Finnriver Honey Meadow

Review of Honey Meadow from Finnriver, their Spring seasonal botanical release.  I’ve tried a number of other Finnriver ciders (Oak & Apple, Habanero, Black Currant, Lavender Black Currant, & Fire Barrel), but this is the first full Finnriver review at Cider Says!  Finnriver has gorgeous bottles, an awesomely informative website, and of course, tasty ciders!  They also make fruit wine (brandy and port-style).  Here is a great illustrated Finnriver product guide.

2015-08-21 16.03.17

Cider:  Honey Meadow
Cidery:  Finnriver
Cidery Location:  Chimacum WA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottle

2015-08-21 16.03.30 2015-08-21 16.04.09 2015-08-21 16.04.21

Availability:  Spring time 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’s ‘Elijah K. Swan’ Infused Botanical Hard Ciders are named after the good folks who sold us the farm (Lige & Kay Christian) and who first planted apple trees here, as well as for the trumpeter swans that overwinter in the valley.  This cider is a tribute to our neighbors and to those big white birds who remind us that earth is still wild.  Each season the ‘Elijah K. Swan’ release seeks to capture the wild and garden-grown taste of life on the Olympic Peninsula.

The Honey Meadow cider is our SPRING release, featuring Finnriver’s bright base of fermented organic apples, backsweetened with Olympic Peninsula honey and infused with local lemon balm and chamomile.  With thanks to Denise at Mountain Spirit Herbal Company and Tinker Cavallero, local gardener extraordinaire, for finding us just the right herbs for this blend.  Drinking this might make you feel like a happy honeybee after a great green day among the blossoms…

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)

Price:  $7.99 (on sale from $9.99)
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing, but I had heard of this cider before.

2015-08-21 16.06.48

First Impression:  Honey yellow hue.  Medium carbonation upon pouring, and tiny bubbles remain.  Smells of ripe apples, honey, and chamomile.

Opinion:  Semi-sweet.  Tastes of the honey and chamomile it smells like.  I think I pick up the lemon balm more with the moderate tartness (I wouldn’t have identified it without the description).  Carbonated mouthfeel and medium bodied.  Mild sourness and bitterness.  Mild earthy funk, and a flavor that makes me think of honeycomb?  Very unique and semi-complex.  I like the herbal qualities and don’t think it is overdone at all (which I was afraid of, but was unfounded).  Great for spring & summer time!  I picked this cider up a couple weeks ago and knew I wanted to drink it before the seasons changed (where has the summer gone?).

Most Similar to:  Woodchuck Out on a Limb Oopsy Daisy, which although it is a significantly sweeter and commercially-made cider, has some similar honey & chamomile flavors.  i think the Finnriver cider is much better done, with a more complex crafted balanced flavor.  I’ve had one other honey cider as well, Angry Orchard Summer Honey, but wasn’t a fan (tasted syrupy to me).

Closing Notes:   Tasty!  This makes me want to try more of their seasonal botanical line, as I liked both Honey Meadow and Lavender Black Currant.  I also really want to try some of Finnriver’s special releases (Artisan Sparkling, Apple Blueberry, Golden Russet, and Apple Abbey), but don’t remember seeing any of them near me.  Maybe now that I start looking I will though.

Have you tried Finnriver Honey Meadow?  What did you think?

Woodchuck Oopsy Daisy

This is a very unique and tasty Out on a Limb release from Woodchuck.

Cider:  Oopsy Daisy
Cidery:  Woodchuck
Cidery Location:  Middlebury, VT
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles
Availability:  limited release (flavors in Out on a Limb rotate)

Description on Bottle:  You ever screw something up? Oops. We all have. Bring on the stress mixed anxiety. Our advice? Take a moment, breathe deep and sip a Woodchuck Oopsy Daisy. This crisp cider is infused with the actual chamomile flowers after fermentation imparting the calming essence of Chamomile with notes of honey throughout. Sit back, sip, relax, and let the calm wash that stress away.

Price:  $8.99 / six pack
Where Bought:  Total Wine
How Found: Started to look for it after reading it on Facebook from Woodchuck.  Note that it can take awhile between when Woodchuck announces a flavor and it is stocked, especially if you are on the other side of the country.  Also, with Out on a Limb, stores are often waiting until they are out of the previous flavor to stock the next one.  Today I got lucky and was able to pick up both Oopsy Daisy and their newest Out on a Limb release, Lazy Hazy Lemon Crazy, which was just announced this past week!
Where Drank:  home

Opinion:  I pick up a lot more honey than chamomile flavor in this. I like it!  Very unique.  There is an appropriate amount of sweetness in my opinion, a bit less than many of their flavors (they have been releasing some drier varieties of late, I imagine to appeal to more folks as many say all Woodchuck varieties are sweet).  This unique sort of flavor is something you see more with the small cideries, not the large ones, so its nice to see, and is a great value in my opinion.  The most similar cider I’ve probably tried is Angry Orchard Elderflower, their 2014 summer release (this year they had Summer Honey), and it was still quite different.

It took me about half the bottle to figure out whether I liked it or not, which is unusual for me.  Usually by the second sip I’ve made my decision.  But, I liked this one enough to pick up a six pack (originally I only bought a single bottle), but not stock up on it.  I love when shops offer single bottles of six pack varieties!  Its worth the extra markup.  The unfortunate thing with Out on a Limb is that they are limited releases, with no guarantees of a variety ever coming back.  The good thing though is you get different varieties with the store only stocking essentially one cider.  Oopsy Daisy is good for someone who wants to try an herbal cider without it being overwhelming.  I don’t think someone needs to like Chamomile tea to enjoy this (I don’t).  GIve it a try, if you can still find it!

Note that the Woodchuck Out on a Limb series keeps the same packaging but rotates ciders every month or two, so check the bottle neck before assuming it is the same cider as you’ve seen before.  So far they have had:

  • Chocolate Raspberry
  • Splitter Splinter (with bittersweet apples and aged in whiskey barrels; not bad but I like Barrel Select better as this one was a bit tart)
  • Cheeky Cherry (apparently identical to their cellar series Sour Cherry release but 5.5% instead of 6.9%)
  • Oopsy Daisy
  • Lazy Hazy Lemon Crazy (their take on a summer shandy, with lemon juice & lemongrass)

Have you tried Oopsy Daisy?  What did you think?