Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Cider Review: Urban Tree Hard Cidery's Orange U an IPA?

Hello cider fans, are you appreciating the signs of Fall all around (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway)? I know that I’m loving each brightly-colored leaf, Goldenrod, and Aster. The sculpted white clouds look crisper in the blue porcelain sky today. Clouds and rain are coming, but I’m basking in the golden moments while they’re here.  

And I chose a cider that reminds of this early fall moment  with many lingering summer accoutrements: Urban Tree Hard Cidery’s Orange U an IPA. My thinking was that the hops would recall Summer but that the coriander and apple would bring it into Fall. Let’s see how that works out.  

Urban Tree Cidery is based out of Atlanta, Georgia where you can find the ciders as well as the tasting room and patios. It sounds like a fun dog-friendly spot that not only sells ciders made on the premises but partners with local craft beer and cocktails as well. 

I’ve reviewed two Urban Tree ciders before. You’ll find links to both below.

Sweet Heat Haze: https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/05/cider-review-urban-tree-ciderys-sweet.html

Harvest Apple: https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/03/cider-review-urban-tree-hard-cider.html

You can visit Urban Tree Cidery online here: https://www.urbantreecidery.com/

Here’s how the cidery describes this cider. “Fermented with sweet orange peel, coriander and citrus hops; this cider will make you question if you're drinking a cider or an IPA. 6.5% ABV.” I did see elsewhere on the webpage for the cider that it’s hops are Citra hops, and it has a listed IBU of 95. I have never seen an IBU on a cider before, so I don’t know how to interpret that number. Feel free to let me know in the comments!

Now for my tasting notes on Orange U an IPA?

Appearance: Orange, cloudy, deep color, disappearing mousse

Urban Tree Cidery’s cider pours with a bit of foam that doesn’t stick around. The color is a deep autumnal orange with some tones of bronze. It’s fully cloudy. I could not see through it. 

Aromas: grapefruit, hops, lemon zest, peach, overripe apple

Orange U an IPA? Smells of hops, orange flesh, zesty lemon and minerals. I also get notes of soft ripe peaches and overripe apples. This smells like it will be remarkably flavorful!

Sweetness/Dryness: Sweet

This cider is fun and sweet! It tastes of creamy sugar both in the immediate sugar cane note and also in the fresh orange notes. 

Flavors and drinking experience: creamsicle, mimosa, high acid, full body, fun

Orange U an IPA? by Urban Tree Cidery tastes like a hoppy mimosa. I am so into this! The cider feels deliciously thick and tastes sweet and creamy with prominent notes of orange and apple. It’s also grapefruity but in a creamsicle way. Orange U an IPA has no tannins but high acid.

The body is heavy, wet, juicy and ripe. This is an emphatic treat with perfect late summer flavors. The coriander isn’t powerful, but it comes through in one gentle spice note in the mix.

I love the cider’s medium bubble; it’s enough to lift the fullness of flavors but not enough to feel sharp. This cider brings the fun! I do find it much more pleasurable from the glass than a can, but that’s usually how I feel. 

I had mine with spicy popcorn and the first episode of What We Do in the Shadows!  I recommend that pairing whole heartedly!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Cider Review: Haykin Family Ciders' 2018 Method Ancestrale Ela Family Farms Cuvee

This week’s cider was part of a small birthday dinner for a dear friend. It still feels new to me to host little parties again, but it’s the most delicious kind of new. This time of year is perfect for it. I have more tomatoes than I’ve ever had access to in my life, and bread baking is very dinner-party friendly. Plus, my cider stores are rather brimming from all of the dinner parties I haven’t hosted for the past 18 months. This meal got accidentally planned around focaccia bread, the birthday lady’s caprese salad, and my desire to break into a bottle of Haykin Family Cider.

Haykin Family Cider comes to us from Colorado. The cidery is extremely well-decorated from many GLINTCAP wins over the years. The cidery was founded by Talia and Daniel Haykin in Aurora, Colorado. You can visit a tasting room, order Haykin Family Cider online or join the cider club. This cider was shared with me for review, but as always my opinions are my own.  

I’ve only ever reviewed Haykin Family Cider’s Harrow Pear before: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/06/perry-reviews-haykin-family-ciders.html

You can visit the cidery online: https://www.haykinfamilycider.com/

Here’s Haykin Family Ciders’ official description for the 2018 Method Ancestrale Ela Family Farms Cuvee.

A blend from Ela Family Farms, a fourth generation Colorado fruit grower, including Cox's Orange Pippin, Ashmead's Kernel, Jonathan, Golden Delicious and others. This sparkling cider boasts the character of pear, banana, cardamom, lime, and substantial minerality. This bottle was aged 15 months sur lees and disgorged by hand. This cider is semi-dry. 5% of sales of this cider goes back to Steve Ela and Ela Family Farms to help rebuild their orchard after a devastating frost. 7.9% ABV.

Appearance: Slightly hazy, gentle warm straw, bubbly

The Ela Family Farms Cuvée looks decidedly bubbly. I had to pour a second time to make sure we got enough cider and not just lovely frothy bubbles in our glasses. The color is gently warm straw; it isn’t intense. The cider is just a bit hazy and gets more so towards the end of the bottle.

Aromas: Mellow mineral, spices, ripe apple, lemon, honey

I’m expecting something mellow and structured based on what I smell in this cider. Immediately, I get notes of minerals, spices, ripe apples, lemon, and honey. My appetite is most decidedly whetted.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry/semi-sweet

The level of sweetness on this cider surprised me. I thought it would be drier, but while this is semi-dry it’s nearly semi-sweet. Lots of fruit flavors are accessed through the cider’s sweetness. 

Flavors and drinking experience: high tannins, medium high acid, woody, minerals, creamy

What a heavenly journey. This cider rolls across my palate with lushness and surprises. At first I was surprised by how near to a semi-sweet cider this tastes. The Ela Family Farms Cuvee follows that surprise with high tannins and medium acidity. I love the excellent sparkle that can only be obtained with the laborious Method Ancestrale. This cider gifts us notes of wood, minerals orange peel, banana, and ripe apple. I love little touches of bitterness that layer between the fruit flavors. The finish is creamy and perfumed. All in all, this cider is such a neat mix of gentleness and firm structure.

We paired this cider with herbed focaccia bread, caprese salad, sauteed zucchini and cauliflower, and veggieful pasta dish with feta. It was a full-flavored summery meal with a cider pairing well matched for the zesty bright garden flavors. What a treat!

Monday, September 6, 2021

Cider Review: Presque Isle Farm's Farmhouse Hard Cider 2020

I’ve not seen a bat in my house for more than a week now! And the summer’s heat has been (at least temporarily) replaced by cool mornings, golden evenings, and the freshest breezes I can remember. I’m so grateful. My weekend celebrations involved orchard time and so much fresh produce. And I love bringing out an exciting new cider to pair with my favorite recipes. That’s how I decided to open my bottle of Presque Isle Farm's Farmhouse Hard Cider 2020.

This is how the folks at Presque Isle Farm describe the project and its goals. 

Presque Isle Farm is a small centennial farm in northern Michigan. Our mission is to grow nourishing food, a healthy community, a vibrant local economy, and an ecologically flourishing environment. As the local and sustainable food movement grows nationally, we are working to bring that momentum to northern Michigan and build a foundation for health in our community and the world.

You can learn more about Presque Isle Farms online here: http://www.presqueislefarm.com/

This cider was shared with me at GLINTCAP by the cidermaker, after learning of its fantastic gold-medal performance in the competition. Many thanks! This is my first review of anything by Presque Isle Farm.

Here’s the cider’s official description.

6.9% ABV

Apples: 46% Kingston Black, 20% Northern Spy, 10% Bulmer’s Norman, 8% Brown Snout, 7% Idared, 6% Wild, 3% Rome

Tasting Notes: earthy, apple skin, over-ripe apple, dried fruit

The Farmhouse cider is our table cider blend. It is an everyday cider to drink with foods ranging from steak to seafood, to salads and greens. It contains about 20% bittersweet varieties of apples and 50% bittersharps which give it complexity, body, mellow tannins, and a small amount of perceived sweetness. The other 30% includes apples that add a balanced acidity bringing a crisp and refreshing finish. It tastes and smells of apple orchards.

And now for my experience with Presque Isle's Farmhouse 2020!

Appearance: transparent, mellow straw hue, few visible bubbles

The color of this cider reminds me of late summer dried grasses; it’s a mellow shade of straw. I’ll call the Farmhouse 2020 transparent. I can see a few stray bubbles in the glass but not many.  

Aromas: overripe apples, dried orange, leather

The Farmhouse 2020 smells absolutely mouthwatering to me. I’m awash in notes of leather, overripe apples, and dried orange. The cider just wafts up to my face and offers me many of my favorite cider aromas and creates a strong salivary reaction.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

I love a dry cider. This cider brings flavor and dimension while remaining dry in a very satisfying way!

Flavors and drinking experience: overripe apples, fried lemon, caramel, tannic

The Farmhouse Cider 2020 evokes many of the same flavor notes in its flavors that I noticed in its aromas. This cider blooms with overripe apple, dried orange, and leather flavors. Additional dimensions like  candied orange peel and fried lemon arrive just on the palate. The cider bursts with high tannins and high acidity.

Everyone at the table was oohing and ahhing over this dry, perfectly balanced cider. The Farmhouse 2020 arrives with heft, and structure, lifted up by tiny active bubbles. Though it’s dry, somehow subtle flavors remind me of caramel and nuts; I suspect this comes from the partial barrel aging in the blend. 

I love this cider’s creamy full body, luscious fermented flavors, and balanced excitement. It was served with tomato pie, corn on the cob and a pepper cucumber salad. The pairings were seasonal and lovely.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Cider Review: Stormalong's Wicked Little Wickson

Apologies for the late post this week. Things are just really ramping up in every possible direction around here! Harvest is starting for apple growers. Kids are going back to school. Bats are flying through my house at night. Our county is at its highest level of active COVID cases yet. You know, all that normal August stuff. But sarcasm aside, I was completely excited to get some review samples from Stormalong Cider last week. 

Stormalong is a Massachusetts based cidery that’s been around since 2014. It was founded by Shannon Edgar Sherborn. Since then, the company has created a wide range of ciders, including last year’s Rare Apple series. Of the recent releases, I’ve been particularly excited about Wicked little Wickson because Wickson Crabapples are consistently listed as apples used in my favorite ciders.

You can visit Stormalong online to learn about all the new releases and everything else that Stormalong has cooking: http://stormalong.com/.

I’ve reviewed a fair few of Stormalong’s ciders. Here’s the full list.

Winesap: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/04/cider-review-stormalong-ciders-winesap.html

Happy Holidays: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/11/cider-review-stormalong-ciders-happy.html

Esopus Spitzenburg: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/08/cider-review-ravens-moon-craft-ciders.html

Ashmead’s Kernel: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/07/cider-review-brannland-just-cider-and.html

Peariful: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/05/cider-review-left-foot-charleys-fortis.html

Legendary Dry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/12/cider-review-stormalongs-legendary-dry.html

Kingston Black: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/08/cider-reviews-ninepin-light-cider.html

Light of the Sun: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/08/cider-review-descendant-cider-company.html

Mass Appeal: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/12/cider-review-prospect-ciderworks.html

Boston Heirloom: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/01/cider-review-stormalong-ciders-boston.html

Here’s Stormalong’s official description:

Cider aged in neutral oak barrels. It's dry yet bursting with fruit flavor and bright acidity with a hint of oak rounding out the flavor profile. Alcohol 6.8%

Appearance: intense popcorn yellow, transparent, few visible bubbles

The cider has an appealing popcorn yellow color. To me it looks transparent with few visible bubbles.

Aromas: melon, ripe apple, summer fruit, barrel, hint of volatile acidity

The Wicked Little Wickson smells like melons and summer fruits as well as ripe apples. I do get just a bit of volatile acidity. The aromas are tempting and vivid. There's also a low mellow note that reminds me of barrels.

Sweetness/dryness: off dry

This is a perfectly balanced off-dry cider. It’s not austere, but the Wicked Little Wickson’s flavors do not come from sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: herbal, green, high acid, medium tannins

The first thing I noticed is the strong contrast between the Wicked Little Wickson’s taste and smell. The cider smells fruity, but the taste has more excitingly complex dimensions. Yes, it tastes fruit, with notes of peach and overripe apple, but this cider brings so much more to the table. 

The Wicked Little Wickson tastes savory, herbal and green. It’s sappy, tart and strongly flavored. I am super into this!  I love this strong acid and medium tannins. The cider’s flavors come across as golden and lovely.

The complexity doesn’t stop there. I appreciate this cider’s strong bubble, medium body, and warming peppery finish. I enjoyed this cider with a new kind of potato chip I’ve never seen before. I tried them with a flavor called Syracuse Style; to me, the chips were a bit like all dressed chips. The snack was successful, and the cider matched the intensity of the chips well. Next time though I think I’ll have a Wicked Little Wickson with a creamy shrimp scampi with cherry tomatoes and fresh corn. 

Monday, August 23, 2021

Cider Review: Ontario Orchards' Traditional Hard Cider

Good morning, cider friends! Back to school is the main topic in my world these days, and that calls for a cider. I don’t even have any kids, so my heart goes out to all the parents dealing with back-to-school in a pandemic (again). It’s still a challenge as a university employee with a faculty spouse at another nearby college. We take breaks from meetings and emails, even this time of year, and cider can play a starring role in after-work treats. I’m happy to be reviewing a totally unexpected cider shared with me by dear friends. Thank you! 

Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on Ontario Orchards’ Traditional Hard Cider.  This is my first review of any thing by Ontario Orchards. This cidery is based in Oswego, New York. 

Visit them online here: https://ontarioorchards.com/

There’s not a ton of info about the cider, but I found this much, “A traditional hard cider made from our own apples and bottled for us by local winery, Bella Fattoria!” 8.2% ABV. 

I wish I knew what apples go into this!

I noticed the ABV when my friends showed me the bottle. Many hard ciders end up with an ABV of 6.9% or lower, so I was curious about what made this cider end up just a notch higher. It could be any number of things, but often they correlate to a particularly tasty beverage. It’s not that ABV inherently tastes any particular way, but ripe apples often have more sugar content. Sugar is what is transformed into alcohol by yeast. Please forgive all of this total oversimplification, friends, but it’s one reason to look at ABVs. 

Appearance: transparent, pale straw, no visible bubbles

This cider looks elegant and restrained. The Traditional Hard cider is transparent with a mild hue that looks like palest straw stems. I don’t see any bubbles, but that doesn’t mean its not sparkly.

Aromas: minerals, overripe apples, baking spices

Ontario Orchard’s cider smells of clean minerals and overripe apples. I’m reminded of sun-warmed apples sitting on a limestone fence. When I sniff again, I notice baking spice notes. Nothing is overwhelming, but these aromas are enough to whet my curiosity.

Dryness/sweetness:  semi-dry

This is a pleasingly semi-dry cider. It’s not austere, but neither is it bursting juicy. The flavors come from fermentation as well as the fresh juice. 

Flavors and drinking experience: bubbly, mellow, balanced, 

The Traditional Hard Cider by Ontario Orchards certainly brings all the fun of good strong bubbles even though I couldn’t see any bubbles in the poured glass. This cider comes across as mellow and beautifully balanced. We all enjoyed it so much. I was shocked that I’d never heard anyone singing its praises  before now. Oswego isn’t that far away. 

Something in this cider reminds me of the very few Quebecois ciders I’ve tried that use heat to concentrate the apple flavors. They are called fire ciders but they aren’t to be confused with the vinegar-based cold remedy that goes by the same name. It’s an intriguing set of flavors. 

We had the cider with savory shortbread biscuits, and this simple pairing was a perfect way to unwind after lots of busy brain time. I’ll highly recommend it to any one who has the chance to try it, and when I’m near Oswego, I’ll have to check out Ontario Orchards!

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Cider Review: Wayside Cider's Hunt the Fox


I don’t know what has changed, but my mind has turned to nesting. Maybe it's the darker golden evening light, the soft morning spider webs, or the impending school year. Something has made my homing instincts come out in full force. And to take advantage of this, I opened up a 750ml bottle of cider to share last night. This felt like a change from my frequent enjoyment of canned ciders. Perhaps this was just a moment of homebody feelings, but I sense cozy times with cider ahead.

That’s part of why I chose Wayside Cider's Hunt the Fox. The other reason is that folks from the company shared this for review with me months ago! 

I have one previous review of anything by Wayside Cider. Here’s the link to my review of the Underhill: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/03/cider-review-wayside-ciders-underhill.html

I recommend visiting Wayside Cider online here to learn more about the ciders and tap room:  http://www.waysidecider.com/.

Here’s how Wayside Cider describes Hunt the Fox.

A still, unfiltered, cider featuring a blend of Chisel Jersey, Golden Russett, and Dabinett amongst others from the Finger Lakes that was fermented using a Lithuanian Farmhouse yeast. With notes of citrus, spice and a long tannic finish, this is more akin to a wine than our typical ciders. 8.5% ABV.\

Appearance: intense color, warm harvest gold, transparent

This cider is lovely in the bottle and in a glass. The intense color reminds me of a bright harvest gold. (I may have Fall on the brain.) It’s transparent through most pours, but it gets a bit hazy near the end of the bottle.

Aromas: funky, lemon, orange peel, toasted bread crumbs

This cider smells citrusy and funky. I anticipate some Spanish-style cider vibes. The citrus notes remind me of lemon and orange peel. There are also plentiful notes of toasted bread crumbs and yeast.

Sweetness/Dryness: Dry

This is a bone dry cider. The Hunt the Fox has lots going on, but none of it is sweet.

Flavors and drinking experiences: almost petillant, tannic, funky, warming

I was surprised first by the mouthfeel of this cider. It’s barely still: almost petillant. I like sparkle in any amount. Then the cider’s extremely high astringence showed up. This is the main event. Hunt the Fox is very tannic; it almost seems like a barrel-aged cider with no barrel. 

Hunt the Fox is an austere and structured experience rather than a fruity one. It’s not a carefree cider to be quaffed quickly. Wayside Cider has created a thoughtful slow cider that fans of the style will want to ruminate over. I appreciate it’s almost petillance and the low in the mouth fullness. The cider is warming.  It reminded me of a large bell, tolling slowly.

I opened Wayside Cider’s Hunt the Fox with every intention of watching a scary movie, but it ended up being a cozy night of conversation instead. I wouldn’t change that for anything. As for pairing this cider, I’d go for a mushroom dish, perhaps risotto. Lean into a rich mouthfeel and lots of umami. I think this cider looks forward to Fall too.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Cider Review: 1911's Shandy Hard Cider

I’m recovering from the afternoon sun in my living room and listening to The Tall One record takes for a strange new song. It’s peaceful and summery; before this, I was in my garden harvesting cucumbers, chard, tomatoes, yellow squash and checking on the carrots. I’m sure that we’ve done something wrong such that the carrots are still exactly the size of one bite, but gardening is always seeing changes to make for next year. In the meantime, I found a supremely summery cider to review: 1911’s Shandy Hard Cider.

1911 is a cidery, distillery, and part of Beak and Skiff’s Orchard playground in Lafayette, New York. This Finger Lakes Staple is home to many exciting and innovative beverages as well as a full calendar of music and events. I'm happy to say that I can pick up cases of canned 1911 at multiple grocery stores in town, so it tends to be a cider I bring regularly to outdoor gatherings. 

I’ve reviewed a few 1911 Ciders  before; check out some earlier reviews for more background information on this cidery. Here’s the list!

Cranberry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/12/cider-review-1911-cranberry-cider.html

Rose: https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/02/cider-review-1911-rose-and-virtue.html

New England Style Hopped IPC: https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/09/cider-reviews-1911-hard-cider-new.html

Tropical: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/06/cider-cans-crush-it-1911-tropical-cider.html

Somerset Original Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/06/cider-review-beak-and-skiffs-1911.html

Founders’s Reserve Hopped: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/09/cider-review-1911s-founders-reserve.html

You can find out about all the ciders, spirits, and events at 1911’s Apple Campus online:  https://1911established.com/product-type/hard-cider/

Here’s the official description for 1911’s Shandy Hard Cider.

Shandy Hard Cider 6.5% ABV

Why should the beer drinkers have all the fun? Cider fans are just as deserving of some lemonade love! Grab a bikini, a towel, some screen, and a can, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for some fun in the sand!

1911 includes a sweetness scale from 1-6 and rates the Shandy a 4. 

Appearance: hazy, pale yellow, few visible bubbles

The Shandy looks pale and hazy. The color is gently lemony, but it’s not intense. There are just a few little bubbles that I can see, but I have a feeling the Shandy Hard Cider will have some fizzy action.

Aromas: lemon, spice, salt, just a hint of apple

1911’s Shandy Hard Cider smells salty and minerally. There are even more lemon and spicy notes to the aroma. There’s some apple, but its more in the background. These aromas are all about citrus.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-sweet

This is a tart and sweet cider, but the balance comes across as plausibly semi-sweet.

Flavors and drinking experience: lemonade, nectarine, high acid, full body

I picked up the Shandy Hard Cider hoping for a fun summery blast, and it totally is! 1911 has released a lemonade acid bomb that brings a party to each sip. Not only do I get a zesty lemon vibe, there are also notes of nectarines, peaches, and apples in supporting roles.

I appreciate the ciders’ ear and jaw curling salivary action. That’s the acid at work. I find the cider comes across as semisweet and tasty. As it’s a shandy, it’s very lemonade like and that totally works. 

This cider succeeds at being an easy summer charmer. I find it totally enjoyable with a buffalo faux-chicken burger and sautéed zucchini. You could also just pair it with barbeque chips and a lazy afternoon. 1911’s Shandy Hard Cider makes a fun and drinkable good time!