Finnegan Cider Harvest Blend

Review of Finnegan Cider’s Harvest Blend.  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery.

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Cider:  Harvest Blend
Cidery:  Finnegan Cider
Cidery Location:  Lake Oswego OR
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American artisan cider from cider apples

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Availability:  Oregon, Washington, and California (per Cider Journal, as of 2015, although I have not seen them in the Seattle area), and appear to be distributed through Shelton Brothers

Cider Description:  Finnegan Cider Harvest Blend highlights the ripe apple characteristics of class English, American, and French cider apples such as Porter’s Perfection, Chisel Jersey, Ashmead’s Kernel, Calville Blanc, and others.  Our cider is a balance of the crucial elements of distinguished cider: tannin, acidity, and aromaticity.  Finnegan Cider features aromas of honeysuckle, melon, and ripe apples, with flavors of peach, apricot, and cognac, and it pairs superbly from appetizer to entree.

Cidery Description:  An artisan crafted hard cider using only traditional cider apples – Our commitment to a quality-cider experience.

Finnegan Cider has been around since 2010, and planted their own orchard in 2012.  The owners/cidermakers are Colleen Finnegan and Josh Johnson.  Here is a nice writeup from Beervana, who visited with Josh Johnson at their orchard.  At least as of that 2013 article, Josh worked full time as a neurologist (impressive!).

Price:  $7.35
Where Bought:  Bushwhacker Cider in Portland Oregon
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I picked up a lot of ciders that day when I was in town for Cider Rite of Spring.  I had never heard of this cidery and the description on the bottle sounded awesome.

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First Impression:  Light orange amber.  Moderate to high carbonation (it tried to overflow after opening…).  Smells rich, of ripe apples, caramel, and leather.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied with a frothy texture.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  Hints of funk.  No sourness.  Notes of rich ripe apples, caramel, leather, orange, stone fruit, honey, oak, and apple brandy (?).  Moderate to long finish.  Moderate flavor intensity, apple flavor, and sessionability.  High complexity.

My Opinion:  Excellent.  I liked the richness, carbonation, unique combination of flavor notes…everything.  Also, this was surprisingly boozy tasting for the ABV (especially on the finish), but in a good way.

Most Similar to:  It tastes in between English cyder and French cidre, with the high carbonation & apple-forward flavor of a French cider, the richness & tannins of an English cider, and the cider apple flavor & hint of funk from both.

Closing Notes:  This cider is a great value; I would usually pay $15-20 for 750ml of cider from cider apples like this, so $10-13 for 500ml.  Hopefully I can find more of their cider sometime soon.  I’m actually surprised I’ve never heard of this cidery previously; they remind me of EZ Orchards, also in Oregon, sold in 500ml bottles, and an excellent value.

Have you tried Finnegan Cider Harvest Blend?  What did you think?

2 Towns Cot in the Act

Review of 2 Towns’ Cot in the Act, an apricot infused seasonal cider.  I sampled this last year (see here), and I’ve tried most of their line-up (see here).

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by 2 Towns.  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:  Cot in the Act
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  6.2%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles, 6 packs of 12oz cans, kegs
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, unfiltered, with apricots (2 lb per gallon)

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Availability:  Seasonably (July-September) in AK, CA, HI, ID, IL (Chicago), MN, NV, OR, and WA.

Cider Description:  Luminous & divine, Cot in the Act is just too tempting to resist, coupling Northwest apples with local Rival apricots. Referred to as “golden eggs of the sun” by the Greeks, apricots make this seasonal cider the perfect summer treat.

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We never add any sugar, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing true Northwest craft cider.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $7.99 / 500ml or $11.49 / six pack of 12oz cans)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  It showed up

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Very low to low carbonation.  Smells of dried apricots.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness & acidity.  Hints of bitterness & tannins.  No sourness & funk.  Notes of apricot, peach, and lemon, and a hint of herbal & floral.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity and complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  Yum!  I really enjoyed how flavorful and juicy this cider was without being sweet (and it tasted even sweeter than the listed sugar content).  It is often difficult to find a drier but flavorful cider.

Most Similar to:  I’ve also tried apricot ciders from Anthem, Atlas, Carlton, Locust, Stem, Summit, and Tieton.  The most similar was from Summit (as it was also a semi-dry, but flavorful), followed by those from Atlas & Locust, (although both of those were sweeter).

Closing Notes:  2 Towns remains a favorite PNW cidery for a reason.

Have you tried 2 Towns Cot in the Act?  What did you think?

Oregon Mead & Cider Free Press Cyser

Review of Oregon Mead & Cider’s Free Press Cyser (a cross between cider & mead).  It is my first time trying this, although I’ve had their Dry and Hopped ciders, and I’ve had cyser from EaglemountFinnriver, Moonlight (Last Apple and How Do You Like Them Apples), and Stem (Blood Orange).  Note that Oregon Mead & Cider used to be called Stung Fermented.

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Cider:  Free Press Cyser
Cidery:  Oregon Mead & Cider
Cidery Location:  Portland OR
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cyser (apples + honey)

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Availability:  Year round in Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Georgia

Cider Description:  Hard Cider Made Easy. Our ciders were born from the bounty of the Northwest and the pioneering spirit of our grandparents. A perfect balance of dry and tart, our ciders are made by the people, for the people. Press on.

Cidery Description:  Our award-winning dry, sparkling meads and ciders are naturally gluten free, and we treat our Pacific Northwest honey and apple juice with respect: we never boil, filter, or add sulfites.

They were founded in 2013 and have a tasting room.

Price:  $7.99
Where Bought:  The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing

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First Impression:  Moderate carbonation.  Dark straw yellow hue.  Smells acidic and mildly of honey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to dry.  Light bodied.  Carbonated mouthfeel.  Very high acid.  Moderate to high tartness.  Hints of sourness and bitterness.  No tannins or funk.  Notes of honey, citrus, and floral.  Long beer-like finish (my husband said it was like a Kolsch).  Moderate apple and honey flavor.  Low to moderate flavor intensity, sessionability, and complexity.

My Opinion:  I thought it was pretty average.  Refreshing, but a bit mouth-puckering.  Its not really a style I enjoy, but everyone has different tastes.

Most Similar to:  Not much.  All the other cysers I’ve tried have been much sweeter.  I have sampled some drier meads before, but I usually like my beverages more full-flavored, so for mead I tend towards sweeter ones.  It reminds me a bit however of Angry Orchard Walden Hollow.

Closing Notes:  I’ve now tried their current full cider lineup, and to be honest, I don’t think they are for me (although my favorite of the three was the Hopped).  If you like a dry, acidic, and more heavily carbonated cider (or mead), give them a try.

Have you tried cyser?  What did you think?

2 Towns Prickle Me Pink ^2

Review of 2 Towns Prickly Me Pink ^2 , a new iteration of the previous limited release (which I reviewed here in 2015), with prickly pear cactus fruit, and this time, watermelon.  I’ve also previously tried most of their line-up (see here).

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by 2 Towns.  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:  Prickle Me Pink ^2
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  5.7%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples with prickly pear cactus fruit and watermelon

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Availability:  Seasonably (May-Aug) in AK, CA, HI, ID, IL (Chicago), MN, NV, OR, and WA.

Cider Description:  Exuberant & quenching, Prickle Me Pink ^2 is pink and multiplied by pink.  Glowing with a naturally derived color, this taste bud oasis is crafted with Northwest apples, prickly pear cactus fruit, and now watermelon.

Dave Takush, the head cider maker said, “If you’re wondering what to pair it with, we’d suggest a watergun fight set to the tunes of Wham..”

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We never add any sugar, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing true Northwest craft cider.

Price: n/a (runs $7.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I first tried this at Cider Summit Seattle 2015.

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First Impression:  Bright pink hue.  Nearly still.  Smells moderate fruity.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Mild tartness.  Mild to moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness and funk.  Notes of cactus fruit, watermelon, strawberry, and kiwi.  Low to moderate flavor intensity and complexity.  No apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Quick finish.

My Opinion:  Yum!  I really enjoyed this, especially how fruity and flavorful it was for the dryness.  It was too easy to drink.  I had imaged this higher carbonated, but at the same time, I don’t think it would work as well as I think it would.

Most Similar to:  Nothing much.  I’ve not had any other ciders with cactus fruit except 2 Towns’ first release of this cider.  I’ve had a handful of other ciders with watermelon though; namely, Pear UP’s Watermelon Perry.

Closing Notes:  I’m surprised they went so dry with this; however, it worked.  I think this was even tastier than the last release.  The watermelon was a great addition, and also helped so the cider wasn’t quite so fluorescent pink (and likely reduced the ingredient cost too).

Have you tried 2 Towns Prickle Me Pink?  What did you think?

Bushwhacker Cider Forgotten Trail

Review of Bushwhacker Cider’s Forgotten Trail.  I tried this previously on draft at their cider house (see here).  My husband picked up a few bottles at that time as he liked it so much.  This is the only house cider I’ve tried from Bushwhacker (although they offer some others).

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Cider:  Forgotten Trail
Cidery:  Bushwhacker Cider
Cidery Location:  Portland OR
ABV:  5.6%
How Supplied:  single 12oz bottles and draft
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples

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Availability:  Likely only at Bushwhacker’s cider house in Portland Oregon

Cider Description:  Our flagship cider, named after a trail that you may not have time to travel on as much as you’d like. This is a blend of estate grown fruit, sourced from Eastern Oregon. It comes out as a semi-dry cider, appealing to fans of dry cider, yet has a bit of natural sweetness to please a customer with a sweet tooth.

Cidery Description:  We opened Bushwhacker Cider – Brooklyn in the fall of 2010 as Portland’s first cidery and the country’s original cider pub. Starting with every cider available in Oregon, we had a measly selection of 35 bottles. This selection has exploded to over 340 bottles of cider from around the country and around the world. Located in Portland’s historic Brooklyn neighborhood our small pub quickly became a place to chat with neighbors and enjoy the diverse flavors that can be found in the cider world.

Price:  ~$3 / single bottle
Where Bought:  Bushwhacker’s cider house (which I did quite a bit of shopping at; see here)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  drinking (and shopping) at their cider house

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells very mild.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of apple juice and honey.  Moderate length finish.  Low flavor intensity.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I found this pretty average.  Very easy to drink and plenty tasty, but a bit boring.  Its unlikely to offend anyone, but I doubt too many folks would find it very impressive either.  However, its a great local craft option which isn’t too sweet or too dry.

Most Similar to:  Semi-dry flagship ciders from dessert apples, like 2 Towns BrightCider, McMenamins Edgefield Flagship, and Boonville Bite Hard

Closing Notes:  This is a really interesting cider.  My husband and I have tried it three times now (draft, and twice bottled, bought at the same time).  It was completely different each time.  The first time it was very dry and champagne-style, like my husband likes, so he picked up a few bottles to take home (and he’s not usually a cider drinker so that is saying something…).  The second time, when we opened the first bottle, it was semi-sweet and rich, so he was disappointed but I was happy (I liked that version better than this one which I am reviewing).  This time (second bottle), it was semi-dry and very mild.  I’m guessing that what we tried on draft that time was a different one of their house ciders (maybe Alice?  the hue was completely different too, nearly clear), and the bottles were from different batches.  My husband asked the bar tender if they had any in bottles and she pointed us to the Forgotten Trail bottles in the cooler, but maybe she forgot my husband was drinking their Alice variety?  Its an intriguing mystery.

Have you tried any Bushwhacker Cider flagship ciders?  What did you think?

Bushwhacker Cider and Cider Purchases in Portland Oregon

Bushwhacker Cider was the last stop of the weekend, on Sunday, on our way out of town.  We arrived when they opened just after noon.  It was quiet as expected due to the time of day, with only a couple people stopping in to buy some bottles while we were there.  The atmosphere is very casual, with some bar seating, and high top & regular tables, as well as arcade games.  The bartender was very friendly and helpful.

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They offer up to 8 ciders on tap (mostly their own) plus 6 bottle pours, and some snacks.  There are small and large pour size options too.  I think the bottle pours are especially awesome as you don’t see that much; they focused on ciders which keep well (like the awesome Etienne Dupont Pommeau which I’ve tried previously; see here).  I also really liked that they had detailed descriptions of the ciders they were pouring.

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I started off by browsing their bottle selection, which was awesome by the way, on par with the Schilling Cider House, with hundreds of options.  Everything was organized by region (and even subregion – their French ciders were labeled Normandy vs. Brittany), and refrigerated.  There was a focus on Northwest ciders of course, but also selections from across the U.S., England, France, Spain, and more.

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My husband sampled Bushwhacker’s flagship Forgotten Trail cider on tap, made from Oregon apples.  After I finished picking out bottles, I sampled a bag in box pour of Hogan’s Picker’s Passion, an English cider (they also sell at least one Hogan’s variety packaged this way with 3 liters of cider, which would be a fun option for a party and apparently keeps very well long term too).

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Bushwhacker Forgotten Trail (5.7% ABV):  Nearly clear hue (the bar’s “house water” lol).  Low carbonation.  Dry.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, tannins, sourness, or funk.  Notes of citrus and granny smith apples.  Low apple flavor, flavor intensity, and complexity.  High sessionability.  This reminds me of champagne except with lower carbonation.  My husband really enjoyed it and bought a few single bottles.  I thought it was average.  Easy to drink and refreshing, but not remarkable.

Update – Based on my review of a bottled version of Forgotten Trail (see here), this may have been their “Alice” variety.

Hogan’s Picker’s Passion (5.3% ABV):  Hazy unfiltered apple juice type hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Very thin bodied.  Semi-dry.  Low tartness, acidity, tannins, and bitterness.  Hints of funk and sourness.  Notes of apple pomace and bittersweet apple juice, but overall the flavor is simple and mild.  Low flavor intensity and complexity.  Moderate apple flavor and sessionability.  Warming moderate to long finish.  I thought it was average (I would have preferred more body and flavor).  English cider is one of my favorite categories.  So far I prefer English ciders from cideries such as Sheppy’s, Dunkertons, Worley’s, and Aspall over Hogan’s, PiltonBurrow Hill, Thatchers, Sandford Orchards, and Ross on Wye, as I enjoy a flavorful cider without significant bitterness, sourness, or funk.

I thought this was a good post to summarize what bottles we purchased over the weekend, especially as the majority were from Bushwhacker’s.

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We had a great cider weekend in Portland and look forward to another (hopefully longer) trip sometime soon!

Tasting Notes from Reverend Nat’s Tap Room in Portland Oregon

Reverend Nat’s tap room was the next stop in our Portland Oregon cider weekend adventure after Cider Rite of Spring (see my event review and tasting notes), checking into our hotel (the Embassy Suites on Pine St – nice for being in a historic building), and dinner at The Ringside steakhouse (I’m not a steak eater but my husband was a big fan…dinner there was his only request of the weekend).

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Reverend Nat’s Cider has been around officially since 2011, and moved into the current building in 2013, although “The Reverend” Nat West (he is actually ordained online) has been making cider since 2004.  They specialize in making weird & interesting ciders that no one else would have the guts to make, and they actually sell very well.

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It was shockingly quiet in the tap room for a Saturday night, but I guess its not really in an area which gets a lot of foot traffic, despite being in the downtown area.  Its a cool building, with high ceilings, and one wall was a roll-up garage door.  There were about four barstools at the main bar, a few at a center bar, one booth, and the rest were stools pulled around wine barrel tables.  There were maybe six other patrons and one bartender there with us.

They have 12 ciders on tap (and sometimes bottle pours), and sell bottles & growlers of their ciders as well as some merchandise.  Many of the ciders poured in the tap room are varieties which never leave the tap room.  They also offer a “Tent Show” cider club which gives members first pick at special release ciders (and only if any bottles are left are they sold in the tap room); there is currently a waiting list to even sign up for their cider club.

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The tap room is also the production area (although obviously not in use late at night), so I got to have a peek at the cidery itself.  I was surprised how small it was compared to how large Reverend Nat’s (and Cascadia Ciderworks United‘s) cider distribution is.

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My husband and I ordered some tasters to share ($2-$5 for 4oz) of #7 Viva la Pineapple!, #10 Tent Show Wooden Hellfire, #11 Tassjara Peach Book, and #12 Belle de Boskoop (I’ve previously tried the Revival, Sour Cherry 2016 and 2015 versions, Hallelujah Hopricot, and New Moon Mandarin).

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<left to right:  Viva la Pineapple!, Revelation Belle de Boskoop, Tent Show Wooden Hellfire, and Tassjara Peach Book>

Viva la Pineapple! (6.0% ABV):  Described as a granny smith apple cider with pineapple juice and cinnamon.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate pineapple flavor.  Mild spice.  This was reminiscent of their Tepache, but apple not pineapple based, less spiced, and more drinkable by itself.  I really liked it.

Revelation Belle de Boskoop (6.8% ABV):  Described as a single varietal cider from an heirloom apple variety.  Semi-dry.  Apple forward.  However, the flavor for me was overwhelmingly vinegary with some sourness too.  I wasn’t a fan.

Wooden Hellfire (16.6% ABV):  This is a very unique cider which was started by boiling cider for 18 hours, making a concentrate (similar to freezing is used when making ice cider), then barrel aged for one year.  Very dark hue.  Dry to semi-dry.  Rich flavor with notes of caramel, prune, oak, and smoke.  High complexity and flavor intensity.  I liked the flavor (although the prune was odd), but this is something more to sip on a shot of than drink in any quantity or frequency.  My husband fell in love with it, saying it was the best cider he had ever tried, and ended up buying a bottle ($30, although its 750ml of 16.6% cider, if you can really call it cider anymore), plus two more bottles for some friends he told it about.  I really wish they would have sold this in smaller bottles, as 750ml is a lot of an intense high ABV cider, plus that would decrease the price point.

Tassjara Peach Book (8.5% ABV):  A cider with Mosaic hops, which are described as adding the scent and flavor of peaches to this cider without using any actual peaches.  Semi-dry.  There was definitely a very subtle peach flavor in addition to some citrus and hops notes.  Moderately bitter finish.  I found it to be average.

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Bottom Line:  To be honest, most of the ciders Rev Nat’s makes aren’t to my liking…they tend towards the weird, dry, spicy, sour, etc.  However, some of the staples such as Revival are awesome.  I also had a draft-only special release from them for last year’s Cider Summit (Whiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black Currant) which I really enjoyed.