Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Cider Review: Shoal Hope Ciderworks' Empty Barrel & Tieton Cider Work's Cranberry Cider


Though we’re almost there, I feel a bit apprehensive about claiming that we’re surviving January. Perhaps that’s just the incoming snowstorm and Polar Vortex that have me waiting another week before claiming victory over this dark, cold month. I’m not saying January is all bad; it’s not. It’s just challenging if you enjoy light, comfort, or warmth. What I have enjoyed this month is cooking at home and pairing some great meals with some fantastic ciders.  

Let’s begin with a very seasonal cider from Shoal hopes Ciderworks. I was lucky enough to receive a sample of Empty Barrel for review last year. This Massachusetts cidery has a few different ciders, and I’m slowly trying them and sharing the results. 

I had the Cranberry Cider from this cidery last October: 

Here's the cider's official description, "EMPTY BARREL is fermented dry and aged in American craft whiskey barrels for up to 6 weeks.  The cider becomes infused with hints of traditional whisky flavors making EMPTY BARREL a great casual drink for whiskey lovers and traditional cider drinkers alike.6.4% ABV"


Appearance: Hazy, warm straw, almost no visible bubbles

This cider looks barrel aged. There’s something about that process that leaves many ciders a bit hazy, and the Empty Barrel is no exception here. I’ll call the color warm straw. It doesn’t show many bubbles, so I’m not sure how sparkling to expect this cider will be. 

Aromas Overripe apples, oats and caramel, petroleum

This cider has so many aromas. I got so many notes just as soon as I lowered my face to the glass. I could smell overripe apples, oats, caramel and then something more brusque and bracing like petroleum. The cider smells fruity, salty, sweaty, and above all barrely. I know I can expect both apples and barrel to come forward in this cider’s flavors.


Sweetness/dryness: off dry

While I am not confident in calling this cider completely dry, neither is it sem-dry. Instead, it comes across as off dry with lots of savory notes.

Flavors and drinking experience: medium acid, barrel tannins, stony, minerals

This is a cider for fans of the barrel. Yes, there’s apple but more so I can taste barrelly tannins and plenty of minerals. This is stony like wet gravel with medium acidity. There’s some briny notes as well. 

Thin mouthfeel has low to medium bubble intensity and some real lightness. One of my favorite things about the Empty Barrel is the nice gentle warmth on the finish that comes after a bracing first taste. There’s not a ton of fruit, everything that’s stony and mineral or woody and savory are more prominent. I had this cider with loaded macaroni and cheese and some intense Bananagrams (I keep losing, but it's getting closer). It also goes well with Johnny Cash and Deadwood. 


My second cider for this week is one from Tieton Cider Works that had been waiting in my fridge for entirely too long. I’m afraid that’s becoming a theme. I don’t get a lot of Western ciders, so I buy them where I can. That means that it’s sometimes a wee minute between finding the cider and getting to open it. 

Most recently, I tried the sparkling Perry as part of 2018’s Very Perry May: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-tieton-cider-works.html
This made my top 10 Ciders of 2018!

I tried the smoked pumpkin in 2015: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/10/cider-review-tieton-ciderworks-smoked.html

The Spice Route was a lovely and unusual blend of mulling or baking spices: 
http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/11/cider-review-tieton-ciderworks-spice.html

My first Tieton review, of their Yakima Hopped, has more of a company intro:
http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/07/cider-review-tieton-ciderworks-yakima.html

You can visit the website to learn more about the company: http://tietonciderworks.com

The Cranberry is one of Tieton’s Core ciders. 

Here’s the official description: “Racy and fresh, this cider is perfect for lovers of both sweet and tart. We blend fresh pressed cranberry juice into an already upbeat blend of fermented apples. Bold and bright on the palate with all the freshness of ripe, red, summer fruits.” 6.9% ABV


Appearance: maroon, brilliant, almost no bubbles

I love it when ciders give me an excuse to look up shade names for a color. This looks the most like maroon of any shades of red I could compare it to. It poured brilliant without much bubble action. It is a very appealing cider to look at.

Aromas: Cranberry juice, red fruits, white sugar, wine and apples 

This cider smells directly and immediately like cranberry juice. The notes are all red fruit with just a little white sugar in the background My tasting companion found the aromas wine like. There’s some apple aroma action, but it’s subtle. 

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet to semi-sweet

This is a juicy sweet cider! It doesn’t pretend to be anything else.
Flavors and drinking experience: cranberry, high acidity, cinnamon, apple, cherry

This cider tastes as cranberry as it smells! And since I’m a cranberry fiend, this totally works for me. There’s more going on though. The Cranberry cider offers up high acidity but not a lot of salivary reaction. I get some apple, just a little apple on the finish but not a lot. I taste almost as much of the suggestion of cinnamon as I do apple, and there’s no actual cinnamon in the cider. The cinnamon note happens sometimes in cranberry ciders and even more often in cherry ciders. Most of the notes I taste are all fruit but there are suggestions of dust and wheat at the start of a sip.

In terms of texture, I noticed a relatively relaxed low-intensity bubble, but it’s too much to call the cider petillant. This cider is pleasingly accessible to anyone who loves cranberry, but if that’s not a fruit you love—maybe this cider would be a little too cranberry. 

I think my favorite part of drinking the Cranberry Cider is that little kick of bitterness on the back of the tongue.  Clean fermentation—would maybe like a bit more flavor of that.  This cider is unambiguous and yummy.  The apple smoothes out the astringence of cranberries a bit, but crucially. It tastes like the fermented version of the cran-apple juice I drank in high school with my best friend in AP English.

I had this on a quiet night in with a super healthy black bean and veggie bowl. The cider made the meal because with so much healthiness, I craved something just a little sweet and indulgent. The Cranberry cider fit the bill perfectly.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Cider Review Whitewood Cider Company Bitterroot Valley McIntosh and Big Fish Cider Co.'s Allegheny Gold


My week was significantly impacted by winter weather, as folks were all over the country. I missed a dear friend’s wedding and spent most of the last 72 hours in my house. It’s not a long time to be snowed in, but I’ve lost four games of Bananagrams. What I’ll in favor of Winter Storm Harper, is that it gave me a great reason to bring out two very special ciders. I had high expectations for both of these ciders (which were shared with me for review) because I know the companies and have liked other ciders by them before. 

I’m starting with a single varietal cider from Whitewood Cider Company.

Whitewood Cider Company makes cider primarily in South Puget Sound, Washington. I still get  fewer chances to try west coast ciders than I’d like, so I am always excited to get one from a cidermaker I trust and respect. Not to forget, David White (Oldtimeydave), is giant in the cider world and a wonderful person. He’s the primary vision behind Whitewood Cider. 

I’ve reviewed a couple ciders from Whitewood before. 

I loved the Northland Traditional Blend in 2014(#8 of 2014): https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/01/cider-review-whitewood-cider-company.html

And the Olivia last spring: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/03/cider-review-whitewood-cider-cos-olivia.html

But the Whitewood Cider Company’s Kingston Black and Wickson Apple made my 2018 top ten list in the #4 spot: 

http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/09/my-dear-friend-el-just-had-birthday.html

Visit the company online at: http://whitewoodcider.com

Today I’m sharing my notes on the Bitterroot Valley McIntosh Single Varietal. This is how Whitewood describes it, “Mcintosh Cider Single Varietal Cider - 6.9% ABV fermented from McIntosh apples grown, harvested, and pressed in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. Strawberry and rhubarb on the nose, touch of toffee sweetness,followed by raspberry and tangerine acidity, finishes crisp and dry”


Appearance: warm sunrise amber, mousse, brilliant

This cider looks positively bewitching. It pours with a little mousse and lots of bubbly activiity. I'd call the color the warm glowing amber of a golden/orange sunrise, but I've not seen the sun in a while, so I could be misremembering. It's undeniably brilliant.

Aromas: Overripe apples, Dusty, sweet, spices

This is an inspiring set of aromas. My just went through the roof as soon as I caught wind of the luscious ovrripe apples that waft from the McIntosh. Yes there are other notes like baking spices, mineral dust, and fruity sweetness. But, for me, it has to be about those soft and blooming notes of overripe apples. 

Sweetness/Dryness: Semi-dry

This cider is semi-dry, meaning there is just enough sweetness to allow other flavors to have a full range of motion, but the McIntosh is not notably sweet.

Flavors and drinking experience: Balanced, bubbly, medium acidity, good body

The McIntosh tastes Semi dry and shockingly well balanced. I never expect or even ask balance of a single-varietal cider, but somehow this has it. It’s bubbly with medium rounded acidity, plenty of aroma, and loads of apple character. 

I love that this single varietal is so tastefully balanced. It doesn’t have biting acidity, but enough for the flavors to remain firm and crisp. I don’t get  much in the way of tannins, but it manages to have good body without them. The lovely cooked apple notes are decidedly pleasing and not at all harsh. The finish reminds me of juicy golden raisins. Mmm! I had this with poached salmon, honey butter carrots, and toothsome wheaty bread, and I loved every sip. 



And now for Big Fish Cider Company!

Big Fish Cider Company is a Virginia cidery with a significant number of awards to show for the line up of ciders. This small Monterey company sources local apples including many cider specific varietals and heritage apples grown by the folks who make the cider: Kirk Billingsly, Sarah Collins-Simmons, and Doyle Stone. The company has a tasting room which means you can go visit and taste the ciders yourself, or if Virginia is too much of a trek, Big Fish can now ship to 30 states in America.

Read more about the company on the web: https://www.bigfishcider.com/

Big Fish Highland Scrumpy was also a high ranking cider for me last year with the Highland Scrumpy taking 3rd place: 

http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/08/cider-review-angry-orchard-ciders.html

And the Church Hill Blush this past May:
http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-aeppeltreows-orchard.html

The Description for Allegheny Gold comes in a few parts, starting with, “Sparkling gold clear Semi-Dry cider featuring locally grown Arkansas Black, Ashmead’s Kernel, Gold Rush, and Jonagold apples, 8.2% abv.”

And the body of the description reads, 
Allegheny Gold is complex due to its slow, cold fermentation, which retains more of the cider’s fruity esters. While fruity, it is not sweet. A combination of brightness and true apple flavors makes this cider stand out among others. 
The additional sweetness in this full body cider gives a more well balanced profile to most people, with the sweetness offsetting the astringency. The tannins from the Arkansas Black and Ashmead’s Kernel apples give nice structure to this cider. On the nose there is a nice balanced fruitiness to this cider with the apple being the featured aroma. As you taste, you may notice notes of citrus, caramel, honey, pear and some minerality to this cider which is common for ciders made with Highland County fruit. A truly wonderful cider for those that enjoy the fruitiness that is accented by the slightly higher residual sweetness. 
Allegheny Gold goes with a wide variety of dishes but particularly spicy dishes, such as asian or Tex-Mex, also with white sauces such as Alfredo or Carbonara.

Appearance: Bright gold, brilliant, bubbly

This cider looks like a bubbly party in the glass. The sparkle action is intense! The color looks to me like bright gold and it's brilliant.

Aromas: Ripe apples, intense, caramel, oaty

Oh my goodness, the intensity of this aroma is arresting! I got amazing whiffs of big ripe apples just as soon as I opened the bottle It didn’t even wait to be poured. But fruit was just the start to this parade of enticing notes.

I could smell Golden raisins, carrots, and caramel soon after lifting my glass. All of that was followed by a gentle roll of toasted oats. I’ve rarely smelled a cider that speaks so clearly before I take my first sip. Wow!

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

Though sweetness isn’t the primary language of this cider, there’s enough there to notice. I’ll call it a semi-dry. It supports the fruity characteristics of the cider and isn’t ostentatious.

Flavors and drinking experience: Rounded acidity, strong bubble, apple, tangerine

For a bubble lover like me, this cider is like turning on the radio to hear a DJ playing my favorite song. I just have to dance whether I’m in my kitchen, car, or an aisle in the grocery store. The Allegheny Gold has a strong and irresistible sparkle.  

This Virginia cider promised me many things with it’s delightful aromas, and I’m happy to say that it delivered magnificently. I love the rounded acidity; it’s enough to be lively but not austere or pointed. The primary fruit note is ripe apple, but there’s plenty of tangerine and pineapple along for the ride. What a fun cider! 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Cider Review Aeppeltreow Sparrow Spiced Cider and B. Nektar's Cranberry Orange Zest



Winter is going to last a long time. There’s no need to look at the 10 day forecast because it’s all going to vary between cold and very cold. I need to learn to relax into the season, because there are many things about Winter to love. I just need to remember what they are, and I want to share two enticing and richly flavored ciders this week to help me. 

The first is Sparrow Spiced by AeppelTreow.

Aeppeltreow is a Wisconsin cidery, winery, and distillery run by Charles and Milissa McGonegal, founded in 2001. Aeppeltreow partners with Brightonwoods Orchard. More than 200 apple and pear cultivars are grown at Brightonwoods, giving Aeppeltreow access to a rich palette of apples from which to create different cider blends. Charles was kind enough to give me this sample at GLINTCAP this past year.

I’ve enjoyed many different Aeppeltreow ciders. Find the links below.

One of my favorite perries ever, the Orchard Oriole Perry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-aeppeltreows-orchard.html 

For bubble lovers, the Appley Brut: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/09/cider-review-appeltreow-winerys-appley.html 

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 

Barnswallow Draft Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/03/cider-review-appeltreow-barnswallow.html 

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

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

You can read about many of the ciders, fruit wines, and spirits on the AeppelTreow website: http://aeppeltreow.com/ and also now http://appletrue.com

On to the Sparrow Spiced cider

The official description keeps it short and sweet, “Seasonal cider infused with our custom spice blend. Mace, two cinnamons, and more. Pre-mulled, as it were.” 5.5% ABV


Appearance: brilliant, fine bubbles, antique gold

I know using gold as a color descriptor is almost a cheat, but the color of this cider really does remind me of gently patina-ed antique gold. 

Aromas: clove, nutmeg, mace, cooked apples, and cinnamon

This smells so rich and spicy! I can tell that there’s apple in the mix, but I do smell spices in the foreground. Aroma notes include clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and mace. There’s also something else going on in the aroma that reminds me of nuts or olive oil.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

This cider is semi-sweet! It needs to be because of the intensity of the spices.

Flavors and drinking experience: medium acidity, lots of spices, cooked apples

The Sparrow Spiced Cider offers up a tidy balanced drink with a strong foundation. That foundation is the counterbalance between medium acid, some sweetness, and mild astringence from lots of classic mulling spices. These characteristics all work together along with the notes of cooked apples to create a tantalizing cider. It’s warming and rich. The bubbles are present but not overpowering. 

I enjoyed this cider with an episode of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and some popcorn. And I heartily recommend the experience.


Next up: B. Nektar's Cranberry Orange Zest!




I know I’ve tasted several B. Nektar ciders and a few meads before, but none have ever made it into the blog before. I apologize for the omission because B. Nektar makes really adventous beverages: beers, ciders, and meads. The company was founded in 2006 in Michigan by Kerri and Brad Dahlhofer and Paul Zimmerman. 

Visit the meadery and cidery online: http://www.bnektar.com

I apologize for not having the company’s official description on this one. It’s my fault because the review notes have waited way too long. What my online searches turned up is that this is a semi-sweet cider blended with cranberry juice and orange zest. 6% ABV.

Appearance: deep tawny copper, hazy, bubbly

This  Cranberry Orange Zest pours with a bit of bubble that doesn’t stick around long. Looking at pictures of different batches online, the color has varied some, but mine was a deep tawny color somewhere copper meets red. It’s a very pretty cider. 

Aromas: Yeast tart berries and mustard, with a cold funk

Whoa, what interesting aromas. I can definitely smell yeast and tart berries, but that’s not all. The Cranberry orange zest seems to almost include mustard seed note and a hint of funkiness. This smells wild!

Sweetness/Dryness: Semi-Dry/Semi-Sweet 

This cider is right on the line where semi-dry meets semi-sweet. It’s a fruity sweetness balanced nicely by cranberry tartness, but more about that later. I do think it’s probably much sweeter than it perceives as because it is both very bubbly and very high acid.

Flavors and drinking experience: cranberry, high acid, bitter, orange zest, funk

The most forward taste in this cider is the cranberry, in all its bitter tartness. I do get the orange zest in a final note that adds to the puckering tartness. I tastes the sort of mild fruity bitterness that I associate with cranberry but low tannins.  It is semi-sweet but never with a moment of pure sweetness. 

In terms of texture and mouthfeel, the Cranberry Orange Zest is heavily sparkling, perhaps to the degree that it overwhelms the gently rustic funk (which can be smelled but only weakly tasted). This cider seems like an orange zest cider that was then mixed with straight cranberry juice. The apple flavors are there but never featured over cranberry or orange. The whole cider tastes bright, but gets darkly interestingly acidic and closes in the end at the back of the throat. I find it really quite nice and different.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Cider Review: Eden Specialty Ciders' Ezekiel and Rootstock Ciderworks' Legend



Winter isn’t my favorite season, so I tend to pamper myself with some extra special ciders this time of year. Because I’m a seasonal cider fan, I’ve thought a fair bit about what makes a cider nice for this time of year or that. In the first throes of Winter, I like a cider with some body to it. That helps with food pairing and it helps have mouthfeel and substance when cozying in of an evening. 

Today I'm starting my reviews with Ezekiel by Eden Specialty Ciders. This is part of their Cellar Series lineup. I have reviewed a few Eden ciders before.  


Most recently I tried the Eden Heritage Cider in a can: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/06/cider-cans-crush-it-eden-heritage-and.html

My favourite cider of 2017 was the Imperial 11 Degree Rose: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/03/the-january-2017-cidrbox-and-edens.html

I enjoyed the Sparkling Dry in 2015: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/06/cider-review-eden-sparkling-dry-cider.html

And in 2016 I made the Sparkling Dry part of my Thanksgiving and Birthday celebrations: 
http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/11/pick-cider-for-thanksgiving-and-my.html

http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/11/happy-to-pickcider-for-thanksgiving.html

Visit Eden Speciality Cider online to learn about all of the ciders: https://www.edenciders.com/

Now to Eden's Ezekiel. The official description of this limited edition cider reads: 

"100% Kingston Black apples: Rare apples, pressed at harvest, carefully fermented and bottle-conditioned with our ice cider to produce a cider that is exquisitely delicious and unique. Winner: GLINTCAP Silver" 8% ABV.


Appearance: Hazy, few visible bubbles, goldenrod

This hazy cider offers up deep goldenrod color. Each glass poured with a different amount of clarity and showed some settling in the glass. I couldn’t see very many bubbles.

Aromas: leather, tea, cooked apples and peaches.

The Ezekiel smells like leather and cooked apples. It had more fruity and herbal notes though like a spicy black tea or warm peaches.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

This is a tannic, high acid, dry cider. Wowzas!

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, tannic finish, good body

I am never sure of what to expect from a single varietal cider. They often aren’t balanced. The Ezekiel has a lot to recommend it. I adore the immediacy and strength of acid I tasted. It’s not just powerful, it’s pleasurable rather than thin or too sharp. It’s almost as if there are multiple types of acid playing in concert here rather than one note being played loudly.

I definitely get some tannins from the Ezekiel, and they feel stronger on the finish. I can detect subtle and grainy wild rice notes too. The cider provokes a strong salivary reaction.
It’s dry but intensely flavorful and filled with juicy stone fruits. The body on this cider is firm and substantial, perfect for winter. I had mine with a savory rich cornbread casserole, and it was heavenly.


Rootstock Ciderworks Legend Barrel Aged

Rootstock is a Rochester-area cidery, based in a Williamson, New York orchard. The orchard is currently worked by three generations of the DeFisher family. The Legend is a premium cider available only in a limited run. 

I’ve reviewed a few Rootstock Ciders.

I reviewed the Rose this past summer: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/07/cider-review-shacksbury-dorset-and.html

Not much later, I included the Belgium when rounding up canned ciders: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/06/cider-cans-crush-it-rootstock.html

Rootstock Ciderworks first showed up on the blog with the Hopped Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/10/cider-review-rootstock-ciderworks.html

Here’s the official description of the Legend Barrel-Aged, "Rich golden color and soft tannin—full of robust apple and vanilla flavors accompanied by the subtle aroma of oak, leather and hints of black pepper. Made from heirloom variety apples and aged for over a year in French and American oak barrels. 7.6% Alc/Vol – 0.5% RS"

It has won silver at two of the most prestigious cider competitions, Bath & West International Cider Competition 2017 and Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition (GLINTCAP) 2017. I love that the description lists not only the ABV but also the residual sugar. Factual information really helps contextualize a cider, now if only we knew more about the heirloom apple varieties!

You can learn about Rootstock Ciderworks on the company website: https://rootstockciderworks.com/


Appearance: bright gold, brilliant, bubbly

This is going to be a sparkling cider! It pours with a light mousse that doesn’t stick around. I’d call the color bright gold with beautiful brilliant clarity.

Aromas: vanilla, toasted crumbs, pear, smoke


This cider some big emphatic barrel characteristics to the aromas. I can smell vanilla, toasted breadcrumbs, smoke, butter, caramel and pear. 

Sweetness/Dryness: Semi-dry 

This cider has some sweetness, but it needs it to smooth out both the emphatic barrel qualities and the acidity. Keep reading for the full picture.

Flavors and drinking experience: Barrel, acidity, butter, apple

As I suspected from the aroma, the barrel has the first word here. I can taste lots and lots of barrel, in flavor it comes across as oak and butter. These notes do not drown out the apple thankfully! I can taste mellow cooked apple very pleasantly on the midpalate. Other flavors include citrus, ginger, and vanilla.


The Legend is undeniably High acid but the acidity is not pointed. This cider offers up loads of body and bubble! This is a fun one! Overall, it’s fruity and barrel-icious! 



Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Cider Review: Redbyrd Orchard Cider's Andromeda Crab and Original Sin Cider's McIntosh Unfiltered



We’re at the start of a whole new year. I hope that cider folks enjoyed their New Year’s celebrations. I know I enjoyed sharing a couple of lovely ciders with friends in the last hours of 2018. Hopefully, 2019 will bring even more tasty adventures. 

I’m so excited to start this year of reviews with something special I’ve been cellaring from Redbyrd Orchard Cider! This is a small orchard-based cidery that focuses on using heritage, European, and crab apples to make dry exciting ciders. The Redbyrd Orchard is grown using  biodynamic farming methods. 

I’m very fond of Redbyrd Orchard Ciders, so I’ve posted a fair number of reviews. Here’s the list:

The North Star:  https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/01/cider-review-redbyrd-orchard-ciders.html

The Starblossom http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/10/finger-lakes-cider-week-special-review.html 

The Dry Harvest Cider 2013: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/12/cider-review-reddbyrd-2013-harvest-cider.html 

The Wild Pippin (my #1 cider of 2014, the Wild Pippin): http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/12/cider-review-redbyrd-orchard-ciders.html

But I’m ready to share my thoughts on the Andromeda Crab!

The cider’s official description give some great information.
A nose of ripe strawberry, lemon peel, and waxy bittersweet apple notes. Finishes with lingering tannins and velvety texture. Andromeda. It’s the closest galaxy to ours and the brightest is the heavens- the most distant thing you can see with the naked eye. The way we think about Andromeda is the way we feel about the crab apples in this cider: they are amazing! We hope you’ll open this bottle of cider and spend an evening sky gazing and contemplating the wonders of the universe. 80 cases produced
And the label lets us know in amazing detail the apples that go into this cider: “38% aromatic crabs (Manchurian, Dolgo, and Wickson), 50% bittersweets (Dabinett, Domaines, Sweet Coppin, Binet Rouge, Medaille d’Or, Michelin, Yarlington Mill, Harry Masters Jersey), 12% heirlooms (Tompkins King, Sweet 16, Spigold, Northern Spy).”


Appearance: brilliant, warm straw, fine bubbles

This is a very attractive cider with pleasing brilliance and tiny bubbles. The color is a warm straw.

Aromas: mushy apples, golden raisins, plums

These aromas were all sweeter and fruitier than I expected based on the other crab apple ciders from Redbyrd Orchard Cider. I could smell cooked apples, plump golden raisins, and ripe plums.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

This is definitely a dry cider with tons of acidity and loads of tannin, but the flavors include so much more. This cider surprised me a little, given the sweetness of the aroma notes.

Flavors and drinking experience: grippy tannins, high acid, citrus

Yum! The Andromeda Crab is very high acid with notably grippy tannins. Ihe cider tastes  juicy, but that’s almost a background to the salivary action-inducing tartness. This cider delivers lots of flavor. It’s dry but not understated. 

This cleanly fermented cider presents no funk, but straight up crabapple zinginess. I get notes of golden white flavors, candied orange peel, lemon, and ginger. The taste unfolds over time with a sense of ongoing blooming. The finish lingers and tantalizes.  The tannins have a strong effect on how the overall balance. The texture sparkles with fine bubbles. 

I had the Andromeda Crab with family and a holiday meal. It made for an extremely pleasant and very flavorful accompaniment to roast broccoli, mashed potatoes, maple butter carrots, broiled tomatoes, all slathered with Bearnaise sauce. The acidity was necessary for this rich meal and the two supported one another amazingly well.


Original Sin McIntosh Unfiltered


For lots of cider makers, the single varietal cider is a major goal. These ciders are difficult to do well. Most apples do not have all of the characteristics necessary to ferment into a balanced beverage on their own and instead the blend is how a cider has enough aroma, acid, sweetness, and tannin. And yet the desire remains, and I’m excited to try the new Single Varietal  lineup from Original Sin.

Original Sin has been around making ciders since 1999. The company is based out of New York City but many of the apples are grown in Hudson Valley, the Finger Lakes region or other more apple dense areas.  

You can visit the Original Sin website to learn about all of the ciders Original Sin makes: http://origsin.com

Here's my list of previous Original Sin  reviews.

Most recently, I included the pear cider in my Very Perry May series: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/05/very-perry-may-pt-5-e-z-orchards.html

I sampled the flagship cider in one of Ithaca's most missed bars, the Chapterhouse Pub: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/02/cider-review-original-sin-hard-ciders.html

In 2013, I reviewed the Elderberry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/09/cider-review-original-sin-elderberry.html

And more recently, the Original Sin Extra Dry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/02/cider-review-original-sin-extra-dry-in.html

And a previous single-varietal release, the Newtown Pippin: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/02/cider-review-newtown-pippin.html

Here an introduction to the whole line of single variety ciders. 
The single varietal ciders boast unique flavor profiles of their respective apples, the Fuji, the McIntosh, the Golden Russet, and the beloved Northern Spy. 
Each of the chosen apples has an entrenched history of being grow in the Finger Lakes and Hudson Valley regions of upstate New York affirming Original Sin’s commitment to source local products and promote New York’s agriculture.  
New York is the second-largest apple producing state and boasts the most diverse selection of apple varieties in the country. This diversity has only grown in recent years as growth in the U.S. cider industry has propelled a resurgence in American apple culture.  
The first of the new series is Original Sin McIntosh Unfiltered Cider.



Appearance: cloudy and sunny yellow

This indeed looks unfiltered. I poured it from the can into a clear glass so I could see just how cloudy it is. As the picture shows, it’s cloudy and a sunny yellow.

Aromas: Fresh apple, mint, lemon, grain

The McIntosh smells so very fruity, fresh and herbal. I get notes of fresh apple, mint, lemon, and clean grain.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-sweet

As with most Original Sin ciders, the McIntosh is semi-sweet. The sweetness tastes extremely appley and natural. This will be a hit.

Flavors and drinking experience: unfermented apple, baking spices, well balanced

The semi-sweet niceness of the McIntosh shocked me because from the first sip, this is a very well balanced cider. I do not associate balance with a single-varietal, yet this absolutely has it. It’s also very very apple. I think the first phrase I uttered after a sip was the barely coherent, “Ultimate fruit directness.”

The McIntosh is enticingly sessionable. It hits the tongue with a perfectly pitched acid, and something about the flavors just brings the texture of crisp apple flesh to mind! There are other flavor notes like baking spice and citrus. This won’t be the cider for everyone, but it’s just so fresh and balanced. I was planning on having mine with veggie chili, but it was all gone before the chili was ready. Oops!