Stone Circle Farmhouse Semi-Dry

Review of Stone Circle Cider’s Farmhouse Semi-Dry.  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery.  I was introduced through Press Then Press, a new online cider store focusing on small batch ciders.  I got a sneak peak, but they are planning to launch late Aug / early Sept 2019; sign up for e-mails to be first in the know.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Press Then Press.  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.<<

Cider:  Farmhouse Semi-Dry
Cidery:  Stone Circle Cider
Cidery Location:  Estacada, OR
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft farmhouse style semi-dry cider from heirloom & bittersweet cider apples

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Availability:  probably only though Press Then Press (which ships to 43/50 states), unless you live near Portland Oregon

Distributor Description:  Don’t taste the same, taste the difference!  Press Then Press – Farm to you small batch cider.  We focus on small batch and hard to find cider.  Please visit our curated online store!  We are a mom and pop who wanted more fine cider available to everyone (over 21), so we started this up.  Press Then Press will email you when a fine cider is available for purchase.  If you want it, visit our site and purchase it!  Pick up your cider in Seattle, or we ship to you.  Sign up with your email to be included on future available ciders.  You will hear about it first!  1) Press the fruit  then  2) Press the order button

Cider Description:  With all of the rich apple character of our Farmhouse Dry, this cider features just a splash of sweetness to enhance the fruit flavor. Made with real cider apples pressed in the fall, this cider is slow fermented all winter, yielding a smooth mostly dry cider that is as drinkable as they come.

Cidery Description:  We own a 36 acre farm, just outside of Estacada, Oregon. It’s a beautiful property that offers lovely views of the Willamette Valley and Coastal Range Mountains. The farm had been exclusively Christmas trees, but we began the transition to heirloom variety cider apples in the winter of 2015. We’ve continued to transition more and more space into cider apples every year since.

Price:  ~ $9.00
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  through Press Then Press

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First Impression:  Hazy orange hue.  Very little carbonation.  Smells funky, of rich rustic apple with some orange.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate to high tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low sourness, tannins, and funk.  Hints of bitterness.  Notes of cider apple juice & pomace, orange, must, leather, and a hint of floral.  Long lightly sour finish, at the back of the palette.  Moderate flavor intensity, complexity, sessionability, and apple flavor.

My Opinion:  I loved the profile of this cider, with the big cider apple flavor, but unfortunately I’m super sensitive to sourness, so due to its presence, I wasn’t personally a fan.  Everyone has different tastes – good thing there are more cider options than ever.  I’d suggest this selection to fans of farmhouse-style / rustic ciders, who like a bit of sourness & funk.  However, overall the levels of both were low, so some may not even notice.  Sourness & funk often occur together, and typically result from wild yeast fermentation, which uses natural yeast in the juice which was on the skin of the apples from the environment, which is typical for a farmhouse-style cider, same with haziness.

I liked that the bottle was clearly labeled ‘farmhouse’, and their website discusses their methods, as I’ve had some surprise bottles I’ve bought that have had even more sourness, but neither the bottle or their website had noted the style.  To be honest I wouldn’t have bought this cider myself due to the style, but I’m glad I got to try it, and I think my personal opinions in a review are more of an afterthought than a focus.

Side Note:  This is an excellent price point for the type of cider, and I liked seeing it available in smaller bottles, as it reduces the price point further, making it an easier buying decision than a $15+ bottle.  This appears to be a current trend, with more heritage cideries using 500 ml instead of 750 ml bottles like they used to do.  I think this helps them be more competitive with smaller modern cideries, making their ciders closer in price to them (and in this case, actually about equivalent).

Most Similar to:  This reminded me a lot of some Normandy France ciders I’ve tried, with rich bittersweet cider apple flavor and some sourness & funk, as well as U.S. ciders of a similar rustic style, like Runcible Old Hoot.

Closing Notes:  I look forward to trying the other ciders in Press Then Press‘ introductory lineup.  Their website is well laid out and informative, making the order process easy, and providing access to unique ciders which otherwise wouldn’t be available to most folks.  Note that they offer 2 other varieties from Stone Circle, their Dry and Sour Cherry, which I will be reviewing soon.

Have you tried Stone Circle cider?  What did you think?

Gitche Gumee Ciderworks Entropy

Review of Gitche Gumee Ciderworks’ debut release, Entropy.  It is my first time trying any of their cider.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Gitche Gumee.  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.<<

Cider:  Entropy (2015 vintage)
Cidery:  Gitche Gumee
Cidery Location:  Hancock Michigan
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  American craft “feral” cider from local wild apples, spontaneously (wild yeast) fermented, barrel aged, bottle conditioned

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Availability:  limited to Northwest Michigan, released August 2017

Cider Description:  We hand press wild, feral apples grown in the stunning Copper Country of Upper Michigan.  Long winters, fresh air, and beautiful summer days conspire to grow large crops of wild apples.  No shortcuts!  These small tart apples are hand-picked by our community, providing opportunities for local groups to forage our forests.  The juice is spontaneously fermented using the wild yeast naturally present on the apple.  No added yeast, water, sugar, sulfites, preservatives, or flavorings.  After a cold fermentation, it is cellar-aged 9 months in small French white oak barrels. The outcome is a delicious, dry, funky and naturally gluten free cider done in a time-honored tradition.  We’re making cider the hard way!

Cidery Description:  Hancock Michigan’s first Hard Cidery. We pride ourselves on producing quality products.

Price:  n/a (retails for $15)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the cidermaker contacted me (Phillip Kelm)

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells of funk, sourness, citrus, and must.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  Moderate funk.  Low sourness.  Notes of lemon, grapefruit, must, oak, honey, herbs, and vinegar.  Moderate length sharp finish.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity, complexity, and sourness.  Low barrel influence.

My Opinion:  Regular readers of my blog will know this isn’t my favorite type of cider.  Everyone doesn’t like every cider.  However, I can say that this is well-made, and an excellent value.  I’d recommend this for fans of dry farmhouse-style ciders.  It is less acidic & sour than some similar ciders I’ve tried, which is likely more friendly to folks not familiar with this style.  There was some nice complexity and flavor.

Most Similar to:  Alpenfire Pirate’s PlankBrooklyn Cider House Half SourNumber 12 Sparkling DryRuncible Cider Light of the MoonAngry Orchard Walden Hollow, and Sietsema Traditional Dry

Side Note:  Something was off with the cork.  I am used to the button top ones with champagne bottles, and this one seemed like a straight cork which was pushed in too far.  Just one of those first release hiccups.  It was all good though, as my husband got it open with a corkscrew and some muscle, and didn’t even get any chunks of cork in the cider!

Closing Notes:  I’m glad I got a chance to try this cider (and was actually among the first, as it is a brand new release).  It’ll be fun to see what they come up with next.

Have you tried Gitchee Gumee cider?  What did you think?

Wrangletown Cider Co. Original

Review of Wrangletown Cider Company’s “Original” cider.  This is my first time trying their cider, and the first of four reviews of their cider lineup.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Wrangletown.  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.<<

Cider:  Original
Cidery:  Wrangletown Cider Co.
Cidery Location:  Arcata CA
ABV:  8.4%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft dry farmhouse-style cider from heirloom & culinary apples

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Availability:  Only in Northern California.  They self distribute, and have a tasting room in Arcata (open Friday thru Sunday and by appointment) in Humboldt county.  The owner also said she may also be able to ship through a third party to some states if there was interest.

Cider Description:  Wrangletown’s “Original” Dry Farmhouse style cider is a combination of several Northern California Orchards.  It is a dry cider, lightly carbonated with fruit forward aroma and bright acidity.  Made from Heirloom and Culinary apples.  This cider was fermented in 74% Stainless steel and 23% used French Oak barrels. 

Cidery Description:  Wrangletown Cider Company produces small batch, dry, bottle conditioned ciders featuring family-owned orchards from Humboldt County, California.

The cidery is owned and operated by Pat Knittel, since 2015 (a one-woman show).  The cidery is named after the “wrangle” town the cidermaker grew up in, which was infamous for two women brawling in the streets.  The cidery had a Kickstarter campaign, successfully raising funds for equipment.  Ciderpress wrote an article after touring the cidery.  Here is another article on the cidery.

Price:  n/a (retails for $16)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  The owner/cidermaker contacted me.

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First Impression:  Hazy lemonade hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells dry, slightly sour, funky, and musty, and of citrus.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Very light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  Hints of sourness and funk.  Notes of heirloom apples, lemon, must, mineral, yeast, and herbs.  Long finish.  Hidden ABV.  Moderate complexity and sessionability.  Low flavor intensity and apple flavor.

My Opinion:  This isn’t my favorite style of cider; I usually go for a more intensely flavored cider, and I found this a bit nuanced.  However, I certainly couldn’t find any faults, and didn’t dislike it.  This is a more introductory farmhouse-style cider, with only hints of sourness & funk.  This will likely appeal to folks who enjoy wine and milder food-friendly ciders.  I always think of my personal opinion as more of an afterthought to my reviews (which is why I don’t rate ciders here).  Everyone has a different taste in ciders, and every cider won’t appeal to every person.

Most Similar to: Alpenfire Pirate’s PlankBrooklyn Cider House Half SourNumber 12 Sparkling DryRuncible Cider Light of the MoonAngry Orchard Walden Hollow, and Sietsema Traditional Dry

Closing Notes:  (1) I look forward to trying the other three ciders that Wrangletown sent.  (2) One thing I’m a big fan of so far is that they clearly describe their cider as dry and farmhouse-style on the label.  I’ve had a number of ciders that were on the extreme end of the farmhouse-style & sour spectrum, and even they weren’t labeled as such (and sometimes I couldn’t find info online saying that either).  It is much appreciated as I enjoy being an informed consumer. (3) Cideries which focus on rustic farmhouse-style ciders seem to be on the rise (I’ve seen it first hand in Portland at Cider Rite of Spring), so there must be a demand.

Have you tried Wrangletown Cider?  What did you think?