Cider Summit Seattle 2018 Preview

The epic 9th annual Cider Summit is returning for 2018 to Seattle Washington on Friday September 7th (3-8pm) and Saturday September 8th (noon-5pm), at the South Lake Union Discovery Center Lawn.  Check out my previous posts on Cider Summit from 2015 thru 2017 here, with a preview, event review, and cider tasting notes from each year.

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See here for the full event info and here for the lists of cideries and ciders.  The plan is for 52 cideries (or in some cases, distributors) to be represented, pouring 3-6 selections each.  That is over 200 ciders, cysers, meads, fruit wines, Pommeaux, apple brandies, cider whiskies, cider cocktails, etc.  So, there are plenty of options for all tastes, and even folks like me will have multiple new ciders to try.  They of course skew towards the NW, but there are cideries from all over the country and world represented too.

Regular tickets are sold in advance online ($43.60 including fees), at Capitol Cider, or at the door ($45), and includes a tasting glass + 16 drink tickets.  VIP tickets are sold in advance online ($55.76 including fees) only, and get you in an hour early on Friday (2pm instead of 3pm), and includes a tasting glass + 24 drink tickets.  Note that this is double the number of drink tickets as last year, as they have reduced the pour size from 4oz to 2oz, so you can try twice as many ciders – very cool.  Additional drink tickets are sold at the event.  Designated driver tickets are available at the door for $5.

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This outdoor event is 21+ but dog friendly.  They have covered seating, stand up tables, cold water on tap, and port-a-potties.  The event also includes a merchandise shop, bottle shop, food sales, and a dog lounge.  Plus, new for this year, paired bites from Capitol Cider and other local producers.  Another special feature is the Fruit Cider Challenge; many cideries are bringing a special fruity cider, and attendees can vote for their favorite.  Most booths have folks from the cidery (sometimes even the cidermaker) pouring ciders, a mix of keg and bottle pours.  They may also still be accepting volunteers (includes free admission after your shift and 50% off wearables).

The event has in & out privileges (if you keep your wristband and glass), so you can leave to grab food (such as from the Whole Foods just down the street), or even return the next day.  On Friday it usually doesn’t get too busy until closer to 5pm, but it is pretty busy from then on (line down the street when they open on Saturday, which you can skip by the way if you already have a wristband & glass).  However, the event is so well laid out and there is enough space, so there are fewer & shorter lines and less crowds than the smaller events.

Cider Summit Seattle is part of Washington Cider Week (Sept 6-16).  Stay tuned for more posts here at Cider Says on Cider Summit and Washington Cider Week 2018 events.

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Schilling Cider House Visit 32 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 32nd visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Its actually been a few times more than that as sometimes I just pop in to buy bottles.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

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I was there on a Friday around lunchtime as I got off work early.  It has been so long since my last visit as its not on my way home from work anymore, as I now both live and work up North, so its a bit of a long drive.  I got a flight, as usual.  Its pretty sweet that even with all the ciders I’ve tried, there were 5 new-to-me varieties.

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<left to right:  Schilling Excelsior, Schilling Campfire, Woodbox Heritage,
Channel Marker Lavender Bergamot, and Redstone Cyser>

Schilling (Auburn WA) Excelsior (8.5% ABV):  This is their new Imperial-style cider made from bittersweet and dessert apples, also available in bottles (I picked one up – $7 / 500ml – an amazing value), and soon, cans.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Nice rich bittersweet apple flavor with some caramel and orange.  Hints of tannins and bitterness.  Noticeable ABV.  The tartness picked up as it warmed.  I liked that they left this a bit sweeter, which makes it even more flavorful, and likely helps cut down on the bitterness.  This is quite different from English cider, but was not advertised as English-style, which I appreciate (it seems like every U.S. cider I’ve had that was labeled as English-style didn’t come even close, which is understandable as even if the same techniques and apples were used, which often isn’t the case, the terrior and cidermaker experience is different here).  Excellent, and a great use of the bittersweet apples.  Lately I’ve been seeing them used in blends with heirloom apples, which I think tends to hide their flavor.  Its great to see a cidery use them exclusively, make a product that is likely to be fairly widely appealing (vs. going dry & bitter with it), and still come in at an awesome price point!

Schilling (Auburn WA) Campfire (6.5% ABV):  This is their new draft-only “Smokey Vanilla Bourbon” cider, bourbon barrel aged.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Smells of vanilla extract.  The vanilla flavor is less intense than it smells, and it finishes with smoke, bourbon, and oak.  Moderately flavored.  I really enjoyed it, and wouldn’t consider it a novelty at all.  It would be neat to see this bottled.

Woodbox (Portland OR) Heritage (8.1% ABV):  This is the first cider I’ve tried from them besides their barrel aged ice cider (see here).  This is their flagship cider, made from heirloom, English, and French apple varieties, partially wild fermented, and also available in bottles.  Smells sour.  Semi-dry to dry.  The flavor is tart heirloom apples with some citrus.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  Hints of sourness.  I didn’t personally care for this due to the sourness and bitterness and as the flavor was a bit nuanced.  These sorts of farmstyle ciders seem to be getting more common though, so there must be a demand.

Channel Marker (Seattle WA) Lavender Bergamot (6.9% ABV):  This is the first time I’ve tried anything from this cidery, which was established in 2016 but I didn’t start to hear about until quite recently.  This variety is made with lavender and bergamot (a type of oranage – I had to look that up), and said to be their cidermaker’s favorite.  Hazy hue.  Semi-dry to dry.  Very tart and bitter.  The lavender was only present in the scent and the finish for me.  In between was a tart bitter apple-citrus flavor.  I didn’t like this one at all.

Redstone (Boulder CO) Cyser (8.0% ABV):  The meads (honey wines) from this meadery are fairly widely distributed, in blue glass bottles.  This is the first cyser (from apples and honey) I’ve seen from them, although I’ve tried at least one of their meads previously.  Sweet.  Full bodied.  Simple honey-apple flavor (with more honey than apple) with hints of caramel.  Well-hidden ABV.  I liked it.  However, although they are a nice budget-friendly mead & cyser option, but don’t really stand up against some of the higher quality more complex (and admittedly mostly more expensive) meads I’ve tried, such as from Superstition (Prescott AZ), Æsir (Everett WA), Sky River (Woodinville WA) and Moonlight (Londonderry NH).

I also had a taste of a new cider they just tapped.

Schilling (Auburn WA) Watermelon Mint (6.6% ABV):  This is a brand new tap-only release.  Smells of watermelon toothpaste.  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Very light bodied.  The mild flavor was all watermelon, with a hint of mint on the finish.  Refreshing.  I liked it, although its not something I’d really choose to drink a pint of.

My favorites were Schilling’s Excelsior and Campfire and the Redstone Cyser.  I also picked up some bottles, as usual, as they have an excellent selection (and prices) – I got a bottle of the Excelsior (for $7, why not?), Alpenfire’s new Foxwhelp single varietal, a new to this area Worley’s English cider (Red Hen), restocked my supply of go-to English ciders (Newton Court’s Gasping Goose and Dunkertons Black Fox), and got a fancy barrel aged Moonlight cyser.  Plus at PCC down the street I picked up a four-pack of Locust Watermelon (it was the first time I had seen it in cans – I tried it on draft awhile back).

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 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).

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 on 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) Bittersweet (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?