Crispin Rosé

Review of Crispin Rosé.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Original, Pacific Pear, Blackberry PearThe Saint, Bohemian, Honeycrisp, Venus Reigns, Steeltown, 15 MenBrowns Lane, and Bourbon Char.

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Cider:  Rosé
Cidery:  Crispin
Cidery Location:  Colfax CA
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  American commercial cider from apple & pear juices, with rose & hibiscus petals

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Availability:  wide release, since Jan 2018 – see their cider locator

Cider Description:  Blend of 50% apple cider & 50% pear cider and. Rose petals and Hibiscus give a light tannic quality and “Provence style” Rose’ Wine color. Hints of fresh Strawberry and Honeydew with a tickle of sweetness.

Ingredient List:  filtered water, fresh-pressed hard apple cider, fresh-pressed hard pear cider, pear juice concentrate (finishing sweetener), natural flavors, malic acid, contains sulfites

Cidery Description:  Crispin® ciders are naturally fermented using the raw, unpasteurized juice of fresh-pressed American apples and pears. Through classic cold-fermentation and specially selected wine yeasts, we always stay true to the fruit with authentic flavors and unique aromatic notes that are only present in fresh-pressed cider.

Price:  ~$2 single bottle ($7.99-$8.99 / six pack)
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Still.  Light pink hue.  Smells mild, sweet and fruity.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Low acidity.  No sourness, funk, tannins, or bitterness.  Notes of granny smith applies with hints of berry, floral, and dried pear.  Quick finish.  Low pear and apple flavor.  Low to moderate flavor intensity and complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I thought this was pretty average.  I liked that it was drier, but probably because of that, it was lacking in flavor.  I was a bit puzzled as the description said they used hibiscus and rose petals, but they weren’t on the ingredients list (only “natural flavor”).

Most Similar to:  a slightly drier and blander version of Angry Orchard Rosé

Closing Notes:  I think Crispin is a great cider option for folks who live in areas which only get mass produced ciders, as they are a bit drier and less commercial (more real) tasting.  Ace is a bit similar, a commercial cidery with offerings that include some on the drier side, and which taste less commercial.  Crispin’s Original is probably my favorite commercial cider.

Have you tried Crispin Rosé?  What did you think?

Crispin Bourbon Char

Review of Crispin Bourbon Char, a bourbon cask aged cider with smoked maple syrup.  It is my first time trying this, although I have had their Original, Pacific Pear, Blackberry Pear, The Saint, Bohemian, Honeycrisp, Venus Reigns, Steeltown, 15 Men, and Browns Lane.

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Cider:  Bourbon Char
Cidery:  Crispin
Cidery Location:  Colfax CA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  22oz bottles
Style:  American commercial cider from dessert apples, bourbon cask aged, with smoked maple syrup

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Availability:  wide release

Cider Description:  Rising aroma of bourbon over charred oak with sweet hickory notes. Silky on the Tongue and full of Kentucky character, this cask-aged apple cider is finished with smoked maple syrup, imparting a delicate kiss of smoke and brown sugar.

Cidery Description:  The Crispin Cider Company crafts super premium hard apple and pear ciders using blends of fresh-pressed apples and pears. The Classic Line consists of: Original, Brut, Pacific Pear and Blackberry Pear. The unfiltered Artisanal Reserve® line consists of: Honey Crisp and The Saint. The Crispin Cider Company also imports a classic English dry cider, Browns Lane. The Crispin Cider Company is based in Colfax, California.

Price:  $8.50
Where Bought:  Bushwhacker Cider in Portland OR
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I had heard of this when it came out in October 2016, but hadn’t been able to find it in Seattle.

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First Impression:  Hazy dark straw yellow hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells of unfiltered apple juice, maple, honey, and a hint of bourbon.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of unfiltered apple juice, honey, maple, brown sugar, bourbon, lemon, and oak.  Quick finish.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity, complexity, and apple flavor.  Low barrel influence and bourbon influence.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this.  However, I was hoping for a more intense bourbon, oak, and maple profile.  It had more honey than anything else for me.  It was expectedly slightly commercial (not as refined) tasting.

Most Similar to:  Crispin The Saint and Crispin 15 Men

Closing Notes:  This was pretty on par with my expectations.  It is always nice to try new ciders.  I think better quality cider can be had for the money.  However, a lot of folks don’t have access to craft cider, and for them, this would be a good option as a step up from their regular line of ciders.

Have you tried Crispin Bourbon Char?  What did you think?

Crispin The Saint

Review of Crispin’s The Saint.  I tried this a couple years ago, pre-blog.  I’ve previously tried most of Crispin’s line-up:  OriginalVenus Reigns15 Men, Browns Lane, Blackberry Pear,  Pacific Pear, Bohemian, Honeycrisp,  and Steeltown.

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Cider:  The Saint
Cidery:  Crispin
Cidery Location:  Colfax CA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  22oz bottles
Style:  unfiltered American commercial cider
Ingredients:  fresh-pressed hard apple cider, filtered water, Organic maple syrup, apple juice concentrate (finishing sweetener), malic acid, contains sulfites
Yeast:  Belgian Trappist

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Availability:  Wide release

Cider Description:  The Saint Artisanal Reserve unfiltered hard cider is made with racked apple-wine and smoothed with pure maple syrup, which balances the bold flavors of sweet, ripe apples.  Best served cold for bold, crisp refreshment. Give a full bottoms-up tilt and swirl to disperse unfiltered apple-wine sediment evenly.

Cidery Description:  Crispin ciders are naturally fermented using the raw, unpasteurized juice of fresh-pressed American apples and pears. Through classic cold-fermentation and specially selected wine yeasts, we always stay true to the fruit with authentic flavors and unique aromatic notes that are only present in fresh-pressed cider.

Price:  $6.99
Where Bought:  Albertsons
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  My husband brought this home for me randomly.  He hadn’t remembered I had already tried it a couple years ago.

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First Impression:  Hazy unfiltered apple juice hue.  Smells of apple juice and honey.  Nearly still.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of apple juice, baked apples, honey, maple, and hints of pie spices.  Quick finish length.  High apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  Not bad.  Its a bit too sweet and low complexity for my liking though.

Most Similar to:  Other sweet unfiltered ciders such as Downeast Original Blend and JK’s Scrumpy Orchard Gate Gold.  Of the three, my favorite is the Downeast, as its slightly less sweet, more cider-like than juice-like, and tastes more “real”.

Closing Notes:  This is a popular cider in Crispin’s Artisanal Reserve line, available year round.

Have you tried Crispin The Saint?  What did you think?

Crispin 15 Men (Rum Barrel Aged)

Review of Crispin’s newest barrel aged limited release, 15 Men.  It is a dark rum barrel aged Colfax apple cider with wildflower honey and dark candi syrup.  The name 15 Men alludes to the book Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.  Crispin’s previous barrel aged limited release cider before this was Venus Reigns (my review here).  They have had a barrel aging program for 6 years.

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Cider:  15 Men
Cidery:  Crispin
Cidery Location:  Colfax, CA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  22oz bottle

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Availability:  limited availability, but wide release, since early October 2015

Cider Description:  Buccaneers & buried treasure. Mutiny & murder. For the love of adventure and a barrel of rum. Drink and the devil had done for the rest. An epic saga of Colfax classic apple wine matured in dark rum casks, then laced with wildflower honey and dark candi syrup.  15 Men rolls strong like a deep ocean swell with notes of burnt caramel and oak, gentle hints of ripe fall fruits, vanilla and exotic floral fruit carried on the trade winds.  Before pouring, give a solid bottoms-up tilt and swirl to disperse sediment evenly and experience the complex aroma and bouquet.  Best enjoyed at cellar temperature, 50/55F.  With or without 1 or 2 ice cubes.

Cidery Description:  Classically refined, but not styled as a traditional “sweet beer” beer alternative, Crispin ciders are crisp and clean, not sweet and sticky and never sacrifice superior quality refreshment satisfaction for overbearing complexity.  Always true to the fruit, Crispin Hard Ciders are naturally fermented using fresh-pressed apple or pear juice, not from concentrate, from a premium blend of fruit from the west coast. Additionally, Crispin Ciders do not contain added malt, grape wine, or spirit alcohol. Crispin Ciders are all Gluten Free.

Price:  $9.99
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I read about this release online, then started the search for it.  Total Wine has a convenient online inventory, so I knew before I went in that it was in stock.

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First Impression:  No carbonation upon pouring.  Hazy honey orange amber.  Smells of ripe apples, honey, tropical fruit, light floral, caramel, and brown sugar.

Opinion:  Between semi-dry and semi-sweet.  Still (no carbonation).  In the taste, I again pick up the ripe apples, a lot of honey, some fruitiness & floral, and the caramel and brown sugar notes.  Additionally, some mild wood barrel notes, a bit of citrus, and mild spiced rum in the finish.  I thought the rum presented more in the lingering heat than the actual flavor.  I’m surprised by how much honey flavor there is!  Mild tartness and bitterness.  Medium acidity.  No significant tannins or astringency.  Medium bodied.  Average finish length.  The barrel and spirit influence stays mild.  This was better between fridge and room temperature, where it became very smooth and the honey flavor mellowed out a bit.

Most Similar to:  Rum barrel aged cider always reminds me of Sea Cider Prohibition / Rumrunner (my review here).  Honey reminds me of ciders such as Finnriver Honey Meadow (my review here).  However, this cider wasn’t anything like either of those.  The honey seemed to be competing with the rum & barrel aspects.  So, there aren’t really any similar ciders I’ve tried.

Closing Notes:   Overall this was a good but not great cider in my opinion.  The amount of honey flavor seemed to be too much, and I would have liked more rum & barrel influence.  A bit of carbonation wouldn’t have hurt either.  Overall it was unique.  However, $10 seems a bit steep for what it is, as at the end of the day, Crispin is a commercial cidery.

Have you tried Crispin 15 Men?  What did you think?

Crispin Original

Review of Crispin’s Original cider variety.  I’ve had this cider a few times, but this is the first time since I started blogging.  Actually, I’ve tried most of their varieties, from Blackberry Pear to Browns Lane to Venus Reigns.  Crispin is probably my second favorite commercial cidery behind Woodchuck.

Cider:  Original
Cidery:  Crispin (part of MillerCoors)
Cidery Location:  Colfax CA
ABV:  5%
How Supplied:  four pack of 12oz clear glass bottles (or four pack of 16oz cans)

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Availability:  wide release, year round

Cider Description:  Crisp, refreshing natural hard apple cider.  Crisp over ice. A classically styled, but untraditional hard apple cider. Fruit forward, with a fresh, crunchy appley nose and a deliciously refreshing, crisp mouth feel.

Price:  $5.00 / bottle at a bar (usually runs $7 a four pack)
Where Drank:  The Point in Prescott AZ.  This was their only cider offering at the time.  Apparently they usually had some sort of Schilling Cider on tap, but were out.  I was excited to see Schilling (made in my area) all the way in AZ, so it was disappointing they were out.  The Point was a very unique basement bar/lounge in Whiskey Row in downtown Prescott to say the least (it was dark and smelled lol, but overall was trying to be a higher end classy speakeasy).  We were there for the whiskey selection for my husband and a friend.  I was happy just to find cider that wasn’t Angry Orchard.  Actually, that night I went 2/2, finding Woodchuck Amber (bottled) at Prescott Brewing Company.  The following night I was 0/3 on cider, but 2/3 on mead.  All in all those are above average odds on finding a beverage to my liking!

First Impression:  Shiny straw yellow.  Almost no carbonation.  Sweet kinda fake crisp apple scent.

Opinion:  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  No bitterness.  Low acidity and tartness.  Tropical & pear notes.  A bit juice-like.  Medium bodied.  Quick finish.  Overall this is an enjoyable easy drinking cider which is less sweet than most commercial ciders (150 calories and 10 grams of sugar per 12oz).  I liked the level of flavor, but that seems to come with the territory of being a bit sweeter (this is nowhere near dry).  Its definitely “crisp & refreshing” as the bottle said, and it was quickly gone.

Most Similar to:  Probably Crispin Pacific Pear, as I picked up some pear notes in this cider and it is a similar level of sweetness.  Or maybe Stella Cidre or Spire Mountain Apple.  I haven’t found too many ciders with this level of sweetness…most craft ciders are drier, and most commercial ciders are sweeter.

Closing Notes:   This is a solid commercial cider selection.  I especially like it isn’t overly sweet (and for folks who like an even drier cider, they make a Brut variety).  However, the use of water, apple juice concentrate, and “natural apple essence” (whatever that is) disappoints me.  Their description of the cider is pretty sad too…  Appley?  Serve over ice?  No thank you.  Overall though I don’t hesitate to order this cider when it is available, and I think its a much better choice than Angry Orchard Crisp Apple.  If this was a craft cider, I’d probably keep some in the house.

Have you tried Crispin Original?  What did you think?

Seattle International Beerfest 2015 Trip Report

What a lovely day to be outside drinking cider in Seattle!  Luckily we had some cloud cover and it cooled off from the high 80s we’ve had of late to the low 70s.

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Although this was obviously a beer event, they had 10 cider choices out of the approximately 200 selections.  This was a three day event and we thankfully had the foresight to get there not too long after they opened at noon on the first day (Friday).  Yay for an excuse to take off work!  As the day went on it got only more crowded, and I can only expect the same for the rest of the weekend.

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Fisher Plaza in Seattle Center near the International Fountain was a great venue choice.  The event was mostly outside on the lawn, but there was also an inside portion.  Inside even had real restrooms (although there were also port a potties outside).  Sadly they did not allow outside beverages, even sealed bottles of water, so we dumped them and eventually found the water bottle fill station by the restrooms (otherwise it was $1 or $2 from a food vendor).

They housed the bottled selections inside and all the taps outside.  Most taps were coolers with two taps per cooler.  There was some seating & shade thankfully, so the blanket I brought wasn’t necessary (although it would be when they were busy).  There were numbered Tables with four selections per Table, and the event program listed all the beer/cider details and location.  This was very very well organized, especially compared to many tasting events I’ve been to.  I imagine Saturday afternoon here will be a zoo though!

This is a dog friendly event and we saw many many dogs.  They even had water bowls out for them, which I’m sure was appreciated.  There were also games to check out, which appeared to also be appreciated.  We saw lots of people just hanging out listening to the live music.  Others were more obviously beer aficionados.  There was even a smoking tent which kept the smell contained, although the cigar area at the top of the hill allowed cigar smoke to waft down a bit.

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before the crowds…

This event was staffed by volunteers, who gave up three hours of their time to serve beer & cider in exchange for a free t-shirt and entry to the event.  Tastes of beer & cider (4oz) cost between 1 and 7 tickets each, depending on the product cost, with a ticket worth $1.  Most selections were 2-3 tickets, but there were plenty of 1 ticket and 4-7 ticket selections.  They also offered some pints for 3 tickets, including Crispin Blackberry Pear.  I would have loved to have the brewers and cider makers at this event, but alas it was focused more on quantity and supposedly international & rare finds, than connecting drinkers with makers.

Lots of yummy food choices, although I was really craving a soft pretzel or pizza or something.  BBQ, gyros, burgers, burritos, grilled cheese, hot dogs, etc.  I ended up with a hot dog while my two drinking companions (hubby & friend) had Gyros.  We later snacked on some kettle corn and even a weird buckwheat pancake with butter & sugar confection (Miri’s Poffers).  There were also a few non-food vendors, everything from engraved growlers to beer themed t-shirts to beef jerky.

And now, on to the cider tasting notes…I ended up trying six ciders, four of which I hadn’t tried before.

(1) Aspall Dry Cider (bottle, 6.8%, from England, 3 tickets).  Dry English draft style cider.  This was the surprising winner of the day!  I would call it semi-dry.  Very crisp & smooth with a traditional English cider taste.  I found it to be pretty similar to Crispin Browns Lane.  I plan to try another selection of theirs which is available near me (the only one), Aspall Blush cider.

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(2) Reverend Nat’s Hopland #5 / Envy (draft, 10.2%, from OR, 2 tickets).  Intensely hopped cider with 11 hops varieties.  I didn’t expect to like this as I don’t like hops, but thought I might as well try it.  It has an unfiltered look to it, a bit orange and hazy.  Very very hoppy, both smell & taste!  It was also a bit boozy, which is to be expected at over 10%.  I really couldn’t pick up anything in this besides hops.  My companions tried it and couldn’t even taste that it was cider.  This is definitely a beer drinker’s cider.  Unfortunately after a couple sips it got dumped out, as it wasn’t even drinkable for my two beer loving companions.

(3) Wyder’s Reposado Pear (draft, 6.9%, from VT, 1 ticket).  Tequila barrel aged pear cider.  I’ve had this at home a number of times and was curious if it would taste any different on tap than bottled.  Surprisingly, not.  If anything I didn’t like it as much on tap as it seemed to have less carbonation.  For me this cider starts off with pear and finishes with tequila.  Its smooth, and sweet to semi-sweet.  I think its quite tasty.

(4) Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider (bottle, 5%, from England, 2 tickets).  This was pretty unremarkable for me.  It had a definite sweet apple scent, but tasted semi-dry.  It had a very quick finish to it and was overall quite plain.  I think there is much better cider to be had for the cost.

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(5) Anthem “Raz & Boyz” (draft, unknown ABV but I’d guess 5-6%, from OR, 2 tickets).  This was Wandering Angus’ mystery cider selection, from their Anthem line.  I really don’t have any info on it, as it wasn’t in the event program and it appears to be brand new (no information even online).  I wouldn’t be surprised if it is a new selection they released for the first time for the International Beerfest for Portland & Seattle, as they are from OR.  All I could go off of was the name they scrawled on the small white board lol, so this likely isn’t even the cider’s real name.  Very very tart!  Semi-dry to dry.  Brilliant red color.  I only picked up raspberry, no boysenberry.  It was more palatable once it opened up a bit by the end of the tasting glass.  One of my companions thought it would be much better as a beer mixer than on its own, as it was just too dry & tart.  I had fun watching people take their first sip after getting a glass of it, as most scrunched up their face!

(6) Crispin Blackberry Pear (draft, 5%, from CA, 3 tickets for a full pint).  Pear cider with blackberry.  This was something else I’ve had at home but was curious if it was any different on tap (and I was out of new ciders to try).  This is a sweet fairly straight forward blackberry & pear cider.  Smooth, easy to drink, and slightly tart.  This appeared to be a very popular selection, and I saw more folks with this in their pint glass than beer!  It was actually a good deal too for $3 a pint as this cider runs about $9 for a four pack of 12oz bottles.  Plus it really hit the spot to finish out the day.

Sorry I don’t have photos of the draft ciders, but they unfortunately didn’t have info sheets nor was there a surface to take a photo on…

Overall, I highly recommend this Seattle-area tasting event.  It’ll be a crowd pleaser for beer & cider lovers alike.  It was unfortunately a bit spendy though:  $95 for advance purchase admission for three with 60 tickets, $15 for parking, and food & souvenirs.  Still a great way to spend the day though.  We ended up getting one pack of 40 tickets for one person and two packs of 10 tickets each for two people, which worked out well to share.  Although you can buy extra tickets, the “Big Deal” as they called it (advance purchase only) essentially gave you 10 free tickets, and having the tickets in advance encouraged us to go big and try some of the more expensive stuff (vs. having to shell out extra money for single tickets).

My best advice is to arrive Friday afternoon when they open at noon, as around 4pm the crowds really picked up.  Other advantages of arriving Friday are that you have in & out privileges (just need your wristband & tasting glass), and they may run out of some selections.  Looking forward to next year!

Crispin Browns Lane

Here is a unique commercial cider from Crispin, 100% English made, from English bittersweet apples,

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Cider:  Browns Lane Imported Classic English Dry Cider
(named after first Jaguar car factory location in England)
Cidery:  Crispin
Cidery Location:  Colfax, CA
ABV:  5.8%
How Supplied:  four pack of 16oz cans
Availability:  wide release, year round (since 2011)

Description on Can:  Authentically British, from its bespoke tailoring, to its superb craftsmanship, most defined by its world champion character.  Classic English dry cider from English bittersweet cider apples.

Price:  $8.99 / four pack (although I bought a single can for about $3)
Where Bought:  Total Wine (although I’ve seen it other places, such as Fred Meyer & Whole Foods)
How Found: Browsing, after reading a review by Cider Sage which convinced me I may just like this one
Where Drank:  home

Opinion:  First impression is the amount of sparking when poured into the glass, and the deeper amber color, more so than many ciders.  For some reason this really reminds me of semi-dry oak aged ciders, such as Schilling Oak Aged, although this is not barrel aged.  I pick up a light earthy oak flavor.  Even though this was drier, it was still very drinkable even to my palate which prefers sweeter ciders.  I wouldn’t call it a fully dry cider though, as I have had a number of ciders which were more dry, even when usually trying to avoid them.

It starts out a bit sweeter (with an almost caramelized sugar type flavor) and finishes a bit drier, with the bittersweet apple flavor coming through.  I wouldn’t however call it overly tart, which I have picked up in some drier ciders.  I’m surprised how much I like this one actually!  This is quite different than Crispin’s other selections, which vary from their fairly plain Original, to plain & blackberry pear varieties, to their Artisanal Reserve line.  I’m curious how closely this actually resembles a traditional English Farmhouse cider, because if it does, I’m a fan!

Have you tried Crispin Browns Lane?  What did you think?