Snow happens here as often as it doesn’t snow these days. Winter may not be official for a couple more weeks, but the season has started. For this week, it means cozying in during the long dark evenings to write and cuddle with my cats and people. It also means choosing and reviewing ciders that I think match the new season, things with some tannin and a little bit of sweetness. At least that’s what I’m going for.
At the end of November, I had to chance to travel down to the Hudson Valley for a couple of days. I knew I’ve wanted to visit the Angry Orchard Innovation Cider House in Walden for years, so I took the opportunity. I was able to meet Ryan for a tour and taste through of several of the special ciders only available from Walden. I’ll be sharing my travel experience in the coming weeks.
For now, visit Angry Orchard online: https://www.angryorchard.com/
Today, I want to start out with Angry Orchard's Wooden Sleeper. I’ve reviewed many Angry Orchard ciders: too many to post all the links here, so I’ll share some the more recent ones.
Most recently, I enjoyed the third of the Understood in Motion collaborations, this one between Ryan Burke of Angry Orchard and Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/08/cider-review-angry-orchard-ciders.html
I tasted the Angry Orchard Spiced Apple this past winter: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/03/cider-review-angry-orchards-spiced-apple.html
This past May, I reviewed the new Pear as a part of Very Perry May: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-review-of-greenwood.html
Earlier, in March, My review of the category-exploding Rosé came out: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/03/cider-review-angry-orchard-rose-and.html
A bit longer ago, I reviewed the Walden Hollow which was an early release from the Innovation Cider House in Walden: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/09/cider-review-angry-orchards-walden.html
Here's the official description, "Wooden Sleeper is a part of the Orchard Collection which is available in bottles and on-draft at Angry Orchard in Walden, NY. Using both culinary and bittersweet apples, the cider is aged in bourbon barrels, which makes for a delicious, warming cider." ABV of 9.5%-10.5%.
Appearance: pumpkin, transparent, ring of bubbles
The cider nearly glows with a deep pumpkin color. I don’t see any bubbles within the cider but there are a ring of fine ones where the cider meets the glass. It’s transparent but that doesn’t fully come through in the pictures because of condensation.
Aromas: ginger, bourbon, caramel, cookie
Holy heavenly coziness, the Wooden Sleeper smells like ginger, baked apples, and bourbon barrel. Secondarily I get lots of other notes I associate with barrels like caramel and cookies, but there’s something more, perhaps a hint of orange?
I expected a sweeter cider based on an earlier incarnation I’ve tasted of the Wooden Sleeper, but this batch tastes semi-dry. What it might be in terms of actual residual sugar, I cannot say.
Flavors and drinking experience: hearty, warm, petillant, tannic
What a hearty cider! I knew it would be based on the ABV, barrel aging, and the sweetness of previous batches. I chose it because of winter weather and a very wintery meal. The cider started with a gently bitter first note, but that was followed quickly by mellowing body and warmth from the ABV.
The Wooden Sleeper is tannic, medium acidity, and petillant, meaning it is only mildly bubbly. The flavors swirled and expanded generously. I could taste caramel, cooked apples, but other more savory notes like wood, wild rice, and mushrooms. It came back around to harvest richness that reminded me of pumpkin and brown sugar.
We paired this with a very traditional Sunday roast type meal with roasted Brussels sprouts, mashed purple potatoes, a green salad and a beef roast for the meat eaters. What a wonderfully appropriate choice. For a meal that most folks would use a red wine to pair, the Wooden Sleeper held up admirably and deliciously. It was fit for a winter feast.
Next, I want to travel back to my summer trip because I think I had a very winter friendly cider while I was in Glasgow. I had a Mortimer’s Orchard Original by Westons Cider.
I don’t know much about Mortimer’s Orchard, but you can visit the website here: http://www.mortimersorchard.co.uk/
The official description reads, “A fresh medium-dry cider with a light sparkling finish. Made from 100% fresh English apple juice.” 5% ABV.
I had this by the half pint which is a very civilized tradition that I wish could be imported more widely to the states. A half-pint is an eight ounce pour, just perfect for many ciders.
Appearance: brilliant, warm straw, pours with a mousse
This cider has a quickly disappearing bubbly mousse, but it remains very active in terms of visible sparkle. It’s transparent and a warm straw hue.
Aromas: lemon, sesame, fresh apple
The aromas from the Mortimer’s Orchard Original were not too intense. I could smell fresh apple, lemon, and sesame.
Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet to sweet
This has a very classic cane sugar, crystalized white sugar sweetness. It perceives as sweet to me, but I could also be responding to a lower level of acid than I’m used to from American ciders.
Flavors and drinking experience: medium-low acid, cooked fruit, tannins, sparkly
I had this cider after dinner and a long day of walking over and through Glasgow. The flavor reminds me very much of cooked apples. It’s mellow and sweet, offering up medium-low acid. I was surprised to find medium high level of sparkle.
I enjoyed the warm fruit flavor, also the notes of grain and the nice tannic mouthfeel. These elements balance one another reasonably well. It was relaxing and refreshing on its own. I think this cider could pair well with a number of spicy foods because sweetness can be the perfect antidote to spice. I enjoyed it in summer, but I think this sort of profile would taste even better on a cold winter’s night.