Monday, February 19, 2024

Cider Review: Portland Cider Co.'s Cinnamon Roll

Being quite busy caught up to me last week, and I was down with a cold for much of the time. That’s no one’s favorite, and I was worried I wouldn’t recover in time to take decent notes on a cider this week. Lucky for me, rest works wonders. My sensitivity to taste and scent were back in action enough by Sunday evening to taste a cider that’s been waiting too long in my fridge. Here’s what I thought about Portland Cider Co.’s Cinnamon Roll! 

Please check out my previous reviews of Portland Cider Co. beverages to learn more about this west coast cidery. It’s a wildly adventurous company in terms of what flavor adjunct to try, and their fondness for high acid fruit blends that maintain a strong cider base tend to be very tasty! Here’s the full list of earlier reviews.

Cranberry Mule:

Imperial Abbey Apple:

Bloody Hell:

Lemon-Lime Ciderade:



Peach Berry:

Kinda Dry:



Pumpkin Spice:

Pineapple Rose:

I recommend visiting Portland Cider Co.’s website to find out the latest from this cidery:

Here’s the official description for the Cinnamon Roll seasonal cider:

Cozy with comforting baked apple spice and a hint of vanilla.

Irresistibly comforting, our Cinnamon Roll hard cider takes Northwest apples infused with cinnamon and vanilla to craft a cider that tastes like a trip to your favorite bakery. A perfect balance of sweet and spicy, each sip is an indulgent treat and blissful experience. 6.2% ABV.

Appearance: Brilliant, warm straw, no visible bubbles

The color on this cider would be best described as a warm straw. The Cinnamon Roll does not display an intense version of the hue; it’s more gentle. The cider is brilliant, and I do not see any visible bubbles in the glass.

Aromas: baked apple, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg

Wow! The aromas are so vivid and distinct. The Cinnamon Smells like a baked cinnamon apple. I’ve made these so many times, and that’s exactly how the cider smells. It’s redolent with notes of baked apple, cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar and nutmeg

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet

This is a sweet cider. It is not a dry cider. Do not ask it to be a dry or even semi-dry cider. The sweetness is much like a cinnamon roll but with a wonderful core of apple.

Flavors and drinking experience: balanced, high acid, no tannins, dessert, baked apple, sweet potato pie

Be prepared for something sumptuously sweet and pleasant when taking a sip of Portland Cider Co.’s Cinnamon Roll. This cider reminds me of sweet potato pie, baked apples, and cinnamon rolls! I really appreciate that apple flavor remains present in both aroma and flavor! 

Though we do have apples, I think cinnamon is dominant in the flavor profile. The Cinnamon Roll cider offers up very fine bubbles, high acidity, and no tannins. The mouthfeel is full and creamy.

I paired this cider with spicy popcorn and a fun rom com at home. This is exactly how I would recommend enjoying Portland Cider Co.’s Cinnamon Roll!

Monday, February 12, 2024

Cider Review: Blackbird Cider Works Extra Dry Classic Wood Aged Cider


Last week, we had a tiny preview of Spring. It was unbelievable, and it reminded me to trust that in a couple of months Spring will arrive in earnest. The Tall One and I took a long impromptu walk, inspired by sunlight after 4pm and mild temperatures. It was a kind of magic that Winter doesn’t know. We ended up catching a lovely meal at a restaurant we’d not visited for months and months. There, I tried a Blackbird Cider Works Extra Dry Classic Wood Aged Cider.

Blackbird Cider Works is now based out of Buffalo, New York. Though it is a regional cidery, I’ve not tasted or reviewed the ciders very often. I looked and only found one previous review! I’ll put the link below.

Orchardist’s Reserve:

What I will note is that Resurgence Brewing acquired Blackbird Ciderworks from Donovan Orchards as of 2023.  Here’s a link to a news story with more details about that change. This is currently under construction, so it might make more sense to connect with Blackbird Cider Works on social media instead.

Here’s the description I could find for this cider online. 

Extra Dry Classic Wood-Aged Cider is a classic ultra-dry cider. Golden in color with apple aromatics, dry apple flavor, and just a slight hint of oak. Perfect balance between acidity and tannin, and a smooth, dry finish. 6.6% ABV. 

Appearance: slight haze, cool pale straw, few visible bubbles

This has the look of a wood-aged cider. Often that element of fermentation process lends a mild haze to the final cider. The color reminds me of an evening moon; it’s pale and cool. I don’t see a lot in the way of visible bubbles.

Aromas: minerals, pears, overripe apples, grapefruit, a bit of funk

The cider starts off with a waft of minerals followed by a parade of fruit: pear, grapefruit, and overripe apples. Somehow there’s a hint of salt. The wood aging is apparent but not super distinct. Hints of funk are present.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

This is a dry cider. There are elements of fruit and more sweet aromas, but I don’t think the cider has a lot of residual sugar going on.

Flavors and drinking experience: sap, barrel, medium acid, low tannins, twiggy, medium bubbly

I thought I got a good idea of the wood aging from the Extra Dry’s aromas, but I was so wrong. There’s so much more to it! This cider is beautifully balanced with it’s dryness and wood aging. That’s not an easy combination to get right; too many elements can fight to be the primary driver of flavor.

Blackbird has chosen to put the wood aging forward in the Extra Dry. I think that’s a fantastic choice. What I get as I sip this are a medley of exciting flavors including: salt, tree sap, butterscotch, banana and apple. There’s plenty of barrel on the finish. The cider tastes dry throughout with medium acid and sparkle.

What little sweetness comes through has barrel and maple warmth; I’m reminded of salted butterscotch, which pairs nicely with the wintry, twiggy dryness. The cider has a medium mouthful. Tannins are low but make themselves known.
I paired this cider with a meal of blackened salmon served with julienned roasted root vegetables and rich creamy grits. It was a perfect seasonal combination. Highly recommended!

Monday, February 5, 2024

Cider Review: 2 Towns Apricot Cosmic Crisp

This weekend, I finally saw the sun in February. What an amazing restorative. Each chance for a walk in bright light  feels like a stolen treasure. Relish them. When we don’t have the golden orb blessing us, there are bit of brightness that can come from other directions. I’m happy to enjoy those too. I was so happy to get 2 Towns’ Apricot Cosmic Crisp review samples recently. 

2 Towns is named for Corvallis and Portland, Oregon where the cidery is based. I’ve been fond of this adventurous cidery since I first tasted them in 2014! I can’t believe it has been 10 years! You can find lots more background about the cidery in these previous blog posts.

Here’s a rundown of my earlier reviews for 2 Towns! 

The Baddie:

Crimson Bliss:

Hollow Jack’d:

Two Berry Dream:

10th Anniversary Cider Pacific Northwest Heirloom Blend:

Good Limes Roll:

Cosmic Currant:

Hollow Jack’d:

Afton Field:

La Mûre:

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy:

Cidre Bouche:



Bright Cider:

Hop and Stalk:

I recommend visiting 2 Towns’ Ciderhouse has a website  to find out about the cidery’s releases and events:

Here’s how 2 Towns describes the Apricot Cosmic Crisp on the website. 

Score your first intergalactic ace when you approach with this apricot adaptation of Cosmic Crisp. Crafted with Northwest apples & apricots, this sweet & zingy cosmic-apricot combo is guaranteed to break some chains. Careful now, too much hyzer and you’ll end up out of this world. 9% ABV.

I’m super curious to taste how the 9% ABV comes across.

Appearance: pale warm straw, brilliant, bubbly

All of 2 Towns’s ciders are lovely. That’s not a surprise, but I really wasn’t sure what to expect from an apricot cider. I associate apricots with a mellow opaque orange color, so this elegant pale straw was a fun surprise.

Aromas: Peach, lemon, minerals,

The Apricot Cosmic Crisp smells intensely peachy! It’s enticing and reminds me of fruity candies with citric acid, but also of stones and lemons.

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet

Flavors and drinking experience: High acid, apricot, peach bubbly, boozy

I have to start by acknowledging that this cider is doing a lot with sweetness and high acidity. It tastes very much like dried apricots; it’s more vivid and bold than fresh ones would be. I do wish I could taste the specificity of the Crimson Crisp apple, since it’s named here.

The higher ABV is apparent in some warming to the throat and stomach, but it’s remarkably smooth and full bodied. And since that 9% is coming in a full sized can, it’s a great size to share.

I found the Apricot Crimson Crisp Also very exciting as a sweet mixer- I used it with a barrel aged tequila and plain seltzer. For well balanced food pairings, the accompaniments should be similarly bold but not overly complex. I have had the pleasure of this cider twice. The first time was when I tasted it and experimented with using it as a mixer at a fabulous horror movie party. What a set of combinations! 

The films we watched were Dolls (1987) and Eraserhead (1977). I can certainly recommend the whole experience thought it will be hard to reproduce without the fantastic company.

And the second time I tried this cider, I took notes and then finished my glass with vegetarian burritos with The Tall One and my absolute favorite new album of 2024. If anything manages to top this, I will be shocked.

Maximize your deliciousness however you like. A big cider like this deserves it.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Cider Review: Angry Orchard's The Extension

For most of the day my phone was missing! My long-suffering backpack gave up one of its side pockets this morning. Thankfully, a kind person found it, the Tall One called it, and they got together while I was at work to return the phone. My cider notes from this weekend were already safely stored redundantly! Here’s a sign from the universe; save your work in multiple places. Thanks again, random kind stranger!

This week’s review is one I’ve been saving for a rainy night. I’m opening up my bottle of Angry Orchard’s The Extension. This is a small batch Walden Cider House project made using all Cornell Orchard apples wild fermented. It has an AVB of 7.4%. 

Angry Orchard is a large-scale cider producer with distribution far and wide. The Walden, New York Innovation Ciderhouse is the smaller operation in the Hudson Valley of New York that tries new cider and orchard experiments on a smaller scale. This cider was shared with me on my last trip to the cider house because I was so curious about what came of the Cornell Orchard fruit! More information about Angry Orchard and the Walden location appears in my earlier reviews.

Here are some, but not all, of my previous Angry Orchard Walden cider reviews. 


Buddy King:


Newtown Pippin:


Understood in Motion 2:

Understood in Motion 3:

Wooden Sleeper:

The Old Fashioned:

Walden Hollow:

Knotty Pear:

Strawman, The Muse, and Traditional Dry:

Here's what I read on the back of the bottle. 

The Extension is a recognition of the Cornell University College of Agricultural and Life Sciences' mission to extend research to farmers.

This dry and wild apple wine is crafted from apples grown at Cornell University's research orchards, where scientists experiment with cider apple varieties, production, and fermentation.

A portion of the profits from the sale of Angry Orchard's "The Extension" will be donated to support the scientists, teachers, and students at Cornell University.

For more information about Cornell University's Hard Cider Program, visit

$20 per bottle; maximum donation $15,000. 

Offer valid at Angry Orchard Cidery, Walden, New York.


Appearance: Brilliant, fine bubbles, shining warm straw

What a lovely cider. It has brilliant clarity with active fine bubbles. The Extension just shines

From my glass with a subtle warm straw color. 

Aromas: green wood, yeast, funk

Whoa! These are not the aromas that I usually associate with an Angry Orchard cider. Instead the Extension leads with stone, green wood, and a little oxidation. The whole comes across as farmy but not in any obviously wrong way. Fans of wild yeast/natural fermentation ciders are going to absolutely love this!

Sweetness/dryness: Bone dry

Yep, I said. This cider is completely dry.

Flavors and drinking experience: buttery, austere, tannic, barnyard

The Extension is such an understated adult cider. It tastes very dry, fully fermented, buttery, and mildly tannic. I love its strong bubble, medium acidity, and lots of low woody, sappy, springy notes. The cider somehow reminds me that Spring will come again. 

This cider comes across as more austere than fruity. Instead, it’s nutty. I think this would be quite appealing for fans of Chardonnay. I’d pair it with walnuts, blue cheese, dried fruits, or dark chocolate mousse. I think its strong wild character and zesty bubbles would make it great for an intense food flavor with some heft.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Cider Review: Snow Capped Cider's Wickson Crab

Giant publisher Conde Nast laid off most of the Pitchfork staff recently, dealing a horrific blow to the world of music writing. Last week, most Sports Illustrated workers were recently cut without ceremony. In the fall of last year, the majority of Bandcamp’s journalists were also let go. None of these sites were gutted because people were failing to produce quality work. I could track down countless similar stories. I’m sharing because I care about culture journalism just like I care about all journalism. 

I’m invested in that I started this cider review blog totally independently eleven years ago, and I’ve been reviewing ciders from around the world consistently since then. No one is paying me: not for advertisements, coverage, special access to tasting notes, or favorable notice. That’s how I like it. But it also means that I have to fit my cider work into the margins after getting my bills paid. That’s why I wasn’t at CiderCon in all the wild weather this year and for the past several. I have to budget what time and resources I can allocate to this passion. And maybe someday, it won’t make sense for me to write in this way.

The connection is simple. We live in an economic system that doesn’t value long-term investment for the sake of curiosity, care, or criticism. It wants efficiency, newness, growth, sustained by less and less and less. And this same system also makes it hard for cider makers, food workers, artists, farmers, scholars, game designers, and just about anybody who doesn’t have an alternate path to financial solvency. And that makes me angry and sad. 

I don’t want our world to become really, really boring as fewer people can use their time in interesting and creative ways. But what are our options?  This is the question in my mind when I sip my cider on these cold January nights. This week, I’m sharing my thoughts on Snow Capped Cider’s Wickson in addition to a cultural plight. I wanted a treat and Wickson Crab ciders are often among my favorites, and Snow Capped Cider has a great record of success as well. 

Here are all of my previous reviews of Snow Capped Ciders’ beverages. I include more background on the cidery and farm behind them in some of the earlier reviews. These ciders were shared with me for review, but my opinions remain entirely my own.

You can visit Snow Capped Cider’s website to find out about latest releases and news from the Colorado cidery:

Here’s what I could find on the website about the 2020 Wickson Crab cider.
For many years we have planted crabapple trees for pollination in our orchards. Now we harvest this scrappy little apple for its wild character in cider making. Wickson brings extraordinary high sugar content with razor-sharp acid levels. The result is elegant and fanciful. Wickson fills the palate with luscious, balanced, sweet notes of kiwi and honeydew building dimensional acid warmth with a lingering finish.

Alcohol 8.40%
This cider did merit a platinum medal at the Great American Cider Competition in 2021.

Appearance: intense honeycomb amber, brilliant, few bubbles

The color of the Wickson Crab reminds me of autumn and rich full honeycomb. It’s a warm and deep shade of amber that brings some real intensity. It’s a beautiful cider.

Aromas: overripe apple, minerals, mild oxidation, baking spice

The aromas remind me of familiar homemade applesauce. It’s an overripe apple nose with hints of baking spices. I do get just the barest hint of oxidation, but not to a troubling degree.

Sweetness/dryness: Off Dry

This tastes off dry. There’s enough acid and tannin in the mix that I bet the measurable sugar looks higher than it tastes.

Flavors and drinking experience: lush velvet tannins, high acid, mellow apricot, minerals, and citrus

The applesauce and overripe apple notes from the aroma return on the palate for the Wickson Crab. They are joined by apricot and citrus notes as well. The cider is redolent with fruity acidity and lush velvet tannins. There’s also a twiggy vibrance going on. What an amazing combination. Wickson Crabs really can produce just the most luscious and lively ciders.
The off the charts acid and beautiful tannins do not create an austere or minimal experience. Instead, Snow Capped Cider’s Wickson comes across as rich with the mood of peak autumnal splendor. The bubbles are much more apparent in the mouthfeel than they were visibly, which is a real treat. The opulence of this cider is bold and welcoming and wonderful. I love it. 

Monday, January 8, 2024

Winter Break!

Now that the time to Wassail has come and gone, it's time for a little winter snooze. The trees are resting, so I will join them. To everyone who is going, have a wonderful time at CiderCon! I'll catch you when you're back.  


Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Cider Review: Blake’s Hard Cider Co.'s Peach Party

Welcome to 2024! I write this from the liminal week between Christmas and the new year. Some folks get restless during this time, or mind that they forget what day of the week it is. Others return to work and life as usual. Yet others, and I count myself in this last lucky camp, relish the quiet long chance to say goodbye to the year not in a moment or a night but for a solid week. I’m looking back at the good moments, good books, good films, and holding those close. The challenges certainly come, but they don’t need any extra airtime. And I’m happy to be traveling to see my family right now. 

My dad was kind enough to save me two cans of Blake’s Hard Cider’s Peach Party. I shared some with him and also one with my mom, and I so enjoyed getting their reactions as well as my own. Consider this review a Collins family special. 

Here is a list of all previous reviews of Blake’s Hard Ciders on the blog.

Apple Lantern:

El Chavo (habanero and mango):

Black Philip(cranberry and blood orange):

The Tonic (cucumber & ginger):

Grizzly Pear(pear, prickly pear cactus, & elderflower):

Snapdragon (rum raisins):

Wakefire (cider with sour cherries and orange peel):

It’s easy to learn more about Blake’s Hard Cider Company on the website:

I’ll include the official description for the Peach Party, so we can see what exactly Blake’s is offering here!

Peach Party Peach and Blackberry Get ready to groove with the goodness of sweet peach, bold blackberry, and mellow apple. It’s all peach and love at this party.

6.5% ABV

Appearance: gentle blush pink, brilliant, few bubbles

I see a lot of gentle blackberry and apple influence  in this color. It’s a delicate blush pink with total brilliance. There are only a few little bubbles in the mix. What a lovely lovely cider. It makes me think of Spring already.

Aromas: Creamy and peachy with a background of apple and blackberry

The Peach Party lives up to it’s name with a fun and enticing aroma. It smells creamy and peachy almost like a Peach Melba. As I bring the glass to my nose there are also elements of citrus and sweetness in its nose.

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet

This cider is unambiguously sweet like peach candy but with a fun citric acid zing!

Flavors and drinking experience: peach, apple, vibrant fruit, high acid

Like with the aroma, I find Blake named this cider aptly. It is indeed a Peach Party! That’s the dominant flavor on the palate. I don’t detect a ton of blackberry flavor, but I’m happy to report that the whole experience is supported on a firm backbone of apple.

The Peach Party brings lots of acid and medium intensity of bubble to the drinking experience. The cider has a clean fermentation with loads of fresh very vibrant fruit flavor. It’s got a big mouthfeel as well. On two different evenings, I shared this one with my folks and both quite liked it. Our collective experience is that it’s a super approachable and friendly cider. Fans of sweetness will find it sessionable to boot. 

One evening of this was paired with a tense film about the end of the world and the other night it was shared with college basketball. Both worked well, but I think its best pairing might be popcorn and comedy or perhaps a bonfire!

Here’s to a wonderful 2024. Cheers!