AEppelTreow Kinglet Bitter

Review of AEppelTreow’s Kinglet Bitter Draft Cider, part of their Songbird line of estate ciders.  I’ve previously tried a few of their ciders; see here.

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Cider:  Kinglet Bitter Draft Cider
Cidery:  AEppelTreow
Cidery Location:  Burlington WI
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles and kegs
Style:  American craft cider made from English & French bittersweet apple varieties

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Availability:  At least in CA, DE, IA, IL, KY, LA, MA, MD, MN, NY, OR, PA, SD, WA, WI, and WA D.C.

Cider Description:  Kinglet Bitter is one of our proud ‘estate’ ciders.  It’s all grown at Brightonwoods, within sight of the Winery.   It’s more subtle and complex than Barn Swallow – being fermented from 100% bitter English and French cider apples.  It differs from an authentic European cider by being ‘immature’.  Kinglet has very little post-ferment changes made by wild Lactic Acid Bacteria.  Instead, we ferment it with a Sangiovese yeast that we think really brings out the tannin characters of the cider-specific cultivars.  These apples are rare, and not easy to grow.  When we get the question ‘Then why use them?’, we pour a glass of Kinglet.

Apple Varieties: Dabinette, Domaine, Frequin Rouge, White Jersey, Muscadet Deippe, and other English & French bittersweet cider apples.

Cidery Description:  ÆppelTreow Winery & Distillery is a producer of small batch cider, perry and spirits.  Cider and Perry?  We use the pre-Prohibition meaning of ‘cider’, so we’re talking about fermented or ‘hard’ cider. Perry is the pear analogue to cider.  We use lots of different kinds of apples and pears in our products.  Some modern.  Some heirloom – no longer grown for stores. We make a range of styles: sparkling, draft, still/table, and fortified/dessert.  Within a style, we lean to the dry end – but also have some medium-sweet offerings.

They have a tasting room in Burlington Wisconsin and opened in 2001.

Price:  $12
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I’ve enjoyed a few of their ciders previously and am a fan of bittersweet ciders, so especially for only $12 I wanted to try it.

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow with copper hue.  Still.  Smells of apple juice with a slight bit of “farmhouse”.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Completely still (no carbonation), and tasted a bit flat (like it previously had carbonation but sat out).  Mild tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate to strong bitterness.  Mild tannins.  A hint of funk.  No sourness.  Notes of bittersweet apples, apple juice, honey, apple pomace, caramel, and earthiness.  Moderate to long bitter finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  This was much too bitter and harsh for my liking.  Although “bitter” is in the name, many ciders made from bittersweet apples don’t have significant bitterness.  I think with some aging and a bit of tweaking it would have been more to my liking.  I didn’t really like the backsweetening (obvious apple juice flavor) of this cider, yet if anything, more sweetness would have helped balance the flavor.  I was surprised I didn’t detect more tannins.  Along Came a Cider also did a nice review of this cider (see here); it looks like Meredith found it more carbonated, more tannic, and less bitter than I did.  I imagine this is a different batch as her review was awhile ago.

UPDATE: The cidery noted this bottle may not have traveled well, as it is usually lightly carbonated and more astringent than bitter. Unless a bottle is obviously bad, its always tough to know whether what we are tasting was the intended product. Hopefully I get a chance to try this one again.

Most Similar to:  Ciders made from bittersweet apples, such as many English-style ciders.  The flavor in particular was similar to Colorado Cider Company Ol’ Stumpy (see my review here).  My favorite bittersweet ciders include those from Sea Cider (Bittersweet), Locust (Bittersweet Reserve), Finnriver (Fire Barrel), and Aspall (Imperial – Black Label).

Closing Notes:   Although I didn’t care for this cider, I look forward to continuing to try more ciders from AEppelTreow .  Their Appely Doux is my favorite so far–rich and bubbly (see my review here).

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

Locust Cider Bittersweet Reserve

Review of Bittersweet Reserve from Locust Cider in Woodinville WA.  This variety was released in late 2015, only 1,000 bottles and some kegs, to benefit Hydrocephalus (which the owner’s daughter has).  This review is from a half growler of the cider, although I also picked up a bottle for future consumption, so I photographed the bottle which is much prettier and informative.  I’ve had a few varieties from Locust, including Washington Dessert Apple Aged Hard Cider (which I enjoyed), and Original Dry, Green Tea Infused, & Dark Sweet Cherry (which I wasn’t a huge fan of…they were all very mildly flavored, definitely sessionable).

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Cider:  Bittersweet Reserve
Cidery:  Locust Cider
Cidery Location:  Woodinville WA
ABV:  6%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles, kegs
Style:  American unfiltered craft cider made using bittersweet apples

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Availability:  Limited, only sold from their Woodinville WA tap room and a few locations around Seattle WA

Cider Description:  A full-bodied hard cider made from French and English bittersweet apples, with caramel and dried fruit aroma, and subtle citrus and baked apple. Only 1,000 bottles exist.

Apple Varieties:  Dabinett, Yarlington Mill, Michelin among limited others

Cidery Description:  Real, Creative Hard Cider from fresh pressed Northwest Apples.  Locust Cider is THE SESSION cider. Every cider we make, from smooth and light Original Dry to full flavored Aged Dessert Apple, is designed and made to be extremely drinkable. Sessionable cider.   What is The Locust?  Tough. Hard. Real.

When you are done with your hard day taking over the world, you deserve good hard cider.   The Locust stems from the a near death experience had by the founder during childhood. Now motivated by the sensory memory of that moment, his life is about being tough, being insistent on the best, and never giving in.  Locust Cider is real people. Founded by 2 brothers from Texas who wanted a great cider that they could drink more than one of, the company remains small. Everybody who works in the tap room also has a hand in making cider. We obsess over making drinkable, session cider for real, tough people to enjoy.

They have a tap room in the Woodinville WA warehouse district.

Price:  $18 for a 750ml bottle or $8.50 for a 32oz half growler
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Facebook

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First Impression:  Orange-amber hazy sweet (unfermented) cider hue.  Smells of bittersweet apples, sweet cider, orange citrus, spice, raisins, and honey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to sweet.    Low acidity, tartness, and bitterness.  Low to moderate tannins.  The slightest bit of earthiness & oakiness.  No funk or sourness.  In the flavor I picked up bittersweet apples, orange, spice, raisins (less so), and honey that I smelled, plus caramel and oddly enough, coffee?  Although it has a lot of characteristics of sweet non-alcoholic cider, I wouldn’t call it juice-like (which as my tastes have evolved I’ve found to be a negative).  I found the cider to be slightly alcohol-forward, but I enjoyed it (I would have guessed it had a higher ABV).  Full bodied.  Moderate to long finish.

My Opinion:  Yum–rich, smooth, and luscious!  It reminds me a lot of English cider, but with the additional residual sweetness, unfiltered flavor & mouthfeel, and less tannins than your average English craft cider, it may be more approachable.  Overall this is a very easily likeable unique cider.  However, I liked the sample I had from a bottle better.  I believe my growler was from the bottom of the keg, and it seemed to have more tannins, spice, bitterness, etc (and the odd coffee note).  Still plenty enjoyable though.  I’m looking forward to drinking the bottle I bought.  Overall my only feedback would be to have slightly less sweetness, and that bottled (or not from the end of the keg) may have more desirable flavor, or that its a bit variable (which often happens in ciders, especially if they are from different batches).

Most Similar to:  Other ciders made from bittersweet apples (such as most English ciders, Sea Cider Bittersweet, Finnriver Fire Barrel, Angry Orchard Stone Dry, and Woodchuck Gumption & Hot Cha Cha Cha) and those which are of an unfiltered style (such as from J.K.’s Scrumpy & Downeast, and Locust Washington Dessert Apple).  I’ve found that for the most part I really enjoy ciders from bittersweet apples.

Closing Notes:   Its crazy how good of a deal Schilling must have got on that keg, as the price on tap was almost 1/3 of the price for bottled (by ounce), a deal I couldn’t pass up.  I was quite surprised the keg lasted on tap a couple weeks.  If you can find this one and don’t mind a sweeter cider, I highly recommend it (in fact, Schilling still has a few bottles left as of earlier this week).

Interesting Fact:  I was told that this cider should stay refrigerated, as the high residual sugar content makes it prone to re-fermenting in the bottle (becoming too dry or sparkling).  Being a small batch they didn’t filter and process it as much like their other ciders.  This wasn’t noted on the bottle, and is basically unheard of for a commercially produced cider (more of a homebrew thing).  I think its impractical to rely on stores to tell their customers this, and many stores don’t have significant refrigerated shelf space.  I imagine this explains what happened to my Washington Dessert Apple cider (a similar small batch sweeter cider release from them), which didn’t stay refrigerated.  It turned crazy fizzy even though I bought it not long after it was released, and a sample from a friend’s bottle later a few months later was much drier than mine.

Have you tried Locust Bittersweet Reserve?  What did you think?

Sea Cider Bittersweet

Review of Sea Cider’s Bittersweet cider variety, which is apparently relatively new.  A friend brought this to my cider tasting for us to try.  They bought it in Canada, and as far as I know its not available in the U.S. yet (Sea Cider has more varieties available in Canada than the U.S.).

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Cider:  Bittersweet
Cidery:  Sea Cider
Cidery Location:  Saanichton, British Columbia, Canada
ABV:  7.2%
How Supplied:  750ml bottle

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Availability:  Sea Cider is sold at least in Canada (B.C., Alberta, & Manitoba) and the U.S. (WA, IL, & OR), but this variety is likely only found in Canada.

Cider Description:  Bittersweet apples are the backbone of traditional English cider and are some of the rarest apples in Canada. We grow several of these prized varietals, which can be heart breaking to grow, yet produce some of the world’s finest cider. Our Bittersweet cider is an off-dry sparkler expressing the classic phenolic character of this coveted fruit. Raise a glass of Sea Cider to a bittersweet tradition!

Sea Cider’s Bittersweet is a cider truly rooted in tradition. Dabinetts, Yarlington Mills and other English bittersweets have been patiently cultivated on Sea Cider’s farm to bring you this rare libation. While most people would consider bittersweet apples inedible in a culinary sense, their bitter flavour imparts a cider full of character. These apples are high in tannin, low in acid and provide the classic flavour of the finest English ciders. Enthusiasm for these varietals and their importance in cider making apples goes back to the 13th century!

In a market increasingly dominated with ciders made from dessert apples, Bittersweet brings the classic phenolic character that can only come from the true cider-making apples of yesteryear.

Cidery Description:  Sea Cider is a farm-based cidery located on the Saanich Peninsula just minutes from Victoria, on Vancouver Island. Our ten acre farm is home to over 1,300 apple trees, made up of over 50 varieties of heritage apples.  Sea Cider opened its farm gate for business in 2007 when owner Kristen Jordan purchased the property with a vision of creating an organic farm and orchard and producing traditional fermented artisan ciders. Since then, we’ve grown to an annual cider production of over 7,000 cases and growing. We continue to pride ourselves on crafting traditionally fermented ciders from organically grown apples.

Price:  n/a (but likely around $20 USD, same as most of their ciders)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Copper-amber hue.  Still (no carbonation), although apparently it is supposed to have some and was likely because it had been open awhile.  Rich bittersweet apple scent.

Opinion:  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Low acidity, tartness, and bitterness.  Low to moderate tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Medium bodied.  Moderate finish length.  This is a rich full-flavored cider, exactly how I like them.  Lovely burnt caramel, brown sugar, and vanilla notes.  The flavors remained on the milder side (but I was told it had been open nearly a week–that would never happen in my house!).

Most Similar to:  Many English and English-style ciders.

Closing Notes:   Yum!  I really love cider from bittersweet apples, and this didn’t disappoint.  I’m kinda bummed I can’t find this locally, but thankfully there are some great locally-available bittersweet apple ciders, such as the one I just tried from Locust in Woodinville WA.

Have you tried Sea Cider Bittersweet?  What did you think?

Finnriver Fire Barrel

Review of Finnriver Fire Barrel.   I’ve tried probably 10 other Finnriver ciders.  Here is a great illustrated Finnriver product guide.

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Cider:  Fire Barrel
Cidery:  Finnriver
Cidery Location:  Chimacum WA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottle

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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.)

Cider Description:  Finnriver is honored to present master cidermaker Drew Zimemrman’s award-winning Fire Barrel cider.  Pressed from traditional bittersweet apples and aged in fire charred Kentucky bourbon barrels, this full-flavored cider offers a hint of whiskey, oak aroma, notes of caramel and vanilla, a lingering soft tannin finish.
  Drew’s passion for cider helped ignite the cider renaissance in the Pacific Northwest and now, here at Finnriver, we are grateful for his mentorship as we strive to carry on a rooted cider tradition.  Made with a seasonal blend of heirloom and traditional cider apples.

The label has “814” handwritten after “Bottled:”…it looks like this may indicate a bottling date of August 2014, although I only bought this a few months ago.

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.  They have a tasting room open seven days a week, noon to 5pm, and are on the Olympic Pennsylvania cider route along with Eaglemount and Alpenfire cideries.

Price:  $11?
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I tried this a couple years ago and didn’t like it oddly enough.  Then I had it again at a Capitol Cider tasting with Bill Bradshaw and nine WA cideries (notes here) and really enjoyed it.  I imagine my tastes had changed since the first time I tried it, as then although I enjoyed barrel aged, I wasn’t into higher tannin ciders.  I had actually bought the bottle before the tasting, as I wanted to give it another try now that this type of cider is my favorite.

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First Impression:  Orange-amber hue.  A few large bubbles at the edge of the glass but otherwise still.  Smells like ripe apples, tannins, oak, vanilla, spice, and rum?.

Opinion:  Semi-dry.  Ripe apple, caramelized sugar, bourbon, oak, earth, smoke, and vanilla notes.  Lovely bittersweet apple flavor.  Although I picked up rum oddly enough in the scent (probably as I got a hint of spice), the flavor is more bourbon/whiskey, and I don’t pick up any spice.  Moderate to heavy tannins.  Low acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low tartness.  Very light funk (more earthiness than anything else).  Mild to moderate barrel influence.  Mild to moderate spirit influence.  Pretty much still (no carbonation).  Medium bodied.  Moderate to long finish.  It start off with the tannins, then mellows out quite a bit.

Most Similar to:  Other tannin-forward ciders.  This reminds me of English style cider, but there is the added nice barrel & spirit flavor.

Closing Notes:   Awesome!  I really enjoyed this cider–one of my favorites, and definitely my kind of cider.  Bold and unique.  It definitely isn’t an introductory type cider (although still less harsh than for example Sea Cider Prohibition / Rumrunner and Alpenfire Smoke, which I also really enjoy), but is a great example of what can be made when you use cider apples and barrel age.

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

Angry Orchard Stone Dry

Review of Angry Orchard’s newest variety, Stone Dry.  It is their driest Core selection, and described as a twist on English cider.

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 this for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue, considering it is a new release and the info may be helpful for folks deciding to purchase it.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.

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They send me two bottles, a fact sheet, a note from head cider maker Ryan Burk, and a large quantity of bubble wrap (not pictured).

Cider:  Stone Dry
Cidery:  Angry Orchard
Cidery Location:  Walden NY (their new R&D facility)
Cider Production Locations:  Cincinnati OH & Breingsville PA
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles
(will also have limited draft availability to start, nationwide in 2016)

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Ingredient List:  Hard cider, water, sugar, apple juice concentrate, carbon dioxide, malic acid and sulfites to preserve freshness

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Availability:  year round, wide release, launched 09/24/2015 (part of their Core collection)

Fact Sheet from Angry Orchard: For more than two decades, the cider makers at Angry Orchard have been experimenting with ingredients from all over the world and tinkering with recipes to perfect the craft of cider making in the U.S.  In the UK – where cider is 15% of the beer segment, as opposed to around 1% in the U.S. – traditional English dry ciders have been around for centuries and are a cultural mainstay.  These styles are known for their use of traditional bittersweet apple varieties and showcasing naturally occurring tannins that create a drying effect on the palate.

Angry Orchard Stone Dry – the driest cider in Angry Orchard’s core collection – is an American interpretation of the traditional English dry cider style. It offers a bright apple aroma, juicy flavor, and a clean dry finish, showcasing an intricate balance between the sweetness and acidity of culinary apples and the tannins of traditional cider making apples. The traditional apples chosen by the cider makers are European bittersweet varieties like Dabinett, Binet Rouge, and Harry Masters Jersey, which contribute to the high tannic character and dry finish. The result is a refreshing, slightly puckering cider with a drying finish, most often felt on the middle of your tongue and the front part of your mouth.

While most of the juice from apples in the cider is fermented, Angry Orchard’s cider makers add a bit of non-fermented bittersweet apple juice into the cider during the post-fermentation stage to help achieve this cider’s balanced, dry taste.  This results in Stone Dry’s fuller tannic mouthfeel as well as perceived dryness and robust bittersweet aromatic notes – much like a very ripe apple.

As the palates of American cider drinkers have continued to grow in sophistication and evolve with the increasing popularity of hard cider here, Angry Orchard has developed a broad range of cider styles for drinkers to try and to showcase what American cider can be, including the newest year-round offering.

Angry Orchard Stone Dry pairs well with a wide variety of foods, from porcine plates to seafood dishes.  This take on a traditional European dry style cider is an excellent accompaniment to charcuterie, including cured meats and aged cheeses, and is a great introduction to fall foods and heartier dishes or stews with root vegetables.  It can also be used as an ingredient in recipes, such as mussels steamed in Angry Orchard Stone Dry cider.

Price:  retails for $7.50 a six pack in my area, although Angry Orchard’s fact sheet said $8.99-10.99
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  on my doorstep

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First Impression:  Amber hue with very little carbonation.  They got quite a bit of color out of this one.  Dry “cheap” apple scent….I just didn’t pick up much nose to this one.

Opinion:  Semi-dry.  Mild bitterness, tannins, astringency, and acidity.  Simple flavor.  Almost watered down tasting.  I get a bit of that bittersweet apple flavor, but this doesn’t remind me of English style cider at all (which to me often have a really rich flavor).  Quick finish.  Definitely more drinkable than their other varieties I’ve had (which is most of them), but I’m not impressed.  More flavor would definitely be nice.  Its unfortunate they use apple juice concentrate (and water & sugar oddly enough!).  It tastes like they were trying to eek some tannins out of dessert apples, although they note the use of bittersweet apples.

I find it interesting their description indicates more a drying flavor (which I’d call astringency) than dryness (lack of sweetness).  I actually through their fact sheet was kinda funny, coming from the biggest commercial cidermaker in the U.S.  It seems they are trying to reconnect with craft cidermaking, between releasing this variety and moving into an R&D facility with a 60 acre orchard earlier this year (article).  They have plans to open a tasting room there in the fall for their small batch creations.

Comparison to Woodchuck Gumption:  It seems this may be Angry Orchard’s response to Woodchuck’s latest hit, Gumption (in addition to responding to requests for a drier cider in general).  So, I thought a comparison was in order. Note that I didn’t however have a bottle of Gumption available (I may have to get one for a side by side test with my second bottle of Stone Dry), so I went by memory and notes. They both incorporate bittersweet apples and aim to make a drier cider for their core collection.  Stone Dry comes across as significantly drier than Gumption (even more so than the 7 vs. 13 grams of sugar per 12 oz would indicate).  Where it gets interesting is the calories, 150 for Stone Dry vs. 220 for Gumption (for equivalent ABV).  I found Gumption to be more flavorful and more rich in general.  Stone Dry includes concentrate (and water & sugar) where Gumption doesn’t.  However, Gumption is listed to have “natural flavor”.  Gumption gets my vote as far as likability, although for someone that wants the driest easily found commercial cider available, Stone Dry may be a good choice.  The driest commercial cider I’ve ever seen by the way is Ace Joker, which only has an impressive 3 grams of sugar per 12 oz, but it isn’t quite as readily available (I have a bottle of Joker at home to try).

Closing Notes:   Not bad.  Definitely drinkable.  If a bar had this and no other cider, I’d buy it.  I won’t on the other hand pay for Angry Orchard’s Crisp Apple variety, which is too syrupy for my liking.  Stone Dry is an above average commercial offering, but I wouldn’t in any way say this is a craft cider (neither would I describe Woodchuck as craft though).

Have you tried Angry Orchard Stone Dry?  What did you think?

Woodchuck Gumption

Review of Woodchuck Gumption, released March 2015, the newest addition to Woodchuck’s Core lineup.  Their other core ciders are Amber, Granny Smith, 802, Pear, Raspberry, Local Nectar, & Hopsation.  Pretty sweet packaging, huh?


I tried Gumption previously and for some reason I wasn’t impressed, but I thought it was worth a second taste since it has been very well received.  No idea why I didn’t like it last time, but this time, I did!  Maybe because it was hyped so much I was expecting something epic?  Woodchuck has even been having nationwide circus-themed release parties.

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Cider:  Gumption
Cidery Location: Middlebury VT
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied: 12oz bottle
Availability:  year round, wide release, six packs of 12oz bottles (and now cans)

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Cider Description:  Bold and unique.  Legendary showman P.T. Barnum once noted, “everybody drank cider-spirits called ‘gumption’.” Our Woodchuck GUMPTION™ celebrates the spirit of P.T. Barnum and those with the gumption to follow their own path. We pair the fresh juice of common eating apples with dry (European Bittersweet) cider apples to bring you a bold and unique drinking experience.

Cidery Description: Here at the Woodchuck Cidery in Vermont, we handcraft every batch of Woodchuck Hard Cider. Our Cider Makers utilize the highest quality ingredients and meticulously oversee each small batch from start to finish. We reinvigorated American cider in 1991 and continue to lead the category through our commitment to craft innovative and refreshing hard ciders.

Price:  ~$2 for a single bottle (typically $8-$10 for a full six pack)
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found: There was lots of online hype prior to release, so I had been on the lookout.  I picked up my first single bottle at Total Wine just after it was released.  This time I had been wanting to try it again, and found some at Special Brews.


First Impression: Clear orange amber color (which appears to be true, unlike their Amber cider variety which adds color).  Light carbonation.  I only pick up one scent, of ripe sweet apples.

Opinion:  Sweet but not very sweet.  I like the sweeter start with a touch of bitterness in the (quick) finish.  I also like the lack of tartness and the balanced acidity.  This is more complex than most of their other ciders, such as Amber, but isn’t all that complex when compared to most craft ciders.  I even detect a slight woody earthiness.  Gumption is very easy to drink.  It doesn’t have all that bold of a flavor, but is unique and tasty.  I find it interesting that the bottle says less than 1% natural flavor, but Woodchuck’s website says no added flavors….I wonder which is true.

Most Similar to:  Nothing I’ve tried.  Most ciders which incorporate bittersweet cider apples are drier craft varieties.  This is a unique cider for this segment.

Closing Notes:  I quite enjoyed Woodchuck Gumption, and may have to pick up some more.  I now think I prefer it over their Amber variety (note this cider has significantly less sugar than Amber, 13 vs. 21 grams in 12 oz).  I think this is a very solid commercial cider, but I wouldn’t consider Woodchuck to be a craft cidery.  Woodchuck is undergoing a significant re-branding & marketing campaign to compete with Angry Orchard, so I’m intrigued to see what they come up with next!


Have you tried Woodchuck Gumption?  What did you think?

Crispin Browns Lane

Here is a unique commercial cider from Crispin, 100% English made, from English bittersweet apples,


Cider:  Browns Lane Imported Classic English Dry Cider
(named after first Jaguar car factory location in England)
Cidery:  Crispin
Cidery Location:  Colfax, CA
ABV:  5.8%
How Supplied:  four pack of 16oz cans
Availability:  wide release, year round (since 2011)

Description on Can:  Authentically British, from its bespoke tailoring, to its superb craftsmanship, most defined by its world champion character.  Classic English dry cider from English bittersweet cider apples.

Price:  $8.99 / four pack (although I bought a single can for about $3)
Where Bought:  Total Wine (although I’ve seen it other places, such as Fred Meyer & Whole Foods)
How Found: Browsing, after reading a review by Cider Sage which convinced me I may just like this one
Where Drank:  home

Opinion:  First impression is the amount of sparking when poured into the glass, and the deeper amber color, more so than many ciders.  For some reason this really reminds me of semi-dry oak aged ciders, such as Schilling Oak Aged, although this is not barrel aged.  I pick up a light earthy oak flavor.  Even though this was drier, it was still very drinkable even to my palate which prefers sweeter ciders.  I wouldn’t call it a fully dry cider though, as I have had a number of ciders which were more dry, even when usually trying to avoid them.

It starts out a bit sweeter (with an almost caramelized sugar type flavor) and finishes a bit drier, with the bittersweet apple flavor coming through.  I wouldn’t however call it overly tart, which I have picked up in some drier ciders.  I’m surprised how much I like this one actually!  This is quite different than Crispin’s other selections, which vary from their fairly plain Original, to plain & blackberry pear varieties, to their Artisanal Reserve line.  I’m curious how closely this actually resembles a traditional English Farmhouse cider, because if it does, I’m a fan!

Have you tried Crispin Browns Lane?  What did you think?