Tod Creek Coastal Blue

Review of Tod Creek’s Coastal Blue, a blueberry cider.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve had their Tod Cider Vancouver Island and Mala-Hop.

Cider:  Coastal Blue (blueberry)
Cidery:  Tod Creek Cider
Cidery Location:  Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  four pack of 16oz cans
Style:  Canadian craft cider from dessert apples, with local wild blueberries

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Availability:  Western British Columbia, Canada, such as in Victoria and Vancouver (see here)

Cider Description:  We add local blueberry juice to our craft cider for an amazing west coast taste!

Cidery Description:  Victoria’s newest Craft Cider maker. We are a farm based micro-cidery producing quality craft cider from apples sourced locally and throughout BC…We have grown so much in the last year because of the support of the private liquor stores, and restaurants, that have been carrying our cider. Many thanks to them, and please visit them to buy your cider. Or swing by our onsite store and tour our cidery at the same time!  (in Victoria)

Price:  I don’t remember (somewhere between $10 & $15 CAN?), but it was a good deal with the exchange rate being $1 CAD to $0.80 USD
Where Bought:  The Strath in Victoria B.C. Canada
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  A friend brought some to me a couple years ago.  This time when I was in Victoria (cruise port stop), I spotted the blueberry variety, and picked some up as I had heard online that it was popular.

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First Impression:  Deep red/pink/purple hue.  Nearly still.  Smells tart with a hint of berry.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  High tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  Low bitterness.  Hints of tannins and sourness.  No funk.  Notes of blueberry, blackberry, pomegranate, lemon, and green apple.  Moderate length tart finish.  Moderate sessionability, complexity, and flavor intensity.  Low apple flavor.

My Opinion:  I didn’t really care for this one as it was so tart (even more than Tod Creek’s flagship Tod Cider, a semi-dry citrusy cider).  I was also surprised that it was fairly dry, but as Tod Creek’s other ciders are around the same level of sweetness, I shouldn’t have been.  The blueberry flavor was nice though.

Most Similar to:  Ole Swede Blueberry (which was also semi-dry and very tart, but had some different flavor notes).  Most blueberry ciders I’ve tried were much sweeter, like Locust Smoked Blueberry, Schilling Blueberry Cobbler, and Woodchuck Summer Time.  I’ve also tried one which was completely dry and a bit sour, WildCraft Blue River Blueberry.

Closing Notes:  I’d recommend this to folks who like drier tart ciders which still retain a good bit of fruitiness.

Have you tried Tod Creek Coastal Blue?  What did you think?

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Merridale Scrumpy Cider

Review of Merridale’s Scrumpy Cider.  This is the first cider I’ve tried from them.  It isn’t available in the U.S., but I picked it up in Victoria B.C., a port stop on our Alaska cruise (one of six ciders I bought).

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Cider:  Scrumpy
Cidery:  Merridale
Cidery Location:  Cobble Hill, British Columbia, Canada
ABV:  11.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  Canadian craft cider made from cider & crab apple varieties

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Availability:  Only in British Columbia Canada.  See Merridale’s website for locations.

Cider Description:  Winner of Gold & Silver North American Brewers Awards in Idaho Springs. If you’re a Scotch drinker, try this one. Scrumpy is strong and sharp, and rich in the flavours of our strongest cider apples. Once you acquire a taste for Scrumpy, nothing else will do! In old England, scrumpy was a cider made by farm workers who stole or ‘scrumped’ apples from the orchard.

Cidery Description:  Here at Merridale, we use cider apple varieties that have been proven for centuries in England, France, and Germany to make the best cider. All of our ciders are made from 100% pure juice, and only the first pressing is used. We do not add water or re-press the apples to increase the yield because we believe this compromises the flavour. Being purists, we do not use concentrates, chemicals at bottling, pasteurization, or fine filtration of juice. We ferment our juice slowly and naturally, to delicately bring out all of the flavour the fruit has to offer.

The Cowichan Valley mirrors the optimum growing and climate conditions of the renowned cider regions in the UK and Europe. Merridale’s location was chosen, after years of research, as the perfect combination of climate, aspect and soil conditions (our terroire) to grow world-class fruit. As with fine wines, you need world-class fruit to make a world-class beverage! We have two rows of Jonagold apples, the only dessert apples in the orchard. The rest are cider-specific varieties like Tremlett’s Bitter, Michelin, Yarlington Mill, Dabinett, Chisel Jersey, Kermerien, Julienne, Judaine, Frequin Rouge, and Hauxapfel.

At Merridale we take no shortcuts with our cider. We are passionate about following practices and procedures that do not ever compromise the quality. Greater care requires more labour and time, but the result is worth it. The way we handle our fruit, our fermentations, our packaging and our customers is consistent with this philosophy. We believe that consumers appreciate our passion. Some of our practices are important to know so that you can understand what is unique about Merridale.  As cider makers, our customers and our staff continue to inspire us. We hope you can taste the passion of our producers and all of us at Merridale.

Price:  ~$7.50 USD with the current exchange rate
Where Bought:  The Strath in Victoria B.C. (which had a great cider selection for a small shop by the way)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I had heard of them, and I love high ABV (Imperial) and English-style ciders, so this sounded really good.

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First Impression:  Orange amber hue.  Low carbonation upon pouring.  Smells rich, of tannins, caramel, and honey.

Tasting Notes:  Dry to semi-dry.  Nearly still.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tannins.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate bitterness.  No sourness.  A hint of funk.  Notes of apple pomace, caramel, honey, and oak.  Long warming finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  Tastes like an English-style cider with an extra kick of ABV (which I assume is from the crab apples, which are high in sugar) and slightly harsher flavor.  I really enjoyed it, but this is probably not for everyone (my husband didn’t like it at all, although he’s not a fan of English-style ciders like I am).

Most Similar to:  English Imperial style ciders and ciders made with crabapples.  This reminds me of a cross between Liberty’s Stonewall and Manchurian Crabapple.

Closing Notes:   I’m impressed!  This was also a good value with it being made with cider apples and being oak cask aged, especially good with the current exchange rate.  Hopefully I can try something else from Merridale in the future.

Have you tried Merridale cider?  What did you think?