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.