Sea Cider Flagship

Review of Sea Cider’s Flagship variety.  Its the first time I’ve tried this, but I’ve sampled a number of their other varieties (see here).

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Cider:  Flagship
Cidery:  Sea Cider
Cidery Location:  Saanichton, British Columbia, Canada
ABV:  7.1%
How Supplied:  750ml flip-top bottle
Style:  Canadian cider from dessert & heirloom Organic apple varieties, German-style, ultra dry, without sulfites

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Availability:  semi wide release, at these locations, including in Canada, WA, OR, and CA

Cider Description:  This German-style cider is one of few commercial ciders in the world free of added sulphites. Slowly fermented with Champagne yeast, the ultra-dry Flagship has crisp herbaceous notes framed by soft tannins and lively acidity. It features both smoky and herbal aromas and is best paired with risotto, fish and chips, mild cheeses, poultry, and grilled seafood.Certified Organic by PACS 16-259.

We named this cider Flagship because it was the first cider we made and it is as pure as cider gets. Flagship is one of only a handful of ciders in the world free of added sulphites, and was the first fully certified organic cider in North America. It is German in style, meaning very acidic, which is achieved by fermenting high acid apples such as Granny Smiths, Empires and Winter Bananas (all certified organic). A strain of Champagne yeast is used which can tolerate a low pH. Because there are no sulphites to control oxidation and spoilage, the production team must take extra precautions in apple selection and washing, aging and bottling.

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:  n/a, as it was a gift (retail is $15-$20 however); some friends picked it up for me in B.C. (although it is sold in the U.S.)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Moderate carbonation upon pouring.  Smells only of apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to dry.  Low carbonation.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Sharp flavor, very apple-forward, with hints of honey, lemon, and herbs.  Moderate to long slightly boozy finish.  Strong apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I found this to be an enjoyable basic cider selection.  While it was simple, I also found it to be sophisticated (which is was very apple forward, it didn’t taste like alcoholic apple juice).  It pairs well with food as it won’t overpower.

Most Similar to:  I found the sharp flavor of this cider similar to many ciders which use crabapples (although this one doesn’t list crabapples), such as Dragon’s Head Columbia Crab, Blue Moon Cidery Raven’s Moon, and Liberty Ciderworks New World Style.

Closing Notes:   Sea Cider hasn’t disappointed me yet.  However, my favorite so far is their Prohibition / Rum Runner.

Have you tried Sea Cider Flagship?  What did you think?

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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?