Strongbow Variety Pack – Original Dry, Rosé Apple, & Pear Secco

Review of a Strongbow variety pack with four of each of Original Dry, Rosé Apple, and Pear Secco, in 8.5 oz cans.  I’ve previously tried the Original Dry, but not since it was re-released in the U.S., and I’ve not tried the other two.

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Ciders:  Original Dry, Rosé Apple, & Pear Secco
Cidery:  Strongbow
Cidery Location:  Belgium
ABV:  4.5% or 5.0%
How Supplied:  12 pack of 8.5oz cans
Style:  imported commercial cider from primarily dessert apples (Rosé also has some red-fleshed apple juice and Pear also has some pear juice)

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Availability:  wide release

Original Dry:  Distinctive golden color and less sweet with a crisp apple flavor for a balanced, dry finish.
Rosé Apple:  A clear, light-coral pink appearance and sparkling rosé-wine-like effervescence with apple notes. Light and refreshing taste with a pleasant tartness balanced by fruity notes of red-fleshed apple and pear.
Pear Secco:  A mildly sweet pear-apple cider with a light dry finish.

Cidery Description:  Strongbow is the #1 import cider in the US.  With 50% conversion to usage, shoppers who buy once, buy again.  Exclusively available in this 100 Cal variety pack, we think Dry Pear is a great addition to the award-winning line up of flavors in the 100 Cal Slim Cans.  It’s a one-two punch; a popular, refreshing new flavor in a package that’s on-trend.  To find all Strongbow flavors near you, please visit our product locator at http://www.Strongbow.com. Strongbow recommends enjoying its hard ciders served over ice, for a crisp, refreshing taste.

Price:  $11.99 / 12 pack of 8.5oz cans
Where Bought:  Target
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing; it was my first time spotting the re-released Original Dry in the U.S., so I was going to get a 4 pack of that, but then I saw the variety pack which also included 2 others which I haven’t tried

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Original Dry:  Moderate gold hue.  Light carbonation.  Smells very mildly of apple juice.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of apple juice and pomace, orange, and lemon.  Moderate finish with a hint of tannins.  Moderate apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Low complexity.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Similar to Crispin Browns Lane and Blackthorn, but I prefer this.

Rosé Apple:  Medium pink hue.  No carbonation.  Smells very mildly fruity.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of green apple and white grape with a hint of strawberry.  Quick finish.  Low apple flavor and complexity.  Low to moderate overall flavor intensity.  High sessionability.  Similar to Rosé offerings from Angry Orchard, Crispin, and Woodchuck.

Pear Secco:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells very mild.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Subtle notes of canned pear, green apple, and champagne.  Quick finish.  Low complexity, overall flavor intensity, pear flavor, and apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Most similar to Woodchuck Pearsecco, which is also a commercial tasting drier sparkling pear cider (apple & pear).

My Opinion:  I liked all of these.  Definitely commercial tasting (ie. slightly less natural tasting, likely due to the processes used, such as adding sugar instead of back sweetening with juice), but plenty drinkable, with some flavor and not too much sweetness, and far from the worst I’ve had.  I also liked getting a smaller variety pack (as its 8.5oz not 12oz cans), although ideally it would have only been 2 instead of 4 of each.

Closing Notes:  Although I typically prefer craft cider, I think commercial ciders are underappreciated.  It seems that most people (including myself) started their cider journey with an easily available sweeter commercial cider, and over time their tastes evolved towards drier local craft selections.  However, there are still parts of the U.S. where craft cider is difficult to find.  Thankfully the offerings from commercial cideries (such as Angry Orchard and Woodchuck) have improved in recent years, tending towards more complex, drier, and/or more innovative offerings, as they struggle to compete with growing regional craft cideries.

Have you tried Strongbow?  What did you think?

Independent Cider Lavender Perry

Review of Independent Cider Lavender Perry.  It is my first time trying anything from this new cidery.

Vocabulary:  Opinion varies, but in the U.S., most commonly, fermented pear juice is called ‘perry’, while fermented apple juice flavored with pear juice is called ‘pear cider’.

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Cider:  Lavender Perry
Cidery:  Independent Cider
Cidery Location:  Dryden WA
ABV:  5.8%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft modern perry from estate-grown Anjou (common/dessert) pears

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Availability:  likely only in Washington

Cider Description:  Floral aromatics of rose and honey followed by a clean herbaceous pallet of eucalyptus and pear…Semi Sweet…Two varieties of Lavender harvested down valley from our pear orchards were used to create our first botanical Perry. The blended buds from this mid-summer flower are dried and steeped to contribute subtle lavender notes and flavors. 

Cidery Description:  Independent Cider juices pears from family orchards planted in the early 1900’s. Our heirloom pears, grown in the Upper Wenatchee Valley near Leavenworth, are harvested, juiced, fermented to dryness and aged in the orchards they grew in.

Price:  $7.49
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Nearly clear with a hint of purple.  Low carbonation.  Smells super mild, of lavender and a bit of sweetness.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Low acidity.  Hints of bitterness.  No tannins, funk, or sourness.  Notes of lavender and lemon with hints of canned pear.  Moderate tart length finish.  Low flavor intensity, complexity, and pear flavor.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I didn’t like or dislike it.  I had expected more sweetness (and in turn more flavor), as pears have unfermentable sugars (sorbitol), so usually they are at least semi-dry, but this was definitely dry, and probably the driest perry I’ve ever tried.  My husband really liked it, probably as he likes both drier beverages and lavender.  He described it as similar to Brut champagne with lavender, while I thought it was more like a hard seltzer with lavender, as it was so mild.

Most Similar to:  Seattle Cider Lavender Lemon

Closing Notes:  I’d like to try their other varieties and see if any are sweeter and more flavorful, but from their website it looks like they ferment all their perries to dry, but describe some as being perceived sweeter (like this one, marked as semi-sweet).  Also, its interesting they went with the name ‘Independent Cider’, as at least for now it looks like they only make perry.  However, I guess a lot of folks probably don’t know what perry is.

Have you tried perry?  What did you think?

Kystin Kalysie

Review of Kystin’s Kalysie, a French perry (from 100% pears) with ginger.  I’ve previously tried their Opalyne and Cuvée XVII.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by French Cider Inc. / Beauchamp Imports.  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:  Kalysie
Cidery:  Kystin
Cidery Location:  Brittany France
ABV:  2.0%
How Supplied:  330ml bottles
Style:  Breton French Demi-Sec (sweet) perry (100% pear) with ginger

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Availability:  limited, imported by French Cider Inc.

Cider Description (translated):  A hint of temptation.  A crystalline dress, a nose with tonic accents of Ginger. A fruity attack, delicate to finish on a spicy lemon note.  Ginger bursts to the pear for a striking union.  Ideal as an aperitif, it will accompany fish and shellfish, pasta cheese parsley, and of course chocolate.

Cidery Description:  Created in 2012, Kystin offers a range of original and very unique gourmet ciders, made of unusual ingredients such as chestnuts, pears and ginger. With a history dating back to the 14th century, Kystin ciders combine fruit, tradition and authenticity to create an unforgetabble taste. The brand recently released “Kalysie” – a pear ginger cider named as a tribute to the Khaleesi character from popular TV series Game of Thrones.

Price:  n/a (retails for $7.49 / bottle)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  through French Cider Inc.

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild, of candied ginger with a hint of pear.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of pear & pear juice, pineapple, and ginger.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate pear flavor.  Low ginger flavor.  Low to moderate flavor intensity and complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  Great!  I don’t usually like ginger, but it was quite mild, and the bit of ginger bite added to the overall flavor profile, to help balance the sweetness of the perry.  The ginger was stronger in the scent than the taste.  Nice pear flavor and not too sweet.  However, there wasn’t anything about this perry that seemed French-like; I would have guessed this was a U.S. perry.  Nothing wrong with that though.  This would be a nice selection for brunch or lunch, at only 2% ABV.

Most Similar to:  A more refined/craft version of Woodchuck Tank Series Pear Ginger

Closing Notes:  This is the third of three Kystin varieties currently available in the U.S. (also see my reviews of their Opalyne and Cuvée XVII).  Its interesting to see European cideries release flavored ciders/perries, similar to the U.S., when they have all the ideal apple and pear varieties for cider and perry making and such a long history of doing so.  However, I can see new products increasing sales and expanding their target market.  Some other flavored European ciders I’ve tried are Ramborn Cascade Hopped Cider and Lefevre Winter Cidre.

Have you tried French perry?  What did you think?

2 Towns Pearadise

Review of 2 Towns Pearadise, Imperial Getaway, their new spring seasonal imperial-style cider from apples and pears  then finished with white grape wine.  See the article here.  It is my first time trying this, although I have had their Bright CiderBad AppleSerious ScrumpOut Cider, Cherried Away, Made MarionCidre Moscato, Throne of Thorns, Cider Master Reserve Batch No. 01 – Barrel Select BlendPrickle Me PinkNice & Naughty Nice & Naughty Bourbon Barrel AgedDark CurrantRiverwood Brut 2014RhubarbarianPommeau (2013 Harvest, 2015 Release), Ginja 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 FieldTraditions Cidre Bouche 2016Man GoghPacific PineapplePassion StatementEasy Peasy.

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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:  Pearadise
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  8.6%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American imperial-style craft cider from apples, D’Anjou pears, and Muscat grapes

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Availability:  Spring seasonal, in Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Hawaii, Chicago and parts of Minnesota (see their cider finder)

Cider Description:  Fruity and complex, Pearadise is found in this distinctly Northwest libation. Fresh-pressed pears are fermented together with local apples, then finished by blending in a touch of white wine, resulting in a sophisticated imperial style with plenty of panache.

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 $5.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Light gold hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells mild, of sweet pear and white grape.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of pear, white grape, wood, and pineapple.  Long warming white wine-like finish.  Moderate pear flavor, flavor intensity, and complexity.  Low apple flavor and sessionability.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  I had this in my cider fridge, so I first tried it at cellar temperature.  However, I quickly found this, like most imperial-style ciders, is a variety best drank very cold.  Once it properly chilled, it was much easier to drink.  Lots of flavor, starting with pear with a hint of apple, then finishing like a white wine, with grape and some alcohol-forward warmth.  I would have guessed it was barrel aged as I got a distinct wood/oak note, but they didn’t describe it as that, plus the price point is quite low on this, so I’d be surprised if it was.

Most Similar to:  The grape aspect of this reminded me of 2 Towns’ own Cidre Moscato.  However, I can’t remember ever having an imperial-style pear cider, nor could I find any but this in an online search.

Closing Notes:  It is surprising with how many dozens of cider varieties 2 Towns has made, how few have been made with pears.  They had a previous version of Pearadise in 2012 (as mentioned in this article), and more recently, Passion Statement (with pear and passionfruit), and now this, but that is about it.

Have you tried 2 Towns Pearadise?  What did you think?

Centre Ring Reserve Pear

Review of Centre Ring Reserve Pear, made by Pear UP (previously NV Cider, Neigel Vintners).  I tried this perry at an event last year (see here).  I’ve also had Pear UP’s Pear Essentials, Half Past PrudentCherry PerryWatermelon PerryWatermelon Raspberry PerryRaspberry PerryPearjito ColadaPearfect Pie, and Pineapple Pear.

Note that in the U.S., “perry” is fermented pear juice, and “pear cider” is a fermented apple juice-based cider with pear juice for flavor.  However, elsewhere (such as in the UK), they don’t really do pear-flavored apple cider, and use “perry” only for the fermented juice of specialty perry pear varieties, and “pear cider” is for fermented common (dessert) pear juice.

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Cider:  Reserve Pear
Cidery:  Centre Ring (whose perry & cider are made by Pear UP)
Cidery Location:  Wenatchee WA
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft perry

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Availability:  very limited, likely only in WA

Cider Description:  After World War II, Kevin and Mark’s grandfather planted a small pear orchard in the Wenatchee Valley. Upon taking over the family orchard, they discovered that the native pear varieties provided a uniquely light and flavorful finish. Clean and honest flavors can be found throughout all their ciders, bringing simple gestures from the complex art of cider making without the weight of syrupy sugars. Join them in drinking the award-winning spoils of their harvest and the flavor of tradition.

Cidery Description:  Centre Ring expands outside selling spirits, wines, and craft beverages. We also represent select artisan foods, products, and reserves in addition to our alcohol selections.  We want to bring the experience of the homemade and personal touch of these products to everyone in the area.  We are including local cheese makers, bakers, jam & jellies, pickles, jerky, and much more from our local communities.  The key to building out your brand to reach consumers is to know what they are looking for. We study and follow industry trends and practices to help target the widest audience possible.  Each individual product has its own small directions that make them unique. However, we are beginning to see the lines between them blur as consumers are looking for new and different tastes to suit their needs

Price:  $12
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  a WA Cider Week 2017 preview event (see here)

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First Impression:  Clear hue with a hint of pink.  Very low carbonation with some foam.  Smells of pear with a hint of fruitiness.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Hints of sourness.  No bitterness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of canned & dried pear and pear juice, with hints of strawberry and vinegar.  Quick finish.  Moderate pear flavor.  Low to moderate complexity.  Low overall flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked this perry when I tried it previously.  However, due to the hint of vinegar, this time I wasn’t a fan.  I believe this was a bad batch; unfortunately this happens sometimes.

Most Similar to:  a drier more complex version of Pear UP’s Pear Essentials perry

Closing Notes:  Centre Ring appears to be an interesting brand, bringing together various local producers of all sorts of products.  As of this post, they have this perry as well as a cider from Pear UP, plus beer, wine, spirits, and lots more made by other producers.

Have you tried perry?  What did you think?

Honesty Box Cidre with Pear

Review of Honesty Box Cidre with Pear, from New Zealand.  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery.

Cider:  Cidre with Pear
Cidery:  Honesty Box (which appears to be made by Boundary Road Brewery)
Cidery Location:  Auckland New Zealand
ABV:  7%
How Supplied:  440ml can
Style:  New Zealand commercial cider, pear-flavored apple, with added sugar

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Availability:  wide release

Cider Description:  Honesty Box Cider with Pear is a refreshing pear cider with the flavours of Bartlett pear. Honesty Box Cider with Pear from New Zealand is light with a dry, crisp finish. It is crafted with only the most succulent pears. The sort you might find in a local honesty box only we paid for ours.

Cidery Description:  At Honesty Box we do things differently. We only use the juice of single varietal apples to craft an authentic taste you can recognise.     The result is a cider with true depth of character.  Honesty Box has a range of ciders that vary from semi-sweet to dry, complex and full flavoured.  Now there’s an apple cider variety to suit everybody’s taste.

Price:  $3.39 CAN / can ($2.64 USD)
Where Bought:  The Strath in Victoria B.C. Canada
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing, while we were on a cruise port stop

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First Impression:  Dark gold yellow hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells mild, of pear & apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Medium to full bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of apple juice, green apple, canned pear, pineapple, and honey.  Quick finish.  Moderate apple flavor, pear flavor, and flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  High sessionability, but moreso in that it is easy to drink, not that I’d want to drink multiple cans.

My Opinion:  For what it was, I liked it, although it was obviously commercial (processed) tasting, and syrupy sweet.  However, it did have a touch of complexity, which was unexpected and appreciated.

Most Similar to:  Scandi Pear, Wyders Pear, and Flatbed Pear

Closing Notes:  It looks like they have redesigned their cans since they manufactured this.

Have you tried Honesty Box cider?  What did you think?

Angry Orchard Pear Cider

Review of Angry Orchard’s Pear Cider.  This is a new release.  See the press release here.  Note that this isn’t perry as it is made from both pears and apples.  I’ve previously sampled their Crisp AppleTraditional Dry, Elderflower, Summer HoneyThe MuseIcemanStone DryThe Old Fashioned, Knotty Pear, Walden HollowEasy AppleUnderstood in Motion 01, Tapped Maple, Spiced Apple, Maple Wooden Sleeper, and Understood in Motion 02.

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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:  Pear Cider
Cidery:  Angry Orchard
Cidery Location:  Walden NY (their R&D facility)
Cider Production Locations:  Cincinnati OH & Breingsville PA
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  American commercial pear cider made from dessert apples & pears

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Availability:  wide release, year round, since October 2017 (they have a Cider Finder)

Cider Description:  Angry Orchard Pear Cider is delicately crafted to highlight the mellow sweetness of pears. Using apples and pears grown in the US, this hard cider blends ripe pear taste with crisp apple notes for a well-rounded and smooth drink.

Made from pear varieties including Bartlett, D’Anjou, and Bosc, and apple varieties including Gala, Fuji, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith.

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

Price:  n/a (retails for $7.99-9.99 / six pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  a cidery rep contacted me

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells of pear juice and apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of pear, pineapple, green apple, and mango.  Long tart finish.  Low to moderate pear flavor and complexity.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  The finish was really surprising though, as the tartness lingered much more than I’d expect (maybe the malic acid?).  It was easy to drink and it didn’t bore me, although tasted a bit commercial.

Most Similar to:  Crispin Pacific Pear.  Or, for a craft choice, Longdrop Tanager Pear Cider.  Or in between, Flatbed Pear Cider.

Closing Notes:  I was told that they will also still continue to make their Orchard’s Edge Knotty Pear (a pear cider with cardamom and oak barrel aging).

Have you tried any pear ciders?  What did you think?