Kite & String Royal Cider

Review of Kite & String’s Royal Cider, ice cider fortified with apple brandy then oak barrel aged.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Baldwin and Honeoye.

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Cider:  Royal Cider
Cidery:  Kite & String (Finger Lakes Cider House)
Cidery Location:  Interlaken NY
ABV:  18%
How Supplied:  375ml bottles
Style:  American craft barrel-aged brandy-fortified ice cider

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Availability:  limited, probably only in the Northeast, plus online sales

Cider Description:  Fortified desert cider. A cold concentrated ice cider partially fermented then blended with a young apple brandy. Aged briefly in American oak. Deeply textured layers of caramel and vanilla balanced with refreshing acidity. Unfiltered and unfined.

Cidermaker’s Notes:  Following a passion for port wines, Royal Cider was born.  Beginning with a a high acid blend of heirloom apples cold concentrated in the winter of 2015 to 40+ brix. Fermented to 13% ABV then fermentation was arrested via fortification with apple brandy to 18% ABV. Then barrel aged to soften the edges and allow the brandy to settle in. Naturally clarifying, requiring no filtration.

Apple Varieties:  Newtown Pippin, Northern Spy, Honeycrisp, & Baldwin

Cidery Description:  ‘Kite’ means light, playful, balanced, fun.  ‘String’ means grounded to a place, our small farm.  Kite & String Ciders are produced at Finger Lakes Cider House on our organic and diversified farm in Interlaken, New York.  Please come visit us in the tasting room any time of year.

Price:  $28
Where Bought:  their website
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  online discussion

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First Impression:  Medium caramel amber hue.  No carbonation.  Smells sweet, high ABV, and of caramel & spice.

Tasting Notes:  Sweet.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of rich baked apple, caramel,  vanilla, and spice.  Long warm finish.  High apple flavor, overall flavor intensity, and complexity.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  More ice cider than Pommeau.

Most Similar to:  ice cider + a bit of Pommeau

Closing Notes:  I think Eden ice ciders are still my favorite so far.  My favorites from Eden are are The Falstaff and Brandy Barrel Aged Heirloom.

Have you tried Kite & String Royal Cider?  What did you think?

 

Schilling Cider House Visit 36 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes #36 from the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts from the cider house here.

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I was here on a Monday afternoon with my husband and a friend from out of town.  We skipped work to hang out with our friend at Pike Place and the cider bar.  I ordered most of the ciders they had that I hadn’t previously tried.  It appears that most if not all of these are draft-only.

Photo Jan 27, 2 02 25 PM<left to right:  Schilling Brut, Independent Barreled Blackberry Perry, Channel Marker Quince, Finnriver Bourbon Barrel Aged Heritage, and Cider Riot New Wave>

Schilling (Auburn WA) Imperial Brut (8.5% ABV):  On the sweeter side of dry, tart, with rich bittersweet cider apple flavor

Independent Cider (Dryden WA) Barreled Blackberry Perry (5.9% ABV):  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, with berry, and a hint of oak (barrel), but no detectable pear

Channel Marker Cider (Seattle WA) Quince (7.8% ABV):  Dry to semi-dry, tart, with mild general fruitiness

Finnriver (Port Townsend WA) Bourbon Barrel Aged Heritage (9.5% ABV):  Semi-dry, with heirloom apple flavor with some tannins and bitterness

Cider Riot (Portland OR) New Wave (5.1% ABV):  Dry to semi-dry with sharp heirloom apple flavor

I liked the Blackberry Perry, but wasn’t too into the others, mostly as they were on the drier / tart / sharp / bitter side.  I probably should have just ordered something I knew I would like, but I like to try new ciders, especially at the lower price of a taster.  I was more excited about the bottle shopping I did – I picked up a bunch of Dunkertons (an English cider which is a favorite of mine that hasn’t been available for quite awhile) and Alpenfire (a local favorite), plus a few others.

Stay tuned for more Schilling Cider House tasting notes here at Cider Says.  Have you had any good draft cider / cider flights recently?

Hemly Pear Cider

Review of Hemly’s Pear Cider (cider from apple & pear juice).  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery.

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Cider:  Pear Cider
Cidery:  Hemly Cider
Cidery Location:  Cortland CA
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  four-pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  American craft pear cider, from apple & pear juice

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Availability:  probably only in CA; see here

Cider Description:  Our flagship and most popular cider. This pear cider is medium sweet, tastes of fresh pear and has a beer like body. Our Original is made from Bosc and Bartlett Pears and a small amount of Gala Apples, is aged on oak and unfiltered. At 5.5% alc. Hemly Original is bright, refreshing and sessionable.

Cidery Description:  It may have taken us 165 years, but it’s definitely worth the wait! Six generations later, thanks to Josiah, we can share the heart of our pear ciders with you: fermented dry,aged on oak, unfiltered. A light refreshing, authentic and cloudy pear cider crafted for you to enjoy.  Our cider is made from 100% fresh pressed fruit straight from our orchards, never artificially flavored. We control the entire process from the roots to the glass. After six generations of growing pears, we have a gold worth sharing.

Price:  $11.99 / four pack
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  on a business trip to Southern CA I picked up a number of singles

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First Impression:  Hazy yellow hue.  No carbonation.  Smells mild, of pear.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of green apple, pear, and lemon.  Quick finish.  Low pear flavor, apple flavor, overall flavor intensity, and complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed the flavor.  However, it was quite mild overall.

Most Similar to:  Anthem Pear and Longdrop Tanager Pear Cider

Closing Notes:  Hemly also has at least two other pear ciders, Dry, and Sloughhouse (with Jalapeño).

Have you tried Hemly Pear Cider?  What did you think?

Eden Extra Sec

Review of Eden’s Extra Sec, their dry sparkling methode champenoise cider made from heirloom and bittersweet apple varieties grown in Vermont and New Hampshire.  It is my first time trying this, although I have had their Sparkling DryCinderella’s SlipperHeirloom Blend Ice CiderSparkling Semi-DryNorthern Spy Ice CiderHoneycrisp Ice CiderImperial 11 RoséHeirloom Blend Apple Brandy Barrel AgedGuinevere’s PearlsWindfall Orchard Ice CiderTwo Ellies, FalstaffHeritage 2018Siren SongEzekiel Kingston Black, and Harvest 2019.

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Cider:  Extra Sec
Cidery:  Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Newport VT
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  375ml & 750ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from heirloom & cider apples, methode champenoise, dry

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Availability:  limited, although they have online sales

Cider Description:  Champagne-method cider made from heirloom and bittersweet apple varieties grown in Vermont and at Poverty Lane Orchards in New Hampshire. It is naturally sparkling and clean – we hand-disgorge the yeast from every bottle! Beautifully balanced between fruit, acid, and tannin. The barely perceptible dosage serves to bring forth the fruit character of the cider. Perfect with roast pork, turkey and vegetable gratin dishes.

Cidery Description:  Our specialty ciders reflect the cold winter climate and apple heritage of Northern New England. We make ciders that are unique and innovative, but that also respect the rare and expensive apples we use, and refrain from aggressive manipulation and industrial beer and wine processing techniques.

Price:  ~ $15
Where Bought:  their website
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Light gold hue.  Low to moderate carbonation.  Smells mild, of dry acidic heirloom apple cider.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate to high tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of complex tart heirloom apples, lemon, wood/earth, and pineapple.  Long tart finish.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it, especially as it isn’t fully dry, and has some complexity, but this isn’t my favorite style of cider.  My husband was predictably even a big fan, as its a favorite style of his.  I recommend this to fans of complex dry tart sparkling ciders; its very well made and an excellent value.

Most Similar to:  Eden Harvest cider, but sparkling, a touch drier, and more complex

Closing Notes:  Awhile back Eden replaced their flagship ‘Dry’ and ‘Semi-Dry’ ciders with ‘Brut Nature’ and ‘Extra Sec’, all of which are sparkling, with the former at 0% residual sugar and the later (reviewed here) at 0.9% residual sugar.  I think I preferred the ‘Semi-Dry’ a bit over Extra Sec, as it was a touch sweeter and richer, but anything from Eden is a good choice.

Have you tried Eden Extra Sec?  What did you think?

Tieton Single Varietal Harrison

Review of Tieton’s single varietal cider from Harrison apples.  I first sampled this at a tasting event in August (see here), but this time I’m doing a detailed review of a bottle.  I’ve also had their Apricot, Smoked Pumpkin, Wind (Pommeau), Wild Washington, Cherry, Blossom Nectar, Cidermaker’s ReserveSparkling PerryCranberryBourbon PeachFrost (ice cider), Spice RouteRussian RedLavender HoneyOak Barrel Aged Cider Summit Collaboration, and Organic.

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Cider:  Single Varietal Harrison
Cidery:  Tieton Ciderworks
Cidery Location:  Yakima WA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft cider from heirloom Harrison apples

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Availability:  special release, at least in AZ, CA, CO, FL, ID, IL, NJ, NM, NV, OR, TX, and WA; check their cider finder

Cider Description:  This is our second cider in our single varietal series. We use Harrison apples it in our ciders often because its great for blending with other apples, but since it makes such good cider on it’s own, we chose too make a single variety cider. It is golden colored, with spiced apple, honey notes and a deeply rich mouthfeel finished by a lingering hint of ginger.

Cidery Description: From our orchards to your glass, TCW controls every aspect of the growing and cidermaking process. TCW boasts the largest orchard of cider apple varieties in Washington state and the largest Perry pear orchard in the United States. We blend our cider fruit with all Washington apples. We’ve been growing apples, apricots, cherries and pears on Harmony Orchards – our family farm – since the 1930’s and are thrilled to be involved in Re:interpreting the tradition of cider making.

 

Price:  $7.99

Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  initially at a tasting event

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First Impression:  Light gold hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild and slightly rich.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of heirloom & green apples, honey, pear, lemon, and an overall flavor which I would best describe as creamy.  Moderate length tart finish.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, overall flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  Very approachable for an heirloom apple cider, as many tend towards super dry and tart.  Its at a nice price point too.

Most Similar to:  Snowdrift Forefathers and Locust Honey Pear

Closing Notes:  I always like finding ciders from heirloom and/or cider apples which are a bit sweeter, as I’m not usually into fully dry ciders, but like their flavor and complexity.

Have you tried Tieton Harrison?  What did you think?

2 Towns Branch & Barrel

Review of 2 Towns Branch & Barrel, an Imperial-style cider made from heirloom apples, then barrel aged.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve had most of their line-up (see here).

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Cider:  Branch & Barrel
Cidery:  2 Towns Ciderhouse
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  8.2%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft Imperial-style cider from heirloom apples, barrel aged

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Availability:  seasonal, in fall, in select states where 2 Towns is typically sold (Oregon, Washington, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Chicago, and parts of Minnesota & Montana)

Cider Description:  Pomona, goddess of orchards, blessed our crop this year with a bounty of eclectic heirloom apples which, when fermented & aged in French oak foeders, yield a deliciously aromatic cider fit for the gods!

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We never add any sugar, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing true Northwest craft cider.

Price:  $6.99
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing; I was surprised to see this on shelves vs. usually receiving samples of their new releases in the mail (they did however send me an awesome holiday gift – a bottle of their Pommeau!)

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild, dry, of complex heirloom apples.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  Notes of heirloom apple, stone fruit, and honey.  Moderate length tart finish.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it, especially because they went a bit sweeter with this one than their others and its flavor profile.  It tasted sweeter than it smelled.  My husband was also a fan, especially due to it being Imperial-style (higher ABV), which is his favorite.

Most Similar to:  Tieton SV Harrison and Snowdrift Forefathers

Closing Notes:  2 Towns is always a good choice, as they make so many different varieties of ciders, and they are all pretty middle of the road, to appeal to the masses.

Have you tried 2 Towns Branch & Barrel?  What did you think?

Angry Orchard Unfiltered Crisp Apple

Review of Angry Orchard’s newest regular release, an unfiltered less sweet version of their Crisp Apple.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve had a number of their other selections (see here).

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Cider:  Unfiltered Crisp Apple
Cidery:  Angry Orchard
Cidery Location:  Walden NY (their R&D facility)
Cider Production Locations:  Cincinnati OH & Breingsville PA
ABV:  6%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  American commercial cider from dessert & bittersweet apple varieties, unfiltered, less sweet

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Availability:  wide release

Cider Description:  Crisp Apple Unfiltered is an homage to traditional cider with a natural, less sweet, fresh apple taste.  It is made with bittersweet apples, the gold standard in cider making.

Ingredients:  hard cider, water, cane sugar, apple juice from concentrate, malic acid, honey, natural flavor, carbon dioxide, and sulfites to preserve freshness

Price:  ~ $2 / single bottle (runs ~ $8.99 / six pack)
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Hazy light amber hue.  Smells of sweet baked apple.  Very low carbonation.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of tannins and bitterness.  Notes of unfiltered apple juice, orange, honey, and chemicals.  Moderate length tart finish.  Moderate apple flavor and flavor intensity.  High sessionability.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  The weird chemical flavor ruined it for me, and my husband agreed – we ended up dumping it out.  Maybe it had gone bad, but it didn’t taste like ciders I have had before which were truly flawed (the most common I’ve found is those which have turned vinegary).

Most Similar to:  Angry Orchard Easy Apple, Crispin The Saint, and some favorites of mine, Downeast Original Blend and 2 Towns Return of the Mac, except with a chemical twist…ick

Closing Notes:  I was hoping this would be a full-ABV version of their Easy Apple (their less sweet, less filtered, low ABV cider), but that one is much better.

Have you tried Angry Orchard Unfiltered?  What did you think?