweet is truly a gateway into Draft Mead for those who don’t drink it on a regular basis. We left just enough residual sugars to balance out its crispness and still allow it to go down smooth. People say it tastes a lot more like its lager craft beer cousin than other mead out there today.

Meadery Description:  Crafted to be different…we assembled an all-star team of brewers and dreamers to explore how to help mead rise in the ranks of the craft brew world.  Our process of craft brewing mead advances that goal and we strive daily to deliver you something unique and tasty.  Game changed…get ready to meet the product that is changing the game in craft brewing.  We re-envisioned traditional mead to create crisp, carbonated and perfectly balanced style that pair equally well with a weekend exploring outdoors, a dinner party with friends or hanging out at your favorite tap house.  Let us introduce you to Author Draft Mead.

Where Bought:  Whole Foods in Western WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells very mild, of sweet honey with a hint of floral.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, and bitterness.  No sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of honey with hints of floral and lemon.  Long bitter beer-like chemically finish.  Low to moderate honey flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked the flavor until it got to the finish, which ruined it for me.  I assume it was from using brewing instead of wine (and cider & mead) techniques, which is the first time I’ve heard of this for mead.  I had 2 other people try it and they agreed with me, so it wasn’t just me.

Most Similar to:  drier sessionable meads like Nectar Creek Waggle, except with a weird finish

Closing Notes:  I’d recommend this for beer fans who want to try mead, but not so much for folks who like typical meads and cider.

Side Note:  I’ve found I prefer the more traditional meads, which are typically fuller flavored, sweeter, and higher ABV, over the drier carbonated session meads like this.

Have you tried Author Mead?  What did you think?

Angioletti Secco

Review of Angioletti’s Secco cider, from Italy.  It is my first time trying this cider.

Photo Nov 08, 7 00 32 PM

Cider:  Secco sparkling Italian craft cider
Cidery:  Angioletti Vero Sidro Italiano
Cidery Location:  Italy
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottle
Style:  Italian craft cider

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Availability:  unknown

Cider Description:  Made from 100% Italian apple juice (no concentrate).  5% vol.  Style: ‘Secco’ / Medium-dry.  Tasting note: Fine bubbles; aromas of fresh apple and white blossom are followed by intense, fresh flavours of orchard fruits, and a satisfying, clean, crisp aftertaste.  Serving suggestion: Serve chilled in a large flute glass as an apéritif or alongside antipasti.  Cider-maker: Matteo Corazzolla.  Closure: Mushroom cork.  Suitable for vegetarians and vegans.  Gluten Free.

Cidery Description:  Angioletti craft Italian ciders are made from selected apples exclusively grown in the Italian dolomites.  Our ciders are made from 100% juice and contain no artificial flavourings or colourings.  Based in the UK (the world’s largest cider market), we are the sales office for family-run craft Italian cider and beer ‘Sidro Birrificio’ Lucia Maria Melchiori, where all our craft ciders and beers are made.  As well as Angioletti craft Italian ciders, we supply the Birra Val Di Non range of unfiltered Italian craft beers, named after the picturesque valley in which our ‘Sidro Birrificio’ is situated.

Price:  $5.99
Where Bought:  Total Wine in Southern CA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing, on a work trip

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild, slightly sweet and acidic, and somehow reminiscent of sparkling wine.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of green apple, lemon, mineral, and floral.  Quick finish, with the flavor and bubbles going flat..  Low apple flavor and overall flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I thought this was pretty average.  $5.99 is quite a low price though, so maybe my expectations were too high.

Most Similar to:  Scandinavian Green Apple Craft Cider, although Angioletti Secco had much lower carbonation (Maybe it was an old bottle though?  I’m guessing imports don’t move as quickly as local favorites.)

Closing Notes:  I prefer the only other Italian cider I’ve tried, Bertolinos.

Have you tried Angioletti Secco?  What did you think?

Marquis de Saint-Loup Cidre de Normandie Brut

Review of Marquis de Saint-Loup’s Cidre de Normandie Brut.  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery.

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Cider:  Cidre de Normandie Brut
Cidery:  Marquis de Saint-Loup
Cidery Location:  France
ABV:  4.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  French cidre

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Availability:  in Western Washington, plus online sales (to AK, CA, DC, ID, ND, NH, NM, NV, OR, and WA), both through  Beauchamp Imports / French Cider Inc.

Cider Description:  This is an approachable brut cidre—all natural, fermented, pure apple juice, lightly sparkling and not too sweet. A go-to cidre for nearly any occasion, it is equally well-suited for a meal of shareable small plates or for grander special occasions. Delicious served by the glass at the bar, in an ice bucket tableside, or to guests at a rehearsal dinner. This cidre has an effervescence that lasts.

Cidery Description:  see here

Price:  ~ $11.99
Where Bought:  Central Market, North of Seattle
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Hints of tannins.  No sourness, bitterness, or funk.  Notes of apple juice & pomace with hints of orange.  Quick finish.  Low complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.  High sessionability and apple flavor.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, it was less complex than many of the other French ciders I’ve had.

Most Similar to:  Kystin Opalyne

Closing Notes:  French cider is one of my favorites.

Have you tried French cider?  What did you think?

Common Cider Pineapple Guava

Review of Common Cider’s Pineapple Guava.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Hibiscus Saison.

Cider:  Pineapple Guava
Cidery:  Common Cider Company
Cidery Location:  Drytown CA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  6 pack of 12oz slim cans (or 22oz bottles)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples with pineapple and guava

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Availability:  probably only in California (see their locator)

Cider Description:  An artfully effervescent hard apple cider heightened with tropical pineapple and guava to celebrate the warmth of social festivity.  Our Hawaii-inspired pineapple guava hard cider actually started out as a seasonal in 2017 but response was so strong that we have made it one of our year round products. It’s bright, fruity and off-dry; perfect with light food dishes or just by itself, with a few friends of course.

This gem also took home the Silver medal at the 2018 New York International Beer Competition, and at the 2018 World Cider Competition.  Fun Fact: When you see a pineapple you think Hawaii but they actually originated in South America and are believed to have made their way to Hawaii via the Spanish in the 16th century.

Cidery Description:  To open a Common Cider is to open your heart to the world.  To invite conversation, to entertain new ideas, to celebrate what we all have in common.  While the rest of the brewing world is busily promoting hard cider, we’re engaged with in the art of crafting human cider.  Cider as a solvent for cynicism.  Cider as symbol of balance and sanity.  Cider as a delivery system for joy.

Price:  ~ $3 / single can (runs ~ $13.99 / 6 pack, or $8.99 / 22oz bottle)
Where Bought:  Total Wine in southern CA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing, on a business trip, where I had extra suitcase space on the way back after dropping off work stuff so I picked up quite a few ciders

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First Impression:  Low carbonation.  Light straw yellow hue.  Smells mild, tart and tropical.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness.  No sourness, funk, or bitterness.  Notes of green apple, pineapple, and a bit of something else, which tasted more like strawberry than guava to me.  Moderate length finish.  Low flavor intensity, complexity, and apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  I thought this was ok, not really to my personal preferences, as it was so mild in flavor.

Most Similar to:  Apple Outlaw Pineapple Getaway and Seattle Cider Pineapple Agave

Closing Notes:  My favorite pineapple cider (of ~ 18 I’ve tried) is probably 2 Towns Pacific Pineapple, as it has tons of flavor without much sweetness, which is a rare combination.

Have you tried Common Cider Pineapple Guava?  What did you think?

2 Towns Hollow Jack’d

Review of 2 Towns’ Hollow Jack’d, a seasonal imperial-style pumpkin and spice cider.  I sampled a non-imperial (lower ABV) version of this previously (see here), and I’ve tried most of their line-up (see here).

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by 2 Towns.  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:  Hollow Jack’d
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  8.4%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles, kegs
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with caramelized heirloom pumpkin, sweet potato, honey, and spices

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Availability:  October 2019, in Oregon, Washington, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Chicago, and parts of Minnesota & Montana.  See their Cider Finder.

Cider Description:  Extra mischievous, Hollow Jack’D takes our fall classic of fresh-pressed apples, caramelized pumpkins and sweet potatoes that are finished with local honey and spices to a whole new level.

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We never add any sugar, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing true Northwest craft cider.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $6.99 / 500ml
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I first tried it at Cider Summit Seattle 2016, but this time it just showed up

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First Impression:  Hazy straw yellow hue.  Nearly still (low carbonation).  Smells of caramelized apple and spice.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of baked apple and spices, with hints of pumpkin, sweet potato, and caramel.  Moderate length boozy finish.  Low to moderate sessionability and apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity and complexity.  Low to moderate pumpkin & sweet potato flavor and spice.

My Opinion:  Although I’m not a huge pumpkin / spiced cider fan, I liked this one.

Most Similar to:  Doc’s Draft Pumpkin cider (although that was a full sweet) and Tieton’s Smoked Pumpkin cider (although that was quite intensely flavored compared to this).  I’ve also tried pumpkin ciders from Ace and Woodchuck.

Closing Notes:  Unlike many pumpkin ciders (and beers), this one is actually made with pumpkin.  Many just add the pie spices but still call it a pumpkin cider (or beer).  Also, it is well balanced, with both the pumpkin and spices remaining light.

Have you tried 2 Towns Hollow Jack’d?  What did you think?

Dragon’s Head Heritage Rosé

Review of Dragon’s Head Heritage Rosé cider, made from red-fleshed apples.  This differs from a modern rosé cider which would add non-apple juice, hibiscus, etc, to get the red hue.  I tried this at a WA Cider Week preview event at Dragon Head’s own orchard (see here), plus I’ve had their Traditional CiderWild FermentedKingston BlackColumbia Crab, Methode Champenoise Perry, Perry, ManchurianSummer Cider, and Heritage.

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Cider:  Heritage Rosé
Cidery:  Dragon’s Head Cider
Cidery Location:  Vashon Island WA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft orchard-based heritage rosé cider from red-fleshed apples

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Availability:  probably only in Washington and Oregon (see a list of retailers here), plus online sales

Cider Description:  Our Heritage Rosé Cider gets its lively pink color entirely from the Redfield and Mountain Rose apples we use to make it. Unlike typical apple varieties, in the Spring the blossoms on these trees are pink, the leaves are even a reddish bronze, and amazingly the flesh of these unique apples is red in color. When the apples are pressed the juice is a crimson color that lightens and clears into the beautiful rosé that you see in the bottle.

Cidery Description:  From apple to bottle, all right here on our farm.  At Dragon’s Head Cider, we take a traditional approach to cider making. Our focus is on the apple varieties that we use and the quality of the fruit. We love the story that apples alone can tell through cider, altering the flavor by changing the blend of apple varieties that we carefully select. The process is simple and the ingredients list is short. Perhaps we’re a little old fashioned.

Price:  ~ $19
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  a tasting event (see here),

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First Impression:  Medium pink hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells mild and fruity.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of tannins and bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of complex heirloom & tart green apple with hints of lemon, berry, rhubarb, and watermelon.  Moderate length tart finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  However, I personally prefer ciders which are a bit sweeter and fuller flavored.  I’d recommend this for folks who like a fruity cider but without the sweetness that most have.  I’m always amazed by how many different flavors can occur just from apples, like the fruitiness from red-fleshed apples.

Most Similar to:  Other heritage rosé ciders made from 100% red-fleshed apples, such as Snowdrift Red (a tad sweeter and more tart), Tieton Russian Red (sweeter), Alpenfire Glow (much sweeter and very full-flavored), and Alpenfire Cinders (drier and super bubbly since its methode champenoise).

Closing Notes:  I’m often torn between heritage and modern ciders, as they both have so much to offer, but thankfully I don’t have to choose between them.

Have you tried heritage rosé cider from red-fleshed apples?  What did you think?

Herb’s Cider Forte Golden Russet Keeved

Review of Forte from Herb’s Cider, a keeved cider from golden russet apples.  Keeving is a French cidermaking process which leaves the apple pulp and skin with the juice to start fermenting, creating a pectin gel layer which traps nitrogen, which in combination with low temperatures starves the juice of nutrients to completely ferment to dry, slowly creating a naturally sweet cider (see here for more info).  I tried this at Cider Summit a couple weeks ago (see here), plus I’ve had their Triplet Special ReserveBlue Note Heirloom Blueberry7/4 Traditional BittersharpCrescendo Cox Orange Pippin SV, and Cider Summit Fruit Challenge Plum Jerkum.

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Cider:  Forte
Cidery:  Herb’s Cider
Cidery Location:  Bellingham WA
ABV:  6.3%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American organic craft keeved cider from Golden Russet heirloom apples

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Availability:  limited release, and probably only in Washington

Cider Description:  A single varietal cider made from organic Golden Russet apples.  Keeved using traditional methods to result in a naturally sweet cider and wild fermented at very low temperatures for several months.  Aged in French oak puncheons.

Cidery Description:  Herb’s Cider is a craft cider produced by world renowned drummer, Tim “Herb” Alexander and award-winning Cider Maker, Chris Weir. Herb’s is located in the heart of Bellingham, Washington. We use only 100% ORGANIC Pacific Northwest fruit for our sophisticated, bright, effervescent and flavorful ciders. We are dedicated to the craft of fine cider making and use only traditional methods. We do not add sugars (back-sweeten) or anything to flavor our end products. Tim and his wife, Shama, fermented their first batch of cider in their garage in the fall of 2016. It was a blend of Ambrosia / Gravenstein apples and Japanese Pears, leftover from their garden after a bumper crop. They couldn’t give enough apples away and didn’t want the apples to rot. Instead, Tim went out and rented an apple press. The rest is history….

Price:  ~ $20
Where Bought:  Cider Summit Seattle 2019
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  tasting

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells sweet, of pineapple.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied, with a fluffy texture.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Hints of tannins.  Notes of tart green & rich heirloom apple and tropical fruit, with a creamy mouthfeel.  Moderate length finish, flavor intensity, complexity, sessionability, and apple flavor.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it.  Super unique, and the sweetest of all their offerings I’ve tried so far.  I had no idea you could keeve non-bittersweet apples, so that’s pretty cool.

Most Similar to:  This is sweeter than three Golden Russet single varietals I’ve tried, from Finnriver, Liberty, and Wandering Aengus, and was more tropical fruity than earthy/buttery/starchy.

Closing Notes:  My husband smartly recommended I pick up 2 bottles, because whenever I buy 1 bottle of something I really liked at an event, I don’t want to open it, because then it’ll be gone.  So, the good news is I still have another bottle left!

Have you tried keeved cider?  What did you think?

Portland Cider Peach Berry

Review of Portland Cider’s Peach Berry.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Passion FruitPearfect Perry, Kinda DryHop’RageousLondon Dry GinApple, Crooked Cock Scrumpy, Strawperry, Pineapple, Sangria, MojitoCranberryConcord GrapePerfect 10Pumpkin Spice, and Pineapple Rosé.

>>This is a review of a sample can 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 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:  Peach Berry
Cidery:  Portland Cider
Cidery Location:  Portland Oregon
ABV:  5.2%
How Supplied:  19.2oz single cans, 6 pack of 12oz cans, and draft
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples with berries and peaches

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Availability:  seasonal (fall), in Oregon (including their 1 taprooms) and Washington, plus limited draft availability in Northern CA bay area

Cider Description:  Bold, juicy Oregon peaches play with a blend of tart Northwest grown berries for a cider full of sunshine to drink on those grey Portland days. Lively raspberries, blackberries & blueberries burst onto your tongue, just like plucking the fruit from your own backyard. This balanced cider, with a bold peach flavor and slight tartness, pairs well with classics like fish tacos, spicy sausages and corn on the cob.

Cidery Description:  Portland Cider Company was started in October 2012 by an Oregonian and a family of British expats with the mission of bringing cider, handcrafted in the English tradition, to the Northwest. It has two taproom locations: Portland Cider House at 3638 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, OR 97214; and Taproom & Cidery at 8925 SE Jannsen Rd, Bldg. F, Clackamas, OR 97015.  Visit www.PortlandCider.com and follow @PortlandCider on social media.

Price:  ~$4 / 19.2oz can, or ~$12 / 6 pack of 12oz cans
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

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First Impression:  Deep purple-red hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells mild, tart and fruity.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of berry, stone fruit, and green apple.  Moderate length finish.  Low complexity and apple flavor.  Moderate to high flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it.  Super fruity and flavorful, without too much sweetness.

Most Similar to:  Portland Cider Sangria (except more rich berry than light tropical fruit) and Bauman’s Peach Raspberry (except more berry than peach)

Closing Notes:  I received both a 19.2oz can and a 12oz can, and oddly enough the batch in the smaller can was a bit drier and more tart than this 19.2oz can that I reviewed was.  A great example of craft cider – there will always be some variability batch-to-batch.

Have you tried Portland Cider Peach Berry?  What did you think?

Schilling Cider House Visit 35 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 35th visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  However, 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.

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I was a bit distracted and totally forgot pictures this time, but I thought I might as well share tasting notes.  I was there on a Thursday afternoon, the day before Cider Summit Seattle 2019, for the cider house’s 5th birthday.  I ordered a flight, as always.  Its awesome even with how many ciders I’ve tried, they always have at least a few new to me selections.

Alpenfire (Port Townsend WA) Golden Fox (6.9% ABV):  This is their 17th draft-only Traditional Heirloom Cider release, this time from Golden Russet, Golden, and Foxwhelp apples.  Dry, with notes of heirloom apple and lemon, with hints of bitterness & tannins.

Brownrigg (Seattle WA) Rum Barrel (7.5% ABV): I had forgotten I actually tried this 1 year ago.  Their rum barrel aged cider, which like all their ciders appears to be draft-only, and super limited release.  Dry and tart, with oak, citrus, and herbal flavor, and low sourness (back of the palate).

Longdrop (Boise ID) Strawberry Vanilla (5.5% ABV):  This appears to be a draft-only release.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet, with mild berry flavor, and vanilla on the nose and finish.

Reverend Nat’s (Portland OR) Watermelon (4.5% ABV):  This is seasonal, and also available in bottles, as Holy Water(melon), and advertised to also have ginger and lime in addition to the walermelon.  Semi-dry, with a mild watermelon flavor and a hint of grapefruit and ginger, and a sour finish (back of the palate).

Schilling (Auburn WA) Blueberry Pommeau (21% ABV):  This is a draft-only birthday release, where Pommeau = apple brandy + apple juice, then barrel aged, with blueberry added.  Semi-sweet, fuller bodied, with a tart fruity berry start and a rich boozy finish.

Schilling (Auburn WA) Guava Mint (8.5% ABV):  This is a draft-only release for the fruit cider challenge at Seattle Cider Summit.  Semi-sweet, full bodied with a guava pulp mouthfeel, lots of guava flavor, and a hint of mint on the finish.  Hidden ABV.

I didn’t care for the Rev Nat’s or Brownrigg selections, due to the sourness, but liked all the others, especially the Schilling Guava mint, which I ordered more of.

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

Cider Summit Seattle 2019 Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is post 2/2 on Cider Summit Seattle 2019, with tasting notes on 21 ciders.  Post 1/2 covered the event.

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The Tasting Notes

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2 Towns Ciderhouse (Corvallis OR) Kingston Black – A draft-only special release.  Semi-dry, tannic, lower acid, with a woody earthy flavor.

Alpenfire Cider (Port Townsend WA) Kingston Black – A small batch bottled release.  Semi-dry, with a lighter flavor than expected for a KB single varietal, with notes of citrus and wood, and mild tannins.

Archibald James (Leavenworth WA) Smash Apple – Their sweeter (1.5% residual sugar) flagship canned/bottled offering.  Semi-dry and very apple forward.  High level of flavor for the lower sweetness.

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Bauman’s Cider (Gervais OR) Kir Royale – A black currant and cherry barrel aged cider.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry, with bold cherry and oak flavor.

Bembel with Care (Germany) Apfelwein Pure – A flagship canned release.  Dry to semi-dry.  Yeast-forward, and reminiscent of beer.

Chatter Creek Cider (Woodinville WA) Kingston Black – A special bottled released.  Dry and acidic, with citrus and wood notes, but less complexity.

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Cider Riot (Porland OR) Kingston Black – A special bottled release.  On the sweeter side of dry.  Rich bitter tannic flavor with caramel, leather, and orange.

Herb’s Cider (Bellingham WA) Forte – A keeved golden russet single varietal (which is unique as typically only French bittersweet apple juice is keeved), Cognac barrel aged.  Semi-dry but tastes even sweeter, smooth, and apple-forward with hints of tropical fruit.

Herb’s Cider (Bellingham WA) Fruit Challenge – A one-off Foeder aged bittersweet plum jerkum.  Dry but fruity, more berry than plum (but I’ve never been able to pick out plum flavor in a cider).

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Manchester Road Cider (Chelan WA) Apple Sox Red – A flagship bottled offering with beets added for color.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Apple forward and non-specifically fruity.

Newtopia Cyder (San Diego CA) Passionate Mishap – A draft-only cider with passionfruit.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet, with notes of tart passionfruit and some citrus.

One Tree Cider (Spokane WA) Passionfruit Guava – A one-off fruit cider challenge entry.  Semi-sweet to sweet, and full flavored, with more passionfruit than guava.

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Pear UP (East Wenatchee WA) Peargria II – Take two on a one-off margarita-inspired perry (from 100% pears, no apples) for the fruit cider challenge.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet, with notes of lime, pear, and other fruit.

Pierre Huet (France) Calvados This apple brandy is aged 5-10 years, and imported by French Cider Inc.  I’m not big on spirits, especially served neat, so I’ll defer to my husband, who loved it.  I can however say it was smooth for the high ABV.  However, I think I’ll stick to cider and Pommeau.

Portland Cider (Portland OR) Peach Berry – A new canned release.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  More generally fruity than specific peach & berry, reminiscent of their Sangria, but slightly drier and less complex.  Speaking of their Sangria, I heard it will be going to draft-only for awhile due to lower sales, which is sad as its my favorite from them.

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Reverend Nat’s (Portland OR) Saint Citron – A new canned release.  Semi-dry and citrus-forward, primarily grapefruit, with a hint of ginger.

Seattle Cider Company (Seattle WA) Strawberry Guava – A limited release with strawberries and guava.  Dry, with mild fruitiness, but low flavor intensity.

Soundbite Cider (Everett WA) Two Plums Up – A limited release with plums.  Semi-dry and fruity, more strawberry-rhubarb than plum I thought.

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Union Hill Cider (East Wenatchee WA) Pinkheart – A blend with Red Fleshed, Cripps Pink, and Dabinett apples.  Semi-dry, with subtle fruity citrus flavor.

Union Hill Cider (East Wenatchee WA) Hard Harvest – A blend with Cripps Pink, Dabinett, Porters Perfection, Kingston Black, and Snowdrift Crab apples.  Dry to semi-dry, with subtle earthy citrus flavor.

Wildcraft Cider Works (Eugene OR) Rome Beauty – A single varietal of Rome Beauty apples.  Measurably dry but it tastes sweeter, apple-forward (cooked) and non-specifically fruity, and completely clean.  I liked the level of flavor (high) vs. sweetness (low).

I also had some 2 Towns Pommeau and Eden Heirloom Blend Ice Cider, because we still had tickets left, and they are awesome.

In Summary

It was impossible to taste all the ciders at the event, or even one from each producer, so I’d also like to share previous tasting notes and reviews of ciders from the other cideries I didn’t get to highlight:  Alter EgoAnthemAvid (previously Atlas)Bad Granny, Brownrigg, Browar Polska Imports (PossmannRuwet), Capitol Cider, Caple Road, d’s WickedDouble MountainDragon’s HeadEaglemountEdenFinnriver, Greenwood, Idun, Independent CiderInclineJester & Judge, J. Seeds, Liberty, Locust, Longdrop, MiloslawskiSamuel Smiths, Schilling, Sea Cider, Snowdrift, Swift, Tieton, Ulee’s, Virtue, Wandering Aengus, and Washington Gold.

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My favorites were Schilling Guava Mint (which I actually tried the night before but I’ll count as it was made for this event), Herb’s Forte, 2 Towns Kingston Black, and Alpenfire Kingston Black.  Two of those were draft only, but I picked up bottles of the other two.  Speaking of Kingston Black, single varietals from KB were popular, with at least 5 cideries offering them.

This event is always the highlight of Washington Cider Week, and the biggest and best cider event of the year in Western Washington.

Cider Summit Seattle 2019 Post 1/2 – The Event

Epic!  This was my fifth year attending (see here for previous posts), but was the 10th annual Cider Summit in Seattle Washington.  It took place on Friday & Saturday September 6th & 7th.  This is post 1/2, covering the event.  Post 2/2 will have tasting notes on all the ciders I tried.

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See my preview here.  I attended Friday afternoon, which is awesome as it isn’t too crowded yet, especially the VIP hour (2pm-3pm).  See here for the full event info and here for the full list of cideries (~54) and ciders (~150-200).  There were some substitutions and even 1 cidery no-show, but there were plenty of options, even for someone like me who had tried most of the lineup from most of the cideries.  There was even ice cider, Pommeau, Calvados and other spirits, and cider cocktails.

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Although most ciders were from the PNW, there were a good number of national and international ones as well.  Also, the selections were primarily on the craft (vs. commercial) end.  Like last year, they had smaller pour sizes and more tickets for pours, so it was easier to try more selections.

Entry included a tasting glass, drink tickets, and wristband.  A cool feature of this event is that in addition to in & out privileges, one entry fee gets you in both days (and you can even skip the line on the second day), just keep your wristband on and bring your glass.  This year they were at a new venue, Lake Union Park outside of the MOHAI, instead of at South Lake Union Discovery Center across from Whole Foods.  It was still an outdoor event, and < 1 mile from the old site.  I liked this venue a bit better, as there seemed to be more space.  The only traffic jam area was around the heritage cider tent.

However, parking was a bit trickier.  Previously we’d always just park in the Whole Foods garage.  MOHAI has very little parking, and their main lot was marked permit only when we checked.  We ended up parking about a 5 minute walk away, at Chander’s Cove next to Daniels, where it was $20 for up to 10 hours, and a nice paved lot (vs. rocks); however, it was a pain to pay (needed to download an app and create an account).  The Amazon lots can be a great option if you are attending Friday night or anytime Saturday, but at 1:30pm on Friday we didn’t even try.

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This event is very well organized, by far the best I have attended.  It is also very consistent year-to-year.  Everything from detailed pre-event information online (even a full cider list) to signage at the event to thinking of the little things like having rinse water available and a shaded seating area.  Its crazy to think about how much work goes into an event of this magnitude…renting a space, tables, canopies, and even fencing…finding volunteers, hiring staff for liquor enforcement and safety (at emergency exits), having extra ice and cider available, etc.

Another thing about this event that I really like is that the folks pouring the cider are associated with the cidery (cidery employees, sometimes even the cidermakers, or the distributor), so you can ask about the cidery and cider.  Plus, all the canned/bottled ciders are available in the shop (too bad there are so many great special releases they only had on draft).  The crowd was really varied, but had a lot of cider enthusiasts like myself.  There were also lots of vendors trying ciders, as it is common for a cidery to bring multiple people and swap out pouring.  A number of people brought their dogs too.

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Besides the main attraction of cider booths, they had an event store (with can/bottles and t-shirts and such), a stage where they switched between interviews with some of the cidery reps and live music, food for sale (hot dogs, tamales, and pretzels – which were tasty but festival priced).  There were also cider related vendors (such as the Northwest Cider Association, CiderCraft & Sip Northwest magazines, and Press Then Press – a new online cider shop; see my reviews hereand some non-cider and non-food vendors.  The amenities were also above average for an outdoor event, with multiple food options for sale, concrete planter box edges to sit on, covered tables & chairs, clean port-a-potties with outdoor sinks, and free water (although this year it wasn’t cold like in years past…).

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My Tips

Friday is typically much less busy than Saturday, especially earlier in the afternoon and the VIP hour.  My game plan this year involved sleeping in, having a big lunch, getting to the event early to figure out parking, visiting all the cidery booths which are new to me during the VIP hour, taking a snack break, trying more ciders, then leaving and eating dinner with my husband.

I recommend good walking shoes, as you are on your feet for most of these types of events, and there are uneven dirt and patches of grass at outdoor sites like this.  Also, pants with pockets, to put your tasting tickets and cell phone and such in.  There are less grab & go food options within easy walking distance of this site, mostly sit down restaurants (like Daniel’s, whose bar we ate dinner at), but 3 food options on-site.  I bring my own snacks and water bottle though.

Other must-haves for me are a hat, sunblock, bug repellent, sunglasses, notebook & pencil, and a plastic baggie to put the tasting glasses in afterwards when they are sticky.  Its nice having a bag to put all that stuff in, as well as any free swag you want to collect.  ID is required to get in, and cash never hurts, although some places (like the Summit store) take cards.

A great way to get free admission is to volunteer; they had several shift options each day, and I heard that if you work closing on Saturday you may even get leftover bottled/ canned cider.  For the best ticket price, buy in advance, although there are taxes & fees for online sales.  Although VIP tickets are online sales only, if you want the best price on a regular ticket, you can go to Capitol Cider to avoid the fees.  The event didn’t sell out as far as I know, but the ticket price was higher at the door.  Designated driver tickets ($5) were only available at the door.

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Closing Notes

In addition to Seattle, there are Cider Summits in Chicago IL (February), San Francisco CA (April), and Portland OR (June).

My 2nd Cider Summit Seattle 2019 post with tasting notes will be out soon!