Grand Illusion Street Magic

Review of Grand Illusion Hard Cider’s Street Magic, a hopped grapefruit cider.  I have previously tried their Mystic Citra Pineapple and Blue Illusion.

Cider:  Street Magic
Cidery:  Grand Illusion Hard Cider
Cidery Location:  Carlisle PA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz cans (and draft)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with Citra & Centennial hops and grapefruit

>>This is a review of a sample can provided to Cider Says by Grand Illustion.  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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Availability:  in Pennsylvania, primarily at their taproom, but soon, at some other locations

Cider Description:  This mouth-puckering, subtropical grapefruit cider is pure sunshine. The balance achieved between tart and sweet complement the citrus and floral notes provided by Citra and Centennial hops.

Cidery Description:  We are Grand Illusion, a hard cider production company located in Carlisle, PA.  We use fresh pressed apples from Adams and York County to create magical ciders for all to enjoy.  Our taproom in downtown Carlisle has become a destination, with 15 ciders, 5 beers, and 8 wines – all on draft and all from Pennsylvania.

Here is an article from a local newspaper on the cidery.  They serve both their own ciders and ciders from other cideries at their taproom; see their tap list here.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $44 / case, likely ~ $11 / six pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the cidery owners contacted me

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First Impression:  Light yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of hops with hints of lemon, orange, and grapefruit.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Moderate bitterness.  Hints of sourness.  No funk or tannins.  Notes of hops, citrus, and grapefruit.  Long bitter hoppy finish.  Moderate hops intensity and overall flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate to high sessionability.

My Opinion:  I wasn’t personally a fan.  It was too bitter for my liking, without enough sweetness to counter it.  My husband liked it better, but we both preferred the pineapple hopped one (Mystic Citra Pineapple), as it was less bitter, more sweet, and more complex.  Same as Mystic Citra Pineapple, I think this would appeal best to beer drinkers, and tasted less sweet than the labeled 17 grams of sugar.  The great thing about the cider industry right now is that there are so many options; every cider or cidery won’t appeal to everyone, but there will be others out there that will.  Grand Illusion’s ciders are doing well on untappd and such, so there are definitely plenty of folks who enjoy their ciders even if they weren’t my personal favorite.

Most Similar to:  a hopped version of Cascadia Grapefruit Tangerine

Closing Notes:  Of the three I tried, their Mystic Citra Pineapple was my favorite.  I’m curious to see the evolution of their cidery and ciders over time.

Have you tried hopped cider?  What did you think?

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Grand Illusion Mystic Citra Pineapple

Review of Grand Illusion Hard Cider’s Mystic Citra Pineapple, a hopped pineapple cider.  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery.

Cider:  Mystic Citra Pineapple
Cidery:  Grand Illusion Hard Cider
Cidery Location:  Carlisle PA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz cans (and draft)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with Citra & Cascade hops and pineapple

>>This is a review of a sample can provided to Cider Says by Grand Illustion.  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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Availability:  in Pennsylvania, primarily at their taproom, but soon, at some other locations

Cider Description:  Has a pineapple ever played tricks on you? This cider will. Floral and fruity with passion fruit, grapefruit, pineapple and lemongrass overtones. Dry hopped with a combination of Cascade and Citra hops.

Cidery Description:  We are Grand Illusion, a hard cider production company located in Carlisle, PA.  We use fresh pressed apples from Adams and York County to create magical ciders for all to enjoy.  Our taproom in downtown Carlisle has become a destination, with 15 ciders, 5 beers, and 8 wines – all on draft and all from Pennsylvania.

Here is an article from a local newspaper on the cidery.  They serve both their own ciders and ciders from other cideries at their taproom; see their tap list here.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $44 / case, likely ~ $11 / six pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the cidery owners contacted me

Photo Jul 20, 5 56 34 PM.jpg

First Impression:  Light yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of hops, pineapple, and stone fruit.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low bitterness.  Hints of sourness.  No funk or tannins.  Notes of hops, pineapple, apricot/peach, and grapefruit.  Long slightly bitter hoppy finish.  Moderate hops intensity and overall flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate to high sessionability.

My Opinion:  I would have liked it better with less bitter of a finish, but overall the flavor combination and level of sweetness were nice.  My husband was a bigger fan.  It was neat how many extra flavors there were.  Also, more fruity than citrus or floral, which I’d expect from Citra hops (they did say Cascade were also used though).  I think this would appeal well to beer drinkers.  It tasted less sweet than the labeled 17 grams of sugar; possibly as the acidity and bitterness helped cut that, or else this was less sweet of a batch.

Most Similar to:  Swift Pineapple Hop

Closing Notes:  Next up I have their blueberry-lavender and hopped grapefruit varieties.

Have you tried hopped cider?  What did you think?

Ramborn Cascade Hopped Cider

Review of Ramborn’s Cascade Hopped Cider.  This is my first time trying any cider from this Luxembourg cidery.  See my first post on their Perry for more info (I tried them at the same time).

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>>This is a review of a bottle gifted to Cider Says by Ramborn.  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:  Cascade Hopped Cider
Cidery:  Ramborn Cider
Cidery Location:  Born, Luxembourg
ABV:  7.4%
How Supplied:  four packs of 330ml bottles
Style: cider from Luxembourg cider apples, with Cascade hops from Oregon (U.S.A.) – which hits quite close to home for this imported cider!

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Availability:  Mostly in Europe, although they are just starting to come to the U.S., as they launched in Milwaukee Wisconsin in August 2017.

Cider Description:  We have taken some of our Luxembourgish cider and infused it with American-grown whole-cone Cascade hops. Cascade hails from Oregon in the USA’s Pacific Northwest. First released in 1971, it is loved by craft brewers the world over for its signature citrus/floral aroma.  We specially selected a base cider to bring out the full characteristics of Cascade, which in turn compliments the crisp acidity of our traditional cider apples.

Cidery Description:  Ramborn is the first Luxembourgish cider producer. We only ferment the freshly pressed juice of apples and pears grown exclusively in traditional orchards of large, standard trees. No concentrate. No industrial plantations.

Price:  n/a (and unknown really)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the cidery contacted me

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First Impression:  Light amber gold hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of cider apple juice and hops.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low to moderate tannins, especially on the finish.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of rich cider apples, hops, floral, and citrus.  Moderate length slightly bitter hoppy finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate complexity, sessionability, hops intensity, and overall flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I liked it but didn’t love it.  The rich traditional English-like cider was an interesting combination with the hops that I hadn’t had before.  I think if I had this on its own it would have stood out more, but I drank it right after their amazing perry.  I can say however that it was balanced, and the main thing I didn’t care for was the bitterness on the finish (although the tannins helped make up for it).

Most Similar to:  Nothing I’ve had!  I’ve only had hopped ciders which used dessert apples as the base (not cider applies), although I’ve heard of a few cideries in England picking up on this American trend, such as Oliver’s.  As a whole, the flavoring of cider is an American thing, as we don’t have as many heirloom & cider apples, so dessert apples are often used.  Some of my favorite hopped ciders have been 2 Towns Hop & Stalk (with rhubarb), Portland Cider Hop’Rageous, and Tod Creek Mala Hop, which in general had more citrus/floral/herbal flavor than bitter hop flavor.

Closing Notes:  Its pretty cool than a European cidery did a hopped cider.  I hope to see their ciders in the Seattle area soon, especially if they are at a four pack (instead of single bottle) price.  The perry was amazing, so I’d like to try more straight ciders from cider apples or pears.

Have you tried Ramborn Cider?  What did you think?

Grizzly Ciderworks The Bruin Dark & Dry Hopped

Review of Grizzly Ciderworks’ The Bruin, Dark & Dry Hopped.  It is my first time trying this one, but I have had Grizzly’s The RidgeWoodlander Wit, and Pomnivore.

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Cider:  The Bruin, Dark & Dry Hopped
Cidery:  Grizzly Ciderworks
Cidery Location:  WA and/or OR (it isn’t specific)
ABV:  6.7%
How Supplied:  22oz bottles
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples with Molasses & Willamette hops

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Availability:  year round in Washington, Idaho, and Montana

Cider Description:  THE BRUIN is crafted with a dry apple base, blended with dark sugars and steeped with light touch of Willamette hops.  The nose has a nice earthiness with a palate of ripe apple, rich sugars and earthy spice.  Excellent with pork, steak and other meat dishes or hearty flavors.

Cidery Description:  Over three years in the making, Grizzly Ciderworks is pleased to release our entire line of products to the public.  We’ve test-marketed over a dozen ciders  in kegs and bottles, with varying labels and names, produced in multiple facilities in two states, and worked with a vast network of local vendor partners for each and every ingredient to make our product.  From labels to fruit, caps to hops, cases to spices, everything piece of a Grizzly Cider bottle comes from within 150 miles of our cidery.  These ingredients are ALL-NATURAL and the ciders are all GLUTEN-FREE.

They started in Woodinville WA in 2013 but moved to the Walla Walla Valley of SE Washington / NE Oregon in 2015.  Many of their ciders are beer-inspired (their bottle even said their ciders are brewed?!).

Price:  $6.99
Where Bought:  The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I’ve been more into hopped ciders lately, plus I’m a fan of Mollasses in cider, so this sounded good.

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First Impression:  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Moderate orange amber hue.  Smells of bitter hops and sweet caramel.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  Hints of tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of orange, hops, molasses, caramel, and wood.  Moderate to long hopped finish.  Low hops intensity.  Moderate flavor intensity, apple flavor, and complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed this.  It was surprisingly complex, and had a nice mix of earthy & sweet notes without being overly sweet.  It was missing the typical citrus/herbal/floral type flavor notes, likely due to the molasses being more dominant than the hops.

Most Similar to:  Spire Dark & Dry and Woodchuck 802 (except less sweet and with hops), and Grizzly’s The Ridge & Woodlander Wit.

Closing Notes:  Grizzly makes some solid ciders, but so far this is my favorite.  Its a nice price point too.  I could see this selling well in a multi pack (and for a beer-inspired mid-priced cider, I’m surprised they haven’t gone that route yet…maybe as a canning line costs much more than a bottling line to set up).

Have you tried Grizzly Ciderworks The Bruin?  What did you think?

Schilling Road Trip (Peach Citra)

Review of Schilling Cider’s Road Trip (Peach Citra), a cider with peach and Citra hops.  It is my first time trying this, although I’ve previously sampled their Gold, Grapefruit, Oak AgedChaiderGingerHoppedSriracha LimeBarrel #1Barrel #2Mischief Maker Pom-CranGrumpy Bear Coffee NitroPineapple PassionLumberJack (Rhubarb)Blackberry PearDryKing’s ShillingVanilla CloveRaspberry SmoothiePeach Grapefruit HabaneroBailoutTrouble in ParadiseBlueberry CobblerFrench BittersweetPippin, and Afterglow ciders.

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Cider:  Road Trip (Peach Citra)
Cidery:  Schilling Cider
Cidery Location:  Auburn WA
ABV:  6.6%
How Supplied:  22oz bottles and draft
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with peach and CItra hops

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Availability:  Schilling Cider is sold at least in AK, AZ, CA, CT, ID, MN, NC, NV, OR, SC, VA, and WA, but this is a summer seasonal release (July-September) and is therefore likely to have more limited distribution.

Cider Description:  Sweet and juicy peach and farm fresh citra hops.

Cidery Description:  We capture the essence of the Pacific Northwest by creating hard ciders that are deliberately innovative, bold, and flavor forward. 

Price:  $6.99
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.

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First Impression:  Light peach amber hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mildly hopped and fruity.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness.  No tannins, sourness, or funk.  Notes of peach, tropical fruit, hops, and citrus.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low hops influence.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  Refreshing, with peach and citrus.  Nice level of sweetness and balanced flavor.

Most Similar to:  Other cider which were both fruity and hopped, such as 2 Towns Hop & Stalk, Incline Lemongrass LureReverend Nat’s Hallelujah Hopricot, and Ratel Cider Dry Hopped

Closing Notes:  Schilling has really stepped up their game since they started out.  My favorite cider from them however remains King’s Shilling, a brandy barrel aged cider which is also an excellent value (as low as $4.50 / 22oz).

Have you tried Schilling Road Trip?  What did you think?

Gumption Cider Co. Citrus Freak

Review of Citrus Freak from Gumption Cider Co. (part of Vermont Cider Co., which also includes Woodchuck).  This is the second year-round offering from the series, along with the original Gumption (which I reviewed here).  Gumption started in 2015 under the Woodchuck brand, but it branched out as its own brand in 2016.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by the Vermont Cider Co.  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:  Citrus Freak
Cidery:  Gumption Cider Co. (part of the Vermont Cider Co.)
Cidery Location:  Middlebury VT
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  American commercial cider from dessert apples, with citrus and Cascade hops

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Availability:  Year-round, wide release

Cider Description:  Part prankster, part gangster, Gumption’s right-hand man is the Citrus Freak.  A perfect pairing of eating apples, grapefruit, and Cascade hops, this semi-dry cider delivers an all-day enjoyable citrus experience.

Gumption Description:  The Circus of Ciders.  Originally launched under the Woodchuck brand in 2015, Gumption® is a bold and audacious brand which has been wildly successful with consumers. In December 2016, Gumption spun off from Woodchuck® as its own brand with line extensions including the rotational Late Show series and Citrus Freak.

Vermont Cider Co. Description:  Vermont Cider Co. introduced the U.S. to the craft cider category 25 years ago. Dedicated exclusively to cider making, they are the proud producers of their namesake brand, the original American hard cider, Woodchuck, the northeast premium hard cider brand, Vermont Cider Co., the circus of ciders, Gumption, the west coast native, Wyder’s Cider, and importers of Magners Irish Cider and Blackthorn. With an unparalleled focus on quality and innovation, Vermont Cider Co. leads the category in releasing the most premium liquid and pioneering new ciders made from the finest ingredients. Under the watchful eyes of two award-winning cider makers, Vermont Cider Co. produces and distributes from Middlebury, VT, blending together the passion of their consumers, their creativity, and their heritage within the green mountains.

Price:  n/a (retails for $8.99-$10.99 / six pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

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First Impression:  Very pale straw yellow.  Nearly still.  Smells mildly of sweet citrus.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of grapefruit, lemon, orange, and a hint of citrus-forward hops.  Moderate length finish.  High sessionability.  Low apple flavor.  Low to moderate flavor intensity and complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked the start of this cider, but after a few sips the citrus got a bit fake, almost air freshener ish, more of grapefruit extract than grapefruit juice.  I was surprised the hops were almost imperceptible, but I imagine some folks will like that.  I liked that they went drier on this one too.

Most Similar to:  Schilling Grapefruit & Chill and Somersby Citrus Fruit (or for a more real-tasting grapefruit cider, Elemental Hydrogen)

Closing Notes:  I’d love to see this go more natural tasting, then I’d be a fan, as I like the idea of it.

Have you tried Gumption Citrus Freak?  What did you think?

2 Towns Hop and Stalk

Review of 2 Towns’ Imperial Hop and Stalk, a seasonal release with Citra hops and rhubarb.  I sampled this last year (see here), and I’ve tried most of their line-up (see here).

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by 2 Towns.  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:  Hop and Stalk
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  8.2%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles and kegs
Style:  American Imperial (high ABV) craft cider made from dessert apples, with Citra hops and rhubarb

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Availability:  Seasonably (May-Aug) in AK, CA, HI, ID, IL (Chicago), MN, NV, OR, and WA.

Cider Description:  Fresh and citrusy, Hop & Stalk packs a Northwest punch.  Fresh-pressed apples and rhubarb are dry-hopped with Citra hops, creating a cider erupting with fresh aromatics and a tart, biting backbone.

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We never add any sugar, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing true Northwest craft cider.

Price:  n/a (runs $7.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Hazy lemonade medium straw yellow.  Low carbonation.  Smells very aromatic, primarily of citrus, with some hops and strawberry-rhubarb.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of citrus (lemon, lime, and orange), hops, floral, rhubarb, and strawberry.  Long finish with some baked apple.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.  Moderate to strong hoppiness.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it, but I liked last year’s batch better, as it seemed a tad more balanced (more fruity / less hoppy).

Most Similar to:  Hopped ciders with lots of citrus notes and some fruitiness.  Portland Cider Hop’Rageous also uses Citra hops, so you get more citrus & floral than bitter hops.  Tod Creek Mala-Hop also had a lot of citrus notes, but used Chinook, Sterling and Centennial, not Citra hops.  This is the most citrusy hopped cider I’ve tried though, and the only one with another fruit addition.

Closing Notes:  Another winner from 2 Towns!

Have you tried 2 Towns Hop and Stalk?  What did you think?