Carlton Cyderworks AHH!!! Apricot Honey Habanero

Review of AHHH!!! Apricot Honey Habanero from Carlton Cyderworks in McMinnville Oregon.  I’ve tried a few of their other ciders–Black Currant Scrumpy, Sugar and Spice, Slake, and First Fruits.

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Cider:  AHHH!!! Apricot Honey Habanero
Cidery:  Carlton Cyderworks
Cidery Location:  McMinnville Oregon
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  22oz bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples infused with apricot, honey, and habanero peppers

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Availability:  Oregon and Washington

Cider Description:  The award winning AHH!!! starts with tangy Oregon grown apricots and fresh NW apple juice.  Whole habanero peppers are added to the ferment, and when it is ready to bottle, we sweeten with honey from the Willamette Valley.  Take one sip and you’ll know why we call this cyder “AHH!!!”.

Cidery Description:  Family-owned Micro Cidery. We make some traditional cider. We make some modern cider. It’s all good stuff. 

Price:  $7.50
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I saw this was available in the Seattle area on Full Throttle Bottles’ Facebook feed, and decided to give it a try, despite usually not liking spicy ciders, as it sounded really interesting.

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First Impression:  Hazy straw yellow lemonade hue.  Low carbonation with some foam upon pouring.  Smells sour, of citrus, honey, and stone fruit.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low sourness.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of honey, then stone fruit / apricots, green apple, citrus, and yeast, and finishing with a bit of habanero flavor & heat.  The spiciness started rather mild and enjoyable, but the second half of the bottle was more in-line with what I’ve tasted with other spicy ciders, and too much for me and my friend I shared it with.  Medium to long finish length.  Low to moderate apple influence.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  I wasn’t a fan.  I was pleased with the low level of spice (more flavor than heat) at first, but it became disappointing.  I imagine lightly shaking the bottle before pouring would have more evenly distributed the spice.  Also, I think a bit more sweetness and less sourness would have been nice.

Most Similar to:  Other spicy ciders such as Sonoma Crowbar, Finnriver Habanero, and Schilling Siracha Lime.  My favorite spicy cider remains Elemental Hard Cider’s Margarita (Jalapeno Lime Cilantro), which has only the flavor but not spice from the jalapeno.  I’ve had plenty of other light semi-dry ciders with honey, stone fruit, citrus, and green apple notes though.

Closing Notes:   I’m glad I tried this one, but its not something I enjoyed.  My favorites from Carlton so far are Sugar and Spice and First Fruits.

Have you tried Carlton AHH!!!?  What did you think?

Saturday Tasting Notes – Sonoma Cider The Crowbar & Possmann Pure Cider

Random Saturday cider tasting, awesome!

Sonoma Cider The Crowbar

The Crowbar is a limited release Habanero-Lime cider from Sonoma Cider (available since May 2015).  I’ve been wanting to try this variety but was unsure if it was something I’d immediately want to dump out, between the spice and the dryness, so I’ve held off.  I was lucky enough to attend a tasting event of Sonoma Cider at Whole Foods in Lynnwood WA today (where I got to meet Sarah from Cider Log!).  They were offering their Hatchet (apple), Pitchfork (pear), Anvil (bourbon), and Crowbar (habanero-lime) ciders.  They also have The Washboard (another limited run cider, with sarsaparilla & vanilla), which I definitely wasn’t a fan of but my husband loved, which they weren’t tasting.


Opinion: With a good sniff some spice is definitely perceived.  Upon tasting, I pick up both habanero and lime.  The lime is more present than for example Schilling’s Sriracha Lime, which helps calm down the heat.  It also had less spice & bite to it than the two other spicy ciders I’ve tried (Schilling Sriracha Lime and Finnriver Habanero), but was definitely spicy.  I was expecting it to be much more dry as it only has 2 grams of sugar in 12 oz (1.1 Brix), but I perceived it as semi-dry instead of bone dry for some reason.  The sample (a few sips) was drinkable enough, but this isn’t something I’d want to buy even a can of.  I just don’t think spicy ciders are for me.  More of a novelty?  Apparently some folks have got this to cook with.  I think I’ll stick with their Anvil (bourbon flavored) cider, which I think is quite tasty.

Possmann Pure Cider

I stumbled across a tasting at World Market today which included a cider, Possmann Pure Cider (from Kelterei Possmann in Frankfurt Germany).  “Possmann Pure Cider has a perfect balance of rich apple flavor while not to sweet and finishing dry. The flavor comes from our unique source of apples which are harvested exclusively from our 800+ farmers in the Hessen region of Germany. Our typical framer has 3 to 15 naturally occurring apple trees on their land that are not part of a cultivated orchard. These country apples provide a uniquely rich apple flavor.”


Opinion:  Crisp/clean & smooth but overly appley apple flavor.  Sweet but not very sweet.  Tastes sugary and overly appley, and I guessed it was back sweetened with apple juice concentrate.  I was right!  Further, they actually add pure sugar after fermentation (listed on the ingredient list).  I’m surprised the cost of this cider (~$9 for four 11oz bottles) is so much more than its competitors, Angry Orchard, Woodchuck, etc (same price for six 12oz bottles), and that they would actually import this stuff.  I imagine real German cider is better (I have one in the cue).  I’d put it as better than Angry Orchard & Strongbow but not as good as Woodchuck.