Schilling Excelsior

Review of Schilling Excelsior.  I first tried this on draft (see here), but I wanted to do a full review of a bottle.  I’ve also tried Schilling’s Oak Aged, Gold, Grapefruit, ChaiderGingerHoppedSriracha LimeBarrel #1Barrel #2Mischief Maker Pom-CranGrumpy Bear Coffee NitroPineapple PassionLumberJack (Rhubarb)Blackberry PearDryKing’s ShillingVanilla CloveRaspberry SmoothiePeach Grapefruit HabaneroBailoutTrouble in ParadiseBlueberry CobblerFrench BittersweetPippinAfterglowRoad Trip (Peach Citra)Grapefruit & ChillBoysenberry PommeauCampfire, and Watermelon Mint,

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Cider:  Excelsior
Cidery:  Schilling Cider
Cidery Location:  Auburn (Seattle) WA
ABV:  8.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (plus draft, and soon, six packs of 12oz cans)
Style:  American craft imperial-style cider from dessert & bittersweet cider apples

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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 July 2018 release may have more limited distribution.  Also, it is unclear whether this is a limited release, seasonal release, or new year-round offering.

Cider Description:  Dear Earthlings, Schilling Cider has been on a lifelong quest to create a revolutionary cider.  We have dreamt of a world that offers an imperial canned cider that stays true to its roots, without any added nonsense.  Today, we introduce you to Excelsior, an Imperial Apple Cider that combined old world cider techniques with new world innovation.  We start with fresh-pressed Washington-grown apples, add heirloom cider fruit, then ferment with a hand-selected yeast strain.  This unique process highlights the apples’ aroma and tannin structure.  The addition of traditional cider apples builds complexity, adds depth, and creates a sessionable imperial cider.  Grab a bottle and get ready to blast off!

Cidery Description:  In 1881, Colin Schilling’s great-great-grandfather, August, founded the Schilling Spice Company in San Francisco. He brought pure, natural, spices to everyone, at a fair price. Today, at Schilling Cider, we carry August’s core values forward and pair them with innovative cider-making techniques to produce quality, complex, hard ciders.  Based in Seattle, Washington, Schilling Cider captures the essence of the Pacific Northwest by creating ciders that are deliberately innovative, bold and flavor forward. Never back-sweetened, we use only 100% fresh pressed apples, locally sourced non-GMO ingredients and individually hand select yeast strains to create a cider experience that is truly unique.

Price:  $6.99
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I tried it on draft that day

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First Impression:  Medium golden hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells mild, apple-forward, with a hint of richness.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of apple pomace (skin), caramel, orange, leather, lemon, and brown sugar.  Long tart tannic finish.  Moderate apple flavor, complexity, flavor intensity, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  This has some great flavor.  The level of sweetness is perfect, as it helps cut the acidity and bitterness, and hides the higher ABV.

Most Similar to:  a cross between English, American heritage, and American modern ciders

Closing Notes:  Its really neat to see a very large craft cidery do a large release of a cider made even partially from cider apples.  Although others have done this, it wasn’t on as large of a scale.  Also, even though the cider apples were used in a blend, unlike most others I’ve tried, the bittersweet characteristics were still quite evident.  A big benefit of this being a large release and the cider apples being only part of the blend is the lower price, which at under $7 is in-line with most other ciders in 500ml bottles.

Have you tried any ciders made from bittersweet cider apples?  What did you think?

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2 Towns Pearadise

Review of 2 Towns Pearadise, Imperial Getaway, their new spring seasonal imperial-style cider from apples and pears  then finished with white grape wine.  See the article here.  It is my first time trying this, although I have had their Bright CiderBad AppleSerious ScrumpOut Cider, Cherried Away, Made MarionCidre Moscato, Throne of Thorns, Cider Master Reserve Batch No. 01 – Barrel Select BlendPrickle Me PinkNice & Naughty Nice & Naughty Bourbon Barrel AgedDark CurrantRiverwood Brut 2014RhubarbarianPommeau (2013 Harvest, 2015 Release), Ginja NinjaSun’s Out SaisonReturn of the MackHop and StalkLa MûreCot in the ActHollow JackTraditions Cider Bouche 2015Traditions Riverwood 2015Flight of the KiwiPrickle Me Pink ^2Afton FieldTraditions Cidre Bouche 2016Man GoghPacific PineapplePassion StatementEasy Peasy.

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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 this for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review que, considering it is a new release and the info may be helpful for folks deciding to purchase it.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.>

Cider:  Pearadise
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  8.6%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American imperial-style craft cider from apples, D’Anjou pears, and Muscat grapes

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Availability:  Spring seasonal, in Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Hawaii, Chicago and parts of Minnesota (see their cider finder)

Cider Description:  Fruity and complex, Pearadise is found in this distinctly Northwest libation. Fresh-pressed pears are fermented together with local apples, then finished by blending in a touch of white wine, resulting in a sophisticated imperial style with plenty of panache.

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. 

They were founded in 2010 and have a tap room in Corvallis Oregon.

Price:  n/a (retails for $5.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Light gold hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells mild, of sweet pear and white grape.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of pear, white grape, wood, and pineapple.  Long warming white wine-like finish.  Moderate pear flavor, flavor intensity, and complexity.  Low apple flavor and sessionability.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  I had this in my cider fridge, so I first tried it at cellar temperature.  However, I quickly found this, like most imperial-style ciders, is a variety best drank very cold.  Once it properly chilled, it was much easier to drink.  Lots of flavor, starting with pear with a hint of apple, then finishing like a white wine, with grape and some alcohol-forward warmth.  I would have guessed it was barrel aged as I got a distinct wood/oak note, but they didn’t describe it as that, plus the price point is quite low on this, so I’d be surprised if it was.

Most Similar to:  The grape aspect of this reminded me of 2 Towns’ own Cidre Moscato.  However, I can’t remember ever having an imperial-style pear cider, nor could I find any but this in an online search.

Closing Notes:  It is surprising with how many dozens of cider varieties 2 Towns has made, how few have been made with pears.  They had a previous version of Pearadise in 2012 (as mentioned in this article), and more recently, Passion Statement (with pear and passionfruit), and now this, but that is about it.

Have you tried 2 Towns Pearadise?  What did you think?

2 Towns Man Gogh

Review of 2 Towns’ latest new limited release cider, Man Gogh, a tropical mango and habanero imperial-style (high ABV) cider.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve previously had their Bright CiderBad AppleSerious ScrumpOut Cider, Cherried Away, Made MarionCidre Moscato, Throne of Thorns, Reserve #1 Barrel Select BlendPrickle Me PinkNice & NaughtyNice & Naughty Bourbon Barrel AgedDark CurrantRiverwood Brut 2014RhubarbarianPommeauGinja NinjaSun’s Out SaisonReturn of the MackHop and StalkLa MûreCot in the ActHollow JackTraditions Cider Bouche 2015Traditions Riverwood 2015Flight of the KiwiPrickle Me Pink ^2Afton Field, and Traditions Cidre Bouche 2016.

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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 this for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review que, considering it is a new release and the info may be helpful for folks deciding to purchase it.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.>

Cider:  Man Gogh
Cidery:  2 Towns Cider House
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft imperial-style cider from dessert apples, with mango and habanero

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Availability:  ~ Dec 2017 thru Jan 2018, limited, primarily in Oregon, Washington, and California (see their cider finder)

Cider Description:  2 Towns Ciderhouse releases Man Gogh, a tropical-inspired Limited Release Imperial Cider, available starting this week. Tangy and equatorial, Man Gogh is a true masterpiece, artfully bringing together tropical fruit and peppers. Fresh ingredients with opposing characteristics work together to whisk you away to paradise. Van Gogh himself once said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

“2 Towns created this cider as a ray of sunshine for the cold, dark days of winter,” says Matt Dickason, cellar manager. “The freshness of the juicy mango blends seamlessly with the hot habaneros. We went easy on the habanero burn and worked to capture the fruity profile of the peppers. The result is a work of art. ”  We suggest pairing Man Gogh with Christmas tamales and Baja cuisine, like Wahoo tacos.

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. 

They were founded in 2010 and have a tap room in Corvallis Oregon.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $7.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells mild, of mango juice.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of mango, pineapple, citrus, and a hint of habanero.  Long warming finish (from both the high ABV and the habanero).  Very low spiciness (not really noticeable until you drink a few sips, and mostly in the finish).  Moderate sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity and complexity.  Low apple flavor.

My Opinion:  Great!  I was really surprised I enjoyed this, as I was expecting it would be quite spicy, like every other cider I’d had with habanero, jalapeno, sriracha, etc.  The flavor and sweetness were spot-on.  I was also surprised how easy this was to drink, unexpected for an imperial-style spicy cider.

Most Similar to:  I’ve tried spicy ciders before, such as Carlton Cyderworks AHH!!! Apricot Honey Habanero, Cockrell Raspberry Habanero, Elemental Jalapeno Lime Cilantro (Margarita), Schilling Sriracha Lime, Finnriver Habanero, and Schilling Peach Grapefruit Habanero.  I’ve also tried mango infused ciders, such as Atlas Pineapple MangoBull Run MangoCider Brothers William Tell Apple Mango MuscatElemental Mango, and Locust Mango.  Compared to those, this one was most similar to Elemental’s mango cider as far as flavor and sweetness, except with a hint of spice, on a similar level to Elemental’s Margarita.

Closing Notes:  I can see this becoming a very popular release.

Have you tried 2 Towns Man Gogh?  What did you think?

Eden Cellar Series Guinevere’s Pearls

Review of Eden’s Guinevere’s Pearls, part of their Cellar Series (#4), only available to club members.  It is my first time trying this cider, but I have previously sampled their Sparkling Dry, Cellar Series Cinderella’s Slipper, Heirloom Blend Ice CiderSparkling Semi-Dry, Northern Spy (Barrel Aged) Ice Cider, Honeycrisp Ice Cider, Imperial 11 Rosé, and Heirloom Blend Apple Brandy Barrel Aged Ice Cider.

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Cider:  Guinevere’s Pearls
Cidery:  Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Newport VT
ABV:  11.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American Artisan Imperial-style semi-sweet Northern Spy apple single varietal

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Availability:  Eden’s online store, for cider club members, 50 cases of 12 bottles.  However, in general, their ciders are available in CA, CO, CT, DE, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, SC, VT, WA, WA D.C., and Alberta B.C. Canada.

Cider Description:  In deepest winter’s ice and snow, four containers of fresh apple juice began their journey.  We pressed this juice at Eden Orchards from Northern Spy apples conscientiously grown in Vermont by Ezekiel Goodband and Jessika Yates.  As the cold set in, the water in the juice began to freeze, intensifying the sugars and flavors in the remaining unfrozen residual apple sweetness to balance this regal apple’s notable acidity.  Like Guinevere’s pearls, which she gave to King Arthur as a talisman for his knightly pursuits, the precious drops of sweetness in this unique cider may inspire you to accomplish heroic deeds and win your Queen or King…or just encourage you to sip a little slower to enjoy the beauty they add to your drinking experience.

Cidery Description:  Eden Orchards and Eden Ice Cider began on a trip to Montreal in 2006 when we first tasted ice cider and wondered why nobody was making it on our side of the border.  We had dreamed for years of working together on a farm in the Northeast Kingdom; it was a dream that had vague outlines including an apple orchard, cider, and fermentation of some sort.  That night we looked at each other and knew ice cider was it.  In April 2007, we bought an abandoned dairy farm in West Charleston, Vermont and got to work.  Since then we have planted over 1,000 apple trees, created 5 vintages of Eden Vermont Ice Ciders, and have introduced a new line of Orleans Apertif Ciders.  Out goals are to create healthy soils and trees in our own orchard, to support out Vermont apple orchard partners who do the same, to minimize our carbon footprint, to contribute to the economic and environmental health of our employees and our Northeast Kingdom community, and most of all to make world-class unique ciders that truly reflect our Vermont terroir.

They have a tasting bar on the main floor of the Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center in downtown Newport VT.

Price:  $20
Where Bought:  Eden’s online store
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Light golden amber.  Moderate to high carbonation.  Smells of cider apples and yeast.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied with a frothy mouthfeel.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low to moderate bitterness.  Low to moderate tannins.  Moderate funk.  No sourness.  Notes of apple pomace, yeast, must, stone fruit, honey, and brown sugar.  Long warming finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Low sessionability.  Moderate to high complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  I loved the uniqueness, with the combination of high acidity, richness, sweetness, high ABV, and carbonation.  The only thing I would change would be to have less bitterness.

Most Similar to:  I don’t think I’ve had anything similar.  It reminded me a bit of a French cider as it is apple and yeast forward and is fizzy.  However, it is more acidic and fruity and has a higher ABV.

Closing Notes:  I’m glad I got a chance to try this.  Its an excellent value too.  I also picked up some Sparkling Semi-Dry and Heirloom Blend Apple Brandy Barrel Aged Ice Cider at the same time which I have to look forward to.

Have you tried Eden Guinevere’s Pearls?  What did you think?