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:

The Starblossom 

The Dry Harvest Cider 2013: 

The Wild Pippin (my #1 cider of 2014, the Wild Pippin):

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:

Here's my list of previous Original Sin  reviews.

Most recently, I included the pear cider in my Very Perry May series:

I sampled the flagship cider in one of Ithaca's most missed bars, the Chapterhouse Pub:

In 2013, I reviewed the Elderberry:

And more recently, the Original Sin Extra Dry:

And a previous single-varietal release, the Newtown Pippin:

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!