Independent Cider Lavender Perry

Review of Independent Cider Lavender Perry.  It is my first time trying anything from this new cidery.

Vocabulary:  Opinion varies, but in the U.S., most commonly, fermented pear juice is called ‘perry’, while fermented apple juice flavored with pear juice is called ‘pear cider’.

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Cider:  Lavender Perry
Cidery:  Independent Cider
Cidery Location:  Dryden WA
ABV:  5.8%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft modern perry from estate-grown Anjou (common/dessert) pears

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Availability:  likely only in Washington

Cider Description:  Floral aromatics of rose and honey followed by a clean herbaceous pallet of eucalyptus and pear…Semi Sweet…Two varieties of Lavender harvested down valley from our pear orchards were used to create our first botanical Perry. The blended buds from this mid-summer flower are dried and steeped to contribute subtle lavender notes and flavors. 

Cidery Description:  Independent Cider juices pears from family orchards planted in the early 1900’s. Our heirloom pears, grown in the Upper Wenatchee Valley near Leavenworth, are harvested, juiced, fermented to dryness and aged in the orchards they grew in.

Price:  $7.49
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Nearly clear with a hint of purple.  Low carbonation.  Smells super mild, of lavender and a bit of sweetness.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Low acidity.  Hints of bitterness.  No tannins, funk, or sourness.  Notes of lavender and lemon with hints of canned pear.  Moderate tart length finish.  Low flavor intensity, complexity, and pear flavor.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I didn’t like or dislike it.  I had expected more sweetness (and in turn more flavor), as pears have unfermentable sugars (sorbitol), so usually they are at least semi-dry, but this was definitely dry, and probably the driest perry I’ve ever tried.  My husband really liked it, probably as he likes both drier beverages and lavender.  He described it as similar to Brut champagne with lavender, while I thought it was more like a hard seltzer with lavender, as it was so mild.

Most Similar to:  Seattle Cider Lavender Lemon

Closing Notes:  I’d like to try their other varieties and see if any are sweeter and more flavorful, but from their website it looks like they ferment all their perries to dry, but describe some as being perceived sweeter (like this one, marked as semi-sweet).  Also, its interesting they went with the name ‘Independent Cider’, as at least for now it looks like they only make perry.  However, I guess a lot of folks probably don’t know what perry is.

Have you tried perry?  What did you think?

Whiskey Barrel Cider Co. Triple Play

Review of Whiskey Barrel Cider Company’s Triple Play.  It is my first time trying this, but I previously had their Dam Fine Cider.

Cider:  Triple Play
Cidery:  Whiskey Barrel Cider Company
Cidery Location:  Pullman WA
ABV:  5.1%
How Supplied:  16oz cans
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples

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Availability:  likely only in Washington

Cider Description:  Triple Play began as our summer seasonal but quickly became so popular that we decided to keep it around all year long. Made from Gala, Red and Golden Delicious apples, Triple Play is our sweetest cider. Enjoy it as you remember the long hot days of summer!

Cidery Description:  Former engineer Trent Maier developed the recipe for Whiskey Barrel Cider and approached his friend and fellow engineer, Brian Augdahl, about the idea of building a space to create the recipe using local, Washington grown apples. The operation began with one delicious cider and has since developed into the creation of several signature ciders with the taste of Washington apples in every sip.

Price:  probably $2-4 / 1 can
Where Bought:  I think either Total Wine in Northgate, or The Cave in Kirkland
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Medium amber hue.  Very low carbonation.  A bit of foam.  Smells simply of sweet apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of just apple juice, although less sweet / a bit watered down.  Quick finish.  High sessionability and apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Very low complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  Super easy to drink and all around likable, although fairly simple.  It tastes what I imagine folks who have not tried cider would expect all ciders to taste like, of alcoholic apple juice, although this is less sweet than straight apple juice.  From the color and flavor, I’m guessing they made a high ABV dry cider, then back-sweetened with a fair bit of apple juice.

Most Similar to:  A less sweet and higher quality version of some popular commercial ciders, like Angry Orchard Crisp Apple and Woodchuck Amber.

Side Note:  After first trying their cider, I learned that their name came about as their first cider was whiskey barrel aged, but they have since scaled up production, and last I heard, none of their current cider line-up is whiskey barrel aged.

Closing Notes:  Hopefully I find more ciders from them soon.  I can see why this would be popular, as it is super apple forward and on the sweeter end, but less sweet (and higher quality and more local) than most commercial options.

Have you tried Whiskey Barrel Cider Co. Triple Play?  What did you think?

Hard Row to Hoe The Other Cider of the Lake

Review of Hard Row to Hoe’s The Other Cider of the Lake.  It is my first time trying anything from this winery (they primarily makes grape wine).

Cider:  The Other Cider of the Lake
Cidery:  Hard Row to Hoe
Cidery Location:  Chelan, WA
ABV:  4.7%
How Supplied:  16oz cans
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples

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Availability:  likely limited to the Chelan area, plus online sales

Cider Description:  The Other Cider of the Lake is our seasonal, small-batch, premium hard cider.  Made with Granny Smith, gala, fuji and honeycrisp apples and finishes dry and crisp.  The name harkens back to the Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards namesake story about a copper mine, a row boat and a brothel on the other side of the lake [Chelan].  This cider comes in a 4 pack of 16 ounce cans.

Cidery Description:  Making Serious Wines with a Lighthearted Approach

Price:  ~ $4 / can
Where Bought:  my husband picked this up for me at the winery when wine tasting
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Nearly clear.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells of sweet green apple.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Very light bodied.  Very low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of green apple with a hint of pineapple.  Short finish.  Low apple flavor and complexity.  Very low flavor intensity.  Very high sessionability.

My Opinion:  I thought this was average, plenty drinkable, but it didn’t hold my interest.  A bit watery and light in flavor, probably due to it being drier and made from non-cider apples.  My husband was a bigger fan.

Most Similar to:  Ulee’s Light Cider Dry and Number Six Dry 99

Closing Notes:  For the most part I haven’t been impressed by ciders made by wineries or breweries.

Have you tried The Other Cider of the Lake?  What did you think?

Finnriver Lavender Black Currant

Review of Finnriver Seasonal Botanical Series Lavender Black Currant.  I’ve had this at least a few times, but hadn’t done a full review of a bottle.  I’ve also tried the majority of their other ciders; see here.  They have new labels, which I think look really neat, more high end and sophisticated.

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Cider:  Lavender Black Currant
Cidery:  Finnriver
Cidery Location:  Chimacum WA (outside of Port Townsend)
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and draft)
Style:  American Organic craft cider from dessert apples, with black currant and lavender

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Availability:  summer seasonal, sold in AZ, CA, CO, IL, MT, NV, NY, OR, TX, WA, and WI in the U.S., plus Alberta and British Columbia Canada (plus online sales, plus they have a plain Black Currant sold year round for $1-2 less)

Cider Description:  Farmcrafted in our Chimacum barn with a select blend of Washington organic apples, organic black currant juice, organic lavender flowers from Olympic Peninsula farms (Jardin du Soleil, Wilderbee, and Purple Haze), and organic cane sugar.

Cidery Description:  At Finnriver we ferment out dreams and pour our hearts into each bottle.  Our Botanical Ciders are rooted in ancient wisdom, inspired by the seasons and crafted with a spirit of adventure!  This bottle is an invitation to discover the possibilities of the apple and the earthly abundance of the farmed fields and wild meadows of the Olympic Peninsula.  We are glad to share the beauty and county of the land!

Check out their website for more info.  They have a tasting room on their farm+orchard outside of Port Townsend WA which is a family friendly destination, with food, games, and more.  If you are heading to Port Townsend, also check out Alpenfire and Eaglemount, and I highly recommend staying at the Inn at the Resort at Port Ludlow (check out my review here, which also links to my reviews of all 3 Port Townsend area cideries).

Price:  $9.99
Where Bought:  Whole Foods
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I first tried this on draft at Schilling Cider House

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First Impression:  Deep purple-red hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells rich, fruity, and of lavender.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light bodied.  Moderate to high tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of grape, pomegranate, and blueberry (all three of which I imagine are the black currant flavor – I actually have never tried currants outside of cider so couldn’t really identify their flavor), plus hints of lavender especially on the finish.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate to high flavor intensity and sessionability.  Low to moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I really enjoy this one.  I usually don’t go for something this tart, but the sweetness helps balance that.  It has some complexity beyond what you’d typically see for a flavored cider from dessert apples.  Its also pretty neat that they can make Organic cider from local ingredients for only $10 / bottle (even less on draft).

Most Similar to:  their plain Black Currant cider, except with lavender

Closing Notes:  This is my favorite cider from Finnriver’s regular lineup.  My other favorites are Fire Barrel (especially the previous recipe – I wasn’t nearly as big of a fan of the latest release), Farmstead, Oak & Apple, and Honey Meadow.  Both this and their regular year-round Black Currant are even better on Nitro draft, tasting crazy smooth.

Have you tried any of Finnriver’s botanical ciders?  What did you think?

Barns Etc / Hard Cider Shed’s Country Elegance Heirloom Blend Medium

Review of Barns Etc (Hard Cider Shed) Counry Elegance Heirloom Blend cider, Medium sweet.  “Barns Etc” is the cidery in Wenatchee WA, and they have a tasting room called “The Cider Shed” in Cashmere WA.  This is my first time trying anything from this cidery.

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Cider:  Country Elegance Heirloom Blend, Medium
Cidery:  Barns Etc / Hard Cider Shed
Cidery Location:  Wenatchee/Cashmere WA
ABV:  7.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from heirloom cider apples

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Availability:  very limited (see here), mostly only through their tasting room, plus local delivery for large orders, a few shops in the Cashmere / Wenatchee / Leavenworth WA area, and possibly shipping

Cider Description:  Our attention to blending sweet and tart heirloom apples provides this wonderful cider. Grilled salmon pairs nicely with our Country Elegance Heirloom blend ~ medium. 

Cidery Description:  Country Elegance artisan hard ciders are hand crafted using all natural fresh pressed heirloom apples from Cashmere and Wenatchee, Washington family orchards.  The delicate blending of sweet and tart apples provide a pure and uniquely flavorful blend of ciders.

Price:  $22
Where Bought:  Broken  Barrel, a bottle shop + tasting room with wine & cider in Leavenworth WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing, when we were in town for a few days in early December 2017; see my Leavenworth cider roundup post here

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First Impression:  Light gold hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells of acidic heirloom apple cider.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of tannins and sourness.  No funk or bitterness.  Notes of heirloom apple juice & pomace, caramel, orange, and grapefruit.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate apple flavor and flavor intensity.  Moderate to high sessionability and complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  Nice flavor and complexity.  A perfect amount of sweetness for my tastes.  Not super tart/acidic like so many heirloom apple ciders (likely balanced by the additional sweetness, as so often they go fully dry).  However, it would have been awesome without that hint of sour (I’m really sensitive to it and it just hits my taste buds wrong).  Also, at $22, I think it is a bit spendy, costing more than most all other local ciders I’ve bought, even those from cider apples, which usually run ~ $15-20, like from Alpenfire, Snowdrift, Liberty, Dragon’s Head, and Whitewood.  Although 750ml can look like a lot, its only 25.4 oz, and at only 7% ABV, it was easy for me to finish the bottle by myself in one night.  Its always great to see ciders made from heirloom and/or cider apples, instead of the flavored ciders from dessert apples which make up the majority of the market.

Most Similar to:  nothing really, as it had a different flavor profile than most heirloom apple ciders I’ve had, but it was a bit similar to Frecon Farms Scrumpy and Eden Guinevere’s Pearls

Closing Notes:  They also have dry and sweet versions of this heirloom cider, as well as a cherry cider and a perry, all retailing for $22.

Have you tried any cider from north central Washington?  What did you think?

Locust Watermelon

Review of Locust’s Watermelon cider.  I previously tried this on draft (see here), but this time I am doing a full review of a can.  I’ve also previously tried Locust’s Sweet Dark Cherry, Original Dry, Green Tea Infused, Washington Dessert AppleBittersweet ReservePumpkinThai GingerBourbon Barrel AgedWinesapAlder Smoked AppleMangoElder & OakWabi SabiApricot 1Sweet Aged AppleBerry SessionSmoked BlueberryVanilla BeanWinter BananaChili PineappleSeckel PerryHibiscusHoney Pear (drier)Apricot 2PineappleHoney Pear (sweeter)

Cider:  Watermelon
Cidery:  Locust
Cidery Location:  Woodinville WA
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  four pack of 12oz cans (and draft)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples with watermelon juice

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Availability:  likely at least in Washington, Oregon, Chicago, Florida, California, and Texas

Cider Description:  Washington apples, watermelon juice, & that’s all

Cidery Description:  My brother Patrick and I founded Locust Cider in March 2015 with the mission of making outstanding hard cider using the fruit that is most available in Washington- the eating apple. Washington growers produce 60% of the apples in the United States, and cider-specific varieties are in a major shortage, so we set out to put innovative spins on classic cider-making methods to bring out the best in the everyday apple.  Our delicious ciders begin with great fruit- we primarily use “cull” apples- those that are not pretty enough or are too small or large to make it to grocery stores- diverting them from destruction because their juice is still great. Our unique process then transforms the apples into great cider through methodical yeast selection, meticulous temperature control, slow aging, and creative and deliberate blending.

They have tap rooms in Woodinville WA, Seattle WA (Ballard), Tacoma WA, and Ft. Worth TX.

Price:  $9.99 / four pack
Where Bought:  PCC in Fremont Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing, after visiting the Schilling Cider House

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First Impression:  Hazy light pink-orange hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells very mildly of watermelon.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of watermelon and a hint of white grape.  Quick finish.  Low apple flavor and complexity.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I like it, especially as I’m a huge watermelon fan.  Its a nice light option for spring & summer, less sweet, but still fairly flavorful, although fairly simple.

Most Similar to:  The only other watermelon beverages I’ve tried are a watermelon perry (from pears) from NV Cider and a watermelon session mead (from honey) from Bee Haven.

Closing Notes:  Locust has a great lineup of flavorful ciders, from dry to sweet, although my favorites from them are on the sweeter end (this one, Bittersweet Reserve, Sweet Aged Apple, and Vanilla Bean + Smoked Blueberry)

Have you tried Locust Watermelon?  What did you think?

One Tree Staycation

Review of One Tree’s Staycation, a new ish pineapple mango cider.  It is my first time trying this, but I have also had their Lemon Basil, Caramel Cinnamon, HuckleberryDark CherryCrisp AppleRaspberry, and Pina Colada.

Cider:  Staycation (Pineapple Mango)
Cidery:  One Tree
Cidery Location:  Spokane WA
ABV:  5.6%
How Supplied:  four pack of 16oz cans
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with pineapple and mango

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Availability:  Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Illinois, since October 2017, plus limited online sales

Cider Description:
Tropical Vacations are overrated.
-Sharks eat people, period. End of story
-Vog, It’s volcanic fog… Seriously look it up
-In the rain forest, all it does is rain ALL.DAY.LONG
-Sally doesn’t really sell seashells by the sea shore
-When a jellyfish stings you, there’s only one solution…

Cidery Description:  It all started with a love for the Washington apple and a father’s day gift of an at home cider kit … and the rest is history. One Tree Hard Cider is made from locally grown ingredients right here in Washington State. When we started on the journey we wanted to use a wide range of ingredients and flavors in our hard ciders to show that it all starts with apples but it doesn’t end there! Our core ciders are Lemon Basil, Caramel Cinnamon, Huckleberry, and Raspberry. We also release seasonal ciders such as Peach Tea, Ginger Apricot, Pumpkin and Cranberry, and keep your eye out for special draft-only limited release ciders! Whether you like your cider sweet or tart, you’ll find a One Tree Hard Cider just for you!

They have a cider house in Spokane Washington.

Price:  $3.99 / single can ($11.99 / four pack)
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing (although I had been on the lookout for a single can, as I had seen it in four-packs)

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First Impression:  Hazy lemonade hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells of pineapple with hints of coconut and mango.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of pineapple, coconut, mango, and lime.  Quick finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low to moderate flavor intensity and complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  Great!  I can’t remember the last time I tried a flavored cider I liked this much; so many are too dry or too sweet, barely flavorful, one dimensional, etc.  I loved the coconut flavor, although they didn’t say they added any, so maybe its just me?  Update – It has become a staple in my cider fridge, and unlike many other ciders, I liked it just as much (or even more) the second time I tried it.

Most Similar to:  One Tree Pina Colada, except more pineapple than coconut, and much less sweet.

Closing Notes:  This appears to be a year round release – yay.

Have you tried One Tree Staycation?  What did you think?