Honeywood Winery Hard Apple Cider

Review of Honeywood Winery’s Hard Apple Cider.  This is the winery’s only cider, and the first time I’ve tried it.

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Cider:  Hard Apple Cider
Cidery:  Honeywood Winery
Cidery Location:  Salem Oregon
ABV:  11%
How Supplied:  750ml corked clear glass wine bottle
Style:  American apple wine

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Availability:  Oregon and Washington.  They also have an online store.

Cider Description:  Nothing says autumn like Apples!  There’s bobbing for apples, an apple for your teacher, and of course apple pie.   Honeywood’s Hard Apple Cider is made from Pacific Northwest Apples, the best grown in Washington and Oregon, specially blended into a great Hard Cider. Rich, clean, fresh and fruity, and very flavorful. Can be served heated…add a cinnamon stick or other spices.

Cidery Description:  In 1933, Honeywood Winery was founded by Ron Honeyman and John Wood. It was originally called Columbia Distilleries, and produced fruit brandies, cordials and liqueurs. Eventually, they settled on making premium wines and decided a name change was in order for the winery. Contrary to the obvious, Messrs. Honeyman and Wood did not use a contraction of their names to make Honeywood, and in fact, objected to the name on those grounds. An advertising consultant provided the rationale with a line from Oliver Goldsmith’s play, “The Good Natured Man,” wherin the products of fermentation were referred to as, “smooth as HONEY…aged in WOOD…the drink of the good natured man.” Honeywood became synonymous with the elite in wines. A winery must be close to its source of ingredients, and so it is with Honeywood. Located in Salem, in the heart of Oregon’s great and fertile Willamette Valley, the winery is minutes away from some of the world’s finest vineyards, cane berry fields and fruit orchards. Honeywood is the oldest producing winery in Oregon. The winery produces a full line of premium vinifera wines and the most extensive listing of premium fruit and specialty wines. We offer complimentary tasting and our tasting room includes a gourmet marketplace that sells Oregon food products and wine related gifts.

Price:  $12
Where Bought:  a wine shop in Port Townsend WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I had never heard of or seen this cider, and couldn’t find any detailed information online, so I decided to pick it up.  I call these finds “mystery cider”.

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells like sweet acidic white wine, with a hint of cork.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of tannins and bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of white grape, honey, pineapple, and green apple.  Quick but boozy finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  Definitely not what I was expecting.  I had guessed this would be dry (based on it being 11% ABV and being made by a winery), but it was the opposite.  However, I enjoyed it.  More of a dessert beverage than something to have with dinner.

Most Similar to:  A cross between sweet white wine and sweet mead.

Closing Notes:   This cider was a good value too.

Have you tried Honeywood Winery’s cider?  What did you think?

Square Mile The Original Hard Apple Cider

Review of Square Mile Cider Company’s “The Original Hard Apple Cider”.  I tried this a couple years ago and remember after two sips thinking I got a bad bottle (re-fermented?), and pouring it down the drain.  They did have a re-fermenting recall in 2013, but apparently only 22oz bottles, not 12oz.  After seeing singles on sale, I decided to give it another try.  On the same day as I bought it, the checker at the store said she thought it was pretty good, as did a blog reader.  Will I like it better this time around?

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Cider:  The Original Hard Apple Cider
Cidery: Square Mile Cider Co.
Cidery Location: Portland OR
ABV:  6.7%
How Supplied: 12oz (or 22oz) glass bottles

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Availability:  WA, OR, CA, HI, AK, NV, AZ, TX, MT, ID, MI, & CO

Cider Description:  The Original is a classic American hard cider.  Our cider is made from three apple varieties rooted in American culture – Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious and Jonagolds – picked and pressed by hand in Oregon.  We chose a lager beer yeast for fermentation to create a cider that perfectly balances sweet and tart with a light, crisp apple flavor and a clean, refreshing finish.  The Original is best over ice to complement the cool, crisp apple flavor.

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Cidery Description: Inspired by the pioneering spirit of those who traveled the Oregon Trail in the pursuit of a dream, we offer Square Mile Hard Cider.  We set out to reinvigorate an enduringly classic American beverage with a blend of apples hand-selected for the perfect balance of sweet and tart.  Our hard cider pays homage to the fortitude and perseverance of the original pioneers.

Price:  $1.49 for a single bottle (a six pack runs about $8)
Where Bought:  Whole Foods, although I’ve also seen it at Fred Meyer & Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  And, browsing again.  I gotta stop doing that, as I keep buying cider!

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First Impression: Moderate carbonation.  Clear yellow amber.  Smells of sweet apples with a hint of honey.

Opinion:  Semi dry.  My nose deceived me!  To me this cider has a bitter & acidic appley bite, not a sweet apple-honey flavor.  I pick up a hint of pear.  It is very beer-like, especially to start.  I find the finish on the longer side, drawing out the bitterness.  Its interesting it isn’t more sweet, as they use both pear & apple concentrates.  Unfortunately I am quite sensitive to bitterness and found it overwhelming to my palate, and wasn’t able to perceive any other discernible flavors.  Interestingly I wouldn’t describe this cider as very tart, although the bitterness again may have been overwhelming my palate.  Everyone has different tastes, so just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean you won’t (and it appears Square Mile has plenty of fans).  Also, note that I definitely didn’t drink this over ice…although I’m not a cider traditionalist, that is something I haven’t ever felt a need to try!

Most Similar to:  Kölsch beer (per my hubby).  He rather liked this cider.

Recommended For:  The beer fan who is interested in getting into ciders but doesn’t want to stray too far or have an overly sweet cider.

Closing Notes:   Square Mile was started in 2013 by the Craft Brew Alliance (who also owns Redhook).  So, unfortunately its just another cider by “Big Beer”.  They also offer “Spur & Vine” (hopped cider, 12 & 22oz bottles), and over the holidays they offered “Cranberry Hard Cider” (750ml bottle special release).  This reviewer liked their hopped cider even though they don’t like beer!  Apparently though they have recently switched to a sweeter version for both their ciders, and started using concentrates when they didn’t before? (check out the comments on their Facebook page which unfortunately they didn’t respond to)

Have you tried Square Mile The Original Hard Apple Cider?  What did you think?

Schilling Cider House Trip Report

The Schilling Cider House in Fremont (Seattle).  In one word, awesome!  A cider enthusiast’s paradise.  32 ciders on tap and a huge unique selection of bottled ciders.  Only craft cider to be found here, no commercial stuff.  They opened September 2014.  Two of the taps are Nitro (nitrogenated, which adds some additional smoothness) and they also have a Randall setup (although it didn’t appear they were infusing anything that day, as no offerings were mentioned when we asked to have our suspicions confirmed).  This will be a two part review, with this part covering the cider house, and a second part with tasting notes on the 18! ciders I tried.  Considering I had either already tried or wasn’t interested in the remaining ciders, I think that is mildly impressive.

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Thankfully I didn’t have to get too inebriated when trying the 18 ciders, as I had 12 3oz+ samplers and 6 small tastes over a couple hours, and my husband helped sip on them a bit too (although he was gracious enough to be my DD).

I apologize in advance on the quality of the photos; I am a horrible photographer and clearly need to work on that for cider blog purposes!  Click to biggify the photos by the way.

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They have cider available in:
– 3oz sampler for $2 each (which most folks get in a flight/tray of six)
– pint (priced individually by the cider, $5-$11 when I was there)
– growler (also priced individually by cider, and they can only do this for ciders under 7% by law, which is the vast majority of them)

Therefore the sampler size can be a good deal for some of their more expensive ciders which cost double the price of something else.

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My husband and I checked out the Schilling Cider House on a Saturday, early afternoon.  My husband was even nice enough to grab us some take out from a Thai place down the street (Zap Verr) during our visit.  It wasn’t anything special, but highly convenient, as Schilling does not offer any food (but do allow folks to bring food in or have it delivered).  I think they would do well to sell some snacks, even some chips or something easy to stock, as its hard to stay too long at a place that has alcohol but no food, even with their open food policy.

The Schilling Cider House is a great hang out spot.  They even have a stack of games available.  There are about six stools at the bar and the remainder are at four long tables.  The decor is all cider and all Schilling.  The empty kegs they keep around add a nice touch.  Empty kegs were even to be found in the restroom!  I was the cider geek who had to come right back to the restroom after I grabbed my phone, so I could take photos…

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I was bummed to see that I missed Reverend Nat’s The Passion, as I’ve been wanting to try that.

Rev Nats Passion keg

I also missed Schilling’s own Berry cider, only available at their cider house.  Although I’ll get more into the actual ciders in the second installment, I can say that I was surprised Schilling didn’t offer all their ciders on tap at their own cider house!  There were eight Schilling ciders though, and a handful were ciderhouse-only (or out of season).  They were at least missing their Berry, Spiced, and Oak Aged (a cider I really like and my favorite cider of their’s).  Serving ciders other than their own is quite unique for a ciderhouse, but a really great idea.

However, there were definitely many cider options, from dry to sweet, for any taste.  Their chalk board menu is color-coded by sweetness (dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, and sweet), and for the most part I agreed with their classifications.  The taps are numbered, and you can take a business card size card and write down your selections.  They definitely change often, as they switched out two taps during our visit!  Their Facebook page can give you an idea of what is available, but I found it wasn’t quite up to date.

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Their bottle shop is extensive (250+ selections), chock full of both local craft ciders and interesting imports.  They also allow folks to buy & open a bottle there to drink, no corkage fee, although I’m not sure why you would with 32 ciders on tap!  I’m surprised they didn’t have some bottled beer & soda selections, but maybe I missed them (I did however see a cold canned coffee selection).  All bottles are chilled, in three triple door glass-front fridges (a very smart move on their part).  There were many selections I hadn’t seen anywhere else.

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I picked up five varieties (reviews forthcoming of course!).  Left to right in photo below:  MillStone Cellars Cobbler (Monkton MD), Aspall English Imperial Cider (Suffolk England), Attila Scourge of God (Ellensburg WA), Freyeisen Apfelwein (Frankfurt Germany), and Dragon’s Head Wild Fermented Cider (Vashon Island WA).

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I could have spent an hour just reading all the bottle labels and Googling them and such, but my husband was patient enough, so I made some semi-quick (for me) selections of ciders I hadn’t seen before.  They also offer some merchandise, such as t-shirts, and of course, growlers ($5 + cider fill cost).

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However, of course, the main attraction is the cider itself.  From what I overheard there seemed to be a mix of new & old cider lovers.  We sat next to a young woman who was a tourist from New York who found them just walking by.  And there was an older lady buying growlers of cider for a get together.  I was surprised how busy it got as the afternoon went on (we were there about 1:30 to 3:30 pm), as I had expected it to be rather dead until the evening, but it was a weekend.  Luckily we got there not too long after they opened (at noon) and were able to get two seats at the bar.

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They have some great bartenders, and ours was very helpful!  He kept passing us tastes of ciders, asking us what we thought.  Some of them were things I wouldn’t have otherwise even ordered a taster of.  I never turn down cider!  I did unfortunately pushed some away we found weren’t to our taste though.  They have several of what could be referred to as “novelty” ciders.  Fun for a taste but I’d be shocked if someone ordered a pint.

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[Yes, this is almost the entire place!  And yes, this is a horrible photo.  But I guess I don’t have to worry about people’s privacy since I’m showing their faces lol.]

Due to the time of our visit, I can’t comment on the nighttime scene here, how busy they get in the evening, etc.  I imagine the place fills up though, as it is pretty small tasting room (it seats around 50 people).  The bartender commented they are plenty busy on weekdays too.  If you want to chat up the bartender, secure a seat at the bar, and increase your chances of getting passed tasters of stuff the bartender likes, I’d recommend getting here when they open (I imagine mentioning I’m a blogger could have helped too).  If you want a more vibrant atmosphere, then later in the day may be a better idea.

In case you are curious, I much preferred Schilling to Capitol Cider, which just wasn’t my scene.  Capitol Cider does however get a nod to having a full (gluten free) kitchen.

We spotted some cool swag (coasters & stickers) below the bar as we were being rung up, and ask and thou shall receive!

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[Maybe they had a Thistly Cross tasting at some point?  It also looks like Thistly Cross has three varieties I haven’t found here: Elderflower, Strawberry, & Original.  I’ve had the Whisky Cask (one of my favorites) and Traditional (very similar to Whisky Cask), and am not a fan of ginger so I haven’t tried that one.]

The Schilling Cider House is open noon-11pm seven days a week.  21+ only, but they do appear to be dog friendly (a patron next to us had a cute & well behaved pitt bull).  I highly recommend it and look forward to returning!

Stay tuned for Schilling Cider House review Part 2, with tasting notes on all 18 ciders I tried!
Update:  Part 2 covering the 18 ciders I tasted is now available!

Have you been to the Schilling Cider House, or any other cider bar?  What did you think?

Spotlight on Washington Cideries

It took some digging, but here is an attempt at a current list of all cideries in Washington state and a bit of info on each.  We sure have quite the cider region here!  I found quite a few I hadn’t heard of (some are very small, such as one cider variety at a winery).  Looks like I have plenty of new ciders to try!  Let me know if I missed any or there is any mis-information.

Alpenfire Cider (Port Townsend) – Organic, numerous varieties, tasting room
Attila Hard Apple Cider (Ellensberg) – two varieties
Chelan Gold / Lake Chelan Hard Cider (Lake Chelan) – one variety
Cockrell Hard Ciders (Puyallup) – three varieties
Core Hero Hard Cider (Edmonds) – two varieties
Country Elegance at Hard Cider Shed (Cashmere) – four varieties, tasting room
D’s Wicked Cider (Kennewick) – two varieties
Dragon’s Head Cider (Vashon Island) – four varieties, tasting room
Eaglemount Wine & Cider (Port Townsend) – numerous varieties, mead & wine too, tasting room, online store
Elemental Hard Cider (Woodinville) – four varieties, tasting room
Finnriver Farm & Cidery (Chimacum) – numerous varieties, fruit wines & farm venue too, tasting room, online store
Grizzly Ciderworks (Woodinville) – four varieties, tasting room
Honey Moon Mead & Cider (Bellingham) – one variety (CiderHead), tasting room
Irvine’s Vintage Cider at Vashon Winery (Vashon Island) – one variety, tasting room, online store
Jester & Judge Cider Co. (Stevenson) – three varieties
Liberty Ciderworks (Spokane) – numerous varieties, tasting room
Locust Cider (Woodinville) – four varieties, tasting room
Methow Valley Ciderhouse (Winthrop) – four varieties, tasting room
Nashi Orchards (Vashon Island) – numerous varieties, tasting room
Neigel Vintners (NV) Cider (East Wenatchee) – five varieties
Number 6 Cider (Seattle) – numerousvarieties, tasting room
One Tree Hard Cider (Spokane) – five varieties
Orondo Ciderworks (Orando) – three varieties, tasting room
Rockridge Orchard & Cidery (Enumclaw) – numerous varieties, tasting room (including other ciders)
Schilling Cider Co. (Seattle) – numerous varieties, tasting room (including other ciders)
Seattle Cider Co. (Seattle) – numerous varieties, tasting room
Sixknot Cider (Twisp) – numerous varieties
Snowdrift Cider Co. (East Wenatchee) – numerous varieties, tasting room
Spire Mountain, part of Fish Brewing (Olympia) – four varieties, tasting room (Brew Pub)
Three Knees (Snohomish) – four varieties, tasting room in works
Tieton Cider (and Rambling Route) (Tieton) – numerous varieties, tasting room
Twilight Cider Works (Spokane) – numerous varieties, tasting room
Twin Peaks, from Phillippi Fruit (Wenatchee) – three varieties, tasting room
Westcott Bay Cider (San Juan Island) – three varieties, tasting room, online store
Whiskey Barrel Cider Co. (Pullman) – numerous varieties, tasting room
Whitewood Cider Co. (Olympia) – numerous varieties, tasting room, online store

Sources:  Cyder Market, Northwest Cider

Liberty Ciderworks Manchurian Crabapple Single Varietal

Review of Manchurian Crabapple Single Varietal by Liberty Ciderworks.  This is my first time trying any of their ciders, and is my first time trying a Single Varietal cider as far as I know (most ciders use a blend of apple varieties).

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Cider:  Manchurian Crabapple Single Varietal
Cidery:  Liberty Ciderworks
Cidery Location:  Spokane WA
ABV:  12.5%
How Supplied:  375 ml tall clear glass bottle
Availability:  Fairly limited.  Per the cidery they currently self-distribute to Spokane and Seattle.  In Seattle, they can at least be found at Capitol Cider, Schilling Cider House, Full Throttle Bottles & Special Brews & other bottle shops which specialize in local craft cider, and Total Wine.

Cider Description on Bottle:  No larger than a cherry, the Manchurian Crabapple packs a huge flavor punch.  Ready for one of the most full-bodied, intensely-flavored ciders you’ll ever encounter?  This semi-sweet, single-varietal cider is for you.  Enjoy on its own as a digestif, with soft artisan cheeses, or with rich, creamy desserts.  Still (non-carbonated).

Additional Information from Rick Hastings, co-founder of Liberty Ciderworks (per my e-mail request):  Thanks for your interest in the Manchurian! It’s certainly a unique cider (none others that I’m aware of, presently) and has been very poplar in our tasting room in downtown Spokane. It’s certainly an assertive cider that showcases bright acidity and strong tannins – so much so that in describing it to first-time customers, I’ve taken to calling it a “cider port”, even though it’s not fortified with spirits like true Port is. It’s simply the juice of manchurian crabapples, fermented until the yeast we selected gave up at the 12.5% ABV mark. The juice had potential to hit 14% ABV – certainly the highest sugar content in any apple I’ve ever heard of or used. We age the finished cider around nine months, though not in oak (we’re experimenting with that approach now)….I’ve attached an image of the apples below (at right). As you might imagine, harvesting these tiny apples and sorting them into usable juice takes a LOT of work….Here’s hoping you enjoy it. Some sip it by itself as an aperitif, but I’d suggest you try it with a quality goat cheese, cheesecake dessert or creme brûlée – imagine there’s a world of other options, too. I hear Capitol Cider is using it in a mixed drink or two, as well. 

Photo of the crabapples they use:

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Rick also sent a great link to a blog article on the labels for this cider, from Advanced Labels Northwest (Seattle area) which has some great photos and cidery & cider info in addition to label/packaging info.

Cidery Description: Liberty Ciderworks (founded 2012) is in Spokane WA, where they also have a tasting room. Their website was surprisingly sparse besides the basics, but they are active on Facebook & Twitter.  Facebook lists the following Liberty Ciderworks varieties as available by the bottle:  English Style, New World Style, Turncoat Dry-Hop, Stonewall, Heirloom Series, McIntosh Single Varietal, Manchurian Single Varietal, Kingston Black Single Varietal, and Reserve Series.  There are more varieties available on tap at their tasting room.  They won several awards at this year’s GLINTCAP competition, including a Silver medal for this cider.  Congrats!

Price:  $14
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles in Georgetown (Seattle), who has a huge local craft cider selection
How Found:  Browsing.  I’ve had my eye on Liberty Ciderworks though, deciding which one to try first (I was lucky enough to have a few options…New World & English style at Total Wine, and a few at Full Throttle Bottles including this and one other Single Varietal).  I chose this one as it looked to be their sweetest offering and I find the high ABV / port or dessert style ciders interesting.  Oddly enough I like strong flavors and barrel aged ciders even though I don’t like aged spirits!

Where Drank:  home

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First Impression: Corked bottle (with attached cap for easy re-capping) with foil covering.  Lovely bottle/label too!  Amber orange hue, completely still, sweet inviting boozy smell.

Opinion:  I find this on the sweeter side of semi-dry than semi-sweet.  It definitely has some warmth, and reminds me of similar high ABV bold ciders I’ve liked such as Alpenfire Smoke, 2 Towns the Bad Apple, Sea Cider Prohibition, and especially, Tieton Wind (which is a 16% ABV Pommeau with apple brandy).  I pick up some mild vanilla & caramel notes and find it rich & earthy with a bit of a bitter finish.  Although I haven’t tried any other single varietals to compare with, I find this cider incredibly complex for one apple variety and no additives.  It seems like it has some hints of apple brandy (but it doesn’t).  To me it has an interesting thick mouthfeel which sticks around for awhile, which from my experience with the above mentioned ciders seems to occur with these high ABV ciders.

This cider definitely won’t be for everyone…oddly enough my husband thought it smelled “off” and tasted “terrible”, but he hasn’t enjoyed similar ciders like I have.  I quite like this cider though!  Its very different than what most folks would think of when they think of cider.  I go for these sorts of ciders though, when I’m in the right mood.  I agree it has an intense flavor.  Its also impressive they didn’t need to add any sugar to get the crabapple juice to ferment to that high of an ABV; those are definitely some powerful apples!

I didn’t however completely take Liberty’s suggestion of having this more as a dessert cider, nor did I have any goat cheese, cheesecake, or creme brulee in the house (I wish!).  I’d like to try pairings in the future so I’ll have to plan ahead better next time.  I opened the bottle before dinner and sipped on it throughout the evening, which also did include dessert (meringues, which worked pretty well).  I did this mostly as I wanted to at least try to finish the bottle as I wasn’t sure how it would taste on Day 2 or 3 (as I am drinking it all myself).  I’ve found the taste of a cider changes as it is open, no matter how well you re-seal it (typically it becomes less intense).  Even then, I couldn’t quite finish it off, so I will have a nice small serving later in the weekend.
Update:  On Day 2 the flavor had changed slightly, a bit less bold and a bit more bitter.

Closing Notes:  I enjoyed this cider.  I imagine if my cider palate was more refined I could offer more descriptors and pairing suggestions, but I can overall say I’m glad I tried it and would recommend it if you think this sort of unique bold strong cider would fit your tastes.  I hope Liberty Ciderworks can continue to expand so more folks can try their ciders!  I imagine down the road I will try more of their ciders (I’m trying to teach myself to enjoy drier ciders).  And, a big big thank you to co-founder Rick Hastings (the other co-founder is Austin Dickey) for the extra info.  I think it was a great addition to this review.  To be able to speak to a cidery founder for more detailed information is definitely an advantage of small craft cideries.

Have you tried anything from Liberty Ciderworks, or any single varietal or high ABV ciders?  What did you think?

Anthem Cider

Here is a review of Anthem’s flagship / original hard apple cider:

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Cider:  Anthem Cider
Cidery:  Anthem (by Wandering Aengus Ciderworks)
Cidery Location:  Salem, OR
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  four pack of 12 oz bottles (or a single 22oz bottle, or apparently just recently a six pack of 12 oz cans)
Availability:  year round (since 2010); widely available in OR, WA, & CA, and less so in ID, MT, MI, UT, IL, NM, NJ, TX, ID, TN, PA, VA, & WA D.C.

Description:  Anthem Cider offers the tart acidity of the apple’s natural malic acid with a clean fruit forward finish. Anthem Cider is the foundation for all the Anthems. Semi-Dry. Medium Tart.  We only use fresh pressed apples and other fruits, herbs sourced from the Pacific Northwest of known varieties – they are listed on every bottle and keg. To make great real cider, the varieties of apples, fruit additions and herbs matter. As does where the ingredients are grown and how far removed they are from their original form (degrees separated through processing from the farm to the bottle).  The fresh pressed apples we use provide all the sugars for fermentation and the malic acid (source of the tartness). Any and all residual sweetness in Anthem is provided by the apples we started with or the fruits we finish with.  The result is a line up of real ciders made the way you expect; apples pressed and fermented.
Cidermaker’s Description of Anthem vs. Wandering Aengus: Wandering Aengus Ciders are made from heirloom cider apple varieties that have traditionally been used over the centuries for ciders in French, England and pre-prohibition America. We grow these rare heirloom apples ourselves in Salem and have a handful of growers around Oregon that grow for us. These heirloom apples are pressed only once a year. The apples for Anthem are pressed and fermented year round from the common apple varieties that are grown on a large scale in Washington and Oregon. Anthem Cider is also finished with fresh pressed juices of other fruits or hops while Wandering Aengus Ciders are not blended with other fruits.

Price:  $8.99 / four pack (although I bought a single bottle for about $3)
Where Bought:  Total Wine
How Found: Browsing, wondering why I hadn’t tried this previously
Where Drank:  home

Opinion:  My first impression is this cider’s dry plain apple scent.  My nose did not deceive me this time.  Anthem Cider is described as a semi-dry cider, and I would mostly agree…I’d put it smack between semi-dry and semi-sweet, which may appear to a lot of folks as there isn’t much available in this sweetness range.  The flavor was a bit “blah” for my tastes…it doesn’t have much complexity going for it.  Even if it has been slightly sweeter (as my tastes tend that way), I still don’t think I would have been impressed.  The most similar cider I’ve sampled is Seattle Cider Semi-Sweet, which has a similar sweetness and flavor.  However, I think I’d have to give Seattle Cider the edge in the comparison, as it is a bit more clean & refreshing.  I remember having the Seattle Cider on tap with some fish & chips awhile back and it was tasty, but drier and more plain of a flavor than I prefer.  Overall, I found Anthem Cider to be fine, but not impressive.

Closing Notes: Anthem also offers pear, cherry, and hops varieties.  I was surprised to find that most Anthem Cider reviews online are of their Hops variety.  Note that each Anthem batch is slightly different based on what apple varieties they used (based on availability due to the time of the year), and their website will even tell you what is in a certain batch.  I sampled batch 127, which was a blend of red delicious, gala, granny smith, pink lady, jonagold, & opal apples.  Their approach seems unique, as most other cideries will name a cider different if there is a significant variation such as this (or clearly note a vintage).

Have you tried any Anthem ciders?  What did you think?

Atlas Hard Apple Cider

Here is the first cider I have tried from Atlas Cider Co,, their flagship hard apple cider:

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Cider:  Hard Apple Cider
Cidery:  Atlas Cider Co.
Cidery Location:  Bend, OR
ABV:  5.8%
How Supplied:  clear 22oz glass bottle
Availability:  year round, but it appears to only be distributed in OR, WA, & ID

Description:  Our flagship apple cider is a celebration of the Northwest. The fruit forward apple aroma and taste come from a tailored blend that perfectly balances the sweetness, tartness, and dryness of the fruit. A clean finish from the use of all fresh regional juices reminds us that this is an authentic hard cider. Enjoy this natural, semi-sweet, and bold cider from Bend, Oregon that simply brings out the best of the Northwest.

Price:  $6.50
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles in Georgetown (Seattle)
How Found: Browsing
Where Drank:  home

Opinion:  My first impression is the dry smell.  It is pale and bubbles very little upon pouring.  Upon tasting, the flavor reminds me of sweet sparkling wine, with a hint of pear & honey.  There is an effervescence feel, although it is not highly sparkling.  I was surprised how well my nose deceived me into thinking it would be dry, but it is not; I would call it semi-sweet.  This cider is very smooth and well balanced.  I would not however describe the flavor as simple, which can often happen with plain ciders.  This cider is easy to drink and tasty.  I snacked on some cheese & crackers while drinking it, which was a nice combination.  This is a refreshing cider for any time of year, but for summer especially it is nice.

Atlas was started in 2013 by a husband & wife duo.  They also offer Pomegranate-Cherry, Apricot, and Blackberry varieties.

Have you tried any ciders from Atlas?  What did you think?