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?

Locust Sweet Aged Apple

Review of Locust’s Sweet Aged Apple cider.  I thought this was my first time trying it, but turns out I tried it here, although I haven’t done a full review.  I’ve also sampled their Original Dry, Green Tea Infused, Sweet Dark CherryWashington Dessert Apple, Bittersweet Reserve, Pumpkin, Thai Ginger, Bourbon Barrel Aged, Winesap, Alder Smoked Apple, Mango, Elder & Oak, Wabi Sabi, Apricot, Berry Session, Smoked Blueberry, Vanilla Bean, Winter Banana, Chili Pineapple, Seckel Perry, and Hibiscus.

locust.jpg

Cider:  Sweet Aged Apple
Cidery:  Locust
Cidery Location:  Woodinville WA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  multi packs of 12oz cans, and draft
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, aged for 6 months

Availability:  Year round in CA, ID, OR, TX, and WA

Cider Description:  We leave a blend of pressed washington dessert apples on their own and let the wild yeasts do their work. then we age it for 6 months. the result is a semi-sweet, full bodied, deep, very appley, smooth and round cider. there is beauty in imperfection. great with meat and cheese, stands up!

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.   -Jason Spears, founder of locust cider

Their Woodinville cidery has a tap room.

Price:  $6.50 / pint draft
Where Bought & Drank:  Tipsy Cow Burger Bar in Woodinville WA
How Found:  This was one of two draft cider options (the other was D’s Wicked Baked Apple)

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First Impression:  Medium amber hue.  Smells like apple juice.  Low carbonation.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of apple juice, honey, brown sugar, and maybe a hint of oak?  Quick finish.  High apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Low to moderate complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  I liked this.  However, it was a bit sweet for a full pint.  The flavor is really nice though.  Definitely a simple cider, but tasty.  Perfect for a canned multipack.

Most Similar to:  Locust Aged Washington Dessert Apple

Closing Notes:  Tipsy Cow is one of our favorite local restaurants, and it is awesome they have cider (and 2 local craft ciders at that).  However, I wish they had a drier option, as both are sweet.  Oddly enough I actually liked when they offered Spire Dark & Dry, as although not dry, it is drier than this, and it goes really well with greasy food.

Have you tried Locust Sweet Aged Apple?  What did you think?

Locust Cider Vanilla Bean & Smoked Blueberry

Review of Locust Cider’s Hootenanny series Vanilla Bean and Smoked Blueberry ciders.  This is a two for one review as I enjoy these ciders mixed together.  Its not my first time trying these, but I hadn’t yet bought bottles / done a full review.  I’ve also tried a lot of other ciders from Locust:  Original Dry, Green Tea Infused, Sweet Dark CherryWashington Dessert Apple, Bittersweet Reserve, Pumpkin, Thai Ginger, Bourbon Barrel Aged, Winesap, Alder Smoked Apple, Mango, Elder & Oak, Wabi Sabi, Apricot, Sweet Aged Apple, Berry Session, Winter Banana, Chili Pineapple, Seckel Perry, and Hibiscus.

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Cider:  Vanilla Bean & Smoked Blueberry
Cidery:  Locust Cider
Cidery Location:  Woodinville WA
ABV:  5.0% & 5.0%
How Supplied:  22oz bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft cider infused with Madagascar vanilla (Vanilla Bean) or alder smoked apples and blueberries (Smoked Blueberry)

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Availability:  Year round in CA, ID, OR, TX, and WA

Vanilla Bean Description:  Washington apples meet real Madagascar vanilla, creating what is best described as an adult’s all natural cream soda. you don’t like sweet ciders??? Ok sure, try this.

Smoked Blueberry Description:  Some people do not like smoked foods and drinks. Ok fine, stop reading. for those who do, this is comfort in a drink, blending apples, smoked over alder wood, with real blueberries, this is unexpected but amazing.

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:  $7 each
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I tried these individually at Locust’s tap room awhile back, then at a tasting event I decided to try them mixed.

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First Impression:  Both nearly still (very low carbonation).  The Vanilla Bean is a light straw yellow hue and the Smoked Blueberry is a bright purple-blue hue.  The Vanilla Bean smells rather mild, just slightly sweet and of vanilla.  The Smoked Blueberry is a bit more fragrant, smelling of blueberry with a hint of smoke.

Vanilla Bean Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of vanilla, cream, and hints of citrus (reminiscent of cream soda).  Quick to moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low to moderate complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

Smoked Blueberry Tasting Notes:  Sweet.  Medium to full bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of blueberry and grape with hints of smoke and alder wood.  Quick finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low to moderate complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

Mixed Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Both fruity and creamy.

My Opinion:  On their own, although plenty good, I don’t find either of these too remarkable.  The Vanilla Bean has a great flavor, but I find it a bit sweet to drink much of (although this batch is slightly less sweet than I’ve had before, but also slightly less flavorful).  The Smoked Blueberry is nice, but pretty typical.  However, mixed together, the result is a uniquely tasty.

Most Similar to:  Not much else.  I’ve had other smoked ciders, but they weren’t fruit-infused.  For example, Locust Alder Smoked Apple, and the more intense Tilted Shed Smoked and Alpenfire Smoke.  The closest I’ve had to the Vanilla Bean is probably Long Drop Vanilla Honey (but that has more honey than vanilla, with some awesome honeycomb notes).

Closing Notes:  Combining ciders is a fun way to mix things up.  I haven’t really got into cider cocktails, as to me, mixing cider with other beverages is something I would think of doing if I don’t like a cider (and have done actually).

Have you tried Locust Cider?  What did you think?

Woodinville Cider Tasting at Locust & Elemental – Visit 3

I spent another afternoon in Woodinville Washington, cider tasting at the tap rooms for Locust and Elemental.  See my notes here from visit 1 and here from visit 2.

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<tap list at Locust Cider>

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<Locust Vanilla Bean & Smoked Blueberry>

At Locust I tried two bottle pours of ciders that are part of their new ‘Hootenanny’ series.

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Locust Vanilla Bean, 5.0% ABV:  Mild scent.  Sweet.  Medium bodied.  Mild tartness and acidity.  Hints of tannins.  No sourness, funk, or bitterness.  The flavor was vanilla creamsicle–yum!  Hints of citrus and pineapple.  Low apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  I really liked the flavor of this one, but it was too sweet.

Locust Smoked Blueberry, unknown ABV:  This cider was made using smoked apples and blueberries.  Mild scent.  Sweet.  Medium bodied.  Mild to moderate tartness and acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness and sourness.  No funk.  Notes of blueberry juice & skin and a hint of lemon.  Low apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  I didn’t find this overtly smoked, but I imagine it had some influence.

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<tap list at Elemental Cider>

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<Elemental Lemoncello & Mango>

Elemental ‘Lithium’ Lemoncello, 6.5% ABV:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied with a fizzy mouthfeel.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  No bitterness, tannins, sourness, or funk.  Lots of lemon, slight creaminess, and hints of grapefruit.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Low complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.

Elemental Mango, 6.5% ABV:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  High acidity.  No sourness, bitterness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of mango, citrus, and pineapple.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Low complexity.  Low flavor intensity.

My favorite at Locust was Vanilla Bean, although I wouldn’t be able to drink an entire pint of it or anything as it was quite sweet.  My favorite at Elemental was the Lemoncello, as it was more flavorful than the Mango.

Woodinville Cider Tasting 2 – Locust & Elemental

I spent another afternoon in Woodinville Washington, cider tasting at the tap rooms for Locust and Elemental.  See my notes here from my last visit.

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<tap list at Locust Cider>

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<left to right: Locust Mango, Elder & Oak, and Wabi Sabi>

Locust Mango, 6.0% ABV:  Yellow dark straw gold hue.  Mild fruity mango scent.  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Low carbonation with some foam.  Medium bodied.  Mild tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Real mango flavor with some tropical and honey notes.  Quick finish length.  Fairly simple, but I liked the moderately intense real mango flavor (although it was a sweet cider, it didn’t have a mango candy flavor).

Locust Elder & Oak, 7.0% ABV:  Deep berry hue.  Mild scent with hints of berry and oak.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Mild tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Very textural with berry tannins.  Earthy and wine-like.  Moderate length finish.  Mild to moderate barrel influence.  Very low apple influence.  Although I’m a fan of barrel aged ciders, I wasn’t into this.  I think it was too tannic (although it tasted like that was only from the elderberries, not applies) oddly enough.

Locust Wabi Sabi, 6.9% ABV:  Yellow dark straw gold hue.  Low carbonation with some foam.  Smells mild, acidic, and of citrus.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Mild tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Apple-forward and a bit juice-like.  Notes of fresh apple, honey, citrus (although less than the scent), and apple pomace.  Quick finish length.  I found this to be a very typical sweeter flagship cider.

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<tap list at Elemental Cider; sorry for the blur>

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<left to right: Blackberry Cobbler, Pom-Rose, Root Beer, and Carbon>

Elemental Blackberry Cobbler, 6.5% ABV:  Deep blackberry hue.  Sweet to very sweet.  The flavor is very blackberry, but I also picked up a carbohydrate component in the scent and texture (kinda like “cobbler”, although I was told the only other addition was pie spices, which I didn’t pick up).  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Mild acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Quick finish length.  I wasn’t really into this, but I imagine it will sell very well.  It was a one-off keg as they came into some blackberry concentrate (which I learned is about the most expensive flavor), but they plan to make some other blackberry ciders in the future.

Elemental Pomegranate-Rose, 6.5% ABV:  Light pink hue with some foam.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Mild acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Very mild and smooth with some mild fruitiness.  I tried this before too.  Its well balanced and refreshing.

Elemental NW Atomic Root Beer, 6.5% ABV:  This is a cider-based hard root beer (vs. making an alcoholic root beer with a malt base).  I’ve had this a few times before.  This time I really enjoyed it…I think its the best batch yet…I tasted more apple than previously, but apparently it was less.  The “root beer” is stronger in the scent than the flavor.  This doesn’t taste exactly like root beer, but it has a great flavor.  Oddly enough this is my favorite cider that Elemental makes.  Probably as it has a rich full flavor (I tend towards English & French ciders).

Elemental ‘Carbon’ Dry, 6.5% ABV:  Semi-dry to dry.  Light bodied.  Apple-forward.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Citrus notes with some mineral.  A hint of tannins.  This tasted between that that of the first two times I tried it.  I liked the previous batch a bit more, as it was richer and less tart.  Elemental is unique in that they continue to tweak their ciders after release, so although it has the same name, it may be different.

Locust Cider Alder Smoked Apple

This will be a short post, as I only tasted one new-to-me cider during my latest visit to Locust Cider in Woodinville WA.  Check out my prior tasting notes and reviews of Locust ciders here.  It was an impromptu visit.  My husband and I met two friends for lunch at the Tipsy Cow in Redmond (which is an amazing burger place, and I don’t even like hamburgers…I get a veggie burger), and we decided to go to a few tasting rooms in Woodinville before heading home.  The boys had some wine at a couple of the winery tasting rooms in the same stripmall as the Locust Cider tasting room, and us girls tried some cider.

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Their tap list hadn’t changed much from my visit a few weeks ago…they swapped Chipotle for the Alder Smoked Apple.  That worked great for me though, as it was the only one on the menu I hadn’t tried!  Their “up next” list also looks really interesting, especially the red wine barrel aged and prickly pear ciders.

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Alder Smoked Apple:  6.0% ABV.  They get the smoke flavor from alder smoked apple rings added during fermentation, showed in this photo from their Instagram.  This is a tap-only release, but has made it to a few other locations in the Seattle area.

Semi-sweet to sweet.  Mild acidity.  Mild tartness.  No sourness, funk, or tannins.  Full bodied.  Notes of maple, honey, and hints of citrus and alder.  I only picked up mild smoke flavor in the moderate length finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  High sessionability.

They said this was less smokey than previous batches.  I enjoyed it, but I think with more smoke and less sweetness, it would have been awesome.

I also tried their Winesap cider again.  I liked it better last time; this time it was missing that frothy texture I enjoyed, and was a bit more sour.

I also spotted their new bottle design.  They are going from 750ml to 500ml bottles on their special release ciders, which I think is a good move.  500ml is my favorite bottle size.

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I look forward to trying more from Locust Cider.

Elemental Hard Cider NW Atomic Root Beer

Review of NW Atomic Root Beer from Elemental Hard Cider in Woodinville Washington.  It is a cider based hard root beer (cider with root beer spices).  I’ve tried this twice before on draft (different batches…Elemental is unique in that they continue to tweak recipes after releasing a cider), and I have tried a number of ciders from them (see here).

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Cider:  NW Atomic Root Beer
Cidery:  Elemental Hard Cider
Cidery Location:  Woodinville WA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  22oz brown glass bottle
Style:  American craft alcopop, cider based hard root beer

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Availability:  Likely only in WA

Cider Description:  NW Atomic Root Beer starts with out crisp, clean and bright hard apple cider fermented bone dry to 6.5% ABV. We then infuse the base with an intense magical concoction of sassafras and liquorice. Subtle notes of vanilla, anise, fennel and plum are soft on the palette and round off the experience of our unique beverage.

Note that they use caramel color, but its certified non-GMO (apparently rare to find) and gluten free.  They are even working on getting an organic version of it.

Cidery Description:  Family owned and operated.  Brian and Christina Callahan launched Elemental Hard Cider to bring quality, affordable, and delicious hard cider to the world. We strive to bring fun and exciting flavors to the experienced cider enthusiast, as well as novice cider drinkers.

Hand-crafted micro ciders designed for taste, smoothness, and quality.  Each of our hand-crafted ciders are made from only the finest Northwest apples and cold-fermented to preserve the fruit. Our ciders are reminiscent of champagne, they are lightly filtered and mildly effervescent for clean taste. Experience our quality for yourself. Come in often to grab a glass. We are constantly trying out new flavors, so the line-up is always changing.

Price:  ~$8
Where Bought:  The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I heard about this at Cider Summit Seattle last year but didn’t get around to trying it until I saw it at the Schilling Cider House on draft (notes here).  For awhile it was draft-only, no bottles.  Then, I tried it on draft again at Around the Table (notes here).  I remembered liking the previous version better (I heard that over time they retained less apple flavor), but wanted to give a bottle a try as it is so unique.  I thought that this bottle was closer to the first version I tried than to the second, as it retained more apple flavor, which I like.  Apparently most of their customers however seem to prefer less apple flavor than I do.

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First Impression:  Caramel brown root beer hue.  Low carbonation upon pouring.  Smells like root beer spices with a hint of baked apple.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low carbonation.  Low acidity and tartness.  No sourness, bitterness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of root beer spices (milder than a typical root beer), rich baked apple, caramel, and honey.  The flavor starts as root beer and finishes with baked apple.  Quick finish.  Moderate apple influence.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  Tasty!  This is my idea of a sessionable cider…very easy to drink, but also very flavorful and unique.  The only thing I’d change would be slightly more carbonation.  Not as much as soda, but more than I detected would be nice.

Most Similar to:  This is quite different from other hard root beers such as Not Your Father’s as it has a cider (not malt beverage) base, so it doesn’t have the bitterness of that product (and is less sweet and less carbonated).  The only similar cider I know of is Sonoma Washboard, but that is sarsaparilla not root beer spices, and quite dry (I really disliked that one, but my husband was a huge fan).

Closing Notes:   I’m usually not a huge fan of flavored ciders, but I think one of the reasons I enjoyed this was because it is so far from traditional cider.  I hope I can purchase this version/recipe in the future, as I really liked it.

Have you tried NW Atomic Root Beer?  What did you think?