2 Towns Man Gogh

Review of 2 Towns’ latest new limited release cider, Man Gogh, a tropical mango and habanero imperial-style (high ABV) cider.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve previously had their Bright CiderBad AppleSerious ScrumpOut Cider, Cherried Away, Made MarionCidre Moscato, Throne of Thorns, Reserve #1 Barrel Select BlendPrickle Me PinkNice & NaughtyNice & Naughty Bourbon Barrel AgedDark CurrantRiverwood Brut 2014RhubarbarianPommeauGinja NinjaSun’s Out SaisonReturn of the MackHop and StalkLa MûreCot in the ActHollow JackTraditions Cider Bouche 2015Traditions Riverwood 2015Flight of the KiwiPrickle Me Pink ^2Afton Field, and Traditions Cidre Bouche 2016.

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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 this for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review que, considering it is a new release and the info may be helpful for folks deciding to purchase it.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.>

Cider:  Man Gogh
Cidery:  2 Towns Cider House
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft imperial-style cider from dessert apples, with mango and habanero

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Availability:  ~ Dec 2017 thru Jan 2018, limited, primarily in Oregon, Washington, and California (see their cider finder)

Cider Description:  2 Towns Ciderhouse releases Man Gogh, a tropical-inspired Limited Release Imperial Cider, available starting this week. Tangy and equatorial, Man Gogh is a true masterpiece, artfully bringing together tropical fruit and peppers. Fresh ingredients with opposing characteristics work together to whisk you away to paradise. Van Gogh himself once said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

“2 Towns created this cider as a ray of sunshine for the cold, dark days of winter,” says Matt Dickason, cellar manager. “The freshness of the juicy mango blends seamlessly with the hot habaneros. We went easy on the habanero burn and worked to capture the fruity profile of the peppers. The result is a work of art. ”  We suggest pairing Man Gogh with Christmas tamales and Baja cuisine, like Wahoo tacos.

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. 

They were founded in 2010 and have a tap room in Corvallis Oregon.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $7.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells mild, of mango juice.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of mango, pineapple, citrus, and a hint of habanero.  Long warming finish (from both the high ABV and the habanero).  Very low spiciness (not really noticeable until you drink a few sips, and mostly in the finish).  Moderate sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity and complexity.  Low apple flavor.

My Opinion:  Great!  I was really surprised I enjoyed this, as I was expecting it would be quite spicy, like every other cider I’d had with habanero, jalapeno, sriracha, etc.  The flavor and sweetness were spot-on.  I was also surprised how easy this was to drink, unexpected for an imperial-style spicy cider.

Most Similar to:  I’ve tried spicy ciders before, such as Carlton Cyderworks AHH!!! Apricot Honey Habanero, Cockrell Raspberry Habanero, Elemental Jalapeno Lime Cilantro (Margarita), Schilling Sriracha Lime, Finnriver Habanero, and Schilling Peach Grapefruit Habanero.  I’ve also tried mango infused ciders, such as Atlas Pineapple MangoBull Run MangoCider Brothers William Tell Apple Mango MuscatElemental Mango, and Locust Mango.  Compared to those, this one was most similar to Elemental’s mango cider as far as flavor and sweetness, except with a hint of spice, on a similar level to Elemental’s Margarita.

Closing Notes:  I can see this becoming a very popular release.

Have you tried 2 Towns Man Gogh?  What did you think?

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Apple Outlaw Thompson Creek Creekside Cider

Review of Thompson Creek’s Creekside Cider.  Thompson Creek is an offshoot of Apple Outlaw for their higher end ciders, made from heirloom and/or cider apples instead of dessert apples, since 2016.  It is my first time trying anything from Thompson Creek, although I have had several of Apple Outlaw’s ciders (Oaked Sweet Dark CherryBlackberry BountyOriginalTangerine TwistGinger BiteCranberry Jewel, and Chocolate Raspberry)

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Cider:  Creekside
Cidery:  Thompson Creek (by Apple Outlaw)
Cidery Location:  Applegate Oregon
ABV:  7.5%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from heirloom apples, bottled 2016

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Availability:  year round, likely only in Oregon and Washington

Cider Description:  Arkansas Black, Blenheim Red, Macintosh and Rome Beauty all lend their unique complexities to this beautifully dry cider. Hints of apricot, honeydew, tropical fruit, and ripe pear complement its crisp acidity.

Cidery Description:  Thompson Creek ciders are made from and inspired by the heirloom and cider apple varieties of apples we grow on our Applegate orchard.  The cider makers of Apple Outlaw use various methods of maturation, aging, and blending to showcase the unique and exquisite qualities these apples have to offer.  These ciders should be pondered with reflection, cellared neck up and are best served at 50-55 degrees.

Price:  $14.50
Where Bought:  Bushwhacker Cider in Portland Oregon, in Spring 2017
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  At that time I hadn’t seen any of Apple Outlaw’s Thompson Creek ciders, but I have since (including in the Seattle area).

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First Impression:  Still (no carbonation).  Dark straw yellow hue.  Smells very mild, of citrus.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of lemon, grapefruit, herbs, and mineral, plus a buttery type of flavor and mouthfeel which is difficult to describe.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate apple flavor and sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity and complexity.

My Opinion:  On this cider, my opinion was rather indifferent, but that was primarily as I prefer slightly sweeter ciders with more flavor.  I’d be interested in tasting a cider from them which was semi-dry cider and made from cider apples.  Creekside became more flavorful and less sharp as it warmed up; therefore, same as recommended by the cidery, I’d suggest to drink it in between fridge and room temperature.  Very food friendly.

Most Similar to:  Wandering Aengus Cellar Door, 2 Towns Traditions Riverwood, and Boonville Bite Hard

Closing Notes:  If you are a fan of truly dry cider from heirloom apples (ie. with some acidity and a touch of tannins), then I would recommend this one for you.

Have you tried any of Apple Outlaw’s Thompson Creek line of ciders?  What did you think?

2 Towns Hollow Jack

Review of 2 Towns’ Hollow Jack, a seasonal cider with pumpkin, sweet potato, and pie spices.  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:  Hollow Jack
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  6.4%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles, kegs
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, unfiltered, with caramelized heirloom pumpkin, sweet potato, honey, and pie spices (allspice, nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon)

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Availability:  Seasonably (September to November), primarily CA, OR, & WA, although in general their ciders are available in AK, CA, HI, ID, IL (Chicago), MN, NV, OR, and WA.  See their Cider Finder.

Cider Description:  Mischievous & spiced, Hollow Jack is far from empty. A brew of fresh-pressed apples, caramelized pumpkin and sweet potatoes is finished with a dash of honey and spices to carve out this special Fall cider.

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 ~ $6.99 / 500ml
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I first tried it at Cider Summit Seattle 2016, but this time it just showed up

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First Impression:  Hazy straw yellow hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells vegetal and of pie spices.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of baked apple, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato / yam, caramel, and pie spices.  Quick to moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate to high sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity and complexity.  Low to moderate pumpkin & sweet potato flavor.  Very low spice.

My Opinion:  Although I’m not a huge pumpkin / spiced cider fan, I liked this one, and it is my favorite of the five I’ve tried.

Most Similar to:  Doc’s Draft Pumpkin cider (although that was a full sweet) and Tieton’s Smoked Pumpkin cider (although that was quite intensely flavored compared to this).  I’ve also tried pumpkin ciders from Ace and Woodchuck.

Closing Notes:  Unlike many pumpkin ciders (and beers), this one is actually made with pumpkin.  Many just add the pie spices but still call it a pumpkin cider (or beer).  Also, it is well balanced, with both the pumpkin and spices remaining light.

Have you tried 2 Towns Hollow Jack?  What did you think?

OR/WA Cider Collective Wild Plum

Review of the OR/WA Cider Collective’s Wild Plum cider.  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery, or even hearing of them.

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Cider:  Wild Plum
Cidery:  OR/WA Cider Collective
Cidery Location:  Milwaukee OR
ABV:  6.4%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  craft cider from heirloom apples (80%) with wild plums (20%)

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Availability:  Only in Oregon

Cider Description:  80% heirloom apples from old growth, 20% wild plum

Cidery Description:  The Oregon\Washington Cider Collective is a community of uncompromising American cider makers. We’re foraging the nation for the last remaining cider trees prohibition couldn’t kill. Our mission is to plant orchards of historical apple trees in the Pacific Northwest and bring back the finest USA-made cider since prohibition.

Price:  $14
Where Bought:  Bushwhacker Cider in Portland OR
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I had never heard of this cidery before.

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells acidic and of heirloom apples.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low bitterness, tannins, sourness, and funk.  Notes of lemon, grapefruit, honey, stone fruit, and mineral.  Moderate to long finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low sessionability.  Moderate complexity.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  Definitely not what I was expecting.  I actually didn’t taste any plum, just a hint of apricot / peach.  With the sourness and funk, I’d guess it was made with wild yeast.  If you are into farmhouse-style ciders and such, then I’d recommend it.  However, this isn’t a style of cider I enjoy (yet).

Most Similar to:  Rustic & farmhouse-style ciders and Spanish Sidra and the like

Closing Notes:  This was at a nice price point, especially for a small batch / limited release (hand-labeled!).  I’d be interested in trying something else from them in the future.

ADDED – Additional Info from the Cidery:  OR/WA commented on my Facebook post that this was a very limited bottle release (only half a case!?), the cider portion was farmhouse-style, and that Bushwhacker in Portland is the best place to find their small batch ciders (including some on tap).  Very cool.

Have you tried anything from OR/WA Cider Collective?  What did you think?

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?