Henney’s Dry Cider

Review of Henney’s Dry Cider, from England.  It is my first time trying it, although I’ve sampled their Vintage variety.  I’m also a big fan of English cider in general, having tried a number of selections (see here for some examples).

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Cider:  Dry
Cidery:  Henney’s
Cidery Location:   Worcester, Herefordshire, England
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  English cider from cider apple varieties (such as Browns Apple, Michelin, Dabinett, Yarlington Mill, and Tremletts Bitter)

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Availability:  semi wide release (imported by Shelton Brothers)

Cider Description:  Our best selling cider.  Smooth, light and refreshing.  Sweet, appley aroma. Palate has a delicious bittersweet apple character with some spicy bite and a bit of a tannic grip. Very fruity and quite pure, with a nice savoury twist.

Cidery Description:  At Henney’s we believe that the best way to make cider is to start with high quality ingredients and to keep the process as simple as possible.  This has helped us to win many prestigious awards in recent years.  Each Autumn, carefully selected, locally grown, varieties of genuine cider apples are milled, pressed, and fermented.  The resulting cider is then blended and stored through the winter allowing it to mature and develop a rich and mellow flavour.

Mike Henney started making cider in 1996, went commercial in 1999, and by 2013, cider production was over 250,000 gallons a year.

Price:  $6
Where Bought:  Bushwhacker Cider in Portland Oregon
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I had never seen their cider, but had heard of it.

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells mild, slightly tannic and acidic.

Tasting Notes:  Dry (but not completely).  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low to moderate tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of apple pomace, honey, pineapple, and stone fruit like apricot.  Long finish.  Moderate apple flavor, flavor intensity, complexity, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it.  Its surprisingly fruity and refreshing, yet it still maintains great English cider flavor, tannins, etc (just not quite as rich as many English ciders).

Most Similar to:  Sheppy’s Somerset Draught (more in style than flavor though), Dunkertons Black Fox, and Aspall Grand Cru & Demi Sec, although all are sweeter

Closing Notes:  As much as I liked it, I have to say I much preferred their Vintage (although there would be times / meals the Dry would be better).

Have you tried Henney’s English cider?  What did you think?

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Number 12 Black Currant Dry

Review of Number 12 Ciderhouse’s Black Currant Dry.  I tried their Chestnut Semi-Dry and Sparkling Dry earlier this week.

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Number 12.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

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Cider:  Black Currant Dry
Cidery:  Number 12 Ciderhouse
Cidery Location:  Buffalo, Minnesota
ABV:  7.4%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from Minnesota apples, with black currant

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Availability:  Number 12 ciders are sold in these locations in Minnesota.

Cider Description:  Number 12 Black Currant Dry begins with aromatic notes of jam and rich black currant followed by a crisp, dry cider finish. Once considered the “forbidden fruit” due to a 100 year ban, the black currant is now experiencing a resurgence in America’s conscience. It pairs beautifully with locally grown apples by providing a tannic structure needed for depth and complexity. This is the cider that will change your perspective.

I didn’t know that black currant was actually banned–wow!  I read up a bit more, and learned they were thought to help spread a fungus that threatened the timber industry, so black and red currants were federally banned in 1911.  By 1966, disease-resistant varieties were developed, and the government left it up to the states as to whether to keep them banned.  Although most states eventually lifted the ban (some quite recently), black and red currant is still banned in some states.

Cidery Description:  Balance is everything . . . In life, and in great ciders.  Number 12 is no different.  We are continuously experimenting to achieve a perfect balance.  Number 12 gets its namesake from the 12th recipe developed in 2011.  It became our first award winner and the beginning of our recognition from the cider community.  Since then, it has become more of a concept, our ideal if you will.  Number 12 represents the idea that greatness in cider is out there somewhere . . . To strive for, to create, to perfect!

They have a tap room in Buffalo Minnesota.

Price:  n/a (retails for $11)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Deep purple-red hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells of sour black currant and cherry.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low to moderate astringency.  Low bitterness and funk.  Low to moderate sourness.  Notes of black currant, cherry, red wine, blackberry, lemon, mineral, and sharp crabapples.  Moderate length finish.  No apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity, complexity, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked the jam-like black currant flavor, but it was a bit too sour, dry, and acidic for my personal tastes.  However, it is well-made and unique.  It had a lot of black currant flavor for how dry it is.

Most Similar to:  Virtue Cider Cherry Mitten.  I found Black Currant Dry to have almost as much cherry flavor as black currant.  Black currant is a popular flavor addition for cider (especially here in the PNW), and I’ve tried a number of them, although none that were of this style (they have all been sweeter and tart but not sour): 2 Towns Dark Currant, Finnriver Black Currant & Lavender Black Currant & Oak Aged Crew Selection Black Currant & Black Currant Brandywine, Carlton Black Currant Scrumpy, Moonlight Meadery Crimes of Passion, and Reverend Nat’s Whiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black Currant.

Closing Notes:   To be honest, I didn’t really care for any of the three ciders I tried from Number 12, although the Chestnut Semi-Dry was probably my favorite (and the most approachable).  However, fans of dry farmhouse-style ciders with a bit of sourness & funk likely will enjoy them.  Everyone doesn’t like every cider, and there are styles which appeal to each person.  They are a great value too, at $11-$13 for a 750ml bottle.  Side note – Number 12 uses malolactic fermentation in their secondary fermentation stage (see here), which converts lactic acid to carbon dioxide, reducing acid and smoothing out the flavor, but this process also adds a bit of sourness.  Many people really enjoy that flavor in their cider (or beer or wine), but some like me haven’t yet acquired the taste for it.

Have you tried Number 12 Ciders?  What did you think?

Number 12 Sparkling Dry

Review of Number 12 Ciderhouse’s Sparkling Dry, their flagship cider.  I previously tried their Chestnut Semi-Dry.

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Number 12.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

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Cider:  Sparkling Dry
Cidery:  Number 12 Ciderhouse
Cidery Location:  Buffalo, Minnesota
ABV:  7.4%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from Minnesota apples, fermented dry, sparkling

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Availability:  Number 12 ciders are sold in these locations in Minnesota.

Cider Description:  Number 12 Sparkling Dry is a truly dry, English style cider with a slightly tart finish. It has just the right amount of dry and tart, with an appley bouquet and a champagne-like sparkle. It is blended with 10 varieties of local apples, picked and pressed and fermented to goodness. Sparkling Dry is the culmination of 17 years of experimentation and we’re ready to share!

Cidery Description:  Balance is everything . . . In life, and in great ciders.  Number 12 is no different.  We are continuously experimenting to achieve a perfect balance.  Number 12 gets its namesake from the 12th recipe developed in 2011.  It became our first award winner and the beginning of our recognition from the cider community.  Since then, it has become more of a concept, our ideal if you will.  Number 12 represents the idea that greatness in cider is out there somewhere . . . To strive for, to create, to perfect!

They have a tap room in Buffalo Minnesota.

Price:  n/a (retails for $13)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  Moderate carbonation with some foam.  Smells mild, of citrus with hints of sourness and funk.

Tasting Notes:  Fully dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Very high acid.  Moderate astringency.  Mild tannins, bitterness, funk, and sourness.  Notes of lemon, grapefruit, mineral, green apple, pineapple, white blossom, and crabapples.  Sharp mouth-puckering flavor.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion: Well-made, but its not really a style I enjoy.  It reminds me of farmhouse-style cider, with its high acidity and some sourness & funk.  Sparkling Dry is similar to their Chestnut Semi-Dry, but drier, higher acidity, more fruity, and without oak.  I didn’t really pick up on the English-style mentioned in the description (which makes me think of tannins and rich cider apple flavor).

Most Similar to:  Other farmhouse-style dry acid-forward ciders such as Millstone Farmgate DrySietsema Traditional Dry, and Angry Orchard Walden Hollow.

Closing Notes:   I’m glad I got to try this one.  Next up I have their Black Currant Dry.

Have you tried Number 12 Ciders?  What did you think?

Seattle Cider Dry

Review of Seattle Cider Company’s Dry cider.  I’ve also tried their PNW Berry, Semi-Sweet, Olympic Honey, Plum Gose, Oaked MapleHarvest Series Gravenstein Rosé, and Gose varieties.

Cider:  Dry
Cidery:  Seattle Cider Company
Cidery Location:  Seattle WA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  four pack of 16oz cans (and kegs)
Style:  American craft sessionable canned cider made from dessert apple varieties

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Availability:  Year round, at least in AK, CA, CO, IL, MN, OR, TX, WA, and WI.  Their website includes lists of stores by state & city.

Cider Description:  One of the driest ciders on the market. The golden orange glow of this unique unfiltered cider lends way to notes of lilac, blood orange and green apple on the nose. Dry and pleasantly acidic, flavors of nectarine, under ripe peach and tart cherry hit the palate with no residual sweetness.

Made from Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious, and Golden Delicious apples.

Cidery Description:  Seattle Cider Company is Seattle’s first cidery since Prohibition, bringing true craft cider back to Seattle and across the country. Bridging the gap between wine and beer with flavorful, small-batch cider, Seattle Cider’s initial offerings – Dry and Semi-Sweet – break the mold of overly sweet cider, bringing the natural flavors of Washington apples to the forefront.

They have a tasting room (The Woods, shared with Two Beers Brewing) in Seattle WA, which I visited last year (see here).

Price:  ~$3 for a single can (runs $11-$13 for a four pack)
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I’ve always known about this cider, but wasn’t really into drier ciders, so put off trying it.

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow.  Low carbonation upon pouring.  Smells clean & crisp, very mild, of green apples, citrus, and yeast.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Moderate to high acidity.  Light bodied.  Low carbonation.  Low tartness.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of green apples, citrus, yeast, mineral, and floral.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple influence.  Moderate to high sessionability.

My Opinion:  This was a pretty standard canned dry cider from dessert apples.  I didn’t really pick up the fruity notes the description eluded to.  I prefer a bit more sweetness and flavor, so as far as their flagship ciders, I like Semi-Sweet more than Dry.  My favorite from them so far is Olympic Honey.  However, overall, Seattle Cider Company’s cider style isn’t really to my liking.

Most Similar to:  Ace Joker, and especially, Original Sin Extra Dry.  I liked the Original Sin best of the three, as I found it to be the most complex.

Closing Notes:   This isn’t really a style of cider I enjoy, but it was nice to try.

Have you tried Seattle Cider Dry?  What did you think?

WildCraft Flagship Dry Hard Cider

Review of WildCraft Cider Works’ flagship dry Hard Cider.  WildCraft opened in Eugene Oregon in November 2014.  They were nice enough to send me a box full of their cider (which is especially awesome as they aren’t yet available in WA), so I have a number of varieties from them to review in the coming weeks.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by WildCraft Cider Works.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

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Cider:  Hard Cider
Cidery:  WildCraft Cider Works
Cidery Location:  Eugene OR
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottle

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Availability:  Year round, but currently only in Eugene, Portland, and Medford Oregon.

Cider Description:  Our flagship Dry Cider, made entirely from Oregon apples is locally sourced and pressed. This is a classic dry session cider with enough complexity to enjoy year round, all the time. Unpasteurized & bottle conditioned.

Made from Honeycrisp, Gala, Granny Smith, Pippen, Winesap, and/or Empire apples.

Cidery Description:  At WildCraft Cider Works, we pride ourselves on developing innovative, artisanal dry ciders inspired by traditional and wild methodology. Insisting on whole fruit and botanicals grown in Oregon to create pure ciders without artificial flavorings, sulfites or added sweeteners. WildCraft cider is uniquely dry cider unpasteurized & bottle conditioned. We consider ourselves stewards of the outdoors; always acting consciously to ensure that our ingredients are regional.

WildCraft sets themselves apart from most other cideries by using mostly fruit from old homesteads that would otherwise go unused, plus unwanted fruit from community drives.  All their fruit is Oregon-grown and pressed at the cidery.  In addition to ciders, they also have a line of perries (made from pears).  They avoid the use of sulfites in their ciders, which is quite rare and can be difficult to pull off.

WildCraft has a tap house at their Eugene OR cidery with 10 of their ciders & perries on tap at a time, plus they have a full bar (including cider cocktails), and a full farm to table restaurant!  This article from Feb 2015 has a nice writeup on them.

Price:  n/a (but retails for $5.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Facebook and word of mouth

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First Impression:  Slightly hazy straw yellow with a few large bubbles at the edge of the glass.  Slightly funky, dry, sour, and tart apple scent.

Opinion:  Completely dry.  Moderate sourness, tartness, astringency, and funk.  High acidity.  No bitterness.  Light bodied.  Moderate carbonation.  Relative quick finish, and fairly sessionable.  I detected some mild citrus and honey notes.

Most Similar to:  Nothing I have tried.  This flagship cider is definitely unique, having some of those Sidra-like notes but still having a lot of characteristic flavor of what I have come to think of as American flagship cider.  However, WildCraft uses a couple heirloom apple varieties in addition to common eating / dessert apples, which give it a touch of tannins, astringency, and depth.  This is more approachable than some ciders of a similar style (Millstone comes to mind), but may still be a big step for someone used to approachable sweet commercial cider.

Closing Notes:   This was quite an interesting cider, but it wasn’t really to my liking.  Without the sourness and with a bit more residual sugar, I think I would have found it more enjoyable.  I think they are doing some great things at WildCraft though, and are very reasonably priced.  I think folks looking for a unique cider on the dry end of the spectrum which aren’t opposed to some sourness and funk should give this a try.  I look forward to trying the rest of the ciders that came in my sample box!

Have you tried any WildCraft ciders?  What did you think?