Malus zine

I recently received the first issue of Malus, a new cider zine.

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The first issue included:
– editor’s notes by Ellen Cavalli (of Tilted Shed)
– poetry by Bill Lyon (of Cider View Orchard)
The Trouble With Craft – It’s Not What You Think, by Mike Reis (of Redfield Cider Bar & Bottle Shop and more)
Don’t Be Angry – Give Ryan Burk a Break, by Darlene Hayes (of All Into Cider and Cider Cocktails: Another Bite of the Apple)
Cider Cons – Considering the Triple Entendre, by Andy Brennan (of Aaron Burr)
Made in America – The Case for the Seedling, by Kim Hamblin (of Art+Science)

I really enjoyed it.  None of these articles would have been published in any mainstream way – they were unique, thought-provoking, and relevant.  I’d highly recommend this for any cider enthusiast.

You can subscribe on their website, for $25 per year (4 issues).  Without advertising (at least at this point), I doubt that covers much more than printing and postage.

Has anyone else read the first issue of Malus yet?

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Mission Trail Peach Coast

Review of Mission Trail’s Peach Coast.  This isn’t actually cider, but fruit wine, or as they call it, Jerkum (only peaches, no apples).  However, Mission Trail also makes ciders, and I occasionally review non-cider beverages here.  I’ve previously tried Mission Trail’s Perry.

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Product:  Peach Coast
Cidery:  Mission Trail
Cidery Location:  Bradley CA
ABV:  6.1%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  Californian craft peach wine backsweetened with peach juice

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Availability:  at least in CA, OR, and WA, plus case sales online to AZ, CA, NV, OR, and WA (although this style is listed as sold out on their website, and they only produce once a year, at harvest)

Product Description:  Another first! This incredibly aromatic, dry, soft, and complex jerkum is made entirely from peaches. Delicate sweetness and a lingering fruitiness give this jerkum light body with an unmistakable peach glow and soft peach “fuzz” on the finish. Truly a remarkable drink to be enjoyed by all!

Cidery Description:  We focus on: artisanal and traditional cider making practices, original seasonals, innovation, and creating one-of-a-kind jerkums, perrys, and ciders done “right”!

They started in 2014 and don’t have a tasting room.

Price:  $11
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  Mission Trail’s products are newly available in the Seattle area

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First Impression:  Smells mild, of stone fruit.  Low to moderate carbonation.  Moderate peach hue.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate to high tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness.  No tannins, sourness, or funk.  Notes of peach, apricot, nectarine, and lemon.  Moderate peach flavor, flavor intensity, and sessionability.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it, but didn’t love it.  My husband however was a bigger fan (although he admittedly loves anything peach).  I would have appreciated less tartness and more complexity.  I think its pretty cool however that they made a 100% peach wine, as I’d always heard that non-grape and non-apple wines were quite cost-prohibitive (although $11 / pint isn’t cheap).

Most Similar to:  I haven’t heard of anyone else making this sort of product, although a handful of grape wineries release some other fruit wines which may include peach.  I’ve had a number of peach flavored ciders though, such as Blue Mountain Peach, Blackfin Pacific PeachCarlton Bourbon Barrel Peachy Keen, Finnriver Country PeachNumber 6 Peach FuzzRed Branch Peach CiderSchilling Road Trip (Peach Citra), and Tieton Bourbon Peach (Tieron’s was my favorite – I think its the best cider they make).

Closing Notes:  I think they are doing some pretty cool stuff at Mission Trail, and I’d be interested in trying more.

Have you tried Mission Trail’s fruit wines?  What did you think?

FlavorActiV Cider Sensory Kit Series One

This is a unique review…not of a cider, but of FlavorActiV’s Cider Sensory Kit Series One.  Kits like this are used in cider sensory analysis classes (such as at CiderCon – see this great post at Along Came a Cider, or for cider certification courses such as USACM CCP or NACM), at cideries for cidermaker education, for judge preparation at a cider competition, etc.  It enables the taster to identify the scent and flavor of specific individual compounds (typically faults) which may occur in cider.  I heard about it through CiderGuide, and was intrigued enough to contact the company.

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About: This kit was developed specifically for the cider industry in conjunction with one of their global beer/cider customers.  They are currently developing a Series Two kit, and are interested to get industry feedback on it.  They will also soon launch an open cider taster proficiency scheme (see here for more information) so that cider producers can regularly train and test themselves.  FlavorActiV offers over 125 flavor standards, including kits for beer, wine, and coffee.  Here is info on the individual cider flavor standards they sell in addition to this kit of 10 standards.

>>This is a review of a sample kit provided to Cider Says by FlavorActiV.  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 review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Samples included: Sour, Musty, Earthy, Barnyard, Phenolic, Acetaldehyde (Acetal), Sulphitic, Indole, Metallic, Mercaptan

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Cost: 120 pounds ($170 USD), with free worldwide shipping.  Note that one kit makes approximately 1.2 liters (40.6 oz) of each sample, and a 100 ml (3.4 oz) sample is recommended for each taster, so one kit is recommended for 12 tasters (and can probably be used for even more with smaller sample sizes).

How to order: Through their website or by e-mailing cider@flavoractiv.com.  For more information, to provide feedback, or to purchase, their e-mail is cider@flavoractiv.com.  I received this within a few days even though it traveled from the UK to Seattle WA USA.

Packaging: Bubble mailer, with the samples in capsules individually packaged in a booklet, padded with cardboard so they couldn’t be crushed.

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In the box:

  • 10 capsules in a booklet, labeled by type, with descriptions
  • Instructions
  • Flavour Wheel of tastes and odors
  • Handout of the 20 year history of FlavorActiV Flavor Standards
  • Brochure on their technical taste panel training and management products

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Instructions:

  • Empty the powder in each capsule into 200 ml (6.8 oz) of cider, then swirl the container to release the flavor.
  • Top off the container with 1 liter (33.8 oz) of cider to reach the recommended tasting concentration.
  • Pour a 100ml (3.4 oz) sample for each taster.
  • (Therefore as-directed, you would need 12 liters of cider to mix the powder into, but it would be for 12 people.)

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Supplies I used:

  • three 12oz cans of cider
  • 1/4 cup (50ml) measuring cup (x2)
  • 11 tasting glasses which held at least 4oz (one for each sample plus a control)
  • butter knife to stir with
  • index cards
  • pencil

My experience:

  • I purchased 2 Towns OutCider, which I consider to be fairly neutral, and is cost effective as it comes in a multi pack (plus I like it).  Oddly enough I didn’t have any suitable cider in the house as the only ciders I had more than 1 bottle/can of were flavored.
  • To use less cider, I ratioed down the powder to make a smaller sample size, as it was just me.
  • I ended up emptying out each capsule onto an index card, taking a pinch of the powder and putting it into a glass (estimating 1/12), then adding 100ml of cider.
    • It worked out fairly well, and I could add cider or add powder to change the ratio if needed.  I ended up only adding more powder, not cider.
  • Of the 10 capsules, one was difficult to open so I cut it open and one had a bit of powder left in it (slight bit of moisture).  Overall they were fairly easy to use.
  • I used all the tasting glasses I had in the house.  I think small clear plastic disposable cups would be ideal, especially for a group, as ideally you want to prepare all the samples at once, instead of one by one.  The instructions call for a pitcher to mix it in, but the way I did it, I didn’t need one.  I found the powder easily dissolved, so I didn’t really need to add a bit of cider, stir, then add more, like they recommended.
  • The recommended 100ml was a good sample size when doing it individually as it was enough to stir.  For a group when mixing it in a pitcher, an even smaller sample size could probably be used.  I only had a couple sips of most of them as the only flavor I actually enjoyed was sour (this is a learning exercise, not a pleasant tasting experience).

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<I labeled each index card>

The samples:

  • Control (2 Towns OutCider): Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Slightly cloudy as it is less filtered than most ciders.  Smells mild, of only apples.  Low to moderate tartness & acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  I think this was a fairly good choice for a neutral cider (their Bright Cider would have probably been even better, but I like Out Cider much more).  As a bonus I have 3 cans of cider left.
  • Sour: Scent unchanged.  Flavor change was citric acid tartness, not a true “sourness” like sour beer.
  • Musty: Scent impacted.  Flavor was muted and the musty effect lingered on the palate.  Tasted like an antique shop.
  • Earthy: Scent greatly impacted, and it smelled exactly like fresh dirt.  Flavor wasn’t as impacted as smell.  This was a negative type of earthiness, not the pleasant type which I’ve found in some ciders with significant tannins.
  • Barnyard: Scent moderately impacted; it smelled of dirt plus “wild”.  Taste slightly impacted, mostly in the finish.
  • Phenolic: Scent slightly impacted.  I didn’t taste anything, so I added more powder.  Then I got some citrus scent and a slightly herbal & floral flavor.  Overall I found it very mild, even when I tripled the amount of powder.
  • Acetaldehyde (Acetal): Scent impacted, smelling of chemicals like paint.  Flavor impacted, and it overall just tasted “off”.  Really difficult to describe.
  • Sulphitic: Scent not impacted.  Slight sulfur flavor and flatness.  I added more powder and it became more of a chemical flavor.
  • Indole: Scent and flavor not impacted, so I added more powder.  I only smelled and tasted a bit of floral.  Overall very mild.
  • Metallic: Scent not impacted.  I didn’t taste anything either, so I added more powder.  Then I picked up a flatness and dulling of the flavor.  Overall very mild.
  • Mercaptan: Scent very strongly impacted, of sulphur.  Disgusting strong sulphur sewer type flavor.

My comments:

  • This is great for a large group/class, but the kit isn’t sized for one person.  I would have needed 12 liters of cider to make as directed.  However, it was definitely doable to scale it down without too much effort.  The powder to cider ratio doesn’t need to be exact, and it can be adjusted with more powder or cider if necessary.
    • In fact, I liked having extra powder left as there were a few samples I couldn’t detect, so I was able to keep adding powder until I tasted them.
    • I think the only easier way to do it would be to have the samples as drops, but I’m not sure if that is a stable way to store them.
  • Some other samples I would have liked to see, which I assume may be included in Series 2 (and some of which they currently offer individually):
    • Diacetyl, a buttery off-flavor formed by yeast; its something I’ve thought I’ve tasted a couple times, but wasn’t sure about
    • True sour, like sour beer, often from wild fermentation…very different from tart
    • Acetic, a vinegar-like flavor often found in Spanish cider
  • Sensory analysis such as this is really helpful to help you detect certain scents and flavors in cider, much more than just a description of that scent/flavor.  Everyone experiences these differently too (for example, with a few samples I barely detected anything)

In closing: I’m glad I got the opportunity to test out this kit.  I haven’t yet attended a cider sensory course, so this was a great introduction!  It was educational, easy to use, well-packaged, and a good value when using it for a group.  I look forward to seeing what else they come out with (such as the Series Two kit).

I should note that other companies make flavor standards which I haven’t tried/compared to FlavorActiV.  However, the only other company I found online which seemed to have samples geared specifically for cider was Aroxa.

Schilling Cider House – Cider Tasting Notes

This is Part 2 of a trip report on the Schilling Cider House, covering the 18 ciders I tasted (of the 32 on tap).  Pretty impressive, right?  See Part 1 here, which covered the Cider House itself.  I tried to take a photo of each cider, but some of them didn’t turn out, so I’ve only included photos of some of the ciders with interesting hues.  Thankfully though, I took notes!  I had two flights of six ciders (3oz) each, and six tastes from our bartender.

Schilling’s Ciders

Chaider, 6.5% ABV, Semi-Sweet:
This is one of their most popular ciders, and is available bottled (22oz) in the winter.  It smelled of cinnamon and definitely had a Chai tea-like taste.  Definitely not my thing, but it was my husband’s favorite taste of the day.

Chaider (Nitro), 6.5% ABV, Semi-Sweet:
This is the same cider as above except on Nitro, which added some additional smoothness.  It was quite foamy from the tap from the nitrogenation, and needed a couple minutes to calm down.

Ginger, 6.5% ABV, Semi-Dry (noted Semi-Sweet):
I’m not a ginger fan, but this was handed to me, so I tried it!  It had a much milder initial ginger taste than smell, but had more of a ginger aftertaste.  I think Ginger fans would really like this one.  Its not too overwhelming with Ginger.

Hopped, 6.5% ABV, Semi-Dry:
Hopped ciders aren’t my thing, but my husband wanted this, and thought it was pretty decent.  I had one sip and it is definitely hoppy, but way less than Reverend Nat’s Envy / Hopland #5.  Otherwise I can’t really comment on it.

Sriracha Lime, 6.7% ABV, Semi-Dry (noted Dry):
This cider seemed intriguing, I like Sriracha & Lime, and there was some chatter online of folks liking it, so why not?  It definitely smelled of Sriracha & Lime, but all I picked up in the taste was the Sriracha (no Lime).  Definitely spicy!  I don’t think I like spicy ciders.  I can tolerate spicy food, but the spiciness seemed to overwhelm the cider here.  I think this would have been better to do with a sweet citrus/lime cider with only a hint of Sriracha.

(I’ve also previously tried Schilling Oak Aged, Gold, & Grapefruit)

Other Ciders

101 Ciderhouse Cactus Red, 6.5% ABV, Los Angeles CA, Dry:
I tried this on a whim as it sounded unique/odd.  I picked up a citrus scent and it had a lovely pink color, similar to grapefruit juice.  It was definitely dry, and very very tart!  I unfortunately couldn’t take more than two sips of this one.

Elemental Cherry, 6.5% ABV, Woodinville WA, Semi-Dry:
Pretty rosé color.  Smelled like cherries.  However, I barely picked up any cherry flavor when tasting it.  Folks who like drier ciders but want a fruity cider may like this, as many fruit infused ciders tend to be sweeter.

Finnriver Habenero, 6.9% ABV, Chimacum WA, Semi-Sweet:
Another cider handed to me from the bartender, who was trying it for the first time as they just tapped it.  It didn’t smell spicy, but it was!  The bite hit my sinuses about 10 seconds after drinking it.  Again, the spice was overwhelming.  I wasn’t a fan, but my husband didn’t mind it.

Finnriver Lavender Black Currant (Nitro), 6.5% ABV, Chimacum WA, Sweet:
Very dark & vibrant hue.  Extra smooth taste (from the nitrogenation).  I’ve tried their Black Currant flavor, and I honestly couldn’t pick up the added Lavender in this one.  However, my husband did.  In addition to the black current, I picked up some cherry notes.  This was much better than the bottled Black Currant I had of their’s (which was also quite good).  I imagine tap + Nitro did it.  Excellent!

Finnriver Oak & Apple, 6.5% ABV, Chimacum WA, Semi-Dry:
The bartender said this was very similar to Schilling’s Oak Aged (which was surprisingly absent from the tap list).  I’m a huge fan of barrel aged ciders, so I was anxious to try it.  This is a milder barrel aged cider, and quite tasty.  I think I give the slight edge to Schilling’s Oak Aged though.  And, overall, my favorite barrel aged ciders so far are Woodchuck Winter Chill (which also has some vanilla flavor) and Thistly Cross Whisky Cask (very smooth), both of which are significantly sweeter than Schilling’s & Finnriver’s oak aged selections, but I do enjoy Schilling Oak Aged.  Yum!

Locust Sweet & Dark Cherry, 6.5% ABV, Woodinville WA, Semi-Sweet:
For a cherry cider, I was expecting more flavor, but it was quite mild, and there was little cherry scent or flavor.  This has a sweeter start and more tart finish.  This was pretty similar to the Elemental Cherry (which also had a mild cherry flavor), except a bit sweeter.

Moonlight Meadery How do you Like them Little Apples?, 6.0% ABV, Londonderry NH, Sweet:
Hard cider blended with honey & brown sugar, fermented, then barrel aged (draft only release).  Honey smell (duh).  Quite sweet.  Very smooth.  Tastes like it would be a higher ABV than it is (but I wouldn’t call the taste boozy).  I wouldn’t have guessed it was barrel aged.  Awesome!

Portland Cider Passion Fruit, 6.5% ABV, Portland OR, Semi-Sweet:
I was excited to try this one.  The passion fruit smell was amazing!  However, the passion fruit taste was quite mild, and it had a bit of a tart & bitter finish, which I wasn’t expecting.  It is however a refreshing and easy-drinking cider.

Portland Cider Pearfect Perry, 6.5% ABV, Portland OR, Semi-Dry (noted Semi-Sweet):
This was a very mild Perry; I could barely pick up any pear flavor.  It was however pretty tasty and smooth.

Reverend Nat’s Newtown Pippin, 6.9% ABV, Portland OR, Semi-Dry:
One of Rev Nat’s regular release ciders.  This was a mild & crisp cider which I found to have a fairly bitter finish.  Pretty boring for my tastes.

Viuda de Angelon Sidra Brut, 6.5% ABV, Spain, Dry:
A refreshing & smooth Spanish cider.  I can’t really put the flavor into words, but it is one of those ciders which has a flavor profile which seems sweeter than it really is.  It was Schilling’s most expensive offering by the way, at $11/pint, but only $2 for a 3oz taste.  This makes me want to try more Spanish ciders!

Wandering Aengus Wanderlust, 6.5%, Salem OR, Dry (noted Semi-Dry):
Fairly plain, and I found it tart & bitter.  Taste profile was in-line with the two Wandering Aengus and two Anthem (also made by them) ciders I’ve tried.  Also fairly boring for my tastes.

Whitewood Summer Switchel, 4.6% ABV, Olympia WA, Semi-Sweet:
This is a mild & refreshing cider with a hint of ginger.  The bartender said he picks up almost a salty flavor, which after hearing that, I agreed somewhat.

Photos

cactus
101 Ciderhouse Cactus Red

elemental cherry
Elemental Cherry

Finnriver Lavendar Black Currant
Finnriver Lavender Black Currant

Locust cherry
Locust Cherry

mead
Moonlight Meadery How do you like them Little Apples

Closing Notes

My favorites from this tasting were the Moonlight Meadery “How do you Like them Little Apples?”, Finnriver Oak & Apple, Finnriver Lavender Black Currant, and Viuda de Angelon Sidra Brut.  Quite an interesting combination, right?

I also learned that in addition to hopped, ginger, and overly dry ciders, I definitely don’t like spicy ciders!

I look forward to returning to the Schilling Cider House to try more ciders, as their selections change all the time.  Stay tuned for reviews of the five ciders I picked up from their bottle shop (shown in Part 1).

Liberty Ciderworks Manchurian Crabapple Single Varietal

Review of Manchurian Crabapple Single Varietal by Liberty Ciderworks.  This is my first time trying any of their ciders, and is my first time trying a Single Varietal cider as far as I know (most ciders use a blend of apple varieties).

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Cider:  Manchurian Crabapple Single Varietal
Cidery:  Liberty Ciderworks
Cidery Location:  Spokane WA
ABV:  12.5%
How Supplied:  375 ml tall clear glass bottle
Availability:  Fairly limited.  Per the cidery they currently self-distribute to Spokane and Seattle.  In Seattle, they can at least be found at Capitol Cider, Schilling Cider House, Full Throttle Bottles & Special Brews & other bottle shops which specialize in local craft cider, and Total Wine.

Cider Description on Bottle:  No larger than a cherry, the Manchurian Crabapple packs a huge flavor punch.  Ready for one of the most full-bodied, intensely-flavored ciders you’ll ever encounter?  This semi-sweet, single-varietal cider is for you.  Enjoy on its own as a digestif, with soft artisan cheeses, or with rich, creamy desserts.  Still (non-carbonated).

Additional Information from Rick Hastings, co-founder of Liberty Ciderworks (per my e-mail request):  Thanks for your interest in the Manchurian! It’s certainly a unique cider (none others that I’m aware of, presently) and has been very poplar in our tasting room in downtown Spokane. It’s certainly an assertive cider that showcases bright acidity and strong tannins – so much so that in describing it to first-time customers, I’ve taken to calling it a “cider port”, even though it’s not fortified with spirits like true Port is. It’s simply the juice of manchurian crabapples, fermented until the yeast we selected gave up at the 12.5% ABV mark. The juice had potential to hit 14% ABV – certainly the highest sugar content in any apple I’ve ever heard of or used. We age the finished cider around nine months, though not in oak (we’re experimenting with that approach now)….I’ve attached an image of the apples below (at right). As you might imagine, harvesting these tiny apples and sorting them into usable juice takes a LOT of work….Here’s hoping you enjoy it. Some sip it by itself as an aperitif, but I’d suggest you try it with a quality goat cheese, cheesecake dessert or creme brûlée – imagine there’s a world of other options, too. I hear Capitol Cider is using it in a mixed drink or two, as well. 

Photo of the crabapples they use:

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Rick also sent a great link to a blog article on the labels for this cider, from Advanced Labels Northwest (Seattle area) which has some great photos and cidery & cider info in addition to label/packaging info.

Cidery Description: Liberty Ciderworks (founded 2012) is in Spokane WA, where they also have a tasting room. Their website was surprisingly sparse besides the basics, but they are active on Facebook & Twitter.  Facebook lists the following Liberty Ciderworks varieties as available by the bottle:  English Style, New World Style, Turncoat Dry-Hop, Stonewall, Heirloom Series, McIntosh Single Varietal, Manchurian Single Varietal, Kingston Black Single Varietal, and Reserve Series.  There are more varieties available on tap at their tasting room.  They won several awards at this year’s GLINTCAP competition, including a Silver medal for this cider.  Congrats!

Price:  $14
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles in Georgetown (Seattle), who has a huge local craft cider selection
How Found:  Browsing.  I’ve had my eye on Liberty Ciderworks though, deciding which one to try first (I was lucky enough to have a few options…New World & English style at Total Wine, and a few at Full Throttle Bottles including this and one other Single Varietal).  I chose this one as it looked to be their sweetest offering and I find the high ABV / port or dessert style ciders interesting.  Oddly enough I like strong flavors and barrel aged ciders even though I don’t like aged spirits!

Where Drank:  home

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First Impression: Corked bottle (with attached cap for easy re-capping) with foil covering.  Lovely bottle/label too!  Amber orange hue, completely still, sweet inviting boozy smell.

Opinion:  I find this on the sweeter side of semi-dry than semi-sweet.  It definitely has some warmth, and reminds me of similar high ABV bold ciders I’ve liked such as Alpenfire Smoke, 2 Towns the Bad Apple, Sea Cider Prohibition, and especially, Tieton Wind (which is a 16% ABV Pommeau with apple brandy).  I pick up some mild vanilla & caramel notes and find it rich & earthy with a bit of a bitter finish.  Although I haven’t tried any other single varietals to compare with, I find this cider incredibly complex for one apple variety and no additives.  It seems like it has some hints of apple brandy (but it doesn’t).  To me it has an interesting thick mouthfeel which sticks around for awhile, which from my experience with the above mentioned ciders seems to occur with these high ABV ciders.

This cider definitely won’t be for everyone…oddly enough my husband thought it smelled “off” and tasted “terrible”, but he hasn’t enjoyed similar ciders like I have.  I quite like this cider though!  Its very different than what most folks would think of when they think of cider.  I go for these sorts of ciders though, when I’m in the right mood.  I agree it has an intense flavor.  Its also impressive they didn’t need to add any sugar to get the crabapple juice to ferment to that high of an ABV; those are definitely some powerful apples!

I didn’t however completely take Liberty’s suggestion of having this more as a dessert cider, nor did I have any goat cheese, cheesecake, or creme brulee in the house (I wish!).  I’d like to try pairings in the future so I’ll have to plan ahead better next time.  I opened the bottle before dinner and sipped on it throughout the evening, which also did include dessert (meringues, which worked pretty well).  I did this mostly as I wanted to at least try to finish the bottle as I wasn’t sure how it would taste on Day 2 or 3 (as I am drinking it all myself).  I’ve found the taste of a cider changes as it is open, no matter how well you re-seal it (typically it becomes less intense).  Even then, I couldn’t quite finish it off, so I will have a nice small serving later in the weekend.
Update:  On Day 2 the flavor had changed slightly, a bit less bold and a bit more bitter.

Closing Notes:  I enjoyed this cider.  I imagine if my cider palate was more refined I could offer more descriptors and pairing suggestions, but I can overall say I’m glad I tried it and would recommend it if you think this sort of unique bold strong cider would fit your tastes.  I hope Liberty Ciderworks can continue to expand so more folks can try their ciders!  I imagine down the road I will try more of their ciders (I’m trying to teach myself to enjoy drier ciders).  And, a big big thank you to co-founder Rick Hastings (the other co-founder is Austin Dickey) for the extra info.  I think it was a great addition to this review.  To be able to speak to a cidery founder for more detailed information is definitely an advantage of small craft cideries.

Have you tried anything from Liberty Ciderworks, or any single varietal or high ABV ciders?  What did you think?

Anthem Cider

Here is a review of Anthem’s flagship / original hard apple cider:

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Cider:  Anthem Cider
Cidery:  Anthem (by Wandering Aengus Ciderworks)
Cidery Location:  Salem, OR
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  four pack of 12 oz bottles (or a single 22oz bottle, or apparently just recently a six pack of 12 oz cans)
Availability:  year round (since 2010); widely available in OR, WA, & CA, and less so in ID, MT, MI, UT, IL, NM, NJ, TX, ID, TN, PA, VA, & WA D.C.

Description:  Anthem Cider offers the tart acidity of the apple’s natural malic acid with a clean fruit forward finish. Anthem Cider is the foundation for all the Anthems. Semi-Dry. Medium Tart.  We only use fresh pressed apples and other fruits, herbs sourced from the Pacific Northwest of known varieties – they are listed on every bottle and keg. To make great real cider, the varieties of apples, fruit additions and herbs matter. As does where the ingredients are grown and how far removed they are from their original form (degrees separated through processing from the farm to the bottle).  The fresh pressed apples we use provide all the sugars for fermentation and the malic acid (source of the tartness). Any and all residual sweetness in Anthem is provided by the apples we started with or the fruits we finish with.  The result is a line up of real ciders made the way you expect; apples pressed and fermented.
Cidermaker’s Description of Anthem vs. Wandering Aengus: Wandering Aengus Ciders are made from heirloom cider apple varieties that have traditionally been used over the centuries for ciders in French, England and pre-prohibition America. We grow these rare heirloom apples ourselves in Salem and have a handful of growers around Oregon that grow for us. These heirloom apples are pressed only once a year. The apples for Anthem are pressed and fermented year round from the common apple varieties that are grown on a large scale in Washington and Oregon. Anthem Cider is also finished with fresh pressed juices of other fruits or hops while Wandering Aengus Ciders are not blended with other fruits.

Price:  $8.99 / four pack (although I bought a single bottle for about $3)
Where Bought:  Total Wine
How Found: Browsing, wondering why I hadn’t tried this previously
Where Drank:  home

Opinion:  My first impression is this cider’s dry plain apple scent.  My nose did not deceive me this time.  Anthem Cider is described as a semi-dry cider, and I would mostly agree…I’d put it smack between semi-dry and semi-sweet, which may appear to a lot of folks as there isn’t much available in this sweetness range.  The flavor was a bit “blah” for my tastes…it doesn’t have much complexity going for it.  Even if it has been slightly sweeter (as my tastes tend that way), I still don’t think I would have been impressed.  The most similar cider I’ve sampled is Seattle Cider Semi-Sweet, which has a similar sweetness and flavor.  However, I think I’d have to give Seattle Cider the edge in the comparison, as it is a bit more clean & refreshing.  I remember having the Seattle Cider on tap with some fish & chips awhile back and it was tasty, but drier and more plain of a flavor than I prefer.  Overall, I found Anthem Cider to be fine, but not impressive.

Closing Notes: Anthem also offers pear, cherry, and hops varieties.  I was surprised to find that most Anthem Cider reviews online are of their Hops variety.  Note that each Anthem batch is slightly different based on what apple varieties they used (based on availability due to the time of the year), and their website will even tell you what is in a certain batch.  I sampled batch 127, which was a blend of red delicious, gala, granny smith, pink lady, jonagold, & opal apples.  Their approach seems unique, as most other cideries will name a cider different if there is a significant variation such as this (or clearly note a vintage).

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

Atlas Hard Apple Cider

Here is the first cider I have tried from Atlas Cider Co,, their flagship hard apple cider:

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Cider:  Hard Apple Cider
Cidery:  Atlas Cider Co.
Cidery Location:  Bend, OR
ABV:  5.8%
How Supplied:  clear 22oz glass bottle
Availability:  year round, but it appears to only be distributed in OR, WA, & ID

Description:  Our flagship apple cider is a celebration of the Northwest. The fruit forward apple aroma and taste come from a tailored blend that perfectly balances the sweetness, tartness, and dryness of the fruit. A clean finish from the use of all fresh regional juices reminds us that this is an authentic hard cider. Enjoy this natural, semi-sweet, and bold cider from Bend, Oregon that simply brings out the best of the Northwest.

Price:  $6.50
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles in Georgetown (Seattle)
How Found: Browsing
Where Drank:  home

Opinion:  My first impression is the dry smell.  It is pale and bubbles very little upon pouring.  Upon tasting, the flavor reminds me of sweet sparkling wine, with a hint of pear & honey.  There is an effervescence feel, although it is not highly sparkling.  I was surprised how well my nose deceived me into thinking it would be dry, but it is not; I would call it semi-sweet.  This cider is very smooth and well balanced.  I would not however describe the flavor as simple, which can often happen with plain ciders.  This cider is easy to drink and tasty.  I snacked on some cheese & crackers while drinking it, which was a nice combination.  This is a refreshing cider for any time of year, but for summer especially it is nice.

Atlas was started in 2013 by a husband & wife duo.  They also offer Pomegranate-Cherry, Apricot, and Blackberry varieties.

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