Portland Cider Pumpkin Spice

Review of Portland Cider’s Pumpkin Spice, a seasonal spiced cider (no pumpkin, just pie spices).  It is my first time trying this, although I have had their Passion FruitPearfect Perry, Kinda DryHop’RageousLondon Dry GinAppleCrooked Cock ScrumpyStrawperryPineappleSangriaMojitoCranberry, and Concord Grape.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Portland 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.<<

Cider:  Pumpkin Spice
Cidery: Portland Cider
Cidery Location:  Portland OR
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  22oz bottles (and draft)
Style:  craft cider from dessert apples with pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, clove, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg)

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Availability:  seasonally, in fall (Sept-Nov), in Oregon and Washington

Cider Description:  Take the flavors of Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Allspice, and Ginger, blend them in just the right proportions, and you get our Pumpkin Spice cider. Full of all the spices of your favorite pumpkin pie, this cider is a delicious tribute to the flavors of autumn.  A familiar Fall spice blend blended to pair perfectly with a classic American semi-sweet apple cider made with 100% Northwest apples.

Cidery Description:  Portland Cider Company was started in October 2012 by an Oregonian and a family of British expats with the mission of bringing cider, handcrafted in the English tradition, to the Northwest. It has two taproom locations: Portland Cider House at 3638 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, OR 97214; and Portland Cider Co. Taproom & Cidery at 8925 SE Jannsen Rd, Bldg. F, Clackamas, OR 97015.

Price:  unknown
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells of sweet apple juice and spice.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Low acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Notes of tart apple, pie spices, and citrus.  Moderate length finish with a hint of ginger.  Low apple flavor and complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity and sessionability.  Low to moderate spice level.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  Definitely drier than expected based on the style and the scent.  It also interestingly seemed to have more of a fresh tart apple flavor than the baked apple flavor which I more often pick up with spiced ciders, although maybe that is more of a perceived thing?  Spiced cider isn’t my favorite, but my husband enjoys it, and was especially a fan of this one, due to it being on the drier side.

Most Similar to:  Elemental Seasonal Spiced Apple

Closing Notes:  I always find it interesting when products are labeled as “pumpkin spice”, as I think pumpkin + spice, when the convention is just referring to the spices that go with pumpkin pie.  There are a handful of ciders that actually add pumpkin though, like Tieton Smoked Pumpkin, Woodchuck Pumpkin, Doc’s Pumpkin, Locust Pumpkin, and 2 Towns Hollow Jack.

Have you tried spiced cider?  What did you think?

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Angry Orchard Spiced Apple

Review of Angry Orchard’s Spiced Apple, their newest limited release cider, with pie spices, only available in their winter variety pack.

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by  Angry Orchard.  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:  Spiced Apple
Cidery:  Angry Orchard
Cidery Location:  Walden NY (their R&D facility)
Cider Production Locations:  Cincinnati OH & Breingsville PA
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  12 pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  American commercial cider made from dessert apple varieties, with pie spices

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Availability:  January thru April, wide release, in the Winter Orchard Sampler Variety Pack (with Crisp Apple, Easy Apple, Stone Dry, Green Apple, Tapped Maple, and Spiced Apple)

Cider Description:  Angry Orchard Spiced Apple was Inspired by the spices in this classic dessert and connection to the American cider making tradition. This hard cider achieves its balanced profile by combining bright and festive warming spices and a blend of culinary and bittersweet apples. This new limited release style is perfect for evenings with friends and family during the last months of winter.

Apple Varieties:  Pacific Northwest dessert varieties (Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith, and Gala French)

Ingredients:  hard cider, water, cane sugar, apple juice concentrate, malic acid, natural flavor, carbon dioxide, sulfites

Price:  n/a (but retails for $15.99-$18.99 / 12 pack variety pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells of sweet concentrated apple with pie spices.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No sourness, bitterness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of concentrated apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  High sessionability.  Low complexity.  Moderate spice intensity.

My Opinion:  This is a pretty typical sweet spiced cider, which isn’t one of my favorite styles.  I didn’t find any faults with it though.

Most Similar to:  Most spiced ciders I’ve had have been drier, like Elemental Seasonal Spiced Apple, 2 Towns Nice & NaughtyCarlton Cyderworks Sugar and Spice, Sonoma Cider The Sleigh, and AEppelTreow Sparrow Spiced.  D’s Wicked Baked Apple was on-par with this one as far as sweetness, but was more baked apple than spiced.

Closing Notes:  Angry Orchard still appears to carry their Cinnful Apple, which is a fall seasonal, while this is a one-off only available in this winter’s variety pack.

Have you tried Angry Orchard Spiced Apple?  What did you think?

Sonoma Cider Winter Mix 4-Pack (The Cutter gingerbread cider & The Sleigh spiced cider)

Review of Sonoma Cider’s Winter Mix 4-Pack, which consists of two 22oz bottles each of The Cutter (a gingerbread cider) and The Sleigh (a winter spiced cider).

>>This is a review of sample bottles provided to Cider Says by Sonoma 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:  The Cutter & The Sleigh
Cidery:  Sonoma Cider
Cidery Location:  Healdsburg CA
ABV:  5.5% (both)
How Supplied:  22oz bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American Organic large-craft spiced cider

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Availability:  These are limited run ciders with less distribution, but Sonoma Cider is generally available in these areas

The Sleigh Description:  The Sleigh incorporates seasonal spices such as all-spice, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg combined with organic apple cider. The aromas of warm apple pie followed by buttery cinnamon notes on the nose are sure to conjure up some Yuletide memories.

The Cutter Description:  The Cutter captures the best of fresh baked gingerbread – bright, light aromas of ginger, with wellrounded notes of molasses and spiced baked apples in the body. It’s the perfect companion for the holiday season.

Cidery Description:  Sonoma Cider was founded in 2013 by 20-year veteran Cidermaster, David Cordtz, with his son and Cofounder, Robert Cordtz. Together they combine decades of industry expertise with next generation dynamism. Sonoma Cider handcrafts the only full line of organic ciders in the U.S., each made with distinctive, all natural, gluten-free ingredients. Sonoma Ciders are produced from freshly squeezed, organic apples in micro batches to deliver intensity of flavor and a refined experience for this rapidly growing category. Sonoma Cider offers four, award-winning “Core Ciders” which are available year-round. This includes the signature, apple cider “The Hatchet,” pear-based “The Pitchfork,” bourbon-flavored “The Anvil”, and sarsaparilla-vanilla “The Washboard”. Sonoma Cider also offers other unique flavors through the “Limited Run” series and “Cidermaker Reserve” series.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~$24 for the four 22oz bottles)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I was contacted about it

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The Cutter First Impression:  Medium hazy amber.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells lovely, rather strongly of gingerbread (starch, spices, ginger, sugar) and baked apples.

The Sleigh First Impression:  Medium amber.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells milder, of spices (primarily cinnamon).

The Cutter Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Hints of tannins.  Notes of gingerbread (starch, spices, ginger), baked apple, and citrus fruit.  Long finish length with lingering spice, including a slight amount of ginger at the back of the throat.  Moderate sessionability, flavor intensity, complexity, and apple flavor.  Mild to moderate spice intensity.

The Sleigh Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No sourness or funk.  Hints of tannins and bitterness.  Notes of spice (not just cinnamon, but prevalent allspice & cloves), a mild to moderate intensity.  Moderate finish length with lingering spice.  Moderate flavor intensity, sessionability, and apple flavor.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I preferred The Cutter to The Sleigh, which is interesting as I don’t like ginger; I liked the stronger flavor and higher perceived sweetness (although both have the same residual sugar content).  Both however had a stronger scent than flavor.  Both were also best when served between fridge and room temperature (which I’ve noticed with most other spiced ciders).  I’m not the biggest fan of spiced cider, but I’d call these pretty average & typical of the style.

Most Similar to:  Other spiced ciders, such as 2 Towns Nice & Naughty (which is probably my favorite spiced cider), AEppelTreow Sparrow SpicedCarlton Sugar and Spice, and  Elemental Seasonal Spiced Apple.  The gingerbread had far less ginger than most other ginger ciders I’ve had, which was nice (and no burn).

Bottom Line:  If you are a fan of spiced cider but don’t like your cider as sweet and/or desire an Organic cider, you may enjoy these.

Closing Note:  I’m surprised they decided to do 22oz bottles, as it really brings up the price tag (over $20! for the 4-pack).  Maybe they were thinking more of holiday parties than a couple sharing it?

Have you tried either of these Sonoma Cider varieties?  What did you think?

Tieton Spice Route

Review of Tieton’s Spice Route.  It is my first time trying it, but I’ve had most of their ciders:  Cidermaker’s Reserve, Sparkling Perry, Cranberry, Bourbon Peach, Frost (ice cider), Apricot, Smoked Pumpkin, Wind (Pommeau), Wild Washington, Cherry, and Blossom Nectar.

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Cider:  Spice Route
Cidery:  Tieton Cider Works
Cidery Location:  Yakima WA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft spiced cider

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Availability:  Year round, since July 2015.  Tieton ciders are available in WA, OR, AK, HI, B.C., ID, CA, NV, MT, WY, UT, CO, AZ, NM, TX, FL, MI, IL, and OH (per their website).  They also take orders by phone to be shipped in WA (info here) and have a tasting room (info here).

Cider Description:  An exotic and fresh cider. Expect a medium straw with hints of cinnamon, vanilla, clove and allspice. Reminiscent of a fresh baked apple pie.

Cidery Description:  From branch to bottle, Tieton Cider Works controls every aspect of the growing and cidermaking process. Tieton Cider Works boasts the largest orchard of cider varieties in Washington state and the largest Perry pear orchard in the United States. We blend our gnarly, inedible cider fruit with our organically grown dessert fruit. We’ve been growing apples, apricots, cherries and pears on Harmony Orchards – our family farm – since the 1930’s and are thrilled to be involved in Re:interpreting the tradition of cider making.

Price:  $8
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  Its one of the few ciders from them I hadn’t tried.

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells of hints of spices and vanilla.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of cinnamon, allspice, clove, vanilla, oak, grapefruit, and honey.  Moderate to long spiced finish.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  Low flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  Moderate to high sessionability.

My Opinion:  I’m usually not a fan of spiced cider, but I really enjoyed this one.  It wasn’t overly spiced or sweet.  The complexity (especially the vanilla and oak notes) was nice too.

Most Similar to:  2 Towns Nice & Naughty Imperial Spiced Cider, Elemental Seasonal Spiced AppleAEppelTreow Sparrow Spiced, Sea Cider Witch’s Broom, and Reverend Nat’s Winter Abbey Spice, Schilling Vanilla Clove

Closing Notes:   This is one of my favorites from Tieton.  My absolute favorite was Bourbon Peach, which was a tap-only special release.

Have you tried Tieton Spice Route?  What did you think?

2 Towns Nice & Naughty Imperial Spiced Cider

Review of 2 Towns’ Nice & Naughty Imperial Spiced Cider, their winter seasonal high ABV cider with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  I’ve tried this before (see here), and even tried the bourbon barrel aged version (see here), but only on draft.  I’ve previously tried most of their lineup; see here.

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by 2 Towns.  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:  Nice & Naughty
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  10.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft apple honey wine with spices

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Availability:  Thru the end of 2016 in AK, CA, HI, ID, OR, WA, and Minneapolis MN & Chicago IL.

Cider Description:  Festive and warming, Nice & Naughty is crammed full of whole cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and a touch of honey to celebrate the season.  Made with Cinnamon, Nutmeg & Clove.

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We never add any sugar, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing true Northwest craft cider.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~$8)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Light to medium straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells sweet, of baked apples and cinnamon.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of baked apples, juicy apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, hints of cloves, honey, and citrus.  Long warming slightly boozy finish.  Low to moderate sessionability.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity / spice intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  Tasty.  I liked it better closer to room than fridge temperature, oddly enough (considering the high ABV).  The level of spice is nice…not overwhelming.  I also liked that it wasn’t overly sweet.  It is however a bit on the acidic side.

Most Similar to:  AEppelTreow Sparrow Spiced and Elemental Seasonal Spiced Apple, both which had similar levels of sweetness and flavor profiles, but not as high of an ABV.  Reverend Nat’s Winter Abbey Spice has a higher ABV, but had an odd sourness.

Closing Notes:   If you are looking for a unique spiced cider, one with a bit more kick but not too much sweetness, this is a nice choice.

Have you tried 2 Towns Nice & Naughty?  What did you think?

Reverend Nat’s Winter Abbey Spice

Review of Reverend Nat’s Winter Abbey Spice, “apple wine with raisins and spices”.  Its a seasonal New England Style spiced cider (marketed as apple wine as it is over 7% ABV).  This appears similar to Reverend Nat’s Providence, which is also a New England Style spiced cider, but has a lower ABV.  At first I thought they were the same, as the store actually stuck a barcode label on this one saying “Providence”, but it appears not.

By the way, New England Style cider is typically considered a barrel aged strong cider (8-12% ABV) which underwent a secondary fermentation with additional sugars and raisins.  So, Winter Abbey Spice meets that definition except its a tad low on the ABV.

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Cider:  Winter Abbey Spice
Cidery:  Reverend Nat’s
Cidery Location:  Portland OR
ABV:  7.4%
How Supplied:  750ml flip top bottle
Style:  New England style American spiced cider

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Availability:  Winter time, where Reverend Nat’s cider is sold.  It appears this occurs in OR, WA, Southern CA, parts of ID, AK, British Columbia, Japan, & Singapore, and online at InsideTheCellar.com and ShipCider.com (although I didn’t see this variety on either website).

Cider Description:  Our good friends in the North counteract the bitter chill of winter with this traditional drink, but in flavor, bold in character, made with raisins, unrefined cane sugar, cinnamon & nutmeg and fermented to dryness with oak.  This tipple is sure to warm your bones.

The apples for this cider were from Kiyokawa Family Orchards.  It was aged in oak for 6 months.

Cidery Description:  Reverend Nat is a single-minded cider evangelist who searches the world for superior ingredients to handcraft the most unusual ciders that no one else will make.

Nat West (who is actually an online ordained minister) has been making cider since 2004, started Reverend Nat’s in 2011, and opened a tap room with 12 taps in Portland in 2013 (which also includes bottles and selections from other cideries).

Price:  $12.99
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  This was recommended to me, so I was on the look out for it.  At first I thought it was the same as Providence as that is what the label from the store said and I remembered Providence being a New England Style spiced cider, but it appears the recipe and ABV is slightly different.  I had passed on Providence as the whole raisins and spices thing sounded weird.  However, I’m now more open to spiced ciders, and apparently raisins aren’t all that uncommon to add to ciders (New England Style is a thing and raisins were traditionally used as their wild yeast would ferment the cider, and they add some sweetness, alcohol content, flavor, color, and tannins).

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First Impression:  Rich caramel orange amber.  Low carbonation.  Smells rich, of caramel, butterscotch, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and raisins.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Low acidity, tartness, and sourness.  A touch of bitterness and funk.  Mild to moderate spice (mostly cinnamon).  Lovely rich flavor with lots of burnt caramel and brown sugar notes.  The oak is barely noticeable.  I only picked up raisins in the scent, not the flavor.  Medium bodied.  Long finish.  Full flavored.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  This was pretty tasty, but the slightly sour thing was off putting to me.  The sourness wasn’t overt, and took me awhile to figure out what I was picking up.  However, reading online reviews, I can’t find anyone else noting it was sour, and I’m the first to admit I’m sensitive to it, so I imagine most folks wouldn’t notice at all.  My husband said this was in his top 5 favorite ciders at least (he samples everything I open).

Most Similar to:  Other high ABV spiced ciders (such as 2 Towns Nice & Naughty, although that is 10.5% ABV) and New England Style ciders.  I don’t think I’ve tried a New England Style cider before, but at least a few exist in the current craft cider market (such as from Blackbird and Headwater).  Apparently its fairly popular for home cidermakers too.

Closing Notes:   I can see why this cider is popular.  It wasn’t really my thing, but was nice to try.  I’m not opposed to trying another New England Style cider though.

Do you have a favorite spiced cider?

Elemental Seasonal Spiced Apple

Review of Elemental Hard Cider’s Seasonal Spiced Apple cider, from Woodinville WA.  This is a seasonal release for them.

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Cider:  Seasonal Spiced Apple
Cidery:  Elemental Hard Cider
Cidery Location:  Woodinville WA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  22oz bottle (also available on tap)
Style:  American spiced apple cider

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Availability:  During Winter in Western WA

Cider Description:  none given

Cidery Description:  Family owned and operated.  Brian and Christina Callahan launched Elemental Hard Cider to bring quality, affordable, and delicious hard cider to the world. We strive to bring fun and exciting flavors to the experienced cider enthusiast, as well as novice cider drinkers.  Hand-Crafted Micro ciders Designed For Taste, smoothness, and quality.  Each of our hand-crafted ciders are made from only the finest Northwest apples and cold-fermented to preserve the fruit. Our ciders are reminiscent of champagne, they are lightly filtered and mildly effervescent for clean taste. Experience our quality for yourself. Come in often to grab a glass. We are constantly trying out new flavors, so the line-up is always changing.

They have a tasting room in Woodinville WA open on Saturdays & Sundays.

Price:  ~$8
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing, upon recommendation from Nathan from The Cider Chronicles

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First Impression:  Light amber yellow-orange.  Mostly still.  Smells like sweet apples, cinnamon, and sugar.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry (so my nose deceived me into thinking it would be sweeter).  Moderate tartness.  Strong acidity.  No sourness or funk.  Mild bitterness.  Cinnamon-forward, with a touch of nutmeg and cloves, but overall the spice remains moderate.  Light bodied.  Long finish.

My Opinion:  Pretty good.  I liked that it wasn’t crazy sweet or heavily spiced.  I was surprised however with the level of tartness and acidity.

Most Similar to:  This reminds me a bit of 2 Towns Nice & Naughty, which I also found to be semi-dry and not too spiced, but was a significantly higher ABV.  I’ve found D’s Wicked Baked Apple and Carlton Cyderworks Sugar and Spice to both be semi-sweet.  I had always thought I didn’t like spiced ciders, but I’ve found that to be false.

Closing Notes:   This was a great cider to kick off my Christmas break with!

What is your favorite spiced hard cider?