Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Cider Review: Aeppeltreow Scarlett Rosey Cider and South Hill Cider Prelude #7




This week, when thinking about cider and Summer, I want to think about the specific cider styles most often associated with the season. There are more than I can cover in a week, but two of the first styles that come to mind are rosé ciders and dry, acid-forward, bubbly ciders. Luckily I found examples of each: one in my own cellar waiting for its moment and the other featured at a local restaurant (Agava: https://www.agavarestaurant.com/) known for showcaseing local food and beverages. 

Today, I’m starting with Aeppeltreow’s Scarlett Rosey Cider. 

I’ve enjoyed a number of Aeppeltreow ciders since starting the blog. Here’s the list:

Sparrow Spiced Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/01/cider-review-aeppeltreow-sparrow-spiced.html

The Orchard Oriole Perry has to be one of my favorite perries ever: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-aeppeltreows-orchard.html 

In 2015, I got to try the Appley Brut which brings the bubbles: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/09/cider-review-appeltreow-winerys-appley.html 

The first time I had something pretty in pink from Aeppeltreow it was the Blackbird Berried Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/06/cider-cans-crush-it-aeppeltreow.html

My favorite might still be the Kinglet Bitter: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/09/cider-review-appletreow-kinglet-bitter.html 

When I first moved to Ithaca, I got to try the Barnswallow Draft Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/03/cider-review-appeltreow-barnswallow.html 

For Very Perry May 2017,I reviewed the Sparkling Perry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/05/very-perry-may-pt-1-aeppeltreow.html

At my friend El’smost recent  birthday dinner, I included the Americana:
http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/09/my-dear-friend-el-just-had-birthday.html

Read about all the ciders, and the rest of the delicious lineup online: http://aeppeltreow.com/

Here’s the official description for the Scarlett Rosey Cider, “Scarlett is blended from real red-fleshed crab apples and eating apples specially selected to leave the scent of rose petals in the bottom of the glass. Semi-sweet. It is pink.” 5.5% ABV




Appearance: Brilliant, bubbly, coral pink

The can describes this cider as pink, but it’s a more nuanced shade than just pink. To me, it looks like a coral pink that hints toward peachiness. It’s lovely: far too lovely to leave in a can! Pour this one into a glass.

Aromas: ripe apples, raspberries, stone and dust

The Scarlett smells like ripe apples and raspberries! Underneath all of that juicy ripe apple I get a hint of dust and stone associated notes that make me expect something tart.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-sweet

This is semi-sweet, but I’m guessing many folks would call the Scarlett Rosey Cider semi-dry. It’s a lovely fruity sweetness that melds with all of the facets of the cider.

Flavors and drinking experience: tart, tannic, sweet, floral and fruity

I love how the Scarlett cider offers up lots of tannins! It also brings enough medium high acidity to balance the sweetness. I enjoy the medium intensity of bubbles, and the heft of the mouthfeel. This cider has both body and lift! The floral and fruity elements play nicely together. What I particularly appreciate is that the floral notes shade more into foody and juicy notes and less into powdery or perfumed ones. 

I enjoyed the Scarlett Rosey Cider with some wheaty crackers and a mature cheddar. It didn’t need anything else!  


South Hill Cider Prelude #7

Previous reviews of South Hill Ciders

South Hill Ciders has a fantastic group of ciders that manage to be different and yet all 100% apple-based and local. Cidermaker Steve Selin uses all manner of apples for the different South Hill ciders including heirloom, crab, and cider specific apples all from the local environs, both grown and foraged. South hill planted a young orchard in Ithaca, NY and has broken ground for a tasting room to be open on the same site soon. 

Here is a list of my previous South Hill Cider reviews:

Most recently I reviewed the Bluegrass Russet: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/04/cider-review-sea-ciders-ruby-rose-and.html

I reviewed the Prelude 3: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/12/cider-review-south-hill-ciders-prelude.html

Then it became my #7 favorite cider in 2018
http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/12/my-10-favorite-ciders-of-2017.html

My Finger Lakes Cider pairing dinner in September of 2017 included one: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/09/finger-lakes-cider-week-and-birthday.html

I chose South Hill Cider’s Stone Fence Farm as my favorite cider of 2016: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/cider-review-south-hill-ciders-stone.html

In 2016, I tasted the 2014 Packbasket: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/04/cider-review-south-hill-ciders-2014.html

And my very first South Hill Cider review was the hyper-limited release Hypothesis: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/05/cider-review-south-hill-ciders.html

You can visit South Hill Cider online to learn more and follow the progress on current projects: http://www.southhillcider.com/

And now for the South Hill Prelude #7. 

Here’s the official description, “#7- An assemblage of all late-season apples. 50% Dabinett, 34% Golden Russet and 16% Goldrush. Bone Dry & Sparkling traditional method. Because of the bottle fermentation and that the apples are all late-season and ripe, the cider is 10.1% ABV. 90 cases”


Appearance: brilliant, bubbly, warm straw

This cider looks very much like what I expect and hope for a cider from this area. I’d call the color warm straw. It’s brilliant, and I can see some bubble activity in the glass.

Aromas: lemons, clean grains, boozy, minerals

This cider smells unlike others I’ve smelled or tasted from South Hill Cider. I suppose that’s the beauty of the Prelue line. The #7 smells lemony and boozy with notes of clean grain and minerals.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

This is a dry and astringent cider. Folks expecting any sweetness at all will be surprised, but I love that about it.

Flavors and drinking experience: oaky, herbal, anise

The Prelude #7 tastes oaky; maybe some part of this juice saw time in a barrel of some form. The description doesn’t say so, but that’s what I’m tasting. The cider is also strongly herbal with notes of anise, black tea, and dried leaves. I love that it has so many bubbles. It tastes toasted with breadcrumbs and marshmallows. I get brown sugar notes in the finish. This cider is high acid with medium-high tannins.

I had this with a black bean veggie burger and fantastic fries. I definitely recommend the paring.

Summer has lots of long hot days, enough to include both rosé ciders and dry, acid-forward, bubbly ciders. Check back next week to see how else to enjoy cider in the Summer.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Cider Review: Kaneb Orchards Hard Cider Flight at Otter Creek Winery in Alexandria Bay



What is special about cider in the summer for you? I want to think about that question for the next few weeks, while we are experiencing the long hot heights of Summer. My first answer is cider while travelling! I love to ask about local and regional ciders wherever I go. A couple of weeks ago, I made the time to travel to the Thousand Islands for a quick weekend away in a lovely place. I didn’t know what cider I would find there. 

To my surprise in our apple and cider intensive state,I had few cider opportunities than I would have liked. Hopefully though if people keep asking about cider, more places will carry local or regional ciders. My trip wasn’t entirely without cider though, I did get to try a Kaneb Orchards flight at the Otter Creek Winery in Alexandria Bay.

Kaneb Orchards is both a cidery and an orchard offering fresh and hard cider, cider donuts, and other farm and bakery goods. You can find them close to the Canadian border in Massena, New York.  

Visit Kaneb Orchards online to learn more: https://www.kaneborchards.com/

Here's the lineup!


Raquette River

Here’s what the company says about it’s driest cider, “Kaneb Orchards Raquette River Cider is a medium dry sparkling cider with a full body, apple notes up front, and a dry finish. A smooth and hardy taste that is more like a trandional hard cider. Made from hand picked apples. Handcrafted at our Cidery in Northern New York. Naturally gluten free. Carbonated. Enjoy!” I found the ABV listed in various places online as either 4.8% or 5%.


The Raquette River offered up aromas of ripe apples, pastry, and fresh mild cheese. Though the description lists this as a medium dry cider, I found it semi-sweet. This cider practically danced with notes of white grape and apple flavor. Secondarily, I got notes of tropical fruit, mostly pineapple. Upon repeated sips,  lots of pear flesh flavors emerge. Overall, the cider is very fruit forward with medium acidity and no tannins. I like how full bodied and clean it tastes. This cider isn’t funky but neither is it simple. 


St. Lawrence 

Kaneb Orchards introduces it saying, “St. Lawrence Cider is a clear, crisp medium sweet sparkling cider with full apple flavor. Hand picked apples from our orchard are pressed and bottled in small batches at our Cidery in Northern New York near the St. Lawrence River. Product is naturally gluten free. Enjoy!”

To me, the St. Lawrence cider smells pleasantly of wood, homemade applesauce, with a bit of pie spices. This cider tastes sweet, friendly, and bubbly. This is another cider that shows off a very clean fermentation. The St. Lawrence offers medium high acid and crystalline sweetness but no tannins. Notes of blackberries and jam round out the experience.


Cranberry Crisp

The company describes it’s first fruit-blended cider with, “Kaneb Orchards Cranberry Crisp Cider is a blend of our medium sweet cider and a splash of 100% cranberry juice from berries locally grown and pressed at our Cdery. It’s the perfect balance between sweet and sour that makes this a delightfully refreshing drink. Made from hand picked apples. Hand crafted at our Cidery in Northern New York. Sparkling. Naturally gluten free. Enjoy!”

The Cranberry Crisp smells decidedly different than the previous two ciders! This one smells a bit wild, funky, and nutty. The levels of aroma intensity aren’t particularly high.
This cider tastes very sweet, but the cranberry tartness sneaks up just in time to make it something a bit more than it could be. I appreciate the high but not extreme acid and the gentle presence of tannins from the cranberry. As our tasting room guide showed us, the Cranberry Crisp is good for cider mixer with something dry. She blended it with a local Pinot Grigio to fun effect.


Grasse River Still

Our guide introduced this as a semi-sweet apple wine, but this is how the producer describes it, “Kaneb Orchards Grasse River Still Cider is a medium dry non carbonated cider with great apple notes. It’s like floating on the Grasse River on a calm, still afternoon. Made from hand picked apples from our orchard and crafted at our cider in Northern New York. Naturally gluten free. Enjoy!”

The Grasse River still smells like limestone, white flowers, and honey. I anticipate some sweetness based on that set of aromas, but I’ve been proven wrong before. The taste comes across as sweet, with prominent notes of  honey and apple. This still cider is very floral, low in acidity, with no tannins. The mouthfeel is very thick and creamy. The finish lingerings with the same honey and vanilla from the mid palate. I think our tasting room guide was absolutely correct in that this cider presents a bit like an apple wine or dessert cider profile. You could pair with something complex yet light like sushi.

I was thrilled to get to try new ciders from a relatively unexplored region. These are crowd pleasers, and I bet they do very well. Check back in for another facet of enjoying cider in Summer!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Cider Review: Woodchuck / Farnum Hill's Odd Crush and the Cider Lab's Empire Blanc



Now that I’ve moved to upstate NY, I wait for summer every year, thinking about it, looking forward to it, worrying it will somehow never arrive. And yet, that doesn’t mean I’m prepared once it comes. This year that means I didn’t manage to keep deer out of my raised vegetable beds, and I’ve already gotten sunburned twice. I have no good excuse, but I do bring a glass of water and a glass or can of cider with me into the shade while I wait for long summer evenings to walk and wander. 

Just this past Friday, I got a very exciting delivery to my workplace. I’d heard about a collaboration between Woodchuck and Farnum Hill. I know both of these companies; I like both;  both were pivotal to my early cider days (back in 2002) when there were very few ciders available. And the timing of this delivery was perfect. The cans arrived just in time to get stowed in my weekend bag and taken up to the Thousand Islands region for a summer weekend getaway. 

The Woodchuck / Farnum Hill collaboration is called Odd Crush, and the can features both New Hampshire and Vermont on the cans. 

Previous coverage of Farnum Hill includes:

Cider Con 2017: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/02/cider-con-part-2-panels-workshops-and.html

Visiting Farnum Hill in New Hampshire: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-1.html

Extra Dry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/08/cider-review-farnum-hill-extra-dry-and.html (this was my #1 cider of 2015)

Farmhouse Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/08/cider-review-farnum-hill-farmhouse-cider.html

Summer Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/09/cider-review-farnum-hill-summer-cider.html


And here are a smattering of my previous reviews of Woodchuck ciders. (There are many more if you look)

Pearsecco: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/05/cider-review-very-perry-may-with.html

Bubbly Rose: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/08/cider-review-farnum-hill-extra-dry-and.html

I am still waiting for Woodchuck to bring back the June and Juice: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/10/cider-review-woodchucks-june-and-juice.html

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

I reviewed the Pear Ginger as part of 2018’s Very Perry May: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-review-of-woodchucks.html

And I loved visiting them on my Vermont Cider Tour: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-3.html

Here’s information about  the Odd Crush from it’s press release:
 The name "Odd Crush” points to our drastically different styles, which originally sparked the diverse new era in American hard ciders. In VT, Woodchuck paved the way for popular six-pack ciders, sold across the country. In NH, Farnum Hill opened a future for regional orchard ciders in wine-style bottles.With Odd Crush we combine both styles of cider making. The cider has a bright, golden hue that is clear and brilliant. The aroma has fruity notes of peach, raspberry and citrus that lead to a clean finish, excellent with food.
This cider’s ABV is 5.4%.


Appearance: old gold, brilliant, bubbly

This cider looks bubbly and mellow with the rich hue I remember being called old gold. It’s more intense and warm than simply yellow, straw, or amber. 

Aromas: ripe apples, cinnamon, caramel

The Odd Crush smells like ripe apples, cinnamon, and something darkly sweet. The aromas are as intense as fresh pressed juice with a hint of caramel.

Sweetness/dryness: off dry

This is definitely a meeting of the minds, it’s more dry than any other Woodhuck cider and sweeter than anything I’ve previously had from Farnum Hill. 

Flavors and drinking experience: tart, rich, brightly fruit forward, well balanced

The Odd Crush tastes darn good. I am impressed. It’s tart without being pointed. The flavors include caramel notes without too much sweetness. This cider’s acid hits early and disappears before the finish. In terms of texture, I note strong bubbles, medium body and some tannins.

I appreciate this cider’s delightful parade of bright dry fruit flavors. Initially, I taste citrus for sure, but also pear and kiwi. The Odd Crush tastes clean throughout, and offers up a warm bright finish.  The relative dryness makes it special and carries the other flavors with structure and restraint. It’s really quite lovely.


Next up it’s The Cider Lab’s Empire Blanc.

“Science. Art. Premium Craft Cider,” These are the words that introduce Cider Lab on it’s website. This Geneva, New York project focuses on not only their own ciders but working on developing the process that made delicious ciders. For more background check out my earlier reviews of the brand and project.

Empire Royale: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/02/cider-review-cider-labs-empire-royale.html

Empire Golden: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/04/cider-review-eastmans-forgotten-ciders.html

Visit The Cider Lab online and learn about all of the ciders: https://theciderlab.com/our-cider/

Here’s how the introduces the Empire Blanc:

An award-winning, dry, hard cider made from fresh-pressed New York Empire apples grown on the golden shores of Lake Ontario. Like fine wine in its balance of tannins and acidity, The Cider Lab’s Empire Blanc is crisp, bright and complex. The effervescence of this brilliant straw-colored cider floats a bouquet of orange blossom and melon awakening the senses with carefully blended fermentations. A refreshing cider experience that pairs well with food or stands out on its own. Enjoy responsibly and share Empire Blanc with friends.
This cider has an ABV of 7.1%.


Appearance: pale pollen, brilliant, no bubbles

This cider almost glows. The color looks like pale spring pollen and it’s totally brilliant. I can’t see bubbles, but that doesn’t mean the cider will be still.

Aromas: Perfume pollen floral

Again, I am reminded of pollen. This is not a theme that comes up in many ciders, but that’s how this one looks and smells to me. It’s very floral and perfumed like honeysuckle.

Dryness/sweetness: off dry

The sweetness is hard to detect because of the extremely high acid.

Flavors and drinking experience: grassy, tart, peach, bright

This cider is so bright and tart, it’s almost shocking! The Empire Blanc tastes like green tea, sun-baked hay or dried summer grasses. It’s not funky but it is herbal and grassy. The cider tastes very tart but not astringent. I how how fruity- specifically how filled to the brim with peach notes this cider is.

Acidity is the defining characteristic of the Empire Blanc from it’s initial sizzling taste to it’s lingering brightness. The Empire Blanc doesn’t bring many tannins to the experience, but it has enough mouthfeel from the acid to feel complete. The cider uses a medium intensity of sparkle.  I had this cider with banana pudding and good company. It was a delicious pairing.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Cider Reviews: Citizen Cider Currant Affair and Starcut Cider’s Pomace Cult


Summer has finally arrived, Cider Lovers. And we had our first whole weekend of warm bright summery weather. After such a rainy spring, this feels especially welcome! I spent part of my weekend touring around my region in search of food and beverage excitement, and the other part of my weekend was spent preparing my screened in porch for semi-outdoor relaxing. There’s nowhere quite like a screened in porch for a summer cider.

This week, let’s start with a limited release Citizen Cider that I picked up from them quite some time ago: Currant Affair. Citizen Cider makes Burlington, Vermont it’s home base. The company now sells it’s ciders in several states, but it certainly maintains its strong ties to Vermont. 

I’ve reviewed quite a few Citizen Ciders before. Here’s the rundown in no particular order. 

Sur Lies: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/02/cider-review-citizen-cellars-sur-lies.html

Barrel Aged: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/02/cider-review-citizen-ciders-barrel-aged.html

The Wood: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/07/cider-review-citizen-ciders-wood-and.htm

Companion Sour Cherry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/06/pickcider-review-citizen-ciders.html

Tulsi: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/03/cider-review-fable-farms-greensboro-and.html

Wit’s Up, a Belgian beer inspired cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/04/cider-review-citizen-ciders-wits-up.html

Citizen Cider bRosé: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/02/cider-review-citizen-cider-brose.html

I visited Citizen Cider's production facility and tap room in Burlington: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-2.html

You can visit Citizen Cider online to learn more about the company including recent releases, special events, and more: https://www.citizencider.com/

Now on to Citizen Cider’s Currant Affair. Here’s the official description: 
Currently, Citizen Cider is having an affair with currants and cider. Currants like the cold, so do apples, and as it happens they pair well through fermentation. This rose cider is big, bright, fruity and exciting. Please have your own little affair and enjoy this cider. 100% locally sourced apple cider, black currants, sugar. Contains sulfites. Naturally gluten-free. 6.9% ABV

Appearance: tawny, brilliant, bubbly

What fun color. It’s almost hard to characterize because it has shades of red, brown, and orange but somehow seems more carnelian and gem like with a tawny hue.

Aromas: Raspberries, red fruits, powdered sugar, green wood

The Currant Affair smells like raspberries and red fruits. I get hints of aroma that remind me of sweetness particularly powdered sugar. There’s something else though; I can detect a flexible backbone of green wood.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi Dry

This cider is semi-dry, but that’s far from the most exciting thing about it. 

Flavors and drinking experience: super tart, tannic, bubbly, red fruit

The Currant Affair is tart and tannic! I get a strong salivary reaction the second I taste it.
Not all tannins are the same; these notably taste fruity and astringent. They come from the currants rather than from wood aging or apples. 

One of the other features of this cider I noticed first was how bubbly it is.  This high acid cider brings tons of red fruit and fun to every sip. I get some apple notes but it reminds me more of black currants, red raspberries, and super tart cherries. I enjoyed it very much, and I recommend pairing this cider with relaxing with your favorite animal companions and just quietly watching the world go by. Food wise, it goes well with a light and creamy pasta salad or some goat cheese and grapes.


Now, I want to rewind one last time to my trip to Grand Rapids this spring. While in Michigan, I judged for GLINTCAP, took my CCP Level 2 exam and volunteered for the Grand Rapids Cider Festival! It was a whirlwind trip. And one of the ciders I got taste at the Grand Rapids Cider Festival was Starcut Cider’s Pomace Cult. 

The name alone was intriguing, but once I saw that list of apples I had to try it. 

Starcut Ciders is  based in Bellaire, Michigan and was founded in 2014. 

I first reviewed Starcut Cider when I tried the Immortal Jelly: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/01/cider-review-starcut-immortal-jelly.html

More recently, I tasted Pulsar: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/04/cider-review-slyboro-cider-houses.html

You can learn more about Starcut Ciders at: http://starcutciders.com/

Here’s Starcut Cider’s Pomace Cult’s official description: 
Pomace Cult is a dry cider made with a blend of heritage apples. Made with Golden Russet, Brown Snout, Jonagold, Spitzenburg, Dabinett, Reine des Pommes, Yarlington Mill, Goldrush, Kingston Black, Reinette Zabergau, Calville Blanc, Roxbury Russet, Bramley’s Seedling, Harry Masters Jersey, Puget Spice, and Macoun apple varieties, this golden colored cider has an inviting aroma of tart fresh apples. Crisp and clean, this cider finishes dry with apple tartness. 7.7% ABV

Appearance: deep butternut color, hazy, bubbly

This cider brings such vibrant color to my glass. I’ll call the hue butternut squash. I couldn’t quite tell the clarity working with the cups we had at the festival, but I think it was just a bit hazy and bubbly.

Aromas: melon, apples, mild

Though the aromas aren’t strong, the Pomace Cult smells like freshly cut melon and apples.
Sweetness/dryness: Dry

This is a dry cider! I have no doubts about this. 

Flavors and drinking experience: astringent, high acid, bubbly

I had this cider after volunteering for a few fun and sunny hours, so I was ready for something with acidity and plenty of flavor. The Pomace Cult did not dissapoint. I wanted a cider that could wake up my mouth, and the super tart astringent cider did exactly that. I think my initial notes just said, “acid, like whoa!”

I would pair this cider with a hot soft pretzel and honey mustard or with an episode of Good Omens. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Cider Review: 2 Towns Ciderhouse Afton Field and James Creek Ciderhouse Harvest Moon


This is my last post before the Summer Solstice, and I can barely make sense of that idea! The weather doesn’t feel summery, and I am not ready to be headed toward longer nights and shorter days. Enough of my fretting though, the seasons circle around and the weather does what it will do. What I can muster is appreciation the lovely long spring we’ve had, and enthusiastic participation in the warm weather fun that I know is coming.

I’ve reviewed quite a few 2 Towns Ciders, but the Ciderhouse’s offerings are so different, I want to showcase the variety. 

Most recently, La Mûre knocked my socks off: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/02/cider-review-albemarle-ciderworks.html

Fighting winter vibes is easy with the Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy, a lemon and raspberry cider:
http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/12/cider-review-eden-ciders-siren-song-and.html

I loved The Cidre Bouche; it’s my favorite of anything they’ve made. It made my top 10 of 2017: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/11/cider-review-2-towns-ciderhouses-cidre.html

During Very Perry May last year I tried the Pearadise:
http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-2-towns-ciderhouses.html

I tried the Pineapple because I am enraptured by that fruit: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/02/cider-review-portland-cider-company.html

Speaking of enrapturing fruit, The rhubarb and hops of The Hop and Stalk was delicious: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/12/cider-review-2-towns-ciderhouse-hop-and.html

I reviewed the Bright Cider as part of a travel roundup: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/07/cider-review-roundup-common-cider-co.html

The  2 Towns Ciderhouse Website has tons more info about the company and all the ciders: https://2townsciderhouse.com/


Here’s 2 Towns Ciderhouse’s description for Afton Field.
AMERICAN FARMHOUSE CIDER~ Oregon grown crab and heirloom apples ~ ~ Fermented with wild yeast strains ~ ~ Aged in oak barrels ~  
Inspired by farmhouse ciders of the pioneer West, Afton Field is a testament to the tenacity of these settlers and their enduring orchards. Fresh-pressed, hand-picked Wickson crab, Newtown Pippin and other pioneer apple varieties are fermented, aged in oak barrels, and bottle conditioned with wild Brettanomyces yeast. Bone dry, unfiltered and uncompromising, this farmhouse cider is wild at heart and at home on the rustic table. 6.9% ABV

Appearance: Hazy, warm straw, no visible bubbles

This cider looks like a wild ferment! It’s cloudy, straw colored and shows no bubbles.

Aromas: Funky, barnyard, cheesy, musty, 

This wild cider is funky! I get mild hints of apple and citrus, but much more than that this cider smells of barnyard and farmhouse cheese. It’s a bit reductive and very tart smelling.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

This cider certainly is dry! The crab apple tartness and Brettanoyces sourness amp up the perception of dryness.

Flavors and drinking experience: oaky, lemon, bready, tart and astringent

The Afton Field tastes much fruitier than it smelled. To taste it, I got waves of lemon, ripe apple, and sourdough yeastiness. It’s a zesty astringent cider with acid going sky high. It’s very true to a sour farmhouse style. I had this with colleagues and fun snacks; it worked that way. 



Now for the James Creek Cider House Harvest Moon!

I’ve not reviewed anything by James Creek before, but I had the pleasure of meeting folks from there at CiderCon 2018. From North Carolina, James Creek Ciderhouse makes ciders from local farms from 125 miles or fewer of the home base. James Creek put in an on site orchard in 2009 with over 65 different apple varieties. I was given a bottle of the James Creek Harvest Moon Dry Cider back in 2018, so this review is long overdue.

Visit this Ciderhouse’s website https://jamescreekciderhouse.com/


Appearance: marigold yellow, very bubbly,  brilliant

Gushingly bubbly, I can see explosive sparkle action once I pour this cider. I’ll call the color marigold yellow. 

Aromas: Apple skins, apple pastry, mouth watering

The Harvest Moon smells like apple skins and apple pastry. Ooh this lush aroma makes my mouth water. Yeast smells can very so much, so when I get one that hits fruity and fresh like this, I get excited.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

This cider tastes dry as promised, but there’s a lot more going on there. 

Flavors and drinking experience: overripe apples, tangerine, tea, floral finish

I love how the Harvest Moon tastes likes overripe apples, tangerines, and tea. This cider brings lots of acid to the drinking experience. The Harvest Moon is refreshing and approachable with a  light body and plenty of fizz. I especially like the crab apple sharpness to the acid. The cider winds down gently with long floral finish.

I had this cider with a meal of chili lime sweet potato fries, brown bread topped with butter and radishes and some excellent Field Roast sausages. It was followed by game of Scrabble; sadly, I didn’t win. But the cider and the evening were both fantastic.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Perry Reviews: Haykin Family Cider's Harrow Pear and Le Pere Jules Poiré de Normandie


I know we just completed Very Perry May, but I had the unexpected good fortune to run into two deeply enjoyable perries in the last couple of weeks. I didn’t want to save these notes almost another year until May comes around again. So, I’m indulging myself with a double perry review. Perhaps I’m not the only one who can’t resist a special perry. And I love bringing two new producers into the blog in the same week!

I want to start with a perry I brought home from GLINTCAP. I got to share a meal with Talia and Daniel Haykin and run into them a few times in those busy days. This cidery and tasting room operates in Aurora, Colorado. We found our a few weeks later that Haykin Family Cider’s  Harrow Pear earned a Bronze in the Modern Perry category.


What I didn’t yet know when we met is that the Haykins and I share a love of bubbles! I was chuffed to see a more prominent mention of the importance of sparkle in their beverages. That’s not the only way I like my cider or perry, but I do love the fizzy ones!

Learn about all the fun stuff going on at Haykin Family Cider online: https://www.haykinfamilycider.com

Here’s the official description, “Harrow Pears are a Canadian variety that produce a lot of tannin when grown in Colorado. It ferments into a rich perry, with a lush and juice aroma, like a virtual bite of a ripe and melting pear on a warm day, like pear drop candy, lime and tonic water, offset by clay and minerality. Pears grown at Ela Family Farms.6.7% ABV”


Appearance: bubbly, warm straw color, brilliant 

Pours with a massive head, but the foam doesn’t stick around. Even so, it’s obvious how bubbly this cider is when you take a peek. It’s almost too bubbly to see that it’s brilliant, but I could tell after waiting a bit. The color is a warm straw.

Aromas: citrus, yogurt, stony, spicy

This perry smells exciting and dynamic. I can detect aroma notes including: yogurt, citrus, sharpness, and stones. The whole impression I get from this perry is a fun interplay of spicy, nutty ( particularly macadamia), and fruity.

Sweetness/Dryness: Sweet

This is a lovely sweet cider. The specific style of sweetness is burnt sugar, vanilla, and pear

Flavors and drinking experience: super bubbly, tart yet sweet, vanilla, tannic finish

The Harrow Pear tastes quite sweet with a soft vasilla first note, but that’s followed by plenty of tartness. The perry is just loaded with oodles and oodles of flavor!  I get some neat nutty/yogurty acids at the start and at last fascinating tannins coming only at the finish. As I hoped, the Harrow Pear is extremely bubbly.

After a few sips, I notice bits of burnt sugar blending with the spiciness. Drinking this perry is exceedingly interesting; it’s complex, thoughtful, and highly drinkable. My co-taster noticed that big sips are nice; just a little note of bitterness—this correlates with the dust and stony scents. What a charming perry; I’m so glad I got to try it!


And my other perry of the week is Le Pere Jules Poiré de Normandie Brut.

My introduction to perry included perries from Normandy right away; they have a reputation for reaching the apex of what’s deliciously possible for pears.

Le Pere Jules makes not only perry, but also cider and Calvados (apple brandy) and started doing so in 1919. It is still a family business, founded by Jules Desfrièches, now in its third generation with Thierry Desfrièches.

See the website in French or English here and learn more about Le Pere Jules: http://www.calvados-leperejules.com/

Here’s Poiré de Normandie’s Official description 

Our “Poiré”, or Pear Cider, is produced from three varieties of pears that come from multi centennial orchards.  It is known it’s the fresh and refined taste.  As with the cider, our Poiré is lightly filtered and  bottled to develop its fine natural gas.  It is excellent to drink with any sea food. 4%ABV”


Appearance: hazy, lemon curd, bubbly

This perry reminds me of homemade lemon curd in color. It’s hazy gentle gold just makes me think of citrus and cream. 

Aromas: farmyard, mineral, citrus

This perry’s aromas certainly remind me more of French and English perries than most American ones I’ve tastes. There’s some farmyard, citrus, and stony mineral smells going on (tiny hint of volatile acidity), but I expect it might taste fairly different from how it smells. 

Sweetness/dryness: off dry

This Brut Perry tastes off dry to semi-dry and very natural in its suggestions of sweetness. There’s far more to the whole experience than its level of sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: Bubbly, tart, pear skins

I love this perry’s beautiful bubbly texture. I was wowed by it immediately! There’s a high level of sharp and fruity tartness that wakes up the entire mouth. The Poiré de Normandie tastes minerally but somehow stays so fresh, floral, and fruity And I simply adore how the finish is warm pear skins. Perries sometimes do this magical thing where they allow me to taste what seems like the texture of a ripe yet firm pear. This perry allows me exactly that! 



Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Her Father's Cider Bar and 3 Windswept Orchard Ciders: Ida Red, Crimson Crisp and Golden Russet



I spent Memorial Day weekend in Toronto celebrating a birthday; This meant three amazing days, eating, walking, gawping at fish in the aquarium, and generally exploring this cool new city. No exploration is complete without checking out a new cider scene, and I was stoked to see what Toronto has to offer cider-wise. 

After a shockingly intense thunderstorm, we headed off to Her Father’s Cider Bar for dinner and cider. I’d heard about this particular spot for more than a year. When we arrived, I was instantly charmed by seeing how the world-class cider selection is stored and displayed. Looking at the menu only increased my excitement. The cider menu didn’t fit in a paragraph, or a column, or even a page. It was a book and a chalkboard. I knew we’d come to the best place in all of Toronto, and that was before we tried the chickpea fries!



You can see some lovely photos and check out the extensive menus online: https://www.herfathers.ca

I love how the ciders are divided into styles in the menu of bottled and canned ciders. That gives the drinker enough information to really hone in on a style they like and still try something unfamiliar. Plus the flags make identifying cidery location very simple too. Check out this cider by the glass page. It's positively swoon-worthy.


My cider co-pilot Woody had an adventurous flight of ciders with different additives and fermentation technique experiments, and I tried the Single Varietal Flight from Windswept Orchards. I love apple blends, but I am always curious to try a single varietal from an apple I've not tasted singly before and this flight had two: Ida Red and Crimson Crisp. And the one apple I did know from other single varietals is the Golden Russet which has contributed some fantastic ciders.

Windswept Orchard Ciders is a relatively young Ontario cidery: started in 2016. From what I read on the website; Windswept uses foraged fruits from abandoned orchards and has invested in the future with a young orchard on the farm.

Visit the cidery website to learn more and to peek at all the gorgeous labels: https://windsweptcider.com/


Ida Red

Here’s Windswept Orchard Cider’s official description:
Ida Red apples are known for their sweet aromas and zippy tart finish. Light, crisp and delicate, great on it's own as an aperitif. Crafted with 100% Ida Red apples from a single orchard overlooking the shores of Georgian Bay near Thornbury, Ontario. Bottle conditioned, contains lees. 7.4% 500ml 101 cases produced.
I found the Ida Red a bubbly dry, delicate cider. I loved it’s pear-apple aromas and clean fermentation. It brough an airy  light body and lots of bubbles to the experience. This is definitely one I’d like to seek out again. 

Next up was the Crimson Crisp: a GLINTCAP Silver Medalist

Here’s the official description for Crimson Crisp: 
A modern varietal with heirloom appeal, Crimson Crisp apples are rich, tart and full of flavour. Lush, vinous and textural. Crafted with 100% Crimson Crisp apples sourced from a single orchard and grown on the slope of the Niagara escarpment on Georgian Bay. Bottle conditioned, contains lees. 7.4% ABV 500ml 101 cases produced.
For me the Crimson Crisp smelled just like homemade apple sauce; it reminded me of ciders with a lot of Northern Spy. I like the super vivid apple aromas that make me think of the texture of ripe apples as much as the taste. When drinking, I found this cider a bit more yeasty and fermented. Something about it connoted cold though it’s serving temperature was the same as its compatriots.

I want to finish up with the Golden Russet, starting with its official description:
Rich, lively honey apple finish. Coveted amongst cidermakers, Golden Russet apples are known for their perfect balance of sweetness, acidity and tannin. Crafted from 100% Golden Russet apples grown in a single orchard overlooking the shores of Georgian Bay near Meaford, Ontario. Bottle conditioned, contains lees. 7.4% ABV 500ml 155 cases produced
Oh boy! This cider smells mature and farmy! The Golden Russet is the funky one of the flight! It was smart to put it last on the list, as it’s a build up to this wild and barny cider. The aromas remind me not only of barn wood but also a dry sherry. The tastes are very different from the cider’s smells. The Golden Russet tastes like pear and like a soft overripe apple. I love this one.

The food was absolutely as good as the cider, and I wouldn't trade the whole experience for anything. Toronto was a great place to visit and a fun place for cider. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Very Perry May with Windfall Orchards Perry and Champlain Orchards Cranberry Cider + GLINTCAP Results



How can it feel like summer so soon after cold nights and chilly mornings? We worried about apple blossoms so recently that it scarcely feels real to be mowing, weeding, and grilling already. This is the magic of May. Today marks my last official entry into 2019’s Very Perry May (though I do have a couple more interesting perries up my sleeve that I’ll be reviewing soon).

I was able to get a bottle from a very small run of perry from Windfall Orchards over the winter, so I’ve been waiting on break this open. This past week, I had the perfect opportunity when doing pescatarian hot pot with some dear friends.

Cornwall, Vermont is the home of Windfall Orchards.I’m not finding out a lot about this small cidery online, save that the company has been making cider, perry, and ice cider since 2009. Windfall Orachards grows a large number of apple and other fruit varieties on a small Vermont farm.

Visit the website to learn about the products Windfall Orchards makes: https://windfallorchardvt.com

The run was small, but the labelling makes clear that the perry is 9% ABV. Elsewhere online, I was able to see that the Farm House Perry uses 12 types of pear to create this perry.

Appearance: hazy, bubbly, warm straw

Like many American perries, the Farmhouse Perry has a mild warm straw color and just a hint of haze. I could see lots of bubbles in the glass when it was poured.

Aromas: pear flesh, dust, hay, flowers, salt
 
Windfall Orchards’ Farmhouse perry smells enticing and delicate at once. I get notes of pear flesh, dust, hay, Daffodils, and salt. I cannot quote predict what this perry will taste like based on such a range of aromas, and that’s exciting to me!

Sweetness/dryness: off dry

The Farmhouse Perry tastes off dry but only just. The sweetness that’s there is very directly like pear.

Flavors and drinking experience: burstingly bubbly, green tea, fresh pear, grippy

Oh wow! This is such a delightful perry. It’s bubbles are so plentiful and active that it splashes into your face when you are sniffing it. I love that this perry reminds me of delicate herbal notes like green tea and lemongrass while also tasting like fresh pears and a bit of squash.

This off dry Perry is high acid with medium tannins and a tiny bit of funk. I relish it’s delightful big fruit flavors. It’s most rewarding in large sips that show off it’s good grippy toothsome texture and fruity finish. This is a complete delight! I loved having this with hot pot too!

Champlain Orchards Cranberry  Cider



I want to stay with Vermont beverages this week and share my experience with Champlain Cranberry Semi-Dry. I’ve tasted a few ciders by Champlain Orchard but not nearly as many as I’d like based on how much I’ve enjoyed those I’ve tried. 

I reviewed (and loved) the Heirloom (it made it to my #5 favorite cider that year): http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/09/cider-review-champlain-orchards-cidery.html

I included Champlain Orchard’s Single-Varietal Honeycrisp Ice Cider Library Edition in a pairing dinner last year with dessert: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/09/my-dear-friend-el-just-had-birthday.html

My first encounter with Champlain Orchards was when I visited on the 2nd day of my Vermont cider trip: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-2.html

I recommend Champlain Cidery’s website to learn  more about all the different ciders Champlain Orchards makes: http://www.champlainorchardscidery.com

Champlain keeps the official description short and sweet, "Delicious and refreshing, our Apple Cranberry Hard Cider balances the sweetness of apples with the tartness of Vermont cranberries. ABV 5.6%"


Appearance: brilliant, true ruby, no visible bubbles

I love the look of many fruit ciders, and the Cranberry Semi-Dry is no exception. It’s too pretty to be sold in a can! I’d call the color true ruby and it appears brilliant.

Aromas: dusty, cranberries, almonds

Oooh! I can smell that dusty, mineral aroma that I find on lots of tannic ciders. This one also smells very directly of cranberries. The last note I get reminds me of granola with almonds.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry
This semi-dry cider needs both the dry and sweet elements to keep it well rounded and balanced. I’ll explain more below. 

Flavors and drinking experience: tart, astringent, good body, balanced

The Cranberry Semi-Dry tastes almost alarmingly tart, but because it’s semi-dry, the overall experience balanced out into pleasant tartness, sweetness, fruit, and astringence.  I apprecaite the heft to this cider’s body, the clean fermentation and the tannins from the cranberry. The whole drinking experience feels admirably balanced and hangs together nicely. 

I had the Cranberry Semi-Dry with black bean burritos and found it delightfully refreshing.  The cider has medium-rich mouthfeel and a good strong sparkle. I appreciate that it has just the right amount of sweetness—not so much that it loses interest.

This lovely cranberry cider also tastes more appealing when poured into a glass.  The cranberry in the can, without being aerated, tastes a bit more like juice. I know canning is totally practical, but when you can pour your cider into a class to access all of it’s delicious aromas!

And for those who have been following GLINTCAP, the full medal results are up! Check them out here: https://glintcap.org/