Liberty Ciderworks Hewe’s Crab SV

Review of Liberty Ciderworks’ Hewe’s Virginia Crab single varietal.  Its my first time trying this, but I’ve had Liberty’s Manchurian Crabapple SV, Crabenstein, Abbess, Stonewall, Gravenstein, Cellar Series #G15, New World Style, Cellar Series (# unknown), McIntosh, Golden Russet SV, and Spokane Scrumpy.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Liberty Ciderworks.  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:  Hewe’s Virgnia Crab SV
Cidery:  Liberty Ciderworks
Cidery Location:  Spokane WA
ABV:  8.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  American craft cider, a single varietal from Hewe’s Virginia crabapples

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Availability:  This is a limited release, but in general their ciders are sold in Washington and Oregon (see a list of locations here).  They also have online sales through Vino Shipper.

Cider Description:  An American original, this crab apple was cultivated in Virginia some time in the 18th century with the sole intent of turning it into cider. Another one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorites, this crab apple’s 2016 crop yields floral, buttery plum, herbal aromas, with flavors of dried fruit, herbal sweetness with a dry, tannic finish.

Cidery Description:  Located in the largest apple-growing region on the continent, Liberty Ciderworks is all about the apple, showcasing the diversity and wonders of locally grown fruit. From well known apples like McIntosh and Jonathan to rare, cider-specific fruit like Kingston Black and Dabinett, Liberty ciders put apples in their proper place: Front and center.  We started Liberty Ciderworks in 2013 with a simple, two-part mission: 1) Using apples from local farms and fields to create unique, wonderful ciders, and 2) Sharing them with friends and neighbors across the great Pacific Northwest.  Welcome to the cider revolution. 

They have a tap room in Spokane WA, which also now has a bottle shop of selections from around the world.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $14.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  one of the co-owners/cidermakers contacted me (Rick Hastings)

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First Impression:  The hue was in between dark straw yellow and light amber.  Very low carbonation.  Smells tart and tannic with a hint of richness.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate to high tartness.  High acidity.  Low to moderate tannins.  Low bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of crabapple pomace, caramel, lemon, leather, grapefruit, and oak.  Moderate apple flavor and flavor intensity.  Low to moderate sessionability.  Moderate to high complexity.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it.  I especially liked the richness and tannins.  I wouldn’t have minded a bit more sweetness and less tartness/acidity though.  This really tasted like a cider made from cider apples, not crabapples, which is pretty cool to be able to do with a crabapple single varietal.  I agree this cider is best drank closer to room than fridge temperature (I really wish I had a dedicated cider fridge so I could serve these types of ciders at cellar temperature!).

Most Similar to:  Liberty’s Manchurian Crabapple, but not quite as intense (as that one has a much higher ABV and is sweeter and more flavorful).

Side Note:  Crabapples are commonly used in cidermaking, especially by home cidermakers that want to add some tannins to their cider but don’t have access to cider apples.  They are typically used as part of a blend though, as very few varieties of crabapples are suitable as a single varietal, as they are so tart and tannic (and often nearly impossible to eat).

Closing Notes:  This was another great selection from Liberty, and would likely appeal best to fans of dry acidic cider.

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

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Liberty Ciderworks Spokane Scrumpy

Review of Liberty Ciderworks’ Spokane Scrumpy.  I previously tried this at Cider Summit Seattle 2017 (see here), but I hadn’t reviewed a bottle.  It was made using community sourced apples and supports the Second Harvest food bank in Spokane Washington.  Here is an article on its release.  I’ve also tried Liberty’s Manchurian Crabapple SVCrabenstein, English StyleAbbessStonewallGravenstein, Cellar Series #G15New World StyleCellar Series (# unknown)McIntosh, and Golden Russet SV.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Liberty Ciderworks.  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:  Spokane Scrumpy
Cidery:  Liberty Ciderworks
Cidery Location:  Spokane WA
ABV:  6.4%
Residual Sugar: 1.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  American craft cider from community-harvested apples, wild yeast fermented

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Availability:  Special release.  Their ciders are in general available in Washington and Oregon (see a list of locations here).  They also have online sales through Vino Shipper (although at the time of review I didn’t see this one listed).

Cider Description:  A hyper-local concoction of backyard, roadside and otherwise under-appreciated apples fermented wild for a light and refreshing, yet complex flavor profile. A partnership with Second Harvest food bank, a portion of proceeds goes toward helping feed people in need in our community. (WA sales only)

Cidery Description:  Located in the largest apple-growing region on the continent, Liberty Ciderworks is all about the apple, showcasing the diversity and wonders of locally grown fruit. From well known apples like McIntosh and Jonathan to rare, cider-specific fruit like Kingston Black and Dabinett, Liberty ciders put apples in their proper place: Front and center.  We started Liberty Ciderworks in 2013 with a simple, two-part mission: 1) Using apples from local farms and fields to create unique, wonderful ciders, and 2) Sharing them with friends and neighbors across the great Pacific Northwest.  Welcome to the cider revolution. 

They have a tap room in Spokane WA, which also now has a bottle shop of selections from around the world

Price:  n/a (probably ~ $15 like their other ciders)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  one of the co-owners/cidermakers contacted me, Rick Hastings

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First Impression:  Hazy lemonade hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells very mild.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness, tannins, and funk.  No sourness.  Notes of lemongrass, green apple, honey, butter, straw, and mineral.  Long finish with a slightly sour aftertaste.  Moderate apple flavor, complexity, flavor intensity, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  The flavor was really interesting in a good way, but the aftertaste was a bit weird/different, although mild.  Neither me or the two others I was tasting with could really describe it.  I think it was likely a slight sourness that only showed up on the finish.  Sourness wouldn’t surprise me, as this was a wild yeast fermented cider, which typically has significant sourness.  The apple-forward flavor and the bit of residual sweetness may have just covered up the sourness until the finish.

Most Similar to:  Nothing I can think of.  The flavor profile was unique.  This is a bit sweeter and less tart than most of Liberty’s lineup.  I’d recommend this for folks who want a little something different.

Side Note:  In the cider world, the term “scrumpy” has a range of definitions, but it currently seems most often used to describe a rustic Farmhouse-style cider made using traditional methods, often slightly cloudy (less filtered).  They are most commonly found in England, but a number of U.S. cidermakers also use this term.  Here is an article from CiderCraft pointing out five examples.

Closing Notes:  Too bad they couldn’t repeat this recipe, as it was a mix of random apples (probably mostly dessert apples, with some heirloom and crab apples).  Next up I have their English Style and Hewes Crab ciders.

Have you tried Liberty’s Spokane Scrumpy?  What did you think?