Stone Circle Farmhouse Sour Cherry

Review of Stone Circle Cider’s Farmhouse Sour Cherry.  I tried their Semi Dry a couple weeks ago (see here).  I was introduced through Press Then Press, a new online cider store focusing on small batch ciders.  They had a soft launch Aug 19 and are officially launching Sept 9 2019.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Press Then Press.  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:  Farmhouse Sour Cherry
Cidery:  Stone Circle Cider
Cidery Location:  Estacada, OR
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft farmhouse style semi-dry cider from heirloom & bittersweet cider apples, with a “splash” of cherry juice

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Availability:  probably only though Press Then Press (which ships to 43/50 states), unless you live near Portland Oregon

Distributor Description:  Don’t taste the same, taste the difference!  Press Then Press – Farm to you small batch cider.  We focus on small batch and hard to find cider.  Please visit our curated online store!  We are a mom and pop who wanted more fine cider available to everyone (over 21), so we started this up.  Press Then Press will email you when a fine cider is available for purchase.  If you want it, visit our site and purchase it!  Pick up your cider in Seattle, or we ship to you.  Sign up with your email to be included on future available ciders.  You will hear about it first!  1) Press the fruit  then  2) Press the order button

Cider Description:  A simple splash of cherry juice adds a whole new world of flavor to this traditional, unfiltered English farmhouse cider. Made with pie cherries and  tart apples, this semi-dry cider is the right kind of sour. Pro tip: slow cook pork loin in a bath of this cider for an amazing experience.

Cidery Description:  We own a 36 acre farm, just outside of Estacada, Oregon. It’s a beautiful property that offers lovely views of the Willamette Valley and Coastal Range Mountains. The farm had been exclusively Christmas trees, but we began the transition to heirloom variety cider apples in the winter of 2015. We’ve continued to transition more and more space into cider apples every year since.

Price:  ~ $9.50
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  through Press Then Press

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First Impression:  Hazy orange hue.  Low carbonation with some foam.  Smells funky and sour, of rich rustic apple.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate sourness and funk.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  Notes of cider apple juice & pomace, orange, must, and leather (I didn’t pick up any cherry).  Moderate length sour finish, at the back of the palette.  Moderate flavor intensity, complexity, sessionability, and apple flavor.

My Opinion:  I loved the profile of this cider, with the big cider apple flavor, but unfortunately I’m super sensitive to sourness, so due to its presence, I wasn’t personally a fan.  Everyone has different tastes – good thing there are more cider options than ever.  I’d suggest this selection to fans of farmhouse-style / rustic ciders, who like a bit of sourness & funk.  However, overall the levels of both were low, so some may not even notice.  Sourness & funk often occur together, and typically result from wild yeast fermentation, which uses natural yeast in the juice which was on the skin of the apples from the environment, which is typical for a farmhouse-style cider, same with haziness.

I liked that the bottle was clearly labeled ‘farmhouse’, and their website discusses their methods, as I’ve had some surprise bottles I’ve bought that have had even more sourness, but neither the bottle or their website had noted the style.  To be honest I wouldn’t have bought this cider myself due to the style, but I’m glad I got to try it, and I think my personal opinions in a review are more of an afterthought than a focus.

Side Note:  This is an excellent price point for the type of cider, and I liked seeing it available in smaller bottles, as it reduces the price point further, making it an easier buying decision than a $15+ bottle.  This appears to be a current trend, with more heritage cideries using 500 ml instead of 750 ml bottles like they used to do.  I think this helps them be more competitive with smaller modern cideries, making their ciders closer in price to them (and in this case, actually about equivalent).

Most Similar to:  This reminded me a lot of some Normandy France ciders I’ve tried, with rich bittersweet cider apple flavor and some sourness & funk, as well as U.S. ciders of a similar rustic style, like Runcible Old Hoot.

Closing Notes:  I look forward to trying the other ciders in Press Then Press‘ introductory lineup.  Their website is well laid out and informative, making the order process easy, and providing access to unique ciders which otherwise wouldn’t be available to most folks.  Note that they offer 2 other varieties from Stone Circle, their Dry and Sour Cherry, which I will be reviewing soon.

Have you tried Stone Circle cider?  What did you think?

Doc’s Draft Sour Cherry Cider

Review of Doc’s Draft Sour Cherry.  It is my second time trying this cider, but the first time was part of a cherry cider tasting, so I just shared notes, not a full review.  I’ve also tried Doc’s Raspberry and Pumpkin ciders.

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Cider:  Sour Cherry
Cidery:  Doc’s Draft (Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery)
Cidery Location:  Warwick NY
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  22oz bottles (and draft)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with cherries

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Availability:  semi wide release, seasonal, May 15 to July 15

Description:  A unique, hand-crafted cherry hard cider. Made from pressed NY state apples and fresh cherries.

Price:  $8.50
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  a cherry cider tasting with local cider friends

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First Impression:  Bright red-brown hue.  Low carbonation.  Mild real cherry scent.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  The flavor is just of juicy real cherries.  Moderate length finish, mostly lingering tartness.  No apple flavor.  Moderate to high flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed this.  Very flavorful, of real cherries (some ciders come across a bit medicinal cherry), but not too sweet (although I would have liked it just a smidge drier).

Most Similar to:  Washington Gold CherryOne Tree Dark Cherry, and Steelhead Chimera Cherry Apple

Closing Notes:  This is probably my favorite cherry cider, and I’ve tried a lot of them (at least 28; see here).

Have you tried Doc’s Sour Cherry?  What did you think?

Woodchuck Sour Cherry

Review of Woodchuck Sour Cherry.  This was a Cellar series release in Spring 2014.  They have since discontinued the Cellar series and now have the Out on a Limb series (six pack where the variety rotates every 45-60 days).  I was told that Sour Cherry is the same as Out on a Limb Cheeky Cherry, except 6.9% ABV instead of 5.5% ABV.

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Cider:  Sour Cherry
Cidery:  Woodchuck
Cidery Location:  Middlebury VT
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  22oz brown glass bottle with a cute cherry motif

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Availability:  discontinued

Cider Description:  Woodchuck Cellar Series Sour Cherry is crafted in the tradition of age-old Belgian sour beers.  Culinary and bittersweet cider apple varieties make up the fermented cider.  Cherries sourced from Belgium are then added.  The cherries bring a deep red color to the cider and leave behind subtle tat and sour fruit notes.  This is a very delicate cider full of complexity if you are willing to sip slowly and seek it out.  We hope you enjoy our latest from the cellar!  -John Matson, Cider Maker

Price:  $4 or $5 ?
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I think I ended up buying 5 or 6 of these bottles at the time!

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First Impression:  Lovely cherry red hue.  Cherry scent.  This was lacking carbonation due to its age (the bottles I drank in Spring 2014 had moderate carbonation).

Opinion:  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Very fruit-forward.  It starts sweet then moves to a moderate tart (quick) finish.  This cider (like most fruity ciders in my opinion) is quite juice-like.  The alcohol is well hidden.  It isn’t complex (I don’t pick up any flavor notes besides cherry), but has a nice flavor.  I’ve never found a fruity cider which truly impressed me like other cider varieties, but this one is probably my favorite fruit-flavored cider along with Finnriver Lavender Black Currant (which does have more complexity).  Other favorite ciders of mine which have a lovely fruit-forward flavor but aren’t “flavored’ are Eaglemount Quince and Reverend Nat’s Revival.

Most Similar to:  Other sweet cherry ciders.  This Woodchuck variety has more cherry flavor than many other cherry ciders though (such as Elemental Cherry, Locust Sweet Dark Cherry, and Original Sin Cherry Tree).

Closing Notes:   What a tasty blast from the past!  Its probably good I finally decided to open this bottle, as it had lost some carbonation, and the flavor was probably next to go.  I think I mostly hung on to it as it was the last Cellar Series release.  I was initially quite disappointed when Woodchuck dropped their Cellar Series and moved to Out on a Limb.  However, it has turned out quite well as it is even less of a commitment; I can get a single 12 oz bottle from the six pack (many stores split them up) instead of a 22 oz bottle.  This was my favorite Cellar Series of Sour Cherry, Mint, and Chocolate (I never tried Smoked Apple, Dry Hop, or Ginger).  They definitely came out with some weird ones!

Have you tried Woodchuck Sour Cherry or Cheeky Cherry?  What did you think?