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

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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?

Liberty Ciderworks English Style

Review of Liberty Ciderworks’ English Style.  I previously tried this at events such as Cider Summit Seattle 2015 (see here), but I haven’t reviewed a bottle.  I’ve also tried Liberty’s Manchurian Crabapple SV, Crabenstein, Abbess, Stonewall, Gravenstein, Cellar Series #G15, New World Style, Cellar Series (# unknown), McIntosh, Golden Russet SV, and Spokane Scrumpy.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Liberty Ciderworks.  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:  English Style
Cidery:  Liberty Ciderworks
Cidery Location:  Spokane WA
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  American craft cider from cider apples, English style

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Availability:  Year round, in Washington and Oregon (see a list of locations here).  They also have online sales through Vino Shipper.

Cider Description:  Classic cider varietals from the mother country – including Dabinett, Yarlington Mill and Ashton Bitter – come together for this dry, English-style cider. Complex, layered aromas, a hint of bittersweet apple flavor, balanced acidity, tannins and residual sweetness: it’s the perfect accompaniment for both appetizers and dinner. And like all of Liberty’s ciders, it’s made entirely by hand.

Cidery Description:  Located in the largest apple-growing region on the continent, Liberty Ciderworks is all about the apple, showcasing the diversity and wonders of locally grown fruit. From well known apples like McIntosh and Jonathan to rare, cider-specific fruit like Kingston Black and Dabinett, Liberty ciders put apples in their proper place: Front and center.  We started Liberty Ciderworks in 2013 with a simple, two-part mission: 1) Using apples from local farms and fields to create unique, wonderful ciders, and 2) Sharing them with friends and neighbors across the great Pacific Northwest.  Welcome to the cider revolution. 

They have a tap room in Spokane WA, which also now has a bottle shop of selections from around the world.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $12.99)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  one of the co-owners/cidermakers contacted me, Rick Hastings

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Still.  Smells of rich cider apples.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to dry.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of caramel, leather, butterscotch, earth, orange, and lemon.  Moderate apple flavor, complexity, and flavor intensity.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  Great!  This was a fun combination between a high acidity U.S. cider from heirloom apples and a rich tannic English cider.  However, it seemes a bit drier and more acidic/sharp than previously.  I preferred it slightly sweeter and less acidic, so the tannins and richness could better shine through.

Most Similar to:  Eve’s Autumns Gold

Closing Notes:  This cider is an awesome value, as cider apples are expensive, and ciders made from them usually cost more than this.  However, my favorite remains their Manchurian Crabapple – a flavorful high ABV cider you’d think was brandy fortified, but is not.  Next up I’ll be reviewing Liberty’s Hewes Crab cider.

Have you tried Liberty’s English Style cider?  What did you think?

Snowdrift Cidermaker’s Reserve

Review of Snowdrift’s Cidermaker’s Reserve.  I have sampled it twice before (see here and here), but I’m doing a full review this time.  I’ve also tried most of Snowdrift’s line-up:  CorniceRedPerryCliffbreaks BlendDrySemi-DrySeckel Perry, and Orchard Select.

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Cider:  Cidermaker’s Reserve
Cidery:  Snowdrift
Cidery Location:  East Wenatchee WA
ABV:  9.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged champagne bottles
Style:  American artisan cider from heirloom & bittersweet apples (2014 harvest), Methode Champenoise, aged 3 years

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Availability:  Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey (see here), although this is a more limited release.  They also have an online store

Cider Description:  Taking the best of the best of our ciders, Cidermaker’s Reserve is a celebration of all the rich complexity cider apples have to offer. After a year of maturation, this cider then begins the full Méthode Champenoise process of in-bottle fermentation, which develops further layers of nuance. The labor of love pays off; its months of conditioning, riddling, and finishing yield a dry cider with continuously unfolding layers of spicy bittersweet apple character, citrusy brightness, and subtleties of toffee, aromatic wood and earth. 

Cidery Description:  We craft our ciders from great cider apples that we grow on our orchard in sunny East Wenatchee, WA. Our incredible region gives our trees the ideal conditions to grow apples packed with the flavors necessary to produce fine ciders. Hot sunny summers and cold snowy winters result in apples that mature with incredible aromatics and delicious flavors. When ripened to perfection, we pick these apples and craft them with the utmost care into fine cider blends, resulting in rich ciders full of delicious complexity.

Price:  $19
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I had tried it before, but my husband really wanted a bottle (this is probably his all time favorite cider).

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First Impression:  Light gold amber hue.  High carbonation.  Smells acidic and fruity/grapey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied with a fluffy fizzy texture.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low to moderate tannins.  No sourness.  Hints of funk.  Notes of pomegranate, white grape, stone fruit, leather, butterscotch, lemon, and orange.  Moderate to long warming finish, the only time when the 9% ABV is noticeable.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability and flavor intensity.  Moderate to high complexity.

My Opinion:  Great!  I enjoy this cider.  Unique, complex, and bubbly, whats not to like?  However, to me it almost tastes more like champagne than sparkling cider, except for the tannins.

Most Similar to:  Nothing all that close, but in the same ballpark is AEppeltreow Appley Doux (slightly sweeter, and more green apple & floral), Alpenfire Cinders (much drier), and 2 Towns Traditions Riverwood Brut (more subtle)

Closing Notes:  My favorites from Snowdrift are the Red, Cornice, Cliffbreaks Blend, and Cidermaker’s Reserve.

Have you tried Snowdrift Cidermaker’s Reserve?  What did you think?

Ulee’s Light Cider Dry

Review of Ulee’s Light Cider’s Dry.  It is my first time trying this cider, which just launched this month.  This is described as the first cidery focusing on light cider (although some other cideries also offer something similar, such as Dry 99 by Number Six.

Cider:  Dry
Cidery:  Ulee’s Light Cider
Cidery Location:  Auburn WA (at the Schilling facility)
ABV:  4.0%
How Supplied:  six packs of 12oz slim cans (and kegs)
Style:  American craft low-calorie cider from dessert apples

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Availability:  Western Washington (mostly in the greater Seattle area) and Portland Oregon

Cider Description:  All of Ulee’s Light Ciders are created with 100% all natural ingredients from the Northwest. Our juice is fresh-pressed from Washington apples and then fermented, filtered and blended with Cascadia water. They are vegan, naturally gluten-free and only 99 calories per can.

Cidery Description:  Ulee’s Light Cider was founded in 2016 by three guys who love cider, but hate calories.  The journey started ten years ago when founder Scott Gallagher first began visiting Iceland.  During his trips he discovered that many of the locals drank hard cider instead of beer. Scott liked the flavor but after sampling many of the European varieties, he acquired a particular taste for Dry-Style ciders. After returning home to Portland, OR, he found that locally available ciders tended to be overly sweet with lots of calories.  

Scott and his two buddies, Don Forsythe and Matt Thompson, were drinking cider around the fire-pit—the place where great ideas are born—and started brainstorming what they would like in a cider. It had to by dry but flavorful, locally sourced and all natural, gluten-free, light in calories, and very, very drinkable.  It took a while but after working with expert cidermakers and experimenting with 25 different recipes, they finally came up with two ciders that exceeded their expectations.

Price:  $1.83 / single can (runs $9.99 / six pack)
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  On Facebook, as they had a launch party at the Schilling Cider House

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow.  Low carbonation.  Almost no scent.

Tasting Notes:  Dry to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness.  No tannins, sourness, or funk.  Notes of green apple, citrus, and mineral.  Moderate length finish.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  Very low flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  Very high sessionability.

My Opinion:  Meh.  This tastes like watered down cider (which it is).  I’d rather drink a less of a more flavorful cider, especially considering these cost the same as other ciders yet are only 4.0% instead of 5.0-5.9%+ ABV.  Its a bit more flavorful though if you drink it in gulps rather than sips.

Most Similar to:  Number Six Dry 99 and Seattle Cider Dry.  For a dry canned cider, my favorite is probably Original Sin Extra Dry (which isn’t yet sold in the PNW).  Or, for a dry cider which is more widely distributed (and more highly carbonated), Ace Joker.

Closing Notes:  I don’t really get the point of this (I bought it only out of curiosity), but it is doing pretty well on untappd and such.  It also got into a lot of stores very quickly, so they must have some connections.  Ulee’s also launched with a second hopped variety, called “Citra”.

Have you tried Ulee’s Light Cider?  What did you think?

Locust Honey Pear

Review of Locust’s Honey Pear cider.  It is my first time trying this cider, but I’ve previously had their Original Dry, Green Tea Infused, Sweet Dark Cherry,  Washington Dessert AppleBittersweet ReservePumpkinThai GingerBourbon Barrel AgedWinesapAlder Smoked AppleMangoElder & OakWabi SabiApricotSweet Aged AppleBerry SessionSmoked BlueberryVanilla BeanWinter BananaChili PineappleSeckel Perry, and Hibiscus.

Cider:  Honey Pear
Cidery:  Locust Cider
Cidery Location:  Woodinville WA
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  draft only
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with honey and pear juice

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Availability:  Likely only in bars & restaurants in the Seattle area (including Locust’s tap room), although in general their ciders are sold in CA, ID, OR, TX, and WA.

Cider Description:  none given

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 these from destruction because their juice is still great! Our unique process then transforms them into great cider- methodical yeast selection, meticulous temperature control, slow aging, and creative and deliberate blending.

We are now made up a great small team: Chelsea, head cidermaker, Ryan, cellar manager, Shenna, tap room manager, Spring, events manager, and Chris, sales manager. We are a “family” passionate about cider, and we thank you for visiting our tasting room, and being part of our family!  -Jason Spears, founder of locust cider

Their Woodinville cidery has a tap room.

Price:  $6.50 / pint
Where Bought & Drank:  Tipsy Cow in Woodinville WA (an awesome burger restaurant)
How Found:  This was one of two ciders on draft at the restaurant (they also had D’s Baked Apple).

First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Low to moderate carbonation.  Smells very mild, slightly of tart apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate to high tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness.  No tannins, sourness, or funk.  Notes of green apple, pear, honey, and citrus.  Quick finish.  Low complexity.  Moderate apple flavor.  Low flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I thought this was very average.  I liked that it wasn’t very sweet (which most of Locust’s recent releases have been, and is common with draft cider at restaurants & bars in my area as it sells well).  However, I actually think the dryness was too much for this cider, as it was very tart and not very flavorful.  Also, both pear and honey ciders are typically sweeter, so that would be expected.

Most Similar to:  Longdrop Tanager Pear Cider

Closing Notes:  I always like finding local cider on tap to go with a nice meal, even if the offering isn’t a favorite of mine.

Have you tried Locust Honey Pear?  What did you think?