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?

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?

Pierre Huet Poire Demi-Sec

Review of Pierre Huet Poire Demi-Sec, a French perry.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Cidre Bouche Brut and AOC Pays D’Auge.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Beauchamp Imports / French Cider Inc.  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:  Poire Demi-Sec
Cidery:  Pierre Huet
Cidery Location:  Pays d’Auge, Normandy, France
ABV:  2.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottle
Style:  French poire (perry), from dessert & perry pears

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Availability:  In Washington, through Beauchamp Imports, plus online at their French Cider Inc. website.  In addition to Poire Demi-Sec, they also offer Pierre Huet’s Cidre Bouche BrutPays D’Auge CiderCalvados AOC Pays d’Auge VSCalvados AOC Pays d’Auge XO, and Pommeau de Normandie AOC.

Cider Description:  This delicious, demi-sec poiré is the perfect combination of four varieties of sweet and bitter pears. Slowly fermented for one to three months before being bottled, it achieves the perfect balance of semi-sweetness and roundness.

Cidery Description:  Pierre Huet is a 5th generation family-owned cidery who has been producing cidre, Calvados, and Pommeau since the 1800s in the Pays d’Auge region of Normandy France.  They grow 25 varieties of apples on 75 acres.

See here for more information on the cider, and here for more information on the cidery.

Price:  n/a (retails for $19.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the importer Joan Harkins contacted me (we met at Cider Summit Seattle 2017)

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of canned pears.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied with a fluffy texture.  Moderate tartness.  Low acidity.  Hints of tannins and funk.  No bitterness or sourness.  Notes of canned pear, dried pear, lemon, and honey.  Moderate length finish.  High pear flavor and sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity and complexity.

My Opinion:  Great!  I enjoyed the texture most of all – so fluffy and frothy that it made it seem lighter bodied.  It was a bit more tart than most other poires I’ve had, which balanced well with the sweetness.  The pear flavor was really nice too; I like how French perries seem to capture the fruit more than just tasting like an alcoholic pear juice.  I agree with their website that this would be a great mimosa alternative for brunch.

Most Similar to:  Christian Drouin Poire and Cidrerie Daufresne Poire

Closing Notes:  French Cider Inc. has a great lineup of French ciders, poires, calvados, and pommeaux; I look forward to trying more.

Pear Up Pearjito Colada

Review of Pear Up’s Pearjito Colada.  I previously tried this (see here), plus their Pear Essentials, Half Past PrudentCherry PerryWatermelon PerryWatermelon Raspberry PerryRaspberry PerryPearjito ColadaPearfect Pie, and Pineapple Pear.

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Cider:  Pearjito Colada
Cidery:  Pear Up (formerly NV Cider)
Cidery Location:  East Wenatchee WA
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  500ml green Aluminum bottles (and 4-packs of glass bottles, and draft)
Style:  American craft perry (from dessert pears, no apples) with coconut and spearmint

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Availability:  Washington and Oregon; see here.

Cider Description:  (none given; this is one of their newer varieties, and isn’t listed on the website)

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

Price:  $6
Where Bought:  a gift shop in Leavenworth WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing, as I found a large display of most of their perries.  I previously tried it at a tasting event (see here)

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue with a hint of pink.  Low carbonation.  Smells of coconut and mint.

Tasting Notes:  One the drier side of semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of canned pear, coconut flavor, and mint.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate pear flavor and flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, I enjoyed the batch I tried previously better, as the coconut flavor seemed more real & intense, and it had nearly no noticeable mint.

Most Similar to:  Nothing I’ve tried.  However, I’ve actually had a few ciders with mint – Portland Cider Co. Mojito, Jester & Judge Columbia Belle, and 101 Cider House Piña Menta.  I’ve also had a couple ciders with coconut – One Tree Pina Colada and Reverend Nat’s The Passion.

Closing Notes:  This would be even better in summer, but it is tasty and easy to drink anytime.

Have you tried Pear Up Pearjito Colada?  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?

Cidrerie Daufresne Poire

Review of Cidrerie Daufresne’s Poire, a French perry.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had several other poires.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Winesellers, Ltd.  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:  Poire
Cidery:  Cidrerie Daufresne
Cidery Location:  Normandy, France
ABV:  4.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  Norman French poire (perry)

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Availability:  Semi wide release in the U.S. through Winesellers, Ltd.  Their cider portfolio also includes Manoir de Grandouet, Domaine de la Minotiere, & Le Brun from France, Dunkertons from England, and Sidra Asturiana Mayador from Spain.

Cider Description:  A perry pear is gritty, tannic and acidic, which makes it somewhat similar to acider apple. But that is where the similarities end. Perry pear tannins tend to be rounder than those found in cider apples, and the pears used for perry have less malic acid than cider apples, resulting in a beverage that is less tart and more delicate. The Daufresne Poiré offers clear, sparkling and persistent effervescence and aromas. Tastes of fresh pear fruit, hints of melon and citrus, natural sediments in glass, rustic with a clean pure sweetness, balanced by refreshing acidity.

Cidery Description:  Located in the heart of the Pays d’Auge, at the gates of Lisieux, we can discover the area of ​​5 D, with its cider house at the foot of the orchards hills, formerly called the Pré des Vignes, in reference to the vines formerly exploited on this parcel.  It is this beautiful south-facing exhibition that prompted Philippe Daufresne to plant his orchard in the 60s, instead of the old vines, for the production of his cider and calvados.  For 4 years, retirement requires, the domain was taken over by Ghislaine Davy, who is resolutely committed to a quality and elegance approach.  To develop the different cider products, 150 tons of apples are brewed each year on the estate.

The apples come from the orchards of the cider house but also from the different orchards around, which multiplies all the varieties used: Germaine, Blangy cemetery, red binet, bisquet, St Martin, Christmas fields, President descourt, windmill, mettais, rambault, and many others…  In order to give each product a balanced aromatic bouquet, the varieties are carefully selected to find the right balance between the freshness of tart apples, the delicacy of sweet apples, and the corpus of bitter apples.  The Daufrresne cider is a must at the tables of the Côte Fleurie. Well known to the Parisian resort clientele, he is regularly awarded at the Paris General Competition, with this latest gold medal at the Paris 2017 general competition.

Price:  n/a (retails for $12)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the importer contacted me

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow.  Moderate to high carbonation.  Smells of canned pear, sulfur, and funk.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low funk.  Hints of tannins.  No bitterness or sourness.  Notes of canned pear, dried pear, green apple, and pineapple.  Moderate length finish.  High pear flavor and sessionability.  Moderate complexity and flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  Very juicy and fizzy.  The scent was off-putting at first, but it dissipated, and didn’t transfer to the flavor.

Most Similar to:  Christian Drouin Poire, as it is of similar sweetness and flavor notes (although it is cleaner than Cidrerie Daufresne’s Poire, which has some funk).

Closing Notes:  I also have a cider from Cidrerie Daufresne to try.

Have you tried French poire?  What did you think?

Le Brun Poire

Review of Le Brun Poire, a French perry.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had Le Brun’s Brut and Organic cidres (and several other poires).

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Winesellers, Ltd.  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:  Poire
Cidery:  Le Brun
Cidery Location:  Brittany France
ABV:  4.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  Breton French poire (perry)

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Availability:  Semi wide release in the U.S. through Winesellers, Ltd (new to their portfolio as of October 2017).  Their cider portfolio also includes Manoir de Grandouet, Domaine de la Minotiere, & Cidrerie Daufresne from France, Dunkertons from England, and Sidra Asturiana Mayador from Spain.

Description:  LeBrun Cidres have been produced in Brittany, France since 1955.  Cidres are made using the traditional method of natural fermentation of pure pressed juices from handpicked pears. It all starts with the fruit. The cidery selects superior quality pears.

The orchards are carefully looked after until maturation of the fruits. The pears are picked by hand in order to prevent any damage. Preparing the fruit before cider making is always a process. The pears are collected and aged in special wooden cases for about 3 weeks in order to enable the fruit to slightly dehydrate and concentrate its aromas. The pears are then ready to be mashed. Once this is done, the result (pulp plus juice) is left to rest in a tank. This helps balance the taste profile of the future perry by sweetening possible harsh overtones. The pulp/juice is pressed again to get pure juice.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $10)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the importer/distributor contacted me

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of candied dried pear and lemon.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  A hint of tannins.  Notes of dried pear, candied pear, lemongrass, green apple, and honey.  Moderate length finish with lingering lemon.  Moderate pear flavor, complexity, and flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  Great!  I was surprised with the dryness, lightness, and sharpness, as I was expecting something that was sweeter, fuller bodied, and lower acidity, like the others I’ve tried.  Perries are usually on the sweeter end as pear juice has unfermentable sugars (sorbitol).  I liked it however, especially the complexity.  This would be especially nice in summer, at only 4% ABV (and its really affordable too).

Most Similar to:  Not anything I’ve tried.  The other poires I can remember trying were semi-sweet, such as from Christian DrouinDan Armor (the sweetest of these), Domaine Pacory, and Eric Bordelet (the driest of these).

Closing Notes:  This is a great addition to Le Brun’s U.S. lineup, which already has “Brut” and “Organic” varieties of cider.  Winesellers also offers a French perry / poire from Daufresne, which I will be trying soon.

Have you tried Poire?  What did you think?

Pear UP Raspeary

Review of Pear UP’s Raspeary, a raspberry-flavored pear cider (technically a perry, as no apples were used, only pears, but many consumers wouldn’t recognize that term).  Note that Pear UP had previously gone by the name Neigel Vintners or NV Cider.  I previously sampled this at Cider Rite of Spring in Portland OR (see here).  I’ve also tried their Pear Essentials, Half Past PrudentCherry PerryWatermelon Perry, and Watermelon Raspberry Perry.

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Cider:  Raspeary
Cidery:  Pear UP Cider
Cidery Location:  East Wenatchee WA
ABV:  5.3%
How Supplied:  500ml green Aluminum bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft perry from dessert pears with raspberry extract

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Availability:  Washington and Oregon; see here.

Cider Description:  (none given; this appears to be one of their newer varieties, and isn’t listed on the website)

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

Price:  $4.63
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Cider tasting events, such as Cider Summit and Cider Rite of Spring

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow with a hint of pink.  Low carbonation.  Smells of syrupy sweet pear and raspberry.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, tannins, sourness, or funk.  Notes of pear juice, dried pear, and raspberry extract.  High sessionability.  Moderate to high pear flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  This was a nice sessionable summer beverage.  However,  it was a bit syrupy and the raspberry was fake tasting (they use extract, which is actually quite common, even in craft cider).  I think a bit more carbonation and tartness could have helped balance those two things.  This is one of the few ciders I think wouldn’t be bad over ice, although I didn’t try that, as the bottle didn’t last very long and I was indoors.

Most Similar to:  Pear UP’s watermelon and raspberry-watermelon perries.

Closing Notes:  I enjoyed this less when I tried it previously (which may have been on draft?).  However, they make some tasty easy drinking perries for a reasonable cost.  I think they would do even better in this area with a multipack of cans, as that is the current trend, although not my personal preference.  I have heard that they are moving from 16.9oz to 12oz bottles, some sold individually (Aluminum) and some sold in multipacks (glass).

Have you tried Pear UP perries?  What did you think?

Perry Tasting Notes

There was recently a perry tasting at my house (thanks Sarah, Merce, and Kevin from Cider Log for sharing!).  I took a few tasting notes.  Note that perry is similar to cider, but made from pears, no apples.  [In contrast to pear cider, which in the U.S. is often an apple cider with some pear juice/flavor added.]

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We didn’t end up opening every bottle, so we’ll need to have a perry tasting part 2!  Our dinner pairing was pizza, which worked surprisingly well.

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Dragon’s Head (Vashon Island WA) Methode Champenoise Perry (6.3% ABV), $29 / 750ml:  This is a special release of Dragon’s Head’s Perry, which was made in Methode Champenoise, a labor-intensive traditional way of making a naturally sparkling cider.  It was made from Taylor’s Gold and heirloom seedling Vashon Island pears .  High carbonation.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  High tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  Notes of pear juice & skin, floral, and honey.  I enjoyed it, although it was very mildly flavored.  It would be a nice champagne alternative, albeit pricey (this was by far the most expensive bottle we opened).

Oliver’s (Herefordshire England) Herefordshire Perry (6.9% ABV), price unknown:  This is an English bottle-conditioned perry made from perry pears.  Smells very funky.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low sourness.  Moderate funk.  Mild tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low tannins.  Pear-forward and floral.  I enjoyed it.

Hogan’s (Alcester, England) Vintage Perry 2010 (5.4% ABV), ~$10 / 500ml:  This is another English perry made from perry pears.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light bodied.  Hints of sourness, funk, tannins & bitterness.  Low tartness & acidity.  Pear-forward, rich, and nutty.  I really enjoyed it.

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Mission Trail (Bradley CA) Perry (6.0% ABV), price unknown:  This perry was made from Bartlett pears, and claims to be the only true perry (not pear cider) made in California.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness & acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of pear, stone fruit, and honey.  I liked it, but this was the most “commercial” / pear cider type tasting of the group.

Viuda de Angelon (Asturias Spain) Sidra de Pera (5.2% ABV), $4 / 11.2oz:  This is a Spanish perry.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied, frothy.  Hints of sourness & funk (less so than most Spanish ciders).  Low to moderate tartness & acidity.  Pear-forward with notes of apricot.  I liked it.

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Sea Cider (Saanichton B.C. Canada) Perry (6.5% ABV), $18 / 750ml:  This is a Canadian perry made from perry pears.  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Very light kinda weird flavor, more floral & herbal than pear.  I think this was a bit of an off bottle though, as it was infected with scobies.  I’ll have to give it another try sometime.

AEppelTreow (Burlington WI) Perry (7.5% ABV), $12 / 750ml:  This is a Methode Champenoise perry made from Comice, Bosc, and Bartlett pears.  Semi-sweet.  Moderate carbonation.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness & tannins.  Tastes exactly like champagne, no pear, but juicy, plus notes of stone fruit and honey.  I enjoyed it, although it was not what we were expecting.  Also a nice champagne alternative, and an excellent value for Methode Champenoise.

The day after the group tasting I opened up my bottle of Samuel Smith’s perry, as it was already in the fridge.

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Samuel Smith’s (Tadcaster, England) Organic Perry (5.0 ABV), $3 / 12oz:  This is another English perry, and Organic, but the most commercial (ingredient list included water, pear extract, malic acid, etc).  Semi-sweet.  Low to moderate carbonation.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  No pear flavor, but notes of apple, apricot & other stone fruit, and honey (if I tasted it blind I’d call it cider, not perry).  I liked this, although it was definitely commercial tasting, and the sweetest option.

Our favorite was the Hogan’s (also an excellent value, under $10 I believe).  Our least favorite was the Sea Cider.  The most surprising was the AEppeltreow, as it was the least perry-like.

I’ve also previously tried these perries: Dan Armor Poire, Pear UP Half Past Prudent, Pear UP Cherry Perry, Pear UP Watermelon Perry, Pear UP Watermelon Raspberry Perry, Pear UP Raspberry PerryDomaine Pacory Poire Domfront, Dunkertons Organic Perry, Eaglemount Perry, Locust Seckel PerryNashi Orchards Asian Pear Chojuro Blend PerryNashi Orchards Island Harvest Perry, Portland Cider Pearfect Perry, Snowdrift Perry, Snowdrift Seckel Perry, Tieton Sparkling Perry, WildCraft Pioneer Perry, WildCraft Elderberry Perry, and William’s Sir Perry

Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidré Poire

Review of Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidré Poire, a French perry (made entirely from pears, no apples).  It is my first time trying this, although I’ve previously tried Dan Armor’s cidre.  I’ve also sampled some other French poires:  Christian Drouin PoireDomaine Pacory Poire Domfront, and Eric Bordelet Poire Authentique (plus an American French-style poire,  E.Z. Orchards Poire).

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Cider:  Poire
Cidery:  Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidré
Cidery Location:  Brittany France
ABV:  4.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged champagne bottle
Style:  French Poire (perry)

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Availability:  wide release at Trader Joe’s, since early 2017 (imported by Lattitude Wines, Danville CA)

Cider Description:  Cider made from fresh pears grown in the northwest of France, slowly fermented to create refreshing aromas and sweet flavors.  No sugar was added to this well-balanced cider and it is gluten-free.

Price:  $4.99
Where Bought:  Trader Joe’s
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I had previously tried Dan Armor’s cider, and saw this for the first time.  At $5 it was an easy buy.

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells of syrupy sweet pear.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to sweet (15g sugar / 8oz).  Medium to full bodied, with a smooth, creamy, and fizzy texture.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of canned pear, dried pear, and hints of pineapple & floral.  High pear flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this.  However, it was definitely on the commercial and easy to drink side, with less complexity than the other poires I’ve had (which admittedly have been from top cidermakers and high end prices to match).

Most Similar to:  Christian Drouin Poire (also semi-sweet and very pear-forward, but slightly more refined tasting and complex)

Closing Notes / random thoughts:   (1) Perry has significant unfermentable sugars, so even if completely fermented, it remains significant residual sugar (vs. cider, which with the right yeast will ferment to zero residual sugar).  Therefore you won’t see a dry perry.  Most are semi-sweet.  (2) Here in the U.S., typically the word perry should only be used if the beverage is only made from pears, and the term pear cider if it is an apple cider with pear juice.  However, often pear ciders are mistakenly called perries.  (3) I typically prefer French-style Poire to American perry.  Probably as many of the American perries I’ve had have been funky, and poire often has a really nice texture and complexity while remaining clean.  There have been a handful of American perries I have enjoyed though, like Locust Seckel Perry, Snowdrift Seckel Perry, and fruity perries from Pear UP (formerly NV Cider).

Have you tried French perry (poire)?  What did you think?

Dunkertons Organic Perry

Review of Dunkertons Organic Perry from England.  Perry is only made from pears (no apples).  I previously tried their Dry Organic cider.

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Dunkertons.  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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Product:  Organic Perry
Cidery:  Dunkertons
Location:  Pembridge, Leominster, United Kingdom
ABV:  7.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  Organic English perry

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Availability:  Dunkertons is just becoming available in the U.S. for the first time, so its probably not in stores quite yet, but look for it at finer bottle shops in the future (distributed through Winesellers, Ltd.).

Product Description:  A delicious sparkling Perry made from organically grown, Perry pears. Though relatively uncommon, the trees are easily identified in Herefordshire’s orchard landscape by their great height and cascading white blossom; some are over 300 years old. These mature trees can very often produce over a ton of Pears. Using a traditional press and mill (circa 1930) the cider is carefully made using time honored methods. Each variety of cider pear is fermented separately, stored and then blended a year after pressing.

It pours golden and slightly hazy with very gentle bubbles. The nose has over-ripe pear evanescence. The taste is buttery & biscuity with notes of peaches plus a touch of farmyard. A creamy mouthfeel with a good balance between initial sweetness and the dryness of the finish.

Pear Varieties:  Merrylegs, Red Horse, Moorecroft, Painted Lady, and Thorn

Cidery Description:  We make premium award winning organic cider and perry at our Cider Mill in Herefordshire.  Our success is down to our unique blending method using traditional varieties of organic cider apples and pears grown in our own orchards. We started making our ciders and perry in 1980.  We only ever use the finest tasting traditional varieties of certified organic apples and pears. It is this careful selection of fruit that gives our drinks the delicate and aromatic characteristics required to be award winning.

Price:  $9 retail
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow, slightly hazy.  Low carbonation.  Smells of sour citrus.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied, slightly syrupy.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate sourness.  Low bitterness, funk, and tannins.  Notes of citrus (lemon and grapefruit), mineral, white grape, pear, and floral.  Long warming sour finish.  Moderate sessionability, pear flavor, flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  Well crafted and a good value.  It wasn’t to my personal tastes though due to the slight sourness.  However, I shared it with a few friends who tends towards liking sour ciders and they really enjoyed it.

Fun Facts:  Its often said to plant pears for your heirs, as it can take decades for a pear tree to bear fruit.  Also, perries don’t ferment fully dry like ciders can, as pears have unfermentable sugars (such as sorbitol), contributing to a higher residual sweetness.  More info on perry here.

Most Similar to:  WildCraft Cider Works Pioneer Perry, although more sweet and less sourness.  It had a subtle complexity similar to E.Z. Orchards Poire and Nashi Orchards Chojuro Blend.

Closing Notes:   Next up, Dunkertons Black Fox.

Have you tried Dunkertons Perry?  What did you think?

Portland Cider Company Strawperry

Review of Portland Cider Company’s Strawperry, a perry (made from 100% pears, no apples) with strawberries.  This is a summer seasonal for them (2nd year).  I’ve previously tried a number of their ciders; see here.

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>>This is a review of a sample provided to Cider Says by the Portland Cider Company.  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:  Strawperry
Cidery:  Portland Cider Company
Cidery Location:  Portland OR
ABV:  5.4%
How Supplied:  draft only
Style:  American craft perry (made from 100% pears) with fresh strawberries

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Availability:  Summer seasonal, limited release, draft only.  In general, their ciders are available in Oregon, Washington, California, and Colorado (see here), but this draft-only cider likely has less availability then their bottled varieties.

I have been able to determine it is currently on tap at least at the following places:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA, Portland Cider House (Hawthorne Portland OR), Portland Cider Company Taproom (Clackamas Portland OR),  Liberty Tapworks (Dalles OR), Oly Taproom (Olympia WA), and The Growlerie (Beaverton OR).

Cider Description:  With a base of our award-winning 100% pear juice Perry, we have blended NW strawberries to create a delicate, delightful cider for the summer.

Cidery Description:  Drink it, it’s good!  Portland Cider Company was started in the fall of 2012 by an Oregonian and a family of British expats with the mission of bringing handcrafted cider in the English tradition to the northwest. We don’t use concentrates, flavorings, colorings, or anything you wouldn’t want in your cider.  We just use the finest Northwest grown fruit. Always gluten free.

Price:  n/a
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Light pink-orange hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild, fruity and tart.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of strawberry, kiwi, and honey.  Quick finish.  Low pear flavor.  High sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  This is a great summer cider…fruity and sessionable (low ABV and easy to drink).

Most Similar to:  I’ve had two strawberry ciders, from Bull Run (Strawberry Fields) and Cider Brothers (William Tell Dry Hard Apple Cider with Strawberry).  I find this similar to the Bull Run Strawberry Fields, except Strawberry Fields had a more intense flavor, and Strawperry is more complex.  I also find Strawperry similar to Atlas Dragonfruit, which also had strawberry & kiwi notes (but also a weird bitterness).

Random Side Note:  This cider holds the record as my most unique sample so far…I received it in a recycled swing-top bottle (its draft only so they didn’t have a typical capped & labeled bottle) and picked it up locally.

Closing Notes:  I’m glad I got a chance to try Strawperry–its a unique summer sipper.  I think this is one of my favorite Portland Cider Company ciders so far, along with their London Dry Gin.

Have you tried Portland Cider Strawperry?  What did you think?

NV Cider Watermelon Hard Pear Cider (Perry)

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

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

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Availability:  WA and OR; see here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you tried any perries?  What did you think?

EZ Orchards Poire

Review of EZ Orchards’ Poire, a French-style perry.  Note that perry (made only from pears) varies from pear cider (made from apples & pears).  I’ve tried a few varieties from them–Semi Dry, Roman Beauty, Hawk Haus.

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Cider:  Poire
Cidery:  EZ Orchards
Cidery Location:  Rickreall OR
ABV:  5.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottle
Style:  French-style perry made from heirloom & dessert pear varieties

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Availability:  As seasonally available / while supplies last, at least in OR, WA, IL, and NY.

Cider Description:  Poire is named from the French word for “pear”, and is completely appropriate, natural and perfect for this uniquely delicious drink. EZ Orchards Poire is made entirely from estate-grown Forelle, Comice and Bosc winter pears—no apples. The fruit is carefully cleaned, milled and pressed. No yeast is added to the juice and no sulfites are added. Naturally-occurring yeasts are allowed to ferment over months at low temperatures. Finally, when the sugars are depleted—or nearly so—Poire is bottled and allowed to mature and condition. Like all EZ Orchards cider and cidre, it is never released until it is ready.

Cidery Description:  The Pioneers who settled Oregon’s Willamette Valley in the 1850’s must have marveled at their good fortune. The soil was rich, the water plentiful, the winters mild, and summers ideal, crops seemed to burst from the ground. For more than 150 years small family farms have dominated the Willamette Valley – one of the most productive and diverse agricultural areas in the world. The Zielinski Family and E.Z. Orchards are part of this history and ongoing commitment to the land.

E.Z. Orchards Willamette Valley Cidre is the culmination of 10 years effort to develop our orchard and refine our fermentation technique. We grow a selection of French, English, and Early American apple varieties. The fruit contain essential characteristics, necessary to impart structure and aroma in our Cidre.

They use traditional French cider making methods–pressing their apples in a rack and cloth press, fermenting with wild yeast in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for 4-6 months, and bottling before fermentation is complete to allow secondary fermentation to take place in the glass.

Price:  ~$9
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I remembered that although I haven’t had much luck with enjoying American perries, I have liked a couple French poires, so I thought I’d give it a try.

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First Impression:  Pale straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation with tiny bubbles.  Smells of juicy pear, mango, pineapple, lemon, mineral, and vanilla.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Frothy and creamy texture.   Moderate carbonation (more than visibly apparent).  Mild tartness.  Moderate acidity.  A hint of tannins.  A hint of bitterness.  No sourness.  No funk.  Notes of juicy pear, mango, pineapple, lemon, mineral, and vanilla.  Compared to the scent, the pear was less intense and the tropical & citrus were more intense.  Moderate length finish.  Mild pear intensity.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  Refreshing for summer, with subtle complexity, and wine-like qualities.  I liked it, as did my husband.  This is the first American perry I’ve truly enjoyed.  Oddly enough I tend more towards pear ciders, as they typically are more flavorful (although less complex), although neither perry or pear cider is a favorite of mine.

Most Similar to:  Nashi Orchards Chojuro Blend Asian Pear Perry (it was also complex, wine-like, and semi-dry, although it had some sourness & funk).  The style of Poire seemed in between that of the American and French perries I’ve tried…the American Snowdrift Perry for example had a low flavor intensity, less complexity, and some bitterness…the French perry Domaine Pacory Poire Domfront for example was sweeter, richer, and higher carbonation.  Although this perry remained fairly dry, it was complex.

Closing Notes:   This was enjoyable.  Roman Beauty (cider) remains my favorite from EZ Orchards though.  I look forward to trying more from them–I think the only variety I haven’t tried is their Dry.

Have you tried EZ Orchards Poire?  What did you think?

Nashi Orchards Asian Pear Perry 2013 – Chojuro Blend

Review of Nashi Orchards’ Chojuro Blend Asian Pear Perry.  Note that true perry is a fermented beverage made only from pears.  In contrast, pear cider is typically apple cider back sweetened with pear juice.  Pear cider will typically be sweeter and have a stronger pear flavor, but perry is more traditional.

Nashi Orchards specializes in perry, especially from asian pears, and Chojuro Blend is their flagship product.  The word “Nashi” in Japaenese means “pear” by the way.  This is my first time trying their perry, although I sampled one of their ciders at a tasting event with Bill Bradshaw last summer at Capitol Cider during Washington Cider Week (tasting notes on Issho Ni “Together” cider here).

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Cider:  Asian Pear Perry 2013 – Chojuro Blend
Cidery:  Nashi Orchards
Cidery Location:  Vashon Island WA
ABV:  6.7%
How Supplied:  187ml (6.2oz) clear glass bottle
Style:  American perry made from Chojuro and Olympic varieties of Asian pears

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Availability:  Limited to the greater Vashon Island, Seattle, and Tacoma areas of WA.  Nashi self-distributes to independent bottle shops, tap rooms, and fine restaurants in WA.  They also welcome visitors to their orchard and tasting room on Vashon Island.  Chojuro Blend is their most widely distributed perry.  They usually offer an additional 3 or 4 other perries and ciders at a time, some of which are small batch and only available directly through them.

Cider Description:  Our signature Chojuro Perry is lightly effervescent with a floral aroma, exhibits flavors of bright summer fruit and pear, and has a clean refreshing finish. Serve it as an aperitif or with NW oysters, halibut and turkey. We carefully control fermentation to preserve some of the natural sweetness, use 100% juice pressed at our winery and never add sugar or flavorings.

Cidery Description:  PASSIONATELY PURSUING DELICIOUS LIBATIONS.  Nashi Orchards uses sustainable practices to grow the finest Asian Pears and handcraft perry and hard cider. Our orchard and winery is located on beautiful Vashon Island, Washington where we are a part of a growing community of committed producers of artisanal foods, wines and spirits.

Additional Information: Jim Gerlach from Nashi was awesome enough to respond to my request for more info with some amazing detailed notes–thanks!

The Chojuro Asian Pear Perry is a blend of two varieties of Asian pear. The Chojuro pears are grown in our orchard on Vashon Island and are an orange bronze colored fruit with flavors of butterscotch. It is also called “the rum pear”.  The second asian pear is a Korean Giant, also called Olympic. We source these from Kiyokawa Orchards in Hood River. It is a very late pear and likes a bit more heat than we get in Puget Sound. Both pears benefit from extended maturation to bring out the flavors and aromatics. This extended maturation process also serves to convert some of the simple sugars into complex sugars which do not ferment and this provides a bit of residual sweetness. I would describe it as off-dry .

We typically ferment the varieties separately using different yeasts and do bulk blending in the spring after fermentation is complete. We like Epernay2 and DV10 for a clean expression of the fruit and use sake yeast on a portion of the batch to provide improved mouthfeel and complexity. 
In response to my question on perry from asian vs. other pear varieties:  The flavors are similar but I would say that the flavor and aroma of asian pear perry is a bit more floral and delicate.
Traditional european perry pears (Pyrus domestica) may have tannin and commercially available asian pears do not. Tannins will provide some structure as well as astringency and/or bitterness. That being said we have access to a trial orchard of Asian Pears (pyres pyrifolia) and have found varieties with massive amounts of tannins.  We are excited to propagate these and add these to our orchard.
The acidity of some Asian pears is thought to be quite low and this creates the need to blend or add acid to create an appropriate pH for fermentation. Most of the varieties of pears from our orchard have a relatively low pH. This is because we only irrigate as much as necessary to maintain tree health. More water in the fruit equals less flavor and less acidity. 
Storage, milling and pressing of Asian Pears is much easier than with European pears. European and perry pears are notoriously fickle in terms of ripening and can go from hard as a marble to slime in a matter of days. As I mentioned before, a long maturation process is key to extracting as much flavor as possible from the fruit. Asian Pears store for long periods of time, and mill and press quite readily. Some European pears can be very slimy and difficult to press without aids such as enzymes or rice hulls. 
Thanks again to Jim at Nashi for sharing all that awesome detailed info on this perry, asian pears, and their orchard!

Price:  $6.50
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  The cute bottle caught my attention.  Once at home it sat for quite a few months however as I didn’t find the right time to drink it (with such a small bottle it was more of an aperitif), but lately I’ve been trying to drink some of my oldest ciders, so into the fridge and into the glass it went.

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First Impression:  Pale straw yellow.  Light carbonation & foam.  Smells of pear (light), vanilla, spice, sour citrus, floral, and wild yeasr / funk.  Drank chilled.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light sourness, funk, tartness, and bitterness.  Mild to moderate acidity.  Very mild flavored in general, but complex.  The primary notes I picked up were pear and citrus, with some honey, floral, and vanilla.  I also found it quite wine-like.  Light bodied.  Medium length finish.  Moderate sessionability.  I found it a touch alcohol-forward (warming), despite its mild flavor & body.

My Opinion:  Although I think it was wonderfully complex and well-crafted, this perry wasn’t really to my tastes.  I enjoy full-flavored ciders, yet similar to most other perries I’ve tried, the flavor of this one remained mild.  It was nice to try it though.  Oddly enough I would have guessed wild yeast was used due to the mild amount of funk, but it sounds like they used some unique fermentation techniques and yeast, so that probably explains what I picked up.

Most Similar to:  Other perries and off-dry white grape wine (although I have no grape wine experience so I can’t be more specific than that…and I specify grape wine as cider & perry are actually classified as types of wine, which doesn’t technically only mean grape).  The level of funk seemed in between that of for example Snowdrift Perry (almost non existent) and WildCraft (mild to moderate, although Pioneer Perry was less so than the Elderberry Perry).  My favorite perry so far is Pear Essentials from Neigel Vintners (NV Cider), likely as it is sweeter and has a more intense pear flavor (as it is back sweetened), although I’ve also had their Half Past Prudent which was drier & milder.  Back sweetening perry (and cider) isn’t traditional, but is a technique that is quite common, as its the easiest way to get a sweeter beverage which is fruit-forward.  I don’t mind dry, but I prefer full-flavored, which often doesn’t occur with drier ciders & perries.

Closing Notes:   I don’t think I truly appreciate perry…I have found perries to have a lot of qualities similar to white wine, which I also don’t care for.  It was a nice aperitif though, and I’m glad I got to try it.  I’d recommend this perry for folks looking for something unique and local.  I think especially in summer it would be tasty.

Have you tried any true perries?  What did you think?

WildCraft Cider Works Pioneer Perry

Review of WildCraft Cider Works’ Pioneer Perry.  Perries are made entirely using pears.  In contrast, pear ciders are often an apple base with pear juice added, and cider is of course entirely made from apples.  WildCraft opened in Eugene Oregon in November 2014.  They were nice enough to send me a box full of their cider (which is especially awesome as they aren’t yet available in WA), so I have a number of varieties from them to review in the coming weeks.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by WildCraft Cider Works.  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:  Pioneer Perry
Cidery:  WildCraft Cider Works
Cidery Location:  Eugene OR
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml bottle

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Availability:  Year round, but currently only in Eugene, Portland, and Medford Oregon.

Cider Description:  Our 2014 Pioneer Perry is layered with the complex flavors of hazelnut, fresh shortbread & orange blossom honey. The exquisite qualities of pre-prohibition planted American Pear varietals were allowed to reach their fullest potential. Harvested and handpicked from the founding farmlands of Lane County, this is an experience that provides unprecedented, homegrown quality. Unpasteurized & bottle conditioned.

Made from Red Bartlet pears.

Cidery Description:  At WildCraft Cider Works, we pride ourselves on developing innovative, artisanal dry ciders inspired by traditional and wild methodology. Insisting on whole fruit and botanicals grown in Oregon to create pure ciders without artificial flavorings, sulfites or added sweeteners. WildCraft cider is uniquely dry cider unpasteurized & bottle conditioned. We consider ourselves stewards of the outdoors; always acting consciously to ensure that our ingredients are regional.

WildCraft sets themselves apart from most other cideries by using mostly fruit from old homesteads that would otherwise go unused, plus unwanted fruit from community drives.  All their fruit is Oregon-grown and pressed at the cidery.  In addition to ciders, they also have a line of perries (made from pears).  They avoid the use of sulfites in their ciders, which is quite rare and can be difficult to pull off.

WildCraft has a tap house at their Eugene OR cidery with 10 of their ciders & perries on tap at a time, plus they have a full bar (including cider cocktails), and a full farm to table restaurant!  This article from Feb 2015 has a nice writeup on them.

Price:  n/a (but retails for $16.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Facebook and word of mouth

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow with a few large bubbles at the edge of the glass.  Slightly funky, dry, sour, tart, yeasty, vanilla apple scent.

Opinion:  Completely dry.  Moderate to high acidity.  Mild to moderate sourness.  Mild bitterness, funk, astringency, and tartness.  Light bodied.  Still (no carbonation).  Moderate length finish.  I picked up mild pear, citrus, vanilla, oak, and honey notes.  This was a nice light perry which would be great during summer.  It was my favorite of the six WildCraft selections I’ve had, likely as it was a bit less sour & funky.

Most Similar to:  Nothing I have tried.  Although I’ve drank a number of perries, none was this dry and complex.  This is more approachable than some ciders of a similar style (Millstone comes to mind), but may still be a big step for someone used to approachable sweet commercial cider.

Closing Notes:   This was quite an interesting perry and more likeable than the others I tried, but it wasn’t really to my taste.  Without the sourness & funk and with a bit more residual sugar, I think I would have found it more enjoyable.  I also tend to like more of a full-flavored beverage.  I think they are doing some great things at WildCraft though, and are very reasonably priced.  I think folks looking for a unique perry on the dry end of the spectrum which aren’t opposed to some sourness and funk should give this a try.  I look forward to trying the rest of the ciders that came in my sample box!

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

WildCraft Cider Works Elderberry Perry

Review of WildCraft Cider Works’ Elderberry Perry.  Perries are made entirely using pears.  In contrast, pear ciders are often an apple base with pear juice added, and cider is of course entirely made from apples.  WildCraft opened in Eugene Oregon in November 2014.  They were nice enough to send me a box full of their cider (which is especially awesome as they aren’t yet available in WA), so I have a number of varieties from them to review in the coming weeks.

wildcraft elderberry perry
(I somehow forgot to take a full photo of this lovely
wax-topped bottle, so a stock photo will have to do)

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by WildCraft Cider Works.  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.<<

2015-11-19 17.02.08

Cider:  Elderberry Perry
Cidery:  WildCraft Cider Works
Cidery Location:  Eugene OR
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottle

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Availability:  Year round, but currently only in Eugene, Portland, and Medford Oregon.

Cider Description:  These elderberries were wildcrafted in the mountains of Cottage Grove, hand destemmed and fermented whole in a red Bartlett perry. Floral, vinous, fruit-forward berries hail from the rugged Oregon wilderness into a rich & full bodied pear complexity. Unpasteurized & bottle conditioned.

Made from Red Bartlet and Comice pears.

Cidery Description:  At WildCraft Cider Works, we pride ourselves on developing innovative, artisanal dry ciders inspired by traditional and wild methodology. Insisting on whole fruit and botanicals grown in Oregon to create pure ciders without artificial flavorings, sulfites or added sweeteners. WildCraft cider is uniquely dry cider unpasteurized & bottle conditioned. We consider ourselves stewards of the outdoors; always acting consciously to ensure that our ingredients are regional.

WildCraft sets themselves apart from most other cideries by using mostly fruit from old homesteads that would otherwise go unused, plus unwanted fruit from community drives.  All their fruit is Oregon-grown and pressed at the cidery.  In addition to ciders, they also have a line of perries (made from pears).  They avoid the use of sulfites in their ciders, which is quite rare and can be difficult to pull off.

WildCraft has a tap house at their Eugene OR cidery with 10 of their ciders & perries on tap at a time, plus they have a full bar (including cider cocktails), and a full farm to table restaurant!  This article from Feb 2015 has a nice writeup on them.

Price:  n/a (but retails for $16.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Facebook and word of mouth

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First Impression:  Light elderberry-grape type hue with a few large bubbles at the edge of the glass.  Slightly funky, dry, sour, and tart apple-berry scent.  This one had the most funky scent of the six I’ve tried from WildCraft.

Opinion:  Completely dry.  Moderate acidity, sourness, tartness, astringency, and funk.  No bitterness.  Light bodied.  Moderate carbonation.  Relative quick finish.  The elderberry influence remained quite mild, but added a nice fruitiness and a bit of tannins.  This was a crowd favorite at my cider tasting, but my least favorite, as it was a bit more funky than the others.

Most Similar to:  Nothing I have tried.  Although I’ve had a number of berry ciders and a handful of perries, none was this dry, and I haven’t had a berry perry.  This is more approachable than some ciders of a similar style (Millstone comes to mind), but may still be a big step for someone used to approachable sweet commercial cider.

Closing Notes:   This was quite an interesting perry, but it wasn’t really to my liking.  Without the sourness & funk and with a bit more residual sugar, I think I would have found it more enjoyable.  I also tend to like more of a full-flavored beverage.  I think they are doing some great things at WildCraft though, and are very reasonably priced.  I think folks looking for a unique perry on the dry end of the spectrum which aren’t opposed to some sourness and funk should give this a try.  I look forward to trying the rest of the ciders that came in my sample box!

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

Original Sin Pear

Review of the Pear variety from Original Sin.  Note that this is pear cider (apple cider with pear juice added), not perry (made from 100% pear juice).

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Cider:  Pear
Cidery:  Original Sin
Cidery Location:  New York NY
ABV:  4.5%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles

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Availability:  year round, in over 30 U.S. states, the UK, and Japan

Cider Description:  Two parts pear, one part magic.  A Dry cider fermented with champagne yeast.  Original Sin Pear Cider was developed in line with the company’s mission to produce traditional cider leaving out artificial flavors and additives. Original Sin Pear is light and refreshing with a clean, dry finish.

Cidery Description:  20th-century American ciders were sweet, syrupy – a far cry from the dry, crisp, revolution-inciting ciders of our country’s past.  Gidon Coll wanted to reconnect America to its roots by creating a traditional cider with the complexity to satisfy today’s discriminating palates.  But where to begin?  Coll immersed himself in the history and the craft of cider. He experimented. He brewed batch after batch in a small upstate New York winery. He sought counsel from a local wine expert and from the owners, bartenders and patrons of bars he frequented in New York City’s Lower East Side and East Village. He collected feedback from everyone he knew, adjusting and tinkering with his cider’s flavor until it was clean, crisp, and practically perfect.  Then he enlisted friends to painstakingly hand-label bottle after bottle. He lugged cases and cases in and out of NYC’s subways, delivering bottles to establishments of Manhattan and Brooklyn.  And it wasn’t long before Original Sin began receiving wide acclaim from sources as diverse as The New York Times, New York Post, Paper Magazine and Market Watch.  Today, you can find  Original Sin’s unique, award-winning ciders in over 30 states, as well as overseas in the U.K. and Japan. But it all started here in the U.S. — inspired by our country’s past: a clean, crisp, DEVILISHLY DELICIOUS cider for our future.  [founded in 1997]

Price:  ~$2 for a single bottle (runs $10 for a six pack)
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I’d been wanting to review an Original Sin cider, and hadn’t tried this one.

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First Impression:  Almost clear, with a slightly yellow tint.  Smells of apples, pears, and citrus.  Highly carbonated.

Opinion:  Semi-dry.  Very fizzy and champagne-like.  However, the flavor is much more tart & tangy green apple with citrus than pear.  No bitterness.  Moderate acidity.  Light bodied.  No funk.  Some yeasty flavor.  I agree it is “light and refreshing with a clean, dry finish”, but I prefer a more boldly flavored cider.  I liked the carbonation level and the dryness though.

Most Similar to:  Portland Cider Pearfect Perry, which I tried on tap at the Schilling Cider House.  It was also rather mild with almost no pear flavor, but fizzy and refreshing.  That one however was a true perry (100% pear juice, Bartlett and D’Anjou), unlike Original Sin Pear.

Closing Notes:   Refreshing, but on the bland side and unimpressive.  Original Sin currently offers Apple, Apricot, Pear, Elderberry, Cherry Tree, Northern Spy, and Newtown Pippin varieties.  I’ve also tried the Elderberry and Cherry Tree, and would say they were also pretty average.  Original Sin’s ciders tend to be on the drier side of the 6 pack cider offerings.  They are an affordable and widely available craft cider option however, which is something to be commended.

Have you tried Original Sin Pear?  What did you think?

Interview (Q&A) with NV Cider

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

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

sign board

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

orchard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pears

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

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

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

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

bottles

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

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

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

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

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

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

sign

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

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

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

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

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

among several others

(15) Should we expect any new varieties soon?

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

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

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

brothers

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