Farnum Hill Semi Dry

Review of Farnum Hill’s Semi Dry.  I got this as part of the September Cidrbox.  I previously tried samples of their Extra Dry and Dooryard, plus I reviewed Extra Dry and Kingston Black from this Cidrbox.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Cidrbox.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Cider:  Semi Dry
Cidery:  Farnum Hill
Cidery Location:  Lebanon NH
ABV:  7.4%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  American artisan cider from cider apples, semi dry

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Availability:  In general their ciders are distributed in CT, NH, MA, ME, NJ, NY, and RI (see here).  I haven’t seen their cider in the Seattle area for awhile.

Cider Description:  Golden, gently bubbly, with a delicious array of tropic fruits, citrus, and mysterious aromatic notes in the nose and on the palate. Our Semi-Dry cider is much less sweet than semi-dry champagnes.  On Farnum Hill, that much-abused word “dry” is taken literally, so our semi-dry balances the gentlest sweetness against sharpness, astringency, and fruit (which is different from sweet). Alcohol content 7.4% by volume. 750 ml bottle, mushroom cork finish with wire hood. The cork comes out by hand, with  a genial pop.

Till recently, this of all our ciders was the most popular among people first encountering true cider flavors. It is richer, more complex, and less overtly tannic than Farmhouse. (Also much harder to make, mostly for horticultural factors in any given crop year – if we’re short of certain apple varieties that make the best possible Semi-Dry, we tend not to make Semi-Dry.) Lately the American taste for extremely dry ciders has seemingly grown, so that our Extra Dry gets as much approval from first-time tasters as the Semi. But if you’re a host wondering which to foist on your innocent guests, we’d still lean slightly toward this one.

We aim in all our blends to complement good food, not compete with it. With Semi-Dry, try: seafood, cheeses, ham, poultry, sausage, rabbit, pork, omelettes or quiches, herbed saucy dishes such as non-red pastas, etc. But don’t be surprised if it does good things for baked potatoes or other ordinary pleasures. And look for your own pairings.

Semi-Dry offers a long, clean, aromatic finish that refreshes the flavors of many savory foods. It enjoyably re-interprets many roles played by white or red wines, though not where a buttery, malolactic feel or a huge, “operatic” wine “experience” are wanted. Some chefs, and fans of Norman dishes (e.g. the world of crepes), contend that our ciders, even the Extra Drys, are charming with certain fruit tarts, custards, etc. People who make fruit ices might like to throw some Farnum Hill in, and pour some more alongside. Please post your discoveries — we’d love to try new ideas!

Cidery Description:  On Farnum Hill, we use the word “cider” to mean an alcoholic beverage fermented from particular apples, just as “wine” is fermented from particular grapes.  Cider is a word that covers an enormous variety of adult beverages made from apples.  Our style is all about flaunting the delights of the fruit that grows best on this place.

Farnum Hill Ciders, at 6.5-7.5% alcohol, tend toward the dry, sharp, fruity and bountifully aromatic. We make them to gladden the moment and light up the flavors of food. During Prohibition, apple-growers urgently needed a new teetotal image. That PR problem helped cut the normal old word “cider” from its normal old meaning, and paste it to the sweet brown ephemeral juice of autumn, normally called “apple juice” or “sweet cider.”  So even now, a lot of our fellow Americans find Farnum Hill ciders a bit startling.

We are proud of Farnum Hill Ciders, and delighted to see more and more small-scale cider-makers coming onto the U.S. cider scene. Meanwhile, we’re also encouraged to see skilled commercial apple-growers planting for cider. As in the wine world, cider-apple growers may want to make their own, or to sell their fruit to cidermakers.  Already, the price of cider apples is many times the processing price that eating apples bring. That makes cider orchards valuable.  Here’s hoping the future of distinctive American orchard-based ciders will outshine the past!

Here is a nice podcast with transcript from an interview by Cider Guide’s Eric West with Nicole Leibon, a cidermaker at Farnum Hill.  Farnum Hill also worked with April White on a book, Apples to Cider – How to Make Cider at Home.

Price:  n/a (retails for $17.99+)
Where Bought:  n/a (through Cidrbox)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I’ve heard of Farnum Hill ever since I got into the cider world, as they were one of the first cideries in the new cider movement (around 1995).

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First Impression:  Light golden yellow.  Very low carbonation.  Flavorful scent, of rich cider apples and caramelized sugar.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acid.  Hints of bitterness.  Low to moderate tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of caramelized sugar, apple skin, brown sugar, and lemon.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, and complexity.  Low flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this one.  It was the most flavorful and richest of the three ciders.  I think a bit of residual sugar really goes a long way in a cider such as this to bring out the flavor.

Most Similar to:  A mild English cider, or Dragon’s Head Traditional, Westcott Bay Semi-DryEve’s Kingston Black, and E.Z. Orchards Williamette Valley.

Closing Notes:  This concluded my Farnum Hill Cidrbox tasting.  Semi Dry ended up being my favorite, as well as the group’s favorite at my cider tasting, as it was the most flavorful (as it was sweeter).

Have you tried Farnum Hill cider?  What did you think?

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Woodchuck Semi-Dry

Review of Woodchuck’s Semi-Dry, their newest flagship cider.  I’ve previously tried nearly their entire line-up; see here.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Woodchuck.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Cider:  Semi-Dry
Cidery:  Woodchuck
Cidery Location:  Middlebury VT
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  American commercial semi-dry cider, including bittersweet apple juice

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Availability:  semi wide release

Cider Description:  Ready for a cider session? You’re going to want a crushable cider. Crisp and refreshing, Semi-Dry uses bittersweet apples to deliver a cider that is not too sweet and leaves you thirsty for another. Enjoy the brand that started the American cider revolution.

Ingredients:  Hard cider, less than 1% 0f: natural apple flavor, sulfites

Cidery Description:  Here at the Woodchuck Cidery in Vermont, we handcraft every batch of Woodchuck Hard Cider. Our Cider Makers utilize the highest quality ingredients and meticulously oversee each small batch from start to finish. We reinvigorated American cider in 1991 and continue to lead the category through our commitment to craft innovative and refreshing hard ciders.

Price:  n/a (runs about $10 / six pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Light orange amber.  Low carbonation.  Smells of apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  One the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  The flavor is purely watered down apple juice with a hint of alcohol.  Quick finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Low flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  The flavor wasn’t all that impressive, intense, or complex, but this is surely more sessionable than most sugar-laden commercial ciders.  I didn’t taste any rich bittersweet apple flavor.

Most Similar to:  Woodchuck Day Chaser, which is also semi-dry, although that one had some honey and citrus notes and a hint of bittersweet.

Closing Notes:   The color of this cider is a bit interesting.  It doesn’t say it was added (which has been listed in the past), so maybe there is a higher bittersweet apple percentage than I tasted…

Have you tried Woodchuck Semi-Dry?  What did you think?

Gabbie’s Premium Cider Semi Dry

Review of Gabbie’s Premium Cider Semi Dry.  I picked this up in Victoria B.C., a stop on our Alaska cruise.  Its the first time I’ve tried their cider.

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Cider:  Semi Dry
Cidery:  Gabbie’s Premium Cider, from Ravenskill Orchards
Cidery Location:  Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  750ml bottle
Style:  Canadian craft cider from apples from B.C. Canada, including cider apple varieties

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Availability:  only in British Columbia, Canada (Gulf Islands, Victoria, and Vancouver Island); see here

Cider Description:  Diverse, Semi-dry and Delicious!  Golden in the glass, this semi dry cider opens up with a supple rustic apple fragrance.  The acidity creates the perfect balance between sweet and salty.

Cidery Description:  Nearly 100 years ago, B.C.’s Gulf Island farmers concocted exceptional hard cider.  Legend has it, those makers then journeyed out to sea to share their libations with the mainland. To those Cider Makers, we salute you.  Today we join you.

Gabbie’s Premium Ciders are perfected by Ravenskill Orchards at our unique island location.  Amongst 1,000 heritage trees, 25 varieties of apples, grow fresh, crisp, sun-kissed and gently-breezed by the salty sea air.  We are a family of farmers, sea lovers and makers crafting the best small batch premium cider the Gulf Island have enjoyed since prohibition.  A distinct taste and cider experience.

Our premium hard ciders are handcrafted in a traditional “old-world” style using “new world” techniques. A perfect blend of distinctive flavour and colourfully named apples varieties such as Yarlington Mill, Newton Pippin, Kingston Black & Porter’s Perfection.

Price:  $20 CAN (~$15 USD)
Where Bought:  The Strath in Victoria B.C. Canada
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing

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First Impression:  Moderate straw yellow.  Low carbonation.  Smells of tart apples, citrus, and honey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate to high tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low tannins.  Slight richness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of apple pomace, tart apple varieties like granny smith and crabapples, citrus (lemon), honey, and floral.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this cider.  However, I found it a bit tart for my liking.  I liked the tannins and complexity, but it left me wanting more.  I’m curious as to the apple blend; they mention cider apple varieties, but not that those are the only apple varieties used.

Most Similar to:  Liberty Ciderworks New World Style and Raven’s Moon Apple Cider

Closing Notes:   Gabbie’s Semi Dry is well suited for lovers of tart ciders, and would pair well with food.  I’m glad I got to try it.  They also offer a “Real Dry” variety of cider (which won Gold in the Traditional Dry category of the 2016 PNW Cider Awards).

Have you tried Gabbie’s cider?  What did you think?

Rhinegeist Cidergeist Semi Dry

Review of Cidergeist Semi Dry, a cider made by Rhinegeist, a brewery in Cincinnati Ohio. They released two ciders for the first time in Fall 2015, Semi Dry and Dry Hopped.  They sent me samples of both.

>>This is a review of a sample can provided to Cider Says by Rhinegeist.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

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Cider:  Semi Dry
Cidery:  Rhinegeist Cidergeist
Cidery Location:  Cincinnati Ohio
ABV:  6.2%
How Supplied:  6 pack of 12oz cans (and kegs)
Style:  American commercial cider made from dessert apple juice concentrate

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Availability:  year round in areas including Ohio, Kentucky, and Massachusetts

Cider Description:  Cider fermented to amplify the fragrance and essence of the apples whilst achieving a delightful, lip-smacking dryness.

Cidery Description:  Countless days and nights were spent studying the art of making cider, drinking the best we could find across the country and testing a variety of juices, yeasts and techniques in fermentation—the result is Cidergeist. Semi Dry and Dry Hopped will be sure to blow your buds with the bright snap of delicious apples. 

Cidergeist gives us the opportunity to play in a lighter and drier zone than beer is able to achieve, introducing a flavor profile more akin to white wine and refreshing in a uniquely fruity way. Fermented with juices from the Pacific Northwest, these Cidergeist Hard Ciders sparkle to deliver a blend of acidity and apple-ness with bountiful aromatics that strike the right balance of refreshingly dry with just a shy suggestion of sweetness.

Price:  n/a (retails around $10 / 6 pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Rhinegeist contacted me

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First Impression:  Light amber orange with foam.  Low carbonation upon pouring.  Smells of beer yeast and rich & sweet apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Low to moderate carbonation.  Mild tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Medium bodied.  Moderate length finish.  This cider is apple-forward, quite yeasty, foamy, and beer-like.  Notes of apple juice and pomace, caramel, and a slight must.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Moderate to high sessionability.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this cider.  It exceeded my expectations considering its made by a brewery from concentrate.  I find it superior in taste to many commercial ciders and its easy to drink.

Most Similar to:  French cidre such as Celt and Reverend Nat’s Revival, although Cidergeist Semi Dry is not quite as clean and less complex.

Closing Notes:   I look forward to drinking the other two cans; too bad its not available here in Washington.  Next up is my review of the Dry Hopped.

Have you tried Cidergeist?  What did you think?

Woodchuck Day Chaser Semi-Dry

Review of Woodchuck’s newest core cider, Day Chaser Semi-Dry, from Middlebury Vermont.  It will launch to the public in March, but I got a sneak preview.  This cider is a digression from their primarily sweeter lineup, likely in response to consumers requesting a drier cider.  Angry Orchard also responded to this call with Stone Dry last Fall (my review here).  I’ve tried a number of Woodchuck’s other ciders (see past reviews here).

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>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Woodchuck.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Cider:  Day Chaser Semi-Dry
Cidery:  Woodchuck Cider
Cidery Location:  Middlebury VT
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles or 12oz cans (and draft)
Style:  American commercial semi-dry cider

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Availability:  Year round, nationwide, once it launches next month.

Cider Description:  Day Chaser celebrates those adventure seekers that never let a minute slip by. This sessionable cider combines bitter and sweet apples to deliver a semi-dry cider that is not too sweet and leaves you thirsty for another. Get the most out of every day and reward yourself as you welcome the night.

Cidery Description:  Here at the Woodchuck Cidery in Vermont, we handcraft every batch of Woodchuck Hard Cider. Our Cider Makers utilize the highest quality ingredients and meticulously oversee each small batch from start to finish. We reinvigorated American cider in 1991 and continue to lead the category through our commitment to craft innovative and refreshing hard ciders.

Price:  n/a (suggested retail price of $9.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I saw some other bloggers online post about it, then my sample bottle showed up in the mail.

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First Impression:  Honey straw yellow hue.  Very low carbonation upon pouring.  Smells mild, with hints of bittersweet apples, yeast, and honey.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Almost still (very low carbonation).  Mild tartness.  Mild to moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness.  Citrus, honey, and slight mineral notes.  Quick finish.  Mild to moderate apple flavor.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  Pretty good–sunshine in a glass!  Definitely very approachable too as a drier commercial cider.  It is also significantly lower calories than most commercial ciders (160), and is still 5.5% ABV.  Its interesting though that they dumbed the description down to say they used bitter and sweet apples, which I assume means both dessert (culinary/supermarket) and bittersweet (a type of cider apple) varieties…I tasted a hint of bittersweet, but definitely more dessert apples.  It also was fuller bodied than I was expecting for the level of sweetness, which folks used to sweet full bodied ciders will probably enjoy.  There was only the slightest fake commercial cider taste, less so than many of their past ciders.  I think a bit more carbonation would have been nice, but overall I don’t have any real complaints.

Most Similar to:  The honey and citrus notes remind me of a few ciders I’ve tried recently, such as Schilling Cider King’s Shilling (which is sweeter), Honey Moon CiderHead (which is drier), and Flatbed Cider Crisp Apple (which is quite similar although thinner bodied)

Closing Notes:   A solid cider, and definitely easy drinking.  I like this better than some of their sweeter varieties like Amber, but my current favorites are still Gumption, Private Reserve Barrel Aged Cherry, and Winter Chill.

Have you tried Woodchuck Day Chaser?  What did you think?

Eden Sparkling Semi-Dry

Review of Eden Ice Cider’s Sparkling Semi-Dry cider.  This is made using the traditional labor-intensive methode champenoise, which makes naturally sparkling cider.  I previously tried Eden’s Sparkling Dry cider, and this is described as the same cider (although made with different apple varieties) with a bit of their ice cider to add some additional sweetness (which also adds an additional 1% ABV).

I sampled this cider on New Year’s Eve, and it unfortunately turned out to be a poorly sealed bottle whose taste wasn’t as intended, and Eleanor at Eden was awesome enough to send me a sample bottle to replace it (and two ice ciders to review!).  Cider from the original bottle was nearly flat, and was on the dry, funky, and sour side….the cap must have been sealed enough so it wouldn’t leak, but allowed for air transfer.

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Eden Ice Cider.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

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Cider:  Sparkling Semi-Dry
Cidery:  Eden Ice Cider
Cidery Location:  Newport VT
ABV:  9.5%
How Supplied:  375ml or 750ml capped champagne bottle
Style:  American methode champenoise sparkling cider

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Availability: At least in AK, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, IL, MA, MD, ME, MI, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, SC, VT, WA, British Columbia.  Eden also offers online sales when allowed by state.

Cider Description: Eden Sparkling Ciders are made with locally grown apples. We use the same blend of traditional and heirloom apples that we use for our ice ciders, and then add classic Bittersweet cider varieties. True cider variety apples are sweeter and have much more tannin than eating apples.  They are pretty awful to eat so you won’t ever find them in a grocery store.   The Sparkling Dry is made with Kingston Black.  The Sparkling Semi-Dry is made with Dabinett and Yarlington Mill.

The cider is fermented and aged in French oak puncheons for a year, the bottles with a secondary fermentation that is created with additional juice rather than sugar.  After another 6 months each bottle is hand-disgorged in a careful process and removes the yeast but retains the vibrant natural effervescence of the in-bottle fermentation.  For our Semi-Dry, we add in a little bit of our ice cider for sweetness.

Eden Sparkling ciders are full-flavored, tannic, and clean with a champagne-like mouth feel and balanced acidity.  They are unfiltered and unpasteurized, with higher ABV and much less sweetness than mass marketed industrial hard ciders.

Cidery Description: Eden Orchards and Eden Ice Cider began on a trip to Montreal in 2006 when we first tasted ice cider and wondered why nobody was making it on our side of the border.  We had dreamed for years of working together on a farm in the Northeast Kingdom; it was a dream that had vague outlines including an apple orchard, cider, and fermentation of some sort.  That night we looked at each other and knew ice cider was it.  In April 2007, we bought an abandoned dairy farm in West Charleston, Vermont and got to work.  Since then we have planted over 1,000 apple trees, created 5 vintages of Eden Vermont Ice Ciders, and have introduced a new line of Orleans Apertif Ciders.  Out goals are to create healthy soils and trees in our own orchard, to support out Vermont apple orchard partners who do the same, to minimize our carbon footprint, to contribute to the economic and environmental health of our employees and our Northeast Kingdom community, and most of all to make world-class unique ciders that truly reflect our Vermont terroir.

They have a tasting bar on the main floor of the Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center in downtown Newport VT.  Their current product line includes at least eight ice ciders, two Aperitif ciders, and dry & semi-dry sparkling ciders.  They also have a cider club where members get access to special release ciders not available to the public.

Price:  n/a, but retail price of $15-$20 (750ml)
Where Bought:  n/a (but originally the Schilling Cider House)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I heard about Eden on Facebook, met cidermaker Eleanor Leger at an event surrounding Cider Summit Seattle 2015 where I tried their Sparkling Dry cider, tried their Heirloom Blend cider at Cider Summit (and my husband bought me a bottle for our anniversary, reviewed here), and decided Semi-Dry would be a great New Year’s Eve cider selection.

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First Impression:  Honey-pumpkin light amber hue.  Moderate carbonation with tiny bubbles (even before opening the bottle, with a gentle shake, I could tell it had more carbonation than the first).  Smells luscious, of honey, tropical fruit, coconut, apricot, floral, and high-tannin cider apples (Dabinett and Yarlington Mill).

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Moderate acidity.  Mild tartness.  Moderate tannins.  Slight hints of bitterness, funk, and sourness.  Flavor notes of tropical fruit, apricot, peach, honey, and green apple.  Slight richness.  Moderate carbonation with a fizzy mouthfeel.  Medium bodied.  Moderate apple influence.  Mild oak barrel influence.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion: Yum!  It had a lovely flavor complexity–you could really taste the hint of ice cider in comparison to the Sparkling Dry.  The ice cider added both sweetness and additional flavor (especially tropical fruit).  My husband also really enjoyed it.  All in all I think this cider is awesome.  Its also a wonderful value, as the apple varieties are expensive, and the production method is labor-intensive.

Most Similar to:  I’ve had other methode champenoise ciders such as Finnriver’s Artisan Sparkling Brut Cider, but this one was less champagne-like (more fruitiness).  The tropical fruit notes also reminded me of ciders such as Eaglemount Quince and Slyboro Old Sin, except with added carbonation.

Closing Notes:   Eden Ice Cider really makes some amazing ciders.  I look forward to trying the Honeycrisp and Northern Spy (barrel aged) ice ciders Eleanor sent!

Have you tried Eden’s Sparkling Dry or Semi-Dry ciders?  What did you think?