Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Round Up of Finger Lakes Cider Week Round Ups! Cross Posted

Finger Lakes Cider Week offers many different ways to explore a love of cider. And we don't just do cider here, we have some of the best cider in the world. And during Cider Week, we can learn to make it, tour orchards, try new kinds of apples, pair it with fabulous foods and meet the talented cider makers that craft our favorite beverages.


But, if you're like me, one of the things I look forward to during cider week is going to one place and having multiple cider options! That's why I put together this little list. These are a few of the ways you can explore several cideries in one place during Finger Lakes Cider Week. And if you see me out and about at any of these events, come say hi!

Not to make things difficult, but I do have to share both of these events happening at the same date and time in different places. They are different events though, so read more about them to find out which format and location suits you best. Both of these will have a good number of excellent ciders.
September 30th: Cider Fest 2015 by Embark Ciderworks at Lagoner Farms in Williamson, NY:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1076952362353422/

September 30: Meet the Cider Makers at Cellar d’Or Wine and Cider Shop in Ithaca, NY


Consider me very excited about this next event. It's a stroll from my house and its a pairing event with some world class cider from Bellwether Cidery, South Hill Cider, and Hazlitt. Plus the event only costs $5. Steals like these do not happen every day.

October 5: Tasting and Pairing event at Cornell University's Bear's Den in Ithaca, NY

Then we've got a little after work 5:00 – 7:00pm tasting featuring ciders by Black Diamond and South Hill Cider for the weekly Hang Time tasting at Red Feet Wine Market.

October 6:Tasting at Red Feet Wine Market & Spirit Provisions in Ithaca, NY

I admit I've not spent as much time in Geneva as I would like. Its an interesting town with some lovely architecture. Therefore, I'm aiming to drive up for their monthly downtown evening, featuring multiple cideries sharing samples.


October 7: FLX Cider Celebration during Geneva Night Out! 5:00 – 8:00pm in Geneva, NY

If you like cider and you like cheese, you're bound to know that they pair like nothing else. This event brings together all the Cider Week FLX cideries and Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance producers for a huge celebration of two of my favorite things in the world.

October 8: Cider and Cheese Saturday Finger Lakes Cider House in Interlaken, NY

This list is just the tip of the Finger Lakes Cider Week iceberg. There really is a world of cider to explore right here. This series of events brings together one of the strongest cider regions in the United States. Come out. Try some ciders you've never had before. Remind yourself of your favorites. Bring a friend. You won't regret it.


This blog post originally appeared on the FLX Cider Week blog at: http://www.ciderweekflx.com/a-round-up-of-finger-lakes-cider-week-round-ups/ Catch more information and events listings there!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cider Review: Angry Orchard's Walden Hollow and approaching Cider Week!


Apple harvest has finally come! Perhaps the busy orchardists weren't waiting so impatiently, but I feel like I've been counting the weeks until I can start eating my favorite fresh apples. And at the same time, cider makers near me are getting ready for Cider Week in a number of locations. 

Cider Week FLX will be October 1-9: http://www.ciderweekflx.com/

Actually, I did a guest blog post rounding up some tastings happening during cider week, all of which feature more than one local Finger Lakes Region Cidermaker: http://www.ciderweekflx.com/a-round-up-of-finger-lakes-cider-week-round-ups/

I'll be guest pouring at Embark Ciderworks' Cider Fest on September 30th in Williamson, New York: https://www.facebook.com/events/1076952362353422/

Cider Week NYC will be October 21st-30th: http://ciderweeknyc.com/

But I know that Cider Guide keeps much closer tabs on cider festivals than I do, so please check out his listings here to find out the nearest cider celebrations to your neck of the woods: https://ciderguide.com/cider-festivals/

Angry Orchard

http://www.angryorchard.com/

I have more previous reviews than I'm going to share




Today, I'm sharing my review of Angry Orchard's Walden Hollow.



"A mildly tannic, off dry cider that showcases the diversity, complexity, and depth of character of New York State apples." 8% ABV

And Angry Orchard kindly lists the apples used for this cider, "New York Apple Varieties: Rome, Jonathan, Macintosh, Newton Pippin, Golden Russet, Rhode Island Greening."

Going into a little more detail I found this.
 Walden Hollow is an annual vintage cider made with our cider maker’s choice of heirloom New York state apples varieties, including apples from the Angry Orchard in Walden, NY. The 2016 edition is a mildly tannic, off dry cider with intense apple aroma and notes of butterscotch and almond. The cider makers wanted to capture the essence of wild fermentation, but without the funkiness or sour qualities sometimes associated with the process. 


Appearance: hazy, grassy yellow, some visible bubbles
Color is grass—pale yellow with a distinctly green note. Interestingly, this isn't a purely shining brilliant cider; its just a touch hazy.

Aromas: Bread dough, apples, yeast

I like how bready, yeasty,  and appley this cider smells. What makes it striking isn't the individual notes but how each of those things distinctly. I don't know if I have ever smelled  cider that reminds me of fresh bread dough. There's just a little sourness in the array of smells. Overall these aromas are excellent.

Sweetness/dryness: semi dry

This can be accurately described as a semi-dry cider, and I appreciate the accuracy of the official descriptions thus far.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, medium tannins, clean fermentation, short finish

Like lots of ciders with New York state fruit, this cider tastes very tart because of its high acid. First, I get an initial malic sweetness, then a quick wave of tannins, with a gentle slightly caramelly finish. It stimulates lots of salivary action. Quite good, but a little curiously light bodied. There's
 not a lot of heft for so bready a cider. 

Interestingly, I can taste something that reads as cooling in the taste (it reminds me of some  Vandermill ciders in this feature). The Walden Hollow hits notes that feel "low" in the mouth. The cider is very clean. I had expected a warmer, funkier, longer-lasting effect based on the aromas, but this is a sleek and clean beverage. What lingers longest is actually the bright acid. 

I find this cider enjoyable; I'm grateful that it brings some complexities,The label points out its 8% ABV but the cider doesn't come across as boozy. I'd have guessed a lower ABV myself. It offers some bubble action with low to medium intensity of small bubbles. They meld in sensation with the high acidity. Big sips have nice plum and plumskin notes.

This was lovely on my porch with my last tomato galette of the season and corn on the cob, but I could also see pairing it with richer foods to give the acid something weighty to counterbalance. All in all, a very nice beverage. I look forward to the next Cider House Series offering.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Cider Review: Crispin's Browns Lane Imported Classic English Dry Cider



It has been so long since I've reviewed a Crispin cider that I feel like the whole cider world has changed! Crispin used to be a Minnesota cider company. At some point they bought the perry company Fox Barrel. The whole time I've been reviewing them, they've been owned by MillerCoors, but they have tried a few different things with the brand in that time.

I've had some great experiences with Crispin Ciders and tasted a few that weren't really compatible with my preferences. But I've always head about more interesting Artisanal limited release ciders than I've seen for sale. Many of these are differentiated either by interesting yeast choices or experimental barrel-aging techniques.

Here are all of my previous reviews of this brand, some of which go pretty far back:

The Saint: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/05/cider-review-crispin-ciders-saint.html This review of a fun and approachable cider includes the first appearance of any of my cats in a the blog!

Georgia: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/12/cider-review-crispin-georgia.html This was a wild cider that had so many flavors like mint and peach that it scarely felt like a cider at all.

Honey Crisp: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/01/cooking-with-cider-crispins-honey-crisp.html This is a different post as the Honey Crisp cider was used to make a cider maple glaze for scones as well as for drinking.

You can read about Crispin on the website: http://www.crispincider.com/  


One bit of evidence for the change since I started reviewing Cripin can be seen in thattwo of my other previous reviews were then Fox Barrel Perries but are now Crispin Pear Ciders!

The sweet and juicy Blackberry Pear: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/08/perry-review-fox-barrel-blackberry-pear.html


And the first Perry review I ever wrote Fox Barrel Pacific Pear: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/07/and-now-for-something-completely.html

This is how Crispin introduces their Browns Lane.
Crispin Browns Lane is a dry, classic English style cider made from traditional English bittersweet cider apples. Named for the original Jaguar® auto factory in England, it pays homage to the great motor-racing heritage of Britain. 
AppearanceDeep golden straw, slight amber hues, brilliant clarity. 
AromaEarthy, ripened apple, slight honey, slight Brett saison farmhouse ale aroma. 
TasteEarthy flavors, slightly musty, bittersweet overripe apples, honey nutty toasts 
MouthfeelDrying, bitter, medium body, slightly woody. 
FinishLingering dryness and woody finish.
Now I'm curious to see how much I will agree or disagree with these fairly specific descriptions.


Appearance: popcorn kernel gold, brilliant, visible bubbles

This cider pours with a lot of exciting effervescence! The color separates it immediately from most american ciders because of the depth and vibrance of that popcorn kernel color. I'd also call the cider brilliant which is the style of some english cider but far from all.

Aromas: cooked apples, mellow, cellar, wood

This smells mild but distinctly like more English ciders. Smells a little sweet and musty and cooked but in a very good way.

Sweetness/dryness: semi dry

Definitely semi dry and definitely drier than other Crispin ciders including their Brut.

Flavors and drinking experience: fruity, barely bitter, well balanced, mellow, ever so slightly funky

I like how this cider is a little bitter, a little aged, teensy bit funky but fruity well balanced mellow and semi dry. I think I like more it than any other Crispin cider.  A cider that reminds me of baked apples and hints of barrel richness that don't go overboard is a good thing.




For pairings, I've had this one a few ways, but my favorite was drinking this with friends while watching the excellently silly film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1374989/). But I could also make some more taste oriented suggestions like a potato and mushroom frittata, which would would go rather well with this cider or a vegetarian roast once the weather cools off just a bit more. I'd rather pair this with rich and salty flavors than things too light or sweet.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

European Cider Roundup: Manoir de Grandouet Cambremer Cidre de Tradition AOP Pays d’Auge, Le Brun: Brut Cidre du Bretagne, & Sidra Asturiana Mayador


An importer was kind enough to share some very interesting samples of french and spanish ciders with me. It just so happened a week or so after they arrived that a friend of mine said that he wanted to learned to articulate his cider tasting experiences more comfortably. I've rarely heard a better use for a Sunday afternoon, so he cooked and I brought cider. I know his tastes to veer towards french and spanish ciders far more than our local offerings, guiding my choices to be three from my recent European samples.

I chose three that I hoped would show real breadth in terms of tannins, acidity, sweetness, and mouthfeel. These are some of the characteristics that are reasonably approachable when it comes to tasting cider and learning to talk about what we taste.

For food pairings, we had a selection of cheeses with crackers followed by super tasty fish tacos and ending up with a flourless chocolate torte. You wish you could have been there. We had fun, learned things, and laughed a bunch. I also got to meet an amazingly interesting artist visiting from the pacific Northwest. And I've always found cider to be a great thing to bring fabulously varied people to the proverbial table.


Manoir de Grandouet Cambremer Cidre de Tradition AOP Pays d’Auge (4.5%): http://www.manoir-de-grandouet.fr/

Official description: “FLAVORS: This coppery yellow cider reveals aromas of cooked fruit, dried herbs and leather. This semi-sweet cider is very fruity, with a full mouth feeling of softness and very slight bitterness”

Aromas: applesauce, peas, juicy orange

This smells of fruit quite pleasant and wild. We could smell apple, pear, blueberry, orange juice, and applesauce. It smelled like an appealing brunch spread!

Sweetness/ dryness: semi-sweet

A lovely fresh fruity semi-sweet. It is marked brut but because of the fermentation methods used, it will not taste brut to most drinkers of any other style of cider.

Flavors and drinking experience: green grapes, mellow, balanced, blueberries, fresh

Wow! What a well balanced and fruity cider. This style of cider isn't for everyone, but its so much fun. We had this one first with some brie which brought out its bitter notes, which I found tremendously appealing. Everyone liked the tiny champagne like bubbles. This had low acid and higher tannins, but it remained overall within balance for its style. I enjoyed it deeply.


Official description: “FLAVORS: A crisp, well balanced apple cider. Acidic, tart, and dry with a strong finish. Beautiful woody note in the aftertaste.”

Aromas: barnyard, vegetal, tannic, and funky

These aromas offer up a lot of phenolic action. Some of those notes drew us in, while others were more ambiguous, but the overall impression is one of fermented rusticity and mellow cooked apple.

Sweetness dryness: semi-dry

This is a challenging cider, though its sweetness/dryness level is not the most controversial aspect.

Flavors and drinking experience: very fermented, fruity, low acid, vegetal, funky

I liked this one the most, after it sat open a while anyway. I found this low-acid, high tannin cider very intriguing and divisive. I liked it. My companions were more split in their opinions. I found some of the characteristics reminiscent of what I like about english ciders; its decidedly woody and appley in a fermented way.


Sidra Asturiana Mayador: http://mayador.com/

Official description: “This limited edition sparkling sidra is made of Asturias apples. The aroma is moderate to light heavy apple, tart apples, apple skin/peel and oaky scents. This sidra’s flavor is moderate sweet and a light acidic with a long to average length for the finish.” Interesting thing to note, this was fermented in chesnut barrels!

Aromas: brine, grass, tropical fruit

This smelled really interesting wildly not like pomme fruits. I found more grass, pineapple, and brine in the aromas.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

This is a firm semi-sweet. It has plenty of sweetness to allow the fruit flavors to come through, but the sweetness does not dominate the experience.

Flavors and drinking experience: acidic, floral, sparkling, tropical fruit


This was my companion's favorite without any question. This tastes very true to the flavor profile I associate with spanish ciders. Tartness and acidity dominate. I enjoyed the herbal an grassy notes but found the volatile acidity to be less in my wheelhouse. The cider changes as it gets warmer, and I found it more mellow and pleasant after it had been in an open glass for several minutes. The most interesting phrase in my notebook about this one is, “a small army of flowers.” 

What a great set of ciders to explore and discuss!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Cider Review: South Hill Cider's Stone Fence Farm


One of the cideries making the Finger Lakes cider explosion happen has to be South Hill Cider. Steve Selin's small cidery uses local fruit, heritage varietals of apple, and foraged fruit. They've not been around for many years yet, but their ciders have certainly made a name for themselves quickly. You can read about everything they do on the website.  

http://www.southhillcider.com/

I have reviewed two South Hill Ciders before. 


First a single batch blend with hops and cherries, the Hypothesis:
http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/05/cider-review-south-hill-ciders.html

I also reviewed the 2014 batch of the foraged PackBasket also blended with foraged pears:
http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/04/cider-review-south-hill-ciders-2014.html

What I'm realizing only just now, this review of the Stone Fence Farm is my only review of a cider made from only apples. How novel! 


Here's how South Hill Cider introduces it.

2015 STONE FENCE FARM 
A single-orchard cider, all of the fruit came from a small homestead cider orchard planted by our friend Peter Hoover between 1995-2000 near Trumansburg, NY. 
Still, DryBalanced and expressive. Aromas of wet slate, rich soil. Starfruit, lychee, walnut. Mouth-watering finish.Apple varieties: Golden and Roxbury Russets, Redfield, Tremletts Bitter, Bramleys Seedling, Zabergau Reinette, Kingston Black, Major, Michelin, Medaille d'Or, Chisel Jersey, Brown Snout, Esopus Spitzenburg, Sops of Wine, Granny Smith, Foxwhelp, Winter Banana, Calville Blanc, Cox's Orange Pippin, Sheepnose, and more.RS 0.3% / TA 7.6g/L / 7.5 ABV750 mL 
I want to take a moment just to emphasize that all of the apples for this cider came from one small orchard. And look at those varieties! These are not easily found apples. The orchard isn't a commercial operation, just the labor of love of someone who loves cider and apples very much. Its a tremendous window into this fruit to see it come together as a single batch of cider. I'm very curious!


Appearance: just a little hazy, warm saffron yellow, virtually no visible bubbles

Please forgive the helpfully labeled Chardonnay glasses in the picture. I assure you, this is cider and not Chardonnay. I love the color, its so warm and mellow. It isn't a brilliant tone of color and there are no bubbles to speak of. I predict a still cider.

Aromas: soft apples, paper, minerals, fermentation


This smells subtly floral and just a little powdery. I get tons of apple with some soft papery notes. The cider also seems a little minerally while still giving off airs of gently boozy fermentation. What a charming overall impression!

Dry/sweet: just off dry

This cider seems almost totally dry. The experience is not dominated by this factor, but I find the barest hint of sweetness quite pleasant in the context of the other flavors. Primarily though, it does come across as dry.

Flavors and drinking experience: Still, great mouthfeel, mellow, high tannin

I was right; this cider is completely still! It also resembles the aromas I noticed by being high tannin, high acid, and just off-dry. I mean its pretty functionally dry. but also warmly rich and flavorful. I adore its gentle mouthcoat. This is decidedly finger lakes in profile but well-balanced. 


It tastes like fermented fruit, not fresh fruit. This means its a little yeasty a little spicy, very mellow and offers up a golden nice long finish. I had this cider at a friends house with homemade pasta with a red cream sauce and a super flavorful salad with lots of balsamic vinegar. The cider was not overpowered by these bold combinations, but you could also let it be even more central with some more simple gentle pairings like burrata cheese, grilled peaches, and toasted almonds. At least, that's how I would do it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Cider Review: Lyme Bay Cider Company's Jack Ratt Vintage Dry


As much as I loved writing up my cider travels in Vermont last week, I'm ready to return even more to my cider roots. For me that means english cider, so today I'm sharing my review of Lyme Bay Cider Company's Jack Ratt Vintage Dry

YOu can find out about all of the ciders and wines made by Lyme Bay Winery on the website here: https://www.lymebaywinery.co.uk/

Here's how Lyme Bay Cider Co. presents the brand: 
The UK has the highest per-capita consumption of cider of any country in the world, so it’s no surprise that here at Lyme Bay we are passionate about keeping the skill of West Country cidermaking alive. 
We use nothing but the freshly pressed juice of locally grown, traditional cider apple varieties such as Dabinett, Kingston Black and Yarlington Mill to produce a quality range of real, full-flavoured ciders. We are very proud that our Jack Ratt Scrumpy Cider, Jack Ratt Vintage Cider and Lyme Bay Sparkling Cider have all won numerous awards.
I admit that when I saw the unusually shaped bottle on a shelf in Lizard in Cornwall, I was more than halfway sold already. That, plus the name, and I knew I had to carry this little bottle back to New York and hope it delivered. I did look up what the company says about this cider, so as to know just a little about my choice. The cider's page on the website describes it as, "Still, full bodied, filtered strong cider in a traditional 1ltr glass flagon. Store upright."

and even more intriguingly they list its awards and put a quote (sadly un-cited) that gave me even higher hopes, "This smells of old fashioned Scrumpy, but it's clearly filtered & has been brought forward with modern techniques. It's just gorgeous- it’s got a lightness a refinement, yet it’s not lost any of it's heritage." High praise indeed, but I wish I knew where it came from! 

Anyhow, enough anticipation. Time for the cider itself. 


Appearance: hazy dark copper red, opaque

I have to note that when we got to the bottom of the bottle, this was maybe the single most opaque cider I’ve ever seen. I hate to call it cloudy because the opacity was so consistent. This cider is deep mahogany red. I saw almost no bubbles.

Aromas: Caramel, Leather, Wood, Raisin

 This cider offers up a soft caramel smell, with a nice round, easy gently sour lactic note. I'm guessing it underwent a malo-lactic fermentation. It also smells highly tannic in a way that suggests both wood and the barest hints of metal.

Dryness/sweetness: semi-dry

This cider defies the sweet/dry spectrum as I typically experience it. The cider is called dry, but it doesn't taste dry, but neither does it taste sweet. You'll have to read on to find how it registers instead.

Flavors and drinking experience: still, highly tannic, low acid

Like many of my favorite english ciders, the Jack Ratt is still and extremely tannic. But that's not all it is. I found this cider very mellow and raisiny with an enjoyable and surprising tongue drying action. The Jack Ratt reminds me of a tea made from leather, sweetened with flowers. It also only brings low levels of acid. The cider is anything but cloying.

Bigger swigs bring out a mineral flavor, a little sourness, and some spiciness! I also taste just a hint of olive brine, but its pretty under control. The cider has a surprisingly clean finish, maybe owing to its not too thick mouthfeel. I like it! A lot! The cider brings many of my favorite qualities of english cider while maintaining enough difference to be distinct.

I found the Jack Ratt extremely enjoyable and more than mildly decadent. It goes well with highly flavored savory food: my cider sharer and I had roasted veggies, sharp cheese, a homemade lemon aoli, and hummus, and it cuts them pretty ideally.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Great Vermont Cider Tour: Day 3! (Plus a bonus stop in New York)

After bidding a fond au revoir to Barney and Dee at Sunrise Orchards, my trusty cider assistant and I headed to downtown Middlebury where we met up with David of Shacksbury Cider.  He took us to Windfall Orchards, where we all hung out for a good while with orchardist Brad and with Misty the dog.



Shacksbury is the brainchild of David (originally from Kansas City) and his business partner Colin, both Middlebury College graduates.  They were fascinated by the tannic quality of English ciders, and so with unique transatlantic partnerships (most notably with Once Upon a Tree), they're now making cider in Vermont using a blend of American and English apples—even some Spanish ones too.  Since the start of 2015, they've gotten distribution beyond state lines and a earned thumbs up from Alice Feiring of the New York Times.  I served some of their Classic at my birthday party this year, since it's available on tap at Ithaca's own Cellar d'Or.  Keep an eye out for a review here.

Brad then showed us around his small but impressive and well-connected 3-acre orchard.  Windfall provides rare varietals to many cideries in Vermont, but their most public partnerships are with Shacksbury and Eden.  Brad and his wife (noted food author Amy Trubek) started working the orchard in 2002, but it's hardly new: their oldest tree is from 1918. That's the tree below. Glorious.



Windfall presses their apples three times per year, measuring careful blends of at least twelve varieties.  Shacksbury's batches are then given slow natural fermentation in uninsulated tanks, and afterwards are bottle conditioned. As David, Brad, and I discussed all this, I was casually handed a scrumptious Chenango Strawberry and St. Laurence apple to eat.



From there, the drive to Woodchuck Cider's home base was only five minutes, but in many respects it felt like a world away.  If you're reading this blog, you know who Woodchuck is.  

You need tanks like these to make eight million gallons of cider per year. You might also note, my adorable cider assistant. 



Woodchuck employs 150 Vermonters, and the cidery sources a huge amount of its apples from in-state (including from Sunrise Orchards, where we stayed last night), but as Caitlin their communications manager told me, their production demands exceed what Vermont can supply, and so they partner with growers in New York and the Yakima Valley too.  They value their local roots: I found their tasting room filling already at 11:30am, and this Saturday, August 20, they're hosting their annual Ciderstock concert, with Sublime.

Woodchuck is the flagship mark of the Vermont Hard Cider Company (which is owned by Pabst, and which also runs Wyder's), and offers both their classic drinks and a host of more recent mass-market experiments like Gumption and the Out On a Limb series.  I'm fond of some of their more straightforward ciders like the Local Nectar (of which I snagged a Michigan-edition sixpack), but I was also happily surprised by their June & Juice (review coming in a month or two.)

Their current facility opened in 2014, and it is enormous, clean, and designed for ecological efficiency.  

They can fill 600 bottles a minute here, and Woodchuck's R&D folks designed and built their own flavor extraction tank for specialty infusions like mint and chocolate.  As with other cideries, Woodchuck also barrel-ages a number of their ciders (like their Private Reserve Cherry).  

We picked up a growler of their 25th Anniversary Cider (like I said, I enjoy the classics), and then finally started the long drive home to Ithaca.  But there was one surprise stop waiting for us.

Glancing at the map, I realized that the Slyboro Ciderhouse was right on the way home, and so I called Dan from the road and set up a quick visit. He was amazingly kind to just let me drop in. Thanks, Dan!

Based in Granville, NY, Slyboro is part of the Hicks family farm and orchard, which has been operating as a public U-pick farm since 1905.  Nineteen-Oh-Five!  You can still visit the whole, beautiful complex, where they've been adding two acres per year of English and French varietals of bittersweet and bittersharp apples.


Dan's family came here in 1974, and the Slyboro cider brand was launched in 2005, which in the cider world makes them veterans.  Dan has made a number of ciders over the years (check out my reviews of his older varieties linked to the right), but these days he's settled on five in-house favorites, which total 12,000 gallons per year, mostly available in New York state.  

The Kingston Black is one of the best single-varietals and one of the best still ciders I've had, period.  Its notes are almost steak-like.  The Hidden Star is their flagship dry blend, with hints of malt.  La Sainte-Terre is a surprising and bold cider mixing complex bitterness with a 1/6 dose of sweet, rich ice cider.  Their Black Currant is a top-seller, and its fruit-forward notes make it easy to see why.  And their Ice Cider has compelling favors of peach and a good mouthfeel that finishes cleaner than many ice ciders.  I'll definitely go deeper in reviews later!


During a tour through the production room, Dan revealed that he and his team learned cidermaking by first creating single-varietal ciders of every apple they grew.  That way, the flavors were more easily understood.  "We learned quickly it was a blending art, needing one note of this and two of that to develop something that will stand on its own."  Knowing that Dan's background is in fine painting, it's easy to imagine how blending flavors might work like mixing colors. 

And from there, the long but lovely drive home.

So after all these exciting travels, tasty ciders, and thoughtful, kind people, two things occur to me.  First, the cider world is pretty small.  Folks know each other, and help each other out.  They offer apples, pressing, juice, bottling, internships, budwood, and advice to each other, and it really reinforces what I love about the larger cider family.  Second, everyone's experience is just a little different, depending on what they're doing and how.  An orchardist and an apple-dreaming mystic both approach business differently from one another, and an entrepreneur blends apple juices differently than a chemist.  I feel so lucky that these perspectives come together in creating so many different ciders, and to be afforded these visits and windows into these people's lives.  Thanks again to everyone for letting me visit!

In case you missed it here's Day 1: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-1.html

and Day 2: https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-2.html

And thank you for reading!