Cider Summit Seattle 2018 Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is post 2/2 on Cider Summit Seattle 2018, with tasting notes on 21 ciders.  Post 1/2 covered the event.  Sorry some of these photos aren’t that great, but this isn’t a photography blog…

The Tasting Notes

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2 Towns (Corvallis OR) Pommeau – I’ve had their Pommeau (cider + apple brandy) a number of times (see my full review here), and have a bottle in my “cellar”, but its probably my favorite U.S.-made Pommeau.  Both me and my husband didn’t want to pass up a sample.  Semi-sweet, rich, easy to drink despite the high ABV, and awesome as always.

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Angry Orchard (Walden, NY) Dear Brittany – This is one of the small batch ciders made at their Innovation Cider House, a French-style keeved cider.  Semi-dry, tart, and funky, with a hint of sourness, although I picked up more heirloom than bittersweet apple flavor.  As expected for a keeved cider, it was very apple-forward and flavorful in general for not being very sweet.

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Blue Mountain (Milton-Freewater, OR) Pete Limely – Semi-dry to dry with notes of tart citrus (especially lemon-lime).  This was a bit too dry and mildly flavored for me, but I liked the overall flavor notes.

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Brownrigg (Seattle WA) Rum Barrel Aged – This is apparently not a new cidery (I read they started in 2014), but this is my first time seeing them, and my first time trying their cider.  Dry.  Very mild flavor, slightly tart, with a rum finish.  I think I would have liked this better if it was a bit sweeter.

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Chelan Craft Cider (Chelan WA) Cider with Lemon – This is a new cidery, and my first time trying their cider.  Semi-dry, with lots of tart refreshing lemon flavor.  I liked it.  I’m curious how they will do in the market though, as their bottles were listed for $23 / 750ml.  I couldn’t tell what type of apples they used – maybe dessert, maybe heirloom.  The price would be more in-line with heirloom, but still on the high end of what I see in stores.

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Cider Riot! (Portland OR) Everyday Passionfruit – Awesome tropical scent, on the drier side of semi-dry, but the passionfruit flavor was very mild and mostly on the finish, which was a bit of a let down.

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d’s Wicked (Kennewick WA) Tropical  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, tart, with notes of orange, pineapple, and passion fruit.  I liked how flavorful it was without being sweet.

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Herb’s Cider (Bellingham WA) Triplet Special Reserve French Oak Aged Semi-Dry – This is a new cidery, and my first time trying their cider.  Semi-dry to dry, thin bodied, super mild flavor intensity, with notes of heirloom apples and hints of oak.  This was a bit too mildly flavored for me.

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Hérout à Auvers (Normandy France) Pommeau de Normandie AOC – Imported by Beauchamp Imports (French Cider Inc.) – they have online sales too by the way.  This Pommeau is made from 3/4 apple cider and 1/4 Calvados (French apple brandy), then aged at least 14 months in oak barrels.  Semi-sweet, both rich/oaky/earthy and fruity (both my husband and I agreed on strawberry), clean (no funk or sourness), easy to drink for the higher ABV, and overall awesome.  I bought a bottle to take home, and think it was an awesome value at $40 / 750ml (as most local Pommeaux run $25 / 375ml).  Pommeau keeps very well by the way, and you can leave a bottle open for months and just have a bit at a time – I think this will be perfect at cellar temp in my cider fridge.  They also brought La Chouette Rosé, Kystin Opalyne, and Herout AOC Cotentin Extra-Brut, which I’ve previously sampled.

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Idun Cider (Seattle WA) Heirloom Dry – This is a new cidery, and my first time trying their cider.  They currently only have this single flagship release.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, medium bodied, very apple forward, but overall mild in flavor.  I didn’t really taste the heirloom apples (this is listed as having Gravenstein, Winesap, and Newtown Pippin), but I kinda liked it.

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Manoir du Parc (Normandy France) Authentic Rosé – Made from red-fleshed apples and pears.  Semi-sweet, lovely fluffy natural carbonation, and notes of strawberry, watermelon, and pear.  Very reminiscent of La Choute Rosé.  Awesome!

Manoir du Parc (Normandy France) Authentic Cidre – I also re-tried their flagship cidre.  On the drier side of semi-dry, funky and tannic, apple and yeast forward, with a hint of sourness.  My husband surprisingly liked this (usually he dislikes funk, like I dislike sourness).  I think it was because the cidermaker? (or at least some very knowledgeable French dude) was telling us all about it during the tasting.  That sort of experience is what makes me love Cider Summit.

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Miloslawski (Poland) Perry – Imported by Browar Polska Imports.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry, with a very mild canned pear flavor.  I surprisingly liked it.  I was expecting it to be super sweet, but it was a perfect sweetness level for me.

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Ole Swede (Tonasket, WA) Bada Bing! Cider – 90% apple and 10% cherries, co-fermented.  Semi-dry, tart, with a mild real cherry flavor.  They also have a Cherry Perry, which I thought I had tried, but I can’t find anything that I wrote about it, so I guess not!

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One Tree (Spokane WA) Tropical – Semi-sweet, full bodied, juice-like, with a very very similar flavor to Schilling’s Imperial Passionfruit that I tried the night before (as it was made using the same puree from Oregon Fruit Products), but with a hint of pineapple (which One Tree added in addition to the puree and apple juice).  I really enjoyed it, and think it would have been awesome to use it in a cocktail with rum.

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Pear UP (Wenatchee WA) Barrel Hoppin Pear – A barrel aged version of their hopped perry (100% pears, no apple).  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Smooth, mild flavor, with hints of pear, hops, and oak.  I usually don’t go for the mild flavored ones, but that worked well for this one, as hops isn’t something you want to go too overboard with.

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Possmann (Germany) Pure Cider Rosé Black Currant – Imported by Browar Polska Imports.  Semi-sweet with a light fruity flavor, although I couldn’t specifically identify black currant.  I surprisingly liked this, despite the commercialness.

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Ruwet (Belgium) Cidre – Imported by Browar Polska Imports.  Semi-dry, mild overall flavor with apple & citrus.  It tasted a bit commercial to me though, and I would have liked more flavor intensity.  I think this is my first Belgium cider, very cool.

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Schilling (Auburn, WA) Red Wine Barrel Aged Pommeau (paired with chocolate) –  Semi-dry, smells of red wine barrel, but for me the flavor was mostly apple-flavored alcohol burn.  A bit too boozy for my liking.  My husband was a bigger fan.  They also have this on tap at Schilling Cider House right now.

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Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) Red Wine Barrel Berry – On the drier side of semi-dry,  super mild, with hints of berry, oak, and botanicals, and a red wine finish.  Characteristically Seattle Cider.  Surprisingly complex, but for some reason I didn’t really like it, although I couldn’t say why.

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Tieton Ciderworks (Yakima, WA) Oak Barrel Aged Cider Summit Collaboration – Semi-dry, higher carbonation, tart, super mild smooth citrus & oak flavor.

In Summary

It was impossible to taste all the ciders at the event (or even one from each producer), so I’d also like to share previous tasting notes and reviews of ciders from the other cideries I didn’t get to highlight:  Alter Ego, AnthemAvid (previously Atlas), Bad GrannyChatter CreekDouble MountainDragon’s HeadEaglemount, Eden, ElementalFinnriverHi-WheelInclineJester & JudgeJ. Seeds, LibertyLocust, Longdrop, Louis RaisonMaeloc, MontanaMoonlight MeaderyPortlandReverend Nat’sSamuel SmithsSea CiderSnowdriftSteelhead, SwiftWandering Aengus, Washington GoldWildCraft, and Worley’s

My favorites of the day were Herout Pommeau, 2 Towns Pommeau, One Tree Tropical, d’s Tropical, and Manoir du Parc Authentic Rosé.

This event is always the highlight of Washington Cider Week, and the biggest and best cider event of the year in the Seattle area!

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Cider Summit Seattle 2018 Post 1/2 – The Event

Epic!  This was my fourth year attending (see here for previous posts), but was the ninth annual Cider Summit in Seattle Washington.  It took place on Friday & Saturday September 7th & 8th.  This is post 1/2, covering the event.  Post 2/2 will cover tasting notes on the dozens of ciders I tried [update – post 2/2 is now up – see here].

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Info

See my preview here.  I attended Friday afternoon, which is awesome as it isn’t too crowded yet, especially the VIP hour (2pm-3pm).  See here for the full event info and here for the full list of cideries (~50?) and ciders (~150-200?).  There were some substitutions and even some cidery cancellations / no-shows, but there were plenty of options, even for someone like me who had tried most of the lineup from most of the cideries.  There was even ice cider, Pommeau, non-apple fruit wines, mead, cyser, and cider cocktails.

Although most ciders were from the PNW, there were a good number of national and international ones as well.  Also, the selections were primarily on the craft (vs. commercial) end.  Angry Orchard made its first appearance at the event, although they mostly brought their fancy ciders.  The biggest changes this year were that the pour size was cut from 4oz to 2oz (and they used plastic not glass), and the number of tickets was doubled.  I really liked that change, as it was easier to try more ciders, and I didn’t have to request small pours.  I wonder if it created longer lines on Saturday though (as folks would be trying more ciders), so it’ll be interesting to see if they repeat it next year.

Entry included a tasting glass, tickets (16 for regular and 24 for VIP, each one good for a 2oz pour of most ciders, less for Pommeau and such though), and wristband.  A cool feature of this event is that in addition to in & out privileges, one entry fee gets you in both days (and you can even skip the line on the second day).  This event is very well organized, by far the best I have gone to.  It is also very consistent year-to-year.

Everything from detailed pre-event information online (even a full cider list) to signage at the event to thinking of the little things like having rinse water available and standing tables in addition to seating.  It is crazy to think about how much work goes into an event of this magnitude…renting a space, tables, canopies, and even fencing…finding volunteers, hiring staff for liquor enforcement and safety (at emergency exits), having extra ice and cider available, etc.

Another thing about this event that I really like is that the folks pouring the cider are associated with the cidery (cidery employees, sometimes even the cidermakers, or the distributor), so you can ask about the cidery and cider.  The crowd was really varied, from cider enthusiasts like myself to people who just wanted to drink.  There were also lots of vendors trying ciders (as it was common for a cidery to bring 2-3 people and swap out).  A number of people brought their dogs.

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Layout

Besides the main attraction of cider booths, they had an event store (with t-shirts and such), an audio booth where they did interviews with some of the cidery reps, food for sale from Capitol Cider, Nutflours Bakery, and a german-style pretzel place (my hubby and I shared a giant pretzel and it really hit the spot, although they were festival priced), some other vendors (jerky, bottled water, Amazon Restaurants, Imperfect Produce, Bark Thins, Drink Cider towels), a dog lounge, and info from the Northwest Cider Association.  The amenities were also above average for an outdoor event, with multiple food options for sale, standing tables, tables & chairs (some covered), port-a-potties (and outdoor sinks), and free water.

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<my haul from the event store, combined with what I got from Schilling Cider House the night before>

My Tips

Friday is typically much less busy than Saturday, especially earlier in the afternoon.  My game plan this year involved sleeping in, having a big lunch, visiting all the cidery booths in order, taking breaks to sit & snack, and getting through all the ciders I wanted to try before dinner time.

I recommend good walking shoes, as you are on your feet for most of these types of events, and there was uneven dirt and patches of grass at this site.  Also, pants with pockets, to put your tasting tickets and cell phone and such in.  I also like bringing my own snacks, especially something starchy, like crackers.  Other must-haves for me are a water bottle, hat & sunblock & sunglasses, notebook & pencil, and some baggies to put the tasting glasses in afterwards when they are sticky.  Its nice having a bag to put all that stuff in, as well as any free swag you want to collect (handouts, stickers, bottle opener keychains).  ID is required to get in, and cash never hurts, although some places (like the Summit store) take cards.

There are also a number of restaurants (and Whole Foods) within walking distance, so another food option is leaving, then coming back after a bit.  I have done that before, but this year we were done by dinnertime on Friday when we left.  Then my husband and I dropped stuff at the car (we parked under the Whole Foods, which is the most convenient and secure, but pricey, $15 after getting $6 off for a validation after buying stuff at Whole Foods), and walked to Rocco’s pizza (mmmm).

A great way to get free admission is to volunteer; they had several shift options each day, and I heard that if you work closing on Saturday you may even get leftover bottled cider.  For the best ticket price, buy them in advance, although there are taxes & fees for online sales.  Although VIP tickets are online sales only, if you want the best price on a regular ticket, you can go to Capitol Cider to avoid the fees.  The event didn’t sell out as far as I know, but the ticket price was higher at the door.  Designated driver tickets ($5) were only available at the door.

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In addition to Seattle, there are Cider Summits in Chicago IL (February), San Francisco CA (April), and Portland OR (June).

Cider Summit Seattle 2018 Preview

The epic 9th annual Cider Summit is returning for 2018 to Seattle Washington on Friday September 7th (3-8pm) and Saturday September 8th (noon-5pm), at the South Lake Union Discovery Center Lawn.  Check out my previous posts on Cider Summit from 2015 thru 2017 here, with a preview, event review, and cider tasting notes from each year.

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See here for the full event info and here for the lists of cideries and ciders.  The plan is for 52 cideries (or in some cases, distributors) to be represented, pouring 3-6 selections each.  That is over 200 ciders, cysers, meads, fruit wines, Pommeaux, apple brandies, cider whiskies, cider cocktails, etc.  So, there are plenty of options for all tastes, and even folks like me will have multiple new ciders to try.  They of course skew towards the NW, but there are cideries from all over the country and world represented too.

Regular tickets are sold in advance online ($43.60 including fees), at Capitol Cider, or at the door ($45), and includes a tasting glass + 16 drink tickets.  VIP tickets are sold in advance online ($55.76 including fees) only, and get you in an hour early on Friday (2pm instead of 3pm), and includes a tasting glass + 24 drink tickets.  Note that this is double the number of drink tickets as last year, as they have reduced the pour size from 4oz to 2oz, so you can try twice as many ciders – very cool.  Additional drink tickets are sold at the event.  Designated driver tickets are available at the door for $5.

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This outdoor event is 21+ but dog friendly.  They have covered seating, stand up tables, cold water on tap, and port-a-potties.  The event also includes a merchandise shop, bottle shop, food sales, and a dog lounge.  Plus, new for this year, paired bites from Capitol Cider and other local producers.  Another special feature is the Fruit Cider Challenge; many cideries are bringing a special fruity cider, and attendees can vote for their favorite.  Most booths have folks from the cidery (sometimes even the cidermaker) pouring ciders, a mix of keg and bottle pours.  They may also still be accepting volunteers (includes free admission after your shift and 50% off wearables).

The event has in & out privileges (if you keep your wristband and glass), so you can leave to grab food (such as from the Whole Foods just down the street), or even return the next day.  On Friday it usually doesn’t get too busy until closer to 5pm, but it is pretty busy from then on (line down the street when they open on Saturday, which you can skip by the way if you already have a wristband & glass).  However, the event is so well laid out and there is enough space, so there are fewer & shorter lines and less crowds than the smaller events.

Cider Summit Seattle is part of Washington Cider Week (Sept 6-16).  Stay tuned for more posts here at Cider Says on Cider Summit and Washington Cider Week 2018 events.

Cider Summit Seattle 2017 Preview

The epic 8th annual Cider Summit is coming to Seattle Washington on Friday September 8th (3-8pm) and Saturday September 9th (noon-5pm) at South Lake Union Discovery Center Lawn.  Check out my posts from last year:  previewevent, and tasting notes.

See here for the full event info and here for the full list of cideries (~57) and ciders (~187).  I found several dozen ciders I haven’t tried and am interested in tasting (mostly due to the fruit challenge ciders, most of which are new event-only releases), so I’ll see if I can get through them all.

Regular tickets are sold in advance online ($30 + service charge) or at the door ($40), and includes a tasting glass + 8 drink tickets.  VIP tickets are sold in advance online ($40 + service charge) and get you in an hour early on Friday (2pm instead of 3pm), and includes a tasting glass + 12 drink tickets.  Additional drink tickets are available at the event for $2 each.  Designated driver tickets are also available at the door for $5.

This outdoor event is 21+ but dog friendly.  They have covered seating, stand up tables, cold water on tap, and port-a-potties.  The event also includes a merchandise shop, bottle shop, food sales, cider cocktails (using the same drink tickets as ciders), and a dog lounge.  Another special feature is the Fruit Cider Challenge; many cideries are bringing a special fruity cider, and attendees can vote for their favorite.  Many booths have employees (or even cidermakers) from the cidery pouring ciders, a mix of keg and bottle pours.  They may also still be accepting volunteers (includes free admission after your shift and 50% off wearables).

The event has in & out privileges (if you keep your wristband and glass), so you can leave to grab food (such as at the Whole Foods just down the street), or even return the next day.  The last two years I’ve done both days (we even got a hotel both years, but are leaning against it this year due to cost).  On Friday it usually doesn’t get too busy until closer to 5pm, but it is pretty busy the rest of the time (line down the street when they open on Saturday, which you can skip if you already have a wristband & glass).

Cider Summit Seattle is part of Washington Cider Week (Sept 7-17).  Stay tuned for more posts here at Cider Says on Cider Summit and Washington Cider Week events.

Cider Summit Seattle 2015 Report

This is part 2/2 on Cider Summit Seattle 2015.  See part 1 for tasting notes on the 32 ciders I tried.  Hopefully for all the folks who don’t live in WA / couldn’t make it, this post will help make you feel you were there!  Cider Summit was awesome, amazing, epic, etc.  There were over 200 ciders from over 50 cideries.  Impossible to try them all, and way too many choices.  So, unfortunately I had to prioritize.  I ended up sticking pretty closely to my list, but not exactly.  Very easy to get distracted once you add in all the people I met up with.  It was actually my first time attending a Cider Summit (even though this was its 6th year in Seattle), as I’ve only really got into cider cider in the last year, although I’ve been enjoying it for a few years.  My husband attended with me, even though he really isn’t into cider; how sweet.  Cider Summit is definitely the biggest cider event in the area of the year!

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It was great to see so many old & new cider friends, including a number of folks I met at the Seattle Cider and Burgundian events on Thursday.  Shoutout to the following folks from Cider Summit & WA Cider Week, in no particular order.  It was pretty cool to have folks recognize / say they enjoyed my blog at the event, even though it is still fairly small / new (its been 3 months…time sure flies).

I attended both days of Cider Summit, but didn’t stay too long on Saturday.  On that second day I planned ahead what I still wanted to try the most, and got small tastes of over a dozen ciders in less than two hours so I could get out of there before it got too busy and warm (we were definitely having some warm weather).  The first day I had started a bit strong with a few larger tastes, the heat got to me a bit (ended up going to Whole Foods for awhile for lunch and to cool down actually), and I was in general overwhelmed with the whole event, even with my pre-planning.  So, day 2 went a bit smoother!

I thought I’d add some information on the event, as its often difficult to find some of these sorts of specifics.  Admission included tickets for tastings (8 for regular and 12 for VIP), a cider glass, and a wristband.  We had in & out privileges with the wristband and glass, including being able to return for the second day.  Apparently some ciders were 2 tickets due to their expense / high ABV, but they would do a smaller pour for 1 ticket.  They were supposed to be 4oz pours, unless it was high ABV.  They also had a booth with some cider cocktails from Capitol Cider.  I asked for small pours from most of them, so between that and the blog thing, I didn’t have an issue with running out of tickets (although they would have only been $2 extra).  The CIDER SAYS t-shirt was definitely a good decision, as were the business cards.

It was an outdoor event, where the cidery booths were under small tents, spread out around the grounds.  That unfortunately meant porta potties, but they weren’t too bad.  What was great is that almost every booth had folks from the cidery (often the cidermakers themselves for the small ones) pouring the cider.  So, when it wasn’t too busy, you could actually get some face time with them.  There were some tents with chairs & tables, plus some standing tables not beneath tents.  Some cideries also had tent alternatives, such as a mini-bus or trailer.  I had no problem bringing food and non-alcoholic beverages in.  However, I figured out I really didn’t need all the bottled water I brought, as they had a water station with cold filtered water that could be used to rinse out tasting glasses or fill a bottle up.  Between several bottles of water and the free Cidercraft and Sip Northwest magazines my husband stuffed in my backpack, it got really heavy!  I also didn’t use the blanket I brought to sit on, although I could have, if I had spent time on the nice grassy knoll hidden behind the food area.  Some of the cideries even brought some lawn and table games.

I heard that they will need to switch venues next year however, as the current one at South Lake Union will have a construction project.  We were very happy with our decision to get a hotel within walking distance (even though we don’t live very far away), as we were very tired by the end between the sun, alcohol, and standing around.  The Hyatt Place met our needs.  It was definitely pricey, as everything is in the area, but fairly new & clean.  There was noise as expected (not just traffic, but the silly mini fridge too).  The breakfast in the morning was acceptable.  The hotel worked out well too as we had parking that way, and they didn’t charge extra to stay more than 24 hours, just a flat charge per night hotel stay.  The parking cost was pretty comparable to what we would have paid at an independent garage, and it was more secure too.

Advance tickets are definitely the way to go.  The cheapest was to visit a business selling them (such as Full Throttle Bottles), as online sales added fees & such that negated the $5 advance sale savings.  VIP is also definitely the way to go, as I got entrance an hour early (2pm vs. 3pm); they limited it to 200 VIP tickets.  On Friday it didn’t get too busy until 5pm ish or so (the event went until 8pm).  On Saturday there was a line to get in at noon, but we got to skip it as we already had wristbands!  The crowds quickly picked up, but I was a woman on a mission and went through my tasting list in record time so we could get out of there before it got too hot, and went and grabbed lunch at Mama’s Mexican restaurant (very tasty by the way).

They had food for sale from Whole Foods and Capitol Cider (including cider pairings), but we didn’t try any.  We ended up walking down the street to Whole Foods for a snack/lunch on Friday, returning to the event, then going to a Thai place for dinner.  They also had other misc booths such as Three Twins ice cream, Kind granola bar samples, non-alcoholic cider samples/sales, and dog related booths (as this was a dog-friendly event).  Note that this was a 21+ event.  Another great part of this event was that they sold bottles to take home (all ciders with bottles for sale had the price listed in the program).  However, I may have waited a bit long, as they didn’t have what I wanted (if they had even had it to start, or maybe they couldn’t find it).  They also sold t-shirts, glasses, cider books, etc.  I got a sweet Cider Summit t-shirt.

Check out the other Cider Summit locations in addition to Seattle, which are Portland, San Francisco, and Chicago.

The next big cider tasting event in the Seattle area is NW Ciderfest (October 10 & 11, Pioneer Square, a MDA benefit).  I’m planning to be there!  They will also have bottle sales, plus they are both family and dog friendly.

(Click to biggify any of the following photos)

Event grounds & some booths, some from before it got busy:

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<Aaron from 2 Towns showing off their Traditions Bourbon Barrel 2012>

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<Eaglemount and Alpenfire displays>

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<Merce and Si from Cider Log>

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<lovely shadowed photo of the Whitewood Kingston Black information, and me & my hubby Aaron>

Surrounding area:

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Cider displays at Whole Foods for WA Cider Week:

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<big display of Eden’s apertifs and sparkling cider>

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<first time I’ve seen 3 Worley’s varieties together>

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<Snowdrift Perry sighting!  No Red though; good thing I got mine at another Whole Foods.>

Event program:

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Some of the swag I picked up at Cider Summit Seattle & WA Cider Week events:

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<stickers and business cards>

Ticket, handouts, and misc info:

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farnum  finnriver

eden1 eden2  eden3

eden4  eden5

eden6

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Stay tuned to Cider Says for two more WA Cider Week 2015 posts, covering the Bill Bradshaw tasting event with 9 cideries at Capitol Cider, and the 2 Towns night at the Schilling Cider House!  Like us on Facebook for the latest info and post notifications.

wa cider week

Cider Summit Seattle 2015 Tasting Notes

What an epic event!  This long-awaited post will cover my tasting notes on the 32 ciders I tried at Cider Summit 2015 (Sept 11 & 12 2015 at South Lake Union).  Another post (post 2/2 now up HERE) will cover information about the event and have lots of photos, including of the swag I picked up and the event program.  I was lucky enough to attend both days, and after a couple tastes I learned to ask for a smaller pour!

When you are going for quantity (vs. many of the folks who were just there to drink some cider and didn’t care so much what type or trying as many as they could), the smaller the taste the better, as long as you can get a couple good gulps in.  Sorry in advance I don’t have too many cider photos (its difficult at an event like this to juggle a glass, notepad, camera phone, etc), but post 2 will have more event & booth photos.  Hopefully someone enjoys these notes, as it took me many hours.

101 Cider House Black Dog Black Cider (Westlake Village CA).  6.9% ABV.  This is a unique “black cider”, which is from adding activated charcoal (apparently a new beverage trend, and is good for the digestion too).  It also includes lemon and agave nectar.  The color turned out a very weird green-blue-black tint (see below).  Fairly dry.  I’d say similar to Spanish Sidra (as it had a lot of sour citrus flavor) with a hint of weird from the charcoal.  I thought of it as more of a novelty, but some of my tasting buddies said they would actually buy a bottle.  This was more drinkable than their Cactus Red (which was crazy tart), but not my thing.

black dog

2 Towns Prickle Me Pink (Corvallis OR).  6.0% ABV.  This cider was released just this week, and uses prickly pear cactus fruit juice from California (reminiscent of my time in Arizona).  Semi-dry.  Fluorescent pink color!  Tart.  Nice and flavorful.  Some cactus fruit flavor (yes I’ve actually eaten one before and know what they taste like), but also some berry and watermelon notes.

prickle

Alpenfire Ember (Port Townsend WA).  7.2% ABV.  This one is made from French & English bittersweet apples, organic, wild fermented, and bottle conditioned.  Semi-dry.  Higher carbonation.  Very high tannins and moderate astringency (I’d almost describe the mouthfeel as “chunky” lol).  I wasn’t really a fan, but folks who like a really high tannin ciders probably would.  I really love their Spark! and Apocalypso though, which are their more approachable and sweeter varieties.  Their Smoke was also pretty tasty.

Anthem Ap-Bee-Cot (Salem OR).  6.5% ABV.  Apple-apricot cider fermented with natural yeast from bee pollen.  Draft only.  Semi-dry, unfiltered, and tart, with mild apricot & honey notes.  I’ve not really been a fan of any of Wandering Aengus / Anthem’s ciders.

Apple Outlaw Oaked Sweet Dark Cherry (Applegate OR).  unknown ABV.  Tart with mild cherry notes and the slightest hint of oak barrel flavor.  Not really impressed, but it wasn’t bad at all either.  The first time I’ve tried their ciders.  At this time they also offer Original, Rabid Dry, Ginger Bite, Cranberry Jewel, Hoppin’ Holdup, and Tangerine Twist in bottles.

Dragon’s Head Traditional (Vashon Island WA).  6.8% ABV.  Semi-dry, rather still, smooth, acidic, mild tartness, and moderate tannins.  My first time trying their cider (although I have a bottle of their Wild Fermented at home).  A pretty solid selection.

Eaglemount Homestead Dry (Port Townsend WA).  8.0% ABV.  Hazy.  Dry, tart, and bitter.  Made with heirloom apple varieties including Gravenstein, White Pippin, Stayman’s Winesap, and Tolman Sweet.  Not really my thing.  I love their Quince though!  I mostly tried it as I wanted to try another one of their offerings, and nothing else sounded interesting (Rhubarb, Raspberry Ginger, and Boot Brawl, which is hopped).  A solid choice for those who like this style of cider though.

Eden Heirloom Blend Ice Cider (Newport VT).  10% ABV.  Very sweet.  Syrupy but awesome bold full flavor.  Well-hidden ABV.  Vanilla and brown sugar notes.  I look forward to trying more from Eden!  It was awesome to meet Eleanor at the Burgundian event the night before and try two of their other ciders.  I hadn’t tried any of their ciders before this weekend.  My husband surprised me with a bottle of this for our anniversary!  Happy wife.

E.Z. Orchards Semi-Dry (Salem OR).  6.4% ABV.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Uses French bittersweet apples, which have lower acidity and bring in some tannins and tartness.  This was my first time trying their ciders.  Pretty tasty.

Farnum Hill Extra Dry (Lebanon NH).  7.5% ABV.  I’d still call this one dry, not extra dry, as I picked up a hint of residual sugar.  Very tannic and acidic with moderate bitterness.  Significant carbonation.  Not really my cup of tea, but I think this is a great wine-lovers cider.  I had wanted to try their Dooryard, which had been on the tasting list, but they didn’t have it.

Finnriver Country Peach (Chimacum WA).  6.5% ABV.  Hazy slightly pink lemonade color.  Semi-dry.  Sour and tart, but a more approachable sour than some (vs. their Barrel Berry Sour and traditional Sidra and such).  More of a peach skin than peach taste.  Acidic and slightly vinegary.

Finnriver Cyser Cider (Chimacum WA).  6.9% ABV.  Honey cider made with mead yeast.  Semi-dry.  Similar to their Honey Meadow, but without the hint of herbal flavor (I like Honey Meadow better).  Low acidity, tartness, and bitterness.  Earthy.

cyser

Liberty Ciderworks English Style Cider (Spokane WA).  8.0% ABV.  Made with cider apples (including Dabinett, Yarlington Mill and Ashton Bitter) and aged for over a year.  Semi-dry.  Lovely bittersweet flavors with a bit of a “bite”.  Tannic and acidic.  Bright amber.  Very tasty, and definitely English-style.  I’m a big fan of theirs, and looking forward to trying the bottle of their Stonewall Dry Fly Barrel-Aged cider I have at home.

liberty

Manoir du Parc Authentic Cidre (Normandy France).  5% ABV?  A naturally carbonated (bottle conditioned) wild yeast fermented traditional French cider with “no shit added” per the French dude pouring it lol.  Semi-dry.  Funky, tart, high carbonation, and high tannin.  A bit too traditional / funky for my tastes, maybe from the wild fermentation?  So far I’ve been more impressed with Dan Armor and Domaine Pacory Poire Domfront from France.

Millstone Cellars Farmgate Dry (Monkton MD).  8.5% ABV.  I really wanted to give Millstone another chance, as I didn’t care for their Cobbler at all.  I chose this one mostly as the other varieties they were pouring weren’t appealing (hopped, ginger, and strawberry rhubarb).  Barrel aged and made from 40% Stayman Winesap, 30% Northern Spy, 25% Jonathan, and 5% Cameo apples.  Apparently they are known for tart, funky, and astringent ciders which are similar to Sidra, although of course no one told me!  In contrast to Cobbler, I found this drinkable, but I still didn’t care for it.  Definitely dry, tart, sour, funky, and astringent.  To me all those qualities were overpowering such that that the cider couldn’t shine and I couldn’t detect any barrel influence, etc.  A lot of folks really like sour ciders (and beers) though.  Shoutout to Kyle who I e-mailed with, was there pouring cider, and really wanted me to find something from them I liked!  I also saw him at the Burgundian the night before.  They recently re-did their website, and I think it does a much better job of describing their cider style.  The mis-advertisement on the bottle and their website was my main complaint about Cobbler (I get not everyone likes every cider so I never fault a cider because I didn’t like it)…that it wasn’t described as sour, tart, astringent, funky, etc.

Montana Ciderworks Darby Pub Cider (Sula MT).  5% ABV.  Semi-sweet.  Described as “semi-dry new world style”.  Sold in MT, WA, and CO.  English cider flavor with some woody & earthy notes, but its an easy drinking and approachable variety.  Fuller bodied and effervescent.  Mostly Spartan (Montanan) apples, but the earthy notes are from some bittersharp and crab apples.  I wasn’t expecting it to be as sweet as it was (slightly back sweetened), but it was nice.  This was my first time trying their cider, and I’m impressed!

Moonlight Meadery How do you like them Apples Bourbon Barrel Cider (Londonderry NH).  13.5% ABV.  Draft-only cider with honey and brown sugar, aged at least 3 months in Jim Beam bourbon barrels they used for their Last Apple mead.  Very similar to their How do you like them Little Apples I tried at the Schilling Cider House, which was also bourbon barrel aged (this one was slightly sweeter and had more barrel flavor).  Very tasty!  Definitely sweet and syrupy, but it has a lovely rich barrel flavor too.

Moonlight Meadery Kurt’s Apple Pie Mead (Londonderry NH).  16.8% ABV.  Mead bottle pour.  Made from local apple cider, Madagascar-bourbon vanilla, and Vietnamese cinnamon spice.  My husband got a small pour and I tried a sip.  Not really my thing because of the spice, but very smooth.  This is one of their most popular products.

Neigel Vintners (NV) Cider Cherry Perry (Wenatchee WA).  5.1% ABV.  They announced this new variety when I interviewed brothers and co-founders Kevin & Mark Van Reenen, and this weekend was its release.  They left this fairly unfiltered, so there was a nice thicker mouthfeel with both pear and cherry flavors.  Very balanced between the two flavors.  Sweet but not overly.  Yum!  I was surprised to see a couple other local cideries also make a “Cherry Perry”, Wildcraft and Carlton.  They don’t currently plan to bottle it, but if they do, they noted it would have to be slightly more filtered so it would be more stable.

One Tree Caramel Cinnamon (Spokane Valley WA).  6.8% ABV.  Sweet.  Cinnamon with a hint of caramel.  Syrupy.  Spiced cider isn’t really my thing, but I was intrigued.  Their booth was very popular at the event.

One Tree Lemon Basil (Spokane Valley WA).  6.5% ABV.  Semi-sweet.  Nice lemonade-type tartness with a hint of herbal basil flavor.  Very unique.  This was my first time trying ciders from One Tree.  They are fairly new, but seem to quickly be building a following.  At this time they also offer Cranberry, Huckleberry, and Ginger in bottles, and Crisp Apple in cans.

Sea Cider Bramble Bubbly (Saanichton B.C.).  9.9% ABV.  Semi-sweet.  My sample didn’t have much if any carbonation, so I missed out on the “bubbly” part, but it was the end of the bottle.  Lovely berry/rosé color but the blackberry flavor was a bit underwhelming and sorta standard.  Some tartness.  Overall it was disappointing…I had really been looking forward to trying this one (its difficult to find this side of the border and I’d always rather taste something than commit to a bottle, especially when its in that $20 price range for a 750ml).  I will say that it hid the alcohol very well though, and was well-crafted.  I really love their Prohibition, but that is a completely different flavor profile!

bramble bubbly

Snowdrift Cliffbreaks Blend (Wenatchee WA).  7.6% ABV.  Semi-sweet.  I picked up a lot of pear notes with this one for some reason?  Its supposed to be more of an English / bittersweet apple cider with some melon & dried fruit notes.  A bit tart with a hint of citrus too.  I tried it at a different time than the Perry (below) too.  Bold flavor, but I didn’t really get that richness I was expecting.  Very tasty nonetheless.  This is probably the most popular of their regular line.  Their Red & Cornice are probably their most popular overall.  I was happy to hear they are increasing production & distribution of both of those, as they are my favorites…the Red slightly more so, which is odd as barrel aged is usually my favorite.  I was very happy to pick up two bottles of Red for $12 each at Whole Food’s 20% off cider day (Friday of Cider Summit).  Its a good thing I picked them up near home, as they were out at the one near the Summit.

Snowdrift Perry (Wenatchee WA).  10.1% ABV.  Semi-dry.  I was expecting different with this one…I tasted a lot of bitterness & tartness, and only a very mild pear flavor.  I haven’t had too many true perries though, so I probably didn’t know what to really expect.  Its made in the labor-intensive way of Méthode Champenoise (secondary fermentation).  I wasn’t really a fan.  Red is definitely still my favorite from Snowdrift….and it was getting a lot of love at the Summit!

Sonoma Cider Dry Zider (Healdsburg CA).  6.9% ABV.  Cider aged in Red Zinfandel oak barrels for 7 months.  Rosé wine-like cider.  Very dry (0.3 BRIX).  Light berry/salmon color.  A bit tart.  Nice fizz.  Not bad, but not really my sort of cider.  This one is a special release that is available now (has slowly been rolling out for a few months).

Sonoma Cider The Pulley (Healdsburg CA).  unknown ABV.  This is a brand new variety for them, and launched at the event (not even bottled yet)!  They referred to it as absinthe-style, and said the only addition was fennel.  Dry.  Slight herbal flavor.  Very unique.  Not bad, but not my sort of cider.  I got to meet David (one of the cidermakers, with his son Robert).

Traditions Ciderworks (by 2 Towns) Amity Rose 2012 (Corvallis OR).  6.5% ABV.  Made from traditional French and English cider apples grown in Amity OR.  Semi-sweet (but maybe it just came across that way?  I’m guessing it would test drier).  Rather plain, but wine-like with some honey notes.

Traditions Ciderworks (by 2 Towns) Bourbon Barrel 2012 (Corvallis OR).  6.9% ABV.  On the sweeter side of dry.  Strong unique bourbon barrel flavor, but not overwhelming.  Very smooth.  Light bodied.  Higher in tannins.  Aged in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels for 4 months (apparently they got their barrels very wet, so it adds more of the flavor of the spirit).  Made with Dabinett & Kingston Black cider apples and wine yeast.  Awesome!  This was my first time trying their Traditions line, which uses cider apples and is sold in 750 ml bottles (vs. the regular 2 Towns line which uses dessert apples and is sold in 500ml bottles, plus a couple selections in cans).  Definitely try this one if you can find some!  I was very happy to get my hands on a bottle (at Full Throttle Bottles, as they ran out at Cider Summit, or couldn’t find it or whatever).

Traditions Ciderworks (by 2 Towns) Riverwood 2013 (Corvallis OR).  6.9% ABV.  Semi-sweet.  Made with Jonagold apples (a cross between Golden Delicious and Jonathan) and inspired by sparkling brut champagnes.  I found it very similar to their Amity Rose but slightly sweeter, with some floral notes.  I imagine if I sat down with both of them I’d have better tasting notes, but I had just a few sips of each one after the other.

Wandering Aengus Oaked Dry (Salem OR).  6.8% ABV.  Made from English and French bittersweet apples.  Dry.  Mild barrel earthy flavor.  Fairly easy drinking for a barrel aged cider.  Like all of their ciders though, I picked up more bitterness than I prefer, so I’m not a big fan.

Whitewood Whisky Barrel Aged Kingston Black (Olympia WA).  9.7% ABV.  I was really looking forward to this one (mostly as Kingston Black is a famous epitome of a cider apple and I’ve never had a single varietal of it), and it didn’t disappoint!  Apparently this isn’t a true single varietal (ended up 80% Kingston Black and 20% Porter’s Perfection due to some pressing difficulty due to the type of apples), but very close.  Aged almost 2 years in Wishkaw River whiskey barrels!  Dry.  Significant rich barrel flavor.  Higher acidity and tannins with some tartness.  Longer finish.  Very similar to Traditions Bourbon Barrel, but more cider apple than (good) boozy flavor (although this one is higher ABV as Kingston Black has a high sugar content).  Quite different from their Summer Switchel I tried previously.  Definitely try this one if you can find some (very small run)!

Woodinville Ciderworks Tropical (Woodinville WA).  6.3% ABV.  Tap pour.  Cider from dessert apple juice (granny smith, gala, fuji, etc, from Fruit Smart) with mango & passionfruit essence (fresh made concentrate) to backsweeten.  Semi-sweet.  Definitely some nice bold tropical flavor going on.  Mild tartness.  Good fizz.  Definitely a tasty easy drinking cider that I think with the right price and advertising would sell well.  I found it very interesting that the cidermaker/owner Leroy said he made this (added: put the finishing touches on this) Tuesday for the weekend event, comparing to his experience in the wine industry where it takes much longer to get out a product.  (added: the cider was tank aged for 4 months and back sweetened just before the event)  Most craft cidermakers I’ve talked to will at least tank age then bottle age a bit, if not bottle condition, their ciders, so although the product is done quickly, they don’t consider it ready for many months.  This event was their release!  They said bottles should be in stores in about a month.  Overall I think its a solid introductory craft cider, kinda similar to Atlas.  The flavor of their Tropical reminded me a bit of Rev Nat’s Revival, although Rev Nat didn’t add any tropical flavor to the cider (it was all from the yeast, which must have been difficult).  I’m very intrigued to see what they will price their bottles at.

Worley’s Special Reserve (Shepton Mallet England).  5.4% ABV.  A keeved bottle conditioned cider made from cider apple varieties.  Semi-sweet.  Slightly hazy, moderate tartness, and high tannins.  This was my first time trying their cider, although I have a bottle of their “Premium Vintage” at home.  It was a solid selection, but nothing too remarkable.  Maybe as it wasn’t all that cold and had lost some fizz, which is a drawback of bottle pours from events like this.

So, what were my favorite ciders you may ask?  Traditions Bourbon Barrel followed by Whitewood Kingston Black.  Both were fairly similar bold barrel aged ciders, which is my typical favorite cider type.  I was disappointed I couldn’t get a bottle of either at the event (they were out or couldn’t find them or whatever).  However, I was able to try the Whitewood Kingston Black again at the Bill Bradshaw tasting event with 9 local cideries at Capitol Cider the Tuesday after Cider Summit, and found a bottle of the Traditions Bourbon Barrel at Full Throttle Bottles.

Other favorites included Liberty’s English Style, Eden Heirloom Blend, Moonlight Meadery How do you like them apples bourbon barrel, and Montana Ciderworks Darby Pub Cider.  Definitely impressed.  I didn’t really have a single bad cider (there aren’t too many out there), although there were some I didn’t care for.  Stay tuned for Cider Summit 2015 post 2/2, and posts on the remaining two Washington Cider Week events I went to!

Let me know what you think!  Comments please.

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Washington Cider Week Kickoff at Seattle Cider

Thursday night was a great kickoff to Washington Cider Week!  I started the evening at Seattle Cider (opening ceremonies, although I left before that), then moved on to the Burgundian Bar (East Meets West, An Evening with Eden and Alpenfire Ciders).  This post will cover Seattle Cider and another will cover the Burgundian (plus many posts to come on Cider Summit and other Washington Cider Week events!).  I mostly chose to stop by Seattle Cider as it was a Washington Cider Week event to fill the time between when I got off work and the event at the Burgundian started at 5pm, as the events were located between work and home.  Plus I hadn’t ever been to their tasting room, The Woods (which they share with their sister brewery, 2 Beers Brewing Company).

seattle cider

Seattle Cider ended up a bit disappointing of a stop as they only opened at 3pm, and nothing was actually going on for the Washington Cider Week kickoff yet.  There were plenty of folks there though, lots of growler fills, etc.  They were only setting up while I was there, but they did however have 16 ciders on tap (6 of their own and 10 from 10 other cideries), some free cider swag, and a hot dog cart.  Also, I got to meet fellow cider blogger Ron from DrinkingCider.com!  He had reached out that he would be in town for Cider Summit, and I let him know my schedule.  We ended up meeting up at Seattle Cider, the Burgundian, and Cider Summit, which was pretty awesome.  He even brought me some cider from Tod Creek in Victoria BC which I look forward to trying; very cool.  Too bad he couldn’t take cider back to CT.

We even got a mini tour from their tasting room manager.  They were in production so we couldn’t walk through the cidermaking area (although they have an opening you can look through to see it), but we got to see a few areas.  I learned that Seattle Cider currently only uses apples from Washington (all dessert varieties except their Harvest series).  It was also interesting to hear about and see their current construction project, a kitchen!  Probably a very welcome addition…more tasting room need to offer food, even if its only chips, crackers, pretzels, whatever.

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<view of their outside seating area from inside>

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<malt sack light fixtures>

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<game area>

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<game area and view into barrel storage>

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<view of cidery tanks from the cutout inside the tasting room>
<their current largest is 280 gallons, but they plan to literally raise the roof to fit larger ones>

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<manager at the Woods (left) and Ron from DrinkingCider.com (right) in their storage area>
<yes, those are 2/4 palates I saw of cans of their Dry and Semi-Sweet>

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<taps, bar area, and fridges of canned/bottled beer/cider for purchase>

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<half of their taps>

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<Seattle Cider’s Harvest series:  Perry, Washington Heirloom, and Gravenstein Rose>

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<cider tap list part 1; I don’t care for Ginger and previously had the Green Tea,
but I tried the Valley Red and Woodlander Wit; see below>

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<cider tap list part 2, where 13-18 are from Seattle Cider>
<I’ve had their Semi-Sweet and tried the Olympic Honey & Plum Gose; see below>
<I don’t care for hopped & green apple, previously had the Grapefruit & Black Currant,
and tried the Crabenstein; see below>

I ended up sampling five ciders at The Woods / Seattle Cider.  Unfortunately they didn’t have a sampler, but would pour tastes.  I really think a sampler is the best way to go anywhere which has multiple cider choices on tap.  So, I had a couple tastes, got a glass of one, then had a few more tastes.

Seattle Cider Olympic Honey.  This cider is a special release (August 2015) Seattle Cider did with the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, and only available at Seattle Cider and the restaurant/bar at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel.  This used honey from the rooftop apiary at the hotel.  I had really wanted to try this after seeing a segment they did on King 5 local news on Facebook, so I was pleased they still had some.  Retail is $9 for a 22oz bottle, but I had a 13oz tap pour for $6.  6.9% ABV.  Semi dry.  I picked up only hints of honey, but it was refreshing, and probably my favorite Seattle Cider variety so far (I’m not a huge fan of their ciders, although they have a large local following).  Moderate acidity and and mild tartness.

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<Seattle Cider Olympic Honey>

Seattle Cider Plum Gose.  This is Seattle Cider’s twist on gose (a unique style of German beer which includes coriander and salt).  It includes Jacobsen sea salt (from Portland OR), coriander, and plums, and was made using Chardonnay yeast and added malic acid.  6.9% ABV.  Semi-dry.  Very unique but mild flavor from the ingredient additions.  Lovely light berry hue from the plums, but my taster was too small to get a clear photo of the cider’s color.  Higher carbonation.  A touch of saltiness.  Apparently they previously had a full Gose cider, and would often get requests to mix it with their PNW Berry, so they decided to make something similar with plums.

Liberty Ciderworks Crabenstein.  Made using Dolgo crabapples and Gravenstein apples with wild yeast fermentation.  7.3% ABV.  Dry.  Tart and mouth-puckering with a touch of funk, but the flavor profile is pretty mild.  I like Liberty’s Manchurian Crabapple single varietal better as it is bolder, but they are completely different styles of cider (for example, the Manchurian is 12.5% ABV).

Cockrell Valley Red.  Cider with Puyallip WA raspberries.  This is the first time I’ve tried a cider from Cockrell.  6.2% ABV.  Semi-dry.  Lovely fruity nose and red hue (again, no photo; sorry), acidic, and tart.  I didn’t pick up raspberries (nor did I know that was the fruit they used until I researched this cider), but for me it was more of a general tart berry than a specific flavor.  It reminded me some of Snowdrift Red (which I prefer).

Grizzly Ciderworks Woodlander Wit-Style.  They modeled this cider after Belgian wit-style beer (they used that variety of beer yeast).  I’ve previously tried their Ridge.  6.7% ABV.  Semi-dry.  Smells slightly woody.  I didn’t pick up any of the orange peel or coriander they included in this cider, but again, it was a pretty small taste.  I found it very similar to their Ridge, but slightly more sweet, tart, and complex, and slightly less flavorful.  I prefer the Ridge, which I found to have more of the woody & earthy notes I enjoy.

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This is just the start of my Washington Cider Week posts, so stay tuned for posts on Thursday night part 2 (Burgundian with Eden & Alpenfire ciders), Cider Summit, and events I’ll be attending next week at Capitol Cider and the Schilling Cider House!  Subscribe to Cider Says using the sidebar (on the right or at the bottom of the page on mobile devices) and like us on Facebook to ensure you don’t miss out!