Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Cider Review: De Vergeten Appel's Het Bonte Appeltje, Blue Bee's Harrison and Cider Week VA

Hello, cider lovers! I think lots of folks are getting to a fever pitch of Thanksgiving planning and starting to think about winter holidays. The snowy weather here in the Finger Lakes is certainly encouraging that, but I’m not ready! Instead, I’m thinking about movies and wishing one of the theaters around here sold cider or had a BYOC policy. Most people like to combine their favorite things, and for me that would be cider and movies. 

SInce I can’t enjoy my cider with my theater experiences, what I can do is think about the movies I’ve enjoyed recently while sipping on my ciders at home. 

This past week, I was thrilled to get to try De Vergeten Appel’s Het Bonte Appeltje. This was my Thursday date night cider with the Tall One. After cider and dinner, we went to see Parasite by Bong Joon-Ho. 

The cider is one that the Tall One brought back from his recent time in Amsterdam. He has a great time tracking down ciders for me when he travels, and I’m so grateful for it. De Vergeten Appel is a company that started after a series of happenstance events that have the cutest possible origin. Johan Holleman started making cider because his neighbor had an apple tree that scared his dogs. This tree had too many apples to be used in almost any other way, so Holleman tried making cider. The rest of the company grew from there, using lots of apples that would otherwise go to waste from a variety of dutch orchards.

You can visit the company online to learn more:

Here’s the Google translation of the cidery’s description for Het Bonte Appelje
The traditional cider from De Vergeten Appel is made from classic Dutch apples that are no longer grown commercially. The apples come exclusively from small orchards and individuals from the Tilburg area. No pesticides or fertilizers are used in these orchards. The apples used would be wasted if they were not picked by hand to be processed in this delicious cider. 
Ingredients:100% juice from pressed apples, yeast, sugar for re-fermentation in the bottle. 
Contains sulfites.
Keep cool and dark.Cool before use and open gently.Recommended drinking temperature of 7 ° CProduced and bottled by "De Vergeten Appel" in Tilburg

Appearance: tea, transparent, bubbly

This cider has the warm orange glow of tea. I see some bubbles in the glass, and a tiny ring of bubbles at the top. The cider isn't hazy, but it's also not fully brilliant; I'll call the clarity transparent.

Aromas: Homemade applesauce, spice, citrus

Het Bonte Appeltje smells like many orchard-based American ciders. The primary olfactory impression is that of homemade applesauce. I also get traces of citrus, spice, stone and grain.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

This is a semi-dry cider with lots of fruit characteristics. Everything in the sweetness tastes very natural. 

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, tannins on the finish, citrus, bubbly

As with the aromas, this cider reminds me very much of some of the sorts of American ciders I like best. 

What I taste first is Het Bonte Appeltje’s very high acid! This semi-dry cider feels austere and pointed on the tongue, quite a bit like an American dry cider but with a gentle English influence. I get some tannins on the finish that take their time to arrive, but once they get there, it’s oh so pleasant.

In terms of fruit flavors I taste strong lime notes and ripe apple. There's an interesting tongue-numbing note of pine needles. I also detect some yeast character that reminds me of fresh warm bread. The texture is very bubbly. This cider  cuts through cheese soup with adroitness and effervescent clarity. With this meal it’s well-balanced and very food friendly.

It was a great preamble to a dark class comedy. Parasite is not a movie that has left my mind since I watched it. I appreciate the genre-bending twists and the pitch-perfect comedic timing. 

Next up, Blue Bee's Harrison with tiny recommendations to go see Jojo Rabbit and Harriet. I'm not a film blogger, so don't expect too much!

Blue Bee Cider has  been part of the cider scene as Virginia's first urban cidery since 2013. Blue Bee presents itself as not only highly local but also small-batch and seasonal. The ciders aren’t all only traditional though, Blue Bee Cider makes ciders with fruit and hops as well. Blue Bee Cider was kind enough to share this sample with me for review.

Here’s my most recent Blue Bee Cider review of the Hewe’s Crab:

And my take on the Hopsap Shandy:

My 4th favorite cider of 2017 was Blue Bee Cider’s Charred Ordinary:

Visit Blue Bee Cider online to learn about all of the ciders, their cider club, and upcoming events:

Blue Bee Cider’s Harrison is a single varietal cider. Here’s how the company describes it.
A rare breed, the HARRISON apple makes a comeback from near-extinction in this distinct, fruit forward cider. Earthy aroma, round tannin, notes of golden raisin and orange zest. 
RS 0.5%, ABV 8.5%.

Appearance: Brilliant, dandelion yellow, bubbly

This cider poured with a freshly effervescent mousse that vanished quickly. I’ll call the color dandelion yellow, but I’ve not seen a dandelion in many months, so it’s anything sunny and bright. What I can say with certainty is that this cider is brilliant.

Aromas: Woody, butterscotch, crystallized fruit

The Harrison smells mouthwateringly woody. It reminds me of a barn just as it’s starting to get rained on; the smell is fresh and wet. The cider’s aromas remind me of crystalised fruit, butterscotch, toffee, and toasted nuts. Something about the way the Harrison smells tells me this cider will be massively acidic.

Dryness/Sweetness: Off Dry

The Harrison is a beautiful example of an off dry cider. There’s just enough sweetness to enhance the cider without ever calling attention to itself as sweetness. 

Flavors and drinking experience: bright, tannic, ripe apples, citrus, paper

Holy wow! Blue Bee’s Harrison tastes amazing! This cider is acidic tannic, astringent, and fruity. Something about the tannins makes me think about old maps, paper, antiques, sunlight, and dust. I can taste lychee, lime, and ripe apple throughout. There’s a lovely overwhelming brightness here. Everything about this cider adds up to something golden and overripe,

Yes, I may be a sucker for off dry, high acid, medium tannic ciders in general. But the Harrison is more than just those check boxes. It reminds me of tangerine and lime, but the finish has a floral start that fades into butterscotch. Overall, the Harrison is very well balanced and simply outstanding.

And I must say, that the two movies that I got to discuss while enjoying this cider, Jojo Rabbit and Harriet, were both as worth my time as the cider was. They were very different, but both powerful stories. They also both offered more than just what one might expect from the trailers. I am loathe to reveal more, but I was impressed in more ways that I anticipated. 

Last thing, before I vanish. In less than a week Cider Week Virginia will be here! If you’ve been thinking about making a little trip to Virginia to explore cider, this is the time! November 15- 24 will  be packed to the gills with cider activities. 

Find out all about them:

Here’s the Facebook event where you can learn more:

And if you’re already in Virginia, you have no excuse. Go enjoy Cider Week VA!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Cider Review: Potter's Craft Cider Pippin Cuvee and Arsenal Cider House's Powder Monkey Bone Dry Peach, Plus Cider Week VA

Good morning, Cider Friends! I come to with my first post after coming back from Cider Days in Massachusetts and the return to Standard Time. (Cider Days was fantastic! Thank you for asking!) I’ve seen a lot of posts decrying the earlier evenings, but I’ve so appreciated having some light in the morning. The morning is when I need the extra boost. When I’m sitting down to supper and an evening glass of cider in these colder months, it can be dark. 

Speaking of evenings with cider, we are now only a week and a half away from Cider Week Virginia! I got to have a Virginia cider or two from Albemarle while I was at Cider Days, and I know several other excellent cider makers are participating.

Here’s the cider maker lineup:

Here’s the Facebook event where you can learn more:

Potter’s Craft Cider comes from Charlottesville, Virginia. It is the project of Tim Edmond and Dan Potter and the cider maker is Andy Hannas. The cider comes from Virginia apples and, for some of the lineup, interesting additions like ginger, passionfruit, raspberries or hops. This is my first review of anything by Potter’s Craft cider, but it feels long overdue. The company is opening it’s tasting room on November 16th! The grand opening shindig is from 1-9pm.

You can learn more about the company at the Homepage for Potter’s Craft Cider

The kind souls at Potter’s Craft Cider shared this upcoming release with me for review, so let’s get to it! 

The Pippin Cuvee’s official description reads, 

Pippin Cuvee 100% Virginia-grown Albemarle Pippin Barrel Fermented Bottle Conditioned Six Months Sur Lie Alc. 8.4% by Vol

Appearance: clear, creamy gouda glow, bubbly

This cider is not quite brilliant, but it's very clear for a sur lies aged cider. I'll call the color creamy gouda glow because something about that pale shade of warm yellow just reminds me of a creamy Gouda. I can see plenty of bubbles in this sparkler too!

Aromas: green, ripe apples, pear

The first impression I get from the Pippin Cuvee is a super fresh garden smell. I also get lots and lots of aromatics of ripe apples and pears

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

This is a dry and high acid cider!

Flavors and drinking experience: Zingy, bubbly, wild

Yowzers, the Pippin Cuvee has bite! This cider tastes crisp, bracingly tart and zingy. The pointed acidity drives the drinking experience. I love that the Pippin cuvee brings lots of bubble to the table. I can taste the gentle funk of a wild fermentation.

This cider comes across as lively, zesty, spiky and intense. I enjoyed it with a gorgeous selection of cheeses and good company. Try that yourself when this cider is released later this month!

Up next, Arsenal Cider's Powder Monkey Bone Dry Peach

Arsenal Cider is the first Pennsylvania cider I ever tried back in 2013. I visited the Pittsburgh tasting room and saw their hometown success and the Federal Allegheny Arsenal thematics. Since then, the company has grown in both popularity and cider making experience. The company has also branched out to other fruit wines and meads. 

I have two previous reviews of Arsenal Cider House libations. 

Cannoneer’s Bone Dry Cherry:

Fightin’ Elleck:

Plus it appeared in my top 10 in 2013!

I couldn’t find an official description for Arsenal Cider House’s Bone Dry Powder Monkey Peach, but it appears that many of the flavors come in and out of availability and different batches might have quite varied ABV. What I will share is that these notes were taken when I tried this peach back in 2015 on a trip to Pittsburgh. Arsenal made this entirely from peaches, but it hasn't been produced since 2015. My apologies then for sitting on these notes for way too long!

Here’s what else I can share. I didn’t know the term Powder Monkey when I encountered this cider, so I looked it up. Here’s what Wikipedia says about this naval term:

You can learn more about the cider house online:

Appearance: hazy, medium straw, no visible bubbles

I apologize for not having pictures of this poured. I had it while travelling and visiting Pittsburgh friends and was too social to remember a photo in the glass, but my notes tell me that the Powder Monkey Peach is just barely hazy with a medium straw color and not much in the way of visible bubbles.

Aromas: peach, orange, citric acid

The Peach smells like citric acid, peaches and oranges. The smells tell me to expect tartness but also I get notes that remind me of dust and stone.

Sweetness/dryness: dry

This is a dry drink! Arsenal is not exaggerating, but the flavors have a hint of bitter peach syrup.

Flavors and drinking experience: medium sparkle, yeast, citrus, leather, green pepper

This is a dry fruit wine with medium sparkle and high acidity. I taste wild and funky yeast notes and citrus. The fruits that I get are more lemon,  lime and orange rather than peach. The Powder Monkey brings high acid but no tannins. There are notes of leather, aftershave, and green pepper also. 

I definitely enjoyed some bitter fruit funk!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Cider Review Waupoos Premium Cider and Melick’s Semi Dry Traditional

This summer I traveled with Alex to the Thousand Islands for a mini-vacation. We had a wonderful time and really enjoyed our AirBnB and hosts. They were kind enough to share a Canadian cider that I’d never heard of with me, and it’s been waiting all the months since. This week, I was finally ready to crack up that memory of Summer and see what Waupoos Premium Cider is all about. 

The company that makes Waupoos Cider is County Cider out of Ontario, Canada. The company has been producing cider since the mid 1990s, and for the cider scene that’s significant cred! The focus as the company describes it is on growing apples and producing quality cider with only local fruit. 

Visit the company online here:

Here’s my post from my other cider experience on that trip. I got to taste through the Kaneb’s Orchard Cider lineup:

Here’s what Country Cider says about Waupoos Premium Cider.

Our top selling draft product for over 20 years. Exemplifies the crisp, fresh fruit qualities of our orchard-ripened apples with subtle undertones of bittersweet cider apples, giving an overall impression of freshness with the complexity of tannins and acidity. Seriously quaffable. 
A sessionable cider. 
Tasting Notes Off-dry, with zesty acidity and tangy apple fruit flavours; crisp lingering finish with underlying tannic qualities. Wonderful fresh apple aromas tantalizing the nose with the taste to come.
Think of chicken wings and wood fired pizza. 

Appearance: pale straw, brilliant, few bubbles

This cider looks like many ciders I’ve seen with it’s brilliant shine and pale shade of straw. I don’t see many bubbles but that doesn’t mean the cider isn’t strongly sparkling

Aromas: overripe apples, cherries, melon and powdered sugar

This cider smells of overripe apples, cherries, powdered sugar, and melon. My co-taster emphasized that he smelled lots of melon.  I also get hints of soft worn leather. It actually reminds me very much of a cider I’ve tasted years back; this is very reminiscent of Doc's Draft. This is a pleasant set of aromas. As it warms, there's a green apple rock candy note that comes out.  There are enough good smells that the bottle with it’s narrow limits them too much!

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

This cider tastes semi-sweet to me. The sweetness reminds me of pears, green apples, and rock candy. The sweetness fades fast after each sip though, and that’s intriguing.

Flavors and drinking experience: pear, grain, gentle funk

Waupoos Premium Cider offers up a nicely immediate bright taste, but the acidity fades quickly. My overall impression of the acidity is of that interesting appearances and disappearance. It isn’t a fully sweet cider, but I’m habituated to a higher level of acidity such that sweetness stands out at this level. The mid-palate of this cider reminds me of pears and perry; the body is especially perry like.

I get an aftertaste of grain and peanuts from this cider. Though I can taste those gently funky notes for a while, the fullness and sweetness from the cider do not extend overlong. The cider shares just a little bit of English funk in its leatheriness. I like the very ripe fruit notes. What is different between the Waupoos cider and the English ciders it reminds me of in some ways, is that this cider does not leverage tannins. 

I'm really curious about one of County Cider Company’s other ciders: Tortured Path.  Pairs well with strong flavors.  Had it with casual Mexican lunch and it was good.

And now for Melick’s Semi Dry Traditional!

Melick’s is one of the only New Jersey cideries that I know of. This wouldn’t surprise many people until look at the fact that in the 1900s, New Jersey probably producted more hard cider than any state in the country. Melick’s is a farm-based producer that makes cider and wine. The company is based in Oldwick. 

You can learn more online about Melick’s Cider:

I reviewed the George’s Tart Cherry earlier this year:

Here’s how the company introduces the Semi Dry Traditional
Our new Semi-Dry hard cider uses champagne yeast to produce a crisp, refreshing, hard cider, that is light on the palette with no added cane sugar. Enjoy chilled with your favorite meal! 6% by Volume 500 ML

Appearance: very bubbly, cool straw, brilliant

This cider bubbles enthusiastically! Melick’s Semi-Dry Traditional is alive with bubbles; they even formed a mousse for a moment before fizzing away. I’ll call the color cool straw and the transparency brilliant. 

Aromas: aquatic, green apple, grain 

The Traditional smells like green apples white flowers, and grain. I can also detect something aquatic and mild going on that reminds me of cucumbers. 

Dryness/sweetness: semi-dry

As promised, this cider is semi-dry! What sweetness I detect is very green apple and fresh fruit.

Flavors and drinking experience: tart, yeasty, fresh apples, bubbly

This cider brings plenty of tartness to my tastebuds! The Semi Dry Traditional smelled good, but tastes even better. The cider is balanced with plenty of ripe apple character but even more notes that strike me as the result of a good clean fermentation. My co-taster also noticed some pleasantly austere flavors that made them think of yeast artifacts and even like a refreshing lager.  My largest is impression is simultaneously of green apples and toasted grain. 

This cider has a medium body made lighter with lots and lots of bubbles. We had this with popcorn and a scary movie, but that’s how I’ve been pairing lots of my ciders this month. I think the Semi Dry Traditional could go with a plethora of foods because it’s well-balanced and approachable. Next time, I’d pair it with fish tacos or a vegetarian chili. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Cider Reviews: Black Diamond's Golden Russet/Porter’s Perfection & Coyote Hole's Sangria + Cider Week VA

We’re approaching Halloween quickly and mornings are already dark. We’ve entered the real stuff of Fall. This season has features I adore, but I dread shorter days and the days of blustery cold rain. But there are foods, events, and ciders that can remedy the dark chills, and I enjoyed both food and fun with cider this week. Here’s what I tried. 

Black Diamond is one of the anchoring cideries of the Finger Lakes. Not just because the cider is consistently high quality, but because the Black Diamond Orchard and Fruit that has been part of our local farmer’s market for a couple of decades now. And because the founder Ian Merwin is a Professor Emeritus of Pomology at Cornell!

Learn about all of the ciders online by visiting Black Diamond Cider's website:

I have many earlier reviews of Black Diamond ciders. Many of these include more background info about the cidery. I encourage you to check them out.  

Somerset Jersey:

Geneva Tremlett’s:




Porter’s Pommeau at the 2017 Locavore pairing dinner:


Now for the Golden Russet/Porter’s Perfection!

This is the official description from Black Diamond. 
Golden Russet and Porter’s Perfection are heritage cider apples originating from western New York and southwest England (respectively) in the late 1800s.  Each of these varieties was fermented in a single barrel and then blended to make this varietal duet.  Golden Russet lends its crisp acidity and ginger bite, while Porter’s Perfection provides tannic structure and depth of finish.
Tasting Notes:  Soft lingering tannins, bright acidity and notes of ginger, citrus and mangoes. 
Alcohol: 8.0%  Residual Sugar: 0% (Dry)  TA:  6.9 g/L  Total Tannins:  817ppm
Porter’s Perfection  – 50%             Golden Russet – 50%

Appearance: pumpkin, brilliant, bubbly

The Golden Russet/Porter’s Perfection reminds me of pumpkins in terms of color. The cider is brilliant and obviously bubbly. I know one cannot judge a book by it’s cover, but what I’m seeing here bodes well for the sort of cider I enjoy. 

Aromas: Mango, applesauce, minerals

Like many Black Diamond ciders, the Golden Russet/Porter’s Perfection brings tons of aroma. I could smell it just as soon as I opened the bottle. Most immediately, this ciders wafts up nots of mango and applesauce. There’s a lot of fruit going on, but I also smell what I associate with rocky minerality.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

Though this cider is fruity with tons of flavor and body, none of it comes from sweetness. This is a dry cider!

Flavors and drinking experience: tannic, mild bitterness, fruity

I have to start by saying that this is a lovely and well balanced cider! I am completely enthused about it. The part I love the most is how very grippy these tannins are! Secondarily, it’s gotta be the sparkle; this cider brings lots of bubbles to the party. The Golden Russet/Porter’s Perfection has all the minerality and astringence I hoped for.

I paired my glass of Golden Russet/Porter’s Perfection with pasta covered in Sunday sauce, garlic bread and a green salad with maple vinaigrette. Try this at home!

Though I cannot make it out, I’m very excited for folks who will get to participate in Virginia’s Cider Week this year!  

Read about all of the events here:

I’m reviewing cider by a cidery that’s hosting one of the most inventive cider week activities I’ve ever seen. I admit it; I’m a little jealous. The event is Comedy and Cider at Coyote Hole Ciderworks. It’s happening Friday November 15th at 8pm. There’s a comedy tour hitting brewery’s all over the country, but for Virginia Cider week, they are performing at a cidery, and that’s wonderful. My soft spot for comedy runs to sketch and improv (thank you forever Pittsburgh FNI), but I think the combination of fun approachable ciders and lots of laughs just sounds like a great time. 

Visit online and find out more:

My next review is Coyote Hole Ciderworks’ Sangria. Full disclosure, this cider was shared with me for review. This is my first contact with Coyote Hole Ciderworks; the company is based in Mineral, Virginia. The cidery focuses on using Virginia apples and making very inventive ciders that aim to please, including seasonal and limited releases.

The official description of the Coyote Hole Ciderworks’ Sangria reads,
Green apple cider sangria.
Coyote Hole Sangria is a unique cider based sangria with a base of our Oma Smith's green apple hard cider. It is blended with rosé wine and cran-mango juice making it a wonderful year-round cider for any occasion.
Sweetness: Five apples 
ABV: 5.6%

Appearance: coral, brilliant, no visible bubbles

I expected this cider to look more reddish based on the ingredients, name, and packaging, but what I see is lovely. The color looks like a soft coral; it’s totally brilliant. I didn’t see any bubbles but that doesn’t mean it won’t be sparkling!

Aromas: fruity, kiwi, peach, mango, apricot

The Sangria smells like kiwi, peach, mango, and apricot. It’s so intensely fruity. My co-tasters recognized notes of guava and a ton of tropical fruit flavor. Besides fruit we could smell some perfumed floral notes as well.

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet

This is a sweet cider! Now I know what listing five apples of sweetness means on the website. 

Flavors and drinking experience: green apple, peach schnapps, full mouthfeel

This cider does remind me of sangria. It has a very full, thick mouthfeel and plenty of sweet fruitiness.  Some of the flavors remind me of peach schnapps green apple. It has plenty of acidity, but it still feels heavy in body. That’s almost certainly due to sweetness.

This cider is very bubbly, which helps lighten the mouthfeel and cut the sweetness. We shared this with an over the top Vincent Price movie (Theater of Blood!) and salty popcorn! I’m sure this cider does very well in the Coyote Hole tasting room, and salty snacks are a great combo for it!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Cider Review: Two Towns Ciderhouse Hollow Jacked and Blue Bee Cider's Hewe's Crab Plus Cider Week VA

I just ate my first chili of the fall! That is a major seasonal milestone in my world. In the evenings, I light candles and put on big fuzzy socks for coziness. I even went to the Farmer’s market on Saturday to get some decorative gourds for my porch. It’s easy to tease autumnal enthusiasm, but it’s more fun to just give in to it! That’s exactly what I did this week with my cider choices. I want to share my notes on Two Towns Ciderhouse Hollow Jack’d which is a roasted pumpkin cider, and I want to start whetting folks’ appetite for Virginia’s upcoming cider week with my review of Blue Bee Cider's Hewes Crab.

Two Towns Ciderhouse uses a few basic facts to declare the company’s identity. It calls itself Northwestern craft cider and highlights the following, “BOLDLY CRAFTED IN
2010.” And this tells us a lot. Outside of the nuggets of information shared, these short, pointed statements display a declarative confidence that’s only expanded when reading the rest of the companies values and priorities. Two Towns cider house cares about using local fruit and not adding concentrates or processed sugars to the ciders. The company was kind enough to share this cider with me for review. 

I’ve reviewed several ciders and a perry by  2 Towns Ciders over the years. Here’s the rundown.

Afton Field:

La Mûre:

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy:

Cidre Bouche:



Bright Cider:

Hop and Stalk:

You can visit 2 Towns Ciderhouse Website. That’s where you can find the most current information about the ciders and events:

Here’s the official description for the Hollow Jack’d.
IMPERIAL PUMPKINExtra mischievous, Hollow Jack'D takes our fall classic of fresh-pressed apples, caramelized pumpkins and sweet potatoes that are finished with local honey and spices to a whole new level. 8.4% ABV

Appearance: bubbly, hazy, butterscotch candy

The color reminded us of butterscotch candies. Hollow Jack’d is hazy and bubbly in the glass. It looks like a juicy big cider. 

Aromas: Peach, pear, raspberry, minerals

I don’t smell pumpkin, but I get lots of appealing aromas from the Hollow Jack’d. The cider smells very much like peach, pear, and raspberry. I also get some zingy minerality in the aromas.

Dryness/sweetness: Sweet

This cider tastes decidedly sweet. It feels honeyed and thick in the mouth.

Flavors and drinking experiences: nectarine, apricol, sparkling, mulling spice

This sparkling sweet seasonal reminds me of nectar, with a honeyed jasmine character. The Hollow Jack’d brings notes of nectarine and apricot, raspberry and spice. I don’t taste much pumpkin but I do get hints of the caramelization and sweet potato that were used in the process. The cider has a pronounced mulling spice finish.

I enjoyed this with plenty of popcorn and my first ever viewing of Candyman! I highly recommend this combo.

Now for Blue Bee Cider Hewe’s Crab.

Blue Bee Cider was kind enough to share this cider with me for review. This company describes itself as Virginia's first urban cidery. The way the folks at Blue Bee talk about the cider making process emphasizes concepts like seasons, small batches, and the special characteristics of different apple varieties.  

I don’t have as many previous Blue Bee Cider reviews as I’d like just because I don’t often see the cider for sale. Here’s what I’ve managed.

Hopsap Shandy:

Charred Ordinary (my #4 cider of2017):

Here’s how Blue Bee cider introduces the single-varietal Hewes Crab.
A rare breed, the HEWE’S CRAB apple makes a comeback from near-extinction in this distinct, fruit forward cider. Bright, floral, notes of cumin and honey.
RS 0.3%, ABV 8.5%.

Appearance: Active bubbles, brilliant medium straw

This cider has so many tiny super fast bubbles! I love to just watch the Hewe’s Crab go! The color is a pleasant medium straw.

Aromas: Green apple, honey, white flowers, minerality 

Something about the Hewe’s Crab cider’s aromas feels very pointed to me. I think it’s somehow the acidity coming through without it being at all volatile. It reminds me of minerals and green apples. I also smell white flowers and honey. Everything about this is consonant with other crabapple ciders I’ve tried before. 

Sweetness/dryness: off-dry to dry, but not bone dry

The Hewe’s Crab dances across the palate with lots of flavors and almost no sweetness. What’s there is fruity and more than balanced by everything else happening.

Flavors and drinking experience: tangerine, orange blossom, tropical fruit

The Hewe’s Crab reminds me of Orange blossoms and tangerine. This cider is off dry and pleasingly puckeringly acidic. It’s definitely filled with my favorite characteristics of crabapples. The cider brings just a bit of tropical sweetness, specifically pineapple and citrus.

Of course, I love that this cider overflows with the tiniest champagne-like bubbles. The fermentation is gloriously clean and the cider is headily aromatic. As we all enjoyed it with dutch herbed cheese and apples, it warmed up slightly and the aromas kept unfolding. The minerality of Hewe’s Crab aromas come through in taste. I get a little spice and fair amount of white pepper. 

This cider leaves a tannic residue on the lips. One of my co-tasters noticed a very wet mouthfeel, but I am not quite sure what to make of that. We all agreed that the cider tastes complex but unified And consistently interesting. This is an outstanding cider!

Coming up November 15th through 24th, Cider Week VA will be celebrating cider all over the beautiful state of Virginia. I talk a big game about New York ciders, but Virginia is another state that has amazing apple varieties and some of the most talented cider makers and orchardists active today. I loved this week’s Blue Bee cider, and the company is far from alone in making thoughtful delectable ciders.

Let me encourage you to check out the website which has event listings and introduces all of the cideries participating:

I can see bonfires, pairing dinners, comedy shows, cider making workshops and more on the list of events.  These are some fun, creative events! This is the perfect time to spend some time doing fabulous cider things before the holiday rush eats your calendar for the next six weeks! 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Cider Review: Kite and String's Rosé '17 and Awestuck Premium Hard Cider Dry Apple + Oak

Today, I want to share a fun and unusual set of cider notes. This past Thursday, as part of Finger Lakes Cider Week, I had a casual event at The Watershed ( to take people through the basics of tasting cider. The bar had a number of New York State and Finger Lakes options, and it was an absolute pleasure to meet with new people, taste with old friends, and deepen some cider connections. Many thanks to everyone who came out! And much affection and appreciation to Ashley and Dave at the Watershed and Woody who helped put together and promote the event. 

This week’s reviews both come out of that event and the tasting notes are a collaboration of everyone who tried these two particular ciders. We used a cider flavor wheel and Cider Tasting Journals to help capture what we saw, smelled and tasted. If you don’t know these excellent tasting guides, I recommend checking them out online ( 

Thanks again, everyone! 

The first cider I’d like to share about today is Kite and String’s Rosé '17.

I've enjoyed quite a few Kite and String Ciders before. This is the house cider for Finger Lakes Cider House and winners of the first New York State Cider Competition (where I was a judge). If you check out old reviews, please don’t get confused if you see the cidery’s former name.

The Barrel Rye:

The Cazenovia:

The King of Hector:

I've enjoyed the Hickok at a few special dinners including:

Thanksgiving 2016:

And my oft-cited Finger Lakes Locavore Birthday Dinner:

Read about both the Finger Lakes Cider House and Kite and String Cider on the website:

Here’s house Kite and String describe the Rosé '17.
Semi Sweet, Method Charmat.
This delightful apple-grape wine blends high-acid cider apples with vinifera grapes. Strong aromatics of strawberry and lilac, combine with luscious berry notes on the palate, followed by a round creamy finish. 8.2%ABV
What’s fascinating is that all of Kite and String’s cider’s have a tech sheet with additional details as well. The apples included in this cider are Newtown Pippin, Baldwin, Liberty, and McIntosh. Here’s the cider maker’s note about this one. 
A Finger Lakes collaboration, our Rosé is a mix of sharp, high-acid, lateseason apples blended with 18% fresh Riesling juice grown by Hosmervineyards (Ovid, NY), and 10% Marechal Foch (French hybrid varietal)red grape wine produced at Swedish Hill Vineyards (Romulus, NY). Thesecondary fermentation takes place in a closed pressurized tank that isthen bottled at four volumes of carbonation pressure.

Appearance: brilliant, gentle coral, no visible bubbles

This is a very appealing shade of coral pink. It’s warm but gentle and reminds me of the blush on many apple skins. The cider is brilliant with no visible bubbles. 

Aromas: Raisins, limestone, peach

This cider smells wonderful when first poured, but it only improves as it warms up after a few moments. The aromas of peach, raisins, and limestone all intensify. 

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

I think Kite and String is entirely correct to call this cider a semi-sweet. The flavors are definitely impacted by it’s sweetness. The cider’s acidity does not alter or disguise that, but the sweetness is a profoundly fruity and pleasant sweetness. Because of that, I’d not choose to cellar this cider, but rather drink it now. 

Flavors and drinking experience: earthy, cherry, tart, stone fruit. 

For everyone who tried the Rosé, it was a favorite. Dry and sweet drinkers alike could agree on it. There’s a reason this cider appears frequently on the Watershed’s menu of ciders by the glass. The acidity and fruitiness work together beautifully. The sweetness adds heft and body that many ciders don’t have to offer. The fruits that comes across most strongly on the palate are cherry and peach, but there are other notes of apple and tropical fruit as well. It’s finish is rolling and pleasant. I’ll go ahead and nominate this one for future family get togethers.

The other review I’d like to share from the night is: Awestuck Premium Hard Cider Dry Apple + Oak. This cidery is based in Sidney, New York. The company has been producing cider since 2014 (Happy 5 years!), and I see folks from Awestruck at the Gathering of the Farm Cideries each year in Albany. 

You can visit Awestruck Ciders online:

Last year, I Tried the Hometown Homicider:

I reviewed the Hibiscus Ginger by Awestruck back in 2015:

Here’s how Awestruck introduces the Dry Apple + Oak.
A Traditional, Artisanal Cider
6.8% ABV
Our Dry Apple + Oak cider is our constant companion. A loyal friend and ally. It pairs exceedingly well with meals, with evening galas, and with laid-back afternoons. Made from a seasonal blend of 100% fresh-pressed New York Apples, we very lightly oak this cider for a hint of toastiness and astringency. The first sip is smooth and dry then subtle flavors build and blend, growing the enjoyment sip after sip.

Appearance: brilliant, apricot, saffron, few visible bubbles

What a warm hue of yellow-orange. This was a great cider to dissect in terms of color because we have certain associations with a deeper color for cider. It’s often associated either with cider specific apples or barrel aging. Since this cider mentions oak, that’s in line with our expectations.

Aromas: baking spice, woodiness, sarsaparilla, cooked apples

This cider smells more like baked and spiced apples than I expected. The smells also reminded several folks of root beer with a sarsaparilla note. I do smell some woodiness and tropical notes like pineapple as well. 

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet

This is not a dry cider. This is a sweet cider. One person said of the sweetness that it tasted cooked like the sugar in a baked dish.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, herbal, mulled, sweet

The Dry Apple + Oak has lots of acidity to offer. That’s what most tasters noticed first, one person going so far as to say that the acidity washing over their tongue with each sip was the predominant experience drinking the cider. Another taster noticed not only acidity but that it reminded them of seasonal fall ciders which often use mulling spices. I agree that the cider’s brown sugar, clove, and cinnamon notes go beyond any associations with barrels and into the realm of baking spices. The Dry Apple + Oak also brings a lot of body to the glass. It’s a rich, ripe, heavy cider. The mouthfeel is far more like cream than like water. 

My favorite thing about this cider was it’s finish. It wasn’t a long finish, but it reminded my of oatmeal with a clean, warm, graininess that’s only slightly sweet. 

All in all, it was a great night to learn more about cider and to enjoy tasting together.