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

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Sea Cider Ruby Rose

Review of Sea Cider’s Ruby Rose, a summer seasonal cider made with rhubarb and rose hips, part of their Canadian Invasion Series.  I previously tried this at last year’s Cider Summit Seattle; see here.  I’m a fan of Sea Cider, and have also previously tried their Kings & Spies, ProhibitionBramble Bubbly, Bittersweet, Wassail, Birds and the Bees, Flagship, and Witch’s Broom.

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Cider:  Ruby Rose
Cidery:  Sea Cider
Cidery Location:  Saanichton, B.C., Canada
ABV:  9.9%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles, flip top attached
Style:  Canadian craft cider made with British Columbia apples, rhubarb, and rose hips

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Availability:  semi wide release, at these locations (including in Canada, WA, OR, and CA), in summer (beginning each year in July)

Cider Description:  A captivating semi-sweet cider infused with rhubarb, Ruby Rose is a beguiling vixen and part of our Canadian Invasion Series. She may be as aromatic as rhubarb pie, but her namesake is the merciless Rosa Rugosa, an invasive plant that threatens many coastal regions. Proceeds from our Canadian Invasion Series support efforts to combat invasive species in sensitive ecological areas. Ruby Rose pairs fabulously with light summertime meals and is perfect as a patio sipper. Consider sautéed prawns, a creamy brie, candied salmon salad and salty snacks.

See their full detailed product page here.

Cidery Description:  Sea Cider is a farm-based cidery located on the Saanich Peninsula just minutes from Victoria, on Vancouver Island. Our ten acre farm is home to over 1,300 apple trees, made up of over 50 varieties of heritage apples.  Sea Cider opened its farm gate for business in 2007 when owner Kristen Jordan purchased the property with a vision of creating an organic farm and orchard and producing traditional fermented artisan ciders. Since then, we’ve grown to an annual cider production of over 7,000 cases and growing. We continue to pride ourselves on crafting traditionally fermented ciders from organically grown apples.

Price:  $20
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I first tried this at Cider Summit last year; see here.  I picked up this bottle last Fall I think.

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First Impression:  Rose hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells fruity (rhubarb and strawberry) and herbal, reminiscent of a fruity herbal tea.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of rhubarb, cranberry, strawberry, watermelon, and fruity herb tea.  Long warming finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  Low to moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this.  The fruitiness makes you think this would be best for Spring & Summer, but the alcohol content and herbal notes open it up for all seasons.

Most Similar to:  Snowdrift Red, Alpenfire Glow, Eden Imperial 11 Rosé, and Schilling Lumberjack

Closing Notes:  This seems a bit less sweet and more herbal than when I previously tried it (comparing to my tasting notes).  My favorite selections from Sea Cider are ProhibitionBittersweet, Birds and the Bees, and this one.  All their ciders are around 10% ABV, in between that of typical ciders and grape wine, which is unique, tasty, and a good value too.

Have you tried Sea Cider Ruby Rose?  What did you think?

Sea Cider Flagship

Review of Sea Cider’s Flagship variety.  Its the first time I’ve tried this, but I’ve sampled a number of their other varieties (see here).

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Cider:  Flagship
Cidery:  Sea Cider
Cidery Location:  Saanichton, British Columbia, Canada
ABV:  7.1%
How Supplied:  750ml flip-top bottle
Style:  Canadian cider from dessert & heirloom Organic apple varieties, German-style, ultra dry, without sulfites

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Availability:  semi wide release, at these locations, including in Canada, WA, OR, and CA

Cider Description:  This German-style cider is one of few commercial ciders in the world free of added sulphites. Slowly fermented with Champagne yeast, the ultra-dry Flagship has crisp herbaceous notes framed by soft tannins and lively acidity. It features both smoky and herbal aromas and is best paired with risotto, fish and chips, mild cheeses, poultry, and grilled seafood.Certified Organic by PACS 16-259.

We named this cider Flagship because it was the first cider we made and it is as pure as cider gets. Flagship is one of only a handful of ciders in the world free of added sulphites, and was the first fully certified organic cider in North America. It is German in style, meaning very acidic, which is achieved by fermenting high acid apples such as Granny Smiths, Empires and Winter Bananas (all certified organic). A strain of Champagne yeast is used which can tolerate a low pH. Because there are no sulphites to control oxidation and spoilage, the production team must take extra precautions in apple selection and washing, aging and bottling.

Cidery Description:  Sea Cider is a farm-based cidery located on the Saanich Peninsula just minutes from Victoria, on Vancouver Island. Our ten acre farm is home to over 1,300 apple trees, made up of over 50 varieties of heritage apples.  Sea Cider opened its farm gate for business in 2007 when owner Kristen Jordan purchased the property with a vision of creating an organic farm and orchard and producing traditional fermented artisan ciders. Since then, we’ve grown to an annual cider production of over 7,000 cases and growing. We continue to pride ourselves on crafting traditionally fermented ciders from organically grown apples.

Price:  n/a, as it was a gift (retail is $15-$20 however); some friends picked it up for me in B.C. (although it is sold in the U.S.)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Moderate carbonation upon pouring.  Smells only of apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to dry.  Low carbonation.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Sharp flavor, very apple-forward, with hints of honey, lemon, and herbs.  Moderate to long slightly boozy finish.  Strong apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I found this to be an enjoyable basic cider selection.  While it was simple, I also found it to be sophisticated (which is was very apple forward, it didn’t taste like alcoholic apple juice).  It pairs well with food as it won’t overpower.

Most Similar to:  I found the sharp flavor of this cider similar to many ciders which use crabapples (although this one doesn’t list crabapples), such as Dragon’s Head Columbia Crab, Blue Moon Cidery Raven’s Moon, and Liberty Ciderworks New World Style.

Closing Notes:   Sea Cider hasn’t disappointed me yet.  However, my favorite so far is their Prohibition / Rum Runner.

Have you tried Sea Cider Flagship?  What did you think?

Sea Cider Birds and the Bees

Review of Sea Cider’s Birds and the Bees cider.  I picked this up in Victoria B.C., a stop on our Alaska cruise.  I’ve tried a few ciders from Sea Cider (see here), but this one is part of their Canadian Invasion Series and only available in Canada.

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Cider:  Birds and the Bees
Cidery:  Sea Cider
Cidery Location:  Saanichton, British Columbia, Canada
ABV:  9.9%
How Supplied:  750ml clear glass swing-top bottle
Style:  Canadian craft cider made from dessert apples, with fireweed honey and lemon bitters

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Availability:  Only in British Columbia Canada

Cider Description:  The birds & the bees are a welcome sign of spring, and we thought we’d pay tribute to the pollination season with a cider in their honour. Our farm-crafted apple cider is blended with Vancouver Island fireweed honey and lemon bitters for a zesty finish buzzing with goodness. Proceeds from our Canadian Invasion Series help combat invasive plants, so raise a glass to a springtime delight!

As part of the Canadian Invasion Series, Birds and the Bees was created to continue our awareness campaign around invasive species and their impact on farming and the natural world. In addition to increasing awareness, the Canadian Invasion Series is also a way for the Sea Cider team to create fun and interesting seasonal ciders infused with local ingredients. Birds and the Bees blends our apple cider with a hefty helping of lemongrass from our farm, Vancouver Island’s fireweed honey and our own apple eau de vie to create a sweet yet sharp cider sensation. Expect aromatic notes of citrus and lemon to harmonize with the light fresh, floral aroma of fireweed honey in a union as sweet and sprightly as a May morning.

Their Canadian Invasion Series uses dessert/culinary apples to allow them to blend in cool stuff, while their Heirloom Series is “all about the apples” (estate grown bittersharps and bittersweet, single varietals etc).  They hope to have the Canadian Invasion Series ciders available in the U.S. in the future.

Cidery Description:  Sea Cider is a farm-based cidery located on the Saanich Peninsula just minutes from Victoria, on Vancouver Island. Our ten acre farm is home to over 1,300 apple trees, made up of over 50 varieties of heritage apples.  Sea Cider opened its farm gate for business in 2007 when owner Kristen Jordan purchased the property with a vision of creating an organic farm and orchard and producing traditional fermented artisan ciders. Since then, we’ve grown to an annual cider production of over 7,000 cases and growing. We continue to pride ourselves on crafting traditionally fermented ciders from organically grown apples.

Price:  just under $20 CAN, which is abour $15 USD
Where Bought:  The Strath in Victoria B.C.
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing, although I read about it online (and thought I’d never get a chance to try it).

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow.  Low carbonation upon pouring.  Smells of apple, honey, citrus, and floral.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Still.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hint of bitterness.  No sourness or tannins.  Strong honey, moderate lemon, and some orange and floral notes.  Moderate length slightly warming finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  Simple but very tasty.  Its unique to find a boozy spring/summer cider, as typically these sorts of ciders are lower ABV (although true cysers, when they ferment the apple juice with the honey instead of just adding honey afterwards, tend to be higher ABV).

Most Similar to:  Eaglemount Cyser (also a higher ABV and semi-sweet, but without the lemon)

Closing Notes:   I’m glad I got to try this cider!

Have you tried Sea Cider?  What did you think?

Sea Cider Bittersweet

Review of Sea Cider’s Bittersweet cider variety, which is apparently relatively new.  A friend brought this to my cider tasting for us to try.  They bought it in Canada, and as far as I know its not available in the U.S. yet (Sea Cider has more varieties available in Canada than the U.S.).

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Cider:  Bittersweet
Cidery:  Sea Cider
Cidery Location:  Saanichton, British Columbia, Canada
ABV:  7.2%
How Supplied:  750ml bottle

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Availability:  Sea Cider is sold at least in Canada (B.C., Alberta, & Manitoba) and the U.S. (WA, IL, & OR), but this variety is likely only found in Canada.

Cider Description:  Bittersweet apples are the backbone of traditional English cider and are some of the rarest apples in Canada. We grow several of these prized varietals, which can be heart breaking to grow, yet produce some of the world’s finest cider. Our Bittersweet cider is an off-dry sparkler expressing the classic phenolic character of this coveted fruit. Raise a glass of Sea Cider to a bittersweet tradition!

Sea Cider’s Bittersweet is a cider truly rooted in tradition. Dabinetts, Yarlington Mills and other English bittersweets have been patiently cultivated on Sea Cider’s farm to bring you this rare libation. While most people would consider bittersweet apples inedible in a culinary sense, their bitter flavour imparts a cider full of character. These apples are high in tannin, low in acid and provide the classic flavour of the finest English ciders. Enthusiasm for these varietals and their importance in cider making apples goes back to the 13th century!

In a market increasingly dominated with ciders made from dessert apples, Bittersweet brings the classic phenolic character that can only come from the true cider-making apples of yesteryear.

Cidery Description:  Sea Cider is a farm-based cidery located on the Saanich Peninsula just minutes from Victoria, on Vancouver Island. Our ten acre farm is home to over 1,300 apple trees, made up of over 50 varieties of heritage apples.  Sea Cider opened its farm gate for business in 2007 when owner Kristen Jordan purchased the property with a vision of creating an organic farm and orchard and producing traditional fermented artisan ciders. Since then, we’ve grown to an annual cider production of over 7,000 cases and growing. We continue to pride ourselves on crafting traditionally fermented ciders from organically grown apples.

Price:  n/a (but likely around $20 USD, same as most of their ciders)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Copper-amber hue.  Still (no carbonation), although apparently it is supposed to have some and was likely because it had been open awhile.  Rich bittersweet apple scent.

Opinion:  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Low acidity, tartness, and bitterness.  Low to moderate tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Medium bodied.  Moderate finish length.  This is a rich full-flavored cider, exactly how I like them.  Lovely burnt caramel, brown sugar, and vanilla notes.  The flavors remained on the milder side (but I was told it had been open nearly a week–that would never happen in my house!).

Most Similar to:  Many English and English-style ciders.

Closing Notes:   Yum!  I really love cider from bittersweet apples, and this didn’t disappoint.  I’m kinda bummed I can’t find this locally, but thankfully there are some great locally-available bittersweet apple ciders, such as the one I just tried from Locust in Woodinville WA.

Have you tried Sea Cider Bittersweet?  What did you think?

Sea Cider Prohibition / Rumrunner

Review of Sea Cider Prohibition (sold as Rumrunner in Canada).  This is my second time trying this cider.  I’ve tried a couple other Sea Cider varieties as well.  Prohibition is aged in rum barrels!

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Cider:  Prohibition
Cidery: Sea Cider
Cidery Location:  Vancouver Island near Victoria B.C.
ABV:  12.5%
How Supplied: 750ml clear glass bottle (although I bought it by the glass)
Availability:  Canada (B.C., Alberta, & Manitoba) and the U.S. (WA, IL, & OR)

Cider Description:  Crafted with home-grown heritage apples, Rumrunner’s apples are hand-pressed using our traditional rack and cloth press, slowly fermented with Champagne yeast, then aged in rum-soaked bourbon barrels for a minimum of six months. Aromas of brown sugar and rum show the complexity of this semi-dry sparkling cider. The secret to Rumrunner lies in the barrel. Rich, full-bodied and intriguing, Newfoundland Screech barrels were the inspiration for this semi-dry cider, which opens up to reveal complex notes of molasses, apples, and rum.

Rumrunner cider is our homage to the people who, during Prohibition, ran illicit boats full of liquor across the international line in the coastal waters that can be seen from our Ciderhouse. This seafaring connection was first formed when we obtained Newfoundland “Screech” barrels to age one of our cider blends. Rum and bourbon barrels were once a cidermaker’s only storage option and their use imparted distinctly spirited notes to traditional cider. Our Rumrunner cider blends the juice of highly aromatic apples, such as Stayman’s Winesaps and Winter Bananas (all certified organic), so that the apple aromas match the intensity of the oak and rum notes.

Cidery Description:  Sea Cider is a farm-based cidery located on the Saanich Peninsula just minutes from Victoria, on Vancouver Island. Our ten acre farm is home to over 1,300 apple trees, made up of over 50 varieties of heritage apples.  Sea Cider opened its farm gate for business in 2007 when owner Kristen Jordan purchased the property with a vision of creating an organic farm and orchard and producing traditional fermented artisan ciders. Since then, we’ve grown to an annual cider production of over 7,000 cases and growing. We continue to pride ourselves on crafting traditionally fermented ciders from organically grown apples.

Price:  ~$20 / bottle, but I paid $8 for an approximately 8oz pour
Where Drank:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA, which is an awesome bottle shop & bar combo, with about 15 taps, where usually 1 or 2 are cider.  They also sell Sea Cider Prohibition & Pippins by the glass, or will open up a bottle for you for $2.  Its a great hangout spot and pretty chill.

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First Impression: Deep copper amber.  Still.  Smells inviting, rich, earthy, and likely to pack a punch.

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Opinion:  I pick up so many different flavors with this one.  Very bold / aggressive / intense and complex.  Caramel, brown sugar, rum, brandy?, vanilla, molasses, the list goes on.  I find it interesting how most of these are “sweet” flavors, yet I’d call this a semi-dry cider.  This cider isn’t very apple-forward, but then again, good craft cider doesn’t / shouldn’t taste like apple juice.  It has a woody earthy flavor and a bit of a bite.  Long smooth dry slightly acidic finish.  Prohibition packs a lot of heat/warmth.  Like Liberty Ciderworks Manchuran Crabapple and other high ABV ciders, the word boozy comes to mind, but for me, in a good way.  I like the different flavor of the rum barrel aging as opposed to the more common oak / bourbon (or red wine or tequila as I’ve also had).

As it warms up I liked the flavor a bit more, but it also seemed to linger more on the palate.  The mouthfeel was thick.  I was glad this wasn’t served ice cold.  I enjoyed an interesting pairing this this cider, as I munched on some pub mix (cheesy pretzels & crackers).  I imagine this would be good with some cheese or even as a cider float.  Sea Cider also says it can be served warmed, which would be interesting.  its odd how I don’t like aged spirits but enjoy ciders like this.

Closing Notes:  Tasty!  However, this is something that I enjoyed more with the first half of the glass, as it is a bit hefty to enjoy more than a small pour of.  So, I was thankful to have it by the glass instead of a 750ml bottle (although apparently it keeps well).

Have you tried Sea Cider Prohibition / Rumrunner?  What did you think?