Ulee’s Light Cider Dry

Review of Ulee’s Light Cider’s Dry.  It is my first time trying this cider, which just launched this month.  This is described as the first cidery focusing on light cider (although some other cideries also offer something similar, such as Dry 99 by Number Six.

Cider:  Dry
Cidery:  Ulee’s Light Cider
Cidery Location:  Auburn WA (at the Schilling facility)
ABV:  4.0%
How Supplied:  six packs of 12oz slim cans (and kegs)
Style:  American craft low-calorie cider from dessert apples

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Availability:  Western Washington (mostly in the greater Seattle area) and Portland Oregon

Cider Description:  All of Ulee’s Light Ciders are created with 100% all natural ingredients from the Northwest. Our juice is fresh-pressed from Washington apples and then fermented, filtered and blended with Cascadia water. They are vegan, naturally gluten-free and only 99 calories per can.

Cidery Description:  Ulee’s Light Cider was founded in 2016 by three guys who love cider, but hate calories.  The journey started ten years ago when founder Scott Gallagher first began visiting Iceland.  During his trips he discovered that many of the locals drank hard cider instead of beer. Scott liked the flavor but after sampling many of the European varieties, he acquired a particular taste for Dry-Style ciders. After returning home to Portland, OR, he found that locally available ciders tended to be overly sweet with lots of calories.  

Scott and his two buddies, Don Forsythe and Matt Thompson, were drinking cider around the fire-pit—the place where great ideas are born—and started brainstorming what they would like in a cider. It had to by dry but flavorful, locally sourced and all natural, gluten-free, light in calories, and very, very drinkable.  It took a while but after working with expert cidermakers and experimenting with 25 different recipes, they finally came up with two ciders that exceeded their expectations.

Price:  $1.83 / single can (runs $9.99 / six pack)
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  On Facebook, as they had a launch party at the Schilling Cider House

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow.  Low carbonation.  Almost no scent.

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

My Opinion:  Meh.  This tastes like watered down cider (which it is).  I’d rather drink a less of a more flavorful cider, especially considering these cost the same as other ciders yet are only 4.0% instead of 5.0-5.9%+ ABV.  Its a bit more flavorful though if you drink it in gulps rather than sips.

Most Similar to:  Number Six Dry 99 and Seattle Cider Dry.  For a dry canned cider, my favorite is probably Original Sin Extra Dry (which isn’t yet sold in the PNW).  Or, for a dry cider which is more widely distributed (and more highly carbonated), Ace Joker.

Closing Notes:  I don’t really get the point of this (I bought it only out of curiosity), but it is doing pretty well on untappd and such.  It also got into a lot of stores very quickly, so they must have some connections.  Ulee’s also launched with a second hopped variety, called “Citra”.

Have you tried Ulee’s Light Cider?  What did you think?

Incline Explorer Hopped Cider

Review of Incline Cider Company’s The Explorer – Hopped Cider.  Its the first time I’ve tried their cider, and this was the first cider this company released (January 2016).

Cider:  The Explorer – Hopped Cider
Cidery:  Incline Cider Company
Cidery Location:  Auburn WA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  six packs of 12oz cans
Style:  American craft hopped cider made from dessert apples

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Availability:  Year round in Washington and Oregon

Cider Description:  On the drier end of the scale while remaining very smooth and well balanced. The Explorer Hopped Cider is produced from our blend of Yakima apples. A hearty dose of hops is added in to create a extremely balanced, complex, and refreshing cider. NO added sugar, no concentrates, nothing funky.

Cidery Description:  On a mission to share craft cider with the nation. Incline Cider Company was established by dreamers turned cider adventurers.  Founded through a long time passion with the industry and for quality craft cider, Incline was born.  Our mission is to produce craft cider of the highest quality and share it with the world.

We stay true to “craft”.  This means no apple concentrates and no artificial additives.  To put it simply – we let the apples, yeast, and our expertise do the talking.  GMO and Gluten Free.  Family owned and operated..  

Price:  ~$2 for a single can
Where Bought:  Whole Foods
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing, although I had read about this cider online and seen full six packs in other stores

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First Impression:  Pale straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of hops, citrus, floral, and honey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Hop-forward (moderate).  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness.  No tannins, sourness, or funk.  Notes of hops, citrus, floral, and honey.  Moderate finish length.  Low apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Low flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I found this easy to drink, but its not something I’d buy again, as I prefer a higher flavor intensity and less overt hoppiness (ie. citrus & floral notes vs. actual hop flavor).  I liked that the bitterness didn’t linger, which I’ve found some some hoppier ciders.

Most Similar to:  Other moderately hopped ciders, such as Portland Cider Hop’Rageous and Tod Creek Mala-Hop.

Closing Notes:   I’m glad I got to try this.  I can no longer say that I don’t enjoy hopped ciders, although they aren’t my first choice.  I think Incline did well staying middle of the road as far as hoppiness to appeal to both cider and beer drinkers.  I’m curious what they will come out with next.  Their website lists The Scout Hopped Marionberry Cider, but I haven’t seen it yet.

Have you tried Incline Explorer?  What did you think?