Merridale Cyser

Review of Merridale Cyser (made from apple juice and honey).  It is my first time trying this, but have previously had their Scrumpy and House Craft Cider.

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Cider:  Cyser
Cidery:  Merridale
Cidery Location:  Cobble Hill, B.C., Canada
ABV:  10%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  Canadian cyser

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Availability:  mostly in Southwest British Columbia (see here)

Cider Description:  A rich blend of aromatic cider apples and local wildflower honey from our own orchard. Inspired by the finest tradition of Medieval England, where the Normans and Celts credited cyser with magical powers. Aged for several months to a year after bottling…Winner of Silver Medal at the North American Beer Awards, and won ‘Best in Show’ at the 2013 Portland International Cider Cup.

Cidery Description:  Since 1990, we have been making our unique ciders from heritage varieties of English, French, and German cider apples. These apples have been used in the cider regions of Europe for many hundreds of years.  Each of our ciders is a blend of apples aimed at a particular palate. Our orchard has a wide range of bittersharp and bittersweet apples allowing us to create our distinctive family of products.  Some, like the House, Merri Berri and Traditional are designed to be enjoyed as a glass or a pint, with or without food. Others, like our Scrumpy and Cyser are rich in history from medieval times of Olde England.  As always, our cider is made without artificial flavours or colours and no added sulphites.

In addition to cider, they also run a farm and distillery under the same name.

Price:  $9.49 CAN (~$7.55 USD)
Where Bought:  Liquor Express in Victoria B.C.
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  High carbonation.  Smells of acidic apples and honey.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of baked apple, honey & honeycomb, floral, lemon, and butterscotch.  Long boozy finish.  Moderate apple flavor, honey flavor, flavor intensity, and complexity.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  I really liked it.  Great apple and honey flavor with a bit of an extra kick with the high ABV.  However, it was a tad harsh due to that higher ABV; I think barrel aging this would have been awesome.

Most Similar to:  Moonlight Last Apple, Eaglemount Cyser, Finnriver Cyser, and Finnriver Honey Meadow

Closing Notes:  This was an excellent value.  I look forward to trying more from them.

Have you tried Merridale Cyser?  What did you think?


Salt Spring Wild Cider Semi-Dry

Review of Salt Spring Wild Cider’s Semi-Dry.  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery.

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Cider:  Semi-Dry
Cidery:  Salt Spring Wild Cider
Cidery Location:  Salt Spring Island, B.C., Canada
ABV:  6.8%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  Canadian craft cider from heirloom apples

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Availability:  In B.C. Canada, such as in Salt Spring, Pender, Victoria, Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and Okanagan Valley (see here)

Cider Description:  Our ciders are made with the wild apples and pears that grow on Salt Spring Island, and with apples from regional organic orchards.  We never add any water. Our process involves slow-fermenting single varieties and allowing each to mature until it has fully developed. The ciders are then carefully blended for complexity and depth of flavor; our Dry and Semi-Dry ciders are each blends of over 10 different apple varieties!  While the blending process is crucial (and arduous), the special character of our cider is due to the wealth of heritage cider apples that grow on Salt Spring, and to our commitment to making fully organic ciders.  In general, you’ll find that we tend to make our ciders quite dry, with delicate flavors (including our berry and plum ciders), and that’s the way we like them!

Cidery Description:  Crafted from handpicked Salt Spring Apples, this refreshing cider brings just a touch of sweetness to brighten up your day. Light-hearted citrusy notes are offset by earthy undertones, making this a well balanced cider that’s great for any occasion. Viva la Cidré!

They have a tasting room on Salt Spring Island.

Price:  $14.19 CAN (~$11.28 USD)
Where Bought:  Liquor Express in Victoria B.C.
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing, while we were in port during a cruise

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells of acidic heirloom apples and citrus.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Hints of tannins and bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of baked apple, lemon, herbs, and straw.  Moderate apple flavor, complexity, and sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, it was fairly simple and more acidic than I prefer.  I was hoping for a bit of cider apple flavor based on the bottle label description, but I just picked up the heirloom apples.  I’d recommend this for folks who like drier acidic unflavored ciders, but want something a bit more complex than the more commonly found ciders from dessert apples.

Most Similar to:  Wandering Aengus Cellar Door, Montana Ciderworks Spartan Dry-Style, and Seattle Cider Washington Heirloom

 Closing Notes:  Salt Spring has a large lineup of ciders I’d be interested in trying if I spot them on a future trip to B.C.

Have you tried Salt Spring Wild Cider?  What did you think?

Tod Creek Coastal Blue

Review of Tod Creek’s Coastal Blue, a blueberry cider.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve had their Tod Cider Vancouver Island and Mala-Hop.

Cider:  Coastal Blue (blueberry)
Cidery:  Tod Creek Cider
Cidery Location:  Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  four pack of 16oz cans
Style:  Canadian craft cider from dessert apples, with local wild blueberries

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Availability:  Western British Columbia, Canada, such as in Victoria and Vancouver (see here)

Cider Description:  We add local blueberry juice to our craft cider for an amazing west coast taste!

Cidery Description:  Victoria’s newest Craft Cider maker. We are a farm based micro-cidery producing quality craft cider from apples sourced locally and throughout BC…We have grown so much in the last year because of the support of the private liquor stores, and restaurants, that have been carrying our cider. Many thanks to them, and please visit them to buy your cider. Or swing by our onsite store and tour our cidery at the same time!  (in Victoria)

Price:  I don’t remember (somewhere between $10 & $15 CAN?), but it was a good deal with the exchange rate being $1 CAD to $0.80 USD
Where Bought:  The Strath in Victoria B.C. Canada
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  A friend brought some to me a couple years ago.  This time when I was in Victoria (cruise port stop), I spotted the blueberry variety, and picked some up as I had heard online that it was popular.

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First Impression:  Deep red/pink/purple hue.  Nearly still.  Smells tart with a hint of berry.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  High tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  Low bitterness.  Hints of tannins and sourness.  No funk.  Notes of blueberry, blackberry, pomegranate, lemon, and green apple.  Moderate length tart finish.  Moderate sessionability, complexity, and flavor intensity.  Low apple flavor.

My Opinion:  I didn’t really care for this one as it was so tart (even more than Tod Creek’s flagship Tod Cider, a semi-dry citrusy cider).  I was also surprised that it was fairly dry, but as Tod Creek’s other ciders are around the same level of sweetness, I shouldn’t have been.  The blueberry flavor was nice though.

Most Similar to:  Ole Swede Blueberry (which was also semi-dry and very tart, but had some different flavor notes).  Most blueberry ciders I’ve tried were much sweeter, like Locust Smoked Blueberry, Schilling Blueberry Cobbler, and Woodchuck Summer Time.  I’ve also tried one which was completely dry and a bit sour, WildCraft Blue River Blueberry.

Closing Notes:  I’d recommend this to folks who like drier tart ciders which still retain a good bit of fruitiness.

Have you tried Tod Creek Coastal Blue?  What did you think?

Sea Cider Flagship

Review of Sea Cider’s Flagship variety.  Its the first time I’ve tried this, but I’ve sampled a number of their other varieties (see here).

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Cider:  Flagship
Cidery:  Sea Cider
Cidery Location:  Saanichton, British Columbia, Canada
ABV:  7.1%
How Supplied:  750ml flip-top bottle
Style:  Canadian cider from dessert & heirloom Organic apple varieties, German-style, ultra dry, without sulfites

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Availability:  semi wide release, at these locations, including in Canada, WA, OR, and CA

Cider Description:  This German-style cider is one of few commercial ciders in the world free of added sulphites. Slowly fermented with Champagne yeast, the ultra-dry Flagship has crisp herbaceous notes framed by soft tannins and lively acidity. It features both smoky and herbal aromas and is best paired with risotto, fish and chips, mild cheeses, poultry, and grilled seafood.Certified Organic by PACS 16-259.

We named this cider Flagship because it was the first cider we made and it is as pure as cider gets. Flagship is one of only a handful of ciders in the world free of added sulphites, and was the first fully certified organic cider in North America. It is German in style, meaning very acidic, which is achieved by fermenting high acid apples such as Granny Smiths, Empires and Winter Bananas (all certified organic). A strain of Champagne yeast is used which can tolerate a low pH. Because there are no sulphites to control oxidation and spoilage, the production team must take extra precautions in apple selection and washing, aging and bottling.

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, as it was a gift (retail is $15-$20 however); some friends picked it up for me in B.C. (although it is sold in the U.S.)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Moderate carbonation upon pouring.  Smells only of apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to dry.  Low carbonation.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Sharp flavor, very apple-forward, with hints of honey, lemon, and herbs.  Moderate to long slightly boozy finish.  Strong apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I found this to be an enjoyable basic cider selection.  While it was simple, I also found it to be sophisticated (which is was very apple forward, it didn’t taste like alcoholic apple juice).  It pairs well with food as it won’t overpower.

Most Similar to:  I found the sharp flavor of this cider similar to many ciders which use crabapples (although this one doesn’t list crabapples), such as Dragon’s Head Columbia Crab, Blue Moon Cidery Raven’s Moon, and Liberty Ciderworks New World Style.

Closing Notes:   Sea Cider hasn’t disappointed me yet.  However, my favorite so far is their Prohibition / Rum Runner.

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

Gabbie’s Premium Cider Semi Dry

Review of Gabbie’s Premium Cider Semi Dry.  I picked this up in Victoria B.C., a stop on our Alaska cruise.  Its the first time I’ve tried their cider.

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Cider:  Semi Dry
Cidery:  Gabbie’s Premium Cider, from Ravenskill Orchards
Cidery Location:  Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  750ml bottle
Style:  Canadian craft cider from apples from B.C. Canada, including cider apple varieties

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Availability:  only in British Columbia, Canada (Gulf Islands, Victoria, and Vancouver Island); see here

Cider Description:  Diverse, Semi-dry and Delicious!  Golden in the glass, this semi dry cider opens up with a supple rustic apple fragrance.  The acidity creates the perfect balance between sweet and salty.

Cidery Description:  Nearly 100 years ago, B.C.’s Gulf Island farmers concocted exceptional hard cider.  Legend has it, those makers then journeyed out to sea to share their libations with the mainland. To those Cider Makers, we salute you.  Today we join you.

Gabbie’s Premium Ciders are perfected by Ravenskill Orchards at our unique island location.  Amongst 1,000 heritage trees, 25 varieties of apples, grow fresh, crisp, sun-kissed and gently-breezed by the salty sea air.  We are a family of farmers, sea lovers and makers crafting the best small batch premium cider the Gulf Island have enjoyed since prohibition.  A distinct taste and cider experience.

Our premium hard ciders are handcrafted in a traditional “old-world” style using “new world” techniques. A perfect blend of distinctive flavour and colourfully named apples varieties such as Yarlington Mill, Newton Pippin, Kingston Black & Porter’s Perfection.

Price:  $20 CAN (~$15 USD)
Where Bought:  The Strath in Victoria B.C. Canada
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing

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First Impression:  Moderate straw yellow.  Low carbonation.  Smells of tart apples, citrus, and honey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate to high tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low tannins.  Slight richness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of apple pomace, tart apple varieties like granny smith and crabapples, citrus (lemon), honey, and floral.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this cider.  However, I found it a bit tart for my liking.  I liked the tannins and complexity, but it left me wanting more.  I’m curious as to the apple blend; they mention cider apple varieties, but not that those are the only apple varieties used.

Most Similar to:  Liberty Ciderworks New World Style and Raven’s Moon Apple Cider

Closing Notes:   Gabbie’s Semi Dry is well suited for lovers of tart ciders, and would pair well with food.  I’m glad I got to try it.  They also offer a “Real Dry” variety of cider (which won Gold in the Traditional Dry category of the 2016 PNW Cider Awards).

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

Blue Moon Winery Raven’s Moon Apple Cider

Review of Raven’s Moon Apple Cider from Blue Moon Winery in British Columbia.  I picked this up in Victoria, a port on our Alaska cruise.  This is the first time I’ve tried their cider.

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Cider:  Raven’s Moon Apple
Cidery:  Blue Moon Winery
Cidery Location:  Courtenay, British Columbia, Canada
ABV:  8.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottle
Style:  Canadian craft cider

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Availability:  British Columbia; see a list of retailers on their website.

Cider Description:  A nice dry and crisp sparkling cider made from 100% pressed organic Heritage cider apples from Denman Island. Delightfully effervescent, and delicate on the palate, you will love sipping this all by itself on a hot day over ice, or serve with friends wand your favourite meal.  Best enjoyed in good company! Non pasteurized so keep cool. No water added nor concentrate.

Apple Cider is the original flagship product in the Raven’s Moon lineup. This is true artisan craft cider made from organically grown cider apples, including Pippins, Chisel Jersey and Dabinett. Don’t let the higher alcohol fool you – it contributes to a crisp dry backbone, which is fleshed out by delicious and refreshing full apple flavour, like biting into a juicy apple just plucked from the tree. A versatile sparkling cider for all occasions. 

This is their flagship cider, but they also make Blackberry, Asian Pear, Raspberry, and Bourbon Infused varieties.

Cidery Description:  At Blue Moon Winery and Ciderworx we grow, gather and ferment the flavors of the land to offer you hand-crafted award winning spirited fruit wines and sparkling ciders. Our inspiration comes from the scrumptious organic fruits collected from Vancouver Island, the ancient history of the craft of fermentation and the lively traditions we now seek to revive. Our award winning fruit wines and ciders are crafted from 100% BC organic fruit, picked at the peak of the harvest and created in small batches.

They have a tasting room in Courtenay British Columbia.

Price:  $7.50 CAN (~$5.63 USD)
Where Bought:  The Strath in Victoria B.C. Canada
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I had never heard of them.

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild–sharp & tart, slightly musty, and of apples.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Apple-forward with a flavor reminiscent of both cider apples and crab apples, honey, and citrus.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  This has a nice flavor.  Its a bit on the sharp and boozy side, but I enjoy that (although it may not be for everyone).

Most Similar to:  It reminds me of some ciders from Liberty Ciderworks which use crab apples.

Closing Notes:   I think this cider is a great value (especially with the current exchange rate) for using organic cider apple varieties.  Too bad I probably won’t be able to get anything else from them for awhile, as their Bourbon Infused cider sounds awesome.

Have you tried Raven’s Moon cider?  What did you think?