Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Cider Review: Eastman’s Forgotten Cider's The Red Queen and The Cider Lab's Empire Golden

This week’s post is late! I apologize, but I have been sick for days and getting healthy takes time. Someday, I hope to be the sort of responsible blogger who is always more than one post ahead,  but I don’t see that happening before July at the earliest. Alas. But I’m glad I managed to taste some exciting and flavorful ciders before this cold claimed me. (I won’t have enough of a sense of smell to take new tasting notes for several more days!) 

Eastman’s Forgotten Cider has a slogan, “From Tree to Tap.” The company is very focused on apples. The company comes from an orchard (Eastman’s Apples) with hundreds of different apple varieties (some folks say 1000 plus). It’s based in Wheeler, Michigan where the company also has a tasting room. Eastman’s Forgotten Ciders has been releasing ciders commercially since 2007. I was given a sampling of the cider at GLINTCAP last year, and I’ve enjoyed working my way through them slowly. 

This week, I’m tasting The Red Queen. I know the Red Queen uses red-fleshed apples for the cider, giving all of the color, aromas, and flavor that we’ll find. 

You can find out more about this cider on the Eastman’s Forgotten Ciders Facebook page: 

I’ve previously reviewed a couple of cider by Eastman’s Forgotten Ciders:

The Mad Russian (a rose cider from red-fleshed apples):

More recently I reviewed the Cinnister:

The info I got for the Red Queen comes from entries on beer rating sites; the label doesn’t give much background (just that lovely chess inspired picture). “Blend of red fleshed and crab apples providing a dry finish with just a hint of sweetness.”

Appearance: salmon, brilliant, bubbly 

Though the Mad Russian is Red, the Red Queen is more peachy pinky salmon in hue. It’s a tremendously appealing color, especially in spring. When poured I could see some bubbles and beautiful brilliance.

Aromas: powdered sugar, ripe apples, cherry pie

Yummy, this cider smell so much like fresh baked goods! These aroma notes remind me of  cherry Pie, bread, ripe apples and powdered sugar. I got a few more tropical fruit aromas, and some mineral zinginess that leads me to expect a high acid cider. 

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

Though this cider smell sweet, it tastes dry!

Flavors and drinking experience: Tart, plums, tannins, acidity

My first impression of this cider is how tart it tastes. The Red Queen is sot as sweet as it’s aromas. That doesn’t mean it’s all austere; the cider has plenty of fruit flavors. I taste plums for miles. The ripe apples and powdered sugar aroma notes did not translate directly into flavors, and I think the cider is better off this way.  

As for texture, the Red Queen offers medium bubble, some tannins, and massive acidity. It’s a fun a cider. I opened on a quiet TV night with the question of what snacks would complement it. Our options were Girl Scout Cookies, popcorn, or cheese, and we had no trouble choosing a creamy brie and wheat crackers to accompany this cider. It was delicious! 

The Cider Lab's Empire Golden

My next cider for this week is a New York cider from Geneva, New York. The company is The Cider Lab. It’s a relatively new venture with a portfolio of four ciders. For more background on the company, check out my first review of one of the ciders.

 Read about the company and the ciders here:

I have reviewed one of them before, the Empire Royale:

Here’s the official description, “Empire Golden An award-winning, rich, hard cider made from fresh-pressed New York Empire apples grown on the golden shores of Lake Ontario. The sweetness of The Cider Lab’s Empire Golden is perfectly balanced with the tart acidity of the fruit. A luxurious nose seduces the senses while hints of apples and honey comfort like a warm day. A smooth cider experience that pairs well with foods that have a spicy finish or simply as a luxury to be enjoyed on its own. Enjoy responsibly and share Empire Golden with friends.” 7%ABV 

Appearance: super bubbly, canary yellow, brilliant

This is an exciting cider to see! I love how bubbly it is. The color is vibrantly canary yellow with excellence brillance. 

Aromas: yeast, cinnamon, rip apples, lemon

The Empire Golden smells both fruity and yeasty. Specific notes all center around ripe apples but also include cinnamon and lemon. I got little bits of funkiness when I first poured a glass, but they were fleeting.

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet

This is a sweet cider with lots of fruit flavor. It isn’t sweet like sugar but sweet like cooked apples. 

Flavors and drinking experience: high acidity, great mouthfeel, juicy

This cider’s sweetness is kept in balance with high acidity and just a fun amount of funk. What I enjoyed most about the cider is also related indirectly to it’s sweetness: the mouthfeel. While I love a light and lithe dry cider as much as anyone I know, I also enjoy ciders that have some heft and gravitas. The Empire Golden has a fun big mouthfeel buoyed by lots of bubbles. It’s a juicy and substantial cider, and that’s what’s best about it. 

The Empire Golden is so fruity and apple, tropical, pineapple, that it’s almost sticky. It reminded me of certain Tiki drinks while still being 100% apple focused. I shared this cider at birthday party with my first ever experience with an MST3K movie, Manos the Hands of Fate. Thankfully, the cider made much mores sense than the film did, with or without robot commentary. Nonetheless it was a lovely addition to a tremendous party.