Finnriver Fire Barrel

Review of Finnriver Fire Barrel.   I’ve tried the previous version of this (see here) as well as this new version on tap (see here), but now I’m reviewing a new bottle in more detail.  I’ve also tried most of Finnriver’s lineup (see here).

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Cider:  Fire Barrel
Cidery:  Finnriver
Cidery Location:  Chimacum WA
ABV:  9.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottle (and draft)

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Availability:  Limited release.  Finnriver ciders are sold in WA, OR, CA, AZ, NV, TX, IL, CO, and Alberta & BC Canada (detailed info here).  They also have an online store (which can ship to WA, OR, CA, AK, CO, MN, FL, & WA D.C.), but I didn’t see this one at the time of review.

Cider Description:  A robust, bold and balanced taste of traditional cider apples— with a whisper of whiskey and rye spice; smoky aromas; notes of caramel and vanilla; and a mature, tannic finish.

100% Finnriver orchard organic cider apples: Chisel Jersey, Brown Snout, Harry Master’s Jersey, Medaille d’Or, Frequin rouge, Dabinette & Major.

Carefully farmcrafted and fermented with a blend of homegrown Finnriver orchard organic cider apples and white wine yeast in stainless steel tanks. Once the fermentation is complete, we cask the cider in Washington rye whiskey barrels for 5 months to impart depth and character. This award-winning cider was inspired by PNW cidermaker Drew Zimmerman, whose mentorship and cider apple trees helped us establish our orchard.

After chilling, allow the cider to warm slightly and serve; we favor Fire Barrel in a Belgian-style tulip glass. Try it with roasted pork, slow roasted brisket, a blue cheese burger, cured meats, smoked cheeses or any other hearty, savory fare. Caramelize an onion with Firebarrel cider and add to a dish for a feisty meal.

Cidery Description:  At Finnriver we gather and ferment the flavors of the land to offer you farmcrafted hard ciders and spirited fruit wines. We are inspired by the allure of the fruit, the ancient history of the craft of fermentation and the lively traditions we now seek to revive.  Our mission is to inspire a deeper connection to the land that sustains us….Some of these ciders are small-batch, seasonal and labor-intensive. Others are produced with contemporary methods and more readily available year-round…Finnriver grows over twenty varieties of traditional and heirloom apples in our organic orchard, to feature in our traditional and specialty ciders.

Finnriver has a great illustrated product guide (see here).  They have a tasting room and are on the Olympic Pennsylvania cider route, along with the Eaglemount and Alpenfire cideries.

Price:  $25
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  My husband got this for me for Christmas!  He didn’t know I had already tried this new release, but had remembered me loving the old one.

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First Impression:  Light caramel amber hue.  Nearly still.  Smells of cider apples, caramel, and bourbon.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Very light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of bittersweet cider apples, caramel, brown sugar, leather, orange, bourbon, smoke, and oak.  Long bitter finish.  Moderate apple flavor and flavor intensity.  Low barrel influence and sessionability.  Low to moderate bourbon influence.  Moderate to high complexity.

Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  However, compared to the old release, this is a disappointment.  The price is significantly higher, it is drier, less flavorful, more bitter, and thinner bodied.  I agree to serve this at cellar temperature (between fridge & room temp), as colder would mute the flavor.  I even enjoy ciders of this style at room temperature.

Most Similar to:  Other ciders from bittersweet cider apples.  This reminds me of English cider, but with the added bourbon and oak.

Closing Notes:   I am curious about next year’s release, and if it will be more like the previous version that I absolutely love.

Have you tried Finnriver Fire Barrel?  What did you think?

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Finnriver Pommeau

Review of Finnriver’s Pommeau, which is a mix of cider and apple brandy.  I tried a bottle pour of this awhile back.  I picked up this bottle in February when my husband took me to Port Townsend for cider tasting for my birthday (see here, plus posts on Finnriver, Eaglemount, and Alpenfire).  I’ve previously tried most of Finnriver’s line-up; see here.

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Cider:  Pommeau
Cidery:  Finnriver
Cidery Location:  Chimacum WA
ABV:  18.5%
How Supplied:  500ml square short bottle (cork in cap)
Style:  American craft Pommeau apple wine (cider + apple brandy), oak aged

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Availability:  Likely difficult to find outside of their Port Townsend area cidery & farm and their booth at the Ballard Farmer’s Market.  In general, Finnriver ciders are sold in WA, OR, CA, AZ, NV, TX, IL, CO, and Alberta & BC Canada (detailed info here).  They also have an online store (which can ship to WA, OR, CA, AK, CO, MN, FL, & WA D.C.).

Cider Description: Fermenting at Finnriver is a process of discovery – a blend of ancient wisdom, modern chemistry, farm ingenuity, and nature’s magic.  We are inspired by the generosity of the orchard and by the possibilities of the apple.  We hope this bottle of elegant, aged apple wine gives you a rich and rewarding sip of the earth’s bounty.

Pommeau in general is made from apple juice (typically unfermented but sometimes fermented) and apple brandy.  This one was oak aged, and released in January 2016.

Cidery Description:  At Finnriver we gather and ferment the flavors of the land to offer you farmcrafted hard ciders and spirited fruit wines. We are inspired by the allure of the fruit, the ancient history of the craft of fermentation and the lively traditions we now seek to revive.  Our mission is to inspire a deeper connection to the land that sustains us….Some of these ciders are small-batch, seasonal and labor-intensive. Others are produced with contemporary methods and more readily available year-round…Finnriver grows over twenty varieties of traditional and heirloom apples in our organic orchard, to feature in our traditional and specialty ciders.  They have a tasting room open seven days a week, noon to 5pm, and are on the Olympic Pennsylvania cider route along with Eaglemount and Alpenfire cideries.

Price:  $40
Where Bought:  Finnriver’s tasting room in Chimacum WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I tried this awhile back when some friends brought it to a cider tasting party at my house.

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First Impression:  Medium amber.  Still.  Smells boozy, apple forward, and of caramelized and brown sugars.

Tasting Notes:  I preferred this with an ice cube or two.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, honey, leather, oak, and hints of spice.  Long warming finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Low sessionability.  Moderate complexity and flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I really liked it.  However, it wasn’t nearly as good as when I tried it before; the flavor seemed muted and it had an odd texture in the mouth.  Maybe as this bottle had a lot of floating particulates (yeast?).

Most Similar to:  Other Pommeau.  Besides Finnriver, I’ve tried selections from 2 Towns (2015 release), Traditions (2 Towns, 2013 release), Etienne Dupont, and Wandering Aengus.  I’d put Finnriver’s Pommeau somewhere in the middle of the list as far as my favorites go.  I like the sweet flavorful ones best.

Closing Notes:   This was a special treat!  One of the great things about Pommeau is that due to the high alcohol content, it has a longer shelf life after opening it than other ciders, so I can enjoy this bottle for weeks to come.

Have you tried Finnriver Pommeau?  What did you think?

Finnriver Oak and Apple

Review of Finnriver’s Oak and Apple, an oak aged semi-dry cider.  Its been awhile since I tried this cider, and had only tried it on draft, so I was curious to give it another go.  I’ve previously tried many Finnriver ciders (see here).

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Cider:  Oak and Apple
Cidery:  Finnriver
Cidery Location:  Chimacum WA, near Port Townsend
ABV:  6.5%
Specific Gravity: 1.005
BRIX: 1.3
How Supplied:  500ml bottles and draft
Style:  American craft cider from Organic Washington dessert apple varieties, aged in rye whiskey barrels

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Availability:  In general, Finnriver ciders are sold in WA, OR, CA, AZ, NV, TX, IL, CO, and Alberta & BC Canada (detailed info here).  They also have an online store (which can ship to WA, OR, CA, AK, CO, MN, FL, & WA D.C.).  However, this cider might have slightly less availability than some of their more common ones.

Cider Description:  A foundation of bright citrus in this cider is layered with a smooth whiskey depth and spicy rye spirit. A fine, craft cider that showcases American oak, Northwest rye whiskey, and Washington organic apples. Woody astringency balances the acidity, and then finishes with lovely toasted oak and vanilla notes.

Fermented in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures to capture the full ester profile of the apples. Once fermentation is complete, this cider is then aged for 12 to 16 weeks in rye whiskey barrels from High West Distillery in Park City, Utah. The oak gives the cider a liquid gold color. Sweetened with organic cane sugar.

This is part of their new Traditional line of ciders, along with Farmstead, Apple Abbey, and Sidra.

Cidery Description:  At Finnriver we gather and ferment the flavors of the land to offer you farmcrafted hard ciders and spirited fruit wines. We are inspired by the allure of the fruit, the ancient history of the craft of fermentation and the lively traditions we now seek to revive.  Our mission is to inspire a deeper connection to the land that sustains us….Some of these ciders are small-batch, seasonal and labor-intensive. Others are produced with contemporary methods and more readily available year-round…Finnriver grows over twenty varieties of traditional and heirloom apples in our organic orchard, to feature in our traditional and specialty ciders.

Price:  $10
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild, acidic, and of oak with a hint of whiskey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied, very smooth.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of honey, lemon, oak, mineral, almond, and hints of whiskey & vanilla.  Moderate to long finish length, slightly warming.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  Low barrel influence.  Low spirit influence.  Moderate sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  Yum!  However, this is on the mild and easy drinking side of oak aged ciders.  I’d love to see them do a special version of this barrel aged much much longer.  Side note – I had fun with this cider and tried some of it with a bit of my husband’s Peat Monster scotch, which oddly mellowed out the flavor even more.

Most Similar to:  Schilling Oak Aged, especially earlier versions of it (now discontinued).  Both ciders are mild and on the sessionable side for an oak aged cider.  Schilling’s was aged on oak chips, while Finnriver’s was aged in rye whiskey barrels.  I think Finnriver’s is better done however.

My favorite example of a heavily oak aged cider (and one of my favorite ciders ever and also an excellent value) is Sheppy’s Oak Matured.  An example of a great moderately oak aged cider is Liberty Ciderworks Stonewall.

Closing Notes:   I think this is a great cider.  It would be a good introduction to whiskey barrel aged cider, as it isn’t overly boozy, harsh, dry, etc.  Finnriver continues to not disappoint.

Have you tried Finnriver Oak and Apple?  What did you think?

Finnriver Farmstead Cider Traditional Semi-Sweet

Review of Finnriver’s Farmstead Cider Traditional Semi-Sweet, from Chimacum Washington (in the Port Townsend / Olympic Peninsula area).  I’ve tried many ciders from their lineup (see my reviews here).

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Cider:  Farmstead Cider Traditional Semi-Sweet
Cidery:  Finnriver
Cidery Location:  Chimacum WA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottle (I just love this style bottle by the way!)
Style:  farmstead-style craft cider made from Washington-grown homestead, cider, and dessert apple varieties

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Availability:  In general, Finnriver ciders are sold in WA, OR, CA, AZ, NV, TX, IL, CO, and Alberta & BC Canada (detailed info here).  They also have an online store (which can ship to WA, OR, CA, AK, CO, MN, FL, & WA D.C.).  However, this cider might have slightly less availability than some of their more common ones.

Cider Description:  Each Autumn, on World Apple Day, Finnriver invites friends and neighbors from across the North Olympic Peninsula to bring over their buckets, bins, and boxes of backyard apples.  These apples, often wild and antique varieties, are full of tannins that bring out complex and bittersweet flavors.  We ferment this blend of homestead harvested fruit to create an earthy taste of frontier cider tradition.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this cider will benefit local Food Banks.  Enjoy with hearty food and a sense of adventure.

Cidery Description:  At Finnriver we gather and ferment the flavors of the land to offer you farmcrafted hard ciders and spirited fruit wines. We are inspired by the allure of the fruit, the ancient history of the craft of fermentation and the lively traditions we now seek to revive.  Our mission is to inspire a deeper connection to the land that sustains us….Some of these ciders are small-batch, seasonal and labor-intensive. Others are produced with contemporary methods and more readily available year-round…Finnriver grows over twenty varieties of traditional and heirloom apples in our organic orchard, to feature in our traditional and specialty ciders.

Price:  $9
Where Bought:  Finnriver tasting room
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I had heard of this one before but hadn’t got around to trying it.  When I saw it at their tasting room and was picking up some other bottles and merchandise, I thought I might as well since I was there.

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First Impression:  Medium honey straw yellow (the photo turned out a bit dark).  Very low carbonation upon pouring.  Smells of bittersweet apples with some tannins, yeast, honey, and citrus.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Low to moderate tannins.  Moderate acidity.  Low tartness.  A hint of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Medium bodied.  The flavor starts with acidity and finishes with tannins.  Notes of oak, honey, yeast, citrus, spice, and vanilla.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate apple influence.  Low to moderate sessionability.  Moderate to full flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  Tasty!  I liked how flavorful it was without resorting to any additions to the cider (fruit, hops, spice, etc).  It has some tannins but remains quite approachable, especially as it has some residual sweetness.

Most Similar to:  Eaglemount Homestead Semi-Sweet (see my tasting notes here).  Both are farmstead/homestead-style ciders on the sweeter side with significant tannins and honey & yeast notes.  Oddly enough I’m drinking the Eaglemount cider as I’m writing this review!

Closing Notes:   I enjoyed this cider, but their Fire Barrel remains my favorite (see my review here).  Fire Barrel tastes similar to Farmstead, but has a bolder flavor and the added complexity of barrel aging.  Plus, Fire Barrel only costs a couple dollars more if I remember correctly, so that seems like a good value.  Finnriver makes many cider varieties and they are easy to find in my area, so I’ll continue to try whatever they make.

Have you tried Finnriver Farmstead?  What did you think?

Port Townsend Cider Route – Finnriver Cider

As a continuation of my trip report on the Port Townsend cider route, here is post 4/4, on Finnriver Cider.  Check out here for overview post 1, here for post 2 on Alpenfire, and here for post 3 on Eaglemount.  It was our third and last cidery visit of the day.  Finnriver is unique in that they were a farm prior to becoming a cidery (and still are, growing produce and raising chickens for eggs).  They are on 80 acres in the Chimacum Valley, south of Port Townsend.  Finnriver Cidery was founded in 2008 by husband & wife Crystie & Keith Kisler and their business partner Eric Jorgensen.  I learned that in May they plan to move the tasting room about 2.5 miles down the road, to their orchard location.

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They also recently became a B corporation, the first winery/cidery in WA to do so.  This means they promise to meet higher standards of transparency, accountability, and performance, and are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their employees, suppliers, community, the environment, etc.  They believe that “all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered.”  B Corp status can be compared to Fair Trade, LEED, or Organic certification, but is more comprehensive, a commitment to harness the power of their business to solve social, environmental, and economic problems.

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Unfortunately they had the most restrictive tasting options of the three cideries due to the Red Wine & Chocolate & Cider event, but also the most chocolate pairings.  I look forward to visiting them (and the other cideries) again soon.  There is also a Port Townsend cider tasting event in August, Summer Cider Day, featuring the three Port Townsend cideries and many others, which I want to attend.

We started outside in the pavilion, with a sample of their Crew Selection Black Currant cider.  It is similar to their regular Black Currant cider (which I reviewed here), but made with local black currants from Tahlequah Farm in Agnew, and aged 8 weeks in oak barrels.  I found it light bodied, with moderate carbonation, semi-dry to semi-sweet, a touch of oak flavor, mild to moderate tartness, and moderate acidity.  It was slightly richer and less tart than their regular Black Currant cider.  They also offer a Lavender Black Currant cider (which I reviewed here) and a Black Currant Brandywine (which I reviewed here), so I think they like Black Currant!

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Next we were served a beverage mixing their Cacao & Pear Brandywine with Theo sipping chocolate.  It tasted like a very thick & rich hot chocolate with a boozy finish.  It was paired with a Raspberry Brandywine and Cacao chocolate handpie from Crust Bakery, served warm out of their pizza oven, a buttery pastry crust with rich chocolate.

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Then we moved inside and sampled Love & Bubbles, a mix of their Artisan Sparkling Cider (which I reviewed here) with their Raspberry Brandywine.  I found the raspberry wine to tone down the acidity of the sparkling cider.  Overall it was semi-dry, so I assume more cider was used than brandywine.  Tasty!

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Next up was their brand new Liberry Brandywine, made with red currants from Tahlequah Farm in Agnew, as a fundraiser for the Jefferson County library system.  Sweet.  Moderate acidity and tartness.  Long boozy finish.  I found it to have more tartness and zing than their Black Currant Brandywine.

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Last was the Spirited Blackberry Wine.  Its made from apple brandy and blackberries, and aged with oak spirals.  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate acidity and tartness.  Long finish.  It was a bit too alcohol-forward for my tastes; I prefer their brandywines so far.

I learned that their tall clear bottles of brandywines are cordial style and their shorter dark bottles of spirited wines are port style.  The brandywines have more apple brandy and less fruit wine (at a lower ABV).

They also had truffles from Elevated Chocolate, which were tasty.

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I bought bottles of their Pommeau (which I reviewed here, when a friend let me sample some), Farmstead cider, & Fresh Hopped (for my husband), some cute apple earrings, and a t-shirt.

My favorite ciders overall from Finnriver so far are their Pommeau, Fire Barrel, Lavender Black Currant, and Honey Meadow, and I’ve tried quite a few from them (19 per my Ciders I’ve Tried list).

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This concludes my four part series on the Port Townsend cider route–thanks for reading!

Port Townsend Cider Route – Road Trip Report

I finally made it out the Olympic Peninsula to visit the three Port Townsend Washington area cideries, Alpenfire, Eaglemount, and Finnriver.  My husband took me on a birthday weekend getaway, and we stayed the night in Port Ludlow (South of Port Townsend).  This post will cover the trip as a whole, then I’ll have three other posts for tasting notes and info on each of the three cideries.

We planned this trip a couple months in advance, but it ended up being weekend 2/2 of a Red Wine (& Cider) & Chocolate Valentine’s Day thing, so unfortunately that meant I didn’t get the typical tasting experience.  In addition to having a different tasting selection, the cideries appeared to be charging more for tastings (as they were offering chocolate pairings).  However, that also meant that Alpenfire was open (they usually close for the Winter this time of year).

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It was an early wake up for a Saturday, as I wanted to allow extra time for ferry delays or whatever just in case, although the trip is only a couple hours.

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(1) We started with the 8am Edmonds to Kingston ferry, which is a quick 30 minute trip, but actually didn’t save us much time (vs. driving around to the South), but is fun and breaks up the trip.

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(2) Then we headed up North to Port Townsend, did a quick driving tour of the town, and ate a late breakfast at a cute French-themed restaurant called Sweet Laurette (which was very good).

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(3) Next we realized the Mount Townsend Creamery was on our route, and we had a bit of time, so that was a fun quick stop.

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(4) Then, on to our first cider stop, Alpenfire!  We got lucky as for this event weekend they opened at 11am instead of noon, giving us an extra hour.  Also, we ended up being the only guests at Alpenfire, likely as it was so early.

I should note that this area is lovely just to take a drive, surrounded by trees.

(5) Next was Eaglemount (at their new location by the way–the cider route maps still have their old address).  They are unique on the cider route as they also make grape wine and honey wine (mead) in addition to cider.

(6) After that we stopped in at the Chimacum Corner Farmstand to take a look.

(7) Last, we ended the cider route at Finnriver.  We made good time and finished up there just before 4pm (so without the hour head start it would have been 5pm).

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(8) Finally, we drove South to Port Ludlow to the Inn at the Resort at Port Ludlow.  It appears to be the nicest accommodations in the area.  There aren’t many newer / higher priced options in Port Townsend.  Port Ludlow is actually closer to Finnriver than Port Townsend (and closer to the ferry), so it wasn’t really an inconvenience.  The main thing it impacted was our dinner options, as Port Ludlow is much smaller than Port Townsend…we ended up at The Fireside restaurant at the Inn for both dinner and breakfast, which was very nice, but definitely added to the cost.  The Inn is beautifully situated on the marina in the planned community of Port Ludlow.

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I was surprised at how small it was, less than 40 rooms, although they also have several event and banquet rooms.  Overall I think it was overpriced (it looked nice on the surface but the room had a lot of little annoyances like a loud heater & mini fridge and uncomfortable bed), but for the level of accommodations we are used to, it was the best option.  We had time before dinner to walk along the waterfront.  Its a popular destination for weddings, and I imagine they are full all summer long (even without air conditioning!).  For our February stay however it was fairly quiet.

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I was drawn to the restaurant’s cider selection on their online menu, but it ended up being a disappointment…they had reduced their ciders from 4 by the glass, 4 by the bottle, 1 Pommeau, and several Finnriver brandywines to only 1 by the glass (Eaglemount Ginger), 1 by the bottle (Alpenfire Glow), and the Finnriver brandywines.  You’d think their best option would be to stock 500ml Finnriver bottles as to not have to keep anything open, have ciders that are widely appealing (not ginger), and have something that one person could order (plus although Glow is amazing, I’d call it more of a dessert cider than something to pair with dinner).  I ended up ordering a cocktail with Prosecco and Finnriver Black Currant brandywine.  The food was amazing but the service was absent at times.  Overall our stay met our needs but didn’t amaze us.

Wanting to make this trip yourself?  Here are my tips:

  • Although its doable to make it a day trip from the greater Seattle area (especially as the cideries are only typically open noon-5pm), staying overnight was great, and gave us a chance to have a leisurely dinner too instead of rushing home.  However, especially in the summer, be warned that hotels book very quickly, likely as there are few options.
  • Definitely be safe and have a designated driver, as its a lot of cider tasting in a short period of time.
  • Plan your route.  I’m glad I planned the order we’d visit the cideries, how long of a drive between them, etc.  It wouldn’t have been fun to go on the trip and end up only making it to 2/3 cideries for example due to running out of time.
  • Bring some snacks, as there are very few options once you start the cider route, and cider tasting on an empty stomach isn’t wise.  Apparently in summer some of the cideries may offer food though (such as pizza at Finnriver).  One option is the Chimacum Corner Farmstand, which is a mix between a roadside produce stand and a mini PCC (plus they even sell garden type stuff like fertilizer outside).  They are close to Finnriver and have some grab & go lunch type stuff.  We stopped in but didn’t end up buying anything.  Due to our large breakfast just before starting the cider route, we ended up being ok food-wise until the third stop at Finnriver, where we had some of the snacks we brought (I went a bit fancy and packed us a cheese plate in a cooler).
  • Cash wasn’t necessary, although it could be handy for tasting fees and tips.  All three cideries used the credit card payment app Square on an ipad (no extra fee).
  • Plan to purchase bottles (and cidery swag if interested), as you will get a chance to taste at least a few ciders that aren’t distributed.  Cinders at Alpenfire and Pommeau at Finnriver for example.

Stay tuned for my tasting notes from Alpenfire, Eaglemount, and Finnriver!

(UPDATE – Posts on Alpenfire, Eaglemount, and Finnriver are now up.)

Finnriver Artisan Sparkling Brut Cider

Review of Finnriver’s Artisan Sparkling Brut cider, made using the traditional labor intensive méthode champenoise.  I’ve tried a good portion of Finnriver’s lineup, but I think this is the first time I’ve tried a special release cider.

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Cider:  Artisan Sparkling Brut
Cidery:  Finnriver
Cidery Location:  Chimacum WA
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  375ml corked & caged champagne bottle (also more widely available in a 750ml size)
Style:  American méthode champenoise sparkling cider

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Availability:  In general, Finnriver ciders are sold in WA, OR, CA, AZ, NV, TX, IL, CO, and Alberta & BC Canada (detailed info here).  They also have an online store (which can ship to WA, OR, CA, AK, CO, MN, FL, & WA D.C.).  However, this is a special release, and likely has more limited availability.

Cider Description:  Crafted using the traditional, labor-intensive méthode champenoise, this bright, naturally carbonated brut champagne-style cider offers an effervescent apple bouquet, tart elements of the orchard, and a crisp, clean finish.  To make this cider, we learned old world methods of secondary fermentation in the bottle that require daily hand turning of each bottle on woodenriddling racks (constructed by our boat-building neighbor Pete), and then disgorging residual yeast sediment one bottle at a time.  This is ‘slow cider’ that results in golden clarity and enduring bubbles in every glass.  A unqiue alternative to champagne that features Washington organic dessert apples at their most sparkling!

Cidery Description:  At Finnriver we gather and ferment the flavors of the land to offer you farmcrafted hard ciders and spirited fruit wines. We are inspired by the allure of the fruit, the ancient history of the craft of fermentation and the lively traditions we now seek to revive.  Our mission is to inspire a deeper connection to the land that sustains us….Some of these ciders are small-batch, seasonal and labor-intensive. Others are produced with contemporary methods and more readily available year-round…Finnriver grows over twenty varieties of traditional and heirloom apples in our organic orchard, to feature in our traditional and specialty ciders.

They have a tasting room open seven days a week, noon to 5pm, and are on the Olympic Pennsylvania cider route along with Eaglemount and Alpenfire cideries.  I look forward to visiting in February for my birthday!

Price:  $10
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I’ve been wanting to try this cider for awhile, but previously only saw 750ml bottles for about $22, which was more commitment then I was interested in.  When I saw half bottles, I knew it would be perfect to try for New Year’s Eve.  Oddly enough the half bottles were less expensive per ounce too.

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Very high carbonation.  Smells dry, crisp, and of yeast, with only a hint of apple.

Tasting Notes:  Completely dry.  Moderate acidity and tartness.  No sourness, bitterness, or funk.  Very champagne-like.  Yeast, floral, citrus, and green apple notes.  Light bodied.  Quick finish.  Moderate sessionability.  Low apple influence.  I enjoyed this cider better as it warmed up from fridge cold.

My Opinion:  This was enjoyable, but not really a style I enjoy (I like a sweeter and richer cider).  It was definitely a sparkling cider, moreso than any other cider I’ve tried I think (but luckily the bottle didn’t overflow when I opened it…the bottle even includes a warning).

Most Similar to:  Dry champagne and other méthode champenoise ciders.

Closing Notes:   This cider is a great champagne alternative and was very appropriate for New Year’s Eve.

Have you tried Finnriver Artisan Sparkling Brut cider?  What did you think?