NV Cider Watermelon Hard Pear Cider (Perry)

Review of NV Cider’s Watermelon Hard Pear Cider.  Its actually a perry as no apples were used, but I imagine they called it a pear cider as a lot of folks don’t know what perry is.  I’ve tried a few varieties from them before; see here.

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Cider:  Watermelon Hard Pear Cider
Cidery:  NV Cider (Neigel Vintners)
Cidery Location:  East Wenatchee WA
ABV:  5.3%
How Supplied:  500ml green Aluminum bottle
Style:  American craft perry with watermelon extract

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Availability:  WA and OR; see here.

Cider Description:  This is a perry made using native pear varieties from East Wenatchee, with watermelon extract.  Note that they refer to it as a pear cider, but that is typically reserved for beverages made from both apples and pears, often fermented apple juice with pear juice added afterwards.

Cidery Description:  Neigel Vintners is a family affair.  Our cider company is run on our family property.  Some of the first pears we press each year come off of remnants of the first pears planted by the family.  Over 100 years old, these trees have had their heart-wood rot out and survived. There are several places a person can reach through the center of the tree with a hand. These trees have been a staple of the property for generations.

Price:  $5
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing

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First Impression:  Pale straw yellow with hints of pink.  Low carbonation.  Smells of fresh sweet watermelon, pear, and white grape.  The watermelon scent is quite strong at first but quickly dissipates.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low carbonation.  Low tartness but it has some bite.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of pear, watermelon, white grape, strawberry, and rhubarb.  Quick finish.  Low pear flavor.  High sessionability.  Low flavor intensity/fruitiness.

My Opinion:  This was tasty, but it left me wanting more watermelon flavor.  Right after opening it had an awesome strong watermelon scent, but that diminished.  I know that watermelon juice isn’t very flavorful, but I think this would have been a great cider to leave fairly unfiltered, which likely would have made it easier to get the watermelon flavor.

Most Similar to:  NV Cider’s Cherry Perry, which was also a fruity perry (see my tasting notes here).  That one had a nice unfiltered aspect to it though, which I think helped add to the complexity.  I like watermelon more than cherry, but I think the Cherry was pulled off better.  The Cherry Perry was also sweeter, so I think that helped make it seem more flavorful.

Closing Notes:   I’m a huge watermelon fan, and although the flavor intensity was a bit lacking, it was an enjoyable perry.  I look forward to seeing what else they come up with.

Have you tried any perries?  What did you think?

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Interview (Q&A) with NV Cider

Kevin & Mark Van Reenen, brothers and co-founders of Neigel Vintners (NV) Cider out of Wenatchee WA, were nice enough to answer my request for an interview.

NV Cider currently offers four varieties, Pear Essentials, Pearfect Pie, Hoppin’ Pear, & Ginger Pear (past varieties have included Half Past Prudent, Cider Baron, & Forgotten Virtue).  I’ve reviewed Half Past Prudent here at Cider Says, but my favorite so far is Pear Essentials.

sign board

The following are their answers in response to my interview questions.  The only changes I have made were formatting and some added information on upcoming cider events indicated with brackets.  All photos in this article are from NV Cider’s Facebook page and NV Cider’s website, as everything is better with pictures.  Enjoy!

(1) What was your inspiration in starting NV Cider?

We have a deep respect for the fruit that fostered our valley especially for the pears we grew up tending with the family.

(2) I understand that the company is named after your grandfather, Sylvester Neigel, and that “Vintners” is a name for a wine maker/merchant.  Why did you choose to use a wine descriptor for your perry company name?

We always knew we wanted to keep the Neigel name going somehow as our grandfather just had two daughters.  When considering what to use with Neigel we thought vintners worked well for two reasons…first the word itself connoted craft beverage to us and secondly, from early on, we knew that we wanted to shift into NV Cider.

(3) Were you interested in cider/perry any time before taking over your grandfather’s pear orchard, or was that the first time?

There were a couple of trips to the UK that really enhanced a love of cider that we had engrained for many years previous to that.

orchard

(4) When developing a new variety, what is your process?  ie. Do you go in wanting to yield a certain flavor profile, is it from playing around with new methods & ingredients and finding something you like, or something else?

By in large, new varieties are quite calculated and in direct response to customer feedback and market analysis.  Hoppin’ Pear was a unique convergence of market opportunity and making something that the two owners really wanted to be able to drink themselves

(5) My favorite of your perries that I’ve tried is what appears to be the sweetest one, Pear Essentials (I guess I have a bit of a sweet tooth), which I find to have a very pear-forward flavor more than anything I’ve tried (even other back sweetened products).  Do you have anything extra to share about that variety, such as how it was developed?

That product is our flagship and has enjoyed more attention than any of our other flavors.  It received more versioning and refinement than anything we’ve done as we really wanted something true to pear flavor and as far from artificial as possible.

(6)  Some folks would go so far as to say that back sweetened cider/perry isn’t “craft”; do you have an opinion on that?

I would actually argue that it is more craft.  The finished product doesn’t get to be complete after just a careful fermentation and settling.  When that is done it takes more work which includes careful ‘blending’ to introduce its own pre-fermentation juice at the right time and quantity to bring a really natural flavor.

(7) Do you have a favorite perry that you make?

One owner prefers Hoppin’ Pear as the best of beer and the best of cider and the other owner is still a fan of the first one we ever made which is a small batch single varietal run that is available only in September most years…Half Past Prudent.

pears

(8) Do you have any favorite ciders or perries?

Absolutely, the two main offerings from Left Field Cider Co. in BC.  Whenever we have a chance to head over the border our first purchases are Little Dry and Big Dry.  Plus the cider makers are super fun.

(9) Your new packaging looks awesome!  The use of metal bottles is quite unique.  Did you hire a designer, or did you have a pretty good idea of what you wanted when you went to the label & bottle manufacturer?

Very early in our studies of the market environment we stood in front of the cider cooler at Chuck’s Hop Shop in Seattle and wondered which one we should start with.  It was right there that we committed to never using an amber color 22oz glass bottle.  We knew exactly what we wanted when we stipulated the exact pantone color and bottle dimensions to the manufacturer.  The over-all marketing has been one of our favorite parts of the endeavor.

bottles

(10) Are there any different considerations for bottling in Aluminum instead of Glass?  What was the reason you went that way (uniqueness, to protect the product from UV list, etc)?

A few factors include the ability of aluminum to help with the cooling of the product.  The colder our perry is when it’s served, the more the pear flavor jumps forward. Uniqueness was another pro but actually a con that we considered was the fact that aluminum wouldn’t show off the refreshing light green color of the beverage.  In the end it was a pretty easy decision to go with those bottles even though they are significantly more expensive than any other options we found.

(11) Do you have any plans for a tasting room?

Without a doubt we would love to have one as soon as possible.  We have already started the ball rolling on purchasing the exact property we want and have lots of ideas for the finishings.  Having recently received some huge orders, the tasting room is unfortunately further toward the back burner than we would hope.

(12) What is your marketing strategy / target market?

Although we have a higher end product with the pear base, we want this alternative to more sugary substitutes in consumption to be approachable by a broad market base.  We have done and are doing everything possible to allow us to continue selling our products at a reasonable price point so that as many people as possible can enjoy our passion.

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(13) What changes have you noticed in the Washington cider/perry scene lately?

Luckily we have seen cider take over more tap handles at on-premise locations which is definitely moving cider in the right direction.  As for perry, we are still enjoying being one of only a few companies nationwide that do only perry.  We have had the opportunity to educate many accounts on the difference between pear cider and perry.

(14) Will NV Cider be at any upcoming tasting events in Washington such as Cider Summit?

You bet, in the next couple of months we will be at:

  • Summer Cider Day – Port Townsend [Sat Aug 8, 12-5pm, Northwest Maritime Center, website]
  • NCW [North Central Washington] Wine Awards – Wenatchee [winners announced at Wenatchee Wine & Food Festival, Sat Aug 22, 6-9pm, Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee; website]
  • Sausage and Cider Festival – Covington [Sat Aug 22, 4-8pm, Convington Community Park, website]
  • Bacon, Eggs & Kegs – Seattle [Sat Aug 22, 11am-3pm, Centurylink Field, website]
  • Cider Summit Seattle – Seattle [Fri Sept 11 (3-8pm) & Sat Sept 12 (12-6pm), South Lake Union, website]
  • Fall Wine Walk – Leavenworth [Sat Sept 12, 12-6pm, 20 locations in downtown Leavenworth, website]
  • Cider Swig – Gig Harbor [Sat Sept 26, 12-5pm, Sehmel Homestead Park, website]

among several others

(15) Should we expect any new varieties soon?

We are debuting Cherry Perry at the Seattle Cider Summit.  This is a mature version of one of the first flavored ciders we tried years before becoming a company when we were just hobbying.

(16) Anything else you’d like to share?

Our approach of providing flavorful perries without added refined sugar is a backbone of the company and will drive our growth for years to come.

brothers

Thanks again to Kevin & Mark Van Reenen from Neigel Vintners (NV) Cider!  I look forward to checking out their new Cherry Perry variety at Cider Summit Seattle.  I’ll also have to try Left Field Cider Co. (if I can find some), as that is the second recommendation I’ve seen for them.

Neigel Vintners (NV) Half Past Prudent

Here is a review of a perry from Nieigel Vintners (NV) Cider, Half Past Prudent.

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Cider:  Half Past Prudent
Cidery:  Neigel Vintners (NV) Cider
Cidery Location:  Wenatchee, WA
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  four pack of 250ml metal canisters
Availability:  very limited, likely only in WA (they started up in Feb 2014)

Description:  This was our first cider.  We originally created it to be a light cider we could drink all summer long.  Wanting to eschew the sugary summer beer alternatives, we created this for its simplicity.  The name comes from our first trial runs before the idea of a company was even formed.  Our 1902 press would produce this cider.  We would crank the press until we heard it start to creak and pop…a prudent place to end the press.  We would then crank it around one more half turn.  We take our virtues with a grain of salt.

Price:  $2.75 for a single bottle (the store split up the 4 pack)
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles in Georgetown (Seattle)
How Found: Browsing, noticing it after having tried their Pear Essentials variety
Where Drank:  home

First Impression: This cider is fairly pale, slightly cloudy with a small amount of sediment.  I pick up a citrus and mild pear scent.  My first taste is tart and fairly dry.

Opinion:  This is an interesting perry;  It breaks the mold of the fairly sweet varieties that are more common and that I’ve tried previously (Crispin Pacific Pear, Fox Barrel Pacific Pear, Spire Mountain Pear, Woodchuck Pear, Wyder’s Dry Pear, and even NV Cider Pear Essentials).  I think the main difference is that this is 100% fermented pear juice, no apple juice, and no back sweetening, which is what is typically offered.  This is more semi-sweet than sweet.  I don’t notice any carbonation.  I pick up an earthy lemony green apple champagney taste.  It is very smooth, but a bit too tart, dry, and even slightly bitter for my taste.  I really like the idea of it though, as I often like a slightly earthy & champagney cider.  I think it is mostly the tartness?

I first tried their perry at Snohomish on the Rocks, where I had Pear Essentials, which I prefer.  So, I guess I am not a cider traditionalist, as I often like the added flavor & sweetness from back sweetening done right (I don’t like ciders that tend towards syrupy).  If you are looking for a sweet but not too sweet very pear-like perry, than I’d recommend Pear Essentials.  Hopefully I can find that variety again.  I bought a large clear glass bottle of their Pear Essentials variety at the event, but this time their product was sold in a small metal canister (less than 9 oz).  Their newer packaging is pretty sweet looking, where the canister is more bottle-shaped…likely very eye catching in the sea of bottles & cans on the shelves!

Closing Notes: NV Cider offers five types of perry:  Half Past Prudent, Cider Baron, Pear Essentials, Pearfect Pie, and Forgotten Virtue.  Here is an interesting profile piece on NV Cider in Cider Craft Magazine.  Have you tried any perry from NV Cider?  What did you think?

Cider Says Weekly Preview

What posts to expect in the upcoming week at Cider Says:

  • Sunday: 8 Reasons Cider on Tap May Taste Better
  • Monday: Neigel Vintners (NV) Cider Half Past Prudent Review
  • Tuesday: Affording Craft Cider
  • Wednesday: Celt Cidre Breton Traditional Review
  • Thursday:  7 Things I Love About Hard Cider
  • Friday/Saturday: Mystery Cider Review

Stay tuned, and remember to follow by e-mail (sidebar on right, or at bottom of page on mobile devices) or follow on WordPress (top left bar) to be notified of new posts here at Cider Says.  Have a great week!

Cider Says Weekly Preview

What posts to expect in the upcoming week at Cider Says:

  • Monday: Woodchuck Oopsy Daisy cider review
  • Tuesday: Cider at Seattle International Beerfest (July 10-12)
  • Wednesday: Angry Orchard mini cider reviews (Crisp Apple, Traditional Dry, Elderflower, Summer Honey, Iceman, & The Muse)
  • Thursday: Ace Pineapple cider review
  • Friday/Saturday: mystery new cider review
    • I’m still deciding what to try first, as (unfortunately for my bank account) I bought 9! new ciders over the weekend and still have 7 remaining:  Eaglemount Quince, NV Cider Half Past Prudent, Worley’s Premium Vintage, Atlas Hard Apple Cider, Liberty Manchurian Crabapple, Anthem Traditional, and Crispin Browns Lane Imported English Cider.

Stay tuned, and remember to follow by e-mail (sidebar on right, or at bottom of page on mobile devices) or follow on WordPress (top left bar) to be notified of new posts here at Cider Says.  Have a great week!