Farnum Hill Semi Dry

Review of Farnum Hill’s Semi Dry.  I got this as part of the September Cidrbox.  I previously tried samples of their Extra Dry and Dooryard, plus I reviewed Extra Dry and Kingston Black from this Cidrbox.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Cidrbox.  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:  Semi Dry
Cidery:  Farnum Hill
Cidery Location:  Lebanon NH
ABV:  7.4%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  American artisan cider from cider apples, semi dry

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Availability:  In general their ciders are distributed in CT, NH, MA, ME, NJ, NY, and RI (see here).  I haven’t seen their cider in the Seattle area for awhile.

Cider Description:  Golden, gently bubbly, with a delicious array of tropic fruits, citrus, and mysterious aromatic notes in the nose and on the palate. Our Semi-Dry cider is much less sweet than semi-dry champagnes.  On Farnum Hill, that much-abused word “dry” is taken literally, so our semi-dry balances the gentlest sweetness against sharpness, astringency, and fruit (which is different from sweet). Alcohol content 7.4% by volume. 750 ml bottle, mushroom cork finish with wire hood. The cork comes out by hand, with  a genial pop.

Till recently, this of all our ciders was the most popular among people first encountering true cider flavors. It is richer, more complex, and less overtly tannic than Farmhouse. (Also much harder to make, mostly for horticultural factors in any given crop year – if we’re short of certain apple varieties that make the best possible Semi-Dry, we tend not to make Semi-Dry.) Lately the American taste for extremely dry ciders has seemingly grown, so that our Extra Dry gets as much approval from first-time tasters as the Semi. But if you’re a host wondering which to foist on your innocent guests, we’d still lean slightly toward this one.

We aim in all our blends to complement good food, not compete with it. With Semi-Dry, try: seafood, cheeses, ham, poultry, sausage, rabbit, pork, omelettes or quiches, herbed saucy dishes such as non-red pastas, etc. But don’t be surprised if it does good things for baked potatoes or other ordinary pleasures. And look for your own pairings.

Semi-Dry offers a long, clean, aromatic finish that refreshes the flavors of many savory foods. It enjoyably re-interprets many roles played by white or red wines, though not where a buttery, malolactic feel or a huge, “operatic” wine “experience” are wanted. Some chefs, and fans of Norman dishes (e.g. the world of crepes), contend that our ciders, even the Extra Drys, are charming with certain fruit tarts, custards, etc. People who make fruit ices might like to throw some Farnum Hill in, and pour some more alongside. Please post your discoveries — we’d love to try new ideas!

Cidery Description:  On Farnum Hill, we use the word “cider” to mean an alcoholic beverage fermented from particular apples, just as “wine” is fermented from particular grapes.  Cider is a word that covers an enormous variety of adult beverages made from apples.  Our style is all about flaunting the delights of the fruit that grows best on this place.

Farnum Hill Ciders, at 6.5-7.5% alcohol, tend toward the dry, sharp, fruity and bountifully aromatic. We make them to gladden the moment and light up the flavors of food. During Prohibition, apple-growers urgently needed a new teetotal image. That PR problem helped cut the normal old word “cider” from its normal old meaning, and paste it to the sweet brown ephemeral juice of autumn, normally called “apple juice” or “sweet cider.”  So even now, a lot of our fellow Americans find Farnum Hill ciders a bit startling.

We are proud of Farnum Hill Ciders, and delighted to see more and more small-scale cider-makers coming onto the U.S. cider scene. Meanwhile, we’re also encouraged to see skilled commercial apple-growers planting for cider. As in the wine world, cider-apple growers may want to make their own, or to sell their fruit to cidermakers.  Already, the price of cider apples is many times the processing price that eating apples bring. That makes cider orchards valuable.  Here’s hoping the future of distinctive American orchard-based ciders will outshine the past!

Here is a nice podcast with transcript from an interview by Cider Guide’s Eric West with Nicole Leibon, a cidermaker at Farnum Hill.  Farnum Hill also worked with April White on a book, Apples to Cider – How to Make Cider at Home.

Price:  n/a (retails for $17.99+)
Where Bought:  n/a (through Cidrbox)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I’ve heard of Farnum Hill ever since I got into the cider world, as they were one of the first cideries in the new cider movement (around 1995).

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First Impression:  Light golden yellow.  Very low carbonation.  Flavorful scent, of rich cider apples and caramelized sugar.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acid.  Hints of bitterness.  Low to moderate tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of caramelized sugar, apple skin, brown sugar, and lemon.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, and complexity.  Low flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this one.  It was the most flavorful and richest of the three ciders, especially when drank at room instead of fridge temperature.  I think a bit of residual sugar really goes a long way in a cider such as this to bring out the flavor.

Most Similar to:  A mild English cider, or Dragon’s Head Traditional, Westcott Bay Semi-DryEve’s Kingston Black, and E.Z. Orchards Williamette Valley.

Closing Notes:  This concluded my Farnum Hill Cidrbox tasting.  Semi Dry ended up being my favorite, as well as the group’s favorite at my cider tasting, as it was the most flavorful (as it was sweeter).

Have you tried Farnum Hill cider?  What did you think?

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Farnum Hill Kingston Black

Review of Farnum Hill’s Kingston Black. I got this as part of the September Cidrbox.  I previously tried samples of their Extra Dry and Dooryard, plus I reviewed Extra Dry from this Cidrbox.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Cidrbox.  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:  Kingston Black Reserve
Cidery:  Farnum Hill
Cidery Location:  Lebanon NH
ABV:  8.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  American artisan cider, single varietal from Kingston Black

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Availability:  This is a special release so it will probably be more difficult to find, but in general their ciders are distributed in CT, NH, MA, ME, NJ, NY, and RI (see here).  I haven’t seen their cider in the Seattle area for awhile.

Cider Description:  Kingston Black technically is a “bittersharp” apple variety, which in the English-speaking cider world means that its high tannin and acid levels make it a suitable cider apple: however, its sugar level, at least growing here, regularly yields 8.5% alcohol. We release a hundred or so cases of ‘Special Reserve,’ made only from this apple, in years when our KB is showing all its charms.

This is a still cider, in a 750ml bottle with straight cork. Its aromatic and flavor hooks range from floral through fruity (muskmelon) through hormonal suggestions on to further sensory tricks, viz. whiffs of candle-flame and turning off the phone. Like many distinctive flavor signatures, that Kingston Black je ne sais quoi is loved by some but not all.

With food it performs a version of the FHC effect, lending savor and vividness to many different foods. However, unlike our other ciders, Kingston Black in our view belongs with subtle dishes, rather than with spicy or otherwise rowdy flavors. Note that not only Kingston Black’s alcohol but also its price is quite high for a cider. But it’s worth it when you have time to pay attention to the treats before you.

P.S. In old apple variety names, the word “black” means “extremely dark red.”

Cidery Description:  On Farnum Hill, we use the word “cider” to mean an alcoholic beverage fermented from particular apples, just as “wine” is fermented from particular grapes.  Cider is a word that covers an enormous variety of adult beverages made from apples.  Our style is all about flaunting the delights of the fruit that grows best on this place.

Farnum Hill Ciders, at 6.5-7.5% alcohol, tend toward the dry, sharp, fruity and bountifully aromatic. We make them to gladden the moment and light up the flavors of food. During Prohibition, apple-growers urgently needed a new teetotal image. That PR problem helped cut the normal old word “cider” from its normal old meaning, and paste it to the sweet brown ephemeral juice of autumn, normally called “apple juice” or “sweet cider.”  So even now, a lot of our fellow Americans find Farnum Hill ciders a bit startling.

We are proud of Farnum Hill Ciders, and delighted to see more and more small-scale cider-makers coming onto the U.S. cider scene. Meanwhile, we’re also encouraged to see skilled commercial apple-growers planting for cider. As in the wine world, cider-apple growers may want to make their own, or to sell their fruit to cidermakers.  Already, the price of cider apples is many times the processing price that eating apples bring. That makes cider orchards valuable.  Here’s hoping the future of distinctive American orchard-based ciders will outshine the past!

Here is a nice podcast with transcript from an interview by Cider Guide’s Eric West with Nicole Leibon, a cidermaker at Farnum Hill.  Farnum Hill also worked with April White on a book, Apples to Cider – How to Make Cider at Home.

Price:  n/a (retails for $17.99+)
Where Bought:  n/a (through Cidrbox)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I’ve heard of Farnum Hill ever since I got into the cider world, as they were one of the first cideries in the new cider movement (around 1995).

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Still.  Smells of rich cider apple.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, and tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of cider apple, caramel, brown sugar, lemon, and green apple.  Moderate length finish.  Low flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity, sessionability, and apple flavor.

My Opinion:  I liked this one.  It was less rich/intense and thinner than I was expecting though, more similar to a NE American heirloom apple cider than an English cider.  However, like the Extra Dry, it became more rich and flavorful at room temperature.  I’d recommend this to folks of dry still cider.

Most Similar to:  I’ve also had Kingston Black single varietals from Whitewood, Dragon’s Head, and Eve’s.  My favorite of those was the Whitewood, as it was intensely flavorful, likely at least partially due to the whiskey barrel aging.

Closing Notes:  Next up is Farnum Hill’s Semi Dry.

Have you tried Farnum Hill cider?  What did you think?

Farnum Hill Extra Dry

Review of Farnum Hill’s Extra Dry.  I got this as part of the September Cidrbox.  I previously tried samples of their Extra Dry and Dooryard, but haven’t done a full review.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Cidrbox.  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:  Extra Dry
Cidery:  Farnum Hill
Cidery Location:  Lebanon NH
ABV:  7.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  American artisan cider from cider apples, fully dry, lightly carbonated

Photo Sep 22, 5 07 24 PM Photo Sep 22, 5 07 52 PM

Availability:  This is their flagship cider so it is probably the easiest to find, but they appear to primarily be distributed in CT, NH, MA, ME, NJ, NY, and RI (see here).  I haven’t seen their cider in the Seattle area for awhile.

Cider Description:  Pale gold, bubbly, radically dry. Richly aromatic, suggesting myriad fruits of the earth, and the earth itself, with a complex, palate-cleansing balance of fruit, astringency, and acid. Sugar content zero, fruit notes rampant! Made, like Semi-Dry, from a range of specific apple varieties bred and/or selected for excellent cider.

Cidery Description:  On Farnum Hill, we use the word “cider” to mean an alcoholic beverage fermented from particular apples, just as “wine” is fermented from particular grapes.  Cider is a word that covers an enormous variety of adult beverages made from apples.  Our style is all about flaunting the delights of the fruit that grows best on this place.

Farnum Hill Ciders, at 6.5-7.5% alcohol, tend toward the dry, sharp, fruity and bountifully aromatic. We make them to gladden the moment and light up the flavors of food. During Prohibition, apple-growers urgently needed a new teetotal image. That PR problem helped cut the normal old word “cider” from its normal old meaning, and paste it to the sweet brown ephemeral juice of autumn, normally called “apple juice” or “sweet cider.”  So even now, a lot of our fellow Americans find Farnum Hill ciders a bit startling.

We are proud of Farnum Hill Ciders, and delighted to see more and more small-scale cider-makers coming onto the U.S. cider scene. Meanwhile, we’re also encouraged to see skilled commercial apple-growers planting for cider. As in the wine world, cider-apple growers may want to make their own, or to sell their fruit to cidermakers.  Already, the price of cider apples is many times the processing price that eating apples bring. That makes cider orchards valuable.  Here’s hoping the future of distinctive American orchard-based ciders will outshine the past!

Here is a nice podcast with transcript from an interview by Cider Guide’s Eric West with Nicole Leibon, a cidermaker at Farnum Hill.  Farnum Hill also worked with April White on a book, Apples to Cider – How to Make Cider at Home.

Price:  n/a (retails for $16.99+)
Where Bought:  n/a (through Cidrbox)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I’ve heard of Farnum Hill ever since I got into the cider world, as they were one of the first cideries in the new cider movement (around 1995).

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First Impression:  Light gold yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Mild scent, clean, with a hint of honey.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Very light bodied.  Creamy texture.  Low tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of honey, floral, lemongrass, orange, and green apple.  Moderate length warming finish.  Low flavor intensity and apple flavor.  Moderate complexity and sessionability.

My Opinion:  I didn’t dislike it, but this cider was a bit underwhelming for me and the others which tasted it with me.  It gained more flavor intensity and acidity as it warmed up from fridge to room temperature, which was helpful, so I’d recommend drinking it at nearly room temperature (and so does the cidery).  It was also really different from the version of Extra Dry I tried a couple years ago (see here), which my notes say was more acidic, tannic, and carbonated.  Craft ciders can really vary batch to batch.  However, it was very well made and food friendly.  I think it would appeal best to true dry cider lovers.  If you typically drink semi-dry to semi-sweet like I do, the flavor just won’t be there for you, as this is a very nuanced cider.  This is definitely a cider to take some time with to ponder.

Most Similar to:  Alpenfire Pirate’s Plank (although that one is a bit more intensely flavored, possible as it is less filtered) and Brooklyn Cider House Still Bone Dry

Closing Notes:  Next up are Farnum Hill’s Kingston Black and Semi Dry.

Have you tried Farnum Hill cider?  What did you think?

Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Little Apples

Review of Moonlight Meadery’s How Do You Like Them Little Apples, a whiskey barrel aged cider.  I have tried this cider a couple times previously on draft, but now it is available in cans.  I’ve also previously sampled their How Do You Like Them Apples, Boys N Berries, Last Apple, and Crimes of Passion.

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Cider:  How Do You Like Them Little Apples
Cidery:  Moonlight Meadery
Cidery Location:  Londonderry NH
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  12oz cans
Style:  American craft cider, aged in whiskey barrels

Availability:  Semi wide release, in the U.S. in AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, VA, VT, WA, WA D.C., and WI, and Australia, China, and Japan.  They also have an online store.

Cider Description:  This hard cider is made from the finest New Hampshire apples that are available to us, usually a blend of Cortland, McIntosh, Gala, and Red Delicious varieties. We blend the fresh-pressed cider with just a touch of  honey and natural sugar before we let it ferment and age in newly emptied rye whiskey barrels.

Cidery Description:  We are a world class meadery and cidery from Londonderry, New Hampshire that specializes in meads, the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage made from honey, as well as hard ciders.  The diversity of our offerings often leave people speechless, while the flavors have them asking for it from their local retailers.  Stop by and try the oldest fermented beverage to find out why “History never tasted so good” ™.

They have been around since May 2010 and have a tasting room in Londonderry NH.

Price:  $3 / single can
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  My husband bought it for me.

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First Impression:  Hazy medium straw yellow hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells musty, of vinegar, honey, and whiskey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low sourness, funk, and bitterness.  Hints of tannins.  Notes of vinegar, honey, must, and lemon, plus hints of oak and whiskey.  Moderate length finish.  Very low barrel influence.  Low whiskey influence and apple flavor.  Moderate complexity, flavor intensity, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  This was very different than previous versions.  I didn’t really enjoy the odd vinegar flavor with sourness and funk.  Previously it was sweeter and richer, with more honey, oak, and whiskey.

Most Similar to:  Spanish Sidra

Closing Notes:  This was disappointing.  Previous versions (like this) were much more enjoyable.  Hopefully this was a one-time error or something, but it puts me off from wanting to buy it again and taking the chance it’ll happen again.  I have heard that can liners sometimes don’t stand up to acidic cider, so over time the cider can turn vinegary.  The second can was just as bad.

Have you tried Moonlight Meadery’s How Do You Like Them Little Apples?  What did you think?

Moonlight Meadery Last Apple Cyser

Review of Moonlight Meadery’s Last Apple, a cyser (made from apples and honey).  I tried this previously on tap (see here), and have also previously tried some ciders, meads, and cysers from Moonlight Meadery (see here).

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Cider:  Last Apple
Cidery:  Moonlight Meadery
Cidery Location:  Londonderry New Hampshire
ABV:  16.0%
How Supplied:  375ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft cyser (made from apple juice and honey), barrel aged

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Availability:  AL, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, MD, ME, MI, MO, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, TX, VA, WA, and WA D.C. in the USA (see here), plus Australia, China, Japan, and through their online shop (shipped to 36/50 states)

Cider Description:  We took the very last New Hampshire apples that were available to us and had them fresh pressed into apple cider. We then blended it with True Source Honey and let it ferment and age in freshly emptied Jim Beam barrels for over 6 months.  The end result is nothing short of heavenly. It is unlike any of the other honey apple meads that we make, that’s why we felt it deserved its own unique label design.  Take your time with this precious liquid and allow its complexities to dance along your palate.

Cidery Description:  We are a world class meadery and cidery from Londonderry, New Hampshire that specializes in meads, the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage made from honey, as well as hard ciders.  The diversity of our offerings often leave people speechless, while the flavors have them asking for it from their local retailers.  Stop by and try the oldest fermented beverage to find out why “History never tasted so good”™.

Price:  $26.99
Where Bought:  The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I tried this previously at the Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA and remembered loving it, and didn’t even know bottles were available (I picked this up awhile back and haven’t seen it since), so I decided to jump on it, despite the high price tag.

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First Impression:  Light to medium amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells boozy, of honey and caramel.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Full bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of honey, sweet ripe apples, caramel, oak, and coffee.  Long warming finish.  Low apple influence.  Low barrel influence.  Moderate to high honey influence.  Very low sessionability.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this, but I think the batch I tried awhile back which was kegged was far superior; it didn’t have the coffee notes, had more oak flavor, was sweeter & fuller bodied, and was more complex.  In this price range, I think I’d prefer an ice cider from Eden (see here).  This reinforces how much I like cider bars, especially for high end ciders, as a sample can be had for $2-$5, vs. spending a good deal on an entire bottle.

Most Similar to:  This is more mead than cider, both in flavor and its high ABV.  It has more honey notes and a higher ABV than most cysers, such as the ones I’ve tried from Finnriver (Cyser Cider),  Eaglemount (Cyser), and Sea Cider (Birds and the Bees).  Its even higher ABV than the meads I’ve tried, such as Skyriver Solas (see here) and Superstition Honey Highway (see here), yet is smooth and easy to drink.

Closing Notes:   I look forward to continuing to try more ciders, meads, and cysers from Moonlight Meadery; they offer quite a large selection.

Have you tried Moonlight Meadery Last Apple?  What did you think?