Cider Summit Seattle 2017 Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is post 2/2 on Cider Summit Seattle 2017, with tasting notes on 21 ciders.  Post 1/2 covered the event (see here).

The Tasting Notes

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Alpenfire (Port Townsend WA) – Although I had previously tried the three ciders they were pouring (see my previous reviews here), I’m including Alpenfire here as they were debuting their new branding and future new cider releases.  They have a new logo, bottle labels, and website.  The future new cider releases include a rosé Pommeau, “Tempest” New England style, 3 Pommes (apple/pear/quince), a new release of Smoke (my all time favorite cider, which hasn’t been out for a couple years), a Foxwhelp apple single varietal, and even a Pommeau with an apple grown in the bottle (which will only be for the initial members of their new cider club).  Sounds like they have been busy!

Alpenfire did however have a cask-aged version of their Pirate’s Plank which I had a sip of.  It seemed a tad sweeter (dry not bone dry) and a bit more oaky than I remembered previously.

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Alter Ego (Portland OR) The Brute (6.5% ABV) – This was their first time at Cider Summit, although they were founded in 2014.  The Brute is one of their two flagship ciders; the other is The Guardian Angel, a blueberry-pomegranate cider (see my tasting notes here).  Semi-dry, slightly apple-forward, tart, crisp, and easy to drink, but overall a bit boring as the flavor intensity was low, as is common with a drier cider from dessert apple varieties (which is why most ciders from dessert apples are sweeter and/or flavored).

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Anthem (Salem OR) Rye Barrel Aged Cider (8.5% ABV) – Anthem is part of Wandering Aengus.  This is a draft-only release, aged in Rye whiskey barrels.  Semi-dry to dry and sharp, with moderate whiskey flavor and a hint of oak.

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Bad Granny (Chelan WA) Rainier Cherry – They launched a little over a year ago and are new to Cider Summit.  Rainier Cherry is a draft-only release using local Rainier cherries, although they sell their Original green apple cider in cans.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry (I was told 9 grams sugar / 12oz), fuller bodied, moderate intensity real cherry flavor.

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Cider Riot (Portland OR) Everyday Semi-Dry (6.0% ABV) – I believe this was their first time at Cider Summit Seattle.  This cider is also available in cans.  Semi-dry to dry, with a hint of sourness, but very low flavor intensity and fairly blah.

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d’s Wicked (Kennewick WA) Bare Naked (6.7% ABV) – This is a new release, and currently draft-only.  It is a less sweet and non-spiced version of their flagship Baked Apple cider.  Semi-dry and flavorful, with unfiltered apple juice notes and a hint of honey flavor.

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Eden Specialty Ciders (Newport VT) Heirloom Blend Ice Cider (10.0% ABV) – I have tried this special treat previously, but my husband ended up getting a couple pours, burning the rest of his tickets, as it is amazing and a great value to get pours of at an event.  Ice cider is made using juice which has been frozen, concentrating the natural sugars and flavors, resulting in a sweet full-bodied intensely flavorful dessert cider.  See my previous review here, and my review of the brandy barrel-aged version of this cider here (which is my all time favorite ice cider).

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French Cider Inc. – I tried three French ciders imported by French Cider Inc. / Beauchamp Imports Inc.  They are Seattle based and fairly new to the market (I hadn’t even heard of them before I was looking over the Cider Summit list!), and thus this was their first time at Cider Summit.  French Cider’s focus is on importing French cidre (apple cider), poire (French perry, which is made from pears, not apples), and Calvados (French apple brandy).  The owner Joan Harkins (who I chatted with) speaks French and lives French culture.  She has hand-selected each variety in their collection after meeting with the cidermakers.  I hadn’t previously been aware of any of their selection being available in the U.S.  I found all three selections to likely be friendly to an unfamiliar palette, as they were all clean or fairly clean (no to low funk) and no sourness, lining up more with the style of the Brittany France ciders I’ve had more than the Normany France ciders I’ve had (although it appears all three were made in or near Normandy).  French Cider’s primary focus is on supplying shops and restaurants, but they also offer local pickup (appointment only) in Seattle, and soon, will ship.  Their website is amazingly informative, and they had a helpful handout for each of the three ciders (see below).  They are posting a photo blog featuring the French apple harvest season, which is currently underway (see their Facebook page).  Also, here is a recent article on the company from Seattle Dining.

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La Chouette (Mont-Saint-Michel Bay France) Cidre Demi-Sec (4.5% ABV) – This cider was produced in an area in between the Normandy and Brittany regions in France, from cider apples.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Lower carbonation and tannins than the other two I tried.  Clean (no funk).  Retails for $5-6 / 330ml bottle.

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Lefevre (Berville Normandy France) Cidre Brut (5.9% ABV) – This cider was produced just outside of Paris, by a 5th generation cidermaker, with cider apples.  The scent was the most complex of the three I tried.  Semi-dry.  Citrus in addition to apple notes, and more.  A hint of funk.  Low to moderate tannins.  French Cider’s website has an interview with the cidermaker, Eric Lefevre.  Retails for $5-6 / 330ml bottle.

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Pierre Huet (Cambremer Normandy France) Cidre Bouche Brut (4.5% ABV) – This cider underwent secondary fermentation in the bottle and was made with 7 or 8 varieties of cider apples by a 5th generation cidermaker.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Clean (no funk).  Low tannins.  Flavorful, apple forward, and easy to drink.  French Cider’s website has an article on their visit to Pierre Huet as well as an interview with the cidermaker, François-Xavier Huet.  Retails for $13-18 / 750ml bottle.

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Liberty Cider (Spokane WA) Spokane Scrumpy (6.4% ABV) – This cider was released in the Spring, and made with community harvested apples (of mostly unknown types, from dessert apples to crab apples) and wild yeast fermented.  $1 of each bottle sale goes to the Spokane Second Harvest food bank.  See this article.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry (probably their sweetest cider), buttery, and complex.  I couldn’t really put my finger on the flavor profile with the sample size and time frame, so I’d be interested in giving a full bottle a try.

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Louis Raison (Le Theil-sur-Huisne France) Organic Dry (4.5% ABV) – This cidery is brand new to the U.S., and first launched here in Seattle.  They will have this cider on draft to start in Washington and Oregon, and eventually increase up to three bottled varieties in 2018 (adding Rouge Delice – made from red fleshed apples, and Original Crisp).  See here for more info on their launch.  Organic Dry is made in France from certified Organic bittersweet cider apples grown on co-op farms.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Apple and yeast forward and easy to drink.  I look forward to this being available in bottles as it sounds like it’ll be fairly affordable to keep around as an everyday cider.

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Mission Trail (Bradley CA) Plum Jerkum (6.5% ABV) – They have been around since 2014, but are new to the Seattle market and Cider Summit.  Although Mission Trail makes ciders and perries, they are best known for their other fruit wines, and specifically, jerkum (which is fermented stone fruit juice; the term originated just for plums, but has more recently been used to encompass all stone fruits).  They were actually only pouring jerkums at this cider event.  In this case it was 100% plum juice from 14 red-fleshed varieties.  The Plum Jerkum was semi-sweet to semi-dry, tart, with a moderately intense fruity berry flavor (I didn’t really pick up the prune/plum).

Mission Trail (Bradley CA) Goldmine Nectarine (6.0% ABV) – This is another jerkum, with 100% nectarine juice, barrel aged.  Semi-dry, quite tart, with pure nectarine flavor.  I didn’t pick up any barrel influence, but often it isn’t obvious.  I also recently tried their Peach Coast (see here), a peach wine / jerkum, which was my favorite of the three.

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Montana Ciderworks (Darby MT) Small Batch Dolgo (5.5% ABV) – This is a single varietal from the Dolgo crabapple, oak aged, part of their Small Batch series.  Semi-sweet, tangy, fruity, and apple-forward.

Random note:  I got some insight into labeling special releases.  In this case, “Dolgo” was stamped on, making it look handwritten with less effort.  Very cool.  However, many small batch special releases do have actual handwritten labels, like this one.  Getting a label approved by the TTB is a time consuming process, so often cideries have a general label they use for multiple small batches.

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Ole Swede (Tonasket WA) Mulberry & Friends – It was the cidery’s first time at Cider Summit, and they were founded last year.  This is a new cider release made with eight different types of berries and currants (mulberry, blackberry, raspberry, elderberry, blueberry, gooseberry, black currant, and golden currant).  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, smooth, low tartness & acidity, with a light real berry flavor.

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One Tree (Spokane WA) Pina Colada – This is a new draft-only release, part of the fruit cider challenge (and it turned out to be the winner – 2nd year in a row for One Tree – congrats!).  Sweet, very full flavored, with a bit more coconut than pineapple.  I loved the flavor of this (it reminded me a bit of Pear Up’s Pearjito Colada with the coconut, which hasn’t been used much in cider), but it would be a bit sweet to have much of.

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Pear Up (Wenatchee  WA) Pineapple Pear – This was their fruit cider challenge entry, a one-off draft only release.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry, low flavor intensity, with the flavor balanced between pear & pineapple.  They weren’t serving it through the pineapple, but it was a cool photo op nonetheless.

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Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) New England Style (9.5% ABV) – This is a seasonal release which appears to have not been released for a few years, possibly draft-only.  It was made in the New England style, typically characterized as a high ABV cider with brown sugar and raisins added.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry, sharp & acidic, with caramel notes and a boozy finish.

Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) 2015 Washington Heirloom (7.0% ABV) – This is part of their Harvest series, made with heirloom apple varieties, and also available in bottles.  Semi-dry, herbal scent, sharp, with citrus, floral, and herbal notes.

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Swift (Portland OR) Pineapple Hop (6.7% ABV) – They have been around since 2014, but it was their first time at Cider Summit Seattle.  Semi-dry, balanced flavor between the pineapple & hops with only hints of bitterness, but overall the flavor intensity was low.

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Washington Gold (Chelan WA) Northwest Raspberry (5.5% ABV) – This is a brand new small batch canned release.  Semi-sweet to sweet, with intense real raspberry flavor.

It was impossible to taste all the ciders at the event (or even one from each producer), so I’d also like to share previous tasting notes and reviews on some of the producers I didn’t get to highlight:  101 Cider House, 2 TownsAspall, Atlas, Bull Run, Chatter Creek, Double Mountain, Dragon’s Head, Dunkertons, Eaglemount, E.Z. Orchards, Finnriver, Greenwood, Hi-Wheel, Incline, Jester & Judge, J. Seeds, Le Brun, Locust, Maeloc, Manoir du Parc, Methow Valley, Moonlight Meadery, New West, North IdahoNumber 6 Cider, Reverend Nat’s, Portland, Rambling Route, Samuel Smiths, Schilling, Sea Cider, Snowdrift, Sonoma, Spire Mountain, Steelhead, Summit, Tieton, Ulee’s, Wandering Aengus, WildCraft, and Worley’s

In Summary

My Favorite Ciders – Of the ones I tasted at the event, my favorites were the 4 French ciders, some of the sweeter ciders that were very flavorful (such as One Tree’s Pina Colada and WA Gold Cider’s Raspberry), Montana Cider’s Dolgo, and Liberty’s Spokane Scrumpy.

Other Interesting Selections – There were also some interesting beverages I didn’t try, such as Schilling’s guava barrel-aged sour, a cocktail from Incline with gin and their Compass Rose cider, apple whiskey from J. Seeds, a Cider Summit themed cider from Finnriver which has been available at all four Cider Summit events this year (see here), 101 Ciderhouse’s Black Dog with activated charcoal (see here), and Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry with ghost peppers (see here).

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Schilling Cider House Visit 28 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 28th visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

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I was there on a random Friday afternoon.  There were only 2 ciders on the board out of 32 that I hadn’t tried, so that meant I got to order some of my favorites.

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<left to right:  Incline Rosé, Finnriver Lavender Black Currant, Portland Sangria, NV Cider Watermelon Pear, Aspall Dry, and Snowdrift Cornice>

Incline (Auburn WA) Compass Rosé (6.5% ABV):  This was the only new-to-me cider in my flight.  It appears to be a year round release, and is also available in cans.  Like all their ciders, it is hopped, plus hibiscus, elderflower, ginger, and rose petals were added (no grape, which is typical for a rosé).  Pale pink hue.  Very mild fruity scent.  Notes of grape, watermelon, and strawberry to start.  As it warmed up, I got a hint of hops and some floral & herbal flavor.  I didn’t pick up any ginger (which is good, as I don’t like it).  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied. Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Mild flavor intensity.  Interesting that I found it more fruity than floral, but maybe I was tasting what I expected (I only found out later what was added).  I enjoyed it.

Finnriver (Chimacum WA) Lavender Black Currant (6.9% ABV):  This is a special release, also available in bottles, which I’ve tried previously (see here), similar to their regular Black Currant (see here).  This batch seemed a bit less sweet, with more lavender.  Too bad it wasn’t on one of their 2 Nitro taps, as that is a special treat.  I enjoyed it.

Portland Cider (Portland OR) Sangria (5.5% ABV):  This is a relatively new year round release, also available in bottles, which I’ve tried previously (see here).  This batch was a bit less flavorful and a bit fuller bodied, but still plenty fruity.  I enjoyed it.

Pear Up / NV Cider (East Wenatchee WA) Watermelon Pear (5.3% ABV):  This is a year round release, also available in bottles, which I’ve tried previously (see here).  This batch had much more pear than watermelon flavor, and had a hint of vinegar flavor & sourness.  I didn’t really care for it this time around with the slightly off flavor.  Their raspberry perry is my favorite so far (see here).

Aspall (Suffolk England) Dry (6.8% ABV):  This is an English import, available year round, also in bottles, which I’ve tried previously (see here).  Their Dry is actually my least favorite of their line-up, but still plenty good.  Their Imperial is my favorite so far (see here); too bad they stopped selling the black label version of it though, as that was a truly amazing cider.

Snowdrift (Wenatchee WA) Cornice (7.5% ABV):  This is a year round release, also available in bottles, which I’ve tried previously see here).  This batch of this barrel agsed cider was a bit more fruity / less rich.  I enjoyed it.

Stay tuned for more Schilling Cider House tasting notes here at Cider Says!  Have you had any good draft cider / cider flights recently?

Schilling Cider House Visit 24 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 24th visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

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I was there on a random Thursday.  I started with a flight.

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<left to right:  Locust Winter Banana, Liberty McIntosh, Pilton English Keeved, Golden State Dry, Christian Drouin Poire, and Greenwood Red River Wolf Crab>

Locust (Woodinville WA) Winter Banana (6.0% ABV):  No, this isn’t a banana cider…it is a single varietal made from the Winter Banana apple.  Draft-only.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Apple-forward flavor with honey and citrus.  Nice flavor.

Liberty (Spokane WA) McIntosh (8.1% ABV):  Another single varietal, this time of a more common apple, the McIntosh (which is actually the spelling for the apple pronounced MAK-in-tosh).  Also available in bottles.  Dry to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Higher carbonation.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  For its dryness, it remained rather apple-forward, with some honey and citrus notes too.  I think this is one of their better dry acidic ciders.  I liked this, especially at first when it was cold (it got a bit harsh when it warmed up with the higher ABV).

Pilton (Somerset England) English Keeved (5.0% ABV):  This is my first time trying any cider from Pilton, as well as my first time trying an English cider which is made using the keeving process, which is much more common for French cider.  Keeving starves the cider of nutrients so it creates a naturally sweet apple-forward cider.  Hazy hue.  Dry to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Low sourness.  Low tannins.  Moderate funk.  Notes of apple pomace, yeast, and citrus.  This is rather dry for a keeved cider, which usually average semi-sweet.  I wasn’t a fan of this due to the sourness; it reminded me more of a Normandy France style cider (due to the sourness & funk) than an English cider (which often have higher tannins & bitterness).

Golden State (Sebastopol CA) Mighty Dry (6.9% ABV):  It is my first time trying their cider, which is newish to the Seattle area.  Also available in cans.  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied, and a bit syrupy, which is interesting for the level of dryness.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Apple-forward with some pineapple and green apple notes.  This is a nice flagship cider.

Christian Drouin (Normandy France) Poire (4.0% ABV):  This is a French perry.  Its nice to see these types of high end ciders of draft, as the bottles are expensive.  Semi-sweet.  Moderate to full bodied.  Higher level of carbonation.  Low tartness, acidity, and tannins.  More pear fruit than pear juice forward, with notes of pineapple and mango as well.  I loved this.

Greenwood (Seattle WA) Red River Wolf Crab (7.4% ABV):  The interesting title for this draft-only cider refers to the use of red-fleshed crab apples as well as forraged apples from the Wolf River region.  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Hints of sourness & funk.  Apple-forward, with notes of sharp crabapples and citrus.  Of a sad note, I was told they lost their lease, so they are no longer operating from Greenwood, but Lake City (both in Seattle); I imagine they will keep the name though.  I thought this was pretty average.

Sarah also shared another cider with me:

Alpenfire (Port Townsend WA) Spiced Tonic Shrub (6.0% ABV):  This interesting draft-only concoction is made using cider, vinegar, and spices.  “Shrub” typically refers to a vinegared cocktail.  This one definitely wasn’t to my liking, between the vinegar, saltiness, and pepper.  Apparently it is selling really well though.

My favorite was the Christian Drouin Poire; it reminded me of selections from Eric Bordelet and Domaine Pacory.

Stay tuned for more Schilling Cider House tasting notes here at Cider Says!  Have you had any good draft cider / cider flights recently?

Schilling Cider House Visit 22 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 22nd visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

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I was there on a random Thursday.  I started with a flight.

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<left to right:  Cockrell Jonastar, Schilling Blueberry Cobbler, Seattle Cider Heirloom, and Snowdrift Seckel Perry>

Cockrell Brewing (Puyallup WA) Jonastar (6.9% ABV):  This is a single varietal from Jonastar apples, and is likely draft-only.  Slightly hazy medium straw yellow hue.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Hints of bitterness and sourness.  No funk or tannins.  Notes of lemon, grapefruit, floral, and green apple.  Low apple flavor.  Low complexity.  Low flavor intensity.  High sessionability.  I thought it was pretty average.

Schilling Cider (Auburn WA) Blueberry Cobbler (6.6% ABV):  This is a spiced blueberry cider, barrel aged 12 months, primarily available in bottles at Bartell Drugs (a collaboration; see here).  Cherry hue.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of blueberry, pie spices, and a hint of vanilla.  No apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  I didn’t pick up any barrel influence, but I imagine the other flavors could have overwhelmed them.  This cider was a bit weird for my tastes.

Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) Washington Heirloom (7.0% ABV):  This is a special release made from heirloom and cider apple varieties, also available in bottles.  Higher carbonation.  Medium straw yellow hue.  Semi-dry to dry.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of lemon, lime, floral, and herbal.  Low flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  I thought it was pretty average.  There was more heirloom than cider apple flavor.

Snowdrift Cider (East Wenatchee, WA) Seckel Perry (8.6% ABV):  This is a single-varietal perry (no apples, only pears) made from Seckel pears, also available in bottles.  Slightly hazy light straw yellow.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness, tannins, and sourness.  No funk.  Notes of pear, citrus, green apple, and floral.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate pear flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  I enjoyed it (more than their regular Perry, which I found had a lot of bitterness).

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Sarah also shared a bottle pour with me of a Spanish Sidra which is new to the U.S.

Pomarina (Asturias Spain, 7.0% ABV):  This Spanish Sidra was made in the style of methode champenoise (to naturally carbonate it).  Semi-dry.  Light bodied, frothy texture (although it had been open awhile so it didn’t have much carbonation left).  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low sourness.  Hints of bitterness.  No tannins or funk.  Notes of citrus and green apple.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate sessionability.  Low apple flavor.  Low flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  I found this more approachable than most Sidra, as it was less sour.  I’m not a fan of sourness though, so I didn’t care for it.

The Snowdrift Seckel Perry was my favorite.

Stay tuned for more Schilling Cider House tasting notes here at Cider Says!  Have you had any good draft cider / cider flights recently?

Schilling Cider House Visit 21 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 21st visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

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I was there on a random Tuesday.  I started with a flight.  This was one of the only times I’ve visited the cider house and not had a full flight of ciders to try which were new to me, but there were still 32 choices.  Sometimes its good to not have much new to try, as I can focus on ciders I know I liked previously.

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<left to right:  Wandering Aengus Bittersweet, Schilling Barrel #2, Wandering Aengus Cellar Door, One Tree Raspberry, Reverend Nat’s The Passion>

Wandering Aengus (Salem OR) Bitersweet (5.2% ABV):  I recently tried this draft-only wild fermented cider from bittersweet apples from the Poverty Lane (Farnum Hill) orchard in New Hampshire, but wanted to give it another try as I was considering picking up a growler of it.  Although still very tasty, I didn’t find this taste as impressive…it seemed milder in flavor, and less tannic.

Schilling (Auburn WA) Barrel #2 (21% ABV):  This is the last keg of their 2nd series of barrel aged distilled cider, which I tried previously.  Its more apple brandy than cider, very alcohol-forward.  I didn’t really enjoy it as much this time around…it seemed all alcohol and less flavor (my notes from last time mentioned honey and floral notes).

Wandering Aengus (Salem OR) Cellar Door (8.5% ABV):  This is a draft-only version of their Bloom cider which is fermented drier.  Semi-dry.  Sharp.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and high acidity.  Low to moderate bitterness.  More astringent than tannic (low to moderate).  Mild flavor notes of floral, herbal, honey, and citrus.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Low flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  I think I like the regular version of Bloom better, as it was more flavorful.

One Tree (Spokane WA) Raspberry (6.0% ABV):  This is a draft-only raspberry cider.  My sample was from the end of the keg, so it poured very smoothie-like.  Semi-sweet to sweet, but it tasted like it was meant to be that sweet, not overdone.  Full bodied.  Very strong raspberry flavor.  No apple/cider flavor.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  Simple but tasty, similar to Schilling’s Raspberry Smoothie, although One Tree’s is higher ABV.

Reverend Nat’s (Portland OR) The Passion (6.9% ABV):  I tried this recently, but was curious whether my taste buds we off at Cider Summit, as it is described online as very sour, but I only found it mildly sour.  However, Sarah at the Cider House confirmed that this year’s batch wasn’t nearly as sour as last year’s.  I enjoyed it, but at Cider Summit I found it had more passionfruit flavor and even less sourness, which I preferred.

I also had a couple bottle pours shared with me.

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Wandering Aengus (Salem OR) Pommeau Apple Dessert Wine (14.0% ABV):  Pommeau is apple brandy with cider.  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Still.  Full bodied.  Mild in flavor for a Pommeau, not as booze-forward as you’d expect for the ABV, but still very apple-forward.  Mild tartness, acidity, bitterness, and tannins.  Notes of cider apples, oak, leather, and orange.  Amazing!

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Worley’s (Shepton Mallet, Somerset, UK) Premium Vintage 2013 (6.4% ABV):  This is another one I’ve tried previously.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Low tartness, acidity, bitterness, and tannins.  Low to moderate carbonation.  Medium bodied.  Its an English cider, but I found it quite similar to French cider, as it is rich, apple-forward, carbonated (although less so than when I previously tried it), and yeast-forward, but not overly tannic.  Awesome.

This was an awesome tasting.  The Wandering Aengus Cellar Door was the only cider I wasn’t too big a fan of.  The Pommeau was probably my favorite though.

Stay tuned for more Schilling Cider House tasting notes here at Cider Says!  Have you had any good draft cider / cider flights recently?

Cider Summit Seattle 2016 Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is post 2/2 on Cider Summit Seattle 2016, covering tasting notes.  Post 1/2 (see here) covered the event.

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2 Towns (Corvallis Oregon) Hollow Jack (6.4% ABV) – This fall seasonal pumpkin cider was just released.  They added caramelized pumpkin, sweet potato, honey, and spices.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, and bitterness.  Notes of pumpkin, squash, and cinnamon.  It was very lightly flavored, unlike many other pumpkin (and more frequently found, “pumpkin” spice ciders, which actually don’t have any pumpkin) which are overwhelming.

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Apple Outlaw (Applegate Oregon) Chocolate Raspberry (unknown ABV) – This was their fruit cider challenge entry.  The chocolate was added by soaking cacao bean husks in the raspberry cider.  These husks would otherwise be discarded in the chocolate making process.  Smells delicious, purely chocolate and raspberry.  Semi-dry.  The flavor is almost all raspberry, but hints of dark chocolate shone through in the slightly bitter and tannic finish.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  This was a bit of a novelty, but nice.

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Aspall (Suffolk England) Perronelle’s Blush (4% ABV) – Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Light to medium bodied.  Lovely fruitiness with moderate blackberry flavor plus hints of cranberry and blueberry.  This is a nice sessionable summer sipper without forgoing flavor.  I’ve never been disappointed by Aspall.

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Boonville (Boonville CA) Bite Hard Semi-Sweet (6.9% ABV) – Their semi-sweet flagship cider is a follow up to their Dry Bite Hard variety.  I found it as advertised, semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Fruity, with notes of tropical fruit like pineapple, plus green apple (all from the apples).  I prefer this semi-sweet cider to their drier variety, which was more wine-like (which corresponds to their wine making background and methods).

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Bull Run (Forest Grove Oregon) Mango (unknown ABV) – This was their fruit cider challenge entry.  This hazy cider looked like mango juice.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Very juice-like and moderate mango flavor intensity.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Simple but tasty.

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Carlton Cyderworks (McMinnville Oregon) Impearial Asian Pear Hard Cider (5.8% ABV) – This is a pear cider (apples + Asian pears + Hood River Oregon pears).  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Light sourness.  Mildly flavored with notes of pear, pineapple, lemon, green apple, and mineral.  I prefer more flavor, but this would pair well with food.

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Coquerel (Victot-Pontfol, Normandy, France) Calvodos Fine VSOP (40% ABV) – This was my first time trying straight Calvados, an aged apple brandy (I’ve only had it with cider, as Pommeau).  Semi-dry.  Definitely boozy, with a very long warming finish.  It surprisingly had only a mild apple flavor, although its possible my palate was a bit overwhelmed by the alcohol.  I’m not really into straight alcohol (especially when served room temperature).  I think I’ll stick to Pommeau.

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d’s Wicked (Kennewick WA) Cranny Granny (6.9% ABV) – This is a granny smith apple cider with cranberry juice.  Hazy pink hue.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Simple with only notes of moderately tart granny smith apples and cranberry.  If you like tartness and cranberry, you’ll like this cider.

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Dragon’s Head (Vashon WA) Columbia Crabapple Cider (6.7% ABV) – A single varietal cider made from Columbia crabapples.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity with hints of bitterness and tannins.  Sharp flavor with notes of mineral, green apple, honey, white blossom, and lemon.  Wine-like and nuanced with low flavor intensity.  This is the sweetest variety I’ve tried from them.  Their Kingston Black or Traditional is probably my favorite though.

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Double Mountain Brewery –  I’ll add a bit about them as they aren’t yet distributed in Washington, only Oregon.  They have brewed beer for 9 years, but just started making cider, and have one introductory variety.

Double Mountain (Hood River Oregon) Jumpin Jack Heirloom Cider (7.3% ABV) – Fully dry.  Mild sourness.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Mild bitterness and tannins.  Notes of green apple and a hint of hops (not sure if they were added, or there might have been some tap line contamination).  I didn’t pick up the richness of any of the cider apple varieties they added, but there was definitely sharp heirloom apple flavor.  I thought it was ok.

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Finnriver (Chimanum WA) Apple Abbey (6.5% ABV) – A Belgian-inspired cider made from dessert apples.  Foamy and hazy.  Smells of sourness and citrus.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Yeast-forward.  Notes of citrus and green apple.  Hints of sourness.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  I liked it.

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Finnriver (Chimanum WA) Pomona’s Nectar (6.5% ABV) – This is a new Crew Selection sour nectarine cider.  Smells like Spanish Sidra.  Semi dry.  Mild to moderate sourness.  Notes of lemon, yeast, and mineral (I didn’t pick up any stone fruit).  I’m still trying to acquire the taste for sour ciders, but I found this one pretty tolerable; its a bit more approachable than the average Sidra.

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Incline Cider (Auburn WA) Scout (6.5%) – A hopped marionberry cider.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Light marrionberry and moderate hops flavor.  I think I prefer their plain Explorer hopped cider variety.

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J. Seeds (Fairfield CA) Apple Cider Whiskey (35% ABV) – Whiskey made including apple cider.  Semi-sweet.  Apple forward and quite tasty, although I don’t have anything to compare it to as I’m not a whiskey drinker (I’ve previously found it too harsh).  However, I’m not into straight booze, so I think I’d prefer it watered down or mixed.  It looks to be available locally and is quite affordable.  I wouldn’t mind trying this again.  Being sweeter, it reminds me of what flavored sweetened vodka is to plain vodka.

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Maeloc Cider (Galithia Spain) Dry (4.8% ABV) – This is a commercial Spanish Sidra.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet (despite the “Dry” name).  Medium bodied.  Mild sourness and funk.  Notes of citrus and green apple.  It is a more approachable Sidra, a style I’m still learning to acquire a taste for.  I learned they use apples from within 50 miles of the cidery, grown in a damp climate similar to the PNW, and use wild yeast fermentation for all their ciders.  Overall it was ok.

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Montana CiderWorks (Darby MT) Spartan Dry-Style (5.5% ABV) – This is a small batch oak aged single varietal made with Montana-grown Spartan apples, in the style of Northern Italy’s Sauvignon Blanc.  Dry.  Light bodied.  Nuanced and wine-like, with high acidity, and sharp green apple, herbal, and baked apple notes.  It was nice, but I prefer their fuller flavored Darby Pub cider.  This is a wine-lovers cider.

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Moonlight Meadery (Londonderry NH) Crimes of Passion (4.1% ABV) – A black currant seasonal cider.  Semi-dry.  Light sourness.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Mild to moderate black currant flavor intensity.  I enjoyed it, although without the sourness I would have enjoyed it more.  I was excited to learn they will soon be offering their How Do You Like Them Little Apples cider in cans (currently all their ciders are draft-only), starting in October/November, including in the Seattle area.

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Nectar Creek (Corvallis Oregon) Honeycone (6.9% ABV) – This is a hopped mead (no apples, just honey and water).  The smell is all hops, no honey.  Semi-dry.  Mild flavor intensity with more hops than honey.  I found this sessionable lightly carbonated mead to be lacking the full flavor I enjoy in the higher ABV sweeter meads.

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Number Six Cider (Seattle WA) Peach Fuzz (6.5% ABV) – This was their fruit cider challenge entry, a spiced peach cider.  Semi-dry.  Very full bodied (chunky and smoothie-like).  Low peach flavor and moderate to high spice intensity.  It was a bit too strange for my liking as it was so full bodied, and overly spiced.

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NV Cider (East Wenatchee WA) Watermelon Raspberry (unknown ABV) – This perry (no apples) with watermelon and raspberry was their fruit cider challenge entry, and was served through a watermelon.  Semi-sweet.  Light bodied.  Moderately flavorful, but with more raspberry than watermelon notes, and no pear.  I prefer their watermelon perry without the raspberry.  Both however are refreshing options.

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Reverend Nat’s (Portland Oregon) Sour Cherry (7.2% ABV) – This cider was made from granny smith apples, with pie cherry juice which was soured, pear juice, and “hint” of ghost chili peppers.  Semi-dry.  Moderate cherry flavor.  Low sourness.  Low to moderate heat/spiciness from the ghost chili peppers.  I liked the cherry portion of the cider, but spicy ciders aren’t my thing (and a bit of a palate killer too).  I’d love to see this without the spiciness (which I believe was new for this year).

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Reverend Nat’s (Portland Oregon) The Passion (6.9% ABV) – Cider with passion fruit juice, coconut, and vanilla.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Mild sourness.   Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  Strong passion fruit flavor with hints of vanilla, pineapple, and coconut. I really enjoyed it.  I liked how fruity it was without being too sweet.  I had heard this was very sour so I hadn’t got around to trying it, but I wish I had sooner!  I wonder if they did away with the sour aspect this year, as I really didn’t pick up any.  I’ll have to try this again to see if my sour taste buds were busted when I tried it.

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Reverend Nat’s (Portland Oregon) Whiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black Currant (9.5% ABV) – This is Wandering Aengus’ Golden Russet cider with black currant puree from Oregon Fruit Products, aged for 6 months in whiskey barrels.  It was made for the Portland and Seattle Cider Summits, but will be a Tent Show cider club release in October.  Semi-dry.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Mild tannins and bitterness.  Moderate barrel and spirit influence.  Awesome!  I really loved this cider.  I usually find berry ciders to be boring, but when barrel aged, they can be amazing.  This reminded me of Alpenfire Calypso and Apocalypso, except more boozy, and whiskey not rum barrel aged.  Too bad they weren’t selling bottles of this at the event, as I would have picked some up.

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Sea Cider (Saanichton, B.C., Canada) Ruby Rose (9.9% ABV) – This summer seasonal is made with rhubarb and rose hips.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Mild to moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  Intensely fruity, with floral, rhubarb, strawberry, and watermelon notes.  I really liked it!  Oddly enough I didn’t find it too boozy, despite being 9.9% ABV.

Sea Cider (Saanichton, B.C., Canada) Witch’s Broom (9.9% ABV) – I got a taste from the first bottle poured in the U.S. of this fall seasonal.  It was described as a “bouquet of pumpkin patch spices”.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  It was moderately spiced with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and baked apple.  Mild tannins, bitterness, tartness, and acidity.  Cinnamon was the most present, both in the nose and the finish.  One of my favorite spiced ciders, but I’m not usually a huge fan of them.

Both of these ciders from Sea Cider are part of their Canadian Invasion Series, meant to draw attention to invasive species and their threat to farms and natural areas.

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Seattle Cider (Seattle Washington) City Fruit (6.3% ABV) – This is a special release cider only sold at Whole Foods, made using apples collected in the Seattle community by the non-profit City Fruit.  Dry to semi-dry.  Wine-like and acid forward.  Notes of red grape and mineral.  Overall very mild flavor intensity.  This is a wine-lovers cider, and would pair well with food.

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Steelhead Cider (Manson WA) Chimera Cherry Apple (5.5% ABV) – This is a newer cidery who just started distributing (at least kegs) in the Seattle area.  I previously tried their Peargatory.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Moderate to strong real cherry flavor.  It was sweeter than I prefer, but I liked the intense cherry flavor.

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Summit Cider – I’ll add a bit about them as they aren’t yet distributed in Western Washington (only Idaho and Eastern Washington).  This cidery was started in 2014, making them the first in Idaho, and the only in Coeur d’Alene.  Their bestseller is Apricot, although of late their Hibiscus cider has been popular with wine drinkers.  They have a tap room in Coeur d’Alene.  I met co-founder Davon Sjostrom, who has a background in Botany, which I imagine brings something new to cidermaking.

Summit Cider (Coeur d’Alene Idaho) Apple (6.5% ABV) – Semi-dry.  Low tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  Rather plain, but likeable.

Summit Cider (Coeur d’Alene Idaho) Apricot (6.5% ABV) – Semi-dry.  Lots of (true) apricot flavor for the level of dryness (typically drier ciders have a less intense flavor than sweeter ciders).  I really enjoyed it.  Davon described testing out many varieties of apricots to find the one whose flavor came across best in cider.

Summit Cider (Coeur d’Alene Idaho) Hibiscus (6.9% ABV) – Semi-dry with nuanced light floral and herbal notes.  I can see why this would be a wine-lovers cider.

Summit Cider (Coeur d’Alene Idaho) Blackberry (unknown ABV) – This was their fruit cider challenge entry.  I found it semi-dry and very mild in flavor.  I think with some barrel aging it would have been nice though.

In Summary

My Favorite Cider – Reverend Nat’s Whiskey Barrel Aged Black Currant

Other Favorite Ciders – Reverend Nat’s The Passion, Summer Cider Apricot, Sea Cider Ruby Rose, and Steelhead Cherry

Most Interesting Cider – One Tree’s PB&J cider, a raspberry cider with peanut butter whipped cream (I didn’t try it, but a photo is available here – more dessert than cider).

Other Interesting Ciders – Reverend Nat’s Sour Cherry, due to the use of ghost chili peppers.  Schilling’s Grumpy Bear, due to the use of coffee and a Nitro can (my tasting notes here).  Schilling’s Sour Raspberry Smoothie, due to its high viscosity (apparently for some of their ciders with high fruit content, they have a keg or two per batch which are smoothie-like).  Apple Outlaw’s Chocolate Raspberry, due to the use of chocolate in a cider (I’ve only heard of Woodchuck doing this previously).  1o1 Ciderhouse Black Dog, due to the use of activated charcoal (poured last year, with my tasting notes here).

Cider Summit Seattle 2016 Post 1/2 – The Event

What an epic cider event!  This was my second year attending (see here for previous posts), but was the seventh annual Cider Summit in Seattle Washington.  It took place on Friday & Saturday September 9th & 10th.  This is post 1/2, covering the event.  Post 2/2 will cover tasting notes on the dozens of ciders I tried. [Update – Post 2/2 is now up here].

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Info

We had some beautiful weather for the weekend.  It was still warmer than I prefer, but not as bad as last year.  Same as last year, I attended both days, and even stayed locally overnight.  Even though I don’t live far, its very convenient, and makes a fun weekend getaway with the hubby.  See here for the full event info and here for the full list of cideries (60) and ciders (196 ish).

There were some substitutions, but about the same number of ciders as expected were poured.  The most interesting booths were those for Coquerel Calvados (French apple brandy), Schonauer apple liquor, and J. Seeds apple cider whiskey.  They were even pouring a few meads, from Moonlight Meadery and Nectar Creek.  Although most ciders were from the PNW, there were a good number of national and international ones as well.  Also, the selections were primarily on the craft (vs. commercial) end.

There were 16 entries for the Fruit Cider Challenge.  I learned that the cideries were provided fruit puree from Oregon Fruit Products which they made cider with.  Votes were taken by text (1 per phone).  Although I didn’t try them all, my vote was for Reverend Nat’s Whiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet w/ Black Currant.

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Entry included a tasting glass, tickets (8 for regular and 12 for VIP, each one good for a 4oz pour of most ciders), and wristband.  A cool feature of this event is that in addition to in & out privileges, one entry fee gets you in both days (and you can even skip the line on the second day).  This event is very well organized.  Everything from pre event information online to signage at the event to thinking of the little things like having rinse water available.

Another thing about this event that I really like is that the folks pouring the cider are associated with the cidery (cidery employees, sometimes even the cidermakers, or the distributor).  When its not too busy, you can ask about the cidery and cider.  The crowd was really varied, from the cider enthusiasts like myself to people who just wanted to drink.  We even spotted a couple in wedding garb (apparently they attended Friday straight from their wedding), and an adorable older lady with her walker.

Layout

Besides the main attraction of cider booths, they had music (from a local radio station, KEXP), food for sale from Whole Foods and SUSU rolled ice cream, cider cocktails from Capitol Cider, samples of unfermented juice from Ryan’s and Krave beef jerky (both for sale), some misc booths such as for Northwest Cider and fancy growlers, a shop with bottle sales and Cider Summit t-shirts and such, a dog lounge, stand up tables, covered seating, cold filtered water (from Easy Tap), and port-a-potties (which were actually quite clean, and one set of them had outdoor sinks).  There was less covered seating this year, but it seemed to be sufficient.

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<map from the event program>

My Tips

I’m glad I brought a hat, sunblock, good walking/standing shoes (for uneven grass), 1 water bottle to fill up, snacks (including something starchy, good both to absorb alcohol and as a palate cleanser – I chose animal crackers this year), notebook, pencil, and tote bag with an outside pocket for my tasting glass.  You might also want a bag to put free swag in, but a couple cidery booths actually gave out bags too.  Some cash isn’t a bad idea either, although I think at least the bottle shop took cards.  ID is required.

My best advice for avoiding the crowds it to attend early on Friday, although even later on Friday is less busy than anytime on Saturday.  I ended up only staying a few hours on Friday and a couple hours on Saturday, leaving once I’d had enough.  There are also a number of restaurants (and Whole Foods) within walking distance, so another option is leaving if you need a break, then come back after a bit.  I did that last year, especially as it was so hot (we took advantage of the a/c as Whole Foods).

A great way to get free admission is to volunteer; they had several shift options each day, and I heard that if you work closing on Saturday you may even get leftover cider.  For the best ticket price, buy them in advance.  Although VIP tickets are online sales only, if you are getting regular tickets, buy them in person at one of the places around town which sell them, as there isn’t a service charge.  It didn’t sell out as far as I know, but the price was higher at the door.  Designated driver tickets ($5) were only at the door.

Photos

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<food from Whole Foods and cocktails from Capitol Cider>

2016-09-09 14.13.58.jpg<the lawn game cornhole seemed to be a popular offering, with at least four cideries bringing a custom painted set, although I didn’t see anyone playing>

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<this unique ice cream was in liquid form, then spread onto a frozen slab, then rolled>