Urban Tree Cidery Barrel-Aged

Review of Urban Tree Cidery’s Barrel-Aged variety, described as a premium cider aged in oak rum barrels.  It is my first time trying any of their ciders, and I sampled their current flagship line-up of three ciders all at once.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Urban Tree.  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:  Barrel-Aged
Cidery:  Urban Tree Cidery
Cidery Location:  Atlanta Georgia
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft cider, rum barrel aged

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Availability:  Their tasting room in Atlanta, these locations around Atlanta, and online sales (in Georgia)

Cider Description:  Our hand-pressed apple juice is slowly fermented with champagne yeast, then aged to perfection in Nicaraguan rum barrels. Hints of brown sugar, woody vanilla and oak notes play in this dry, sturdy sip. A perfect complement to those moments you want to slow down a little to soak up the memory.

Cidery Description:  At the core of Georgian pride and Atlanta’s spirit live the seeds of change. A new legacy is rising – challenging the conventions of good taste and fine drink.

Urban Tree was founded by a husband and wife in 2015, opened a tasting room in 2016, and is described as Atlanta’s first cidery.  They use local apples from the Cathey Family Orchard in Mountain City Georgia.

Price:  n/a (retails for $13-16)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the cidery contacted me

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First Impression:  Light golden amber hue.  Low carbonation with some foam.  Smells acidic and slightly sour, with a hint of richness.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of sourness, bitterness, and funk.  Notes of caramel, lemon, grapefruit, wood, earth, and nuts.  Moderate length finish.  Low oak influence.  Hints of rum influence.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, complexity, and flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  I had been expecting more barrel influence due to the cider’s name, but I perceived it as pretty mild.  However, my husband picked up significantly more oak & rum flavor than me and my friends, likely as he drinks aged spirits more often.  I imagine they were going for approachable, which makes sense.  It was similar to their Original, except with the tang mellowed out a bit, and hints of richness.

Most Similar to:  This was less intense than the rum barrel aged ciders I’ve previously tried, such as Crispin 15 Men, Sea Cider Prohibition / Rum Runner, and Vermont Cider Co. Wassail.  Slightly reminiscent of Montana CiderWorks North Fork Traditional and Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Apples.

Closing Notes:  Next up (and last) is Urban Tree’s Classic cider.

Have you tried cider from Urban Tree?  What did you think?

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Wrangletown Cider Co. Oak Barrel Aged

Review of Wrangletown Cider Company’s Oak Barrel Aged Cider.  This is my first time trying this cider, but I previously tried their “Original“.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Wrangletown.  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:  Barrel Aged
Cidery:  Wrangletown Cider Co.
Cidery Location:  Arcata CA
ABV:  7.8%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft dry farmhouse-style cider from heirloom & culinary apples, oak barrel aged

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Availability:  Only in Northern California.  They self distribute, and have a tasting room in Arcata (open Friday thru Sunday and by appointment) in Humboldt county.  The owner also said she may also be able to ship through a third party to some states if there was interest.

Cider Description:  Wrangletown’s “Oak Barrel-Aged” Dry Farmhouse style cider is a combination of several Northern California Orchards.  It is a dry cider,  aged for 8 months in lightly used French Oak that formerly held Russian River Chardonnay.   The palate is rich with fine tannins and  a  round wine-like mouthfeel.  This cider would appeal to both oak barrel-aged beer fans as well as wine drinkers.  It pairs wonderfully lively flavored foods.  Wrangletown’s Oak Barrel-Aged Cider is made from Heirloom and Culinary apples.

Cidery Description:  Wrangletown Cider Company produces small batch, dry, bottle conditioned ciders featuring family-owned orchards from Humboldt County, California.

The cidery is owned and operated by Pat Knittel, since 2015 (a one-woman show).  The cidery is named after the “wrangle” town the cidermaker grew up in, which was infamous for two women brawling in the streets.  The cidery had a Kickstarter campaign, successfully raising funds for equipment.  Ciderpress wrote an article after touring the cidery.  Here is another article on the cidery.

Price:  n/a (retails for $18)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  The owner/cidermaker contacted me.

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First Impression:  Hazy lemonade hue.  Moderate carbonation).  Smells dry, slightly sour, funky, and musty, and of citrus.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Light bodied with a nice fizz.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  Hints of sourness and funk.  Notes of heirloom apples, lemon, must, mineral, and yeast.  Long finish.  Hidden ABV.  Moderate complexity and sessionability.  Low flavor intensity, apple flavor, and barrel influence.

My Opinion:  This was a bit smoother than the “Original”, with a hint of oak and a bit more earthiness.  I liked this a bit more than “Original”.  However, this isn’t my favorite style of cider; I usually go for a more intensely flavored cider, and I found this a bit nuanced.  However, I certainly couldn’t find any faults, and didn’t dislike it.  This is a more introductory farmhouse-style cider, with only hints of sourness & funk.  This will likely appeal to folks who enjoy wine and milder food-friendly ciders.  I always think of my personal opinion as more of an afterthought to my reviews (which is why I don’t rate ciders here).  Everyone has a different taste in ciders, and every cider won’t appeal to every person.

Most Similar to: Alpenfire Pirate’s PlankBrooklyn Cider House Half SourNumber 12 Sparkling DryRuncible Cider Light of the MoonAngry Orchard Walden Hollow, and Sietsema Traditional Dry

Closing Notes:  Two down, two to go!

Have you tried Wrangletown Cider?  What did you think?

2 Towns Traditions La Mûre

Review of 2 Towns’ newest Traditions line cider, La Mûre, a sour Marion blackberry cider aged in Pinot Noir red wine barrels for over a year.  It is inspired by Belgian-style sour lambic beer.  I tried this previously when it was a cellar series release (see here).  I’ve also tried most of their cider line-up; see my past reviews here.

>>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.<<

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Cider:  La Mûre
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  375ml bottles
Style:  American craft sour Belgian lambic beer inspired cider with Marion blackberries, aged in Pinot Noir barrels

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Availability:  In general 2 Towns ciders are available in AK, CA, HI, ID, IL (Chicago), MN, NV, OR, and WA, although this is a more limited release.

Cider Description:  Inspired by the historic lambic beers of Belgium, La Mûre embodies the Flemish styles of old.  Northwest apples and Oregon grown Marion blackberries are fermented wild with Lactobacillus.  Aged in Willamette Valley pinot noir barrels for one year, this unique cider is then removed from these dusty casks and bottle conditioned, revealing complex aromatics and a lactic tang that only time can unfold.

La Mûre won silver medals this year at two cider competitions – GLINTCAP and the Portland International Cider Cup.

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 (but their other 375ml Traditions releases run around $9)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  It showed up.

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First Impression:  Bright purple-red hue.  Low carbonation (more than the last batch).  Smells of blackberries, red wine, oak, and sourness.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate sourness.  However, the sourness is more at the front of the palate than a typical sour cider where the sourness hits further back.  Hints of funk and bitterness.  Tannic sour oaky blackberry flavor.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate red wine influence, oak influence, complexity, and flavor intensity.  No apple flavor.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  I’m not a sour cider fan, so no surprise, I wasn’t a big fan of this cider.  And thats ok…not everyone likes every cider.  With my last tasting of this I had three cider friends over (as well as my husband), and I discovered that this cider was a big hit with lovers of dry & sour ciders.  My tolerance to sour has increased in the last year though, and I found this cider much more palatable; therefore it is possible I may still acquire the taste for sours.

Most Similar to:  Finnriver Barrel Berry Sour from Port Townsend WA (although less sour) and WildCraft berry ciders from Eugene OR (all their ciders have a slight sourness although most aren’t advertised as sours).

Closing Notes:   If you love dry sour & farmhouse-style cider, Belgian-style lambic beer, etc, this cider will probably be to your liking.  I don’t think this cider will have a mass appeal, but I think it will be appreciated by fans of this style

Have you tried any sour ciders?  What did you think?

Jester & Judge Nowhere Special

Review of Jester & Judge’s Nowhere special cider, a special release.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve previously had their Sharp Cherry, American Apple, Columbia Belle, and Pineapple Express ciders.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Jester & Judge.  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:  Nowhere Special
Cidery:  Jester & Judge
Cidery Location:  Stevenson WA
ABV:  9.8%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider, triple fermented, rye & whiskey barrel aged

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Availability:  Likely only in Washington & Oregon (such as the Schilling Cider House in Seattle and Bushwhacker in Portland)

Cider Description:  As the fall begins to consume the gorge, the environment turns milder.  The colors of fall, strong and vibrant, inspired this dramatic barrel aged small batch release.  Nowhere Special is a blend of three different fermentations, wild, ale, and champagne.  Aged in Rye and Irish whiskey barrels, six months in the making.  We put out efforts out for consideration.  You be the judge.

Cidery Description:  We’ll bring the Jester and you be the Judge.  At Jester & Judge we believe that balance is important in life and in cider.  It’s the foundation of our seriously whimsical attitude.  Serious about the quality of the ciders we make.  No concentrates, sorbates, artificial flavorings, colorings, or other shortcuts.  Whimsical because we have fun making the best ciders we can featuring local ingredients from the Pacific Northwest, which sometimes means snubbing our nose a little at traditional cider.

Price:  n/a (retails for $8)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I read about this online and contacted the cidery.

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First Impression:  Rich orange amber hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mildly rich, tannic, and of whiskey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins and bitterness.  Hints of funk.  No sourness.  Notes of caramel, orange, leather, molasses, oak, and whiskey.  Long finish, warming and whiskey prominent.  Moderate apple flavor, complexity, and flavor intensity.  Low sessionability.  Moderate to high spirit influence.  Low perceived barrel influence.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this.  However, it was a tad on the harsh side, and I don’t think this will be a widely appealing cider, with the high ABV and strong whiskey flavor.  I like this style of cider though.

Most Similar to:  A high ABV but low tannin English cider which is whiskey barrel aged.  Nothing like I’ve tried before.  The more whiskey prominent ciders I’ve had are Liberty Stonewall, Finnriver Fire Barrel, and Tilted Shed Barred Rock.

Closing Notes:  This cider was a great first specialty release, and an excellent value.  I look forward to seeing what special releases they put out next.  My favorite of their regular line ciders is the Pineapple Express.

Have you tried Jester & Judge Nowhere Special?  What did you think?

Crispin Bourbon Char

Review of Crispin Bourbon Char, a bourbon cask aged cider with smoked maple syrup.  It is my first time trying this, although I have had their Original, Pacific Pear, Blackberry Pear, The Saint, Bohemian, Honeycrisp, Venus Reigns, Steeltown, 15 Men, and Browns Lane.

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Cider:  Bourbon Char
Cidery:  Crispin
Cidery Location:  Colfax CA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  22oz bottles
Style:  American commercial cider from dessert apples, bourbon cask aged, with smoked maple syrup

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Availability:  wide release

Cider Description:  Rising aroma of bourbon over charred oak with sweet hickory notes. Silky on the Tongue and full of Kentucky character, this cask-aged apple cider is finished with smoked maple syrup, imparting a delicate kiss of smoke and brown sugar.

Cidery Description:  The Crispin Cider Company crafts super premium hard apple and pear ciders using blends of fresh-pressed apples and pears. The Classic Line consists of: Original, Brut, Pacific Pear and Blackberry Pear. The unfiltered Artisanal Reserve® line consists of: Honey Crisp and The Saint. The Crispin Cider Company also imports a classic English dry cider, Browns Lane. The Crispin Cider Company is based in Colfax, California.

Price:  $8.50
Where Bought:  Bushwhacker Cider in Portland OR
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I had heard of this when it came out in October 2016, but hadn’t been able to find it in Seattle.

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First Impression:  Hazy dark straw yellow hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells of unfiltered apple juice, maple, honey, and a hint of bourbon.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of unfiltered apple juice, honey, maple, brown sugar, bourbon, lemon, and oak.  Quick finish.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity, complexity, and apple flavor.  Low barrel influence and bourbon influence.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this.  However, I was hoping for a more intense bourbon, oak, and maple profile.  It had more honey than anything else for me.  It was expectedly slightly commercial (not as refined) tasting.

Most Similar to:  Crispin The Saint and Crispin 15 Men

Closing Notes:  This was pretty on par with my expectations.  It is always nice to try new ciders.  I think better quality cider can be had for the money.  However, a lot of folks don’t have access to craft cider, and for them, this would be a good option as a step up from their regular line of ciders.

Have you tried Crispin Bourbon Char?  What did you think?

Angry Orchard Maple Wooden Sleeper

Review of Angry Orchard’s Maple Wooden Sleeper, a bourbon barrel aged cider in collaboration with Crown Maple, a maple syrup company.  Here is an article with more information on the cider, and here is an article about recent Angry Orchard’s Innovation Cider House releases.

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<a mini bottle of maple syrup was included too!>

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Angry Orchard.  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:  Wooden Sleeper
Cidery:  Angry Orchard
Cidery Location:  Walden NY
ABV:  12.0%
How Supplied:  750ml waxed top bottles
Style:  American cider (made from bittersweet & bittersharp apples), with Crown Maple syrup, bourbon barrel aged for 5 12 months

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Availability:  only at Angry Orchard’s Innovation Cider House and Crown Maple’s tasting room, 400 bottles released March 2017

Cider Description:  For this very special and limited cider, we collaborated with our friends up the road at Crown Maple by using their estate grown organic maple syrup to blend with our barrel aged Wooden Sleeper.  The resulting cider is deep, complex, and layered with notes of oak, bourbon, and of course, New York maple syrup.  Maple Wooden Sleeper is best shared with family and friends to finish out a great meal.  Enjoy now or cellar for years to come.  Cheers!

Cidery Description:  The cider makers at Angry Orchard have been experimenting with apple varieties, ingredients and processes to develop hard cider recipes for more than 20 years. The cider makers have traveled the world to find the best apples for cider making and chose specific varieties – like French bittersweet apples from Normandy, culinary apples from Italy and the Pacific Northwest U.S. based on each cider’s desired flavor profile.

In fall 2015, Angry Orchard opened a new home for research and development on a historic 60-acre apple orchard in the Walden, NY. There, the cider makers will continue to drive experimentation at the Innovation Cider House, and drinkers are welcome to visit for samples of exclusive ciders made on-site. Despite the recent growth of hard cider in the US, the category is still small and relatively unknown. Angry Orchard is committed to drinker education and awareness-building to help grow the category for all craft cider makers.

Price:  n/a ($25 retail)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I asked my Angry Orchard rep about it.  They spoil me!

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First Impression:  Dark amber hue (natural).  Still (no carbonation).  Smells rich, of caramel, maple, oak, and alcohol.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Low bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of caramel, brown sugar, maple, oak, vanilla, bourbon, and molasses.  Long warming finish.  Low maple flavor.  Low oak flavor.  Moderate bourbon flavor.  Very low sessionability.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  High complexity and flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  Amazing!  This is my favorite type of cider – rich, complex, and boozy.  However, this definitely won’t be for everyone, and isn’t very cider-like.

Most Similar to:  Alpenfire Smoke, which is also a rich, complex, and boozy cider (although Alpenfire’s cider is slightly more refined tasting).  This didn’t have as much maple flavor as the other maple ciders I’ve had, likely as it had so much else going on too.  The other maple ciders I’ve had are Angry Orchard Tapped Maple, Seattle Cider Oaked Maple, and Woodchuck Campfire Pancakes.  I’m actually surprised I haven’t seen more ciders with maple, as I think it is a great combination.  Rich and complex ciders are my favorite kind.  I’d love to try Downeast’s Maple cider, but they aren’t available out West.

Closing Notes:  I’m glad I got the chance to try this special release.  This is the second batch of Wooden Sleeper (the first didn’t have maple), and another is already in the works.

Have you tried Angry Orchard Wooden Sleeper?  What did you think?

Sandford Orchards Chestnut Cask

Review of Sandford Orchards Chestnut Cask, an English chestnut wood aged cider.  It is my first time trying this cider, although I’ve previously had The General from this cidery, and English ciders are a favorite of mine.

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Cider:  Chestnut Cask
Cidery:  Sandford Orchards
Cidery Location:  Crediton UK
ABV:  6.8%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  English cider from cider apples, Chestnut wood aged

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Availability:  semi wide release (they also have an online store if you are in England)

Cider Description:  Pressed in 2013 fermented and aged in Chestnut wood.  Rich and round tannins with a delicate residual sweetness and bitter finish that will please a cultured palate.

Apple Varieties:  Sweet Alford, Court Royal, Dabinett

Cidery Description:  Sandford Orchards is craft cider producer from the heart of idyllic, rural Devon. Our methods are simple and so is our ethos: we only bottle the best. We are enormously proud to have been recognised for our endeavours. We are a family business full of passion for our products, we believe that Devon ciders and juices are the best in the world – we want you to taste them!

This appears to be a for-export-only cider variety for them.  Sandford Orchards was founded in 2003, so they are well-established, but not one of the very old English cideries (like Aspall and Sheppy’s).

Price:  $6.85
Where Bought:  Bushwhacker Cider in Portland Oregon
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing

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First Impression:  Light orange amber.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells rich, tannic, slightly sweet, and of caramel.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate bitterness.  Moderate tannins.  Hints of sourness and funk.  Notes of wood, earth, almonds, caramel, and butterscotch.  Long bitter finish.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  This cider was too bitter for my liking, especially on the finish.  However, I really liked the flavor profile and tannins.  I think a touch more sweetness could have helped to balance out some of the bitterness too.

Most Similar to:  English and English-style ciders with are drier and more bitter, such as Sandford Orchards The GeneralHecks Tremletts Bitter, Ross on Wye, and Merridale Scrumpy Cider

Closing Notes:  If you don’t mind bitterness, Sandford Orchards make some solid ciders, and they are a great value at under $7 a bottle for a cider made from cider apples (and imported too!).  However, I prefer less bitter English ciders, like Dunketons, Aspall, and Sheppy’s.  I think this is the first time I’ve had (or even seen) a Chestnut wood aged cider (oak is most common).

Have you tried English cider?  What did you think?