Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cider Review: Millstone Cellars Hopvine

Today makes Millstone Cellars' third appearance in this blog. I'm lucky to have friends in the Maryland DC area and a phenomenal local cider seller (https://www.thecellardor.com of course!) who hosted the cidermaker from Millstone (bringing in the current line of ciders for tasting and sale) because normally these ciders are only available in the Maryland and Washington DC areas. Ask me another day about the extremely difficult hurdles of distribution for small craft cider producers. I'll talk your ear off. Anyhow...

Here are my two previous reviews of Millstone Cellars ciders.



Millstone Cellars makes really interesting ciders. You can read about them on their website here: http://www.millstonecellars.com/artisanal-cider/ They aren't afraid to try interesting additives, unique apple varieties, and the most nuanced use of honey as a backsweetener that I know. Combine my good feeling for Millstone Cellars' style with the fact that I love hopped ciders. They are the absolute best for hot summer afternoons. The world can consider me very excited to try Millstone's Hopvine.


Obviously the Hopvine is an apple cider with hops, but we can do better than that for some useful information. Here's what Millstone says, "Cask cider aged with Maryland dry hops and blended with a touch of raw honey. Wrap your taste buds around a cascade of lemony and spicy hop flavors." Further reading or even just admiring of the beautiful label shows that this cider uses York Imperial apples, wildflower honey, and Cascade hops. This cider has an ABV of 8%. It is also listed as being bottle conditioned and dry.


Prepared with this details, let's pour and taste. Today is 88 degrees in Ithaca, perfect for hopped cider.


Appearance: Hazy, lemon curd color, not too many visible bubbles once the initial head disappears
 
The Hopvine pours with some belgian lace that quickly dissipates.

Aromas: Wow, alfalfa, citrus

The reason for the wow is that this cider is intensely aromatic. I love it when a cider gives me plenty of good smells! This one has alfalfa, hay, citrus, grapefruit pith, and a background of apples. But as it warms up a bit, the smells develop and give me additional notes like baseball glove or soft patent leather. Mmm! Wow indeed.

Dryness: Dry

Like many bottle-conditioned ciders, the Hopvine manages to exhibit loads of flavor while being bone dry. I really appreciate this in a cider. 

Flavors and drinking experience: zesty, astringent, sour, fruity

I must preface my description with the fact that this cider tastes milder than it smells. It is dry, phenolic, and astringent. I love the intensity that astringency brings to mouthfeel; it makes everything zesty. The cider finishes with notes like straw, leather, and sour yeast. The hops make it spicy yet vegetal or herbaceous. I love how totally insane the Hopvine is with leather and acidity. This does not strike me as a sipping cider. I was tasting with a few friends who faulted it for moments of bracing funk that approach sweatiness, but I really enjoyed those facets. What can I say? I like a little stink in my cider. I like it a lot.

What we can all agree on is that Millstone's Hopvine pairs with strongly flavored aromatic dishes. Bring out the Rosemary bread, olives, and feta. I flipping love Rosemary and never get to eat it often enough, but the salty rosemary bread and briny feta just complemented this cider perfectly. My love for hopped ciders continues! This is probably one for the lovers of sour beers, unusual ciders, and deliciously complex tastes. I'd not share this with just everyone, but then again I say that about most of my favorite discoveries.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cider Review: Standard Cider Company's True Believer


Tonight, I'm reviewing the True Believer by the Standard Cider Company. They are a Long Island based cider company that uses 100% New York state apples for their ciders. As far as I can tell they have a small number of ciders; The True Believer, The True Companion make up the mainstays, but I've seen enough mentions of a holiday season limited edition that I think they've had at least one of those. Please pardon my lack of total confidence in my information, but I've not been able to find out as much about the Standard Cider company or their products as I would like. What info I can find comes from magazines and blogs covering the NY state beverage scene (thank you!) and the Facebook page for Standard Cider Co. here's a link if you'd like to check it out. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Standard-Cider-Co/444740802236202

When I saw this cider for sale locally, the graphic design caught my eye immediately. I really enjoy creative, visually appealing use of text. The lettering on this label definitely counts! This label manages to achieve some cute old-timey cachet while still being totally clear and easy to read. This is a genuinely difficult feat, so kudos to Standard Cider Company for this.

Of the True Believer and True Companion, I chose to review the True Believer first. It is a blend of Cameo, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Fuji and Granny Smith apples. The True Companion begins with that as its base, but it also blends in orange zest, ginger, and spices. Starting with the apple-only cider seems logical to me. It is a relatively modest blend of dessert apples, so I know I'll be drinking something with a good bit of aroma, high acidity, but almost no tannins. We'll see if I'm right.


Appearance: dark peach, hazy, big bubbles

This cider looks peachy in the glass, but it is almost brilliant, barely hazy. The bubbles appear quite distinctly: notably larger than in most ciders, even forced carbonation ciders. A touch unusual.

Aromas:  apple sauce, cinnamon, earth

Oh wow, when I smell this I immediately think of the two most aromatic apples I know for a cider blend: Northern Spy and Golden Russet. It just has that rich, warm, applesauce aroma. But I get a lot more than that in this particular cider: cinnamon, spice, dusty minerals, earth, and brown sugar. My predictions aren't terribly wrong so far. Let's see if I can keep this up.

Sweetness to dryness: Sweet

The sweetness is so integral to this set of flavors, I don't want to give anything away too soon. Just read on.

Flavors and drinking experience: mulled, spicy, sweet, cherries

Interesting! Though the apple blend mentions absolutely no addition of other ingredients or flavors, this tastes mulled. I'm sure most everyone knows this, but a mulled beverage is one that has been sweetened and spiced while being heated. Usually they are then served hot, but they can be chilled  back down after being heated and spiced. Obviously out of the bottle and out of the fridge, I drank this cold, but it still tastes mulled. Cinnamon, brown sugar, ginger, and spices just jump out at me.

This cider coats the tongue and has such a massively thick mouthfeel. The True Believer delivers a  strong aftertaste of ginger, powdered sugar, and Maraschino cherries.

Beyond a sweet spiced cider experience, the other aspect of the True Believer that I notice the most is the strong sparkle. If you like your ciders bubbly, sweet and sweetly spicy, then this is absolutely for you.

So, my predictions were not entirely correct. I did not anticipate the apple pie spice palette of this cider, and I'm not sure I can easily explain it using only that blend of eating apples. Overall, this isn't really the sort of cider I enjoy most. I can see the appeal of the True Believer, but for me and for summer this isn't a great match. But, wait for a stormy night with unseasonably cool wind (they sure happen up here) and curl up with something indulgent and fun to watch. A bit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer perhaps? That's what I'm about to go do.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Cider in the Summer: Along Came A Cider’s Guide


   
I used to live in Florida, so complaining about hot weather in upstate New York feels almost a like joke. Almost. I say almost though because almost nowhere around here has A/C and the predicted heat index for yesterday was 101 degrees Farenheit. These are the days when I begin my morning with iced coffee, slowly transition to cold cold water (with more ice), iced tea, cold cold sparkling water (usually with ice), and eventually cider (although I do intend to eventually try one of these bad boys: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2014/06/limonada-de-coco/)

Cold beverages really are how I deal with excessive heat, well those and afternoon naps on days that allow for them. But I cannot just clock out of life for two hours in the afternoon most of the time, so we’re back to relying on cold beverages.

Important Tangent: The Ice Issue

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t even think of spending time on the idea of ice. It seems obvious. If you like cider, you shouldn’t add ice, because it will dilute the beverage.  Mind you, there has been a concerted marketing push from some of the industrial cider companies (especially in the UK) to serve and drink cider over ice. I get it. They are trying to make cider a specifically summer drink  and iced drinks are summery.

My opinion? Don’t do it. There are more other ways to keep a beverage cold than I can readily try or evaluate, everything from beer koozies to whiskey stones and high tech gadgets. I’m partial to using a marble wine bottle cooler, myself. Try any of these techniques or toys you like, but mostly I recommend just chilling your cider well before serving it. If you’re going to transport it, chill it well and pack it well. Good luck.  

I’ve talked about the beverages suited better or worse to hot weather a few times before. Reaching back, I can definitely pick out a few ciders that pair well with ridiculous temperatures.

A few good ciders for summer: 

This because of its wonderful balance of dryness and effervescence. I think this is the quintessential profile for a hot weather cider

This cider has actually really grown on me since I first reviewed it. I liked it fairly well then, but I really love it now. This also achieves that perfect bubbly crispness and zesty acidity for a summer cider.

I can particularly recommend two other avenues for exploration. The first being semi-dry and dry perries. Ideally, I’d find one even more ephemeral and dry than this, but  that’s not always easy to find.

I think the other specialty cider best suited for summer is hopped cider. Here’s just one choice. I’ve reviewed a number of hopped ciders, and though they are far from equal many many of them are delicious. The aroma and citrusy notes just perfect the summer beverage in my book.


Mostly if I cannot say something good, I say something descriptive, or nothing at all. But for summer there are some ciders that just don’t work, even if the cider is otherwise interesting or tasty. 

Save these for later:

http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/05/cider-review-docs-draft-cranberry-spice.html I think the cranberry spice combo says it all here. It is a lovely beverage, but is the exact opposite of cooling.

http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/03/cider-review-ace-cider-apple-honey.html Anything with sweet notes of honey just doesn’t fly for me once it gets genuinely hot. There is a warm quality to honey that just doesn’t go away at any temperature.

http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/12/cider-review-woodchuck-cellar-series.html Do you know what’s hot? Fire and smoke. That’s why a smoked cider just seems roasty, toasty, and hot. Pass on this one till October or so.

http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/08/cider-review-mckenzies-lazy-lemon.html Sticky. Cider shandy should be good for cold because lemonade can be radically perfect on a hot afternoon. But this is so sticky sweet that I cannot recommend it, again except for as a float with gelato or sorbet. That summer drink dessert might just work.


 For me, summer is the time for tremendously bubbly dry cider served quite cold. This works with food, with friends, in sun, in shade, amidst chaos or quiet. Or there are the delicate perries or bold hopped ciders. All good choices.

In any case, cheers to summer. Let's enjoy it.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cider Review: Woodchuck Cellar Series Chocolate

Woodchuck has been kind enough to send me several of their Cellar Series ciders for review. In fact, I got Woodchuck's Cellar Series Chocolate back in January. It has been sitting in my fridge and then in my cider fridge for far too long. Mostly because I had some trepidation about a chocolate cider.



This is the third cider released in the Cellar Series line, though it was released in time for Valentine’s Day, I'm only just now trying it. Apologies to Woodchuck and all of its fans. Nonetheless, I have really enjoyed both of Woodchuck's previous Cellar Series offerings.

Here's my review of their Dry Hopped (I'll definitely be picking up more of that one when I can.)

http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/11/cider-review-woodchuck-cellar-series.html

This is my review of the oh-so-bacony Smoked Apple

http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/12/cider-review-woodchuck-cellar-series.html


If you want to find out official information about Woodchuck as a company or about any of their ciders, you can visit their website at:  http://woodchuck.com



The big talk about Woodchuck these days is that they have a new cidery facility opening up in August. The company is hosting a huge concert and party to celebrate and calling it a Ciderbration. Very cute. I might try to make it up. The drive to Vermont is beautiful, and I love getting to meet fellow cider freaks.


Setting aside all fears aside about combining two of my favorite things in the world, cider and chocolate, let's take a look at what Woodchuck says about this entry into their Cellar Series lineup.
Woodchuck’s original small batch hard cider, featuring Vermont culinary apple varieties such as McIntosh and late season Northern Spy, was aged with crushed cocao beans. Cocao beans, or nibs, are the starting point from which chocolate is produced. The infusion of the cocao nibs bring notes of artisan chocolate throughout the nose and taste of the cider. A hint of caramel accompanies the dry finish, as does a full apple flavor. 
 
“The use of crushed cocao nibs allowed for this cider to showcase chocolate’s true character,” says Cider Maker John Matson. “The infusion of the beans brought out those strong natural chocolate notes, without the sweetness found in a chocolate bar. The balance of the apple against the cocao creates a truly distinctive tasting experience. I am thrilled with the result and hope our fans are too.” 
 
Cellar Series Chocolate represents one of the most unique ciders Woodchuck has ever brought to market. It deepens the commitment to crafting cider styles that push the category forward while exposing cider to an ever-growing audience.
Cellar Series Chocolate is pasteurized and featured in a 22oz bottle. Alcohol by volume (ABV) is 6.9%.


Appearance: deep red brown, brilliant, some degree of visible bubbles



When poured, the Woochuck Chocolate has a color much like cocoa powder, deeply red brown. Though the color is too dark to read through, it is a brilliant cider.  I can see plenty of bubbles, enough to expect that this cider will be pleasantly carbonated.

Aromas: balsamic vinegar, milk chocolate, ripe apples

Whoa! I am amazed by how many different smells come out of this. First, I smell a rich and fruity balsamic vinegar. Something dark and intense. Secondarily, I smell milk chocolate. Underneath both of those scents, one can grasp hints of ripe apple, but the chocolate and balsamic smells are far more forward.

One of the folks with whom I was tasting this suggested that this cider might smell and taste good warm. So, we microwaved a little bit of it. This cider smells much boozier when warm but retains both the chocolate and balsamic elements.

Sweetness: Supah Sweet

Apples and chocolate with caramel as well. The sweetness reminds of the whole fondue experience of dipping apples in various warm sweet sauces. In this case perhaps like a freshly cut eating apple dipped into milk chocolate and caramel.

Flavors and drinking experience: sweet yet fresh, boozy, chocolatey

For some, drinking this cider reminded them of sweeter gentler version of whiskey. Something rich but not cloying, a little fresh even. I believe on comment that I noted verbatim, "Like booze without the booze!" I know I wouldn't go that far, but the comment is on to something. This cider tastes extremely dessert-like, but feels warming to the throat and stomach. It doesn't taste like something that would give that warming effect, and yet it does. The carbonation levels are lovely, just about ideal.

I think bringing the creaminess of milk chocolate to a tart and sometimes acidic beverage kept this from coming together into one seamless experience. I was always experiencing cider and chocolate rather than a truly chocolatey cider.


I enjoyed this cider around a kitchen table with some good friends and my own homemade raspberry cobbler. Though we tried this warmed as well as cold, I strongly recommend serving this chilled. I think it is a fairly good dessert cider, though the combination of chocolate and cider still doesn't 100% work for me. Give it a try over some ice cream perhaps or with some very mild cheeses and a baguette.
 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cider Review: Putney Mountain Winery of Vermont Apple Maple Wine

So, I've had an internal conflict for some time about whether or not to review products labelled apple wines on my blog. There is no consensus about what difference may exist between hard cider and apple wine. There are some tendencies, like ciders are more often sparkling and apple wines more often still or that the ABV level is commonly higher than what we tend to see in ciders. Again though, these are tendencies only; it is easy to find exceptions. That's why I decided that if I feel like reviewing an apple wine, I'll do it. Here's my first such review.

Charles (yes, *the* Charles Dodge: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Dodge_%28composer%29)  and Kate Dodge, along with their production manager and associate winemaker Jason Hubner, have been creating fruit wines in Vermont for some time now. The Dodges began in the 1990s when Dodge felt inspired by his music students' stories of their own home-brewing. You can read all about Putney Mountain Winery on their website here: www.putneywine.com. Or you can see them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/PutneyMountainWinery.

In reading their story, I found this part to be the most interesting and the most communicative of what Putney Mountain Winery is all about.
 [N]ear the end of the drive home to Putney one evening, as he passed Green Mountain Orchards, Charles had an epiphany. He realized that many of the best experiences he and Kate have, in drinking wine throughout the world, come from drinking local wine, made from local fruit, enjoyed near the local winery.

Then and there, he decided to stick with Vermont tradition and craft delicious fruit wines from the delectable local produce.
Now that we've all been properly introduced, let's talk about tonight's beverage. I'm trying Putney Mountain's Apple Maple Wine with several visiting friends who have a whole spectrum of beverage experience and preferences. This bottle is being shared between two cider aficionados, one wine fiend, one beer guy, and a most-of-the-time non-drinker. I expect some variety of opinions around the table tonight. 

Here's the official description of the Apple Maple Wine.
Apples. Maple syrup. The twin tastes of Vermont. This light, semi-dry wine combines two of Vermont’s signature flavors. At first taste the apple dominates, rendered fruity but not too sweet by the syrup. Then a subtle maple aura emerges to create its very long finish. A favorite of many customers, our Apple Maple wine is also a consistent award winner. It makes the basis for a spectacular mulled cider wine (find the recipe on our Facebook page). We serve it chilled in the Summer and mulled in the Winter.
This is sold in 750ml bottles and has a 10% ABV.


Appearance: Brilliant, dark maple color

When poured, this looks completely still. It features a deep dark maple color and total brilliance. There is not one hint of haze.

Aromas: maple syrup, mulled cider, wood, cooked apples

I noticed tons of smells in this cider as soon I as I lifted my glass. Between everyone in the party, we smelled: mulled cider, green wood, vinous-ness, home cooked applesauce, and everyone noted the maple syrup.

Sweetness or Dryness: Sweet!

Though this is described as semi-dry, we all agreed that this tastes distinctly sweet. To me, with my biased palate, this tastes very much like a dessert cider or wine.

Flavors and drinking experience: boozy, sweet, spicy, loooong finish

Again, the sweetness dominates the experience for me. I'm not quite sure that a 750ml is the most logical size for this beverage, based on its intensity of flavor. This wine is almost completely still, but just onf the verge of being pettilant. It tastes warmly boozy, even when chilled. Goes down a little spicy in a slow, non-alarming way. The wine offers up a strong long finish with plenty of maple. It gives a heavy mouth coat, nearly syrupy. Some tasters detected hints of salty toffee. We all agree that it tastes rich and toasted like a port or a tokaji dessert wine. This would tastes best with candied nuts. You could also use it as a glaze.

Though not for review, I did try their Vermont Cassis a few weeks ago as part of a movie night featuring the Original 1970s Wicker Man.  It also shared the intensity, warmth, and richness of the Apple Maple Wine.

Overall, I was impressed with both products within the realm of sweet fruit wines. Neither lines up precisely enough with my preferences to make a regular appearance, but I think they do what they do very well.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cider Review: Eaglemount Rhubarb Cider

I like to think of summer as visiting season here in Ithaca, and, when people visit me, they get to try ciders. Sharing cider is always a joy, but choosing ciders for friends and family that I think they will particularly enjoy makes the experience even better. So, during my dad's recent visit, I broke out the first Rhubarb cider I've ever seen.

Eaglemount makes wines and ciders in Washington state; their Rhubarb Cider is a blend of half apple wine and half rhubarb wine. I say wine because they do, and they have to because of their 8%ABV.



Eaglmount Winery has been in business since 2006 but the founder had been making ciders, wines, and meads since 1996. They have a tasting room in Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula in northwest Washington State. Their website gives plenty of good information about their business, their products, and even about their orchard. They mention several distinct heritage varieties including Gravenstein, Winter Banana, Jonathan, and Roxbury Russet as well as varieties of French and English cider apples. You can read more about them at http://eaglemountwinery.com/.

One last cool note. They introduced me to the existance of a Washington State Cider Route: "The Olympic Peninsula’s 3 cideries are located within minutes of each other." This clearly deserves a place high up on my list of future cider vacations.


Appearance: Deep maize, hazy, some sediment

This cider has tons and tons of color. When poured it looks as intensely maize as an unpopper kernel of popcorn. I see no visible bubbles anywhere, but I do see some sediment. This cider is hazy and not totally brilliant.

Aromas: Rhubarb, apple, cherry, fruity and juicy

Eaglemount's Rhubarb Cider gives off oodles of fresh fruit aromas, mostly rhubarb, but also apple and cherry. This cider smells so very juicy! Fruit just utterly dominates the aromas, but with a hint of smooth acridity,  perhaps even a tiny note of coffee or at least coffee berry.

Sweetness: semi-sweet to sweet

The fruit flavors come out just as much one the palate as to the nose. This cider tastes like apples, rhubarb, and strawberry. For being a fairly sweet cider, it has medium astringency and a persistantly pleasant mouthfeel.

Flavors and drinking experience: fruity, very nearly still, tannic, sippable

One of the most notable features of this cider when I drink it is that Eaglemount's Rhubarb cider is petillant, almost entirely still. Ciders can come in all levels of sparkle from completely non-sparkling and still to champagne levels of effervescence. This cider falls far more to the still side of the spectrum.

I can taste a moderate level of tannins coming from the heirloom apples in this cider. I do not taste much in the way of acidity: decidedly low acid. I almost wish there was more going on there.  Sipping is the best way to enjoy this cider, as big gulp do not illuminate it in any special way. I get some lingering astringency after drinking and that ongoing nice mouthfeel. Alex says “the more I drink it, the more I like it.” High praise from him.

The flavor really doles out lots of strawberry—a bit like an oaked strawberry wine—but rhubarb tends to bring out that flavor in its companions.  This cider is astoundingly not warming for how alcoholic it is; kinda hard to believe it’s really so strong.  I also get nice lakeside breezy minerals.
 
Overall, I think this is a lovely fruit wine and cider blend. It tastes very good with strongly flavored foods; we had it with falafel and hummus, though something about this bespeaks cold summer nights—a rocky beach, lighthouse in the background. If you want a cider for nighttime beach picnics or lakeside porch sitting, this is a great one for that.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cider Review: Beak and Skiff's 1911 Somerset Original Cider

I've not really reviewed Beak and Skiff ciders nearly as much as I should have, especially since they are relatively local. So, I'm working on that. Beak and Skiff is the cider branch of a local company, 1911 Spirits, that makes ciders, wines, and spirits, many from apples. I've met a few folks from Beak and Skiff/1911, and without fail they have been lovely, friendly, and helpful. You can read about their history and product on their website: SITE They'll be opening their new facilities this summer in Lafayette, New York. They're expanding after 13 years of cider production. Like many long-time cider-makers, Beak and Skiff pre-date the wave of popularity cider is currently experiencing, but they are benefitting from it significantly.

Beak and Skiff does have a tasting room in Lafayette, New York open seven days a week. I plan to make up this summer before the relative insanity of apple season. You can find out about it and about all of their products on their website: http://www.1911spirits.com/ciders.html.

Looking to Beak and Skiff's website, all I could find about this cider was this description: "An old favorite updated for the 21st Century, with a pleasant crisp hint of apple flavor." Not very useful I'm afraid. From a different website reporting on the activities at 1911 and Beak and Skiff, I was able to find just a bit more information: "A sparkling aromatic cider with flavors and aromas of freshly picked apples." All sources cite the ABV

Here's my confession for the post. I forgot to take pictures when sampling this cider. I do have my written notes on its appearance, so I've found a stand in that looks very much like the Somerset Original, but I don't want to perform any sleight of hand on this blog, so I'm just sharing that fact before posting a representative picture.





Appearance: deep color, brilliant, some bubbles

This is a very lovely cider in the glass. The Somerset looks absolutely brilliant in clarity. I can see a fair number of bubble immediately after pouring the cider, but they do not linger.

Aromas: Overripe apples, apple sauce, musty dust, minerals

Wow, the scents are immediate for the Somerset Cider. Overripe apples just jump out at me. I can detect minerals and dust commingled, which is often the case. The home-cooked apple sauce smell makes me wonder if there are any Northern Spy in this cider. That apple and that smell just go together.

Sweetness: candied, sweet

This cider tastes sweet like candy. I'm not always a fan of this particular variant of sweetness, I prefer really raw fresh fruit sweetness, but the richness and depth of more caramel and candy notes do have their appeal. Lots of folks who enjoy the fall spice palette, brown sugar, caramel, and dolce de leche flavors will enjoy that about it.

Flavors and drinking experience: very French in style

What makes this French like in style are the sweetness and yeast hints that make up so much of its flavors. It does taste cleaner than most french ciders. You won't get any farmy notes from Beak and Skiff's Somerset cider. It is very approachable and easy to drink, with just a lovely level of carbonation.

I'd recommend this cider with a mushrooms and a deeply roasty wild rice salad. Or in terms of activities this is the perfect cider to add a bit of sweetness to the otherwise often traumatizing experience of watching Game of Thrones.  : ) Generally, anytime you have the room and inclination for something a bit rich and dark and sweet, Beak and Skiff's Somerset Original Cider will do the job nicely.

And by way of apology for the missin photos, here's one of my cat Cabot emerging from a pile of blankets, surprised that the world still exists after his epic nap.