Woodbox Double Barrel Ice Cider

Review of Woodbox’s Double Barrel Ice Cider.  I first tried this at Cider Rite of Spring (see here), but this time I am doing a full review of a bottle.  By the way, ice cider is made by using freezing temperatures to naturally concentrate the flavor and sugar content in apple juice before fermenting it.

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Cider:  Double Barrel Ice Cider
Cidery:  Woodbox
Cidery Location:  Portland Oregon
ABV:  12.7%
How Supplied:  375ml bottles
Style:  American craft ice cider, whiskey barrel aged

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Availability:  In general their ciders are sold in parts of Oregon and Washington (see here), but this may be more limited.

Cider Description:  Layers of sweet and tart, bourbon and vanilla with hints of oak and dark caramel, this cider is meant for sipping. Cryoconcentrated to four times its normal strength, the juice is fermented then aged in whiskey barrels for six months giving it an irresistible bourbon kick, with alluring aromatics and a long warming finish.

Cidery Description:  Woodbox Cider was started [in 2015] by the Thierfelder brothers and their mother, Mama Gibson. We’re a family owned and operated boutique cidery. We source all our apples locally, from our home state of Oregon and production happens in Portland’s very own Northeast quadrant. We’re pretty stoked to present you with several, signature cider blends that are becoming famous for their unapologetically bone dry flavor profiles.

Price:  $17
Where Bought:  Cider Rite of Spring in Portland Oregon (2017)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  tasting at the event

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First Impression:  Medium caramel amber hue.  Still.  Smells of sweet caramelized baked apple, spice, whiskey, and oak.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Full bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of caramel, baked apple, spice, whiskey, oak, leather, and orange.  Long finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  High flavor intensity and complexity.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  However, I remember liking it more at the event.  That always seems to happen to me when trying a cider for a second time, even at home when I haven’t had other ciders first (its especially common when I buy a single bottle and like it, then pick up a six pack and am not as impressed).  This time around it was a bit more dry and tart than I remembered.  However, it is still a really tasty dessert cider, an excellent value, and impressive for their first ice cider release.  This is significantly drier than most other ice ciders, so I imagine it may appeal to folks who typically find ice ciders too sweet.

Most Similar to:  Eden Specialty Ciders’ Brandy Barrel Aged Heirloom and Northern Spy ice ciders (which I prefer; however, both cost almost twice as much and are much sweeter)

Closing Notes:  Its great to see a local ish producer making ice cider, as it is still relatively rare in the cider world, and as far as I know, has only been made in the U.S. for about a decade.

Have you tried ice 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?

Tieton Lavender Honey

Review of Tieton’s Lavender Honey.  It is my first time trying it, but I’ve had most of their ciders – Cidermaker’s ReserveSparkling PerryCranberryBourbon PeachFrost (ice cider),  Spice Route, Russian Red, Apricot, Smoked Pumpkin, Wind (Pommeau), Wild Washington, Cherry, and Blossom Nectar.

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Cider:  Lavender Honey
Cidery:  Tieton Cider Works
Cidery Location:  Yakima WA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with lavender & honey

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Availability:  Spring seasonal, since June 2017, in Washington, Oregon, California, and Nevada

Cider Description:  none given

Cidery Description:  From branch to bottle, Tieton Cider Works controls every aspect of the growing and cidermaking process. Tieton Cider Works boasts the largest orchard of cider varieties in Washington state and the largest Perry pear orchard in the United States. We blend our gnarly, inedible cider fruit with our organically grown dessert fruit. We’ve been growing apples, apricots, cherries and pears on Harmony Orchards – our family farm – since the 1930’s and are thrilled to be involved in Re:interpreting the tradition of cider making.

Price:  $6.99
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I had heard it was available on draft but hadn’t had the chance to try it.

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells of honey with a hint of herbs.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of light tart apple and lavender which quickly dissipate, then the fuller bodied sweet honey with a hint of pear.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity and sessionability.  Low to moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  There were two distinct stages of this cider when tasting, which was pretty unique, but they also seemed to compete a bit with each other.

Most Similar to:  I’ve actually had 5 ciders with lavender (Elemental Pom-LavenderElemental Lavender Rose Petal, Greenwood Lavender Blackberry, Seattle Cider Lavender Lemon, and Finnriver Lavender Black Currant), but none also had honey, which is fairly commonly added to cider (it even has a name when they are co-fermented, cyser).  My favorite cider with lavender is Finnriver Lavender Black Currant, especially when on Nitro tap.  Some of my favorite ciders with honey are Finnriver Honey Meadow, Long Drop Vanilla Honey, and Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Apples.

Closing Notes:  This was released last year too, but somehow I missed it (probably as I think it was draft-only last year).  My favorite Tieton cider remains Bourbon Peach, which I’ve only seen on draft, as their summer seasonal, but hopefully they do bottles this summer.

Have you tried Tieton Lavender Honey?  What did you think?

Herout AOC Cotentin Brut 2015

Review of Herout AOC Cotentin Brut 2015, an Organic French cidre.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Extra Brut.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Beauchamp Imports / French Cider Inc.  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: Cotentin Brut (2015 harvest)
Cidery:  Herout AOC
Cidery Location:  Cotentin Peninsula, Normandy, France
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottle
Style:  Organic French cidre, from cider apples, brut (dry)

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Availability:  In Washington, through Beauchamp Imports, plus online at their French Cider Inc. website.  In addition to Cotentin Brut, they also offer Herout’s Cotentin Extra-Brut.

Cider Description:  We are currently offering bottles of the award-winning 2015 vintage, Cidre Cotentin Brut! Hérout à Auvers is the only French cider producer who puts a vintage date on their bottles. The date represents the year the apples where harvested.  Like a fine wine, the flavor evolves with time and we think the 2015 Brut is just about perfect right now.  to heighten the flavor experience,  decant/carafe it before drinking. Cotentin Brut cider is made from 100% organic, naturally-fermented cider apple juice.

Cidery Description:  Since the 1940s, Hérout cidre has been produced by the Hérout family on the Cotentin Peninsula on the Northwest coast of Normandy France, in Auvers, where apples thrive in its lush and oceanic climate.  They are the newest cidre AOC in France, since May 2016.  The cidermaker Marie-Agnes Herout was just awarded the highest civilian honor in France for her 16 years of work getting the AOC recognized – Le Croix de Chevalier, Legion d’Honneur (Knights Cross for the Legion of Honneur).

See here for more information on the cider and here for more information on the cidery.

Price:  n/a (retails for $23.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the importer Joan Harkins contacted me (we met at Cider Summit Seattle 2017)

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First Impression:  Light orange amber hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells of apple, must, funk, and yeast.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, tannins, and funk.  Moderate bitterness.  No sourness.  Notes of bittersharp apple pomace, yeast, orange, and caramel.  Long bitter finish.  Moderate flavor intensity and complexity.  Low sessionability and apple flavor.

My Opinion:  I personally wasn’t a fan.  However, it is a well made cider – just too bitter and dry for my preferences.  Every cider isn’t for everyone, so its great we have so many choices.  This is probably the driest French cider I’ve had (surprisingly I perceived this Brut version as drier than their Extra Brut version).

I’d recommend it for for folks who like French cider, but find most too sweet, as well as wine lovers.  Note that the importer recommended to let this breathe a bit before drinking to bring out more flavor, so I poured a glass and stuck it back in my cellar-temperature cider fridge for a bit.

Most Similar to:  Herout AOC Cotentin Extra Brut

However, for drier French ciders, I personally prefer Cidrerie Daufresne Brut, Domaine de la Minotiere Cidre Fermier Bio Brut, and Pierre Huet AOC Pays D’Auge Cidre, although those are all a bit sweeter than both Herout selections.

Closing Notes:  If you are a fan of drier ciders, this is as dry as it gets for a French cider!

Have you tried Herout cidre?  What did you think?

Understood in Motion 03 (Angry Orchard and Tom Oliver collaboration)

Review of Understood in Motion 03, Angry Orchard’s third release in the collaboration series, this time with Tom Oliver, of Herefordshire’s Oliver’s Cider & Perry.  The first collaboration was with Eden Specialty Ciders (see my review here), and the second was with EZ Orchards (see my review here).

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Angry Orchard.  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:  Understood in Motion 03
Cidery:  Angry Orchard and Oliver’s Cider & Perry
Cidery Location:  Walden New York U.S.A & Herefordshire England
ABV:  7.2%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottle
Style:  American & English craft cider from Dabinett, Northern Spy, & Foxwhelp apples, wild yeast fermented, oak aged, dry, still

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Availability:  Angry Orchard’s facility in Walden NY, released March 2018

Cider Description:  Understood in Motion 03 started over two years ago, as two different natural ciders fermented with wild yeast. The Dabinett apple was the principle apple variety used in this collaboration, an 18th century English bittersweet apple that is favored for its reliability to yield fruit annually, and is now grown in the United States. The result, a still, tannic, dry, wild and funky cider that pairs well with a hearty meal enjoyed with friends.

Angry Orchard’s Ryan Burk and Oliver’s Cider & Perry’s Tom Oliver worked together on this cider over the last two years.  This article has more information.

Price:  n/a (retails for $25)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I read about it online.

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First Impression:  Hazy orange amber hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells of cider apples, sourness, and funk.

Tasting Notes:  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness, sourness, funk, and bitterness.  Moderate acidity and tannins.  Notes of bittersweet apples, pomace, orange, leather, grapefruit, and oak.  Long tannic sour finish.  Moderate apple flavor and flavor intensity.  Low sessionability.  Moderate to high complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, I would have much preferred it without the sourness; I don’t mind funk, but for some reason I’m not a fan of sourness.  I liked it better closer to room temperature, but even then it still had the sourness on the finish.  The bittersweet apple flavor and aging was great though.

Most Similar to:  English cider (rich bittersweet apples, tannic, funky), with a hint of Spanish sidra (sour, citrus)

Closing Notes:  I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to try these special releases not available locally – I’m spoiled with these samples!

Have you tried any of the Angry Orchard special releases?  What did you think?

La Chouette Cidre Rosé

Review of La Chouette Cidre Rosé, a French rosé cidre, made from apples (including red-fleshed) and pears.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Demi-Sec (see here).

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Beauchamp Imports / French Cider Inc.  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:  Rosé
Cidery:  La Chouette Cidre
Cidery Location:  Saint-Pair-sur-Mer, France
ABV:  4.5%
How Supplied:  330ml (12oz) single bottles
Style:  French cidre from apples (including red-fleshed) and pears, demi-sec

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Availability:  In Washington, through Beauchamp Imports, plus online at their French Cider Inc. website.  In addition to La Chouette’s Rosé, they also offer their Demi-Sec.

Cider Description:  La Chouette Cidre Rosé is an all-natural craft cidre made from red-fleshed apples and pears – giving it a beautiful rose color and a bright, crisp demi-sec flavor. Thirst quenching and easy to drink, our 2018 prediction is that it will become one of your favorites.  No gluten, no added sugar and no added flavoring.

Cidery Description:  La Chouette—which means “the Owl” in French—refers to the surprising bond between this elusive night bird and French cidre. Traditionally, many farmers in the northwest of France made their own cidre with apples from their orchards. Often, the farmers made their cidre in barns, where the owls could be seen watching over the production from their perches under the roof. Thus La Chouette has always looked after French cider and continues to look over our cidre today.

See here for more on the cidery, and here for more on the cider.

Price:  n/a (retails for $5.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the importer Joan Harkins contacted me (we met at Cider Summit Seattle 2017)

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First Impression:  Moderate red hue.  Smells of pear, watermelon, and strawberry.  Moderate carbonation.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Light bodied, with a fluffy texture.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of canned pear, watermelon, strawberry, green apple, and lemon.  Long tart fruity finish.  Moderate complexity.  High sessionability.  Moderate to high pear flavor and flavor intensity.  Low apple flavor.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  I really enjoyed everything about it – flavor, texture, complexity, and balance.  The flavor has a lot of the notes from the red-fleshed apples, plus pear.  You can tell that this is naturally (not force) carbonated, as it has such a fluffy texture, which helped make it seem lighter bodied than is typical for this level of sweetness.

Most Similar to:  nothing I’ve had, as this was like a combination of French poire (perry) and cider from red-fleshed apples

Closing Notes:  I found this far superior to most American commercial rosé selections.  It was more on par to ciders from red-fleshed apples (such as Alpenfire Glow and Snowdrift Red), although it had the added French and pear components.

Have you tried French cidre or rosé cider?  What did you think?

Pierre Huet Poire Demi-Sec

Review of Pierre Huet Poire Demi-Sec, a French perry.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Cidre Bouche Brut and AOC Pays D’Auge.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Beauchamp Imports / French Cider Inc.  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:  Poire Demi-Sec
Cidery:  Pierre Huet
Cidery Location:  Pays d’Auge, Normandy, France
ABV:  2.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottle
Style:  French poire (perry), from dessert & perry pears

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Availability:  In Washington, through Beauchamp Imports, plus online at their French Cider Inc. website.  In addition to Poire Demi-Sec, they also offer Pierre Huet’s Cidre Bouche BrutPays D’Auge CiderCalvados AOC Pays d’Auge VSCalvados AOC Pays d’Auge XO, and Pommeau de Normandie AOC.

Cider Description:  This delicious, demi-sec poiré is the perfect combination of four varieties of sweet and bitter pears. Slowly fermented for one to three months before being bottled, it achieves the perfect balance of semi-sweetness and roundness.

Cidery Description:  Pierre Huet is a 5th generation family-owned cidery who has been producing cidre, Calvados, and Pommeau since the 1800s in the Pays d’Auge region of Normandy France.  They grow 25 varieties of apples on 75 acres.

See here for more information on the cider, and here for more information on the cidery.

Price:  n/a (retails for $19.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the importer Joan Harkins contacted me (we met at Cider Summit Seattle 2017)

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of canned pears.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied with a fluffy texture.  Moderate tartness.  Low acidity.  Hints of tannins and funk.  No bitterness or sourness.  Notes of canned pear, dried pear, lemon, and honey.  Moderate length finish.  High pear flavor and sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity and complexity.

My Opinion:  Great!  I enjoyed the texture most of all – so fluffy and frothy that it made it seem lighter bodied.  It was a bit more tart than most other poires I’ve had, which balanced well with the sweetness.  The pear flavor was really nice too; I like how French perries seem to capture the fruit more than just tasting like an alcoholic pear juice.  I agree with their website that this would be a great mimosa alternative for brunch.

Most Similar to:  Christian Drouin Poire and Cidrerie Daufresne Poire

Closing Notes:  French Cider Inc. has a great lineup of French ciders, poires, calvados, and pommeaux; I look forward to trying more.