2 Towns Afton Field

Review of 2 Towns Afton Field, part of their Traditions line.  I previously at least tried this on tap (see here), plus I’ve had most of their cider lineup (see here).

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<This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by 2 Towns.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received this for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review que, considering it is a new release and the info may be helpful for folks deciding to purchase it.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.>

Cider:  Afton Field, 2017
Cidery:  2 Towns Ciderhouse
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  375ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft heritage farmhouse-style dry cider, barrel aged 1 year, bottle conditioned (soured) with Brettanomyces yeast

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Availability:  limited release, yearly in April [in Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska, Idaho, Hawaii, Chicago, and parts of Minnesota & Montana (see their cider finder)]

Cider Description:  Inspired by farmhouse ciders of the pioneer West, Afton Field is a testament to the tenacity of these settlers and their enduring orchards. Fresh-pressed, hand-picked Wickson crab, Newtown Pippin and other pioneer apple varieties are fermented, aged in oak barrels, and bottle conditioned with wild Brettanomyces yeast. Bone dry, unfiltered and uncompromising, this farmhouse cider is wild at heart and at home on the rustic table.

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:  n/a (retails for ~ $10)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

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First Impression:  Slightly hazy light straw yellow hue.  No carbonation.  Smells of musty sharp apple.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Light bodied.  High tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  Moderate funk.  Low sourness and tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  Notes of sharp crab apple, lemon, must, straw, mineral, and a hint of herbs.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate apple flavor and sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate to high complexity.

My Opinion:  This isn’t a style that personally appeals to me.  I’d recommend this for fans of bone dry farmhouse-style (sour, rustic) ciders and/or beers.

Most Similar to:  other bone dry farmhouse-style ciders, such as Alpenfire Pirate’s Plank, Gitche Gumee Ciderworks EntropyNumber 12 Sparkling DryRuncible Cider Light of the MoonAngry Orchard Walden Hollow, and Sietsema Traditional Dry

Closing Notes:  I think moving their ‘Traditions’ line from a separate brand of large ~$20 bottles to smaller ~$10 bottles under the 2 Towns brand (but differentiated by bottle type/size and label format) a couple years ago was a very smart move, as they are an easier sell.

Have you tried 2 Towns Afton Field?  What did you think?

J.K.’s Scrumpy Farmhouse Summer

Review of Farmhouse Summer from J.K.’s Scrumpy.  This is their summer seasonal offering, and like all their cider, is organic, unfiltered, preservative/sulfite free, and made only from fresh pressed juice.

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Cider:  Farmhouse Summer
Cidery:  J.K.’s Scrumpy
Cidery Location:  Flushing MI (Almar Orchard)
ABV:  4.5%
How Supplied:  22oz bottle

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Availability:  Summer seasonal, semi wide release, found in approximately 35/50 states, and in parts of Canada

Cider Description:  The Koan family invites you to try their seasonal offering: Grandfather’s Summer Cider.  Served to toiling farm hands for a job well done in the Michigan summer, this refreshing beverage with a zest of orange, the richness of plump raisins, and a hint of coriander, aims to quench your thirst.  Discover our cider, our farm, our history.  -Jim Koan, independent American Farmer.

Additional Information from J.K.’s Scrumpy:  They grow 50 varieties of apples on 500 acres on their farm.  In the 1970s there were 36 orchards in their area, and now, only 2! Approximately 16 of those varieties go into Farmhouse Summer, including Harrison, Spy, and Cortland.  The cider is fermented for 6-16 months, then blended for consistency.  Therefore no two batches are ever alike (as they say, just how Mother Nature intended).

 They sent me these links:
Thanks to Sabrina from J.K.’s Scrumpy for the extra info!

Cidery Description:  This Original Hard-Cider has been made on our family-owned farm in Flushing, Michigan for well over a hundred years. It was first pressed back in the 1850’s. Not much as changed in the process since then. We use the same apples from the same orchards as my great-great grandfather did before the time of the Civil War. We are proud of that. It gives us a sense of history.  The cider has played an important role in the ongoing history of our farm. The sale of cider actually saved our farm during the Great Depression. And, during the Prohibition people came from far and wide for our “Special Farm Cider.”  We grow vegetables and fruits here at Almar, but our cider has kept us in business when times have gotten tough. Regretfully, it seems that history has a habit of repeating itself…These past few years, many of our nation’s orchards have closed their barn doors and orchard gateways as the influx of apple juice made from cheap concentrates arrive in the USA from China and South America. Some call it a “sign of the times,” and others seem to appreciate the “bargain” at the grocery store.  All I can say is that our Orchard Gate Gold is the real thing. It’s not a “made using” or “contains” product. IT IS REAL CIDER. Pure, natural and uniquely flavorful. We grow, harvest, and press the apples right here on the farm. It is time-consuming, labor-intensive and worth every bit of what it takes to make it.  Our cider is not only natural, it is truly organic. It always has been. It’s simply a fact of what we do – and how we do it. We use no insecticides in the farm orchards. Rather, I do what my grandfather did. I have a large flock of guinea fowl that wander about and eat the bugs. Fallen apples that have hit the ground are always a food source for pests, so I let my Berkshire pigs wander the orchard and eat the fallen apples. In a fast-paced, instant gratification society all this may seem a little old fashioned, or not “cost-effective.” But, we have a cider that is not like any other, and the idea of playing around with what makes that happen… well, it just ain’t part of the plan.

Price:  $3.99 (on sale from $6.99)
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I had seen this variety, but had been hesitant to try it due to the orange, coriander, and raisins, which just sounded weird.  However, discussion at the Hard Cider Appreciation Society on Facebook indicated these flavors weren’t too prominent, so when I saw it on sale I thought I’d give it a try.

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First Impression:  Hazy light amber.  Still.  Smells like sweet ripe apples, pear, citrus, and cinnamon.

Opinion:  Very sweet.  Orange, citrus, and honey notes.  However, I didn’t taste any of the pear or spice I smelled.  Apparently coriander can taste like citrus (I looked that up as its not something I’m familiar with; I also learned coriander is the seeds of the cilantro plant).  No significant acidity, tartness, or bitterness.  Medium bodied.  Syrupy taste and texture.  Quick finish, but I got an annoying lingering aftertaste/feeling at the back of my throat with this cider, almost minty?  It wasn’t as prominent for my husband, but he noticed it once I mentioned it.

Some notes about this style of cider:

  • Apparently the high degree of sweetness in their ciders is from arrested fermentation.  Allowing the cider to completely ferment makes a drier cider (as the yeast has fermented most/all of the sugar to alcohol).  This is why cidermakers often back sweeten their ciders with unfermented juice (plus that is a way to bring the ABV down to a target level).  By arresting the fermentation process they retain more sweetness.
  • Scrumpy usually refers to cider made from “scrumped” apples (which is either defined as those stolen from the ground or those which are old & shriveled up) in the West Country of England, which can be a potent and rough style of cider.  I’ve had one true Scrumpy cider, Serious Scrump from 2 Towns, and it wasn’t for me.  However, currently this term is instead used to indicate that a cider is a craft / artisan product.
  • Almost all commercial ciders use sulfites (sulphur dioxide) as a preservative.  Avoiding their use is more difficult as sulfites are used to kill the natural yeast on the apples.  The use of sulfites makes a more standardized product and reduces the risk of spoilage.  Pasteurization can instead be used.  Some folks are sensitive to sulfites, so its good to see that folks have the option of cider without them (although a small amount can be naturally occurring from the fermentation process).

Most Similar to:  Other ciders from J.K.’s Scrumpy, which have a  unique sweet farmhouse (unfiltered) taste.

Closing Notes:   I really support all their practices at J.K.’s Scrumpy / Almar Orchards (organic, no preservatives, etc), but I didn’t care for this cider.  Its amazing how low they can keep their price point while maintaining all those practices.  However, I really like their Northern Neighbor cider, which is made from Michigan and Canadian Saskatoon apples.  I’ve also tried their flagship Orchard Gate Gold, but not their Winterruption (winter seasonal) or Pair Perry.  They will have Pair Perry at Cider Summit Seattle, so I look forward to trying that one!  J.K.’s Scrumpy ciders are great for folks who like a sweet cider but want a craft product (affordable and semi widely available too).

Have you tried J.K.’s Scrumpy Farmhouse Summer?  What did you think?