AEppelTreow Kinglet Bitter

Review of AEppelTreow’s Kinglet Bitter Draft Cider, part of their Songbird line of estate ciders.  I’ve previously tried a few of their ciders; see here.

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Cider:  Kinglet Bitter Draft Cider
Cidery:  AEppelTreow
Cidery Location:  Burlington WI
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles and kegs
Style:  American craft cider made from English & French bittersweet apple varieties

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Availability:  At least in CA, DE, IA, IL, KY, LA, MA, MD, MN, NY, OR, PA, SD, WA, WI, and WA D.C.

Cider Description:  Kinglet Bitter is one of our proud ‘estate’ ciders.  It’s all grown at Brightonwoods, within sight of the Winery.   It’s more subtle and complex than Barn Swallow – being fermented from 100% bitter English and French cider apples.  It differs from an authentic European cider by being ‘immature’.  Kinglet has very little post-ferment changes made by wild Lactic Acid Bacteria.  Instead, we ferment it with a Sangiovese yeast that we think really brings out the tannin characters of the cider-specific cultivars.  These apples are rare, and not easy to grow.  When we get the question ‘Then why use them?’, we pour a glass of Kinglet.

Apple Varieties: Dabinette, Domaine, Frequin Rouge, White Jersey, Muscadet Deippe, and other English & French bittersweet cider apples.

Cidery Description:  ÆppelTreow Winery & Distillery is a producer of small batch cider, perry and spirits.  Cider and Perry?  We use the pre-Prohibition meaning of ‘cider’, so we’re talking about fermented or ‘hard’ cider. Perry is the pear analogue to cider.  We use lots of different kinds of apples and pears in our products.  Some modern.  Some heirloom – no longer grown for stores. We make a range of styles: sparkling, draft, still/table, and fortified/dessert.  Within a style, we lean to the dry end – but also have some medium-sweet offerings.

They have a tasting room in Burlington Wisconsin and opened in 2001.

Price:  $12
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I’ve enjoyed a few of their ciders previously and am a fan of bittersweet ciders, so especially for only $12 I wanted to try it.

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow with copper hue.  Still.  Smells of apple juice with a slight bit of “farmhouse”.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Completely still (no carbonation), and tasted a bit flat (like it previously had carbonation but sat out).  Mild tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate to strong bitterness.  Mild tannins.  A hint of funk.  No sourness.  Notes of bittersweet apples, apple juice, honey, apple pomace, caramel, and earthiness.  Moderate to long bitter finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  This was much too bitter and harsh for my liking.  Although “bitter” is in the name, many ciders made from bittersweet apples don’t have significant bitterness.  I think with some aging and a bit of tweaking it would have been more to my liking.  I didn’t really like the backsweetening (obvious apple juice flavor) of this cider, yet if anything, more sweetness would have helped balance the flavor.  I was surprised I didn’t detect more tannins.  Along Came a Cider also did a nice review of this cider (see here); it looks like Meredith found it more carbonated, more tannic, and less bitter than I did.  I imagine this is a different batch as her review was awhile ago.

UPDATE: The cidery noted this bottle may not have traveled well, as it is usually lightly carbonated and more astringent than bitter. Unless a bottle is obviously bad, its always tough to know whether what we are tasting was the intended product. Hopefully I get a chance to try this one again.

Most Similar to:  Ciders made from bittersweet apples, such as many English-style ciders.  The flavor in particular was similar to Colorado Cider Company Ol’ Stumpy (see my review here).  My favorite bittersweet ciders include those from Sea Cider (Bittersweet), Locust (Bittersweet Reserve), Finnriver (Fire Barrel), and Aspall (Imperial – Black Label).

Closing Notes:   Although I didn’t care for this cider, I look forward to continuing to try more ciders from AEppelTreow .  Their Appely Doux is my favorite so far–rich and bubbly (see my review here).

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