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)

Photo Apr 21, 6 50 39 PM

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?

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?

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Alpenfire Tempest New England Style

Review of Alpenfire Tempest, a newish special release, New England Style (with raisins & brown sugar, high ABV, aged).  It is my first time trying this, although I’ve had other New England Style ciders, and tried most of Alpenfire’s line-up (see here).

Photo Mar 16, 5 05 26 PM

Cider:  Tempest
Cidery:  Alpenfire
Cidery Location:  Port Townsend WA
ABV:  10%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American artisan New England Style cider (4 week fermentation, tank aged 5 months, bottle conditioned)

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Availability:  special release in fall 2017 (55 cases), likely only available in Western WA, although they have online sales (but I didn’t see this one at the time of review)

Cider Description:  Alpenfire’s Tempest, a new release from the 2016 harvest. Phenolic and spiritous, rounded and warming. A proper fall cider, estate apples refermented with raisins and brown sugar. Create your own tempest in a tea cup with this winter warmer.

Apple Varieties:  Muscadet de dieppe, Kingston Black, Liberty, Republican, Democrat, plus many more

Cidery Description:  Alpenfire Cider, the West’s first certified organic cidery, growing traditional cider apples since 2003.  Family owned and operated.

Price:  $15
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Medium pumpkin orange amber.  Still.  Smells of bittersweet & heirloom apples with a hint of funk.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Low funk and tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  Notes of bittersweet apple, apple pomace, must, orange, and leather.  Long finish with a hint of sourness and an herbal quality.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate to high flavor intensity and complexity.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  This really reminded me of English cider, with the cider apple flavor, slightly higher sweetness, and funk.  I loved the flavor and style.  It really had all my favorites qualities all in one package, which is rare (rich, complex, flavorful, mid level sweetness, cider apples, and higher ABV).  I’m also a fan of the 500ml bottles, as I’m more likely to buy them (plus it probably reduced the price of this cider from ~$20 to $15).

Most Similar to:  New England style cider isn’t too common so I’ve only tried four others that I can remember, but this is my favorite by far, likely due to its similarity to English cider.  Otherwise, Alpenfire Tempest was similar to Cockrell’s Colonial Winter, more flavorful & complex than Seattle Cider’s New England Style, less sour than Reverend Nat’s Providence, and more traditional than Tilted Shed’s Barred Rock.

Closing Notes:  I am really excited to try more of Alpenfire’s new releases, which have been very plentiful of late, as they are are my favorite Washington cidery.

Have you tried New England Style cider?  What did you think?

Manchester Road 42

Review of Manchester Road’s “42”.  It is my first time trying anything from this cidery.  They appear relatively new, only available in a limited area of Washington, and to only have released this one cider.  Despite the name and theming, this is a locally owned and operated cidery, although the cidermaker is British.

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Cider:  42
Cidery:  Manchester Road Cider Co.
Cidery Location:  Chelan WA
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  22oz bottles (and draft)
Style:  American cider from dessert apples, medium sweet

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Availability:  Very limited, in parts of WA, such as Chelan, Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Orondo, and Cashmere (see here)

Cider Description:  42 is Manchester Road’s leading cider and our first to bring to market.  This cider is light and refreshing with full apple flavor. The recipe was developed over the last decade reminiscent of a modern, British draft, style cider. 42 tastes great with all types of food and is especially delicious on a warm, summer afternoon. 42 – a smooth, medium sweet, sparkling cider.  

Cidery Description:  Our production facility sits in the heart of Washington’s apple country with over 170,000 acres of orchards surrounding us. We are able to make our cider locally and with the best apples in the world. What truly makes us unique is the combination of Washington apples and a British cider maker.  With over 30 years of experience enjoying and making cider and growing up where cider originated, our cider maker was inspired by north central Washington apples to create a modern, refreshing cider that is popular today in British pubs.

Price:  ~$5.99
Where Bought:  Dan’s Food Market in Leavenworth WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing, when we visited in early Dec 2017

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Nearly still.  Smells of sweet apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of concentrated baked apple with honey and pear, and hints of spice.  Quick finish length.  High sessionability.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it.  However, it didn’t remind me of English cider in the least.  English cider would typically be made from bittersweet cider apples, and thus have their characteristic flavor (plus it is often drier and higher in tannins).  The flavor was most similar to a typical American craft cider from dessert apples.

I did however notice “natural flavoring” on the ingredient list, which puzzled me, as it is typically only found in commercial cider.  Maybe apple flavor?  This was quite apple-forward, but ciders of this style are often significantly back sweetened with unfermented apple juice, to impart an apple-forward flavor which can be muted when using dessert apples and fermenting to dryness (which is the easiest way to make cider), add sweetness, and reach a target lower ABV.

Most Similar to:  a mix of Locust Honey Pear and Locust Aged Apple

Closing Notes:  I’m interested to see what they release next.

Have you tried Manchester Road Cider?  What did you think?

Finnriver Fire Barrel

Review of Finnriver Fire Barrel.   I’ve tried the previous version of this (see here) as well as this new version on tap (see here), but now I’m reviewing a new bottle in more detail.  I’ve also tried most of Finnriver’s lineup (see here).

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Cider:  Fire Barrel
Cidery:  Finnriver
Cidery Location:  Chimacum WA
ABV:  9.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottle (and draft)

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Availability:  Limited release.  Finnriver ciders are sold in WA, OR, CA, AZ, NV, TX, IL, CO, and Alberta & BC Canada (detailed info here).  They also have an online store (which can ship to WA, OR, CA, AK, CO, MN, FL, & WA D.C.), but I didn’t see this one at the time of review.

Cider Description:  A robust, bold and balanced taste of traditional cider apples— with a whisper of whiskey and rye spice; smoky aromas; notes of caramel and vanilla; and a mature, tannic finish.

100% Finnriver orchard organic cider apples: Chisel Jersey, Brown Snout, Harry Master’s Jersey, Medaille d’Or, Frequin rouge, Dabinette & Major.

Carefully farmcrafted and fermented with a blend of homegrown Finnriver orchard organic cider apples and white wine yeast in stainless steel tanks. Once the fermentation is complete, we cask the cider in Washington rye whiskey barrels for 5 months to impart depth and character. This award-winning cider was inspired by PNW cidermaker Drew Zimmerman, whose mentorship and cider apple trees helped us establish our orchard.

After chilling, allow the cider to warm slightly and serve; we favor Fire Barrel in a Belgian-style tulip glass. Try it with roasted pork, slow roasted brisket, a blue cheese burger, cured meats, smoked cheeses or any other hearty, savory fare. Caramelize an onion with Firebarrel cider and add to a dish for a feisty meal.

Cidery Description:  At Finnriver we gather and ferment the flavors of the land to offer you farmcrafted hard ciders and spirited fruit wines. We are inspired by the allure of the fruit, the ancient history of the craft of fermentation and the lively traditions we now seek to revive.  Our mission is to inspire a deeper connection to the land that sustains us….Some of these ciders are small-batch, seasonal and labor-intensive. Others are produced with contemporary methods and more readily available year-round…Finnriver grows over twenty varieties of traditional and heirloom apples in our organic orchard, to feature in our traditional and specialty ciders.

Finnriver has a great illustrated product guide (see here).  They have a tasting room and are on the Olympic Pennsylvania cider route, along with the Eaglemount and Alpenfire cideries.

Price:  $25
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  My husband got this for me for Christmas!  He didn’t know I had already tried this new release, but had remembered me loving the old one.

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First Impression:  Light caramel amber hue.  Nearly still.  Smells of cider apples, caramel, and bourbon.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Very light bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of bittersweet cider apples, caramel, brown sugar, leather, orange, bourbon, smoke, and oak.  Long bitter finish.  Moderate apple flavor and flavor intensity.  Low barrel influence and sessionability.  Low to moderate bourbon influence.  Moderate to high complexity.

Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  However, compared to the old release, this is a disappointment.  The price is significantly higher, it is drier, less flavorful, more bitter, and thinner bodied.  I agree to serve this at cellar temperature (between fridge & room temp), as colder would mute the flavor.  I even enjoy ciders of this style at room temperature.

Most Similar to:  Other ciders from bittersweet cider apples.  This reminds me of English cider, but with the added bourbon and oak.

Closing Notes:   I am curious about next year’s release, and if it will be more like the previous version that I absolutely love.

Have you tried Finnriver Fire Barrel?  What did you think?

Pear Up Pearjito Colada

Review of Pear Up’s Pearjito Colada.  I previously tried this (see here), plus their Pear Essentials, Half Past PrudentCherry PerryWatermelon PerryWatermelon Raspberry PerryRaspberry PerryPearjito ColadaPearfect Pie, and Pineapple Pear.

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Cider:  Pearjito Colada
Cidery:  Pear Up (formerly NV Cider)
Cidery Location:  East Wenatchee WA
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  500ml green Aluminum bottles (and 4-packs of glass bottles, and draft)
Style:  American craft perry (from dessert pears, no apples) with coconut and spearmint

Photo Dec 08, 6 20 06 PM Photo Dec 08, 6 20 22 PM

Availability:  Washington and Oregon; see here.

Cider Description:  (none given; this is one of their newer varieties, and isn’t listed on the website)

Cidery Description:  Neigel Vintners is a family affair.  Our cider company is run on our family property.  Some of the first pears we press each year come off of remnants of the first pears planted by the family.  Over 100 years old, these trees have had their heart-wood rot out and survived. There are several places a person can reach through the center of the tree with a hand. These trees have been a staple of the property for generations.

Price:  $6
Where Bought:  a gift shop in Leavenworth WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing, as I found a large display of most of their perries.  I previously tried it at a tasting event (see here)

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue with a hint of pink.  Low carbonation.  Smells of coconut and mint.

Tasting Notes:  One the drier side of semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of canned pear, coconut flavor, and mint.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate pear flavor and flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, I enjoyed the batch I tried previously better, as the coconut flavor seemed more real & intense, and it had nearly no noticeable mint.

Most Similar to:  Nothing I’ve tried.  However, I’ve actually had a few ciders with mint – Portland Cider Co. Mojito, Jester & Judge Columbia Belle, and 101 Cider House Piña Menta.  I’ve also had a couple ciders with coconut – One Tree Pina Colada and Reverend Nat’s The Passion.

Closing Notes:  This would be even better in summer, but it is tasty and easy to drink anytime.

Have you tried Pear Up Pearjito Colada?  What did you think?

Leavenworth Cider Tasting

My husband and I recently spend a few days in Leavenworth WA, a Bavarian-themed town in the mountains a couple hours East of Seattle.  Visiting this time of year is especially special as they light up and decorate the entire town.  This time we visited mid-week, skipping the weekend festival crowds, which we concluded was a great decision (plus it is nearly impossible to get a hotel room there on a festival weekend as they allow folks to re-book for the next year).  I found cider at nearly every place we went to, and didn’t spot Angry Orchard on a single tap list!  Very cool.

At least three new cider-centric places opened in Leavenworth since our last visit:

  • Bushel & Bee – a tap room with about 12 beers, 9 ciders, and 3 meads on draft, who offers flights, snacks, and two fridge cases of bottles & cans
  • Broken Barrel – a combination bottle shop & tap room which focuses on wine & cider and offers classes
  • Stein – a huge tap room (over 50 taps, where probably 8 were cider) with tons of seating, full food menu, two fridge cases of bottles & cans, and a mini gift shop in the front

Here is what I tried:

  • At Bushel & Bee I had Swift‘s Peach Oak on draft.
    • reviewed below
  • At Icicle Brewing I had a can of Rambling Route Yakima Cider (they have 1 rotating cider option).  This is a really cool local brewery for beer lovers, with a neat tap room sharing the space with their production facility, and snacks & games.  Plus their beer prices are crazy affordable, especially growler fills.  My husband took home a bunch of his favorite ‘Dark Persuasion’ german chocolate cake porter.
    • previous review of Rambling Route here
  • At Broken Barrel I picked up a couple fancy bottles to take home.
    • Phillipi Fruit‘s Snowdance, a Pommeau-style apple brandy fortified cider made in Wenatchee.  I tried it previously (see here) but haven’t seen it in any other shops.
    • Cashmere Cider Mill‘s Country Elegance Heirloom Blend Medium cider, made in Cashmere.  I had never heard of this cidery, probably as it looks like they are only sold at their tasting room and a couple shops.
  • At Leavenworth Sausage Garden I had Seattle Cider Semi-Sweet on draft (which has been their 1 cider selection since they opened).
    • previous review here
  • At Munchen Haus I had Whiskey Barrel Cider‘s Dam Hard Cider on draft (they have 1 rotating cider tap), my first time trying cider from that cidery.
    • reviewed below
  • At Stein we took a look at the tap list and thought we’d have time to come back later, but didn’t.  However, like Broken Barrel, I had previously tried everything on their tap list, so it wasn’t too much of a loss.
  • At a roadside shop East of Leavenworth I picked up a bottle of mead from Honeywood Winery (in Salem Oregon) – see my previous review of their cider here
    • I opened the bottle the day after we got home and really enjoyed it.  Very sweet (more of a dessert mead), but very flavorful and complex, with a lot of honey and floral notes.  Also an awesome value at $13.50 / 750ml of 11% ABV.

Swift Cider Peach Oak

Swift‘s Peach Oak is a seasonal draft-only cider, 6.9% ABV, made in Portland Oregon.  I paid about $7 for 12oz on draft at Bushel & Bee.  They have a really cool tap room by the way – cozy, with fun decor (and even some games & adult coloring books).  There was a wide range of ciders, from dry to sweet, although I think they were all the flavored type you most commonly see on draft (not from cider apples).

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Light peach yellow hue.  Nearly still.  Smells mildly fruity and acidic.  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness.  Hints of tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of peach, green apple, pineapple, and a hint of oak.  Moderate length tart finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  Moderate to high sessionability.

I thought this was average, but only as it is not my preferred style.  This would appeal more to fans of dry & acidic subtle flavored cider.  I personally prefer a slightly sweeter and/or more intensely flavored cider.  This is on-par with what I have come to expect from Swift, having tried their Pineapple Hop and Marionberry.

Whiskey Barrel Cider Company Dam Fine Cider

Whiskey Barrel Cider Co.’s Dam Fine Cider is their flagship offering, 5.8% ABV, made in Pullman WA.  I paid about $6 for about a pint on draft at Muchen Haus, an outdoor sausage garden.  Thankfully they had a fire pit as it was in the 30s when we visited.  We stopped by for a drink before dinner just so I could try this cider (plus they had one of my husband’s favorite beers, Icicle’s Dark Persuasion).  This was the only cider they had, and apparently the selection rotates.

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Light straw yellow hue with a hint of orange/pink.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild, of apple juice.  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of apple juice and honey with the very slightest hint of oak.  Quick finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  High sessionability.

I enjoyed this, and it ended up being my favorite cider I drank during our visit (except for the bottle of Newton’s Court Gasping Goose I had in our room).  If I’m drinking cider from dessert instead of cider apples, I like something with more flavor than Rambling Route and Seattle Cider for example.  However, it left me wanting more whiskey & oak flavor, as it was nearly non-existent, which was surprising considering the cidery’s name.

Do you enjoy trying new ciders on vacation?

Alpenfire Ember

Review of Alpenfire Ember, made from bittersweet apples.  I tried this a couple years back (see here), but wanted to give a full bottle a go, as my tastes have changed since then.  I’ve also tried Alpenfire’s Dungeness, Spark, Smoke, ApoCalypso, Simple Cider, Calypso, Pirate’s Plank, Glow, Cinders, Shrub, Spiced Tonic Shrub, Traditional Heirloom Cider, and Flame.

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Cider:  Ember (old world bittersweet, estate sparkling cider)
Cidery:  Alpenfire
Cidery Location:  Port Townsend WA
ABV:  7.3%
How Supplied:  750ml capped bottles
Style:  American organic artisan cider from bittersweet apples (from their own orchard), bottle conditioned

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Availability:  Primarily Western Washington, including these retailers.  They also have an online store through Vino Shipper which ships to states which allow it.

Cider Description:  Alpenfire’s Ember is a late season Estate Organic Bittersweet cider. Medium Sweet with big round tannins and a long finish. Think…walking through an orchard in late fall.  Varietals – Vilberie, Dabinett, Brown Snout, & Yarlington Mill apple varieties.  Process – 8 week ferment, 7 month stainless maturation, bottle conditioned.

Cidery Description:  Alpenfire Organic Cider is made from our estate and locally grown organic apples. We planted our WSDA certified organic orchard in 2004 with over 800 trees and 10 varieties of English, French & Early American cider specific apples. These apples have been used for hundreds of years for the unique qualities they bring to cider production. Namely the tannins and bitters not found in dessert style apples. While the juice, much less the fruit, of many of these apples would be hard to enjoy by the glass they become amazing with a little fermentation. One of our favorites, the “Muscadet de Dieppe”, has a viscous, winey, yes, even musky juice. It takes months of slow, cool fermentation for that to develop the subtle aroma and flavor you will find in our bone-dry cider. We augment our juice and mellow the flavors with organic apples from other local orchards.

They have a tasting room in Port Townsend WA, open seasonally.

Price:  $18.99
Where Bought:  The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  It was 20% off, so an easy decision.

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First Impression:  Moderate amber orange hue.  Very low carbonation with some foam and film.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  High tannins.  Low bitterness.  Hints of funk.  No sourness.  Notes of rich bittersweet apple pomace, caramel, orange, leather, and honey.  Long tannic finish.  Moderate to high flavor intensity and complexity.  Moderate apple flavor.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  Its crazy how much tastes can change in just a couple years, as I didn’t like this cider back then, but now its my favorite type of cider.  Rich and complex, with a lip-smacking amount of tannins.

Most Similar to:  This is the closest I’ve tasted to an English cider that was made in the U.S.  More than Liberty’s English Style for example, which has more acidity and less tannins.  As far as English ciders, it is most like Henney’s Vintage, Dunkertons Dry, and Newton’s Court Gasping Goose – which are all some of my favorites!

Closing Notes:  Although a bit more costly per ounce than many English ciders (as even though the cost of import is high, it costs much less over there to make a cider from cider apples), for being made locally, this is an amazing value (as these apples are rare).  Plus, it is even certified organic.  Alpenfire has been making a lot of changes lately, with a re-branding / new bottle labels, new cider releases, and the debut of a cider club.

Have you tried Alpenfire Ember?  What did you think?