Wandering Aengus Wanderlust

Review of Wandering Aengus’ Wanderlust.  I previously tried this at Port Townsend’s Summer Cider Day (see here), although I haven’t done a full review.  I’ve had a number of their other ciders (see here).

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Cider:  Wanderlust
Cidery:  Wandering Aengus
Cidery Location:  Salem OR
ABV:  6.7%
How Supplied:  500ml bottle
Style:  American craft cider from heirloom apples

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Availability:  At least in Oregon and Washington

Cider Description:  Wanderlust is a semi-dry cider with a rich body and a long spicy finish.  Enjoy slightly chilled with BBQ, pork, turkey, or aged cheddar.  2015 Oregon Harvest of Organically Grown Golden Russet (45%), Roxbury Russet (21%), Ashmead’s Kernel (16%), Ribston Pippin (12%), and Cox Orange Pippin (6%).  Bottled June 30, 2016.

Cidery Description:  At Wandering Aengus Ciderworks we press and blend over 20 cider apple varietals to craft our ciders. Our cider specific apples originate from France, England, and pre-prohibition America, but are grown now in Oregon. These heirloom varieties are essential for the depth of flavor, excellent body, and delightful aromatics of our distinctive ciders. All our ciders are always GLUTEN FREE.

They have a tasting room in Salem Oregon.

Price:  $4.75
Where Bought:  PCC (a local natural food store chain)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I remembered liking this at Port Townsend’s Summer Cider Day (see my tasting notes here), and for $4.75, I thought it was worth another try.  At my next trip to PCC I found their ciders were on sale for $4, so I picked up a bottle of Bloom, which I haven’t had in awhile.

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Very low carbonation upon pouring.  Smells acidic, slightly tannic, and of citrus, honey, and oak.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Low to moderate carbonation.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low to moderate bitterness.  Low tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Sharp flavor.  Notes of lemon, honey, green apple, mineral, and oak.  Moderate to long finish length.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it, but it was slightly more bitter, sharp, and acidic than I prefer.  However, it mellowed a bit as it warmed some from fridge temperature.  I have found all of the Wandering Aengus ciders I’ve tried so far to have more bitterness than other similar ciders.

Most Similar to:  Wandering Aengus Golden RussetDragon’s Head Columbia Crabapple, and Eve’s Beckhorn Hollow

Closing Notes:   I liked this better when I tried it at Summer Cider Day (where I picked up some bittersweet cider apple flavor, vs. this time there was more sharpness & acidity).  As its a relatively small batch craft product, I imagine it changes batch to batch and year to year.  However, it was still enjoyable and a good value.

Have you tried Wandering Aengus Wanderlust?  What did you think?

Schilling Cider House Visit 18 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my eighteenth visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

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I was there last Thursday, for the One Tree Crisp Apple cider release party, and enjoyed a flight of four ciders, plus One Tree’s new cider.

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<left to right: Portland Pineapple, Wandering Aengus Barrel Aged Wickson, Tieton Bourbon Peach, & Locust Sweet Aged Apple>

Portland Cider Company (Portland OR) Pineapple (5.7% ABV): This draft-only pineapple cider poured foamy but settled down after awhile.  This may be their “Maui Cruiser” variety, which also has coconut blossom nectar, as I couldn’t find any evidence that they have a strictly Pineapple cider.  Smells of fresh pineapples.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Low acidity.  The flavor is purely pineapple, with low flavor intensity.  I felt this cider smelled much better than it tasted…it left me wanting more flavor.  The pineapple aroma was so strong (especially in comparison to the cider’s flavor) that it makes me curious if it was added.

Wandering Aengus (Salem OR) Barrel Aged Wickson (8.0% ABV): This is a barrel aged draft-only version of their single varietal Wickson crab apple cider, which is available in bottles (which I tried previously and found overly harsh).  Smells mild, with hints of crab apples and oak.  Dry.  Low flavor intensity.  The barrel aging seemed to mellow the cider’s intensity compared to the original version.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  Alcohol-forward with crab apple sharpness, oak, and honey notes.  This is best drank cold as it becomes more harsh as it warms up.  I found this more drinkable than the original version, but I still didn’t care for it.

Tieton (Yakima WA) Bourbon Peach (6.5% ABV): A draft-only bourbon barrel aged peach cider.  Hazy lemonade hue.  Smells of bourbon, peaches, and pineapple.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Hints of boozy bourbon (but not overpowering) and peach & pineapple notes.  Yum!  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low apple flavor.  Medium to high sessionability.  I’m a fan of bourbon barrel aged ciders, but often they tend towards being overly boozy, harsh, dry, etc…this one was tasty and easy to drink.

Locust (Woodinville WA) Sweet Aged Apple (6.9% ABV): This is a barrel aged cider made from dessert apple varieties which is available on draft and in bottles.  I’ve tried this previously (when it was called Aged Washington Dessert Apple; see here), but had heard they significantly changed the recipe, so I wanted to give it another try.  Last time it was quite hazy and unfiltered looking, but this time there was no haziness.  Smells mild and apple-forward.  Semi-sweet (less sweet than the previous recipe).  Less flavorful than the previous recipe, but much more sessionable.  Mild tartness and acidity.  Caramel, vanilla, and honey notes.  Medium bodied.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  I’m not sure which recipe I preferred, as there are pros & cons of each, but I enjoyed both versions.

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<One Tree Crisp Apple>

One Tree Hard Cider (Spokane WA) Crisp Apple (6.8% ABV): This is their new flagship cider, sold in four packs of 16oz cans and on draft.  Hazy.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Unfiltered baked apple flavor with honey notes.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  High sessionability.  Strong apple flavor.  I enjoyed this.  I found it very similar to 2 Towns Out Cider, but slightly sweeter and slightly more flavorful.  Much less sweet than any of the other ciders I’ve tried from them.

The Tieton Bourbon Peach cider was my favorite, and my favorite cider from Tieton so far.

Stay tuned for more Schilling Cider House tasting notes here at Cider Says!  Have you had any good draft cider / cider flights recently?

Wandering Aengus Golden Russet

Review of Wandering Aengus Golden Russet, a single varietal cider from Salem Oregon.  I’ve previously tried their Bloom, Wickson, Oaked Dry, Wanderlust, and Byrd (tap only) ciders.  Wandering Aengus also makes Anthem cider, sold in four packs.

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Cider:  Golden Russet
Cidery:  Wandering Aengus Ciderworks
Cidery Location:  Salem OR
ABV:  9.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and limited quantity of kegs)
Style:  Single varietal craft cider made from Golden Russet apples

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Availability:  CA, CO, ID, IL, IN, MI, MT, NM, NJ, OR, PA, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, and WA D.C. per this list on their website.

Cider Description:  Made from Golden Russet apples grown organically in Ashland Oregon.  Described as having “rich honey aromas”.  Suggested pairings of roasted duck or aged fontina cheese.  1,200 cases of 12 bottles and 60 kegs bottled Match 2015 from the 2014 harvest.

Cidery Description:  At Wandering Aengus Ciderworks we press and blend over 20 cider apple varietals to craft our ciders. Our cider specific apples originate from France, England, and pre-prohibition America, but are grown now in Oregon. These heirloom varieties are essential for the depth of flavor, excellent body, and delightnful aromatics of our distinctive ciders. All our ciders are always GLUTEN FREE.

They have a tasting room in Salem Oregon open Fridays 4-8pm.

Price:  $8.99
Where Bought:  Whole Foods
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  The Hard Cider Appreciation Society group on Facebook had a couple members mention they really enjoyed this cider.  I haven’t been a huge fan of any Wandering Aengus cider, but wanted to give this one a try.

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First Impression:  Light golden bronze amber.  Very low carbonation, large bubbles.  Smells like acidic & tannic apples, honey, yeast, and caramel.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Moderate acidity and tartness.  Low bitterness and tannins.  A hint of sourness.  No funk.  Caramel and honey notes.  Medium bodied.  Slightly creamy buttery type texture.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  I found this a bit less bitter than most of the other Wandering Aengus ciders I’ve tried.  The tartness seemed to overpower the flavor a bit, but I liked the caramel and honey notes.

Most Similar to:  Wandering Aengus Oaked Dry and Wanderlust.

Closing Notes:   This was nice to try, but not my type of cider.  I think with a bit less tartness and bitterness I would have enjoyed it though, as the flavor notes were really nice.  I imagine I may have liked it better too if I had appropriately paired it, but I ended up drinking most of the bottle before dinner.

Have you tried Wandering Aengus ciders?  What did you think?

Anthem Cider

Here is a review of Anthem’s flagship / original hard apple cider:


Cider:  Anthem Cider
Cidery:  Anthem (by Wandering Aengus Ciderworks)
Cidery Location:  Salem, OR
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  four pack of 12 oz bottles (or a single 22oz bottle, or apparently just recently a six pack of 12 oz cans)
Availability:  year round (since 2010); widely available in OR, WA, & CA, and less so in ID, MT, MI, UT, IL, NM, NJ, TX, ID, TN, PA, VA, & WA D.C.

Description:  Anthem Cider offers the tart acidity of the apple’s natural malic acid with a clean fruit forward finish. Anthem Cider is the foundation for all the Anthems. Semi-Dry. Medium Tart.  We only use fresh pressed apples and other fruits, herbs sourced from the Pacific Northwest of known varieties – they are listed on every bottle and keg. To make great real cider, the varieties of apples, fruit additions and herbs matter. As does where the ingredients are grown and how far removed they are from their original form (degrees separated through processing from the farm to the bottle).  The fresh pressed apples we use provide all the sugars for fermentation and the malic acid (source of the tartness). Any and all residual sweetness in Anthem is provided by the apples we started with or the fruits we finish with.  The result is a line up of real ciders made the way you expect; apples pressed and fermented.
Cidermaker’s Description of Anthem vs. Wandering Aengus: Wandering Aengus Ciders are made from heirloom cider apple varieties that have traditionally been used over the centuries for ciders in French, England and pre-prohibition America. We grow these rare heirloom apples ourselves in Salem and have a handful of growers around Oregon that grow for us. These heirloom apples are pressed only once a year. The apples for Anthem are pressed and fermented year round from the common apple varieties that are grown on a large scale in Washington and Oregon. Anthem Cider is also finished with fresh pressed juices of other fruits or hops while Wandering Aengus Ciders are not blended with other fruits.

Price:  $8.99 / four pack (although I bought a single bottle for about $3)
Where Bought:  Total Wine
How Found: Browsing, wondering why I hadn’t tried this previously
Where Drank:  home

Opinion:  My first impression is this cider’s dry plain apple scent.  My nose did not deceive me this time.  Anthem Cider is described as a semi-dry cider, and I would mostly agree…I’d put it smack between semi-dry and semi-sweet, which may appear to a lot of folks as there isn’t much available in this sweetness range.  The flavor was a bit “blah” for my tastes…it doesn’t have much complexity going for it.  Even if it has been slightly sweeter (as my tastes tend that way), I still don’t think I would have been impressed.  The most similar cider I’ve sampled is Seattle Cider Semi-Sweet, which has a similar sweetness and flavor.  However, I think I’d have to give Seattle Cider the edge in the comparison, as it is a bit more clean & refreshing.  I remember having the Seattle Cider on tap with some fish & chips awhile back and it was tasty, but drier and more plain of a flavor than I prefer.  Overall, I found Anthem Cider to be fine, but not impressive.

Closing Notes: Anthem also offers pear, cherry, and hops varieties.  I was surprised to find that most Anthem Cider reviews online are of their Hops variety.  Note that each Anthem batch is slightly different based on what apple varieties they used (based on availability due to the time of the year), and their website will even tell you what is in a certain batch.  I sampled batch 127, which was a blend of red delicious, gala, granny smith, pink lady, jonagold, & opal apples.  Their approach seems unique, as most other cideries will name a cider different if there is a significant variation such as this (or clearly note a vintage).

Have you tried any Anthem ciders?  What did you think?