Number 12 Chestnut Semi-Dry

Review of Number 12 Ciderhouse’s Chestnut Semi-Dry, a cider made from Minnesota apples and aged with toasted French oak spirals.  This is Number 12 Ciderhouse’s newest release, and the first cider I’ve tried from them.

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Number 12.  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.<<

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Cider:  Chestnut Semi-Dry
Cidery:  Number 12 Ciderhouse
Cidery Location:  Buffalo, Minnesota
ABV:  7.4%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from Minnesota apples (including Chestnut Crabapples), aged with toasted French oak spirals

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<loving these labels!>

Availability:  Number 12 ciders are sold in these locations in Minnesota.

Cider Description:  Number 12 Chestnut Semi-Dry combines 5 local apple varieties with toasted French Oak. It features the Chestnut Crabapple, developed and introduced by the University of Minnesota in 1946. Hints of orchard honey and crisp apple come alive against a light sparkle and subtle tannins. This cider is approachable, balanced and delicious!

Cidery Description:  Balance is everything . . . In life, and in great ciders.  Number 12 is no different.  We are continuously experimenting to achieve a perfect balance.  Number 12 gets its namesake from the 12th recipe developed in 2011.  It became our first award winner and the beginning of our recognition from the cider community.  Since then, it has become more of a concept, our ideal if you will.  Number 12 represents the idea that greatness in cider is out there somewhere . . . To strive for, to create, to perfect!

They have a tap room in Buffalo Minnesota.

Price:  n/a (retails for $11)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Hazy dark lemonade hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells of citrus, sourness, funk, and oak.

Tasting Notes:  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Low sourness.  Very high acidity.  Low funk.  Low tannins.  Notes of sharp crabapples, grapefruit, lemon, honey, and charred oak.  Moderate length finish.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  Low sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  Low oak influence.

My Opinion:  Well-made, but its not really a style I enjoy.  It reminds me of farmhouse-style cider, with its high acidity and some sourness & funk.

Most Similar to:  Other farmhouse-style dry acid-forward ciders such as Millstone Farmgate DrySietsema Traditional Dry, and Angry Orchard Walden Hollow, except with an oak aged twist.

Closing Notes:   I’m glad I got to try this one.  Next up I have their Sparkling Dry and Black Currant Dry.

Have you tried Number 12 Ciders?  What did you think?

Angry Orchard – Orchard’s Edge – Knotty Pear

Review of Knotty Pear, one of two new releases from Angry Orchard, part of their new Orchard’s Edge series, an “innovative line of ciders developed at the orchard”.  The series also includes The Old Fashioned, which I reviewed here.  This is their latest release since Stone Dry, part of their Core selection, which I reviewed here.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by  Angry Orchard.  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:  Orchard’s Edge Knotty Pear
Cidery:  Angry Orchard
Cidery Location:  Walden NY (their R&D facility)
Cider Production Locations:  Cincinnati OH & Breingsville PA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  American commercial cider from dessert apples with pear juice & cardamom, oak aged

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Availability:  Year round, nationwide, released in late February

Cider Description:  Knotty Pear’s main ingredient is juice from American apples, and also features pear juice, which adds a new dimension to the cider, creating a pleasantly dry flavor. Cardamom imparts a slight spicy flavor. With subtle notes of citrus and mint.  This cider and showcases fresh acidity, lasting tannin, and a pleasantly dry finish from oak aging.

Apple Varieties:  Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith

Pear Varieties:  Bartlett, Doyenne de Comice, Bosc, D’Anjou

Ingredients:  Hard cider, water, cane sugar, pear juice from concentrate, malic acid, natural flavor, cardamom, carbon dioxide, sulfites

Price:  n/a (suggested retail of $10.99-$11.99 / six pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Angry Orchard sent me two bottles of Knotty Pear and two bottles of The Old Fashioned (and my favorite, large quantities of bubble wrap!).  Oddly enough this was a couple weeks after I started seeing info about these online from folks trying it.  Things do take awhile to get to me in Seattle all the way from the East coast though.

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow.  Nearly still.  Smells mild, of sweet apples & pears with a hint of herbal spice.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  No sourness, bitterness, tannins, or funk.  Medium bodied.  Notes of sweet baked apples & pears, spice, citrus, and mint.  Moderate length finish.  Very low oak influence.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  The cardamom in this one is interesting.  It adds some complexity, but I’m not really a fan of the base pear cider, which is a bit fake/syrupy tasting.

Most Similar to:  The slight mint notes remind me of Jester & Judge Columbia Belle, although the flavor besides apple with that one is peach, not pear.  The base pear cider is rather similar to most commercial pear ciders I’ve had.

Closing Notes:   I think Angry Orchard is making an attempt at stepping up their game.  However, I’ll take them more seriously when the ingredient list doesn’t include water, sugar, and natural flavor.  I liked their The Old Fashioned better than this one.

Have you tried Angry Orchard Knotty Pear?  What did you think?

Angry Orchard – Orchard’s Edge – The Old Fashioned

Review of The Old Fashioned, one of two new releases from Angry Orchard, part of their new Orchard’s Edge series, an “innovative line of ciders developed at the orchard”.  It is modeled after the Old Fashioned cocktail, which often includes whiskey, water, bitters, sugar, and muddled cherries & oranges.  The series also includes Knotty Pear, which I reviewed here.  This is their latest release since Stone Dry, part of their Core selection, which I reviewed here.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by  Angry Orchard.  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:  Orchard’s Edge The Old Fashioned
Cidery:  Angry Orchard
Cidery Location:  Walden NY (their R&D facility)
Cider Production Locations:  Cincinnati OH & Breingsville PA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  American commercial cider from dessert apples aged with charred bourbon barrel staves, dried cherries, and orange peel

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Availability:  Year round, nationwide, released in late February

Cider Description:  The Old Fashioned is made with a blend of American apples and is aged on oak with dried tart cherries, California grown navel orange peel, and charred bourbon barrel staves, offering citrus and cherry aromas with a bright apple flavor and slight vanilla notes. It has lasting tannins and a full, round mouthfeel.

Apple Varieties:  Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith

Ingredients:  Hard cider, water, cane sugar, orange peel, malic acid, cherries, natural flavor, carbon dioxide, and sulfites

Price:  n/a (suggested retail of $10.99-$11.99 / six pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Angry Orchard sent me two bottles of Old Fashioned and two bottles of Knotty Pear (and my favorite, large quantities of bubble wrap!).  Oddly enough this was a couple weeks after I started seeing info about these online from folks trying it.  Things do take awhile to get to me in Seattle all the way from the East coast though.

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells acidic, slightly sour, with hints of oak and orange.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  It starts with acidity and finishes with fruitiness (although not specifically cherry), citrus, oak, and honey.  Moderate acidity.  Mild tartness.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins (the sourness I smelled didn’t continue into the flavor).  Moderate length finish with slight warming and hints of bourbon.  Moderate apple flavor.  Mild oak influence.

My Opinion:  Although it is far from craft cider, this is one of my current favorite commercial ciders, along with the new Woodchuck Barrel Aged Cherry.  It has a bit of complexity, isn’t crazy sweet, and isn’t too “fake” tasting either.  Definitely a better option than their Crisp Apple and even Stone Dry (although I think their Traditional Dry is pretty ok).  Unfortunately I only ever see Crisp Apple when going out, which I won’t pay for as I think it tastes like alcoholic apple juice and I don’t get $4-$6 enjoyment out of a bottle.

Most Similar to:  The citrus and oak notes remind me of ciders such as Schilling King’s Shilling and Crispin 15 Men, both of which were also fuller bodied.

Closing Notes:   I think Angry Orchard is making an attempt at stepping up their game.  However, I’ll take them more seriously when the ingredient list doesn’t include water, sugar, and natural flavor.

Have you tried Angry Orchard The Old Fashioned?  What did you think?

2 Towns Dark Currant

Review of 2 Towns’ newest limited release (late Dec 2015), Dark Currant, a cider with black currant juice added and was aged in new oak barrels.

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Cider:  Dark Currant
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottle (and kegs)
Style:  American black currant cider, oak barrel aged

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Availability:  Limited release which is available in OR, WA, AK, HI, CA, ID, NV, MN, and Chicago IL.

Cider Description:  Harvested from NW farms, local black currants are fermented during the cold winter, on Oregon-grown white oak. A strong oak profile backs the complex berry aromas. You can’t fight the currant.

The black currants were harvested from Queener Farm in Scio, Oregon and Kalapooia Haven Farm in Brownsville, Oregon in late summer, then this cider was lightly aged in new oak barrels until its release in December.

Cidery Description:  2 Towns was founded in 2010 by partners Lee Larsen and Aaron Sarnoff. Dave Takush joined us shortly thereafter. All three of us grew up together in the Corvallis, OR area. We’ve had explosive growth since our inception at which point we had intended to produce and distribute cider to the Corvallis, OR and Eugene, OR areas only (incidentally, the 2 Towns of our namesake). It became readily apparent that our initial vision needed to grow as we hit our maximum capacity in our first production space (a converted 1,000 sq ft garage) in roughly 2 months. We’ve since built 2 new production facilities with a total of 25,000 sq ft of production space and our team has grown to over 30 people to help us to distribute to 9 states and counting.

Over this time, we’ve kept to our original goal of bringing craft hard cider back to the people. We feel that a craft cider is made with fresh-pressed fruit and contain no artificial flavorings. Our fruit is all sourced in Oregon & Washington and all of our ciders are also free from added sugars other than those present in the juice and in some cases local honey. We feel that cider doesn’t need to be sweet to express the natural flavors of the fruits we ferment.

2 Towns Ciderhouse planted an orchard in 2011 with all traditional cider apple varieties such as Kingston Black, Dabinett, Jersey Brown Snout, and many others. 2 Towns has also contracted with several growers in the Willamette Valley and beyond to grow additional traditional cider fruit.

Price:  $7.50
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I read online about the release and had been on the lookout (2 Towns is one of the brands I try just about everything from).  I was at Full Throttle Bottles to pick up some 2 Towns Pommeau, and figured I might as well get it.

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First Impression:  Cranberry pink hue.  Low carbonation with tiny bubbles at the edges of the glass.  Smells like raspberries, black currant, citrus, and oak.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate tartness.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  A hint of tannins.  Raspberry, blackberry, and black currant notes with hints of lemon and oak.  Light to medium bodied.  Low apple influence.  Low barrel influence.  Moderate to long finish.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  I’m not usually a huge fruity cider fan, but I really enjoyed this…probably as the black currant didn’t completely overpower the apple, and it wasn’t overly sweet, tart, or juice-like.  I enjoyed the oak influence, but it left me wanting more oak flavor (but I say that about most barrel aged ciders).

Most Similar to:  Other black currant ciders.  I’ve had Finnriver Black Currant.  As far as craft black currant ciders, I’ve read Doc’s Draft and Slyboro make them.  In comparison to Finnriver Black Currant, 2 Towns Dark Currant is less fruity, rich, and tart.  However, the flavor added from the oak barrel aging was nice.  I slightly prefer Dark Currant.  This fruity barrel aged cider also reminded me of Alpenfire Apocalypso, which is a rum barrel aged blackberry cider (similar to their Calypso, which is a regular release, although this was a keg-only release).

Closing Notes:   This was quite tasty, and a great mix of summer (berry) and winter (oak) type flavors.  I think 2 Towns ciders are unique and at a great price point.

Have you tried 2 Towns Dark Currant?  What did you think?

Downeast Cider House Winter Blend

Review of Winter Blend from the Downeast Cider House, their winter seasonal.  They sent me a great sample case of their Winter, Original, and Cranberry Blend ciders, which is especially awesome as they aren’t yet available here in the Seattle area (or anywhere outside of the Northeast).  Lucky me!  Winter is covered in this review, Original is covered here, and Cranberry will be covered soon.

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>>This is a review of a sample can provided to Cider Says by the Downeast Cider House.  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:  Winter Blend
Cidery:  Downeast Cider House
Cidery Location:  Boston MA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  four pack of 12oz cans (and draft)

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Availability:  Winter time, in the Northeast portion of the U.S.  See their locator map.

Cider Description:  Winter Blend pairs well with deep sofas, warm blankets, and a crackling fire.  Our winter offering starts with fresh apple cider. It is fermented with our ale yeast and aged on toasted oak chips, cinnamon bark, and nutmeg. Not overwhelming on the spice, Winter Blend finishes clean – with enough kick for a cold winter night.

Overview: Unfiltered, lightly carbonated, gluten free

Ingredients: Freshly pressed apple cider, cinnamon bark & nutmeg, and ale yeast

Cidery Description:  Downeast Cider House was founded by Ross Brockman and Tyler Mosher during their senior year of college. After a considerable amount of time spent on the family orchard, an affinity for farm-fresh apple products was born. Meanwhile, at school, the guys could always be found studying. Whether it was deep into a weekend night, Wed/Thurs specials at the local library, or perhaps a casual “Sunday fun-day study-day,” the fellas were relentlessly toiling away, focused primarily on the classic works of Professor Busch and his famous theories on the smooth-cold continuum, copper-top revision.

Although neither was a math major, through some additional “studying” they put two and two together and the result was hard cider. Sometime later, Ross’ older brother Matt approached the two and the following conversation took place:

Matt: I want to join you guys.
Ross/Tyler: Why would we do that?
Matt: I’m going to succeed with or without you, it’d be your loss.
Ross/Tyler: You’re in.

And so it was set. Where others have used juice from concentrate, “natural flavorings,” “essences,” artificial sweeteners, and an endless list of excuses, Downeast Cider House has a firmly established policy of NO SHORTCUTS. No matter the cost to us, we are fully committed to using only fresh-pressed juices and pure, natural ingredients in our cider. When it comes to flavor, there’s no substitute for the best, and that’s what we stand by: simple, honest, authentic.

They were founded in 2012 and have a tasting room in the Boston area.  Here is a nice interview, although old.

Price:  n/a (but runs about $9 a four pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  online (they have a huge following on Facebook for example)

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First Impression:  Hazy bright straw yellow.  Smells of unfiltered cider, yeast, citrus, and a hint of spice.

Opinion:  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Full-flavored and apple-forward.  Lovely flavor influence from the lack of filtering, although it remained medium bodied.  I pick up some mild citrus, honey, oak, and spice notes.  Mild acidity.  Mild tartness.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Unfiltered.  No to low carbonation.  Medium length finish.  I tried this one cold, room temperature, and warmed, and liked cold best.  When warmed the flavor mellowed out too much.  I liked how the spice remained on the mild side, as often spiced ciders go too far.  This one has a touch more alcohol (6.5% vs. 5.1% ABV) than the Original, but I didn’t really notice.  I find it interesting that this cider was aged (I assume in a tank) on oak chips, not oak barrel aged.  Its a less expensive method however which can accomplish a very similar effect.  The oak influence remained mild, but nice.

Most Similar to:  J.K.’s Scrumpy, except not nearly as sweet.  Besides that, this cider is pretty original.

Closing Notes:   Very tasty!  I found this cider very difficult to describe.  My review comes across a bit simple, yet for a relatively simple cider I found this quite complex.  Especially for the retail price, I was quite impressed.  I usually find canned cider to be a letdown for whatever reason.  I opened all three Downeast varieties at a cider tasting and they all got two thumbs up from everyone.  Its definitely an easily likable cider.  The Original however was everyone’s favorite of the three varieties, although only by the slightest bit.  Hopefully Downeast makes it out to the Seattle area someday, where I’ll save it a place in my fridge.

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