Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Cider Cans Crush It Eden Heritage and Treehorn El Treeablo

Thunderstorms are rumbling across my region as I write this. It’s been the first unbelievably hot day of the season so far. But, technically, what season are we even in? Summer on the books doesn’t begin until Thursday, but in my mind we’re closer to the peak of Summer than its beginning. But, those are debates that I cannot resolve on my own. It is enough to say that summer drinking has been upon us, and the need for cool refreshing ciders might be greater this week than any for many months previous. 

Canned ciders are here to help. I’ve chosen two that were shared with me as review samples. They are from very different ends of the East Coast. Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Eden Specialty Ciders’ first canned offering, the Heritage and Georgia Cidery Treehorn’s spicy El Treeablo. 

Let’s start with Eden Specialty Cider’s Heritage. This Vermont cider company is run by Eleanor Leger.

I’ve shared a few reviews of Eden ciders before.  

Imperial 11 Degree Rose: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/03/the-january-2017-cidrbox-and-edens.html
This was my number one cider of 2017!

Sparkling Dry in 2015: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/06/cider-review-eden-sparkling-dry-cider.html

I also enjoyed the 2016 Sparkling Dry as part of my Thanksgiving and Birthday celebration in 2016: 


You can find out more about the company online: https://www.edenciders.com/

Eden Heritage’s Official Description:

More Flavor Less Sweet. Authentic Heritage Cider Aromatic. Generously sparkling. Off-dry. 
The cider in your hand reflects everything we care about at Eden Ciders. Heritage Apples grown in small, regional orchards. Fresh pressed at the harvest to capture the full flavor of the fruit just as it ripens. Fermented dry and blended with just a drop of our award-winning Eden Ice Cider to create an everyday cider with extraordinary complexity.

The coolest thing is that this isn’t all the info. 

Here are the apple varieties listed: Kingston Black, McIntosh, Empire, Bulmers Norman Gravenstein.

Here are the orchards they come from: Eden Orchards, Scott Farms, Sunrise Orchards, Windfall Orchard.

Plus, "No Sugar Added. Residual Apple Fructose 1.2% by weight"

Appearance: brilliant, bright corn gold, lots of bubble 

This cider is so lovely, it’s a shame to leave it in the can. I am happy to have poured mine into a glass, so I can see the warm corn yellow color and watch those active bubbles. It’s perfectly brilliant as well.

Aromas: ripe apples, cleanly yeasty, a hint of lemon

Wow, wow, wow. This cider smells amazing; I get tons of ripe apples balanced a little cleanly yeasty presence and some lemony citrus. These aromas are completely tantalizing.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-dry shading into semi-sweet

I know this is a semi-dry cider. It has tons going on, but it’s still so fruity and approachable. It does veer almost toward the semi-sweet end of semi-dry.

Flavors and drinking experience: complex, rich, balanced

I know I try to write more descriptively and not focus on my personal evaluations, but this might be the best canned cider I have ever had. That almost makes it harder to write about. The Heritage offers up medium tannins with lots of tartness. It really is all about balance. 

In terms of more specific notes, this cider tastes freshly citrusy, fruity, gently spicy, and oh so rich. I did drink the Heritage both out of my glass and out of the can. The format does make a difference. It seemed more yeasty  from the can and also drier. Interesting! It was delicious either way. I had it with salmon, smashed fingerling potatoes, and a green salad with tons of shredded beets and carrots. 

Treehorn El Treeablo

The Treehorn El Treeablo is my first cider from Georgia! That definitely means this is my first review of anything by Treehorn. I met folksbehind this company at CiderCon, and they were kind enough to share a couple of sample cans with me. 

This company Treehorn was founded in 2013. Treehorn has a tasting room in Marietta just outside of Atlanta.

Read all about the company on the website: https://treehorncider.com/

And this is the info I found about the seasonal release: El Treeablo.

Treehorn kicks it up a notch with its limited release three-chile cider infused with habanero, jalapeno and Hatch chiles harvested and roasted at the peak of the season. El Treeablo has just the right amount of heat, perfectly balanced by its tart, lightly sweet apple cider character.  
Anyone familiar with New Mexico knows that chiles, particularly Hatch chiles, inspire religious levels of devotion. Two of our founding partners (Mallory Law and Kathryn Pierce) have lived in Santa Fe, so fresh roasted chiles are very close to our collective heart. The lovely folks at Fox Bros. BBQ were kind enough to help us out with sourcing and roasting our Hatches. We’ve been doing two batches per year and this one usually goes fast. Make sure to grab it while you can. 
A delicious and complex drink on its own, El Treeablo also excels as a cocktail mixer, and pairs exceptionally well with smokey mezcals and smooth Anejo tequilas. The bold flavor of El Treeablo stands up well to rich umami flavors and pairs beautifully with chicharrones, braised short ribs and rich, meaty stews.
Fresh ChileSubtle HeatBright Apple

Appearance: transparent, straw, few bubbles

This cider shows a straw hue, transparence, and I can see some bubbles. 

Aromas: peppers, vegetal, tart, pineapple

Oh wow! This smells veggie-ful and spicy! I can very clearly smell pepper both in their spice and their green vegetal-ness. I also got some pineapple notes!
Dryness/sweetness: semi-sweet

This cider is enjoyably Semi sweet! I think the heat of the peppers almost requires a little bit of gentle sweetness. The sweetness I taste does remind me distinctively of cane sugar.

Flavors and drinking experience: apple, spice, sweetness, and vegetal

The same notes that appeared in El Treeablo’s aromas remain present in its flavors:
peppers, fleshy vegetables, tart fruit, spice, apple and pineapple. Whew! There’s a lot going on in terms of both complexity and intensity. This has high acid, no tannin, medium high sweetness, but also lots of other flavors. This cider is fun!

One of the most striking elements in drinking this cider was how much glass shape or can usage radically affects the spice-to-fruit ratio perception! Out of the can it tastes driest and sweetest in a wine glass. It seems that spicy notes and sweet notes go together, but that the ratio does vary a bit vessel to vessel. This might be one to drink straight from the can. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Cider Cans Crush It: 1911 Tropical Cider and Devil's Bit Mountain

Our weather is thrillingly beautiful these days, which means I want to spend time outside. We’re back to another two reviews of canned ciders which make the ideal beverage companion for outdoor sipping. These are two more shared with friends at an excellent birthday party.

I‘m starting this week with a new regional release: 1911’s Tropical Cider! 1911 operates in Layfayette, New York and supplies many varieties of cider throughout the region and beyond. The fermentations are consistently clean, and the focus is on using local fruit for well-balanced, approachable, sessionable ciders.

Find out more online: http://1911established.com/cider/

The Facebook is updated regularly: https://www.facebook.com/1911Spirits/

I have two previous reviews of 1911 ciders.

I couldn’t find much of an official description of the 1911 Tropical, but as it says on the can, “Tart Pineapple with Hints of Mango.” 6.5% ABV.

Appearance: pale straw, brilliant, some bubbles

This cider has a subtle pale shade of straw. It’s totally brilliant and shows some bubble.

Aromas: ripe pineapple and mango, very juicy

This cider smells so very richly juice. It’s blowing my mind with the aromatic intensity here! I can smell both pineapple and mango districtly but there’s also a more general tropical punch background.

Sweetness/dryness: sweet

This is a sweet and fruity cider. No question about that.

Flavors and drinkin experience: fruity, full mouthfeel, creamy, tart,

All of the juicy wow factor I sensed in the Tropical’s aroma is present in the drinking experience and then some. This cider has a big creamy mouthfeel and so much juicy, punchy, fruity flavor. I can taste the pineapple and mango but also plums and strawberries. I get some tartness to balance the sweet fruity flavors, but they are undeniably the major force behind this cider. This isn’t a tannic cider, but there’s a lot else going on here.

It has a relatively clean fermentation and powerfully lingering finish. I had mine with cheeses, crackers and a veggie tray, but I don’t doubt that it would stand up well to stronger flavors. I think I’d recommend something spicy and creamy like a coconut milk curry.

Devil’s Bit Mountain Irish Orchard Cider

I know almost nothing about this cider. I found a pack of cans in Ohio on my way home from GLINTCAP. In 2017 this same cider won a gold in it’s glass and was 3rd best in the category overall. That’s high praise.  I know it’s made by Adam’s Cider Company in Tipperary.

Find out more on the website: http://www.devilsbit.ie/

Here’s the official description.

Crafted from Dabinett, Michelin and Ashton Bitter apples from their own family orchards and pressed in their own Cidery in Tipperary, they combine the age-old technique of cider making with the traditional bittersweet cider apple to create this wonderfully refreshing beverage. 

This is an award winning, gluten free medium Irish Cider with a light golden colour and crisp flavour. 6% ABV.

Appearance: brilliant, bronze, few bubbles

Intense color typical of UK and European ciders. I’ll call it bronze. The transparency is totally brilliant, and the cider shows few bubbles.

Aromas: funky, fruity, tart

This cider does have some volatile acidity going on. THe aromas are funky, fruity, and tart. I could smell ripe apples, but the leathery and solvent notes were equally strong.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

This cider is semi-sweet but with lots of other flavor contributors. In the UK, this would likely be called a medium sweet.

Flavors and drinking experience: high tannins, overripe cider apples, cinnamon

This cider offers up huge tannins. If anyone has never tastes a tannic cider or gets tannins mixed up with either dryness or acidity, this is a great cider to demystify. These are grippy tannins. I get some classic English bittersweet apple phenolics like olive brine, sweat and leather. I love these characteristics.

This one was at the same fabulous cider party, so i had it with raw veggies, hummus, creeses and crackers. But this cider would do well with a huge variety of foods. I have one can left, and my plans for it involve a frittata with blue cheese, caramelized onion, and swiss chard. That sounds delish to me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Cider Cans Crush It: Rootstock Ciderworks Belgium and Shacksbury Cider Citrus Spritz

Summer is here (at least for those of us in the Northern hemisphere). We are surrounded by thunderstorms, farmers’ markets, and long summer evenings. Hopefully, we’re spending more time outside too. I know I’m spending more time walking dogs, taking hikes, and doing yard work; this changes the ciders that appeal to me. Perhaps I’m not the only one. That means this month I want to highlight all the many kinds of ciders we find now in cans! 

There’s just something especially satisfying about the sound of cracking open a can of cider outside. And it’s not just one type of cider that can give us this thrill. Ciders from sweet to dry, from tradition to wildly innovative all have started to appear in cans. Cider cans crush it, so that’s my theme for the month of June. I hope you enjoy reading about some of the many many many ciders in cans.

My first featured can is the Rootstock Ciderworks Belgian. I was lucky enough to get to try this at a Memorial Day birthday party. The whole theme of the party was cider and cheese tasting, so a few of this month’s reviews were sampled and considered that day. It was tremendous fun not just to taste and consider on my own or with one cider companion but to take notes alongside a group of ten or so intrepid tasters. Thanks so much to the Birthday Captain for that whole day.

A bit about Rootstock Ciderworks: this cidery grew out of a multi-generational orchard and fruit farm in upstate New York. It is located near Lake Ontario and near Rochester, New York. The cidery was founded in 2012, so it’s a year or so older than this blog. The company prides themselves on not only using local fruit but also striving to for sustainability by making multiple uses of materials wherever possible and using green solar energy.  

I have previously reviewed the Rootstock Ciderworks Hopped Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/10/cider-review-rootstock-ciderworks.html

You can read more about the company and all of the ciders here: https://rootstockciderworks.com/

This is Rootstock Ciderworks’ official description of the Belgian Cider.

Rootstock Belgian is a limited release cider designed to suit all your spring time cider drinking needs. This Ben Davis heavy cider was fermented using a traditional Belgian beer yeast. Fresh peach, and apple blossom aromas accompany pleasant minerality and apple flavor that make this cider one that is not to be missed. 7.6%ABV.

Appearance: Transparent, straw, few bubbles

This cider looks almost still when poured. The color looks a familiar shade of straw, and it’s totally brilliant.

Aromas: grain, fresh apples, grass

Yep! That’s a Belgian-beer influenced style! I can smell grain predominantly, but also fresh wet apples and a hint of green grass. This shows lots of yeast character.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

This is a middle of the road semi-dry cider, but it might perceive as fully dy to some folks because of the pronounced yeast characteristics.

Flavors and drinking experience: citrus, white grape, yeast

This is so refreshing! I want to shout it out at full volume that this cider is perfect for hot days. The flavors make it super crisp, approachable, and thirst quenching! Virtually all of the characteristics of the style I noticed on the aromas were still present in the flavors of the cider. I could taste mild citrus, white grape, fresh apple, lots of yeast, but primarily lots of bread and grain characteristics. 

This is likely a cider best suited to folks who want the Belian style or for beer drinkers who want to try a cider. This is a great example of it’s style; there aren’t many ciders going for the witte-inspired profile right now, but this is a great one. I had mine at a cider birthday party, but I think my next one will be on the porch right after I’ve finished mowing my yard. 

Last time I’ll say it, but I feel I must. This is a very solid  and very tasty version of this style.

The next canned cider I’m covering is another adventurous one, this time by Shacksbury. I’ve wanted to explore the Shacksbury Spritzes as soon as I learned about them. This line of ciders has a lower ABV for sessionability, a very approachable set of flavors, and a super-cute can design.

I’ve written about Shacksbury a few times before, but the company has developed since then. Based out of Vergennes, Vermont, Shacksbury ferments a huge variety of apples in several different styles. They are often inspired the world’s different regional cider styles. The company creates limited editions and often creates collaboratively. 

I reviewed the Shacksbury Classic: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/11/cider-review-shacksbury-original.html

And I visited an orchard Shacksbury partners with as part of my Vermont cider tour: https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-3.html

Read about the company and their ciders here: http://www.shacksbury.com/

Shacksbury now has a Vermont tasting room in Vergennes!

Today, I’m trying the Citrus Spritz; Here’s all the information from Shacksbury on the Citrus Spritz, including apple sources and fun pairing suggestions.
Dry, light and refreshing with a vibrant citrus nose
Apples grown at Sunrise Orchards in Cornwall, Vermont
Tincture (citrus and rose) produced by Alice & the Magician in Burlington, Vermont
2016 harvest
Slow cool fermentation
Pairs with tapas, oysters, brunch, lawn games
Serving temperature: cold
12oz cans, 3.8% ABV
Residual sugars - 3 g/can
Produced and canned by Shacksbury Cider in Vergennes, Vermont

Appearance: hazy, bubbly peach

The color is a lovely shade of peach and the cider decidedly hazy. I can see lots of exciting bubbles, but there’s no way I could read through this cider. 

Aromas: rose, ginger, orange, apple

This cider has a really appealing set of aromas. I can smell rose first but that is is followed quickly by ginger, orange and apple notes. It all plays well together and seems light a delicate punch.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

It was tough for me to describe the level of sweetness because of the complex interplay of flavors. It doesn’t tastes particularly sweet or dry, but it tastes like so much more. The sweetness it has is very natural and not too sticky. Very pleasing!

Flavors and drinking experience: fruity, approachable, 

All of the Rose and orange and ginger from the nose of the cider remain present in its flavors. The spritz has a light body, as I expected from the name and from the ABV. This cider is so so pleasing! I like it’s semi-dry/semi-sweet herby, fruity, delicacy. Though the acidity is present, it feels very mild and balanced. 

I had this cider with some salmon, and a fun salad with candied pecans, strawberries, shredded carrot and Stilton cheese over a mix of my dad’s homegrown lettuces. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Very Perry May: 2 Towns Ciderhouse's Pearadise and Wildcraft Cider Works Hard Cider

Welcome to the last week of this year’s Very Perry May. I hope this continued exploration of perry, pear cider, and pear blends has been as fun to read as it has been to taste. I have one last pear blend and a cider to share this week, both of which come from Oregon. Also, I want to point folks once again to the GLINTCAP page to learn the full medal results of this year’s competition. 

Let’s start with the Pearadise by 2 Towns Ciderhouse out of Oregon.

I’ve written about a fair number of 2 Towns ciders and shared some background in these prior entries. Just to give a quick bit of background. 2 Towns Ciderhouse is based in Corvallis Oregon since 2010. Now they have a tap room and two production facilities. It is Oregon’s largest craft cider outfit. They make several differnt lines of ciders including seasonals, limited releases, collaborations, their flagship ciders and a line called traditions.

Some of my previous 2 Towns Ciderhouse reviews include the following:

Find out more online: https://2townsciderhouse.com/

Here’s the Pearadise’s Official description: 

Imperial Getaway. Fruity and complex, Pearadise is found in this distinctly Northwest libation. Fresh-pressed pears are fermented together with local apples, then finished by blending in a touch of white wine, resulting in a sophisticated imperial style with plenty of panache. 8.6% ABV, which explains the Imperial tagline.

On the same page it say, “Made with D’Anjou pears and Muscat grapes.”

Thank you for the fruit detail. That’s always something I appreciate. Also, this cider is a revamp of a 2012 limited edition cider, tweaked up the aromas and structure. This bottle was shared with me as a review sample.

Appearance: brilliant, deep straw, some bubble

This cider looks very appealing. I appreciate its brilliance and deep color. The color would most often be called straw but its deep and a hint warmer than some ciders that receive the term.

Aromas: ripe apples, pears, grapes, all dusted in sugar

Oh la la! These aromas are striking and different. I can smell sugar-dusted fruits, primarily ripe red apples, but also pears and grapes. I also get the impression of tropical fruits. There’s also a creamy note going on in the Pearadise. I get some salivary response for certain to all this excitement.

Sweetness/dryness: sweet

This is one sweet and fruity cider.

Flavors and drinking experience: fruity, sweet, boozy

This is definitely influence by the pear juice in flavor, but it feels much more tropical than that. I can taste pineapple and citrus as well. The fruity notes play together nicely in concert. The initial hit of flavor is distinctly sweet but it shows some maturation as the flavor builds and develops. There’s even the briefest glimpse of astringency in the mid-palate, but it vanishes quickly. 

What I do notice is that the booziness impacts the mouthfeel and the finish. It feels a little hot. I enjoy this cider’s tartness, even as sweetness eventually dominates. This is a complex beverage with a lot going on. I had mine with a very summery plate of corn, baked beans, and new potatoes. It worked well with those simple foods because this beverage has enough flare on its own!

Wildcraft Cider Works Hard Cider

Now for a cider from Oregon: Wildcraft Ciderworks Hard Cider. This is my first writing about anything by Wildcraft Ciderworks. They are based in Eugene, Oregon and have this to say about themselves, 

At WildCraft Cider Works, we pride ourselves on developing innovative, artisanal dry ciders inspired by traditional and wild methodology. We insist on whole fruit and botanicals grown in Oregon to create pure ciders without artificial flavorings, sulfites or added sweeteners. WildCraft cider is uniquely dry cider unpasteurized & bottle conditioned. We consider ourselves stewards of the outdoors and always act consciously to ensure that our ingredients are regional.

These concepts of local fruit, wild fermentation, minimal additives is a distinct style of low-intervention cidermaking. Looking at the website makes me very curious to try the other styles the cidery makes, including several dry fruit-blended ciders. I got this bottle entirely by chance in the Portland, Oregon airport on my last trip there.  

I’m starting with the flagship hard cider. Here’s its official description

Hard Cider6.9%  ABV  |  500mlOur flagship Dry Cider, made entirely from Oregon apples is locally sourced and pressed. This is a classic dry session cider with enough complexity to enjoy year round, all the time. Unpasteurized & bottle conditioned.

Appearance: Hazy, lemon curd, bubbly

This cider looks hazy and very bubbly in the glass. The color reminds me of lemon curd.

Aromas: yeasty, lemon, hay, phenolic

The cider smells like good clean bakery yeast in a good way. I surmised that it might have been fermented with a nonstandard yeast based on the aroma before reading about the cider. Other aroma notes include lemon and hay. Something about it also smells phenolic and a bit cottony.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

Whoa. Yeah. This is a dry cider

Flavors and drinking experience: lemon, tannic, grapefruit, high acid

Lots of what came through in the aromas of this cider remain present in its flavors also. This dry cider tastes very lemony and somewhat phenolic. There’s a tiny sweet note that appaers and then disappears almost instantly. The tannins, astringency, and bubbles all conspire to rise fast and cancel out the sweetness.They then flourish brightly before a relatively clean finish.

What a fascinating cider! I found it super refreshing. This cider tastes best in big sips. I love that nice grapefruit-peel flavor that causes such salivary action. Some of the wild fermentation comes across in grainy notes flavor notes. Overall this cider is fun and super tart and dry. I had mine with a version of Cobb Salad (radishes and veggie bacon, yay!) and homemade multi-grain bread. That was utterly fantastic. 

The last thing I’d like to share today is the full GLINTCAP results. There are so many ciders here I’ve never tried! And so much sounds delicious. This would be a great list to shop from, just find your favorite style and start tracking down the golds (and silvers and bronzes)!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Very Perry May: Tieton Cider Works Sparkling Perry, Stem Ciders Perry and GlINTCAP Best in Class

I’m back from GLINTCAP, and I’m still not tired of cider. I guess that means I’m living my best life because I’ve been in cider world hard core for most of last week Now, it’s time for week 3 of Very Perry May and I used my travel and my cellar to have two perries instead of one this week!

I’m starting with Tieton Cider Works Sparkling Perry. I couldn't resist picking this up on my way home from GLINTCAP. I don't see Tieton Cider Works beverages everywhere, but when I do, it's exciting. This company tries so many adventurous styles but also has access to some really good fruit and juice.

Visit Tieton online at https://tietonciderworks.com/

Or keep up with what's happening on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tietonciderworks/

Here are all of my previous Tieton Cider Works reviews.

Yakima Valley Dry Hopped: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/07/cider-review-tieton-ciderworks-yakima.html

Tieton Cider Works Spice Route: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/11/cider-review-tieton-ciderworks-spice.html

Tieton Cider Works Smoked Pumpkin: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/10/cider-review-tieton-ciderworks-smoked.html

The Tieton Cider Works Perry's Official description reads, “Sparkling Perry is a beverage akin to champagne; dry and brilliant. Our Estate Sparkling Perry is made exclusively from traditional Perry pears grown in our Washington orchards. 5.5% ABV.”

What I think is really interesting is that the bottle has a sticker that calls this cider semi-sweet, an the label calls it dry. That might be contributable to the sorbitol that occurs naturally in pears. Because that sugar cannot be fermented, a perry fermented to dryness can still taste more or less sweet.

Appearance: Amber, hazy, few bubbles

First off, I am so sorry I don'thave any pictures of the poured perry! I was distracted by good company. When I poured this perry, I knew it had to include perry pears from the intensity of color. Most perrys are very light straw, to light green, or even translucent. This is decidedly a more rich amber hue with a bit of haze and a few bubbles.

Aromas: Ripe pear, caramel, banana

I can smell the texture and freshness of pear flesh in this cider. Something about the actual granular texture of ripe pears comes across through smell alone. I also get notes of caramel and banana that could hint at some mild, oxidization. All of the aromas present are gentle and in good balance.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-sweet

Sorbitol or no, this cider perceives to me (and to others I was tasting with) as semi-sweet. The sweetness does feel very fruity, warm, and natural.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, medium high tannins, nutty

The high acid keeps this semi-sweet perry from pushing into fully sweet territory. As do the medium high tannins. This perry definitely uses real perry pears. It tastes so nutty. The Sparklingly Perry speaks primarily with bright acid bouncing in contrast with friendly brown sugar notes—but without any sort of a burnt sugar flavor.

I am struck with how clean and fruity the finish is while still evoking minerals somehow. I had this with homemade vegetarian Indian food: Aloo Gobi and Palak Paneer. The sweetness and spiciness were perfect together. Wow!

Next Up: Stem Cider Perry

My second perry for the week comes from out west, from Colorado cider and perry maker Stem Ciders. The company sent me this review sample last year, but it didn’t arrive in time for Very Perry May, so I’ve been sitting on these notes for a little while now. The company was started about five years ago, by Eric Foster and Phil Kao. Stem Ciders is based out of Lafayette, Colorado. The company makes a range of ciders from perennially available styles to limited releases and collaborations.

Read plenty more and see some great pictures at: https://stemciders.com

The page I recommend checking out the most is the Philosophy section: https://stemciders.com/philosophy/

My only previous review of a Stem cider is the Pear Apple Cider as part of the #PickCider series: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/06/pickcider-review-stem-ciders-pear-apple.html

Appearance: pale yellow green, brilliant, no bubble

This perry is strikingly brilliant. Many contain a note of haze, but not this perry. The color is a pale yellow green, and it shows no bubbles.

Aromas: pear flesh, bubble gum, mint

Oh, what fresh smells! I think this perry smells tremendously appealing: sweet and juicy like fresh and ripe pear flesh. Other notes include bubblegum and mint. It’s all so fruity and springy. I can also detect the tiniest hint of metallic and dust that lead me to expect high acidity. I find the combination of aromas mouthwatering and powerful. The ntoes keep coming every time I lift the glass.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-dry

This is a mild and friendly semi-dry.

Flavors and drinking experience: bubbly, twiggy, mild, creamy

This cider pours with bubbles. Nice, I wasn’t sure based on its first appearance. I can taste sugar down the middle of my tongue. The primary notes I’m tasting are twiggy and green but not under-ripe. There’s just a bit of tannins—chalky but kinda nice. I think this perry tastes super approachable and good, but not quite as wowsers as it smells. All of the flavors are mild. There’s

a great aura of cream soda or birch beer. It's herbal but not bitter or very astringent. Definitely a keeper.

I had mine with corn on the cob, veggie nuggets, and a very tomato-y salad. Yum.

This last week, I travelled to Grand Rapids with my illustrious partner and co-taster Alex for GLINTCAP! We tasted through 7 rounds, including 2 Best in Class rounds. It was wonderful inspiring work. We also go to see some awesome cider makers, cellar hands, wine sellers, fellow writers, and cider nerds of all ilks. I love Grand Rapids, and I love GLINTCAP. I feel like I learn things every year from this crazy grueling celebration of cider. Many thanks to Eric West and all the volunteers who make this fantastic event happen.

And I’d like to send all interested parties (that means everyone!) over to the GLINTCAP site to get a peek at the Best in Class Awards. Congratulations to all of those winners!


I look forward to seeing the full results which should be up before the end of May!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Very Perry May: Review of Woodchuck’s Pear Ginger, Sundstrom Cider's Liminal and Countdown to GLINTCAP

This week, I exist as a ball of anticipation. That’s entirely due to GLINTCAP coming up soon. For anyone who doesn’t know, GLINTCAP is the world’s largest cider and perry competition. And it’s the direct inspiration for my starting Very Perry May so that I could up my knowledge of perries and pear ciders. That tradition continues this week with a ginger pear cider and a heritage cider from the Hudson Valley region of NY state.

Starting with Woodchuck’s Ginger Pear means returning to the company I have reviewed as much as any in the blog’s history. Here are a few favorites.

I want to point everyone to my own personal heartbreak, the discontinued nature of their June and Juice: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/10/cid10. er-review-woodchucks-june-and-juice.html

And the Local Nectar: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/07/cider-review-woodchucks-local-nectar.html

I also liked their pepper blended Hot Cha Cha Cha: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/03/cider-review-woodchucks-hot-cha-cha-cha.html

The start of the Gumption line: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/07/cider-review-woodchucks-gumption.html

In a super adventurous move, the Cellar Series Chocolate: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/06/cider-review-woodchuck-cellar-series.html

An earlier outdoor focused limited release, the Daychaser: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/05/cider-review-woodchucks-day-chaser.html

For fans of smoked ciders, this was a fun one, the Cellar Series Smoked Apple: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/12/cider-review-woodchuck-cellar-series.html

And if you we do have any more unseasonably cold weather, the Barrel Select: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/01/cider-review-woodchucks-private-reserve.html

I visited them back in August 2016: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-3.html

As always, you can find out plenty online at the Woodchuck site: http://www.woodchuck.com/

This Launch of a new series in 2018 called the Tank Series, dedicated to innovation in cider making. This seems like an evolution of some of their previous limited-edition lines, but this one is focusing on cans. I’m reviewing a sample sent to me of the Pear Ginger.

Here’s how Woodchuck describes this one, “Pear Ginger is a cider that was released briefly in select markets in 2017 and won Gold at the World Cider Championships. Pear Ginger infuses both pear and ginger for a cider that is light and refreshing. Pear Ginger is the first of three new Tank Series available in 2018” 5% ABV. On their visual representation of dryness to sweetness this falls between semi-dry and semi-sweet. This is a cider base with pear and ginger added.

This cider is only available canned, because Woodchuck wants to aim this one for outdoor consumption. Cans do make that much easier.

This does seem very similar to their Summer Time Pear Ginger Cider from last year, which I reviewed here: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/05/very-perry-may-pt-2-woodchuck.html

Appearance: brilliant, straw, some bubbles

This pear cider has no haze and just a few bubbles. The color is pale straw.

Aroma: intense, mellow ginger, cola

Interesting! I think this smells like a ginger color or a tropical fruit soda. The intensity of aroma is real, but the aroma that appears in bountiful quality is mellow ginger, fruity, and just a hint spicy. Hence the seeming contradiction of intense and mellow.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

I found it semi-sweet but not nearly as sweet as some Woodchuck options.

Flavors and drinking experience: Tart, super bubbly, fruity, tropical, gingery

What a fun cider! The Ginger Pear works well in a can, but I got even more out of it once I poured mine into a glass. I like aromas and big flavors too much to keep my perries or my ciders contained all the time!

The Pear Ginger tastes tart, astringent, bitter, and stony. It surprised me. But that’s not the whole picture. This pear cider offers up lots of extremely bright fruit that blooms and blooms. I noticed very high acid but not in an unpleasant way. The fruity and tropical flavors include pineapple, coconut, and a really nice floral undertone.

In terms of texture, there are not really any tannins. On the other hand, the Pear Ginger has extremely powerful bubbles. It’s not very pear or apple like but very gingery! It’s a fun one to have with mild cheesy and bready accompaniments. I liked it with a very fresh goat cheese and freshly baked bread.

Sundstrom Cider's Liminal

The second half of this review is my first review of anything by Sundstrom Cider. This Hudson Valley cider dates its first batch to late 2013. That was when I first had an abbreviated email exchange with founder Leif Sundstrom just after I left New York City for Ithaca.

Sundstrom focuses on heritage, crabs, wild, and cider varieties of apple, but most of all on making truly delicious and thoughtful ciders through choosing the right blend of apples for each bottling. Leif has great ambitions for his ciders and for Hudson Valley ciders. I picked up this bottle of Liminal from The Cellar D’Or in Ithaca (http://www.thecellardor.com/
) because their staff knows my taste in ciders amazingly. I took one look at the list of apples and I had to try a bottle of the Liminal. 

You can fine out more about them where I did in this great article: http://www.fishandgamequarterly.com/08-cider/

Or watch what they are up to on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sundstromcider/?hl=en

Here’s a description I found online for the Liminal, “Dry New York Cider. A blend of 10 different types of apple, made in the traditional method and using native yeasts. Only 876 bottles made! Liminal 9.8% ABV Hudson Valley” Check the label picture above for the full apple list.  Note also the wild fermentation and high ABV. This is really something out of the ordinary.

I asked Leif about availability, and this is what he had to say, "There are various retailers and restaurants in NYC and Brooklyn that still have the ciders. But I’ve been sold out since December."  He did suggest that Flatiron Wines in Manhattan would be a place to try. 

Appearance: bright gilt, active bubbles, transparent

The Liminal looks lovely in the glass. It’s transparent and deeply hued with gilt. The bubbles are active and fun to watch. It did get less transparent with each glass poured, which is not a surprise for a non-disgorged cider.

Aromas: Dusty, lemon, ginger

I know when I saw ginger in this post, the association will be with actual ginger, but this is more like a suggestion of ginger to the aroma along side many smells I associate with high tannin and high acid ciders: dust, stones, and tart lemon.

Sweetness/dryness: dry

This is a dry, high acid, cider! No doubt, all delicious.

Flavors and drinking experience: tannins, acid, pomme fruit, quince

Holy wow! This is an intense cider, and I really like it. The acids are high and pointed. It’s sharp and zesty. The aroma elements I noticed of dust and stone do translate into tannic presence. But I don’t want to imply that this cider is only austere. It’s also fruity in a dry and exciting way. I got piles of fruit aromatics and flavors including, lemon, quince, persimmon, and again that spicy presence of ginger.

This is a very exciting cider that happens to use some of my favorite apples, including Wickson Crab and Northern Spy. I don’t think this is a coincidence. I enjoyed my cider with picnic meal of strawberries, black berries, hard cheeses, hummus and hearty wheat crackers. It balanced well with these different flavors and textures, all in all, a totally delightful cider!

And now, I'm even closer to GLINTCAP than I was at the start of this post!