South City Ciderworks Original Blend

Review of South City Ciderworks’ Original Blend cider.  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery.

Cider:  Original Blemd
Cidery:  South City Ciderworks
Cidery Location:  San Bruno CA
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  four pack of 12oz cans
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples

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Availability:  probably only in Northern California, plus online sales

Cider Description:  The Original Blend is our very first cider, formerly known as “South City Cider”. We started the company because we wanted an easy-drinking cider we could bring camping, while hanging out at the beach, to the dog park, or really anywhere that glass wasn’t a good idea, and this blend was the result. This semi-sweet, dry finishing cider is known for it’s easy drinkability without being overly sweet. The Original Blend is available in 12-ounce cans and kegs.

Cidery Description:  We founded South City Ciderworks in 2015 as an urban cider company to make great cider and a difference. Using only fresh-pressed, West Coast apples our ciders are crafted to be well balanced and easy drinking. We support non-profits focused on helping the community, animals, and the environment. We’re here to Make Cider Make A Difference. 

Price:  ~$3 / can
Where Bought:  at the ferry terminal in San Francisco CA (they have a bunch of cool shops, many with local stuff – this was from a shop which had wine and some single bottles/cans of beers & ciders, but no idea which one unfortunately)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Moderate straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation with some foam.  Smells mild, of sweet apple.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of non-specific apple with hints of lemon and floral.  Quick finish.  Low flavor intensity, complexity, and apple flavor.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, it was a bit boring, like most unflavored ciders from dessert apples (ie. those without fruit/hops/spices/etc) are to me.  At least they made it a bit sweeter, as that does help these sorts of ciders have some flavor, but wasn’t anywhere near too sweet.

Most Similar to:  a bit like Blackfin Splash

Closing Notes:  I bet this selection would have a wide appeal, being mid level sweetness and no qualities to not make it entry level (like sourness, bitterness, funk, or tannins).

Have you tried South City cider?  What did you think?

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Far West San Joaquin Sparkler

Review of Far West Cider’s San Joaquin Sparkler.  It is my first time trying anything from this California cidery.

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Cider:  San Joaquin Sparkler, 2015 harvest
Cidery:  Far West Cider
Cidery Location:  Richmond CA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from primarily Cripps Pink apples (aka Pink Lady), wild yeast fermented, off dry

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Availability:  only in California (see here), plus online sales (although at the time of review I didn’t see this cider in stock)

Cider Description:  This cider uses primarily Cripps Pink apples.  We encourage a slow native fermentation in the freshly pressed apple juice before inoculating with Champagne yeast to finish this cider to dryness.  After aging for a minimum of two months, this off-dry cider shows some deep woody apple notes and phenolic spiciness.  Paris well with leather chairs, old books, easy conversation, and difficult-to-pronounce cheeses.

Cidery Description:  Every bottle of Far West Cider is a product of our fourth generation family farm in San Joaquin County, California.  All of the apples used in this cider are harvested and pressed by hand on our ranch and cared to throughout fermentation, aging, and bottling to help express the best of the fruit that we grow.

They have a tasting room in Richmond CA (see here).

Price:  $9.49
Where Bought:  The Jug Shop in San Francisco CA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing, when we were there on a cruise port stop

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Barely noticeable smell, acidic dry apple with a hint of nuttiness.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Subtle notes of tart green apple, lemon, herbs, butter, almonds, and must.  Moderate length finish with a hint of brine.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor and complexity.

My Opinion:  I was indifferent about this one, I didn’t personally like or dislike it.  The flavor was subtle and quite peculiar, difficult to describe.  However, the description said phenolic, and based on my experience with a FlavorActiv sensory analysis kit, my taste buds don’t detect it well.  It tasted nearly like a farmhouse-style cider, but didn’t have the sourness or funk I’d expect with that style (and wild fermented ciders in general).  I’d recommend this for folks who like interesting wine-like ciders.

Most Similar to:  nothing I’ve tasted

Closing Notes:  I’d be interested in hearing from others as far as what flavors they picked up with this cider.  It looks like this cider is rated well on untappd, but none of the reviews really described it.

Have you tried Far West Cider?  What did you think?

Two Rivers Huckleberry

Review of Two Rivers Huckleberry cider.  It is my first time trying this, although I’ve previously had their Gravenstein cider.

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Cider:  Huckleberry
Cidery:  Two Rivers Cidery
Cidery Location:  Sacramento CA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  22oz bottles
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with huckleberries

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Availability:  Likely only in California

Cider Description:  A rare and wonderful fruit. The sweet aroma of berries and a delicious floral mouthful. You will enjoy it till the very last drop

Cidery Description:  Two Rivers Hard Cider Company was founded in 1996. With seventeen years as a publician, a long time home brewer and craftsman, as well as an international registered beer judge, Vincent Sterne was inspired and fascinated by the centuries old craft of Cider making. After many years of experimentation, he finally had what he wanted, a superior hard apple cider. Two Rivers original HARD APPLE CIDER is made from a blend of 100% fresh pressed apple juice from Barsotti ranch in Apple Hill. A proprietary blend of apples with a balance of tartness and sweetness to create a gold medal winning Hard Cider.

They have a tasting room in Sacramento CA.

Price:  $7.59
Where Bought:  a natural grocery store outside of Sacramento CA, over Christmas break
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing

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First Impression:  Light brown-pink hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of mild sweet berries.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and berry tannins, especially on the finish.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of just huckleberries.  Low apple flavor.  Low complexity.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate to high sessionability.

My Opinion:  I thought this was average, a bit on the boring side for my personal preferences.  Fans of drier berry ciders would probably like this though.  I mostly picked it up as their cider isn’t available locally (not so much that I was interested in the huckleberry variety).

Most Similar to:  Greenwood Huckleberry Wedding Cider (also semi-dry) and Swift Cider Marionberry (dry to semi-dry).  The only other huckleberry cider I’ve had was from One Tree, but that was very sweet.  My favorite berry ciders so far are probably AEppeltreow Blackbird and Alpenfire Calypso & Apocalypso.

Closing Notes:  Its always fun to pick up new ciders when travelling that I can’t find locally.

Have you tried Two Rivers Huckleberry?  What did you think?

Red Branch Peach Cider

Review of Red Branch Cider Company’s Peach Cider (actually technically a cyser as it has honey added).  It is my first time trying this cider, and any cider from this cidery.

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Cider:  Peach Cider
Cidery:  Red Branch Cider Co.
Cidery Location:  Sunnyvalle CA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American cider with honey, peach juice, carbonated water, and sugar

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Availability:  A small batch release.  Red Branch cider appears to only be available in California, plus through their online store.

Cider Description:  We take great care in producing this hard peach cider from the finest ingredients available. We only use premium fruit juices and honey. This one has a twist though, we’ve added peach juice to give it a great flavor with a terrific peach aroma. If you love peaches, then this is for you. Try our other flavors, too and you might just find your favorite beverage choice is something new. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do. If you don’t, tell us and we’ll make it right. Mike & Maria

Cidery Description:  We believe that producing a quality hard cider of any variety is 90% art and 10% science. Toss in a bit of sweat and heartburn for good measure and you’ll have a typical small cidery. Crafting cider is a lot like crafting many other beverages, and our love of quality ingredients drives us to produce more than just an average cider, but what we believe, is the finest cider possible. Our passion is to create something special from one of the most natural substances on earth, and share it with everyone.

Quality and consistency are the most important aspects of our products, if they aren’t good enough for us to drink or offer to our own friends and family, then we won’t sell it to you!  Red Branch Cider Company offers both traditional and seasonal ciders with an innovative honey twist.

They were established in 1995 and have a tap room in Sunnyvale CA.

Price:  $8.49
Where Bought:  a natural grocery store in a small town in Northern California
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  They had an impressive cider selection.

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First Impression:  Light peach hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells of peach candy.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  No tannins, sourness, or funk.  Notes of peach candy at the beginning with a hint of nectarine, lemon, & honey, and a medicinal flat metallic bitter peach flavor at the end.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I found this cider odd.  I think without the weird finish and with some carbonation it wouldn’t have been too bad.

Most Similar to:  I’ve previously had the following peach ciders:  Blue Mountain Peach, Blackfin Pacific Peach, Carlton Bourbon Peachy Keen, Finnriver Country Peach, Number 6 Peach FuzzPeach Grapefruit Habanero, and Tieton Bourbon Peach.  This one was quite different than all the others – the sweetest and most candied tasting.  My favorite of those is probably the Tieton one.

Closing Notes:  Hopefully I have a chance to try something else from Red Branch in the future.

Have you tried Red Branch Peach Cider?  What did you think?

Devoto Orchards 1976 Semi-Dry Cider

Review of Devoto Orchards 1976 Semi-Dry cider.  It is my first time trying any of their cider.  I picked up this bottle in California over Christmas break.  Here is an article about the cidery.

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Cider:  1976 Semi-Dry cider (2014 harvest)
Cidery:  Devoto Orchards
Cidery Location:  Sebastopol CA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml clear glass screw-top wine bottle
Style:  American Organic craft cider from heirloom apples

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Availability:  only in Northern California and a few online retailers (see here)

Cider Description:  1976 is a homage to the year Stan & Susan Devoto left Berkeley to move ‘back to the land’ and planted our family’s first orchard in west Sonoma County. Visionaries of their time, they valued biodiversity and cultivated vegetables, flowers, and 55 heirloom apple varieties that we still grow today.  Every year to honor them, we craft a small batch of this special semi-dry cider blended from those original apple varieties they planted almost 40 years ago.

Profiles: Aromas of ripe tropical fruit lead to a creamy texture and lush fruit on the palate finished with soft tannins.
Pairings: green curry, spicy Vietnamese noodle soup, ceviche, green papaya salad, bean salads and stews, anything good and spicy.
Cheese Pairings: Meadow Creek Mountaineer (VA), Consider Bardwell Rupert (VT), Thistle Hill Tarentaise (VT)
Apple Blend: Pink Pearl, Gravenstein, Hubbardston Nonesuch 

Cidery Description:  We’re a farm and cidery in west Sonoma County. To make the best cider, your family better be, well, a tree.

Price:  $12.29
Where Bought:  a natural grocery store outside of Sacramento CA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  It was my first time seeing their cider.

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells mild, of white grape, pineapple, and honey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of white grape, pineapple, peach, and honey.  Quick finish.  Low flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  High sessionability.  No apple flavor.

My Opinion:  I thought this was average.  It was wine-like and food friendly (ie. mild).  I liked the flavor notes, but it wasn’t really cider-like.

Most Similar to:  This cider didn’t really remind me of cider at all…it tasted most similar to watered down sweet white wine (like Moscato), as it was thinner bodied, low in flavor intensity, and had a lot of slightly sharp white grape notes.

Closing Notes:  This cider was a great value for being made in small batches from organically farmed heirloom apple varieties.  They also make at least two other varieties, Cidre Noir and Save the Gravenstein.

Have you tried Devoto Orchards cider?  What did you think?

Honest Abe Cider

Review of Honest Abe Cider.  I received this as part of the January Double Cider box.  It is my first time trying their cider.  See this article on Honest Abe Cider.

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cool octagonal bottle!

<This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Double Cider.  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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Cider:  Honest Abe Cider
Cidery Location:  Gardena CA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml flip-top bottles
Style:  American craft flagship cider made from dessert apples, with honey added

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<info sheet from Double Cider>

Availability:  In California, and through their website (plus in the January Double Cider box)

Cider Description:  This award-willing cider is made with only locally-sourced ingredients.  Additionally, there are no added preservatives, colorings, or pasteurization, making Honest Abe Cider a real, artisanal, craft cider….Champagne yeast with a touch of golden Southern California honey.  Dry and crisp with a slight honey finish.

Cidery Description:  Honest Abe hard cider traces its roots back to old family traditions in parts of Kentucky where Prohibition era laws ban alcohol still to this day. Our cider was born of necessity and resourcefulness and carried on for generations by a passion for quality. The recipes are steeped in tradition and the tastes refined by the warm Southern California sunshine. Made with fresh and local ingredients and Honest values…just the way you want it to be.

Honest Abe Cider has a tasting room in Gardena CA.

Price:  n/a (but retails for $13.99)
Where Bought:  through Double Cider
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  through Double Cider

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First Impression:  Hazy moderate pumpkin amber hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of fresh unfiltered apple cider and honey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of unfiltered apple juice, honey, orange, and grapefruit.  High apple flavor, juice-like.  High sessionability.  Well-hidden ABV.  Moderate to high flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  This was a nice easy drinking cider which I imagine has wide appeal.  It would make a great introduction to craft cider as it is easy to drink (not tannic, sour, funky, etc) and on the sweeter end of the spectrum.  I enjoyed the apple juice and honey flavor.  I think this would make a good multi-pack cider.

Most Similar to:  Ciders which have unfiltered apple juice flavor and are sweeter, such as Downeast Original Blend and JK’s Scrumpy Orchard Gate (although not as sweet)

Closing Notes:  I look forward to trying the other selection from Double Cider, Ratel Cider Dry Hopped.

Have you tried Honest Abe cider?  What did you think?

Tilted Shed Smoked

Review of Tilted Shed’s Smoked cider.  It is my first time trying it, although I’ve had their Lost Orchard and Barred Rock.  This cider is made with some smoked apples.

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Cider:  Smoked
Cidery:  Tilted Shed
Cidery Location:  Sebastopol  CA
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American artisan cider from heirloom & cider apple varieties, some of which were smoked

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Availability:  Released March 2015.  Tilted Shed ciders are sold primarily in California, but also in New York, New Jersey, and Portland Oregon (see here).

Cider Description:  An unorthodox cider blend that marries the natural complements of apples and wood smoking. Blend of six varieties of fresh-pressed Sonoma County organic heirloom and tannic cider apples from the 2014 harvest. Fermented to dryness in small batches, then blended with a batch of cider infused with wood-smoked apples. Unfiltered, unpasteurized, minimal sulfites. Straw gold, dry, aromatic, tannic, tart, and bright, with a light effervescence and mellow smoky finish. Like drinking a brut champagne near a bonfire. Pair with aged and funky washed-rind cheeses, pork, charcuterie, grilled meats, and seafood. Use care in serving with any smoked foods, as that can diminsh the smokiness of the cider. Serve in a white wine glass at 55°F to heighten the aromatics.

Cidery Description:  We started Tilted Shed Ciderworks in 2011 out of an obsessive love for apples and cider. All of our apples are organically grown within 35 miles of our cidery, primarily in west Sonoma County. At our Sebastopol farm, we have planted 100 varieties of traditional cider apples and perry pears—a pomological research station on the edge of the Pacific. As cider evangelists, we are devoted to making ciders of individuality, integrity, artistry, and elegance. It’s thrilling to explore our unique terroir and the transformative powers of fermentation, and experience how our ciders shapeshift over time. We hope you’ll find our ciders to be a beautiful revelation of what the apple can do.

Price:  $15
Where Bought:  ordered online
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I had read great things about their ciders and wanted to try them, but they aren’t available locally yet.

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First Impression:  Low carbonation.  Dark straw yellow hue.  Smells acidic & tannic, with hints of smoke & oak.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of smoke, oak, honey, lemon, grapefruit, mineral, and green apple..  Moderate apple flavor,  flavor intensity, and complexity.  Low sessionability.  Low smoke.  Moderate oak.

My Opinion:  I liked this, although I had been expecting something more in your face (like Alpenfire’s Smoke, which drinks more like a port than a cider with its 16% ABV and intense flavor).  I think I would have enjoyed it even more if it had more tannins & less acidity (such as using more cider than heirloom varieties), and even more smoke & oak.  Oddly enough I perceived more oak than smoke.  This is a well made and balanced cider, but more nuanced than I prefer.  I agree to drink this one above fridge temperature, as the flavors become more intense.

Most Similar to:  Many dry barrel aged ciders.  I found it very similar to Tilted Shed’s Barred Rock, although with smoke instead of whiskey notes with the oak.

Closing Notes:  This concludes the reviews of the three bottles I ordered from Tilted Shed (I also tried Lost Orchard and Barred Rock).  I think I liked their Lost Orchard best of the three (which is odd as I’m a bigger fan of barrel aged oaky & smokey ciders than funky ciders, although they are growing on me).  However, honestly I don’t think Tilted Shed’s cider style matches my taste preferences…they are more wine like and high acid.  They are however selling some awesome ciders at awesome prices, and I’m more than willing to try the rest of their lineup.

Have you tried Tilted Shed Smoked?  What did you think?