2 Towns Boysenbarrel

Review of 2 Towns Boysenbarrel, a barrel aged boysenberry cider.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had most of their lineup (see here).

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Cider:  Boysenbarrel
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis Oregon
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft with from dessert apples with boysenberries, barrel aged

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Availability:  seasonal (winter), in some states (see their cider finder), plus online sales

Cider Description:  Tart and complex, Boysenbarrel is packed with Pacific Northwest grown boysenberries. Aged on heavy toasted French oak for a strong tannic backbone, this rich and tangy berry treat is perfect for the winter season.

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:  I first read about it online

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First Impression:  Purple-red hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells of tart berry.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of berry with hints of lemon and green apple.  Long tannic oaky red wine finish (although I’m guessing the red wine flavor was just tannic berry + oak barrel, as they didn’t specify red wine barrels were used).  Low apple flavor and barrel influence.  Moderate flavor intensity, complexity, and sessionability,

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, it was a bit too red wine-like for me.

Most Similar to:  a non-sour version of 2 Towns Traditions La Mure (marion blackberry cider aged in red wine barrels), and Seattle Cider Red Wine Barrel Berry

Closing Notes:  I’d recommend this for folks of berry and barrel aged ciders, especially wine lovers.

Have you tried 2 Towns Boysenbarrel?  What did you think?

Newton’s Folly Semi-Dry Barrel Select

Review of Newton’s Folly Semi-Dry Barrel Select.  This is a Trader Joe’s exclusive, made at the Woodchuck facility, and appears to be a barrel aged version of their regular Newton Folly Semi-Dry canned cider, which I reviewed here.

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Cider:  Newton’s Folly Semi-Dry Barrel Select
Cidery:  American Hard Cider Company
Cidery Location:  Middlebury VT
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml corked bottle
Style:  American commercial semi-dry cider, barrel aged

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Availability:  only at Trader Joe’s

Cider Description:  Hard Cider has a history that reaches back hundreds of years in Vermont, where our Newton’s Folly Cider is fermented and bottled.  Newton’s Folly Barrel Select Semi-Dry delivers an oaky, bourbon taste perfect for enjoying with family and friends.  We do offer a heads up however.  Enjoy this fine cider directly under an apple tree at your own risk.

Price:  $5.99
Where Bought:  Trader Joe’s
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of green apple juice, honey, tropical fruit, and hints of oak & bourbon.  Moderate apple flavor and flavor intensity.  High sessionability.  Low to moderate complexity.  Low barrel influence.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  I wished there was more barrel influence, but I say that about nearly every barrel aged cider.  Also, the cider profile isn’t really the type that is ideal for barrel aging (more fruity than rich).

Most Similar to:  a slightly barrel aged version of Bertolinos (except Newton’s Folly is lower carbonation), Bite Hard Semi-Sweet, or Woodchuck 802 Collection Lil’ Dry

Closing Notes:  Like Trader Joe’s Dan Armor (French cider), this is a tasty budget-friendly cider that likely would have wide appeal, and be a perfect cider to serve at a gathering.

Have you tried Newton’s Folly?  What did you think?

Tieton Bourbon Peach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cider Riot San Patricios

Review of Cider Riot Black Bloc series San Patricios Tequila Barrel Aged Irish Cider.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Never Give An Inch Oregon Blackberry1763Champeg X-17Burn Cider, and Everyday Semi-Dry.

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Cider:  San Patricios
Cidery:  Cider Riot
Cidery Location:  Portland OR
ABV:  6.2%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, Irish-style, tequila barrel aged

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Availability:  Limited release of 100 cases, at least 1 year ago.  In general their ciders are sold in Oregon, Washington, and California in the U.S., British Columbia in Canada, plus Norway and Japan (see here).

Cider Description:  After 6 months in a fresh Mexican tequila barrel our Irish-Style cider is revved up and ready for action. Dedicated to those who fight for freedom and against injustice, this cider allies spicy, fresh tequila notes with stalwart French and American oak tannins from the barrel. Born a rebel, the San Patricios will die just the same. With less than 100 cases produced be sure to get yours before the battle is over.

I sent them an e-mail asking about apple varieties, and they said dessert (supermarket) apples, then fermented warm with Australian white wine yeast, with the tannins coming from the American and French oak mezcal tequila barrels.

Cidery Description:  Cider Riot! is dedicated to producing high quality ciders from Cascadian grown apples.  With tradition as our guide and our roots firmly planted in the rich soils of our bioregion, our urban cidery produces refreshing, flavorful ciders.

They have a “pub” in the Portland area.

Price:  $14
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells mild, of cider apples.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of rich tannic apples & pomace, oak, caramel, and earth.  Long warm finish with a hint of tequila.  Moderate barrel influence, flavor intensity, and complexity.  Low tequila influence, apple flavor, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  I was a bit ambivalent about this one.  I liked the flavor, and was very surprised to hear it was only dessert apples, as it was rich & tannic (plus darker in color).  However, I think it was a bit too dry for my personal liking, which also made the bitterness prevalent, plus the tequila flavor was very mild.  I think this would have been awesome if they went a bit sweeter and added some tequila and lime to up the flavor profile.

Most Similar to:  The only tequila barrel aged cider I’ve had is Wyder’s Pear Reposado, which in contrast to this one is sweeter and more tequila-forward, plus was from pears not apples.  I also read that Austin Eastciders, Blake’s, Downeast, and Xylem make tequila barrel aged ciders.

Closing Notes:  I think this is the richest / most tannic cider from only dessert apples that I’ve tried.  Its crazy that just the barrel aging did that.

Have you tried any tequila barrel aged cider?  What did you think?

Finnriver Fire Barrel

Review of Finnriver Fire Barrel.   I’ve tried the previous version of this (see here) as well as this new version on tap (see here), but now I’m reviewing a new bottle in more detail.  I’ve also tried most of Finnriver’s lineup (see here).

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Cider:  Fire Barrel
Cidery:  Finnriver
Cidery Location:  Chimacum WA
ABV:  9.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottle (and draft)

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Availability:  Limited release.  Finnriver ciders are sold in WA, OR, CA, AZ, NV, TX, IL, CO, and Alberta & BC Canada (detailed info here).  They also have an online store (which can ship to WA, OR, CA, AK, CO, MN, FL, & WA D.C.), but I didn’t see this one at the time of review.

Cider Description:  A robust, bold and balanced taste of traditional cider apples— with a whisper of whiskey and rye spice; smoky aromas; notes of caramel and vanilla; and a mature, tannic finish.

100% Finnriver orchard organic cider apples: Chisel Jersey, Brown Snout, Harry Master’s Jersey, Medaille d’Or, Frequin rouge, Dabinette & Major.

Carefully farmcrafted and fermented with a blend of homegrown Finnriver orchard organic cider apples and white wine yeast in stainless steel tanks. Once the fermentation is complete, we cask the cider in Washington rye whiskey barrels for 5 months to impart depth and character. This award-winning cider was inspired by PNW cidermaker Drew Zimmerman, whose mentorship and cider apple trees helped us establish our orchard.

After chilling, allow the cider to warm slightly and serve; we favor Fire Barrel in a Belgian-style tulip glass. Try it with roasted pork, slow roasted brisket, a blue cheese burger, cured meats, smoked cheeses or any other hearty, savory fare. Caramelize an onion with Firebarrel cider and add to a dish for a feisty meal.

Cidery Description:  At Finnriver we gather and ferment the flavors of the land to offer you farmcrafted hard ciders and spirited fruit wines. We are inspired by the allure of the fruit, the ancient history of the craft of fermentation and the lively traditions we now seek to revive.  Our mission is to inspire a deeper connection to the land that sustains us….Some of these ciders are small-batch, seasonal and labor-intensive. Others are produced with contemporary methods and more readily available year-round…Finnriver grows over twenty varieties of traditional and heirloom apples in our organic orchard, to feature in our traditional and specialty ciders.

Finnriver has a great illustrated product guide (see here).  They have a tasting room and are on the Olympic Pennsylvania cider route, along with the Eaglemount and Alpenfire cideries.

Price:  $25
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  My husband got this for me for Christmas!  He didn’t know I had already tried this new release, but had remembered me loving the old one.

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First Impression:  Light caramel amber hue.  Nearly still.  Smells of cider apples, caramel, and bourbon.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Very light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of bittersweet cider apples, caramel, brown sugar, leather, orange, bourbon, smoke, and oak.  Long bitter finish.  Moderate apple flavor and flavor intensity.  Low barrel influence and sessionability.  Low to moderate bourbon influence.  Moderate to high complexity.

Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  However, compared to the old release, this is a disappointment.  The price is significantly higher, it is drier, less flavorful, more bitter, and thinner bodied.  I agree to serve this at cellar temperature (between fridge & room temp), as colder would mute the flavor.  I even enjoy ciders of this style at room temperature.

Most Similar to:  Other ciders from bittersweet cider apples.  This reminds me of English cider, but with the added bourbon and oak.

Closing Notes:   I am curious about next year’s release, and if it will be more like the previous version that I absolutely love.

Have you tried Finnriver Fire Barrel?  What did you think?

Chatter Creek Barrel Roll

Review of Chatter Creek’s Barrel Roll, a bourbon barrel aged cider.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve previously had their Pilot Project Batch ‘1’ Golden Cider and Chaider Clipper.

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Cider:  Barrel Roll
Cidery:  Chatter Creek
Cidery Location:  Woodinville WA
ABV:  9.4%
How Supplied:  500ml bottle, crown cap, attached flip top
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, bourbon barrel aged

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Availability:  Seattle WA area, plus online sales (to AK, AZ, CA, DC, HI, IL, MN, MO, OR, and WA)

Cider Description:  This cider was aged for 4 months in American oak barrels that had been used to age JP Trodden Bourbon Whiskey. It is bone dry and displays the balance of oak and apple aromas. About a third of the apples used in the blend are Granny Smith, which provide the nice snap in the finish. Only 4 barrels of this were produced and it is only available through the winery tasting room or a few select taps around town. 

Cidery Description:  Gordon Rawson has been making grape wine since the 80s, and started Chatter Creek in 1996.  Cider is a more recent venture however.  All the cider names and labels are aviation-themed.  They have a tasting room in Woodinville WA, Northeast of Seattle.

Price:  $9.99
Where Bought:  Brigid’s Bottleshop in Edmonds WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  This was my first time visiting this bottle shop.  They had a great bottle selection, but had higher prices than anywhere else I’d seen.  They also had 1 rotating cider on tap I think.

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells mild, of alcohol (bourbon).

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Light bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of bourbon, oak, vanilla, and lemon.  Long boozy finish.  Low flavor intensity, apple flavor, barrel influence, and sessionability.  Moderate bourbon influence.  Low to moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked the bourbon flavor.  However, overall the cider was a bit harsh for my tastes, between the dryness and high ABV, and I prefer a higher flavor intensity.  I think backsweetening with honey would have been great (to end up with a flavor profile like Big B’s Grizzly Brand or 2 Towns The Bad Apple).  I’d recommend this for folks who enjoy bourbon / spirits.

Most Similar to:  Locust Bourbon Barrel Aged (although that was higher ABV) and Carlton Cyderworks Slake (although that was semi-dry)

Closing Notes:  Of the three ciders I’ve tried from Chatter Creek so far, my favorite was Pilot Project Batch ‘1’ Golden Cider.

Have you tried barrel aged cider?  What did you think?

Art+Science Symbiosis

Review of Art+Science Symbiosis cider, 50% apple + 50% grape.  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery.

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Cider:  Symbiosis, 2015
Cidery:  Art+Science
Cidery Location:  Sheridan OR
ABV:  10.8%
How Supplied:  750ml crown capped bottle with attached flip top
Ingredients:  50% foraged apple + 50% Grüner Veltliner white grape
Style:  American craft apple & grape wine, wild yeast fermented, ancestral method, white wine barrel aged for 10 months, secondary fermentation in bottle

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Availability:  Oregon (especially Portland), California, Washington, New Orleans LA, and New York NY, plus online sales

Cider Description:  Symbiosis: any type of a close and long-term biological interaction between two different species, be it mutualistic, commensalistic, or parasitic. Symbiosis is made from foraged apples in the Willamette Valley and Grüner Veltliner grown at Johan Vineyards in the Willamette Valley. Grüner Veltliner is the most widely planted white grape in Austria. The apples are milled and pressed and the apple juice is added to the destemmed and crushed Grüner Veltliner. It is 50% apples and 50% white grapes and is naturally fermented with native yeast on the skins of the gruner for 3 weeks then aged in used white wine barrels for 10 months. Then it is re-sweetened and put in bottle to finish a secondary fermentation to add some carbonation. This beverage is made with no added acid, no forced carbonation and no pasteurization. It is the most vinous cider we produce with great mid pallet weight. Take a sip and take a breath of fresh air….. 

Cidery Description:  Welcome to Art+Science! We are natural cider, perry, and wine producers using primarily foraged fruit & fermenting with indigenous yeast in rural Yamhill County, Oregon. We are working towards building a tasting room in 2018, but we welcome visitors by appointment to drink at our kitchen table with us!

They are associated with Roshamboart Farm and started commercially making wine in 2011 and cider in 2013.

Price:  $12.99 (looks like I got a good deal, as the online price is $28)
Where Bought:  K&L Wines in San Francisco CA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing, while we were in port during a cruise

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First Impression:  Moderate hazy yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of citrus, vinegar, and yeast.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low sourness, tannins, bitterness, and funk.  Notes of grapefruit, lemon, honey, yeast, white grape, vinegar, oak, must, and cork.  Long warming sour finish.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low apple & grape flavor, barrel influence, and sessionability.  Moderate to high complexity.

My Opinion:  I was ambivalent about this cider.  I didn’t dislike it, but I wouldn’t choose it again.  It was definitely nice to try though, and very unique, wine-like.  A lot of effort obviously went into producing it.  I would recommend this cider for folks who enjoy a more rustic farmhouse-style cider and/or Spanish Sidra.  Note that this was the front of the palate sourness, not as brash (to me at least) as Sidra, but did have a bit of that vinegar type flavor.

Most Similar to:  The only white grape cider I think I’ve had is 2 Towns Cidre Moscato (with Muscat grapes), but I’m not sure that was co-fermented, and it was a completely different style.  However, the rustic (wild fermented) style of this cider reminded me of Runcible Cider Light of the Moon, Alpenfire Pirate’s Plank, Angry Orchard Walden Hollow, and Wrangletown Cider Co.’s lineup.  The other ciders I’ve had with a white grape flavor were sweeter & fruity, which this cider was not.

Closing Notes:  At the same shop I also picked up a bottle of Art+Science’s 100% Quince cider (although in that case it would just be fruit wine).  Their website says they are distributed in WA, and I was told it was through ‘Walden’, but I don’t think I’ve spotted anything made by them yet.

Have you tried Art+Science Symbiosis?  What did you think?