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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Info

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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Layout

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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<Cider Summit Seattle weekend purchases>

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!

Eve’s Albee Hill Still & Dry

Review of Eve’s Cidery’s Albee Hill, their Still & Dry cider.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Beckhorn HollowAutumn’s GoldKingston BlackRustica, and Scatterseed.

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Cider:  Albee Hill (2015 harvest, 2016 release)
Cidery:  Eve’s Cidery
Cidery Location:  Van Etten, NY
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml corked bottles
Style:  American craft orchard-based heritage cider from heirloom, cider, & dessert apple varieties, Still (no carbonation), Dry (not sweet)

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Availability:  Mostly in New York, but also in some other states, such as Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Massachusetts, Delaware, and Washington; see this page for detailed info on distribution.  However, the easiest spot is at the cidery and their online store (check for shipping availability for states besides New York).

Cider Description:  Sweet on the nose, with honey, flowers and lychee but balanced with darker aromas like damp wood and coffee. Flavors of citrus peel and quinine hang off a taut tannic frame in the mid-palate. The finish has plenty of dusty brown tannin and bittersweet apple skin.  This dry, tannic cider should be served at cellar temperature : ~55 degrees. Pair with nutty cheeses like cave aged cheddar, savory meats like Merguez sausage, and all manner of vegetables, especially grilled.

See their page for this cider for even more info; I love that they publish specific apple varietal percentages, residual sugar & acid content, fermentation type, batch size, etc.

Cidery Description:  Eve’s Cidery is a small family run orchard and cidery located in Van Etten, in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. We grow apples and other tree fruits and ferment artisanal ciders. We believe in nature, art, good food and hard work. These beliefs influence the way we farm, make cider and sell our product. We hope you can taste some of it in the bottle.

Their official tasting room is at the Finger Lakes Cider House in Interlaken New York.

Price:  $16
Where Bought:  the cidery’s online store
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  A free shipping deal in December (2017?).  This may have sat in my cider fridge awhile.)

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First Impression:  Lovely medium caramel amber hue.  No carbonation.  Smells amazingly rich, dry but with sweet flavors like caramel, and tannins.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of Dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity and tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of caramel and leather, with hints of brown sugar, orange, and earth.  Moderate length tannic finish.  High complexity.  Moderate to high flavor intensity.  Moderate sessionability and apple flavor.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this; the flavor profile was awesome.  However, I would have preferred a bit of sweetness and carbonation.  I’d recommend this cider, especially to folks who like dry and tannic grape wine.

Most Similar to:  Eve’s Kingston Black SV, which I also found to be still and with a similar profile of “sweet” flavors, yet in a dry cider

Closing Notes:  There aren’t too many truly Still ciders out there.  I think they let the qualities of the cider apples shine even more, although many (like me) aren’t really accustomed to them.

Have you tried Eve’s cider?  What did you think?

Double Mountain Wickson Crab

Review of Double Mountain Brewery’s Wickson Crab cider.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve had their Jumpin Jack Heirloom CiderDry, and Arkansas Black.

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Cider:  Wickson Crab
Maker:  Double Mountain
Location:  Hood River Oregon
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from Wickson crabapples

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Availability:  likely only in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia

Cider Description:  This late season variety is tiny on the tree, but big on flavor. Sweet, tart, and earthy, this scrappy little apple makes for a robust cider. Honeydew, ripe kiwi, and big juicy apple fill the mouth, finishing less tart and a hint of sweetness.  There is nothing small about this variety of crabapple.  Wickson is bringing the sweet to balance it’s tart kick,

Cidery Description:  Double Mountain Brewery and Taproom was established in 2007 in the heart of downtown Hood River, OR.  Founder, Matt Swihart, opened the brewery with a clear mission: make great beer for craft beer fans. The unique location of Double Mountain provides the use of pure and clean glacial water for beers and ciders, while also take advantage of regionally grown hops. Reusable bottles allow customers to partake in a softer environmental footprint, affirming they are part of a sustainable future. Double Mountain may be found on tap and in bottles throughout the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.

They have 2 taprooms, in Hood River and Portland Oregon.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $6.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Low to moderate carbonation.  Smells mild, of tart citrus.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acid.  Hints of bitterness, funk, and tannins.  No sourness.  Notes of juicy sharp crabapple, lemon, and hints of herb and earth.  The cider starts fizzy but quickly goes flat in the mouth, creating an interesting mouthfeel.  Long tart finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it, although its not a type I’d usually drink.

Most Similar to:  Dragon’s Head Columbia Crab and Greenwood Red River Wolf Crab

Closing Notes:  Its surprising to see a brewery make cider, and especially to go the heritage (vs. modern) cider route, but pretty cool.

Have you tried crabapple cider?  What did you think?