Stone Circle Farmhouse Sour Cherry

Review of Stone Circle Cider’s Farmhouse Sour Cherry.  I tried their Semi Dry a couple weeks ago (see here).  I was introduced through Press Then Press, a new online cider store focusing on small batch ciders.  They had a soft launch Aug 19 and are officially launching Sept 9 2019.

Photo Jul 31, 6 24 00 PM.jpg

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Press Then Press.  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.<<

Cider:  Farmhouse Sour Cherry
Cidery:  Stone Circle Cider
Cidery Location:  Estacada, OR
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft farmhouse style semi-dry cider from heirloom & bittersweet cider apples, with a “splash” of cherry juice

Photo Jul 31, 6 24 15 PM Photo Jul 31, 6 24 28 PM

Availability:  probably only though Press Then Press (which ships to 43/50 states), unless you live near Portland Oregon

Distributor Description:  Don’t taste the same, taste the difference!  Press Then Press – Farm to you small batch cider.  We focus on small batch and hard to find cider.  Please visit our curated online store!  We are a mom and pop who wanted more fine cider available to everyone (over 21), so we started this up.  Press Then Press will email you when a fine cider is available for purchase.  If you want it, visit our site and purchase it!  Pick up your cider in Seattle, or we ship to you.  Sign up with your email to be included on future available ciders.  You will hear about it first!  1) Press the fruit  then  2) Press the order button

Cider Description:  A simple splash of cherry juice adds a whole new world of flavor to this traditional, unfiltered English farmhouse cider. Made with pie cherries and  tart apples, this semi-dry cider is the right kind of sour. Pro tip: slow cook pork loin in a bath of this cider for an amazing experience.

Cidery Description:  We own a 36 acre farm, just outside of Estacada, Oregon. It’s a beautiful property that offers lovely views of the Willamette Valley and Coastal Range Mountains. The farm had been exclusively Christmas trees, but we began the transition to heirloom variety cider apples in the winter of 2015. We’ve continued to transition more and more space into cider apples every year since.

Price:  ~ $9.50
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  through Press Then Press

Photo Aug 24, 5 37 05 PM.jpg

First Impression:  Hazy orange hue.  Low carbonation with some foam.  Smells funky and sour, of rich rustic apple.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate sourness and funk.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  Notes of cider apple juice & pomace, orange, must, and leather (I didn’t pick up any cherry).  Moderate length sour finish, at the back of the palette.  Moderate flavor intensity, complexity, sessionability, and apple flavor.

My Opinion:  I loved the profile of this cider, with the big cider apple flavor, but unfortunately I’m super sensitive to sourness, so due to its presence, I wasn’t personally a fan.  Everyone has different tastes – good thing there are more cider options than ever.  I’d suggest this selection to fans of farmhouse-style / rustic ciders, who like a bit of sourness & funk.  However, overall the levels of both were low, so some may not even notice.  Sourness & funk often occur together, and typically result from wild yeast fermentation, which uses natural yeast in the juice which was on the skin of the apples from the environment, which is typical for a farmhouse-style cider, same with haziness.

I liked that the bottle was clearly labeled ‘farmhouse’, and their website discusses their methods, as I’ve had some surprise bottles I’ve bought that have had even more sourness, but neither the bottle or their website had noted the style.  To be honest I wouldn’t have bought this cider myself due to the style, but I’m glad I got to try it, and I think my personal opinions in a review are more of an afterthought than a focus.

Side Note:  This is an excellent price point for the type of cider, and I liked seeing it available in smaller bottles, as it reduces the price point further, making it an easier buying decision than a $15+ bottle.  This appears to be a current trend, with more heritage cideries using 500 ml instead of 750 ml bottles like they used to do.  I think this helps them be more competitive with smaller modern cideries, making their ciders closer in price to them (and in this case, actually about equivalent).

Most Similar to:  This reminded me a lot of some Normandy France ciders I’ve tried, with rich bittersweet cider apple flavor and some sourness & funk, as well as U.S. ciders of a similar rustic style, like Runcible Old Hoot.

Closing Notes:  I look forward to trying the other ciders in Press Then Press‘ introductory lineup.  Their website is well laid out and informative, making the order process easy, and providing access to unique ciders which otherwise wouldn’t be available to most folks.  Note that they offer 2 other varieties from Stone Circle, their Dry and Sour Cherry, which I will be reviewing soon.

Have you tried Stone Circle cider?  What did you think?

BX Press The Bandit cider with cherry

Review of The BX Press’ The Bandit, cider with cherry.  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery.

Photo Feb 08, 5 36 23 PM.jpg

Cider:  The Bandit, cider with cherry
Cidery:  The BX Press
Cidery Location:  Vernon B.C. Canada
ABV:  7.2%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  Canadian craft cider from a variety of apples, with cherry

Photo Feb 08, 5 36 35 PM Photo Feb 08, 5 36 54 PM Photo Feb 08, 5 37 07 PM

Availability:  probably only in B.C. Canada (see here), plus direct sales in Canada

Cider Description:  This unique cider with cherry is fermented from over 12 varieties of apples and has natural BC cherry added to it just before bottling. Due to the added cherry, this cider is slightly sweeter than our others, but balanced with the crisp acidity of the apples, and underlying complexity from the cherry.  See here for more info.

Cidery Description:  We are 3rd-Generation Apple Growers trying something new.  Or depending how you look at it – something old.  Real Cider – made from apples, has been around for centuries – yet in North America the word cider has been so obscured that most no longer know what to expect.  We invite you to try real cider, made from apples. Not watered down, not artificially flavoured. Not sugary sweet or cloying.  Our ciders are natural, refreshing, and a true expression of the apples they are made from. They are unpretentious, yet have enough character to be served alongside the finest meal. Did we mention we grow all the apples we use in our ciders – nearly 30 varieties – right on the same orchard the cidery is located?  We hope you will come visit our tasting room and experience real cider.

Price:  ~ $10 CAN ?
Where Bought:  Victoria B.C.
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  on a cruise port stop (side note – I picked up about 2 cases of cider on that trip in Sept, and I only have 1 or 2 left now)

Photo Feb 08, 5 38 37 PM.jpg

First Impression:  Deep purple hue, reminiscent of red grape wine.  Very low carbonation.  Smells mild, dry, of cherry.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of cherry with hints of tart green apple and lemon.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  A tad dry for my tastes, and drier than most other cherry ciders I’ve had, but very fruity, and not too tart.

Most Similar to:  although I’ve tried over 30 cherry ciders (see here), this one was unique, as it was drier than average, yet had more cherry flavor than average, a rarely seen combination

Closing Notes:  This was one of my favorite B.C. ciders so far, as so many I’ve tried were super dry, tart, and bland.  My absolute favorite however is probably Central City Limited Edition Imperial though.

Have you tried BX Press Bandit?  What did you think?

Red Branch Hard Black Cherry

Review of Red Branch Hard Black Cherry cider.  It is my first time trying this, although I have had their Peach cider.

Cider:  Hard Black Cherry
Cidery:  Red Branch
Cidery Location:  Sunnyvale CA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with honey, sugar, and cherry

Photo Dec 28, 6 24 00 PM Photo Dec 28, 6 23 35 PM Photo Dec 28, 6 23 51 PM

Availability:  likely only in Northern California, plus online sales

Cider Description:  Our most popular cider, our Black Cherry is the perfect balance between sweet and tart and delicious. When we made the first batch we didn’t know what to think – now we can’t make enough of the stuff. Be a hero, bring this to the next party you attend. Trust us!

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:  ~ $7-8 / bottle
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  at my in-laws
How Found:  I got this as a Christmas gift

Photo Dec 28, 6 23 11 PM.jpg

First Impression:  Smells of fake cherry flavor.  Medium cherry red hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of fake cherry flavor with a hint of cranberry.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor and complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity and sessionability.

My Opinion:  I didn’t like this, and neither did any of the other folks I shared it with.  The cherry flavor was too artificial / cough-syrup-like.  It was borderline undrinkable for me.

Most Similar to:  Wards and Strongbow cherry ciders, both of which also had a similar medicinal cherry flavor

Closing Notes:  I’m surprised this is their most popular, as no one I tasted it with enjoyed it.  I think cherry ciders are one of the more difficult flavors to pull off.  However, I didn’t really like Red Branch’s peach cider either, so maybe their cidermaking style just isn’t for me.  That is ok though, as everyone won’t like every cider.

Have you tried Red Branch cider?  What did you think?

North Idaho Cider Wild Cherry

Review of North Idaho Cider’s Wild Cherry.  It is my first time trying this one, but I’ve had their Logger cider.

2017-08-27 16.57.31.jpg

Cider:  Wild Cherry Dry Hard Cider
Cidery:  North Idaho Cider
Cidery Location: Coeur d’Alene ID
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  22oz bottles (and draft)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples with cherries

2017-08-27 16.57.38 2017-08-27 16.57.59 2017-08-27 16.57.49

Availability:  At least in Idaho and Washington, plus they have an online store

Cider Description:  The 1st fruit of summer. Deep in color, rich in flavor; this hard cider displays how satisfying a freshly picked cherry can be less the pit! A subtle fruity sweetness is balanced with a tart and refreshing finish–the perfect pairing for all that North Idaho has to offer this time of year.

Cidery Description:  Inspired by the adventurous lifestyle and heritage that sets our region apart, North Idaho Cider crafts cider to be dry, crisp and refreshing. Using Northwest grown ingredients–no artificial sulfites or preservatives. It’s hard. It’s real. It’s natural–like North Idaho, there’s nothing else like it! 

They started in 2014, and have a tasting room in Hayden Idaho.

Price:  $7.99
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  It was my first time seeing their cider in a store.

2017-08-27 16.58.59.jpg

First Impression:  Slightly hazy pink-red hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells very mildly fruity.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness.  No sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of cranberry, grapefruit, pomegranate, cherry, and lemon.  Moderate to long slightly bitter finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate to high flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked this.  However, the flavor was a bit weird; I tasted more cranberry & grapefruit than cherry flavor.  The flavor intensity was higher than average for a semi-dry cider, and it had a bit more complexity, both of which were nice.

Most Similar to:  Nothing I’ve tried.  Most similar fruity ciders are sweeter too.

Closing Notes:  I’m interested in trying some of their other ciders.

Have you tried North Idaho Cider?  What did you think?

Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry

Review of Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry cider.  I tried this at Cider Summit Seattle 2017 (although that draft version was listed at a higher ABV).  I’ve also previously tried Rev Nat’s Revival¡Tepache!Hopland #5 / EnvyNewtown PippinCiderkinWinter Abbey SpiceHallelujah HopricotDeliverance Gin & TonicRevival DryThe PassionWhiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black CurrantNew Moon MandarinViva la PineappleRevelation Belle de BoskoopWooden Hellfire, and Tassjara Peach Book.

2017-08-04 18.22.13

Cider:  Sacrilege Sour Cherry
Cidery:  Reverend Nat’s
Cidery Location:  Portland OR
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from granny smith apples with sour cherries, pear juice, and a hint of spice from ghost peppers

2017-08-04 18.22.30 2017-08-04 18.22.41 2017-08-04 18.22.53

Availability:  Year round.  Rev Nat’s ciders are in general sold in AK, CA, HI, ID, MT, NY, OR, and WA, as well as Alberta & B.C. Canada, and Japan.

Cider Description:  Others profess to produce a cherry cider, but none begin with 100% sour Granny Smith apples (eschewing all other apple varieties for their lack of sourness) unified with the superior Montmorency sour cherry (aka Prunus cerasus, a superior and vastly dissimilar cherry to Prunus avid, the bird cherry, the mere mazzard, so commonly used in cough syrup and children’s sweet-snacks) and the exotic Baladon sour cherry (hailing from my native country of Hungary), fermented with an English Ale yeast (procured from a fine brewery in Chiswick, London), rounded out with a spot of Bartlett pear juice (undeniably the world’s greatest pear-flavored pear) and completed with a touch of spiciness (largely attributable to the ghost chili pepper, although married with a secret spice), precisely enough to make your vigor race and spirits embrace another gulp. 

Cidery Description:  Reverend Nat is a single-minded cider evangelist who searches the world for superior ingredients to handcraft the most unusual ciders that no one else will make.

Price:  $7.00
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  My husband remembered liking this and bought a bottle (this appears to be his favorite cidery…he likes the weird stuff, like Wooden Hellfire), and I tried some.

2017-08-04 18.24.08

First Impression:  Cherry red-brown hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells of cherry and hot peppers (silly me made the mistake of taking a huge whiff of it too!).

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Low spiciness (heat).  Notes of real cherry, green apple, lemon, and hot peppers.  Long lingering spicy finish.  Low to moderate cherry flavor, flavor intensity,  complexity, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  As expected, same as my previous trial, I didn’t like this due to the spiciness (although it was admittedly mild…I just don’t enjoy spicy beverages).  The cherry part of the cider was nice though.  My husband said the spiciness dissipated some by the time he got to the end of the bottle, but I only wanted two sips.  My husband however really enjoyed it, and was happy he got the whole bottle to himself (he is a big fan of both cherry and anything spicy).

Side Note:  Some other reviews said this was sour (like sour beer, from wild yeast), but I only picked up tart (like lemons and granny smith apples); I think the variety of cherries used are called sour cherries (similar to Doc’s Sour Cherry, my favorite cherry cider), but this wouldn’t be classified as an actual sour cider.

Most Similar to:  I’ve had plenty of cherry ciders (28 last I counted), but none that were also spicy.

Closing Notes:  My favorites from Rev Nat’s remain RevivalThe PassionWhiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black Currant, and Viva la Pineapple….ie. his more mainstream and sweeter selections.

Have you tried Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry?  What did you think?

Locust Cider Tasting Notes #4

After lunch at Tipsy Cow in Woodinville WA, my husband and I stopped by Locust Cider.  See my notes here from visit 1, here from visit 2, and here from visit 3.

2017-07-22 15.45.16.jpg
<Cherry, Apricot, and Watermelon ciders>

Sweet Dark Cherry:  I’ve tried this previously (see here), and it is also available in cans.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Light simple cherry flavor.  Quick finish.  My husband really liked it, but for me its pretty average.

Apricot:  This is a draft-only release.  I tried an apricot cider from them awhile back (see here), but it was quite different.  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Medium to full bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Syrupy tropical and apricot flavor.  Quick finish.  This was too sweet for both of us, but had a nice flavor.  I prefer the apricot ciders from Atlas and Summit.

Watermelon:  This is a new draft-only release.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Hazy hue.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate watermelon juice flavor.  Quick finish.  I really enjoyed it (I’m a huge watermelon fan), but my husband didn’t like it for whatever reason.  It reminded me of NV Cider Watermelon Perry.

Summary:  My favorite was the Watermelon, and my husband’s favorite was the Cherry.  Overall, my favorite Locust ciders are the Bittersweet Reserve (one-time special release?), Aged Apple, and a 50-50 mix of Smoked Blueberry & Vanilla Bean, as they are all super flavorful, but also rather sweet (not something I’d drink often).

Locust is a nice place to hang out and drink cider (they even have an outdoor patio and some games), and they often have varieties which don’t even leave their tasting room.  However, I noticed the small pours are expensive, at $3 / 3oz, so a flight of five (close to a pint) is $15 + tax.  Of course its much cheaper to get a pint ($6-7?), but the vast majority of folks opt for the variety of a flight.  Also, they only have 9 taps of their own ciders.

Locust is more convenient for me to get to, so I visit semi regularly.  However, I much prefer the Schilling Cider House, as they have cheaper flights ($2 / 3oz), more variety with 32 taps (often a few are the more artisanal varieties made from cider apples vs. the more commonly found flavored ciders from dessert apples), and hundreds of bottles too.

Doc’s Draft Sour Cherry Cider

Review of Doc’s Draft Sour Cherry.  It is my second time trying this cider, but the first time was part of a cherry cider tasting, so I just shared notes, not a full review.  I’ve also tried Doc’s Raspberry and Pumpkin ciders.

2017-06-17 17.25.20.jpg

Cider:  Sour Cherry
Cidery:  Doc’s Draft (Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery)
Cidery Location:  Warwick NY
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  22oz bottles (and draft)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with cherries

2017-06-17 17.25.34 2017-06-17 17.25.40

2017-06-17 17.25.57 2017-06-17 17.25.48

Availability:  semi wide release, seasonal, May 15 to July 15

Description:  A unique, hand-crafted cherry hard cider. Made from pressed NY state apples and fresh cherries.

Price:  $8.50
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  a cherry cider tasting with local cider friends

2017-06-17 17.27.03.jpg

First Impression:  Bright red-brown hue.  Low carbonation.  Mild real cherry scent.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  The flavor is just of juicy real cherries.  Moderate length finish, mostly lingering tartness.  No apple flavor.  Moderate to high flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed this.  Very flavorful, of real cherries (some ciders come across a bit medicinal cherry), but not too sweet (although I would have liked it just a smidge drier).

Most Similar to:  Washington Gold CherryOne Tree Dark Cherry, and Steelhead Chimera Cherry Apple

Closing Notes:  This is probably my favorite cherry cider, and I’ve tried a lot of them (at least 28; see here).

Have you tried Doc’s Sour Cherry?  What did you think?