Oregon Mead & Cider Free Press Cyser

Review of Oregon Mead & Cider’s Free Press Cyser (a cross between cider & mead).  It is my first time trying this, although I’ve had their Dry and Hopped ciders, and I’ve had cyser from EaglemountFinnriver, Moonlight (Last Apple and How Do You Like Them Apples), and Stem (Blood Orange).  Note that Oregon Mead & Cider used to be called Stung Fermented.

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Cider:  Free Press Cyser
Cidery:  Oregon Mead & Cider
Cidery Location:  Portland OR
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cyser (apples + honey)

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Availability:  Year round in Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Georgia

Cider Description:  Hard Cider Made Easy. Our ciders were born from the bounty of the Northwest and the pioneering spirit of our grandparents. A perfect balance of dry and tart, our ciders are made by the people, for the people. Press on.

Cidery Description:  Our award-winning dry, sparkling meads and ciders are naturally gluten free, and we treat our Pacific Northwest honey and apple juice with respect: we never boil, filter, or add sulfites.

They were founded in 2013 and have a tasting room.

Price:  $7.99
Where Bought:  The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing

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First Impression:  Moderate carbonation.  Dark straw yellow hue.  Smells acidic and mildly of honey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to dry.  Light bodied.  Carbonated mouthfeel.  Very high acid.  Moderate to high tartness.  Hints of sourness and bitterness.  No tannins or funk.  Notes of honey, citrus, and floral.  Long beer-like finish (my husband said it was like a Kolsch).  Moderate apple and honey flavor.  Low to moderate flavor intensity, sessionability, and complexity.

My Opinion:  I thought it was pretty average.  Refreshing, but a bit mouth-puckering.  Its not really a style I enjoy, but everyone has different tastes.

Most Similar to:  Not much.  All the other cysers I’ve tried have been much sweeter.  I have sampled some drier meads before, but I usually like my beverages more full-flavored, so for mead I tend towards sweeter ones.  It reminds me a bit however of Angry Orchard Walden Hollow.

Closing Notes:  I’ve now tried their current full cider lineup, and to be honest, I don’t think they are for me (although my favorite of the three was the Hopped).  If you like a dry, acidic, and more heavily carbonated cider (or mead), give them a try.

Have you tried cyser?  What did you think?

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Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Apples

Review of Moonlight Meadery’s How Do You Like Them Apples.  I had previously tried this on draft, but they recently began offering this (and the “Little Apples” version) in cans.  I’ve tried a number of beverages from Moonlight Meadery:  How Do You Like Them Little Apples, How Do You Like Them Apples, Boys N Berries, Last Apple, and Crimes of Passion

Cider:  How Do You Like Them Apples
Cidery:  Moonlight Meadery
Cidery Location:  Londonderry NH
ABV:  13.5%
How Supplied:  12oz cans
Style:  American craft honey apple wine (apple cider with honey and brown sugar), rye whiskey barrel barrel aged

x2 x3 x4

Availability:  Semi wide release, in the U.S. in AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, VA, VT, WA, WA D.C., and WI, and Australia, China, and Japan.  They also have an online store.

Cider Description:  A New England Hard Cider, made with the finest New Hampshire apples that were available to us, which we had fresh pressed into apple cider. This fresh cider was delivered the day it was pressed to our Meadery, where we blended it with just a touch of honey, and some brown sugar and let it ferment, then we let it age in freshly emptied Last Apple barrels, for a minimum of 6 months.

Cidery Description:  We are a world class meadery and cidery from Londonderry, New Hampshire that specializes in meads, the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage made from honey, as well as hard ciders.  The diversity of our offerings often leave people speechless, while the flavors have them asking for it from their local retailers.  Stop by and try the oldest fermented beverage to find out why “History never tasted so good”™.

They have been around since May 2010 and have a tasting room in Londonderry NH.

Price:  ~$6 / single can
Where Bought:   Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  my husband picked this up

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First Impression:  Medium amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells rich, syrupy sweet, apple-forward, of honey, whiskey, and oak.

Tasting Notes:  Sweet.  Medium to full bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, and tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of concentrated apple, honey, orange, oak, whiskey, caramel, and brown sugar.  Moderate length finish, which is also the only time when the high ABV is noticeable.  Low oak/barrel influence.  Low to moderate whiskey influence.  High apple flavor.  Low sessionability.  High flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  Amazing.  I really love the in-your-face rich complex flavor of this cider.  However, it is best suited as an after dinner sipper, splitting the can among at least 2 people.  By the end of the can I was a bit over it, as it was so sweet, even though I sipped on it throughout the evening.  This tasted good anywhere between ice cold and close to room temperature.

Most Similar to:  Ice cider and Moonlight Meadery Last Apple (although that one had more honey than apple flavor, in contrast to this one), which are both high ABV, have concentrated rich flavor notes, and are sweet

Side Note:  I like that they added a dry-sweet indicator on the can, but I think they were off on this one…it is way closer to the sweet end of the spectrum than the middle (although maybe it was an appropriate rating based on the beverages they make at Moonlight.

Closing Notes:  My husband also picked me up a couple cans of the “Little Apples” version of this cider, so stay tuned.

Update:  Like the canned How Do You Like Them Little Apples, the can of this I opened a month or two later was starting to turn vinegary.

Have you tried Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Apples?  What did you think?

Stem Ciders Blood Orange Cyser

Review of Stem Ciders’ Blood Orange Cyser (a cross between cider and mead, made from both apples and honey).  I’ve previously tried their Le Chene and Malice.  My husband brought this and 4 of their other ciders (plus even some Pommeau!) back from Colorado for me.

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Cider:  Blood Orange Cyser
Cidery:  Stem Ciders
Cidery Location:  Denver Colorado
ABV:  10%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft apple-honey wine with blood orange

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Availability:  Their ciders are available only in Colorado, at these retailers, but this is a special release which may only be found at the cidery.

Cider Description:  Apple-honey wine with blood orange.  Rosy in hue with light notes of honey and citrus zest on the nose.  Acidity from the blood orange plays off the sweetness of the honey, allowing an off-dry yet refreshing beverage.  Light apple tannins fill out the finish.

Cidery Description:  At Stem Ciders, we are committed to creating ciders of the highest quality that honor the purity and complexity that is inherent to the apple. We can’t wait to introduce you to your perfect cider match. We are dedicated to reviving the cider tradition, which goes far beyond what you enjoy in your glass. We hold our growers in the highest regard, and by fostering relationships with them we reward their hard work and promote the regrowth of heirloom apple cultivation. We love our home-base in Denver, and embrace the Colorado lifestyle that makes us lug a bottle to share up a mountain to enjoy a drink with a view. Most importantly, we love nothing more than seeing that smile on your face when you have your first sip of one of our crisp, refreshing ciders.

Price:  $18
Where Bought:  Stem Ciders tasting room in Denver
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I read about Stem Ciders online.  Last time my husband was in Colorado, he picked me up a bunch of ciders, including Stem Le Chene.  I keep hearing about their Banjo special release cider, but I’m 0/3 as far as finding it (apparently its only available about 1 month a year; its currently still barrel aging).  This time around I thought I’d make it easier on my husband and give him a shopping list all from the same cidery, so he could just stop by the tap room (vs. trying to find ciders at multiple bottle shops).  I e-mailed the cidery ahead of time and they were nice enough to send me a list of what they had in stock.

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First Impression:  Light orange-pink hue.  Very low carbonation upon pouring.  Smells mild, of honey and tart blood orange.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Moderate carbonation.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of blood orange, honey, honeycomb, grapefruit, lemon, mineral, and green apple.  Quick to moderate length finish, with less warming than expected for 10% ABV.  Low apple flavor.  Low to moderate honey and blood orange flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  Unique citrus champagne-like flavor.  I imagine if I actually liked blood orange I would have loved it.  I’m a fan of high ABV cider, citrus notes in cider, and cyser & mead though, which is why I wanted to try it.

Most Similar to:  I’ve had various cysers (such as Finnriver Cyser CiderEaglemount Cyser, Moonlight Meadery Last Apple, and Sea Cider Birds and the Bees), as well as two blood orange ciders (Elemental Calcium and Ace Space), and this is a bit of a cross between the two, and much drier than any of those.  It also reminds me a bit of a mimosa, with the citrus, higher ABV, and higher carbonation.

Closing Notes:   This cyser is a great value, between it being small batch, blood orange & honey being expensive, and its high ABV.  I look forward to trying my other selections from Stem Ciders.

Have you tried anything from Stem Ciders?  What did you think?

Moonlight Meadery Last Apple Cyser

Review of Moonlight Meadery’s Last Apple, a cyser (made from apples and honey).  I tried this previously on tap (see here), and have also previously tried some ciders, meads, and cysers from Moonlight Meadery (see here).

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Cider:  Last Apple
Cidery:  Moonlight Meadery
Cidery Location:  Londonderry New Hampshire
ABV:  16.0%
How Supplied:  375ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft cyser (made from apple juice and honey), barrel aged

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Availability:  AL, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, MD, ME, MI, MO, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, TX, VA, WA, and WA D.C. in the USA (see here), plus Australia, China, Japan, and through their online shop (shipped to 36/50 states)

Cider Description:  We took the very last New Hampshire apples that were available to us and had them fresh pressed into apple cider. We then blended it with True Source Honey and let it ferment and age in freshly emptied Jim Beam barrels for over 6 months.  The end result is nothing short of heavenly. It is unlike any of the other honey apple meads that we make, that’s why we felt it deserved its own unique label design.  Take your time with this precious liquid and allow its complexities to dance along your palate.

Cidery Description:  We are a world class meadery and cidery from Londonderry, New Hampshire that specializes in meads, the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage made from honey, as well as hard ciders.  The diversity of our offerings often leave people speechless, while the flavors have them asking for it from their local retailers.  Stop by and try the oldest fermented beverage to find out why “History never tasted so good”™.

Price:  $26.99
Where Bought:  The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I tried this previously at the Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA and remembered loving it, and didn’t even know bottles were available (I picked this up awhile back and haven’t seen it since), so I decided to jump on it, despite the high price tag.

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First Impression:  Light to medium amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells boozy, of honey and caramel.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Full bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of honey, sweet ripe apples, caramel, oak, and coffee.  Long warming finish.  Low apple influence.  Low barrel influence.  Moderate to high honey influence.  Very low sessionability.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this, but I think the batch I tried awhile back which was kegged was far superior; it didn’t have the coffee notes, had more oak flavor, was sweeter & fuller bodied, and was more complex.  In this price range, I think I’d prefer an ice cider from Eden (see here).  This reinforces how much I like cider bars, especially for high end ciders, as a sample can be had for $2-$5, vs. spending a good deal on an entire bottle.

Most Similar to:  This is more mead than cider, both in flavor and its high ABV.  It has more honey notes and a higher ABV than most cysers, such as the ones I’ve tried from Finnriver (Cyser Cider),  Eaglemount (Cyser), and Sea Cider (Birds and the Bees).  Its even higher ABV than the meads I’ve tried, such as Skyriver Solas (see here) and Superstition Honey Highway (see here), yet is smooth and easy to drink.

Closing Notes:   I look forward to continuing to try more ciders, meads, and cysers from Moonlight Meadery; they offer quite a large selection.

Have you tried Moonlight Meadery Last Apple?  What did you think?

Sea Cider Birds and the Bees

Review of Sea Cider’s Birds and the Bees cider.  I picked this up in Victoria B.C., a stop on our Alaska cruise.  I’ve tried a few ciders from Sea Cider (see here), but this one is part of their Canadian Invasion Series and only available in Canada.

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Cider:  Birds and the Bees
Cidery:  Sea Cider
Cidery Location:  Saanichton, British Columbia, Canada
ABV:  9.9%
How Supplied:  750ml clear glass swing-top bottle
Style:  Canadian craft cider made from dessert apples, with fireweed honey and lemon bitters

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Availability:  Only in British Columbia Canada

Cider Description:  The birds & the bees are a welcome sign of spring, and we thought we’d pay tribute to the pollination season with a cider in their honour. Our farm-crafted apple cider is blended with Vancouver Island fireweed honey and lemon bitters for a zesty finish buzzing with goodness. Proceeds from our Canadian Invasion Series help combat invasive plants, so raise a glass to a springtime delight!

As part of the Canadian Invasion Series, Birds and the Bees was created to continue our awareness campaign around invasive species and their impact on farming and the natural world. In addition to increasing awareness, the Canadian Invasion Series is also a way for the Sea Cider team to create fun and interesting seasonal ciders infused with local ingredients. Birds and the Bees blends our apple cider with a hefty helping of lemongrass from our farm, Vancouver Island’s fireweed honey and our own apple eau de vie to create a sweet yet sharp cider sensation. Expect aromatic notes of citrus and lemon to harmonize with the light fresh, floral aroma of fireweed honey in a union as sweet and sprightly as a May morning.

Their Canadian Invasion Series uses dessert/culinary apples to allow them to blend in cool stuff, while their Heirloom Series is “all about the apples” (estate grown bittersharps and bittersweet, single varietals etc).  They hope to have the Canadian Invasion Series ciders available in the U.S. in the future.

Cidery Description:  Sea Cider is a farm-based cidery located on the Saanich Peninsula just minutes from Victoria, on Vancouver Island. Our ten acre farm is home to over 1,300 apple trees, made up of over 50 varieties of heritage apples.  Sea Cider opened its farm gate for business in 2007 when owner Kristen Jordan purchased the property with a vision of creating an organic farm and orchard and producing traditional fermented artisan ciders. Since then, we’ve grown to an annual cider production of over 7,000 cases and growing. We continue to pride ourselves on crafting traditionally fermented ciders from organically grown apples.

Price:  just under $20 CAN, which is abour $15 USD
Where Bought:  The Strath in Victoria B.C.
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing, although I read about it online (and thought I’d never get a chance to try it).

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow.  Low carbonation upon pouring.  Smells of apple, honey, citrus, and floral.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Still.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hint of bitterness.  No sourness or tannins.  Strong honey, moderate lemon, and some orange and floral notes.  Moderate length slightly warming finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  Simple but very tasty.  Its unique to find a boozy spring/summer cider, as typically these sorts of ciders are lower ABV (although true cysers, when they ferment the apple juice with the honey instead of just adding honey afterwards, tend to be higher ABV).

Most Similar to:  Eaglemount Cyser (also a higher ABV and semi-sweet, but without the lemon)

Closing Notes:   I’m glad I got to try this cider!

Have you tried Sea Cider?  What did you think?