Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cider Review: Foggy Ridge Cider's Serious Cider

I love living in cider country. There are many quality cider makers working less than an hour from my porch. They release new cider several times a year. We have a most excellent cider week.There's a lot of be grateful for, but its no excuse for me not to know about serious cidermakers from other places. So, I'm excited to share my review of a cider I tried on a trip to New York City a while ago. 

To set the scene, it was an unseasonably cool and gray day for being a tourist, and I knew someplace that would feel warm and welcoming and gorgeous while having a stellar cider selection. So, I made plans to meet up with a friend at Gramercy Tavern (http://www.gramercytavern.com/) to get to know the cider menu. 

Gramercy Tavern is everything I hoped it would be: comfortable and welcoming yet decadent. There, I was able to try a few cider I'd not seen elsewhere. This is how I got my hands on a Foggy Ridge Cider. The only downside was that the lighting was not very conducive to reasonable pictures. Please accept some my one relevant picture with mercy.

Foggy Ridge Cider makes serious cider, so much so that they've named one of their ciders that. Diane Flynt grows cider apples in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Foggy Ridge has been her cider company since 1997. For them, its all about apple variety and bringing out what's inside the apple rather than additional flavor notes from any other source. You can read more about Foggy Ridge on the website here:


I'm including the "Cidermaker Notes" on Serious Cider so we can know how it is being introduced: "Rich apple and citrus aroma with a touch of apricot and jasmine blossoms. Serious Cider is bright and lively with a creamy mid-palate. Full bodied with soft minerality and hints of peach skin and lime zest. Focused acidity combined with textured, dusty tannin create a long and pleasantly dry finish."

Here's a bit more background, including apple varieties:
Foggy Ridge Cider grows many "spitters"—high tannin apples that taste like unripe persimmons but contribute tannin to all our cider blends, especially Serious Cider, our most dry hard cider. Classic English cider apples like Tremlett's Bitter and Dabinett combine with fruity aromatic varieties such as Grimes Golden, Newtown Pippin and Gold Rush to create a cider that drinks like Brut Champagne.
Some cider geeks might experience some mouth watering just at reading those variety names. I am definitely in that group, so my expectations were pretty elevated before a glass even reached my table.

Appearance:  brilliant, no visible bubbles, yellow green

I enjoy this pale shade of greenish yellow. Its the paler version of chartreuse. Or how I imagine undersea treasure to look.

Aromas: savory, peppery, warm applesauce

It is obvious that this cider will have high levels of tannin from the fascinatings smells. Its so savory! Do I smell pepperiness or even something like smoke? All this amid gentle warm applesauce aromas. Even if I hadn't read the apple varieties, these scents say russets and bitters.

Sweetness/dryness: dry

Serious indeed! This cider is dry and just so filled with flavor! This might be a bit much for someone new to cider, but what a delight!

Flavors and drinking experience: high tannin, balanced, just a little funky

Quite high tannins and piquantly strong acid make this cider decadently exciting. The  astringence is pleasant and the finish lasts forever. I'd say its almost assuredly bottle conditioned in that its gently sparkling but very finely so. The finish remains unchanging for a very very long fade of flavor. This just lingers forever. Wow! As Alex said, it makes memories  

In terms of flavors, there's a friendly ghost of apple bitterness peel and core. The Serious Cider remains interesting and well balanced if a slight challenge for someone who doesn't like intensity. The acidity makes it a bit more than tart and maybe even ever so slightly funky but neither farmy nor off kilter.

Yes, this cider is serious. It would be sorted into house Ravenclaw. But so deliciusly appealingly serious. Drink this with a good book or a smart companion. This cider deserves it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Cider Review: Woodchuck's Day Chaser

This past weekend, I celebrated my tenth wedding anniversary with my husband and best friend. I thought it only fitting that the first review I post after this momentous celebration was a Woodchuck cider because that's the only cider that's been with us not only for the ten years we've been married, but most of them before that. I'd say the first ciders we ever shared were Woodchuck and Farnum Hill. 

I'm sure most folks who drink cider are aware of Woodchuck because of either their long history or extensive distribution. But visit the website and see what's new here: http://www.woodchuck.com/

I've reviewed enough different Woodchuckciders, that I don't need to delay this review long enough to go through all of them (but they are all tagged Woodchuck if you want to track them down). I'll just share three select previous reviews.

Most recently, I reviewed Woodchuck's Hot Cha Cha: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/03/cider-review-woodchucks-hot-cha-cha-cha.html

The first time I had a smoked cider it was Woodchuck's Cellar Series Smoked Apple:

A cider that only comes around for a few months of the year is Woodhuck's Belgian White, a cider inspired by Belgian beer making traditions:

But today isn't about those lovely ciders from the past, its about a new cider Woodchuck just released in 2016: Daychaser. Here's how the website introduces it.
Day chaser celebrates those adventure seekers that never let a minute slip by. This sessionable cider combines bitter and sweet apples to deliver a semi-dry cider that is not too sweet and leaves you thirsty for another. Get the most out of every day and reward yourself as you welcome the night.
To interpret, I think Woodhcuk is going for a sessionable middle-of-the-road cider that's good for as a sidekick to your plans rather than a centerpiece. There are a few other tidbits to shape our expectations. On Woodchuck's visual scale, this cider is placed between dry and semi-dry, but nearer to semi-dry. In terms of flavor, we are asked to expect, "Ripe apple fruit, low to moderate acidity, light tannin." Nice framing, let's see how this translates from copy to glass.

Aromas: bread, apple, peach

Interesting, this smell just exactly like my homemade cider bread. So, I guess I can draw bread, yeast, and apple out of that. It also smells a bit peachy.

Sweetness/dryness: sweet

As is often the case a semi-dry on the label translates to a sweet in my perception.  Its a fruity sweetness, but there is no getting around it.

Flavors and drinking experience: medium acidity, quite fruity, drinkable

The Day chaser is reasonably balanced with medium bubble and a flavor that somehow comes across as ripe and golden. The cider offers up a sweet fruity finish. It has medium low tannins, but not zero tannins. I quite like what they add to the cider. The Day chaser's moderate acidity helps make it truly a sessionable cider. I'd not call it particularly extreme or exciting, but oh so drinkable.

I had it with blue corn chips and medium roasted pepper salsa and it totally worked. Pair this cider with any number of activities; take it canoeing, enjoy a bottle while touching up something outside that needs to be painted. It definitely fulfills the role Woodchuck designed it for, bringing some fresh balanced apple to any cider-friendly activity.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Cider Review: Julian's Hard Cider Apple Pie

The fickle sweetness of spring is upon us in Ithaca. This means that the weather and the weather report change hourly. We can go from needing our scarves and winter boots to shedding layers and reaching for sunglasses and back in a day. I enjoy the aptness of Mark Twain's quote on the matter, "In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four-and-twenty hours." I think it makes this a perfect season to reach out for something just a bit more reliably pleasant than the weather.

Mark Twain serves as an excellent figure of particularly American wit and wildness. He fits right in with the image that Julian Hard Cider has created for itself for the past several years. 

Even if you've looked at the Julian Hard Cider website before, check it out again. It has beautiful pictures and a nice easy to navigate layout. Very nice. http://www.julianhardcider.biz/

My first review of Julian's was for the Harvest Apple, and a relatively early cider review I wrote for this blog: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/05/cider-review-julian-hard-cider-harvest.html

But now, I'm taking a moment for something familiar and comforting: apple pie. Here's how Julian Hard Cider introduces this treat.
Apple Pie: Festive 
100% fresh-pressed hard apple cider blended with the spices of Grandma’s secret pie recipe.  No added sugar.  6.99% ABV. 
Apple Pie’s cheery spice notes and lively effervescence accompany a harmony of tart and sweet apple deliciousness. 
Pour yourself a slice!

Time to check out Julian's Apple Pie for myself.

Appearance: brilliant, few visible bubbles, medium warm gold

My lighting wasn't perfect, but the brilliance of this cider certainly is. Not a hint of haze to be seen. The color is a nicely rich and warm tone of gold. Almost no visible bubbles

Aromas: sweet, spicy, citrus

The cider smells sugary, with an edge of burning sweetness. bright; cinnamon, lemon and caramel. graham cracker. clove, allspice, a little ginger

Sweetness: Sweet!

Don't fight it. Its a sweet spiced cider that tastes like apple pie. There's no pretending here.

Flavors and drinking experience: A
pple pie, for real, balanced, cola

The Apple Pie starts off with a strongly spicy ginger/cinnamon note—real in its bite that blends with the slightly yeasty note. It contributes nicely to a textured but not distracting mouthfeel. I get medium to med-low carbonation. There's also a slight sourness is somewhat separate from the apple flavor. I enjoy the somewhat mineral and cola-like note baseline.

Overall, the cider offers high acid, no tannin, and a well balanced spicy sweet apple pie flavor. The finish is pleasant while being sweet-and-tart lingering. My tasting companion found smaller sips better, saying that larger ones have a slightly clove-intensive flavor. I noted the dominance of clove in big drinks so, but I say bring it on! Clove is amazing and under appreciated.

Because of the intensity of flavor I'd recommend pairing it like actual apple pie. You can have it on its own, make it a la mode with a little vanilla ice cream, or be awesome and have it with a powerful cheddar. The choice is yours. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Cider Review: Cider Riot's Everybody Pogo Hoppy Cider

Hey, cider fans. I've been home from GLINTCAP for a week, but that competition is still buzzing around in my brain. Something about dig in to those categories for cider style really jives well with how I think about cider. The cider that I'm reviewing tonight got a bronze medal in the hopped/herbal cider category. That's a category I wish I could have judged, but there's always next year!

But for tonight, I'm reviewing a cider that was a gift from the kind folks at Cider Riot in Oregon. This is the last of the few they gave me in Chicago at CiderCon 2015.

I love what Abram Goldman-Armstrong says about how own impetus to make cider:
So why cider? As passionate as I am about beer and brewing, there is something magical about cider. Picking bittersweet apples in Alan Foster’s orchard at White Oak Cider on a clear autumn day. Traipsing through the wet woods of my family land in Yamhill to seek out wild seedling apples. These experiences ground me to the land. Cider challenges me, it inspires me, and there’s nothing quite like the dry tannic flavor of a well made cider.
You can find more about Cider Riot on the website here: http://ciderriot.com

I have once previously reviewed something by Cider Riot, their Never Give an Inch Blackberry Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/01/cider-review-cider-riots-never-give.html 

Tonight's review is for Everybody Pogo  Hoppy Cider. Here's what the website has to say about it.
Hoppy Cider 6.7% abv- A refreshingly dry cider that’s got hops. Our roughcut tribute to football terraces and punk rock shows, dry and quenching with a hint of sweet apple flavor, as organically grown Goldings hops do the pogo dance across your taste buds. A distinctly Oregonian product, Everybody Pogo mates Hood River apples and Willamette Valley hops. Unfiltered and lightly carbonated.

Appearance: Hazy, deep apricot, ring of bubbles around the rim of the glass

I can definitely see that this is an unfiltered cider by the gentle haze. The color looks like dried apricots. It pours with a little mousse, but that turns into just a ring of bubbles.

Aromas: fruity, sweet, dusty, yeast, hint of sweat

Everybody Pogo smells sweet and dusty in a way that makes me think that lot of the aromas come from the yeasts used. I can smell some apple and the hops come across in clean yet gently sweaty way. Its intriguing. 

Sweetness/dryness: off dry

This isn't a truly dry cider, but its close. I'd call it just off dry with some very prominent fruit and herb flavors.

Flavors and drinking experience: fresh apples, pears, herbs, lemon, and hops

I absolutely adore that this cider tastes like apples and a bundle of herbs. This cider is off dry, with medium acidity, and no tannins to speak of. Everybody Pogo offers up plenty of yeast and hopped character that somehow cumulatively feels like it has a menthol cooling effect. The finish fills out like a sourdough some some really fun bready flavors.
In terms of fruit, I get fresh apples, underripe green pears, and a bit of lemon. The carbonation level felt middle of the road to me, but my sampling companion found it much higher. Small sips taste especially good,  but this cider is refreshing and flavorful however you drink it.

This cider was built for food, so there's a lot of flexibility for pairing. I'd pair it with spicy tofu wings, or something else highly flavored. Let the cooling and refreshing elements do the work to make your food even better.

What do I recommend you do while drinking this cider? Not moshing as the picture on the bottle seems to imply, but listening to Beyonce's Lemonade. Everyone is talking about this album, and its put more of a smile on my face than any music in months. This cider and this music are simply perfect for taking some time for yourself. Enjoy it!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Experience at GLINTCAP 2016: The World's Largest Cider Competition!

I hope you guys had great weekends, I know I certainly did. This was my third year trekking up to Michigan to judge in the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition. The competition has been going on for eleven (11!) years now, growing exponentially. Reading back to Old Time Cider's coverage from 2012, only 299 entries made up the entirety of the competition. (You can read the full entry here: http://www.oldtimecider.com/oldtimeciderblog/2012/4/4/great-lakes-international-cider-perry-competition-glintcap-2.html). Its mind boggling how much this has taken off!

This year we crossed a major threshold; more than 1,000 ciders and perries were submitted and judged. Also, it was my first year as a featured judge, whoa. I cannot say that wasn't a complete honor.

You can see the web presence of GLINTCAP here: http://glintcap.org/ 
Right now, you can see the Best in Class winners front and center. All of these ciders are exceptional and not to be missed should you have the chance to try them!

As this was my third trip, I've written about my wonderful experiences at GLINTCAP before:

Just before my first GLINTCAP, I started my apple branch tattoo: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/03/driving-out-for-glintcap-judgingand.html

Here's my write up of attending GLINTCAP in 2014: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/04/finally-my-fabulous-time-at-glintcap.html

This review from 2015 also includes the GLINTCAP results: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/04/cider-review-magners-irish-cider-plus.html

And now for GLINTCAP 2016!

One of the major draws of GLINTCAP for volunteers is getting to take a tasting seminar by Gary Audey (an amzing Indiana cider maker) and  Charles McGonegal (cidermaker of his own Wisconsin cider company Aeppeltreow). The seminar covers styles, common fermentation flaws, as well as a careful breakdown of the aroma, mouthfeel, and flavor elements of tasting cider.

Its a wonderful workshop that McGonegal describes accurately when he calls it a "Sampling of the cider experience." But, lest ye think it all fun and games, some of the flaws are unpleasant and the whole seminar takes about 5 hours. I wrote up an earlier version given at Cider Con 2015 (http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/03/cidercon-2015-sensory-analysis-training.html)

This year, the modifications to the workshop focused on volatile acidity, acetic acid, and the nearness in style of some French and English ciders. As always, it is a great tune up of the palate and taking of the pulse of the cider world. Then we were all supposed to go to bed, but most folks went out in search of food instead. I sought sustenance in the fine company of fellow cider writers(http://drinkingcider.com/) and award-winning home cidermakers (who make super weird things sometimes) and found awesome macaroni and cheese with roasted red peppers. 

Saturday started early with an oatmeal breakfast at 8am. Not glamorous but necessary ballast for the cider tasting to come. Everyone was encouraged to spit rather than drink their samples (and most of us complied) but even so, tasting three flights of 10-12 samples is a long slog of a day.

I got got serve as table lead for three very different commercial categories: New World Heritage, Fruit Cider, and Barrel Aged Cider and Perry. I am not going to say much more specific than that, as I feel discretion is a valuable thing in a judge. But, the range went from the sublime to the ridiculous. Our tables kept focus and gave honest feedback, including our email addresses in case any cider makers want to contact us for follow ups. There's a tremendous sense of responsibility in the competition. I respect and appreciate the sense of accountability instilled by the GLINTCAP organizers. 

The illustrious Eric West (of Cider Guide: http://www.ciderguide.com/) organizes the competition with incredible care and devotion.  Long-standing pillar of the cider community Mike Beck (of Uncle John's Cider Mill http://ujhardcider.com/) also shares generously of his time, knowledge, cider, and hospitality to make GLINTCAP happen). There are so many more who work tirelessly to bring together this many people and ciders together with a minimum of mayhem. My warmest thanks to all of them!

What a great event. Stay tuned for when the full results will be announced in the coming weeks.

Then we finished up with a pizza party sponsored by the Michigan Cider Association.  https://mca30.wildapricot.org/ There, I was encouraged to plant apple trees, get a dog, make my own cider, and otherwise make life more awesome. And we talked about our favorite cider events around the country and who we missed seeing this year (Rex Halfpenny! Dick Dunn!), and why cider folks just love plaid so darn much. Plus there was cider, pizza, and cornhole. 

At this point, I'd be hard pressed to say what my favorite part of GLINTCAP is. I love learning more about cider through the seminar, tasting seriously with other folks keen to articulate what they experience in a cider, or getting to see the the friends I've gained through my time in the cider world. All of these are invaluable! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cider Review: Cornish Orchards Vintage 2013 plus leading up to GLINTCAP

I found a bottle of Cornish Orchards cider in a surprising little bottle shop in Lizard. They had an extensive and varied selection, but this bottle stood out. The cider comes from Duloe in Cornwall. I am still pulling these little vacation treasures out of my cellar every few weeks, both as a way to deepen my understanding of English ciders and remember my trip to Cornwall and Devon.

Find out all about Cornish Orchards online at: http://www.cornishorchards.co.uk/

This website is fabulously clear and direct. I love that it mentions specifically that the ciders are vegan and that all of the farm's products remain free of artificial sweetening, coloring, or flavoring. Hopefully, that's true of most ciders, but I like knowing for certain.

You can read this page to find the story of Cornish Orchards:  http://www.cornishorchards.co.uk/about-us

Here's how Cornish Orchards introduces itself.

Our business is all about respect and balance. We create our award winning, premium ciders and juices, using traditional craft practices, produced to modern, exacting standards. 
Each autumn, the apples arrive, full of flavours, sweetness and juice. It's our job to ensure all this goodness is captured, fermented and blended into our delicious range of ciders and juices. 
Our master blenders demonstrate their skills by creating products that are not only refreshing, but bursting with outstanding flavours and fruity aromas.
Though many of the ciders I read about on the website intrigue me, the one bottle I allowed myself to carry from Cornwall to Ithaca was their Vintage 2013. Here's how the back label describes this particular cider:
A connoisseur's cider, medium dry and lightly sparkling. Created from apples selected for their soft tannins and traditional flavour. This classic cider is matured over the winter months, to bestow vintage qualities. 
Serve cool to enjoy the full flavours. Ideal partnered with a roast or a hearty platter of cheese.

Appearance: brilliant, few visible bubbles, chamomile

I'm still absolutely loving my Cider Tasting Mug from 33 books and how this mug shows off ciders so beautifully (http://www.33books.com/products/the-original-cider-tasting-mug
). The color looks chamomile with just a few visible bubbles and great clarity. 

Aromas: overripe apple, vanilla, leather, brine

Oooooooh, the Vintage 2013 smells of deep deliciously mushy apples, just a little olive brine, lots of vanilla. I'm guessing the cider will be high levels of acid and high levels of tannin, based on the smell. It seems distinctly autumnal, and reminds me stone, salty leather, lots of smells—poured into my tasting mug, the aromas fill the room!

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

Though the bottle calls it a medium dry, to my palate this cider tastes semi-sweet. The flavors come from so much more than the sweetness, but it certainly adds to the mouthfeel and flavors with a mature rich sort of sweetness. I think many American cider drinkers would really go for this.

Flavors and drinking experience: botanical, savory, fruity, great mouthfeel

These tastes are out of this world! As I said before though this cider is ultimately a semi sweet, its flavors go wildly beyond that. I find the cider deeply pleasing, but with genuine complexity. I get good notes of olive brine, bitter greens like cooked herbs, indeed quite high acid and high tannins. The mid-palate is very botanical (some root-y flavors like in cream soda or homemade root beer) with some savory notes. 

I taste bitter orange essence, rosemary, and hay. It feels almost a bit salty and yeasty like focaccia bread, except also a semi-sweet cider. I love this! The cider offers up great bubbles that deliver all of that intense flavor. All of the wild notes in it lean (if just barely) toward a dainty sense of restraint that keep the whole experience in balance. Its a wild ride and an enjoyable one! I had mine with a veggie chowder on a cold night, but you could have this cider with anything simple and hearty. 

And on a more personal note, the countdown to GLINTCAP has begun! The Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition will be running in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the 11th time. I'm thrilled to be returning as a judge for the third year. 

Its not only the largest cider and perry competition on this continent, but its also a wonderful educational opportunity for folks who want to volunteer as stewards and judges. We learn about cider styles, mouthfeel and flavor characteristics, fermentation flaws, and how to put our sensory impressions into words. I cannot overstate the value of this competition to me as a cider writer. Plus, its a friendly crew who always has a grand time together. I've made some of my best cider friends through GLINTCAP.

If you'll be there, please say hi!

Feel free to find out more about the competition here: http://glintcap.org/

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Cider Review: South Hill Cider's 2014 Pack Basket

My thoughts lately keep going to all of the worried apple growers and cidermakers I know. These last crazy bursts of winter after what seemed like a mild year and early spring are putting the 2015 apple crop at significant risk right now. Spare a good though if you can for the apple buds and blossoms that we need for our favorite beverage. 

Among these local cider companies facing late freezes is South Hill Cider. So, while I root for our apples, I want to review one of these ciders. You can read about the ciders, the orchard, and the process right on South Hill Cider's website: http://www.southhillcider.com/

or get updates on the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SouthHillCider

My only previous review of South Hill Cider is one of the hyper-limited Hypothesis: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/05/cider-review-south-hill-ciders.html

My review for today is South Hill Cider's 2014 Pack Basket. Here's how the official website describes it.


2014 yielded a very light crop for wild apples and pears across Central New York. However, with a bit of luck we found one stand of wild trees in a high valley with a good crop. These hidden trees were far enough from the dirt road that we could only retrieve the fruit by hauling it out on our backs. Hence the name, Pack Basket.
Naturally Sparkling. Complex, fruity, toasty, bone dry
100% wild pippin apples and pears
Bottle conditioned sur lie and undisgorged
28 cases produced
500 mL, 8.3% ABV.

Appearance: brilliant, few visible bubbles

This is a pale brilliant cider; I'd call the color green-tinted gold. There are just a few visible bubbles, and those I can see are very very small. 

Aromas: overripe apple, pear, stony, and spicy

I love how this cider smell spicy sweet. The Pack Basket definitely smells like pear. I also get some of the stony dusty notes that somestimes come with a rich tannic cider.

Dryness/sweetness: dry

Ooooh! What a true dry cider this is. This is so exciting! It has tons and tons of flavor (keep reading) but no residual sweetness at all.

Flavors and drinking experience: fruity, spicy, balanced, fine bubbles

What defines this cider for me is that it manages to offer Eextremely high acid, dry and yet remain fruity. The balance is quite frankly amazing. I love the mouthfeel with its super fine bubbles. I think the presence of the pears keeps the fruitiness going because not all sugars in pears can fully ferment away. 
The apple varieties make the cider softly spicy with medium tannins. I cannot say enough about how decadent the Pack Basket tastes. Its amazing!

Yes, I'm a sucker for dual presence of tannins and acids. And yes, I tend to love ciders that include a fair number of crabs. This cider fits those elements of my profile really well, but its the richness and balance that wows me. This cider is special. 

I paired this with a yellow cake with dried cranberries and caramel frosting. Yes, it was a very sweet cake. I'd absolutely pair this with dessert again. But that's far from the only possibility. One could also enjoy it with soft cheese and berries or some toasted nuts. I'd keep the food flavors simple to better showcase the cider's complexity. Glorious!

I also paired the Pack Basket with warm and relaxed conversation with a visiting friend. And that part was absolutely right. Definitely try that if you can. Also, next year's packbasket blend is coming soon, and I heard from Steve Selin himself that this one is going to be sill and 100% apples, no pears. Something nice to look forward to.

Speaking of looking forward! GLINTCAP is coming up! We're less than 2 weeks away! I'm thinking about doing a few bottle trades. Let me know if you're interested. Also, I'll be driving back, so if you'll be there and want your ciders reviewed, its a great time and place to pass on a review bottle and avoid paying for shipping...just a thought.