Gitche Gumee Ciderworks Entropy

Review of Gitche Gumee Ciderworks’ debut release, Entropy.  It is my first time trying any of their cider.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Gitche Gumee.  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:  Entropy (2015 vintage)
Cidery:  Gitche Gumee
Cidery Location:  Hancock Michigan
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  American craft “feral” cider from local wild apples, spontaneously (wild yeast) fermented, barrel aged, bottle conditioned

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Availability:  limited to Northwest Michigan, released August 2017

Cider Description:  We hand press wild, feral apples grown in the stunning Copper Country of Upper Michigan.  Long winters, fresh air, and beautiful summer days conspire to grow large crops of wild apples.  No shortcuts!  These small tart apples are hand-picked by our community, providing opportunities for local groups to forage our forests.  The juice is spontaneously fermented using the wild yeast naturally present on the apple.  No added yeast, water, sugar, sulfites, preservatives, or flavorings.  After a cold fermentation, it is cellar-aged 9 months in small French white oak barrels. The outcome is a delicious, dry, funky and naturally gluten free cider done in a time-honored tradition.  We’re making cider the hard way!

Cidery Description:  Hancock Michigan’s first Hard Cidery. We pride ourselves on producing quality products.

Price:  n/a (retails for $15)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  the cidermaker contacted me (Phillip Kelm)

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells of funk, sourness, citrus, and must.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  Moderate funk.  Low sourness.  Notes of lemon, grapefruit, must, oak, honey, herbs, and vinegar.  Moderate length sharp finish.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity, complexity, and sourness.  Low barrel influence.

My Opinion:  Regular readers of my blog will know this isn’t my favorite type of cider.  Everyone doesn’t like every cider.  However, I can say that this is well-made, and an excellent value.  I’d recommend this for fans of dry farmhouse-style ciders.  It is less acidic & sour than some similar ciders I’ve tried, which is likely more friendly to folks not familiar with this style.  There was some nice complexity and flavor.

Most Similar to:  Alpenfire Pirate’s PlankBrooklyn Cider House Half SourNumber 12 Sparkling DryRuncible Cider Light of the MoonAngry Orchard Walden Hollow, and Sietsema Traditional Dry

Side Note:  Something was off with the cork.  I am used to the button top ones with champagne bottles, and this one seemed like a straight cork which was pushed in too far.  Just one of those first release hiccups.  It was all good though, as my husband got it open with a corkscrew and some muscle, and didn’t even get any chunks of cork in the cider!

Closing Notes:  I’m glad I got a chance to try this cider (and was actually among the first, as it is a brand new release).  It’ll be fun to see what they come up with next.

Have you tried Gitchee Gumee cider?  What did you think?

Dragon’s Head Wild Fermented

Review of Dragon’s Head Wild Fermented cider.  A wild fermented (wild yeast) cider uses the yeast naturally present on the apples and in the environment, in contrast to most ciders which destroy any natural yeast and add their own known strain.  A wild fermented cider is typically more unpredictable and difficult to make than typical ciders.  I’ve also tried Dragon’s Head Traditional cider, and also have a bottle of their Kingston Black cider in my collection.

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Cider:  Wild Fermented
Cidery:  Dragon’s Head
Cidery Location:  Vashon Island WA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml bottle

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Availability:  Year round in WA and OR.  See their list of locations.

Cider Description:  This is the Dragon’s Head Cider version of a farmhouse cider. Rather than carefully selecting a yeast strain for the fermentation, we allowed the wild yeast present on the skin of the apples to ferment the cider. It’s a bit of a fun gamble, but one we believe is worth taking.

Cidery Description:  From apple to bottle, all right here on our farm.  At Dragon’s Head Cider, we take a traditional approach to cider making. Our focus is on the apple varieties that we use and the quality of the fruit. We love the story that apples alone can tell through cider, altering the flavor by changing the blend of apple varieties that we carefully select. The process is simple and the ingredients list is short. Perhaps we’re a little old fashioned.

Dragon’s Head has a tasting room.

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

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First Impression:  Slightly hazy pale straw yellow.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells of sour citrus, acidity, funk, yeast, and honey.

Opinion:  I perceived it as completely dry, but it has 7 grams  of sugar per liter. Moderate tartness and acidity.  Mild sourness and funk.  No bitterness.  Moderate length finish.  Light bodied and crisp.  Honey, citrus, pear, oak, yeast, earthy, and slightly herbal & floral notes.  The flavors remain rather mild yet complex.  Best enjoyed chilled.

Most Similar to:  Wild fermented ciders, Sidra, sour ciders, Farmhouse-style ciders, etc.  This very much reminded me of WildCraft ciders, especially the Pioneer Perry for some reason, probably as I had this the day after trying the Pioneer Perry.

Closing Notes:   I wasn’t really a fan.  Since buying this I’ve found that I’m not a fan of ciders of this style, so knowing what I now know, I wouldn’t have bought it.  Its still always nice to try new ciders though, and I was able to share it with a friend who liked it a bit more than I did.  I’d suggest this for folks who don’t mind this style of cider–dry, sour, and funky.  Its definitely unique and well-crafted.

Have you tried any ciders from Dragon’s Head?  What did you think?

Millstone Cobbler

Review of Millstone Cellar’s “Cobbler” variety.  This is the first cider I’ve tried from Millstone Cellars, the first highly rustic cider, and I believe my first East Coast craft cider.  Lots of firsts this time around.  I love the bottle design and color with this one!

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Cider:  Cobbler
Cidery:  Millstone Cellars
Cidery Location:  Monkton MD
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  750ml clear glass resealable bottle (wax covered top)

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Availability:  MD, VA, DC, DE, NY, WA, and soon to be CA

From Kyle Sherrer, Owner/Fermentologist at Millstone:

The Cider:  The Cobbler was 8 barrels of peach wine fermented and aged in bourbon barrels using wild yeast for the fermentation and aging for 6 months.  The cider was 22 barrels blended in after oak barrel aging in nuetral oak for 6 months and consisted of Goldrush and York Imperial varietals.  We then bottle conditioned the cider using house made unfermented ice cider.  The cider has characteristics of peach skin and a lactic soft cheese like quality as well as a hint of vanilla from the bourbon barrel.  Like all of our ciders it is dry has high acid and a moderate helping of funk.

The Cidery:  We are a cidery that focuses solely on rustic ciders and by that I mean we do all unfiltered, unsulfited, unpastuerized naturally dry ciders that are all wild yeast influenced.  All of our ciders are fermented single varietal and then we blend varietals after aging (generally 6-8 months) for the final ciders.  All of our ciders are fermented and aged in oak aging Sur Lie (on top of the lee’s) the entire time which helps round out the flavor profile and encourage a natural malolactic fermentation for all of our ciders.  Lastly we source all of our ingredients within 150 miles of our cidery.

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Price:  $17
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing cider stuff on the internet, then I saw a post on Schilling’s Facebook that they carried this one, so I looked for it at the Cider House.  I love the idea of a barrel aged peach cider.

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First Impression:  Cloudy lemonade yellow color.  Significant yeast sediment, especially stuck inside the bottom of the bottle.  Mild carbonation.  Yeasty citrus scent.

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Opinion:  Dry.  Overwhelmingly mouth-puckering farmhouse funky tangy sour tartness.  I only detect citrus, not peach.  Very very long finish (oddly enough I couldn’t eliminate the taste for hours).  High tannin thick mouthfeel.  Heavy bodied.  I couldn’t detect any barrel influence as the other qualities were a bit overwhelming to the palate for me.  I had three other taste-testers, and all four of us agreed it was unfortunately undrinkable.  I don’t mind a dry & funky cider, but the mouth-puckering astringent tang was intolerable.

I hadn’t been expecting this style of cider from the description on the bottle & their website (it only mentioned cask aged cider, bourbon barrel aged rustic peach wine, & farmhouse style).  However, after I purchased the bottle, from the reviews and the information the cidery gave me, I discovered this is supposed to be a funky cider style.  I think I got a bit too excited about barrel aged & peach and didn’t do enough detailed research before buying this cider.  Millstone utilized wild yeast fermentation, bottle conditioning, and kept the cider unfiltered, all of which appear to make very unique funky ciders.  Although I wasn’t expecting a sweet cider, with a name like Cobbler and the addition of peach wine, I was expecting some significant peach flavor, but none was detectable.

Most Similar to:  Nothing I’ve had!  Apparently this is comparable to Basque or Austrian Spanish ciders, but the couple I’ve tried weren’t this polarizing.

Closing Notes:  This cider was unfortunately a big disappointment.  I just don’t think this style of cider is my cup of tea.  Its probably a love it or hate it thing.  However, if you enjoy a funky high acidic tart rustic cider, you may like ciders from Millstone…they are definitely unique!  It seems that plenty of folks do enjoy their ciders (see UNTAPPD and RateBeer), just not me.

Have you tried Millstone Cobbler?  What did you think?