Monday, September 9, 2019

Cider Review: Thornapple Brewing's Rough Cut and Citizen Cider's Northern Spy, plus FLX Cider Week!

Fall is creeping in the mornings and evenings. I have dear ones holding on to each last summer tomato and sunny day, while others can’t wait to enjoy crisp autumn delights. I can see both sides of this debate, but I’m ready for Fall. I love colorful falling leaves, nighttime fires, and the harvest moon. I don’t care if it’s cheesy or basic. Fall is the greatest season, and it brings Finger Lakes Cider Week! Check the link to read more:

I’ll be participating in a few activities this year including September 26th a night of Cider and Apple education and tasting at Coltivare ( with a few of my local orchardist and cider maker friends. Stay tuned for ticket link. And on September 28th, I’ll  be doing an interview for a book launch event for The Cider Revival by Jason Wilson at Buffalo St. Books (

But now for 2 canned cider reviews for the week, starting with Rough Cut by Thornapple Brewing. 

I picked up this can when I was at GLINTCAP this year, and I’ve been so curious about it. Reading a bit about Thornapple Brewing reveals that the company has a brewpub in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The founders Jeff Coffey and Eric Fouch make cider, wine, beer, and spirits all of which are served with food at the brewpub. This is the first appearance of anything by Thornapple on the blog.

Read more about everything going on at Thornapple on the web:

Thornapple Cider’s Rough Cut

I was confused for the longest time about the name of this cider  because of the hand written style on the can. 

Here’s the official description, “Dry hopped cider. 7% ABV.” But I didn’t have the website up when I cracked the cider, so I was going in with no info at all.

Appearance: cloudy, marigold

The Rough Cut looks opaque and orange yellow. The color reminds me of marigolds. I can see some bubbles on the sides of the glass.

Aromas: Hopped! 

I say “Hopped!” because this was a total surprise. I didn’t see info on the can that gave me any expectation of hops. This cider smells like pear, mint, hops, and apples.

Sweetness/dryness: off dry
The Rough Cut is more dry than sweet, but it’s not bone dry. It has enough sweetness to bring out it’s fruit character. 

Flavors and drinking experience: aquatic, mild, bubbly, buttery

I really like the Rough Cut as a hopped cider, however surprised I was at first. Though one edge of this cider come across as a little bitter, perhaps this is where this is where the name comes from. Overall, the Rough Cut tastes buttery, smooth, mild, and somehow aquatic. I love that the Rough Cut offers up lots and lots of bubbles

I had this cider with homemade pesto pizza, and there are few things that go better with a hopped cider than either a pesto sauce or a hearty slice (or two) or pizza. 

Next up, it’s Northern Spy by Citizen Cider!

Citizen Cider comes from Burlington, Vermont. The company has grown a great amount in not too many years, and I can now buy many Citizen Ciders here in Ithaca. I found this one at Finger Lakes Beverage Center and picked it up for a work picnic! 

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

Wit’s Up:

Sur Lies:


The Wood:

Companion Sour Cherry:

Barrel Aged:

Citizen Cider bRosé:

I visited Citizen Cider in Burlington back in 2016:

Visit Citizen Cider online to see more:

Here’s the official description for this cider.

Made with Northern Spy apples alone, this single varietal cider is indubitably a showcase of one proud apple. Bright and acidic with a touch of sweetness and loads of character, the Northern Spy is an exceptional addition to your personal reserve. 6.4% ABV.

Appearance: hazy, glowing, lemon ice

This color reminds of a lemon ice that’s frosty and tart. It’s a pale and hazy cider with so very many bubbles. 

Aromas: apple, sweet potato, minerals

This cider smells quite appley, but with notes of sweet potato and pumpkin as well. The vegetal notes remain present but do not blend with the minerality I’m getting from the Northern Spy. I think in a can most of these aromas would not come through strongly.

Sweetness/dryness: Off-dry

This cider brings only the minimum of sweetness, and I’m grateful for it’s restraint. 

Flavors and drinking experience: medium high acidity, low tannins, apple and blackberry

The Citizen Cider Northern Spy smelled good, but it tastes fantastic. I like how round and bubbly this cider feels. I love an off dry cider, and this one is brimming over with apple and blackberry notes. I also get some bright bitter notes. The flavor comes across well in big sips. It tastes more like fermented fruit than fresh. The Northern Spy has medium high acidity and medium low tannins but some. I get some bitterness up front that remains consistent even as sweetness and brightness changes.

I had this cider with tasty summer salads, a veggie dog, and Peach Melba cake. I recommend it with all of these, but most of all with a loaded veggie dog and a good view. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Cider Reviews: 1911 Hard Cider New England Style Hopped IPC and Kekionga Cider Company Hop

This week, I’m sharing notes on two very different hopped ciders. Some folks don’t care for hopped ciders for reasons of either tradition or taste, but I enjoy them tremendously. Also, we are headed towards  Cider Week Finger Lakes fast and furious!

Check out all the events and participants here:

I'm participating in a few events this year, but 

I’m starting with 1911 New England Syle IPC Hopped Cider. I picked this can up when I visited their tasting room early in the summer.

1911 Cider and Distillery operates in LaFayette, New York and supplies many varieties of cider throughout the region and beyond. The fermentations are consistently clean, and the cidery presses local fruit to craft well-balanced, approachable, sessionable ciders in an ever-growing variety of flavors. 

 Find out more online:

 1911’s Facebook page is updated regularly:

 I have just a few previous reviews of 1911 ciders, but here they are. Keep watching the blog for more 1911 in the coming months!

Most recently I reviewed the Tropical:

Somerset Original Cider:

Founders’s Reserve Hopped:

On to 1911’s New England Style IPC Hopped Cider. Here’s the official description: 

1911 New England Style I.P.C. is a supremely aromatic sparkling cider made with NY State apples and hops. Harvested from Hop Haven in Skaneateles, NY, we use only the finest Cascade, Nugget and Chinook hops, for a bold and juicy flavor profile. 6.9% ABV

Appearance: cloudy, apricot, few visible bubbles

The appearance is part of what gives the cider it’s name. One of the salient features of New England Style IPA (or IPC in this case) is the unfiltered turbidity of the beverage. This cider is quite cloudy; I’ll even call it fully opaque. The color reminds me of dried apricots.

Aromas: juicy apple, pine, pear, pineapple, hoppy

This cider smells extremely juicy with notes of fresh apple everywhere! That’s not all I get from the aroma though, it’s also piney with splashes of pineapple and pear. I get plenty of hop characteristics as well. They include more notes of spruce or clean sweat than citrus. 

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-sweet

This cider tasted semi-sweet to me and my tasting companion. We were surprised by this because of the graphic we found to indicate sweetness on the can and the website. The graphic was set up with a numeric scale of 1-6, marking this cider as a 1. I’m guessing 1 is meant to be the drier end with 6 the sweetest, but on that scale I’d give it a 3 to 4. I expect my perceptions to be shifted a little dryer than most, but I’d not call this a dry cider. 

Flavors and drinking experience: juicy, fruity, lush, apple and citrus

The IPC tastes so very juicy; it’s semi sweet bursting with crisp wet apple and citrus. I find it lush and soft. It’s not quite as high acid as it could be to balance out some of that fruitiness, but I like that it’s profile is different than many NY ciders. The cider doesn't taste sweaty but is dewy, wet, and fresh. 

The fruit notes include lots of apple, apricot, and green grapes. It has no tannins, but it doesn’t need them. It’s going much more for fun than structured.  I paired with tomato basil risotto with spring peas and it was lovely and approachable. 

Next up, it’s Kekionga Cider Company Hop

For a bit of background on the cidery, Tyler Butcher and Logan Barger founded Kekiona Cider Company in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It is closely allied with Goeglein Mill where Kekionga now has a seasonal tasting room. Reading a bit more about the company and it’s flagship ciders: the Hop, the Crisp, and the old Bicorne, the company explores with culinary and heirloom varietals. The focus appears to be on approachability and sessionability. I got my can of theirs through a cider competition this year, and I’ve been waiting on just the right enthusiasm for a hopped cider to break it out. 

Visit the company online to read more:

Here’s how Kekionga Cider Company describes one of the flagship ciders, “Hop – Made with a unique blend of culinary and heirloom apples, Hop is then amplified with a variety of hops that are carefully selected to intensify the aroma and mouthfeel of an already great tasting cider. (Off-Dry) 6% ABV

Appearance: hazy, pale moon glow, few visible bubbles

Looking at my Hop in the glass, I can see a gentle glowy haze that makes the color remind me of the moon on summer nights. I don’t get a lot of visible bubbles when I pour the cider.

Aromas: Berries, pineapple, juicy and floral

The hop smells immediately like berry and fruit. Specifically, I get strawberry and pineapple, and tons of apple flesh. The smell overall is very wet and a bit floral. It is not distinctly hoppy. 

Dryness/sweetness: Semi-dry but close to semi-sweet

It’s right on that line between semi-dry and semi-sweet. I did expect it to be sweeter than it was because of what all I was getting in the aromas.

Flavors and drinking experience: pine, petillance, medium acid, fruity

When sitting down to taste the Hop, I got a few surprises. I did expect a more desserty cider based on how it smelled. What I taste instead starts with a little bit of pine and sweat in the hop action. It’s there, but it’s mild. The hoppyness comes through most in bigger sips. This cider has relatively low carbonation and medium acidity. My biggest surprise was that the Hop has a bit of tannin. These are shifts from the usual hopped cider profile, and they really work together well. This cider has its own identity.

As I keep drinking the Hop, it doubles down on fruitiness. All of the astringe occurs in the middle palate. Overall the cider tastes wet and cool; it comes across as aquatic. The Hop has a heavy languid mouthfeel. The whole experience feels both relaxed and sessionable. The fermentation is clean with no real flaws, and it drinks easy. I had mine with deluxe macaroni and cheese with bell peppers and local tomatoes added. The creaminess and vegetal notes played well with the mildly hopped cider. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Cider Review: Eve's Cidery Kingston Black 2017 and Stem Cider's Colorado Heritage Blend

We are barreling towards harvest time, the autumnal Equinox, and Cider Weeks all over the country. For us cider nerds, it’s almost show time! All that is to say that I’ve got some exciting news coming up, but I’m not quite ready to share it yet. Just keep watching this space! In the meantime, I wanted to treat myself this week. When things get busy, it’s tempting to just power through, but I think trying to do a lot is the perfect reason to slow down with a cider or two you have an extra good feeling about. That’s exactly what I’m sharing this week.

First up is Eve's Kingston Black 2017 single varietal. I loved sharing my thoughts on a delicious single varietal from only Kingston Black apples last week (thanks to Stormalong Ciders), so I looked through my cellar to see if I had any other single varietal ciders. That’s where I found another Kingston Black cider!

Eve’s Cidery operates in the small Finger Lakes community of Van Etten, New York. The cidery has been there since 2002 when the cider apple orchard was planted. Now, we can all taste the fruits of those early labors.

My previous reviews of Eve’s ciders and the cidery’s appearances at significant cider events are all shared below. I recommend checking out a few, just to see how consistently quality these ciders are!

Northern Spy:

Autumn’s Gold:

Beckhorn Hollow Dry:

Albee Hill Still and Dry:

Perry Pear:

Autumn led an Orchard Tour and picnic as part of Finger Lakes Cider Week back in 2016:

Darling Creek:

Cider Con:

You can read all about Eve’s Cidery on the website:

There’s a whole page about this particular cider, it’s well worth reading.

If you just need the short official description, “On the nose: melted sugar, apple crate and anise. In the mouth, rough-sawn wood and tobacco dissolving into chewiness. The finish has substantial weight and smells like Christmas spice cookies.

Now for Eve's Cidery Kingston Black 2017 Single Varietal. I purchased my bottle at the Ithaca Famer’s Market, which I use like a weekend local cider market.

Appearance: copper, bubbly,  variable clarity

It’s hard to say what the clarity is for this cider. Each glass pours differently from a brilliant first glass to a cloudy 4th glass. All of the glasses glow with an intensely dark shade of copper, and each is alive with bubbles. Everything about this suggests a dry tannic cider is waiting for me!

Aromas: overripe apples, leather, orange, tea, spice, wood

The Kingston Black smells mouthwatering. I get notes of overripe apples, leather, orange, and tea. There’s a bit of funk and yeast,  but more of the flavors remind me of fruits, spices, and mellow barn wood.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

The Kingston Black tastes dry. It does have a hint of flavors more often associated with sweetness but they waft by as suggestions and resemblances and not sweet in the cider’s essence. If you want to know what I did taste, keep reading.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, astringent, orange peel, almond

I love how the Kingston Black tastes. This cider is gently bitter and tart with high acid and high tannins. I find it notably dry throughout, but it’s not entirely without fruit character.  I taste orange peel, clove, and a bit of brown sugar. The whole experience is complex and rich; I find it  warm, but not hot. The cider has plenty of minerality but also umami that reminds me of  Almond and apple peel.

I shared this cider with dear friends and a simple meal of corn on the cob, tomato pie, and some amazing cheeses. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Next up: Stem Ciders’ Colorado Heritage Blend

Lafayette, Colorado is home to Stem Ciders. Eric Foster and Phil Kao began the company in 2013. To find more background on the company, here are all of my earlier reviews of Stem Ciders. Full disclosure, this was a sample shared with me for review.


Pear Apple:


You can find out all about the company online:

Here’s the official description for Stem Ciders’ Colorado Heritage Blend, “Made with a blend of local Dabinette and Winesap apples. ABV 7.7% Juicy, dry, clean, and light with a balanced acidity. Nice lingering soft tannins and a touch of grapefruit citrus without the bitterness. A quintessential hard apple cider.”

Appearance: day-lily yellow, super bubbly, hazy

This cider looks lovely in every glass we poured it in! The color reminds me of these late summer day lilies that I keep seeing all around town. It’s a mellow color that shows off all the bubbles present.

Aromas: cooked apple, dust, grain,

This cider smells just a little bit grainy and funky, but mostly I smell cooked apples. The scents remind me of homemade applesauce, warm on the stove. There are hints of dust and grain also. Based on these scents, I expect a super tart cider.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

This cider tastes even drier than I expected from the aroma! Its austere and cooling, perfect for a humid summer evening.

Flavors and drinking experience: fermented, briney, cooling
Those dusty notes in the Colorado Heritage Blend’s aroma indeed translate into high acidity and some degree of astringence. What I taste isn’t exactly what I smell though. I could smell a certain graininess, but that tastes a bit like yeast and corn. There’s some classic clean barn notes going on at the same time, and I didn’t expect those from the cider’s aromas. What I don’t know how to articulate is what makes the flavors feel cool and aquatic to me; it’s not watery but something decidedly connotes a certain chill. The cider’s finish reminds me of many UK ciders with some phenolic character that reminds me of leather and olives.

I had this one with a fish fry and broccoli slaw. I like the creamy veggie slaw with this austere and structured cider. This one could be enjoyed with a plethora of different food pairings and in any season!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Cider Reviews: Ninepin Light Cider Cucumber Lime and Stormalong Kingston Black

In thinking about cider in Summer, I feel like I’ve neglected a fairly obvious topic this year. I was reminded when I got to pick out cider for a company picnic. It was such a fun experiment to go to the local bottle (or in this case can) shop and look out for things I’ve not tried before. Cans were easy to portion out, easy to keep cold and I was able to bring more different ciders to the party than I would have been able to with 750ml bottles. I love treating cider like wine most of the time, but for a casual cookout in Summer can work amazingly well! I did get one of my sets of notes from this party, so thanks everybody! 

Ninepin Light Cider Cucumber Lime

Ninepin Ciderworks is based out of Albany, New York. This company has been making some really adventurous ciders, developing a great tasting room, growing the brand’s reach, and maintaining a super active calenar of events. I only wish I could make the trip up to Albany more regularly.  

Here are some of my previous reviews for Ninepin Ciderworks.

Gathering of the Farm Cideries (including the Cascara cider):

Peach Tea:



And the Signature cider:

Visit Nine Pin Ciderworks online to learn more about the ciders, the tasting room and the events:

Here’s the official description of the Light Cider Cucumber Lime. 
Light cider, historically referred to as ciderkin, was produced in great quantities in New York during the colonial period. Unlike cider, its boozy counter-part, light cider was made by taking the leftover pommace from the apple press and soaking it in water. Nine Pin’s Cucumber Lime Light Cider is a modern take on this historical New York beverage. Crafted with fresh pressed NY apples, this light cider is refreshing and flavorful, yet surprisingly low in calories. 4.3% ABV.

Appearance: deep saffron yellow, brilliant, few visible bubbles 

This cider started with a surprise! It's a much deeper color than I expected! When I hear light, I don’t think of that saffron hue. The cider is brilliant with few visible bubbles.

Aromas: Appley, aquatic, cucumber

This cider smells appley and aquatic. I am reminded of lazy lakeside evenings. There’s a vegetable that includes cucumber but also with hints of sugar snap pea. I don’t really smell much lime but there’s a clean freshness that could go with either lime or cucumber really.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

This is a semi-dry cider that puts up a small but Immediate hit of sweetness, but then dries out over the course of each sip. What’s in the sweetness is clean and fruity.

Flavors and drinking experience: cucumber, apple, easy drinking, medium acidity

The Cucumber Lime has a nice medium level of bubble. The cider goes from tasting very much like apple to cucumber. The finish includes only the lightest hints of lime. Unlike so many ciders from New York this one has medium acidity. There’s no real tannins to speak of. The whole experience is totally pleasant with clean fermentation.  The cider is very easy drinking!

I had mine with a veggie dog, potato chips, and Peach Melba cake. It was pure summer enjoyment.

Stormalong Cider’s Kingston Black

I received this review sample of the Kingston Black cider from Stormalong Cider’s Rare Apples line. Stormalong Ciders is based in Sherburn, Massachusetts, and they now have a second production facility in Leominster. The company has been around since 2014. 

Here are my previous reviews of Stormalong’s ciders. 

Legendary Dry:

Light of the Sun:

Mass Appeal:

Here’s the cider’s official description 
THE KINGSTON BLACK apple has garnered much praise and admiration from cider makers on these shores and beyond.  Originating in the UK, and very sparsely grown here in the United States, these apples possess the 3 ingredients known to make a well balanced cider: tannins, acidity, & sugar.  The skin of these apples glow a deep red color, thus the “black” in their name.  Our experience with these apples have been happy ones.  The freshly pressed juice has a distinct ruby color tasting sharp with a dense fruitiness.  Musky tannins abound.  This balance leads to a remarkable fermented cider.  These apples are notoriously fussy to grow, but from our perspective the results are worth the effort. 7.9% ABV 
SILVER MEDAL – GLINTCAP 2016 – English Cider Category

Appearance: brilliant, harvest moon, no visible bubbles

This cider’s color reminds me of the harvest moon that’s coming. I didn’t see much in the way of bubbles from this ciders, but that doesn’t mean it’s still. It is perfectly brilliant.

Aromas: applesauce, caramel, hazelnuts, cinnamon

Oh golly! What a set of aromas. The Kingston Black cider smells so much like applesauce, caramel, hazelnuts. There are notes or  snickerdoodles and cinnamon. The aromas remind me of Fall.

Dryness/sweetness: off dry

This is an off dry cider. It maintains plenty of fruit notes, but it has almost no sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: Tannic, high acid, medium body, fruity

I love that the Kingston Black has tannins, but that isn’t the surprise of this cider. What surprises me is that this is a single-varietal that tastes well balanced. I usually prefer blends. This cider has medium high acidity and just a little bit of astringence. The fruit flavors are not green fresh fruit notes, but instead it tastes more mellow and fermented. 

The Kingston Black stays off dry from the first taste across the palate; and it ends with a lingering and gently aromatic finish. It combines overripe apple, sweet orange, and baking spice notes.  I find every note of it’s mature fruitiness tantalizing. The cider has good strong sparkle and medium body.

I had this cider with a simple popcorn snack and good company. This cider doesn’t need anything more. I love it. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Cider Review: Anxo Cidre Blanc & Aaron Burr's Homestead Locational Cider Summitville

Last week I was complaining about the heat and lack of rain. I still want rain, and it’s plenty warm out there, but I don’t feel like complaining. I see the signs around us that indicate that Summer will end. It feels too early to start finding them, but the color of the leaves is a deeper denser darker green. I run into spiderwebs when I walk in the late evening or early morning. Tomatoes are starting to be ripe around here, as are so many of my other summer favorites. Folks are moving into new apartments and houses. I feel more grateful for summer than I did a week ago, perhaps because I can see that it will not last forever.  

Both of this week’s cider reviews come from the same evening. I helped a friend move into a new apartment. It was a sweaty, intense day, but we got her moved in. Then we celebrated with cider and pizza.  

Anxo (pronounced roughly like an-cho) is not just a cidery, it’s a restaurant and a taproom in Washington DC too. And it’s the brand that woke me up to the astronomical potential of cider collaborations a few years ago. The people behind Anxo, Sam Fitz, Rachel Fitz and Cooper Sheehan, started the foray into cider by working with host cideries to produce collaborative ciders before the group had the production facility Anxo now operates. 

This nimble creativity emblematizes how I think of Anxo. It’s not just one thing. I’ve judged cider with Sam, and I enjoy hearing him talk about the ciders he tastes. (Full disclosure, Sam got me this can when we were judging together this spring.) And I love hearing visitors to Anxo tell me about the food and cider they’ve tried there. So I have been really excited to have my first sip of anything by Anxo.  

You can learn more about the cidery and the restaurant here:

Official description page on the website:

I’ll pull this much from it, but there’s so much more to see including apple sourcing information (apples were grown in Pennsylvania and Virginia) and fermentation details. 
ABV 6.9%AROMA Peach, kiwi, pineapple, & white grape 
FLAVOR Bright acidity with a slight prickle of tannin, clean finish with hints of white grape and green apple. 
MOUTHFEEL Light bodied, crisp, & refreshing 

Appearance: lemon, cloudy, bubbly

This looks so refreshing! Something about it’s combination of cloudiness, bubbles, and cool lemon yellow just make me anticipate something extremely fresh, dry, and sharp. 

Aromas: farmy, yeasty, lemons

Ohh, this cider smells like its fermentation more than like fresh fruit. Mmm! I love that it smells bready (more sourdough than muffins), lemony, and farmy. 

Sweetness/Dryness: Dry!

The can is correct to call this a dry cider. It may have some fruit notes, particularly citrus, but this is a distinctly dry cider. 

Flavors and Drinking experience: Bubbly, citrus, astringent, high acid

I was not wrong to anticipate something dry and refreshing. This cider is both of those things. The Cidre Blanc tastes grainy and lemony with more bubble than I expect from a cider called petillant on the can. 

I enjoyed pairing this cider with pizza and relaxing, but I think it could be paired with lots of things. I’d pair it with grilled fish tacos and avocado slices next time! And someday, I want to drink Anxo cider while enjoying Pinxtos in DC at the restaurant!

Next up: My first Homestead Locational Cider by Aaron Burr: The Summitville 

If you care about artisanal cider in America, you’ve heard of Aaron Burr ciders. The cider is the labor of Andy Brennan in Wurtsboro, New York. The ciders are cult-classics in part because Andy has such passionate voice and challenging views on how to grow cider. I’ll just quote one sentence from the website and sent you to Andy’s book if you want to read more about his thoughts, “This focus is founded on the belief that early Americans drank history’s best cider.”  I’m sure that I don’t want to prioritize one time and one place as my holy grail of cider, but I won’t argue with the fact that Aaron Burr Cidery makes interesting ciders and has been for more than 14 years now.  

I only have one previous Aaron Burr Review, the Elderberry Apple:

Visit the website:

Read more about Andy Brennan’s book Uncultivated:

Summitville’s official description on the Aaron Burr website reads:

Summitville. Heavier liquid sediment with deep gold color. Aggressive bubbles, probably over carbonated but we’ll see. Maybe we’ll release it, maybe not. Nose is clean, maybe British. But tart. Starts tart but goes into sweet fruit. I detect grape notes—maybe concord?  Flashes of brightness come and go and tannin anchors the ending. Source: The slope up the east face of the central plateau, starting in the Hollow (Summitville) and going up to where it levels off. Very wooded area. 7.8% ABV

Appearance: hazy, copper, tiny bubbles

The Summitville looks more like an English farmhouse cider than many American ciders based on the haze and the rich coppery color. I can only see a few bubbles; those I see are quite small and stationary.

Aromas: overripe apples, minerals, dry soil

This cider smells like my garden right now, which is to say clean, dry, and powdery dirt with minerals. I also get lots of overripe apple character.  

Sweetness/Dryness: Dry

This is another dry cider. Its astringence and acidity enhance my perception of its dryness. 

Flavors and Drinking experience: soft tannins, mushy fruit, astringent

I agree with the description’s mention of the classic UK cider profile. The Summitville has many qualities in common with a funky, astringent, tannic UK cider. I enjoy the tannins and dryness that are part of this style, but I love that  it has firm acidity and plenty of bubbles too. The cider has a light body but finishes strong. 

This cider came after the pizza, so we paired it with putting our feet up after lots of work and watching a movie. I enjoyed it like that very much. I wouldn’t actually pair this with too complex a dish. The cider has enough going on in and of itself. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Cider Reviews: Portland Cider Co.'s Pineapple Rose and Melick's Hard Cider George's Tart Cherry

I don’t know about you, but when it’s hot I’m not as much fun. I don’t mean to say that I wilt and pout like the potted basil on my front stoop, but I’m not a fan of too much heat. When we have days and days of predicted rain but no actual drops, when the dewpoint rises dramatically, and when the last breeze skipped town last week, and the sun starts feeling more like a Deathstar rather than the source of life in our universe, I think that’s hard on everyone. And that’s the stage of summer we’ve reached. Luckily, cold bubbly fruity cider is here for us. And that’s exactly what I served up this past week. 

I started with Portland Cider Co.'s Pineapple Rose. This was a sample shared with me for review. My opinions remain my own.

Here are my previous reviews for Portland Cider Co. 

Most recently I tried the Cranberry:

Last fall, I tried the Pumpkin Spice:

My first Portland Cider Co. was the Kinda Dry:

Earlier in 2018, I saw a different take on Pineapple from this crew:

Check out Portland Cider Co.’s website to see what new releases are here:

Here’s the official description from Portland Cider Co., “Bursting with juicy, fresh pineapples, with a naturally pink hue from a splash of Northwest grown blueberries. Treat yourself with this fruity, tropical delight that will take your tastebuds to an island oasis.” 5.2%ABV.

Appearance: hazy, peach, tiny visible bubbles

I wasn’t surprised to see a slight haze to this cider. Lots of pineapple ciders retain a semi-transparent level of clarity. What did surprise me is that the color is barely pink, at least compared to lots of rose ciders that I see. I’d call this one peach. It’s lovely and gentle. The photo doesn’t show it ideally, but the cider was active with visible tiny bubbles.

Aromas: Pineapple, lush floral, apple, honey 

This cider smells like super ripe sticky pineapples. I can just imagine fresh pineapple texture so vividly when I smell this. That’s dominant, but in the background I get floral notes, apple, and honey.

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet

The Pineapple Rose cider is a sweet and fruity cider! It’s sweetest on the finish.

Flavors and drinking experience: tropical fruit, acid on the front, bubbly

The Pineapple Rose brings a super summer party with lots of tropical fruit flavors. I appreciate the nice high acid up front; it keeps the cider fresh but not isn’t pointed or challenging. I enjoy the strength of the bubbles. 

The Pineapple Rose benefits from its clean fermentation. Some ciders aren’t meant to be funky! This one is all about fruit and acid, with no astringence and no tannins. The Pineapple Rose does have a thick mouthfeel due to sweetness. 

After several sips, I can tell that the cider’s acid fades before the finish. There are some fun bakery characteristics that remind me of breakfasty sweets or muffins but the blueberry doesn’t really come through distinctly. I got just as many notes of roses, cherries, and strawberries as I do blueberry. I can say confidently that this is a summery cider! 

Melick’s Hard Cider George’s Tart Cherry

My next cider was brought to me by a visiting cider friend, Maria. I tried one Melick’s a few years ago, but I misplaced my notes, so the review never appeared. This feels a bit overdue for Melick's first appearance! 

I don’t know a ton about Melick’s Hard Cider. The company is based in Oldwick New Jersey. It appears to be related to a sister agriculture business Melick’s Town Farm. I see six different ciders and an apple wine on the website. What’s nice is that Melick’s lists all the places that carry the ciders.  

Visit the company online:

On to George’s Tart Cherry. I shared this with a friend because I have a terrible shortcoming when it comes to understanding cherry ciders, so when I review them I enlist help. 

Melick’s official description keeps it simple, “A sweet-tart cider made with Balaton and Montmorency cherry juices.” 6.7% ABV.

Appearance: Brilliant, brick red, subtly bubbly

This is a lovely cider to see. The color is deep with a fun brilliant shade that’s red with tints of deep orangey brick. I can see lots of itty bitty  bubbles rising in the cider. 

Aromas: Bing cherry, limestone, cinnamon, baked goods

This cider smells like the deep and dark bing cherries I remember from my childhood. It also smells like limestone, cinnamon, and baked goods. It’s luscious.

Sweetness/dryness: sweet

This cider is sweetly fruity, but there’s more to it than that.

Flavors and drinking experience: cherry, plum, tart, sweet

George’s Tart Cherry  indeed tastes sweet and tart! The cide offers up a very direct and natural cherry flavor. I find that it intensified as the flavor matures from initial sip to finish. I love that this cider is mildly astringent. 

Cherry isn’t the only fruit at play here. My tasting companion identified Santa Rosa plums as a flavor too. I think they’re correct. I also got little bit of yeasty baked goods and fresh cherry pie.
In each drink, the cider changes to tart from sweet; this makes it a more universally appealing and very summery indeed. I’ll probably never be a devoted cherry fan, in any of it’s forms, but this cider made a great impression with its complexity and balance. 

Good luck surviving these hot days. May a cool glass of cider chill and refresh you.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Cider Review: Grisamore Cider Works Flight

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been writing about enjoying cider in Summer. I drink cider year round (of course!) but I don’t make the same cider choices during different seasons. What I recommend today is tasting cider on the farm where it’s made. I love to visit cideries and orchards year round, but they are particularly lush and green right now. And you’ll beat the rush of folks will be flocking during Fall! 

When my dad came to visit this summer, I knew I wanted to take him to a cidery. I wanted to share my love of cider and get outside in the sunshine. Simon at Grisamore had invited me out do a tasting at the newly opened tasting room a while ago, so it had been on my list.  Luckily, we had a great weather day for it. 

Grisamore is a third generation family farm, a u-pick apple destination, and a new cidery in the Finger Lakes area of NY state. The farm has been in the family since 1975, and Grisamore Ciderworks has been operating for a few years now.  

Check out Grisamore’s website to learn about the cidermaking and orchards and check out lots of lovey pictures:

I have reviewed a couple Grisamore ciders before. Here are both of those in depth reviews.

The 24.4 squared:


The Grisamore Flight. I’ll start with Grisamore’s description, followed my impressions.

Alice: “An earthy nose with pungent green apple and allusions of peach.” ABV 7.5%.

I found the Alice very appealing with the Green tea notes in the aroma. This is a high acid, very dry cider. Probably it’s nicest feature is a delightful golden applesauce finish. I found the texture petillant.

24.4²: “An easy, clean drinking cider with tropical notes, aged on citra hops.” 7.6%ABV

Boy oh boy the 24.4²: smells and tastes hopped! I appreciate how remarkably Clean and non-sweaty this cider smells. The hops come across as pineapple and grapefruit. This cider similarly high acid and petillance to what I found in the Alice. This one offers a bit of dry plum at the end and pleasant hay notes

Blue Goose: “fresh minty green blueberry flavor on the palette with a clean sparkling finish.” 7.3% ABV

I didn’t know quite what to expect from the Blue Goose. What I got was luscious blueberry muffin aroma with some sweetness. This cider’s flavors reminded me of rhubarb, watermelon, and minerals. It also had notes of blueberry skins. This cider brings a medium level of bubble and just a little sweetness.

Respect Your Elders: “A semi-dry cider fermented on elderberries sourced from our pensioner bush.” 7.4% ABV

The Respect Your Elders had more subtle aromas than the ciders I tasted before. What I could smell was gently floral. What I taste is foxy and spicy with notes of grass and with poblano notes right upfront. This was a remarkable delight. 

Field of Your Choice: “A farmhouse cider with a golden straw glow. A sour cider with a clean dry finish.” 6.5% ABV

I thought Field of Your Choice would be more sour! Instead I smelled sweet fresh soft apple smells.The sourness is present but understated. This cider also varies in that it has more bubbles. There’s also something in the flavors that strikes me as grainy.

It was a fun flight. I like Grisamore Ciderworks’ stuff, and I love a reason to go out and look at a farm on a beautiful day. This is such a fun way to appreciate cider and enjoy Summer!

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: 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:

The Orchard Oriole Perry has to be one of my favorite perries ever: 

In 2015, I got to try the Appley Brut which brings the bubbles: 

The first time I had something pretty in pink from Aeppeltreow it was the Blackbird Berried Cider:

My favorite might still be the Kinglet Bitter: 

When I first moved to Ithaca, I got to try the Barnswallow Draft Cider: 

For Very Perry May 2017,I reviewed the Sparkling Perry:

At my friend El’smost recent  birthday dinner, I included the Americana:

Read about all the ciders, and the rest of the delicious lineup online:

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:

I reviewed the Prelude 3:

Then it became my #7 favorite cider in 2018

My Finger Lakes Cider pairing dinner in September of 2017 included one:

I chose South Hill Cider’s Stone Fence Farm as my favorite cider of 2016:

In 2016, I tasted the 2014 Packbasket:

And my very first South Hill Cider review was the hyper-limited release Hypothesis:

You can visit South Hill Cider online to learn more and follow the progress on current projects:

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.