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?

Sonoma Cider Winter Mix 4-Pack (The Cutter gingerbread cider & The Sleigh spiced cider)

Review of Sonoma Cider’s Winter Mix 4-Pack, which consists of two 22oz bottles each of The Cutter (a gingerbread cider) and The Sleigh (a winter spiced cider).

>>This is a review of sample bottles provided to Cider Says by Sonoma 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 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:  The Cutter & The Sleigh
Cidery:  Sonoma Cider
Cidery Location:  Healdsburg CA
ABV:  5.5% (both)
How Supplied:  22oz bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American Organic large-craft spiced cider

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Availability:  These are limited run ciders with less distribution, but Sonoma Cider is generally available in these areas

The Sleigh Description:  The Sleigh incorporates seasonal spices such as all-spice, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg combined with organic apple cider. The aromas of warm apple pie followed by buttery cinnamon notes on the nose are sure to conjure up some Yuletide memories.

The Cutter Description:  The Cutter captures the best of fresh baked gingerbread – bright, light aromas of ginger, with wellrounded notes of molasses and spiced baked apples in the body. It’s the perfect companion for the holiday season.

Cidery Description:  Sonoma Cider was founded in 2013 by 20-year veteran Cidermaster, David Cordtz, with his son and Cofounder, Robert Cordtz. Together they combine decades of industry expertise with next generation dynamism. Sonoma Cider handcrafts the only full line of organic ciders in the U.S., each made with distinctive, all natural, gluten-free ingredients. Sonoma Ciders are produced from freshly squeezed, organic apples in micro batches to deliver intensity of flavor and a refined experience for this rapidly growing category. Sonoma Cider offers four, award-winning “Core Ciders” which are available year-round. This includes the signature, apple cider “The Hatchet,” pear-based “The Pitchfork,” bourbon-flavored “The Anvil”, and sarsaparilla-vanilla “The Washboard”. Sonoma Cider also offers other unique flavors through the “Limited Run” series and “Cidermaker Reserve” series.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~$24 for the four 22oz bottles)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I was contacted about it

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The Cutter First Impression:  Medium hazy amber.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells lovely, rather strongly of gingerbread (starch, spices, ginger, sugar) and baked apples.

The Sleigh First Impression:  Medium amber.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells milder, of spices (primarily cinnamon).

The Cutter Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Hints of tannins.  Notes of gingerbread (starch, spices, ginger), baked apple, and citrus fruit.  Long finish length with lingering spice, including a slight amount of ginger at the back of the throat.  Moderate sessionability, flavor intensity, complexity, and apple flavor.  Mild to moderate spice intensity.

The Sleigh Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No sourness or funk.  Hints of tannins and bitterness.  Notes of spice (not just cinnamon, but prevalent allspice & cloves), a mild to moderate intensity.  Moderate finish length with lingering spice.  Moderate flavor intensity, sessionability, and apple flavor.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I preferred The Cutter to The Sleigh, which is interesting as I don’t like ginger; I liked the stronger flavor and higher perceived sweetness (although both have the same residual sugar content).  Both however had a stronger scent than flavor.  Both were also best when served between fridge and room temperature (which I’ve noticed with most other spiced ciders).  I’m not the biggest fan of spiced cider, but I’d call these pretty average & typical of the style.

Most Similar to:  Other spiced ciders, such as 2 Towns Nice & Naughty (which is probably my favorite spiced cider), AEppelTreow Sparrow SpicedCarlton Sugar and Spice, and  Elemental Seasonal Spiced Apple.  The gingerbread had far less ginger than most other ginger ciders I’ve had, which was nice (and no burn).

Bottom Line:  If you are a fan of spiced cider but don’t like your cider as sweet and/or desire an Organic cider, you may enjoy these.

Closing Note:  I’m surprised they decided to do 22oz bottles, as it really brings up the price tag (over $20! for the 4-pack).  Maybe they were thinking more of holiday parties than a couple sharing it?

Have you tried either of these Sonoma Cider varieties?  What did you think?

Sonoma Cider The Jax

Review of Sonoma Cider’s The Jax, a limited run cider inspired by Apple Jacks breakfast cereal.  This Organic cider is made with buckwheat, cinnamon, and honey.  It is my first time trying The Jax, although I’ve sampled most of Sonoma Cider’s bottled lineup (see here).

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Sonoma 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 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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I love this packaging with the bright blue!

Cider:  The Jax
Cidery:  Sonoma Cider
Cidery Location:  Healdsburg CA
ABV:  6.0%
Residual Sugar:  1.6 BRIX
How Supplied:  four pack of 12oz bottles (and kegs)
Style:  Organic American large-craft breakfast cereal inspired cider

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Availability:  This is a limited run cider with less distribution, but Sonoma Cider is generally available in these areas

Cider Description:  The Jax Breakfast Cereal is part of the brand’s Limited Run series, a collection of unique flavors that express the team’s creativity and inventive nature.  Hard cider made from Organic Pacific Northwest apples is combined with gluten-free buckwheat, cinnamon and honey to create this full-bodied cider.  Scents of toasted grain and apple-cinnamon and the taste of sweetened honey and tart apples embody this cider leaving you wanting more.  The flavors of The Jax- Breakfast Cereal make a perfect complement to Pop Tarts, mac n cheese and strawberry ice cream.

Cidery Description:  Sonoma Cider was founded in 2013 by 20-year veteran Cidermaster, David Cordtz, with his son and Co-founder, Robert Cordtz.  Together they combine decades of industry expertise with next generation dynamism.  Sonoma Cider handcrafts the only full line of organic ciders in the U.S., each made with distinctive, all natural, gluten-free ingredients.  Sonoma Ciders are produced from freshly squeezed, organic apples in micro batches to deliver intensity of flavor and a refined experience for this rapidly growing category.  Sonoma Cider offers four, award-winning Core Ciders which are available year-round.  This includes the signature, apple cider The Hatchet, pear-based The Pitchfork, bourbon-flavored The Anvil, and sarsaparilla-vanilla The Washboard. Sonoma Cider also offers other unique flavors through the Limited Run series and Cidermaker Reserve series.

They have a tap room in Healdsburg California.

Price:  n/a (retails for $10.99 / four pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  co-founder Robert Cordtz contacted me

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First Impression:  Moderate amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells mildly of starch, cinnamon, and honey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Hints of tannins.  Notes of cinnamon, honey, starch, lemon, and grapefruit.  The flavor starts with citrus, then finishes with breakfast cereal.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Low flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, this is definitely more of a novelty cider that I wouldn’t really choose to drink again.  I had expected it to be much sweeter, but it remained fairly dry, which was great.  The Apple Jacks flavor was definitely there, real tasting, and not overwhelming.

Most Similar to:  Nothing I’ve tried.  There have been a couple ciders I’ve had that tasted a bit starchy, and I’ve had plenty of ciders with honey and/or cinnamon, but this one is unique.

Closing Notes:  Next up are two winter seasonal ciders from Sonoma Cider, The Sleigh and The Cutter.

Have you tried Sonoma Cider The Jax?  What did you think?