Cider Summit Seattle 2019 Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is post 2/2 on Cider Summit Seattle 2019, with tasting notes on 21 ciders.  Post 1/2 covered the event.

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The Tasting Notes

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2 Towns Ciderhouse (Corvallis OR) Kingston Black – A draft-only special release.  Semi-dry, tannic, lower acid, with a woody earthy flavor.

Alpenfire Cider (Port Townsend WA) Kingston Black – A small batch bottled release.  Semi-dry, with a lighter flavor than expected for a KB single varietal, with notes of citrus and wood, and mild tannins.

Archibald James (Leavenworth WA) Smash Apple – Their sweeter (1.5% residual sugar) flagship canned/bottled offering.  Semi-dry and very apple forward.  High level of flavor for the lower sweetness.

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Bauman’s Cider (Gervais OR) Kir Royale – A black currant and cherry barrel aged cider.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry, with bold cherry and oak flavor.

Bembel with Care (Germany) Apfelwein Pure – A flagship canned release.  Dry to semi-dry.  Yeast-forward, and reminiscent of beer.

Chatter Creek Cider (Woodinville WA) Kingston Black – A special bottled released.  Dry and acidic, with citrus and wood notes, but less complexity.

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Cider Riot (Porland OR) Kingston Black – A special bottled release.  On the sweeter side of dry.  Rich bitter tannic flavor with caramel, leather, and orange.

Herb’s Cider (Bellingham WA) Forte – A keeved golden russet single varietal (which is unique as typically only French bittersweet apple juice is keeved), Cognac barrel aged.  Semi-dry but tastes even sweeter, smooth, and apple-forward with hints of tropical fruit.

Herb’s Cider (Bellingham WA) Fruit Challenge – A one-off Foeder aged bittersweet plum jerkum.  Dry but fruity, more berry than plum (but I’ve never been able to pick out plum flavor in a cider).

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Manchester Road Cider (Chelan WA) Apple Sox Red – A flagship bottled offering with beets added for color.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Apple forward and non-specifically fruity.

Newtopia Cyder (San Diego CA) Passionate Mishap – A draft-only cider with passionfruit.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet, with notes of tart passionfruit and some citrus.

One Tree Cider (Spokane WA) Passionfruit Guava – A one-off fruit cider challenge entry.  Semi-sweet to sweet, and full flavored, with more passionfruit than guava.

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Pear UP (East Wenatchee WA) Peargria II – Take two on a one-off margarita-inspired perry (from 100% pears, no apples) for the fruit cider challenge.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet, with notes of lime, pear, and other fruit.

Pierre Huet (France) Calvados This apple brandy is aged 5-10 years, and imported by French Cider Inc.  I’m not big on spirits, especially served neat, so I’ll defer to my husband, who loved it.  I can however say it was smooth for the high ABV.  However, I think I’ll stick to cider and Pommeau.

Portland Cider (Portland OR) Peach Berry – A new canned release.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  More generally fruity than specific peach & berry, reminiscent of their Sangria, but slightly drier and less complex.  Speaking of their Sangria, I heard it will be going to draft-only for awhile due to lower sales, which is sad as its my favorite from them.

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Reverend Nat’s (Portland OR) Saint Citron – A new canned release.  Semi-dry and citrus-forward, primarily grapefruit, with a hint of ginger.

Seattle Cider Company (Seattle WA) Strawberry Guava – A limited release with strawberries and guava.  Dry, with mild fruitiness, but low flavor intensity.

Soundbite Cider (Everett WA) Two Plums Up – A limited release with plums.  Semi-dry and fruity, more strawberry-rhubarb than plum I thought.

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Union Hill Cider (East Wenatchee WA) Pinkheart – A blend with Red Fleshed, Cripps Pink, and Dabinett apples.  Semi-dry, with subtle fruity citrus flavor.

Union Hill Cider (East Wenatchee WA) Hard Harvest – A blend with Cripps Pink, Dabinett, Porters Perfection, Kingston Black, and Snowdrift Crab apples.  Dry to semi-dry, with subtle earthy citrus flavor.

Wildcraft Cider Works (Eugene OR) Rome Beauty – A single varietal of Rome Beauty apples.  Measurably dry but it tastes sweeter, apple-forward (cooked) and non-specifically fruity, and completely clean.  I liked the level of flavor (high) vs. sweetness (low).

I also had some 2 Towns Pommeau and Eden Heirloom Blend Ice Cider, because we still had tickets left, and they are awesome.

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 EgoAnthemAvid (previously Atlas)Bad Granny, Brownrigg, Browar Polska Imports (PossmannRuwet), Capitol Cider, Caple Road, d’s WickedDouble MountainDragon’s HeadEaglemountEdenFinnriver, Greenwood, Idun, Independent CiderInclineJester & Judge, J. Seeds, Liberty, Locust, Longdrop, MiloslawskiSamuel Smiths, Schilling, Sea Cider, Snowdrift, Swift, Tieton, Ulee’s, Virtue, Wandering Aengus, and Washington Gold.

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My favorites were Schilling Guava Mint (which I actually tried the night before but I’ll count as it was made for this event), Herb’s Forte, 2 Towns Kingston Black, and Alpenfire Kingston Black.  Two of those were draft only, but I picked up bottles of the other two.  Speaking of Kingston Black, single varietals from KB were popular, with at least 5 cideries offering them.

This event is always the highlight of Washington Cider Week, and the biggest and best cider event of the year in Western Washington.

Cider Summit Seattle 2019 Post 1/2 – The Event

Epic!  This was my fifth year attending (see here for previous posts), but was the 10th annual Cider Summit in Seattle Washington.  It took place on Friday & Saturday September 6th & 7th.  This is post 1/2, covering the event.  Post 2/2 will have tasting notes on all the ciders I tried.

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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 (~54) and ciders (~150-200).  There were some substitutions and even 1 cidery no-show, 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, Calvados and other spirits, and cider cocktails.

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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.  Like last year, they had smaller pour sizes and more tickets for pours, so it was easier to try more selections.

Entry included a tasting glass, drink tickets, 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), just keep your wristband on and bring your glass.  This year they were at a new venue, Lake Union Park outside of the MOHAI, instead of at South Lake Union Discovery Center across from Whole Foods.  It was still an outdoor event, and < 1 mile from the old site.  I liked this venue a bit better, as there seemed to be more space.  The only traffic jam area was around the heritage cider tent.

However, parking was a bit trickier.  Previously we’d always just park in the Whole Foods garage.  MOHAI has very little parking, and their main lot was marked permit only when we checked.  We ended up parking about a 5 minute walk away, at Chander’s Cove next to Daniels, where it was $20 for up to 10 hours, and a nice paved lot (vs. rocks); however, it was a pain to pay (needed to download an app and create an account).  The Amazon lots can be a great option if you are attending Friday night or anytime Saturday, but at 1:30pm on Friday we didn’t even try.

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This event is very well organized, by far the best I have attended.  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 a shaded seating area.  Its 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.  Plus, all the canned/bottled ciders are available in the shop (too bad there are so many great special releases they only had on draft).  The crowd was really varied, but had a lot of cider enthusiasts like myself.  There were also lots of vendors trying ciders, as it is common for a cidery to bring multiple people and swap out pouring.  A number of people brought their dogs too.

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Layout

Besides the main attraction of cider booths, they had an event store (with can/bottles and t-shirts and such), a stage where they switched between interviews with some of the cidery reps and live music, food for sale (hot dogs, tamales, and pretzels – which were tasty but festival priced).  There were also cider related vendors (such as the Northwest Cider Association, CiderCraft & Sip Northwest magazines, and Press Then Press – a new online cider shop; see my reviews hereand some non-cider and non-food vendors.  The amenities were also above average for an outdoor event, with multiple food options for sale, concrete planter box edges to sit on, covered tables & chairs, clean port-a-potties with outdoor sinks, and free water (although this year it wasn’t cold like in years past…).

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<Cider Summit Seattle weekend purchases>

My Tips

Friday is typically much less busy than Saturday, especially earlier in the afternoon and the VIP hour.  My game plan this year involved sleeping in, having a big lunch, getting to the event early to figure out parking, visiting all the cidery booths which are new to me during the VIP hour, taking a snack break, trying more ciders, then leaving and eating dinner with my husband.

I recommend good walking shoes, as you are on your feet for most of these types of events, and there are uneven dirt and patches of grass at outdoor sites like this.  Also, pants with pockets, to put your tasting tickets and cell phone and such in.  There are less grab & go food options within easy walking distance of this site, mostly sit down restaurants (like Daniel’s, whose bar we ate dinner at), but 3 food options on-site.  I bring my own snacks and water bottle though.

Other must-haves for me are a hat, sunblock, bug repellent, sunglasses, notebook & pencil, and a plastic baggie 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.  ID is required to get in, and cash never hurts, although some places (like the Summit store) take cards.

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/ canned cider.  For the best ticket price, buy 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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Closing Notes

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

My 2nd Cider Summit Seattle 2019 post with tasting notes will be out soon!

Cider Summit Seattle 2019 Preview

The epic 10th annual Cider Summit is returning to Seattle Washington in 2019 on Friday September 6th (3-8pm) and Saturday September 7th (noon-5pm), except this time moving (from the South Lake Union Discovery Center Lawn) to Lake Union park at the MOHAI.  Check out my previous posts on Cider Summit from 2015 thru 2018 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.  Last year over 50 cideries (or distributors) poured over 200 ciders, cysers, meads, fruit wines, Pommeaux, apple brandies, cider whiskies, and cider cocktails.  So, there are plenty of options for all tastes, and even folks like me who have tried most local selections 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, such as France and Spain.

Regular tickets are sold in advance online ($30 or $35 + fees), or at the door ($45), and includes a tasting glass + 16 drink tickets.  VIP tickets are sold in advance online only ($40 or $45 + fees), and get you in an hour early on Friday (2pm instead of 3pm), and include a tasting glass + 20 drink tickets.  Additional drink tickets are sold at the event, ~ $2 / 2oz.  Designated driver tickets are available at the door for $5.

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This outdoor event is 21+ but dog friendly.  They usually have covered seating, stand up tables, cold water on tap, live music, a merchandise shop, bottle shop, food for sale, and a dog lounge.  Another special feature is the Fruit Cider Challenge; many cideries bring a special fruity cider, and attendees vote for their favorite.  Most booths have folks from the cidery (sometimes even the cidermaker) pouring ciders, either from a keg or bottle/can.  They may also still be accepting volunteers to help run the event (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, 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.  However, Cider Summit events are so well laid out and organized, there tend to be fewer & shorter lines and less crowds than smaller events.

Cider Summit Seattle is part of Washington Cider Week (Sept 5-15).  Stay tuned for more posts here at Cider Says on Cider Summit and Washington Cider Week 2019 events.

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 [update – I was told that was a mistake and the real price is $15/bottle].  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!

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 Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is post 2/2 on Cider Summit Seattle 2017, with tasting notes on 21 ciders.  Post 1/2 covered the event (see here).

The Tasting Notes

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Alpenfire (Port Townsend WA) – Although I had previously tried the three ciders they were pouring (see my previous reviews here), I’m including Alpenfire here as they were debuting their new branding and future new cider releases.  They have a new logo, bottle labels, and website.  The future new cider releases include a rosé Pommeau, “Tempest” New England style, 3 Pommes (apple/pear/quince), a new release of Smoke (my all time favorite cider, which hasn’t been out for a couple years), a Foxwhelp apple single varietal, and even a Pommeau with an apple grown in the bottle (which will only be for the initial members of their new cider club).  Sounds like they have been busy!

Alpenfire did however have a cask-aged version of their Pirate’s Plank which I had a sip of.  It seemed a tad sweeter (dry not bone dry) and a bit more oaky than I remembered previously.

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Alter Ego (Portland OR) The Brute (6.5% ABV) – This was their first time at Cider Summit, although they were founded in 2014.  The Brute is one of their two flagship ciders; the other is The Guardian Angel, a blueberry-pomegranate cider (see my tasting notes here).  Semi-dry, slightly apple-forward, tart, crisp, and easy to drink, but overall a bit boring as the flavor intensity was low, as is common with a drier cider from dessert apple varieties (which is why most ciders from dessert apples are sweeter and/or flavored).

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Anthem (Salem OR) Rye Barrel Aged Cider (8.5% ABV) – Anthem is part of Wandering Aengus.  This is a draft-only release, aged in Rye whiskey barrels.  Semi-dry to dry and sharp, with moderate whiskey flavor and a hint of oak.

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Bad Granny (Chelan WA) Rainier Cherry – They launched a little over a year ago and are new to Cider Summit.  Rainier Cherry is a draft-only release using local Rainier cherries, although they sell their Original green apple cider in cans.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry (I was told 9 grams sugar / 12oz), fuller bodied, moderate intensity real cherry flavor.

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Cider Riot (Portland OR) Everyday Semi-Dry (6.0% ABV) – I believe this was their first time at Cider Summit Seattle.  This cider is also available in cans.  Semi-dry to dry, with a hint of sourness, but very low flavor intensity and fairly blah.

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d’s Wicked (Kennewick WA) Bare Naked (6.7% ABV) – This is a new release, and currently draft-only.  It is a less sweet and non-spiced version of their flagship Baked Apple cider.  Semi-dry and flavorful, with unfiltered apple juice notes and a hint of honey flavor.

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Eden Specialty Ciders (Newport VT) Heirloom Blend Ice Cider (10.0% ABV) – I have tried this special treat previously, but my husband ended up getting a couple pours, burning the rest of his tickets, as it is amazing and a great value to get pours of at an event.  Ice cider is made using juice which has been frozen, concentrating the natural sugars and flavors, resulting in a sweet full-bodied intensely flavorful dessert cider.  See my previous review here, and my review of the brandy barrel-aged version of this cider here (which is my all time favorite ice cider).

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French Cider Inc. – I tried three French ciders imported by French Cider Inc. / Beauchamp Imports Inc.  They are Seattle based and fairly new to the market (I hadn’t even heard of them before I was looking over the Cider Summit list!), and thus this was their first time at Cider Summit.  French Cider’s focus is on importing French cidre (apple cider), poire (French perry, which is made from pears, not apples), and Calvados (French apple brandy).  The owner Joan Harkins (who I chatted with) speaks French and lives French culture.  She has hand-selected each variety in their collection after meeting with the cidermakers.  I hadn’t previously been aware of any of their selection being available in the U.S.  I found all three selections to likely be friendly to an unfamiliar palette, as they were all clean or fairly clean (no to low funk) and no sourness, lining up more with the style of the Brittany France ciders I’ve had more than the Normany France ciders I’ve had (although it appears all three were made in or near Normandy).  French Cider’s primary focus is on supplying shops and restaurants, but they also offer local pickup (appointment only) in Seattle, and soon, will ship.  Their website is amazingly informative, and they had a helpful handout for each of the three ciders (see below).  They are posting a photo blog featuring the French apple harvest season, which is currently underway (see their Facebook page).  Also, here is a recent article on the company from Seattle Dining.

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La Chouette (Mont-Saint-Michel Bay France) Cidre Demi-Sec (4.5% ABV) – This cider was produced in an area in between the Normandy and Brittany regions in France, from cider apples.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Lower carbonation and tannins than the other two I tried.  Clean (no funk).  Retails for $5-6 / 330ml bottle.

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Lefevre (Berville Normandy France) Cidre Brut (5.9% ABV) – This cider was produced just outside of Paris, by a 5th generation cidermaker, with cider apples.  The scent was the most complex of the three I tried.  Semi-dry.  Citrus in addition to apple notes, and more.  A hint of funk.  Low to moderate tannins.  French Cider’s website has an interview with the cidermaker, Eric Lefevre.  Retails for $5-6 / 330ml bottle.

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Pierre Huet (Cambremer Normandy France) Cidre Bouche Brut (4.5% ABV) – This cider underwent secondary fermentation in the bottle and was made with 7 or 8 varieties of cider apples by a 5th generation cidermaker.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Clean (no funk).  Low tannins.  Flavorful, apple forward, and easy to drink.  French Cider’s website has an article on their visit to Pierre Huet as well as an interview with the cidermaker, François-Xavier Huet.  Retails for $13-18 / 750ml bottle.

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Liberty Cider (Spokane WA) Spokane Scrumpy (6.4% ABV) – This cider was released in the Spring, and made with community harvested apples (of mostly unknown types, from dessert apples to crab apples) and wild yeast fermented.  $1 of each bottle sale goes to the Spokane Second Harvest food bank.  See this article.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry (probably their sweetest cider), buttery, and complex.  I couldn’t really put my finger on the flavor profile with the sample size and time frame, so I’d be interested in giving a full bottle a try.

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Louis Raison (Le Theil-sur-Huisne France) Organic Dry (4.5% ABV) – This cidery is brand new to the U.S., and first launched here in Seattle.  They will have this cider on draft to start in Washington and Oregon, and eventually increase up to three bottled varieties in 2018 (adding Rouge Delice – made from red fleshed apples, and Original Crisp).  See here for more info on their launch.  Organic Dry is made in France from certified Organic bittersweet cider apples grown on co-op farms.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Apple and yeast forward and easy to drink.  I look forward to this being available in bottles as it sounds like it’ll be fairly affordable to keep around as an everyday cider.

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Mission Trail (Bradley CA) Plum Jerkum (6.5% ABV) – They have been around since 2014, but are new to the Seattle market and Cider Summit.  Although Mission Trail makes ciders and perries, they are best known for their other fruit wines, and specifically, jerkum (which is fermented stone fruit juice; the term originated just for plums, but has more recently been used to encompass all stone fruits).  They were actually only pouring jerkums at this cider event.  In this case it was 100% plum juice from 14 red-fleshed varieties.  The Plum Jerkum was semi-sweet to semi-dry, tart, with a moderately intense fruity berry flavor (I didn’t really pick up the prune/plum).

Mission Trail (Bradley CA) Goldmine Nectarine (6.0% ABV) – This is another jerkum, with 100% nectarine juice, barrel aged.  Semi-dry, quite tart, with pure nectarine flavor.  I didn’t pick up any barrel influence, but often it isn’t obvious.  I also recently tried their Peach Coast (see here), a peach wine / jerkum, which was my favorite of the three.

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Montana Ciderworks (Darby MT) Small Batch Dolgo (5.5% ABV) – This is a single varietal from the Dolgo crabapple, oak aged, part of their Small Batch series.  Semi-sweet, tangy, fruity, and apple-forward.

Random note:  I got some insight into labeling special releases.  In this case, “Dolgo” was stamped on, making it look handwritten with less effort.  Very cool.  However, many small batch special releases do have actual handwritten labels, like this one.  Getting a label approved by the TTB is a time consuming process, so often cideries have a general label they use for multiple small batches.

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Ole Swede (Tonasket WA) Mulberry & Friends – It was the cidery’s first time at Cider Summit, and they were founded last year.  This is a new cider release made with eight different types of berries and currants (mulberry, blackberry, raspberry, elderberry, blueberry, gooseberry, black currant, and golden currant).  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, smooth, low tartness & acidity, with a light real berry flavor.

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One Tree (Spokane WA) Pina Colada – This is a new draft-only release, part of the fruit cider challenge (and it turned out to be the winner – 2nd year in a row for One Tree – congrats!).  Sweet, very full flavored, with a bit more coconut than pineapple.  I loved the flavor of this (it reminded me a bit of Pear Up’s Pearjito Colada with the coconut, which hasn’t been used much in cider), but it would be a bit sweet to have much of.

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Pear Up (Wenatchee  WA) Pineapple Pear – This was their fruit cider challenge entry, a one-off draft only release.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, low flavor intensity, with the flavor balanced between pear & pineapple.  They weren’t serving it through the pineapple, but it was a cool photo op nonetheless.

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Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) New England Style (9.5% ABV) – This is a seasonal release which appears to have not been released for a few years, possibly draft-only.  It was made in the New England style, typically characterized as a high ABV cider with brown sugar and raisins added.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry, sharp & acidic, with caramel notes and a boozy finish.

Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) 2015 Washington Heirloom (7.0% ABV) – This is part of their Harvest series, made with heirloom apple varieties, and also available in bottles.  Semi-dry, herbal scent, sharp, with citrus, floral, and herbal notes.

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Swift (Portland OR) Pineapple Hop (6.7% ABV) – They have been around since 2014, but it was their first time at Cider Summit Seattle.  Semi-dry, balanced flavor between the pineapple & hops with only hints of bitterness, but overall the flavor intensity was low.

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Washington Gold (Chelan WA) Northwest Raspberry (5.5% ABV) – This is a brand new small batch canned release.  Semi-sweet to sweet, with intense real raspberry flavor.

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 on some of the producers I didn’t get to highlight:  101 Cider House, 2 TownsAspall, Atlas, Bull Run, Chatter Creek, Double Mountain, Dragon’s Head, Dunkertons, Eaglemount, E.Z. Orchards, Finnriver, Greenwood, Hi-Wheel, Incline, Jester & Judge, J. Seeds, Le Brun, Locust, Maeloc, Manoir du Parc, Methow Valley, Moonlight Meadery, New West, North IdahoNumber 6 Cider, Reverend Nat’s, Portland, Rambling Route, Samuel Smiths, Schilling, Sea Cider, Snowdrift, Sonoma, Spire Mountain, Steelhead, Summit, Tieton, Ulee’s, Wandering Aengus, WildCraft, and Worley’s

In Summary

My Favorite Ciders – Of the ones I tasted at the event, my favorites were the 4 French ciders, some of the sweeter ciders that were very flavorful (such as One Tree’s Pina Colada and WA Gold Cider’s Raspberry), Montana Cider’s Dolgo, and Liberty’s Spokane Scrumpy.

Other Interesting Selections – There were also some interesting beverages I didn’t try, such as Schilling’s guava barrel-aged sour, a cocktail from Incline with gin and their Compass Rose cider, apple whiskey from J. Seeds, a Cider Summit themed cider from Finnriver which has been available at all four Cider Summit events this year (see here), 101 Ciderhouse’s Black Dog with activated charcoal (see here), and Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry with ghost peppers (see here).

Cider Summit Seattle 2017 Post 1/2 – The Event

Epic!  This was my third year attending (see here for previous posts), but was the eighth annual Cider Summit in Seattle Washington.  It took place on Friday & Saturday September 8th & 9th.  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.  We had some interesting weather for the weekend.  It was forecasted to be cool and cloudy with some showers, but it ended up being pretty hot when I was there on Friday.  See here for the full event info and here for the full list of cideries (~55) and ciders (~187).

There were some substitutions and a few less ciders than expected, plus this was a decrease in the number of cideries from the year before (although there were some new ones).  My favorite booths this year were for French cider (there were three booths pouring a total of six French ciders).  They were even pouring some meads (made from honey & water), non-apple fruit wines, apple whiskey, and cocktails in addition to ciders.  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.

There were 18 entries for the Fruit Cider Challenge.  I learned that the cideries were provided fruit puree from Oregon Fruit Products which they made cider with.  Votes were taken by text (1 per phone).

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Entry included a tasting glass, tickets (8 for regular and 12 for VIP, each one good for a 4oz pour of most ciders), 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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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 Whole Foods, Capitol Cider, & SUSU rolled ice cream, cider cocktails from Capitol Cider, samples of unfermented juice from Ryan’s, a dog lounge, info from the Northwest Cider Association, and lots of misc booths (the most interesting was Alaska Bug Bites, who drove 40 some hours one way to sell their dried fruit).  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 the main ones in the front actually had outdoor sinks), and cold filtered water (from Easy Tap).

My Tips

Friday is typically much less busy than Saturday, especially earlier in the afternoon.  My game plan this year involved having a big lunch prior to the event and asking for smaller pours (often a booth would let you try a little bit of each cider they had for only 1 ticket), to maximize the number of ciders I could try.

I also always start with the new, expensive, and/or rare ciders, and visit the booths where I want to talk to the cidermakers first, before it gets too busy.  This year my backpack was full as I brought both rain and sun gear; I’m glad I brought the hat and sunblock though, as I ended up needing it, despite the cloudy forecast.

I also recommend good walking shoes, as you are on your feet for most of these types of events, and there was uneven grass at this site.  I also like bringing my own snacks, especially something starchy, like crackers.  Other must-haves for me are a 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 (a couple booths were giving out good stuff like hats & t-shirts, but it was mostly the typical handouts, stickers, and coasters).  ID is required to get in, and cash never hurts, although some places 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 just powered through until dinnertime on Friday when we left.  Then my husband and I met up with a friend and did a bunch more walking, deciding where to have dinner, then waiting for a table (we went to Rocco’s pizza, which was amazing).

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, they usually have at least one location to pick up tickets, which avoids the fees (this year the only place was Capitol Cider).  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).

 

At Cider Summit I also found about a new PNW cider event this year, the Olympic Penninsula Apple & Cider Festival, in Port Townsend WA (which is NW of Seattle), with multiple events the weekend of October 13-15.  Other upcoming WA cider events are Cider Swig (Gig Harbor, Sept 30) and the 1st annual Whidbey Island Cider Festival (Whidbey Island, Sept 30).

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 2016 Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is post 2/2 on Cider Summit Seattle 2016, covering tasting notes.  Post 1/2 (see here) covered the event.

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2 Towns (Corvallis Oregon) Hollow Jack (6.4% ABV) – This fall seasonal pumpkin cider was just released.  They added caramelized pumpkin, sweet potato, honey, and spices.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, and bitterness.  Notes of pumpkin, squash, and cinnamon.  It was very lightly flavored, unlike many other pumpkin (and more frequently found, “pumpkin” spice ciders, which actually don’t have any pumpkin) which are overwhelming.

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Apple Outlaw (Applegate Oregon) Chocolate Raspberry (unknown ABV) – This was their fruit cider challenge entry.  The chocolate was added by soaking cacao bean husks in the raspberry cider.  These husks would otherwise be discarded in the chocolate making process.  Smells delicious, purely chocolate and raspberry.  Semi-dry.  The flavor is almost all raspberry, but hints of dark chocolate shone through in the slightly bitter and tannic finish.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  This was a bit of a novelty, but nice.

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Aspall (Suffolk England) Perronelle’s Blush (4% ABV) – Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Light to medium bodied.  Lovely fruitiness with moderate blackberry flavor plus hints of cranberry and blueberry.  This is a nice sessionable summer sipper without forgoing flavor.  I’ve never been disappointed by Aspall.

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Boonville (Boonville CA) Bite Hard Semi-Sweet (6.9% ABV) – Their semi-sweet flagship cider is a follow up to their Dry Bite Hard variety.  I found it as advertised, semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Fruity, with notes of tropical fruit like pineapple, plus green apple (all from the apples).  I prefer this semi-sweet cider to their drier variety, which was more wine-like (which corresponds to their wine making background and methods).

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Bull Run (Forest Grove Oregon) Mango (unknown ABV) – This was their fruit cider challenge entry.  This hazy cider looked like mango juice.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Very juice-like and moderate mango flavor intensity.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Simple but tasty.

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Carlton Cyderworks (McMinnville Oregon) Impearial Asian Pear Hard Cider (5.8% ABV) – This is a pear cider (apples + Asian pears + Hood River Oregon pears).  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Light sourness.  Mildly flavored with notes of pear, pineapple, lemon, green apple, and mineral.  I prefer more flavor, but this would pair well with food.

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Coquerel (Victot-Pontfol, Normandy, France) Calvodos Fine VSOP (40% ABV) – This was my first time trying straight Calvados, an aged apple brandy (I’ve only had it with cider, as Pommeau).  Semi-dry.  Definitely boozy, with a very long warming finish.  It surprisingly had only a mild apple flavor, although its possible my palate was a bit overwhelmed by the alcohol.  I’m not really into straight alcohol (especially when served room temperature).  I think I’ll stick to Pommeau.

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d’s Wicked (Kennewick WA) Cranny Granny (6.9% ABV) – This is a granny smith apple cider with cranberry juice.  Hazy pink hue.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Simple with only notes of moderately tart granny smith apples and cranberry.  If you like tartness and cranberry, you’ll like this cider.

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Dragon’s Head (Vashon WA) Columbia Crabapple Cider (6.7% ABV) – A single varietal cider made from Columbia crabapples.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity with hints of bitterness and tannins.  Sharp flavor with notes of mineral, green apple, honey, white blossom, and lemon.  Wine-like and nuanced with low flavor intensity.  This is the sweetest variety I’ve tried from them.  Their Kingston Black or Traditional is probably my favorite though.

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Double Mountain Brewery –  I’ll add a bit about them as they aren’t yet distributed in Washington, only Oregon.  They have brewed beer for 9 years, but just started making cider, and have one introductory variety.

Double Mountain (Hood River Oregon) Jumpin Jack Heirloom Cider (7.3% ABV) – Fully dry.  Mild sourness.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Mild bitterness and tannins.  Notes of green apple and a hint of hops (not sure if they were added, or there might have been some tap line contamination).  I didn’t pick up the richness of any of the cider apple varieties they added, but there was definitely sharp heirloom apple flavor.  I thought it was ok.

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Finnriver (Chimanum WA) Apple Abbey (6.5% ABV) – A Belgian-inspired cider made from dessert apples.  Foamy and hazy.  Smells of sourness and citrus.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Yeast-forward.  Notes of citrus and green apple.  Hints of sourness.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  I liked it.

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Finnriver (Chimanum WA) Pomona’s Nectar (6.5% ABV) – This is a new Crew Selection sour nectarine cider.  Smells like Spanish Sidra.  Semi dry.  Mild to moderate sourness.  Notes of lemon, yeast, and mineral (I didn’t pick up any stone fruit).  I’m still trying to acquire the taste for sour ciders, but I found this one pretty tolerable; its a bit more approachable than the average Sidra.

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Incline Cider (Auburn WA) Scout (6.5%) – A hopped marionberry cider.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Light marrionberry and moderate hops flavor.  I think I prefer their plain Explorer hopped cider variety.

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J. Seeds (Fairfield CA) Apple Cider Whiskey (35% ABV) – Whiskey made including apple cider.  Semi-sweet.  Apple forward and quite tasty, although I don’t have anything to compare it to as I’m not a whiskey drinker (I’ve previously found it too harsh).  However, I’m not into straight booze, so I think I’d prefer it watered down or mixed.  It looks to be available locally and is quite affordable.  I wouldn’t mind trying this again.  Being sweeter, it reminds me of what flavored sweetened vodka is to plain vodka.

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Maeloc Cider (Galithia Spain) Dry (4.8% ABV) – This is a commercial Spanish Sidra.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet (despite the “Dry” name).  Medium bodied.  Mild sourness and funk.  Notes of citrus and green apple.  It is a more approachable Sidra, a style I’m still learning to acquire a taste for.  I learned they use apples from within 50 miles of the cidery, grown in a damp climate similar to the PNW, and use wild yeast fermentation for all their ciders.  Overall it was ok.

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Montana CiderWorks (Darby MT) Spartan Dry-Style (5.5% ABV) – This is a small batch oak aged single varietal made with Montana-grown Spartan apples, in the style of Northern Italy’s Sauvignon Blanc.  Dry.  Light bodied.  Nuanced and wine-like, with high acidity, and sharp green apple, herbal, and baked apple notes.  It was nice, but I prefer their fuller flavored Darby Pub cider.  This is a wine-lovers cider.

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Moonlight Meadery (Londonderry NH) Crimes of Passion (4.1% ABV) – A black currant seasonal cider.  Semi-dry.  Light sourness.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Mild to moderate black currant flavor intensity.  I enjoyed it, although without the sourness I would have enjoyed it more.  I was excited to learn they will soon be offering their How Do You Like Them Little Apples cider in cans (currently all their ciders are draft-only), starting in October/November, including in the Seattle area.

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Nectar Creek (Corvallis Oregon) Honeycone (6.9% ABV) – This is a hopped mead (no apples, just honey and water).  The smell is all hops, no honey.  Semi-dry.  Mild flavor intensity with more hops than honey.  I found this sessionable lightly carbonated mead to be lacking the full flavor I enjoy in the higher ABV sweeter meads.

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Number Six Cider (Seattle WA) Peach Fuzz (6.5% ABV) – This was their fruit cider challenge entry, a spiced peach cider.  Semi-dry.  Very full bodied (chunky and smoothie-like).  Low peach flavor and moderate to high spice intensity.  It was a bit too strange for my liking as it was so full bodied, and overly spiced.

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NV Cider (East Wenatchee WA) Watermelon Raspberry (unknown ABV) – This perry (no apples) with watermelon and raspberry was their fruit cider challenge entry, and was served through a watermelon.  Semi-sweet.  Light bodied.  Moderately flavorful, but with more raspberry than watermelon notes, and no pear.  I prefer their watermelon perry without the raspberry.  Both however are refreshing options.

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Reverend Nat’s (Portland Oregon) Sour Cherry (7.2% ABV) – This cider was made from granny smith apples, with pie cherry juice which was soured, pear juice, and “hint” of ghost chili peppers.  Semi-dry.  Moderate cherry flavor.  Low sourness.  Low to moderate heat/spiciness from the ghost chili peppers.  I liked the cherry portion of the cider, but spicy ciders aren’t my thing (and a bit of a palate killer too).  I’d love to see this without the spiciness (which I believe was new for this year).

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Reverend Nat’s (Portland Oregon) The Passion (6.9% ABV) – Cider with passion fruit juice, coconut, and vanilla.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Mild sourness.   Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  Strong passion fruit flavor with hints of vanilla, pineapple, and coconut. I really enjoyed it.  I liked how fruity it was without being too sweet.  I had heard this was very sour so I hadn’t got around to trying it, but I wish I had sooner!  I wonder if they did away with the sour aspect this year, as I really didn’t pick up any.  I’ll have to try this again to see if my sour taste buds were busted when I tried it.

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Reverend Nat’s (Portland Oregon) Whiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black Currant (9.5% ABV) – This is Wandering Aengus’ Golden Russet cider with black currant puree from Oregon Fruit Products, aged for 6 months in whiskey barrels.  It was made for the Portland and Seattle Cider Summits, but will be a Tent Show cider club release in October.  Semi-dry.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Mild tannins and bitterness.  Moderate barrel and spirit influence.  Awesome!  I really loved this cider.  I usually find berry ciders to be boring, but when barrel aged, they can be amazing.  This reminded me of Alpenfire Calypso and Apocalypso, except more boozy, and whiskey not rum barrel aged.  Too bad they weren’t selling bottles of this at the event, as I would have picked some up.

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Sea Cider (Saanichton, B.C., Canada) Ruby Rose (9.9% ABV) – This summer seasonal is made with rhubarb and rose hips.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Mild to moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  Intensely fruity, with floral, rhubarb, strawberry, and watermelon notes.  I really liked it!  Oddly enough I didn’t find it too boozy, despite being 9.9% ABV.

Sea Cider (Saanichton, B.C., Canada) Witch’s Broom (9.9% ABV) – I got a taste from the first bottle poured in the U.S. of this fall seasonal.  It was described as a “bouquet of pumpkin patch spices”.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  It was moderately spiced with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and baked apple.  Mild tannins, bitterness, tartness, and acidity.  Cinnamon was the most present, both in the nose and the finish.  One of my favorite spiced ciders, but I’m not usually a huge fan of them.

Both of these ciders from Sea Cider are part of their Canadian Invasion Series, meant to draw attention to invasive species and their threat to farms and natural areas.

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Seattle Cider (Seattle Washington) City Fruit (6.3% ABV) – This is a special release cider only sold at Whole Foods, made using apples collected in the Seattle community by the non-profit City Fruit.  Dry to semi-dry.  Wine-like and acid forward.  Notes of red grape and mineral.  Overall very mild flavor intensity.  This is a wine-lovers cider, and would pair well with food.

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Steelhead Cider (Manson WA) Chimera Cherry Apple (5.5% ABV) – This is a newer cidery who just started distributing (at least kegs) in the Seattle area.  I previously tried their Peargatory.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Moderate to strong real cherry flavor.  It was sweeter than I prefer, but I liked the intense cherry flavor.

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Summit Cider – I’ll add a bit about them as they aren’t yet distributed in Western Washington (only Idaho and Eastern Washington).  This cidery was started in 2014, making them the first in Idaho, and the only in Coeur d’Alene.  Their bestseller is Apricot, although of late their Hibiscus cider has been popular with wine drinkers.  They have a tap room in Coeur d’Alene.  I met co-founder Davon Sjostrom, who has a background in Botany, which I imagine brings something new to cidermaking.

Summit Cider (Coeur d’Alene Idaho) Apple (6.5% ABV) – Semi-dry.  Low tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  Rather plain, but likeable.

Summit Cider (Coeur d’Alene Idaho) Apricot (6.5% ABV) – Semi-dry.  Lots of (true) apricot flavor for the level of dryness (typically drier ciders have a less intense flavor than sweeter ciders).  I really enjoyed it.  Davon described testing out many varieties of apricots to find the one whose flavor came across best in cider.

Summit Cider (Coeur d’Alene Idaho) Hibiscus (6.9% ABV) – Semi-dry with nuanced light floral and herbal notes.  I can see why this would be a wine-lovers cider.

Summit Cider (Coeur d’Alene Idaho) Blackberry (unknown ABV) – This was their fruit cider challenge entry.  I found it semi-dry and very mild in flavor.  I think with some barrel aging it would have been nice though.

In Summary

My Favorite Cider – Reverend Nat’s Whiskey Barrel Aged Black Currant

Other Favorite Ciders – Reverend Nat’s The Passion, Summer Cider Apricot, Sea Cider Ruby Rose, and Steelhead Cherry

Most Interesting Cider – One Tree’s PB&J cider, a raspberry cider with peanut butter whipped cream (I didn’t try it, but a photo is available here – more dessert than cider).

Other Interesting Ciders – Reverend Nat’s Sour Cherry, due to the use of ghost chili peppers.  Schilling’s Grumpy Bear, due to the use of coffee and a Nitro can (my tasting notes here).  Schilling’s Sour Raspberry Smoothie, due to its high viscosity (apparently for some of their ciders with high fruit content, they have a keg or two per batch which are smoothie-like).  Apple Outlaw’s Chocolate Raspberry, due to the use of chocolate in a cider (I’ve only heard of Woodchuck doing this previously).  1o1 Ciderhouse Black Dog, due to the use of activated charcoal (poured last year, with my tasting notes here).

Cider Summit Seattle 2016 Post 1/2 – The Event

What an epic cider event!  This was my second year attending (see here for previous posts), but was the seventh annual Cider Summit in Seattle Washington.  It took place on Friday & Saturday September 9th & 10th.  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 here].

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Info

We had some beautiful weather for the weekend.  It was still warmer than I prefer, but not as bad as last year.  Same as last year, I attended both days, and even stayed locally overnight.  Even though I don’t live far, its very convenient, and makes a fun weekend getaway with the hubby.  See here for the full event info and here for the full list of cideries (60) and ciders (196 ish).

There were some substitutions, but about the same number of ciders as expected were poured.  The most interesting booths were those for Coquerel Calvados (French apple brandy), Schonauer apple liquor, and J. Seeds apple cider whiskey.  They were even pouring a few meads, from Moonlight Meadery and Nectar Creek.  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.

There were 16 entries for the Fruit Cider Challenge.  I learned that the cideries were provided fruit puree from Oregon Fruit Products which they made cider with.  Votes were taken by text (1 per phone).  Although I didn’t try them all, my vote was for Reverend Nat’s Whiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet w/ Black Currant.

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Entry included a tasting glass, tickets (8 for regular and 12 for VIP, each one good for a 4oz pour of most ciders), 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.  Everything from pre event information online to signage at the event to thinking of the little things like having rinse water available.

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).  When its not too busy, you can ask about the cidery and cider.  The crowd was really varied, from the cider enthusiasts like myself to people who just wanted to drink.  We even spotted a couple in wedding garb (apparently they attended Friday straight from their wedding), and an adorable older lady with her walker.

Layout

Besides the main attraction of cider booths, they had music (from a local radio station, KEXP), food for sale from Whole Foods and SUSU rolled ice cream, cider cocktails from Capitol Cider, samples of unfermented juice from Ryan’s and Krave beef jerky (both for sale), some misc booths such as for Northwest Cider and fancy growlers, a shop with bottle sales and Cider Summit t-shirts and such, a dog lounge, stand up tables, covered seating, cold filtered water (from Easy Tap), and port-a-potties (which were actually quite clean, and one set of them had outdoor sinks).  There was less covered seating this year, but it seemed to be sufficient.

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<map from the event program>

My Tips

I’m glad I brought a hat, sunblock, good walking/standing shoes (for uneven grass), 1 water bottle to fill up, snacks (including something starchy, good both to absorb alcohol and as a palate cleanser – I chose animal crackers this year), notebook, pencil, and tote bag with an outside pocket for my tasting glass.  You might also want a bag to put free swag in, but a couple cidery booths actually gave out bags too.  Some cash isn’t a bad idea either, although I think at least the bottle shop took cards.  ID is required.

My best advice for avoiding the crowds it to attend early on Friday, although even later on Friday is less busy than anytime on Saturday.  I ended up only staying a few hours on Friday and a couple hours on Saturday, leaving once I’d had enough.  There are also a number of restaurants (and Whole Foods) within walking distance, so another option is leaving if you need a break, then come back after a bit.  I did that last year, especially as it was so hot (we took advantage of the a/c as Whole Foods).

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 cider.  For the best ticket price, buy them in advance.  Although VIP tickets are online sales only, if you are getting regular tickets, buy them in person at one of the places around town which sell them, as there isn’t a service charge.  It didn’t sell out as far as I know, but the price was higher at the door.  Designated driver tickets ($5) were only at the door.

Photos

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<food from Whole Foods and cocktails from Capitol Cider>

2016-09-09 14.13.58.jpg<the lawn game cornhole seemed to be a popular offering, with at least four cideries bringing a custom painted set, although I didn’t see anyone playing>

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<this unique ice cream was in liquid form, then spread onto a frozen slab, then rolled>

Cider Summit Seattle 2016 Preview

The epic 7th annual Cider Summit is coming to Seattle Washington on Friday September 9th (3-8pm) and Saturday September 10 (noon-5pm) at South Lake Union Discovery Center Lawn.  Check out my posts from last year:  info, cider list preview, event, and tasting notes.

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See here for the full event info and here for the full list of cideries (60) and ciders (196 ish).  I found at least 40 ciders I haven’t tried and am interested in tasting, so I’ll see if I can get through that many in the two days.

Regular tickets are sold in advance online ($30 + service charge) or at Seattle-area Whole Foods ($30, also said to include access to a Whole Foods VIP tasting area, new this year), or at the door ($40), and includes a tasting glass + 8 drink tickets.  VIP tickets are sold in advance online ($45 + service charge) and get you in an hour early on Friday (2pm not 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.  Last year they had 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.  Last year many booths had employees (or even cidermakers) from the cideries pouring ciders, a mix of keg and bottle pours.  They may also still be accepting volunteers (includes admission, t-shirt, and cider benefits).

Last year my husband and I got a hotel down the road as I wanted to attend both days, and it makes it way easier (especially not having to find parking two days in a row), even though we live fairly close.  We’re doing the same again this year.  The event has in & out privileges (if you keep your wristband and glass), and we left on Friday to grab food down the road at the Whole Foods (and cool off in their a/c, as it was HOT last year) – although they did sell food.  I had a VIP ticket last year and it was great, as I could get photos and try ciders before it got busy.  On Friday it didn’t get too busy until closer to 5pm.  On Saturday I didn’t stay too long, getting there when they opened at noon and leaving after a couple hours, but was much busier.

Cider Summit Seattle is part of Washington Cider Week (Sept 8-18).  Stay tuned for more posts on Cider Summit and Washington Cider Week events.

Cider Tasting with Bill Bradshaw and 9 Washington Cideries at Capitol Cider in Seattle

The Washington Cider Week posts continue!  The previous week brought me to Seattle Cider and the Burgundian (Eden & Alpenfire event ) on Thursday night to kick off Washington Cider Week, and Cider Summit Seattle 2015 on Friday & Saturday (see post 1 for tasting notes and post 2 about the event & photos).  This week brought me to Capitol Cider for a tasting event with Bill Bradshaw and nine Washington cideries (Tues Sept 15 2015, covered here), and to the Schilling Cider House for the 2 Towns tap night (Thurs Sept 17 2015, covered soon).

[Additions after initial post release are in brackets, and incorrect information is struck through.  Thanks Dave from Whitewood for the corrections and extra info!]

I had been to Capitol Cider once before, but it was probably over a year ago.  I really didn’t like that first visit much at all, as nothing really went well, from the food (it was early lunchtime on a weekend but they mostly had brunch items, not lunch), to the service (grumpy bartender), to the cider (didn’t like anything I tried, and the bartender wasn’t too forthcoming with samples; I would have preferred a flight, which they now offer).

Much has changed there since then!  Their service was good this time (I give them some slack as they had to give everyone a few handouts and 9 different ciders! in addition to taking any other orders).  Their bottle list has much improved / expanded.  However, unfortunately it is mostly just a list (they only have the smaller bottles in some fridges literally at floor level near the entry).  As it is a printed list, it easily gets out of date (both times I bought bottles they only had half of what I wanted, although I was requesting more rare & special release selections).  However, Capitol Cider isn’t really my sort of scene.  Getting there & parking is a nightmare for one.  The Schilling Cider House is honestly more my style, plus they have more taps (32) and a larger bottle selection (which you can see and look at the labels).

Bill Bradshaw is a cider expert who hails from the UK and has written several books about cider, among other things.  This special event was a guided tasting through ciders from nine Washington cideries.  Dave White from Whitewood Cider apparently helped Bill Bradshaw choose the cideries, although I’m not sure how the ciders got chosen (it didn’t appear Bill, Dave, or the cideries themselves chose the cider selections, so it may have been availability / mostly what they already had on tap).  [The cidermakers chose the ciders poured, although there was some confusion from one of the cideries as far as their selection.]  They are for the most part some of the more traditional cideries in WA.  For $30, I got a flight of nine ciders (probably a 3 or 4 oz pour each), plus a full glass of the cider of my choice.  I unfortunately had to drive, so I made due with my flight (finishing my favorite ciders and leaving the rest) and a couple tastes afterward, but no full glass of cider.  Most of the cideries had one or more cidermakers on hand who came up on the stage and explained about their chosen cider.

They were also selling Bill’s books, he was signing autographs, and many of the cideries brought some bottles which they opened after the event and poured tastes.  During the event there was a slideshow of Bill’s photos.  They also played the teaser for a documentary titled ‘Cider Hunters’ that he and Pete Brown (co-author of World’s Best Ciders) are fundraising for, about the history of cider in the U.S.  Cider is “the drink that built America”.  He described how it disappeared, breweries moved in, the craft beer movement started in the ’80s, and now we are in the age of craft cider, built from the beer explosion.  Throughout the event there was some discussion on whether cider is more similar to wine or beer.  It depends on who you ask.  Bill seemed to lean towards beer, but I’d probably lean more towards wine as scientifically speaking cider is a type of fruit wine, although the ABV of most ciders is more similar to beer than wine.

The event was also unfortunately at 6pm on a weeknight, which is late for me as I go to work at 6am.  So, I didn’t get to stay too long after they were done with the guided tasting a bit after 8pm.  I was surprised there were still some empty seats, as I had expected this to easily sell out (I purchased my ticket a few days in advance over the phone to ensure I wouldn’t get turned away).  Considering that almost all of the 9 cideries were represented and that many brought more than one person, plus the Capitol Cider folks and such, there were almost as many folks that were working the event as attending the event!  They were setting up live music and it looked like the party kept going after I left.  The event was held in Capitol Cider’s basement bar area, which has a small stage, tables, bar height tables, a bar, pool tables & such, and restrooms.

I had an awesome time!  Many of the cidermakers I had been chatting with the previous week were there.  I also hadn’t previously tried 6 out of the 9 ciders they were pouring, which is quite good odds as they are all local.  I tried to take some photos, but the lighting was pretty horrible.  Click to biggify.

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<bar area on the left. tables in the middle, and the stage was to the right>

cider hunters
<Bill Bradshaw himself>

Upon sitting down I spotted a clipboard full of menus.  They had menus for their cider tap list, beer & regular cocktails, cider cocktails, cider flights, food, and a cider bottle list!  I focused on photographing the cider stuff.  Weird angles to avoid glare; sorry.  Their food menu (gluten free restaurant by the way) is on their website.  I ate some pho before the event as I wasn’t sure if it would work well to try to eat dinner during it, and their menu is a bit fru-fru for my liking.  That was a good call as its difficult enough to taste cider and take notes!  I did however order some creme brulee, which was pretty disappointing, as it was almost half fruit, small, and expensive.

tap list desserts

cocktails flights

Now, on to the nine ciders of the night!  They were tasted in an order to try to minimize the effect the last would have on the next, not in the numerical (alphabetical) order.  I believe that all the ciders which were on their tap list were tap pours, and the remaining two (Nashi and Westcott Bay) were bottle pours.  I really enjoyed hearing about the ciders as I was tasting them.  They also took audience questions / comments.

event list 9 pours

(6) Tieton Ciderworks  Sparkling Perry, 5.5% ABV.  I hadn’t tried this one before, but have tried a number of varieties from Tieton.  Its part of their “top shelf ciders” along with the Cidermaker’s Reserve (which I’ve reviewed), available in pretty 500ml bottles.  Craig Campbell, a grower at Tieton’s orchard (and the one who started Tieton with his wife), was the presenter.  It is made from 11 varieties of perry pears grown in their orchard (which is the largest cider apple & perry pear orchards in Washington, but still small by orchard standards).  Craig noted that pears are much more difficult to grow and press into juice than apples.  This perry was made using a French keeving technique, where it is slow fermented with wild yeast for 5 months.  He said this method can calm some of the tannins of the perry pears.  Craig also noted that this perry was just bottled/kegged in May, and may taste even better after bottle aging for 1-2 years.  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Mild tartness, bitterness, and tannins.  Medium bodied.  Unique strawberry notes.  I would have liked more carbonation, but I imagine my sample may have sat for a bit / not been able to be poured correctly due to the size.  Pretty tasty!

(5) Nashi Orchards Issho Ni “Together” Cider, 6.9% ABV.  This was my first time trying anything from Nashi Orchards, although I have one of their perries at home.  Jim Gerlach, owner and cidermaker, was there to present.  This is one of the few (two?) ciders that Nashi Orchards makes; they specialize in perry.  Their orchard is full of asian pear varieties and they pride themselves in using traditional cidermaking methods.  This cider was made using apples from the Vashon Island community, which included a lot of crabapples and heirloom apple varieties.  It was dry fermented and not backsweetened.  Smells like English cider, of rich bittersweet apples.  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Moderate to high tannins and bitterness.  Mild tartness.  I liked the bark better than the bite on this one (smelled better than it tasted).  It was a bit too high in tannins & bitterness for my liking, likely from the high crabapple content.  I imagine like most ciders, if I was having a full glass, I would have liked it better (vs. having a tasting glass).

(7) Snowdrift Dry, 7.6% ABV.  I’ve tried a number of Snowdrift cider varieties; my favorites so far are Red (made from red fleshed apples) and Cornice (barrel aged).  This one was presented by someone from Capitol Cider, but Snowdrift sent along some notes.  It was commented that they have a small orchard and cidery which is ideally located in East Wenatchee, with its hot summers and cold winters, ideal for cider apples which thrive with temperature variations.  Their orchard is mostly Yarlington Mill cider apples, but they have over 40 apple varieties.  They noted this cider won an international contest, which is rare for a PNW cider (vs. a UK cider).  Semi-dry.  Clean plain apple scent.  Low in tannins, bitterness, acidity, and tartness.  Some citrus notes, but I otherwise didn’t pick up much.  Smooth.  The alcohol is well hidden.  I found it kinda boring, but a very solid selection.

(2) Dragon’s Head Traditional, 6.9% ABV.  This is the variety I tried at Cider Summit.  I also have a bottle of their Wild Fermented at home.  Wes Cherry (co-owner with his wife) presented.  They are from Vashon Island, where they grow over 70 varieties of cider apples, mostly English and some French.  They moved their cidery from the Seattle area 5 years ago to start the orchard.  This year was their first significant harvest from their own orchard.  This cider underwent malolactic fermentation (which is when malic acid is converted to lactic acid, and can often be considered a fault but some cidermakers desire it) which was arrested to retain some residual sweetness and give some butterscotch notes.  Semi-dry.  Higher acidity.  Citrus and fruity notes.  Low to moderate tannins and bitterness.  Mild tartness.  I really enjoyed this cider.  Probably as it had a little more complexity to it and didn’t go too overboard on tannins and bitterness.

(8) Westcott Bay Semi-Dry, 6.8% ABV.  This was my first time trying any ciders from Westcott Bay.  Presented by Capitol Cider.  Westcott Bay has their own cider orchard in the San Juan Islands which dates back to the 1870s.  They re-planted in the mid 1990s and released their first cider in 1999.  They make more traditional apples using cider apple varieties such as Kingston Black, Yarlington Mill, Dabinett and Sweet Coppin.  Semi-sweet.  Similar to English cider.  Bitter finish, but still only mild to moderate.  Moderate tannins.  Bolder flavor.  I really enjoyed this cider.  I like ciders like this which have a bold flavor profile without being too bitter or too high in tannins.

(1) Alpenfire Simple Cider, 6.9% ABV.  I’ve had a number of ciders from Alpenfire, but hadn’t even heard of this one (it looks like it may be tap only at this time?).  I particularly like their Apocalypso and Spark! ciders.  Presented by Nancy Bishop.  They described themselves as a more traditional cidery whose ciders tend to be higher in tannins.  They planted their cider apple orchard in 2003, then needed to learn how to use it, and get people to buy their ciders!  This variety is their least traditional cider, made from basic heirloom and dessert apples.  It is sweeter and described as having some honeysuckle aromas, and was lightly oak aged.  On the sweeter side of semi-sweet.  Slightly hazy.  I picked up some honey, pear, and mild herbal notes.  No significant tannins, bitterness, acidity, tartness, etc.  I thought it was rather complex for a simple cider!  I really enjoyed it.

(4) Liberty Ciderworks Abbess, 7.6% ABV.  I’ve had a number of ciders from Liberty.  Presented by Rick Hastings.  This is a newer cidery from Spokane, open about a year and a half, and they currently produce 7,500 liters a year.  Unlike many of the cideries featured, they don’t have their own orchard.  However, they have found ways (probably at great expense) to obtain cider apples, primarily from three different orchards, including from Garfield WA.  They also use a lot of crabapples.  They aim to keep the apple centric, and don’t plan to do flavored ciders; their Turncoat Dry Hop cider and this one is as flavored as they get.  I particularly like their Manchurian Crabapple and English Style ciders.  Rick commented the Spokane cider market is growing slower than Seattle, but is still growing.  Liberty was tasting their new Abbess variety, with gin botanicals. Made from Empire, Macintosh, and Manchurian Crabapples.  Its been out for about a month in their tap room and has been popular.  English cider scent with a hint of botanicals.  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Bold flavored.  A hint of botanical flavor.  Significant tartness, bitterness, and tannins.  I’m not a huge fan of this one, but it didn’t have any faults and is a solid selection.

(9) Whitewood Cider Kingston Black, 9.7 ABV.  I had tried this cider at Cider Summit, but didn’t mind having it again in the least, as it was one of my favorites!  I’ve only tried Whitewood’s Summer Switchel and this one, but look forward to trying some others.  Presented by Dave White.  Whitewood released their first ciders in 2013, so this is their third season.  Dave aims to make more traditional ciders, with heirloom & cider apple varieties.  He noted their Southsounder cider is made from apples within 20 miles of Olympia.  This Kingston Black cider was made with champagne yeast, but Dave hopes to eventually make a wild fermented batch.  It is 80% Kingston Black and 20% Cornish [Porter’s] Perfection, much to Dave’s disappointment.  He aimed to make a single varietal, but apparently the Kingston Black apples were sliding around too much during pressing or something, as they were sweated to bring out more flavor.  Doing an almost single varietal Kingston Black cider must have been very expensive, as they are rare.  He noted some Woodinville Whiskey was added to the barrel before aging.  [The barrel was from Wishkah River Distillery in Aberdeen, WA.]  I don’t like aged spirits, but love the flavor in a cider.  This cider was taken out of fermentation in early 2014 and barrel aged until just recently.  Dry.  Whiskey and vanilla notes.  Rich bold flavor.  Very smooth, with hidden ABV.  Low to moderate bitterness.  Yum!

(3) Finnriver Fire Barrel, 6.5% ABV.  I’ve tried a large number of Finnriver ciders, and even tried this variety quite awhile ago.  I remembered really looking forward to it but being disappointed.  I bought another bottle recently as so many folks enjoy this cider, and I wanted to give it another chance, as my palate has changed. So, here will eventually be a full review of it here. Presented by Eric Jorgensen, a co-founder.  They were described as a small organic farm which started selling cider in 2010.  Eric thinks they were the least traditional of the nine cideries present.  However, he described this as their most traditional cider, as it is made from cider apples.  They started a second orchard three years ago and aim to remain sustainable and organic.  This cider recipe was original produced by Drew Zimmerman, who sold the rights when he retired.  It is made from Kingston Black, Yarlington Mill, and Dabinett cider apple varieties.  This cider is no longer aged in Kentucky whiskey barrels though, as they aim to keep it more local, instead using UT or WA barrels.  This cider has inspired Finnriver to take on other barrel aging projects.  They mentioned they are barrel aging a small batch of their Black Currant cider, which sounds awesome, as that is one of my favorites of theirs, along with Honey Meadow.  Very smooth.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Mild barrel notes.  Bold flavor.  Moderate tannins, bitterness, and acidity.  I was surprised with how much I enjoyed this cider, in contrast to my memory from awhile back.  I look forward to drinking the bottle I have at home!

I was interested in buying four bottles to take home from Capitol Cider, but they only had two of the ones I wanted, Virtue The Mitten and AeppelTreow Appely Doux.  I had heard of both but didn’t know they even sold them in WA!  I had been wanting to try The Mitten ever since I got into cider; it often makes top cider lists.  Note that the prices shown on their bottle list below are to drink there, but you get a 25% discount to take home.  That brings their prices just a bit over local bottle shops for most ciders.  The cost to drink a bottle is much less of a markup than most wine lists.  However, with all those ciders on tap, why would you want to?  They initially forgot to apply the 25% discount (they were very busy and I was asked them to go to the back and find specific bottles), so I was very glad I checked my receipt.

bottles

Unfortunately the cider list was stapled at the top, so even taking it off the clipboard I couldn’t get good photos.  The angles are again to avoid glare from overhead lighting.  Impressive bottle list!  However, the win still goes to the Schilling Cider House in Fremont, as you can look at the actual bottles.

list1  list2

list3  list4

list5

I got my new copy of World’s Best Ciders (which I reviewed here recently) autographed by Bill Bradshaw, and even got to chat with him for a few minutes.

book autograph

Stay tuned for the last but not least Washington Cider Week event post, from the 2 Towns night at the Schilling Cider House!  Like Cider Says on Facebook for the latest info.

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!

logo

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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East Meets West: An Evening with Eden and Alpenfire Ciders at Burgundian Bar

Stop 2 on Thursday night brought me to the Burgundian bar in Seattle.  Cidermakers from Eden Ice Cider (Newport VT) and Alpenfire Organic Hard Cider (Port Townsend WA) were on hand to chat, they were pouring ciders from each, and there were even specialty cocktails using their ciders.  It started off very slow at 5pm, but that worked very well for me as I got some awesome conversations in while there were more industry folks than customers.  I met Kyle from Millstone Cellars (Monkton MD); I had e-mailed with him about their Cobbler cider and he remembered me.  I also met Dan from Orcas Distributing, which is one of the main cider distributors in the Seattle area.  I got to see both again the next day at Cider Summit.

The special event menu is below (click to biggify).  They also had a number of bottle pour ciders from Eden, Alpenfire, and more.  There was unfortunately only one draft cider as they apparently had some logistical issues.

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I started with a glass of Alpenfire Apocalypso, a double rum barrel aged blackberry cider.  This is their Calypso cider but rum barrel aged for four instead of two months.  This draft-only cider was $6 for 6oz (Calypso runs about $13 for a 500ml bottle).  6.9% ABV.  Middle of the road sweetness.  Berry with a touch of wood scent.  Lovely berry hue.  Fruity, moderately tart, with a hint of barrel influence.  Very tasty!  It had more complexity than your average fruity cider, which I really enjoyed.  There haven’t been too many fruity ciders I’ve been impressed with, but this is one.  Apocalypso is probably a tie with Spark! for my favorite Alpenfire cider so far.

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I chatted with Eleanor Leger from Eden Ice Cider for quite awhile.  it was awesome to learn more about Eden’s ciders, as I had seen them and was very interested, but hadn’t tried any yet.  Eden’s ciders are made by husband & wife team Eleanor & Albert Leger.  They specialize in and started with ice ciders, but have also branched out into aperitif and traditional ciders.  In addition to offering their customers more variety, both of these products are a way for them to use the same juice as their ice ciders, from a second and third pressing (the sugar content decreases).  They may actually be the only company selling cider apertifs at this time.  It was interesting to hear they are even trying to find uses for the “apple water” which is left after making the cider, such as selling it to a gin distillery which would use it in place of water for added flavor.

They were the first ice cider company in the U.S. and also have their own orchard of cider apples.  Ice cider by the way is a dessert wine variety which was developed in Canada, and is made from apples which have been concentrated by natural winter cold.  The apples are harvested at peak ripeness then kept in cold storage.  After pressing, the juice is set outdoors to freeze for 6-8 weeks, which results in a residual concentrate which is high in sugar and flavor.  The concentrate is then fermented, cold stabilized, filtered, and bottled, leaving a high alcohol and high residual sugar cider.  The final amount of cider is typically less than 1/4 of the original amount of juice pressed.  Eleanor told me approximately 20% of their juice is used for ice cider, 7% for apertif, 8% for cider, and the remaining 65% is “apple water”.

I then tried Eden’s Oak Aged Sparkling Dry Cider, 8.5% ABV, $9 for a 6oz bottle pour (runs around $10 for a 375ml bottle).  This is Eden’s first traditional cider (also available in Semi-Dry), released in 2013, and distribution was expanded outside of VT in 2014.  It is naturally sparkling from bottle conditioning using juice, not sugar (Methode Champenoise, which is VERY labor intensive; here is a great explaination).  This cider is crafted from traditional and heirloom apples (50% Kingston Black) grown within 200 miles of their cidery, aged in French oak puncheons (twice the size of typical barrels) for one year, then bottle conditioned for six months..  The purpose of the barrel aging in this case is to impart a more mature flavor, and it can actually increase the amount of tannins as well (vs. when a barrel from spirits is used it would also impart the flavor of the spirit, such as bourbon).

2015-09-11 12.36.32  2015-09-11 12.36.40
<disclaimer: these bottle label photos were taken at Whole Foods the following
day as I didn’t get a chance to ask the bartender to see the bottle>

Using such a large amount of Kingston Black apples is expensive, and Eleanor discussed the cost difference between using juice pressed from dessert apples ($2.50-4.00 / gallon) and juice pressed from cider apples ($8.00-10.00 / gallon) to make cider.  The high cost is primarily due to their rarity.  Hopefully in the coming years the cost will go down as availability increases, which will also increase the quality of ciders as more cidermakers use cider instead of dessert variety apples.  In addition to apples from Eden’s own orchard (which has about 1,000 trees and took approximately 5 years to go from planting to first harvest), they use a lot of apples from the nearby Scott Farm on Kipling’s estate, which is an old Macintosh orchard which was top grafted with many heirloom and cider apple varieties.  I also learned about Eden’s newest product addition, Imperial 11 Rose, which is an off-dry lightly sparkling 11% ABV cider made from heirloom apples and red currant.  Perfect for the wine-loving cider drinker.

On to the Eden Sparkling Dry cider tasting notes:  Lovely brilliant amber with tiny bubbles and a light foam ring.  Definitely dry, but there was a touch of residual sweetness.  Ripe apple scent and taste.  Moderate amounts of acidity, tannins, and bitterness.  Mild tartness.  Medium bodied.  High carbonation.  Hints of earthiness and funk.  Very well crafted and balanced.  I could really taste the difference from using cider apples (vs. dessert apples) and bottle conditioning (vs. force carbonating).  A perfect cider alternative to champagne.  Yum!

It was a special treat to enjoy it while sitting and chatting with the cidermaker.  I typically have trouble tolerating both dryness and bitterness in a cider, but both were so well balanced with the acidity, tannins, and carbonation that I found the cider enjoyable.  I may have to pick up a bottle of this to have on hand; the small bottle size and reasonable cost (moreso per bottle not per ounce) are nice.

2015-09-10 17.54.29

I also met Nancy Bishop and her son Philippe from Alpenfire.  Ron from DrinkingCider.com and crew also showed up later!

Eleanor from Eden even brought some specialty ciders with her all the way from VT that aren’t available here in WA.  I had to leave before the event was over as I had work at 6am the next day (Friday) so I was unfortunately only able to taste one, dubbed “Cinderella’s Slipper”.  It was a very special variety that hasn’t been released.  It was their first cider made only from (35 varieties of) apples from Eden’s own orchard.  It had literally been forgotten about, sitting in a tank at Eden’s old facility for a year.  I found it to be dry, still, slightly tart, highly acidic, and high in tannins.  Very unique!

Here is a photo of the bartender at the Burgundian making one of the specialty cocktails by the way.  They were all very pretty and involved many interesting ingredients (time consuming for the bartender when Eleanor decided to try all four lol).  See the photo of the menu at the top of this post.

2015-09-10 17.33.36

However, I didn’t try any, as I am pretty picky when it comes to food & drink, especially cocktails (I don’t like gin or any aged spirits for example), and none of them sounded good to me.  Plus, I don’t really get the point of mixing high end cider into a cocktail; to me it would be like mixing expensive vodka with orange juice or whatever.  I’d rather drink the cider on its own and get the full experience of it!  I will admit I haven’t tried a cider cocktail though, and its something I want to do.

Cider cocktails seem all the rage lately around here, with Capitol Cider pouring them at Cider Summit, and Darlene Hayes even wrote a book all about them!  I was lucky enough to meet Darlene Hayes at Cider Summit and chat with her for a bit (she likes my blog by the way–very cool).  Check out her blog as well, All Into Cider, which has some great stories and information about cider.

Stay tuned for more Washington Cider Week posts at Cider Says.  Up next are posts about Cider Summit itself (including more tasting notes on Eden and Alpenfire ciders), then the Bill Bradshaw tasting event at Capitol Cider, and Schilling Cider House (2 Towns night but also hoping for some barrel aged ciders left from the night before).  I have quite a lot of photos and tasting notes to go through from Cider Summit though, so I apologize if there is a delay in the Cider Summit post/s.  To give a hint, I believe the final count is 33 ciders that I tried!  However, I have some other cider review posts to cue up in the meantime.  Cheers!

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.

2015-09-10 15.26.48
<view of their outside seating area from inside>

2015-09-10 15.27.07
<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>

2015-09-10 15.25.29
<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>

2015-09-10 15.51.52
<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>

2015-09-10 15.52.02
<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.

2015-09-10 15.34.52
<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!

where will I be this week? tasting cider of course! (Washington Cider Week & Cider Summit Seattle)

For all my Seattle peeps, if you see me at any upcoming event, say hello!  I’ll be wearing a pink CIDER SAYS t-shirt.  If you also want to meet up before or after an event, let me know.

cider week CSS_2015_Apple

Here is my schedule so far for the 5th annual Washington Cider Week and Cider Summit Seattle:

Washington Cider Week opening ceremonies at Seattle Cider with 10 cideries on tap and a food truck, Thursday September 10th, 3:00-4:30pm ish (event is 3-9pm)

East Meets West: An Evening with Eden and Alpenfire Ciders at the Burgundian Bar, Thursday September 10th, 5-7pm ish (event is 5-9pm)

Cider Summit Seattle at South Lake Union Discovery Center, Friday September 11, 2-8pm ish (VIP starts at 2pm and regular at 3pm)

Cider Summit Seattle at South Lake Union Discovery Center, Saturday September 12, noon-6pm ish

Meet & Greet, Tasting, & Book Signing with Bill Bradshaw at Capitol Cider, Tuesday September 15, 6-8pm

2 Towns Tap Night at Schilling Cider House, Thursday September 17, 6-8pm ish (event is 6-9pm)

Check out the complete Washington Cider Week event calendar here, as there is a crazy amount of events going on!  And, stay tuned for lots of Cider Summit related posts here at Cider Says.  I know a lot of folks aren’t so lucky to live in Washington, so I’ll try to make it seem like you’re here with me!  Like Cider Says on Facebook for other updates as well.

Washington Cider Week Events Surrounding Cider Summit Seattle

For my Seattle peeps…what Washington Cider Week events are you going to?  I’m thinking of the following:

East Meets West: An Evening with Eden and Alpenfire Ciders (Thurs Sept 10, 5-9pm, Burgundian Bar)

Tasting and book signing with Bill Bradshaw (Tues Sept 15, 6-8pm, Capitol Cider, $30)

One or more events at the Schilling Cider House, such as the wood aged, Finnriver, Portland Cider Co, 2 Towns, and/or Schilling nights (they have something every night 09/10-09/18, then 09/20, each from 6-9pm).

There is also a cool sounding one the day after Cider Summit, Cider Fete (Sun Sept 13, 3-7pm, Bottlehouse), but I’m guessing my liver may need a break by then…

Keep an eye on the calendar at http://www.nwcider.com/cider-events/, although some of these aren’t even on there yet.

cider week

Cider Summit Seattle, 218 Ciders Paired Down to a List of 33 I Want to Try

The countdown to Cider Summit Seattle continues!  Last week they released their list of cideries & ciders.  I count 218 ciders.  I spent several hours making a spreadsheet of them, researching, and prioritizing, as unfortunately it will be impossible to try them all (and would be cost-prohibitive at $2 a taste).

I decided to choose ciders that were more expensive, rare, not available here, and of course, likely to be to my tastes.  I ended up with 33, which sounds doable over two days.  I was surprised how many cideries I haven’t had a chance to try anything from.  I also have some second tier options, even after eliminating those I’ve tried before and didn’t sound interesting, but I kinda doubt I’ll get to them!

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Eden Specialty Ciders:  Heirloom Blend and Sparkling Semi-Dry  (I have never tried their ciders)

Attila Hard Cider Co.:  Rapture  (I have their Scourge of God at home to try)

Neigel Vintners (NV) Cider:  Cherry Perry  (I’ve tried a couple of their perries, and even had an interview with them)

2 Towns CIderhouse:  Bourbon Barrel 2012  (I recently tried their Cider Master Reserve Batch 01 that was barrel aged)

Apple Outlaw:  Oaked Sweet Dark Cherry  (I have never tried their ciders)

Artisinal Imports, Farnum Hill Ciders:  Dooryard and Extra Dry  (I have never tried their ciders)

E.Z. Orchards:  Roman Beauty, Hawk Haus, Semi Dry, and Poire  (I have never tried their ciders)

Dragon’s Head Cider:  Traditional, Manchuian, and Pippin  (I have Wild Fermented at home to try)

Eaglemount Wine and Cider:  Homestead Dry  (their Quince is amazing!)

Finnriver:  Cyser, Country Peach, and Cacao Brandywine  (I have never seen any of these in stores but I’ve tried several of their ciders)

Bull Run Cider:  Pear Wine  (I have never tried their ciders)

Half Pint Ciders, 101 Ciderhouse:  Black Dog Black Cider  (sounds really interesting with activated charcoal; really didn’t like their Cactus Red though)

Liberty Ciderworks:  Macintosh Single Varietal, English Style Cider  (I liked their Manchurian Crabapple and have their Stonewall Dry Fly Barrel Aged at home to try)

Millstone Cellars:  Farmgate Dry  (I want to give them another try after not caring for Cobbler)

Montana CiderWorks:  Darby Pub Cider  (I have never tried their ciders)

Moonlight Meadery:  How do you like them Apples Bourbon Barrel  (I loved their How do you like them Little Apples Bourbon Barrel; note these are ciders with honey, not mead, and are not available in bottles)

J.K.’s Scrumpy:  The Pair Perry  (their Northern Neighbor is pretty good; this one doesn’t appear to be sold in my area yet though)

Sea Cider:  Bittersweet, Bramble Bubbly, and Perry  (their Prohibition is awesome)

Snowdrift Cider Co.:  Perry and Cliffbreaks Blend  (I love their Cornice and Red)

Whitewood Cider Co.:  Kingston Black Whiskey Barrel Aged  (I’ve heard this is good but isn’t out in bottles yet; I wasn’t a fan of their Summer Switchel though)

Has anyone tried any of these ciders?  If you are going to Cider Summit Seattle, what do you plan to try?