Double Mountain Arkansas Black

Review of Double Mountain Arkansas Black, a single varietal cider from Arkansas Black heirloom cider apples made by Double Mountain brewery.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Jumpin Jack Heirloom Cider and Dry varieties.

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Cider:  Arkansas Black
Maker:  Double Mountain
Location:  Hood River Oregon
ABV:  6.7%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from Arkansas Black heirloom apples

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Availability:  likely only in Oregon and Washington

Cider Description:  Purple and black on the tree, the Arkansas Black has been grown since the 1800’s. Now grown in the Hood River Valley, this old-world fruit is renowned for its luscious cider. Juicy red apple, raspberry, honey, and a touch of vanilla cap this delightful cider.

Cidery Description:  Double Mountain Brewery and Taproom was established in 2007 in the heart of downtown Hood River, OR.  Founder, Matt Swihart, opened the brewery with a clear mission: make great beer for craft beer fans. The unique location of Double Mountain provides the use of pure and clean glacial water for beers and ciders, while also take advantage of regionally grown hops. Reusable bottles allow customers to partake in a softer environmental footprint, affirming they are part of a sustainable future. Double Mountain may be found on tap and in bottles throughout the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.

They have 2 taprooms, in Hood River and Portland Oregon.

Price:  n/a (likely ~ $6.99 / bottle)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  their rep contacted me

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Low to moderate carbonation.  Smells tart and of honey.

Tasting Notes:  Fully dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of honey, sharp apple, lemon, floral, and mineral.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate sessionability and complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked the flavor profile, but it was a bit too dry for my personal preferences.  My husband was a fan though.

Most Similar to:  many other dry ciders from heirloom apples

Closing Notes:  Its unique to see a brewery making multiple ciders from heirloom apples, as most breweries who attempt it seem to make only 1 cider, from common dessert apples.  I’d like to see them make some slightly sweeter (semi-dry) ones though, as I find a bit of sweetness brings out more flavor.

Have you tried Double Mountain Arkansas Black?  What did you think?

Whitewood Jonathan

Review of Whitewood Cider’s Jonathan.  I previously tried this on draft (see here).  Plus I’ve had their Summer SwitchelKingston Black Whisky Barrel AgedRed CapGravenstein Old Fangled Series 2012 HarvestGravenstein Old Fangled Series Barrel AgedNorthlandWinesapGibb’s FarmNewtown Pippin, and South Sounder.

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Cider:  Old Fangled Series, Jonathan (2015 harvest)
Cidery:  Whitewood Cider
Cidery Location:  Olympia WA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft heritage cider from Jonathan apples, sugar added, medium dry

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Availability:  only in Washington – see here

Cider Description:  Jonathan is an early American variety and dates back to the early 1800’s. Whitewood’s Single Varietal Jonathan Cider starts out full up front good acid backbone followed by scant traces of a caramel/butterscotch flavors, and finishes clean with notes of, sour orange, meyer lemon, and citrus flavors. 

Cidery Description:  Whitewood Cider is the South Puget Sound’s first craft cidery. Officially we are a nano cider and can be hard to locate. Fear not as you’ll be able to find us at the finest bottles shops as well pubs and and restaurants that are the most dedicated to locally made craft cider.

They have a tasting room in Olympia; see here.

Price:  ~ $15 ?
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells apple-forward.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of juicy apple and lemon with hints of honey and tropical fruit.  Quick finish.  Low to moderate complexity.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it, and so did my husband.  Super easy to drink and apple-forward, yet it had a bit of complexity – you can tell it is heritage craft cider.

Most Similar to:  a more complex and sessionable version of Portland Cider Perfect 10

Closing Notes:  This would make a great introductory craft cider, plus I’d like to see it in a multipack.

Have you tried Whitewood Jonathan?  What did you think?

Eden Ezekiel Kingston Black

Review of Eden’s Cellar Series #8 ‘Ezekiel’ Kingston Black.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had many varieties from Eden – Sparkling DryCinderella’s SlipperHeirloom Blend Ice CiderSparkling Semi-DryNorthern Spy (Barrel Aged) Ice CiderHoneycrisp Ice CiderImperial 11 RoséHeirloom Blend Apple Brandy Barrel AgedGuinevere’s PearlsWindfall Orchard Ice CiderTwo Ellies (collaboration with Tilted Shed), The FalstaffHeritage (canned), and Siren Song.

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Cider:  Cellar Series #9, Ezekiel
Cidery:  Eden Specialty Ciders
Cidery Location:  Newport, VT
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American heritage cider, Kingston Black single varietal

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Availability:  probably just online, although their regular ciders are sold in stores

Cider Description:  This cellar series cider is named after Ezekiel Goodband, the orchardist at Scott Farm who grew the apples from which it is made. 100% Kingston Black apples – a classic British cider variety that is known as one of the few apples that has sufficient sugar, acid and tannin to make a balanced single variety cider. Rare apples, pressed at harvest, carefully fermented and bottle-conditioned with our ice cider produce a cider that is exquisitely delicious and unique.

Winner: 2017 Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition, Silver Medal.  2016 Harvest.  100% Kingston Black, grown at Scott Farm in Dummerston, Vermont.  Bottle-conditioned, naturally sparkling, residual lees…Limited run: Only 100 cases produced

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 in Newport VT, and a Boutique Taproom & Cheese Bar in Winooski VT.  Their current product line includes ice ciders, Aperitif ciders, sparkling ciders, and Cellar Series releases.

Price:  $20
Where Bought:  their online store
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing, as I wanted to check if they had any new varieties since I last looked, and they did, so I ordered some, then they e-mailed to say they were offering free shipping! (through Dec 20 2018, on 3 or more bottles)

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Moderate carbonation.  Smells mild, of sharp tart apple.

Tasting Notes:  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  High tartness and acidity.  Low tannins and bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of sharp apple and pomace, lemon, mineral, and honey.  Moderate length tart finish.  Moderate apple flavor, complexity, flavor intensity, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  This was a bit too tart and sharp for my liking.  Also, less rich than all the other five Kingston Black SVs I’ve tried, but the KB is a bittersharp not a bittersweet cider apple variety, so rich flavor notes shouldn’t be a given.  My husband was a big fan though, and happy to finish the bottle.

Most Similar to:  many of the drier tart heritage ciders from heirloom cider apples available in the NE

Closing Notes:  My favorite Kingston Black SV so far is from Liberty, although I’ve also tried ones from Farnum Hill, Eve’s, Dragon’s Head, and Whitewood.

Have you tried a Kingston Black single varietal?  What did you think?

Alpenfire Foxwhelp SV

Review of Alpenfire Foxwhelp single varietal.  It is my first time trying this cider, but I’ve had most of their other ciders – DungenessSparkSmokeApoCalypsoEmberSimple CiderCalypsoPirate’s PlankGlowCindersShrubSpiced Tonic ShrubTraditional Heirloom Cider (batch 1 or 2)FlameTraditional Heirloom Cider (unknown batch)Tempest

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Cider:  Foxwhelp SV
Cidery:  Alpenfire
Cidery Location:  Port Townsend WA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft orchard-based organic cider from Foxwhelp apples

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Availability:  limited, probably only in Washington, plus online sales

Cider Description:  Our first 100% estate single varietal, produced from our organically grown Foxwhelp apples. The Foxwhelp is an English bittersharp cider apple, known for its aromatics and versatility, one of the oldest surviving cider apples still in use, originally from the Gloucestershire area. Historically a single strength cider from this apple would fetch the same price on the market in London as imported French Wine.

Cidery Description:  We invite you to experience the distinctive flavors of our estate grown ciders. Shaped by our maritime climate’s mild summers and tempered by the foggy mist rolling off of Discovery Bay, our apples maintain the qualities they’ve been treasured for by generations of cider lovers.  Soft tannins, high sugars, hints of bitterness, and an incredible flavor range are the tools the apples bring us.  Slow, cool fermentation, lengthy maturation, and attention to detail is the way we say thank you!

Price:  $16.99
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I’m always game to buy anything Alpenfire, as they make some awesome ciders.  They have been coming out with all sorts of new varieties lately.

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow.  Smells very mild, acidic and musty.  Low carbonation.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and funk.  Low to moderate tannins.  No sourness.  Notes of acidic heirloom apple, lemon, must, nut/wood, yeast, and mineral.  Moderate length finish.  Low to moderate apple flavor and sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate to high complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  I had expected more of a rich cider apple flavor, as Foxwhelp is a bittersharp, but this tasted more like an heirloom apple cider than a cider apple cider.  I enjoyed it though, as it was less acidic and more tannic than most heirloom apple ciders, so despite it being fairly dry, it wasn’t at all harsh for my tastes.  However, I still prefer a bittersweet cider apple cider, more like Alpenfire’s Ember.

Most Similar to:  This reminds me of some of Eve’s ciders, although the flavor notes were different.

Closing Notes:  I’m interested to try more of Alpenfire’s new ciders.  I already have a bottle of their Rosy Pommeau at home for example.

Have you tried a single varietal cider?  What did you think?

Liberty Ciderworks Pink Pearl SV

Review of Liberty Ciderworks’ Pink Pearl, a single varietal cider from red fleshed Pink Pearl apples.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Manchurian Crabapple Single VarietalCrabensteinEnglish StyleAbbessStonewall Dry Fly Whiskey Barrel AgedGravensteinCellar Series #G15New World StyleCellar Series (unknown)McIntoshGolden Russet SVSpokane ScrumpyHewe’s Crab, and Porter’s Perfection.

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Cider:  Pink Pearl SV
Cidery:  Liberty Ciderworks
Cidery Location:  Spokane WA
ABV:  7.9%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottle
Style:  American craft cider, single varietal from Pink Pearl apples

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Availability:  In general you can find their ciders in Washington and Oregon (see a list of locations here).  However, this variety was very limited (16 cases), released awhile back, and mostly just their tap room and cider club members, and online sales through Vino Shipper (listed in stock for $14.99 at the time of this review – I’m surprised any is still in stock as I think I bought this 6 months ago)

Cider Description:  Pink Pearl apples are a rare, red-fleshed varietal we just had to try, since some red apples yield beautiful rosé-colored ciders. Though this cider retained only a hint of pink coloration, the flavors are still quite lovely, with hints of floral, grassy aromatics and soft raspberry flavors. Apples grown near Brewster, WA. (16 cases bottle conditioned in 750 ml bottles, RS 1.0%)

Cidery Description:  Located in the largest apple-growing region on the continent, Liberty Ciderworks is all about the apple, showcasing the diversity and wonders of locally grown fruit. From well known apples like McIntosh and Jonathan to rare, cider-specific fruit like Kingston Black and Dabinett, Liberty ciders put apples in their proper place: Front and center.  We started Liberty Ciderworks in 2013 with a simple, two-part mission: 1) Using apples from local farms and fields to create unique, wonderful ciders, and 2) Sharing them with friends and neighbors across the great Pacific Northwest.  Welcome to the cider revolution. 

They have a tap room in Spokane WA, which also now has a bottle shop of selections from around the world.

Price:  $17.99
Where Bought:  Capitol Cider in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing

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First Impression:  Light tangerine hue.  Nearly still.  Smells nearly of apple brandy (ie. a higher ABV), and midly fruity.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of dry.  Light bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of tannins and bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of blush grape, strawberry, rhubarb, watermelon, and a hint of richness/brandy.  Low apple flavor and sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  I found it to be a unique dry fruity complex mild food-friendly cider.  My new ish cider fridge got it to the recommended 55-60 deg serving temperature, which I enjoyed.  I think serving it ice cold would have muted the flavor, but I didn’t try it.

Most Similar to:  a drier version of Snowdrift RedAlpenfire Glow, or Tieton Russian Red (I slightly prefer these, especially Alpenfire’s, as I usually go for a semi-dry to semi-sweet cider), or even rosé wine (which I don’t have any experience with)

Closing Notes:  I was surprised with the complexity and flavor, and I didn’t mind the dryness due to those factors.  If I didn’t know better I would have guessed this had a hint of brandy in it too, as it especially smelled much higher ABV than it drank.

I think it would be a fun cider to share with folks who haven’t had drier complex ciders, as it is unique, but lacks qualities such as high acidity, bitterness, tannins, sourness, or funk which can often be off-putting at least at first.  I actually wished I had brought it to the dinner party I went to the night before.

Have you tried Liberty Ciderworks Pink Pearl SV?  What did you think?

Liberty Reserve Series Porter’s Perfection Single Varietal

Review of Liberty’s Reserve Series Porter’s Perfection Single Varietal.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Manchurian Crabapple Single VarietalCrabensteinEnglish StyleAbbessStonewall Dry Fly Whiskey Barrel AgedGravensteinCellar Series #G15New World StyleCellar Series (unknown)McIntoshGolden Russet SVSpokane Scrumpy, and Hewe’s Crab.

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Cider:  Reserve Series #0216 Porter’s Perfection Single Varietal
Cidery:  Liberty Ciderworks
Cidery Location:  Spokane WA
ABV:  8.6%
How Supplied:  750ml corked bottles
Style:  American craft cider from Porter’s Perfection cider apples, barrel aged

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Availability:  In general you can find their ciders in Washington and Oregon (see a list of locations here).  However, this variety was very limited (12 cases), mostly just their tap room and cider club members, plus possibly online sales through Vino Shipper (although at the time of review it was not listed)

Cider Description:  Porter’s Perfection apples are another UK favorite, valued in blending and as a stand-alone. Dry, tannic and satisfying, our 2015 Porter’s is a blend of apples from both our Palouse-based suppliers (Bishops’ Orchard & Steury Orchards). Aged in a used whiskey barrel (already stripped of whiskey by our award-winning Stonewall cider), this cider pairs beautifully with smoked poultry, pork and red meat dishes. (12 cases bottled still in 750 ml bottles, RS 0.2%)

Cidery Description:  Located in the largest apple-growing region on the continent, Liberty Ciderworks is all about the apple, showcasing the diversity and wonders of locally grown fruit. From well known apples like McIntosh and Jonathan to rare, cider-specific fruit like Kingston Black and Dabinett, Liberty ciders put apples in their proper place: Front and center.  We started Liberty Ciderworks in 2013 with a simple, two-part mission: 1) Using apples from local farms and fields to create unique, wonderful ciders, and 2) Sharing them with friends and neighbors across the great Pacific Northwest.  Welcome to the cider revolution. 

They have a tap room in Spokane WA, which also now has a bottle shop of selections from around the world.

Price:  $15.75
Where Bought:  Capitol Cider in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Perusing their cider bottle list.  I was surprised to find this, as I didn’t think the Reserve Series left their tap room.

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First Impression:  Light orange amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells of bittersweet apple juice, caramel, and tannins.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness.  Moderate tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of bittersweet apple, caramel, brown sugar, orange, and leather.  Long dry tannic finish.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate to high complexity.  Moderate apple flavor.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  However, I think I would have liked a bit more body and residual sweetness, as I think that would have brought out more flavor.  However, as-is, it is incredibly food friendly.

Most Similar to:  Eve’s Kingston Black, Farnum Hill Kingston Black, and Alpenfire Ember (which is sweeter)

Closing Notes:  Next up I have their Pink Pearl to try, another Reserve Series single varietal.

Have you tried any single varietal ciders?  What did you think?

Liberty Ciderworks Hewe’s Crab SV

Review of Liberty Ciderworks’ Hewe’s Virginia Crab single varietal.  Its my first time trying this, but I’ve had Liberty’s Manchurian Crabapple SV, Crabenstein, Abbess, Stonewall, Gravenstein, Cellar Series #G15, New World Style, Cellar Series (# unknown), McIntosh, Golden Russet SV, and Spokane Scrumpy.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Liberty Ciderworks.  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:  Hewe’s Virgnia Crab SV
Cidery:  Liberty Ciderworks
Cidery Location:  Spokane WA
ABV:  8.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  American craft cider, a single varietal from Hewe’s Virginia crabapples

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Availability:  This is a limited release, but in general their ciders are sold in Washington and Oregon (see a list of locations here).  They also have online sales through Vino Shipper.

Cider Description:  An American original, this crab apple was cultivated in Virginia some time in the 18th century with the sole intent of turning it into cider. Another one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorites, this crab apple’s 2016 crop yields floral, buttery plum, herbal aromas, with flavors of dried fruit, herbal sweetness with a dry, tannic finish.

Cidery Description:  Located in the largest apple-growing region on the continent, Liberty Ciderworks is all about the apple, showcasing the diversity and wonders of locally grown fruit. From well known apples like McIntosh and Jonathan to rare, cider-specific fruit like Kingston Black and Dabinett, Liberty ciders put apples in their proper place: Front and center.  We started Liberty Ciderworks in 2013 with a simple, two-part mission: 1) Using apples from local farms and fields to create unique, wonderful ciders, and 2) Sharing them with friends and neighbors across the great Pacific Northwest.  Welcome to the cider revolution. 

They have a tap room in Spokane WA, which also now has a bottle shop of selections from around the world.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $14.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  one of the co-owners/cidermakers contacted me (Rick Hastings)

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First Impression:  The hue was in between dark straw yellow and light amber.  Very low carbonation.  Smells tart and tannic with a hint of richness.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate to high tartness.  High acidity.  Low to moderate tannins.  Low bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of crabapple pomace, caramel, lemon, leather, grapefruit, and oak.  Moderate apple flavor and flavor intensity.  Low to moderate sessionability.  Moderate to high complexity.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it.  I especially liked the richness and tannins.  I wouldn’t have minded a bit more sweetness and less tartness/acidity though.  This really tasted like a cider made from cider apples, not crabapples, which is pretty cool to be able to do with a crabapple single varietal.  I agree this cider is best drank closer to room than fridge temperature (I really wish I had a dedicated cider fridge so I could serve these types of ciders at cellar temperature!).

Most Similar to:  Liberty’s Manchurian Crabapple, but not quite as intense (as that one has a much higher ABV and is sweeter and more flavorful).

Side Note:  Crabapples are commonly used in cidermaking, especially by home cidermakers that want to add some tannins to their cider but don’t have access to cider apples.  They are typically used as part of a blend though, as very few varieties of crabapples are suitable as a single varietal, as they are so tart and tannic (and often nearly impossible to eat).

Closing Notes:  This was another great selection from Liberty, and would likely appeal best to fans of dry acidic cider.

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