Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Cider Review: Two Towns Ciderhouse Hollow Jacked and Blue Bee Cider's Hewe's Crab Plus Cider Week VA

I just ate my first chili of the fall! That is a major seasonal milestone in my world. In the evenings, I light candles and put on big fuzzy socks for coziness. I even went to the Farmer’s market on Saturday to get some decorative gourds for my porch. It’s easy to tease autumnal enthusiasm, but it’s more fun to just give in to it! That’s exactly what I did this week with my cider choices. I want to share my notes on Two Towns Ciderhouse Hollow Jack’d which is a roasted pumpkin cider, and I want to start whetting folks’ appetite for Virginia’s upcoming cider week with my review of Blue Bee Cider's Hewes Crab.

Two Towns Ciderhouse uses a few basic facts to declare the company’s identity. It calls itself Northwestern craft cider and highlights the following, “BOLDLY CRAFTED IN
2010.” And this tells us a lot. Outside of the nuggets of information shared, these short, pointed statements display a declarative confidence that’s only expanded when reading the rest of the companies values and priorities. Two Towns cider house cares about using local fruit and not adding concentrates or processed sugars to the ciders. The company was kind enough to share this cider with me for review. 

I’ve reviewed several ciders and a perry by  2 Towns Ciders over the years. Here’s the rundown.

Afton Field: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/06/cider-review-2-towns-ciderhouse-afton.html

La Mûre: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/02/cider-review-albemarle-ciderworks.html

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy:

Cidre Bouche: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/11/cider-review-2-towns-ciderhouses-cidre.html


Pineapple: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/02/cider-review-portland-cider-company.html

Bright Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/07/cider-review-roundup-common-cider-co.html

Hop and Stalk: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/12/cider-review-2-towns-ciderhouse-hop-and.html

You can visit 2 Towns Ciderhouse Website. That’s where you can find the most current information about the ciders and events: https://2townsciderhouse.com/

Here’s the official description for the Hollow Jack’d.
IMPERIAL PUMPKINExtra mischievous, Hollow Jack'D takes our fall classic of fresh-pressed apples, caramelized pumpkins and sweet potatoes that are finished with local honey and spices to a whole new level. 8.4% ABV

Appearance: bubbly, hazy, butterscotch candy

The color reminded us of butterscotch candies. Hollow Jack’d is hazy and bubbly in the glass. It looks like a juicy big cider. 

Aromas: Peach, pear, raspberry, minerals

I don’t smell pumpkin, but I get lots of appealing aromas from the Hollow Jack’d. The cider smells very much like peach, pear, and raspberry. I also get some zingy minerality in the aromas.

Dryness/sweetness: Sweet

This cider tastes decidedly sweet. It feels honeyed and thick in the mouth.

Flavors and drinking experiences: nectarine, apricol, sparkling, mulling spice

This sparkling sweet seasonal reminds me of nectar, with a honeyed jasmine character. The Hollow Jack’d brings notes of nectarine and apricot, raspberry and spice. I don’t taste much pumpkin but I do get hints of the caramelization and sweet potato that were used in the process. The cider has a pronounced mulling spice finish.

I enjoyed this with plenty of popcorn and my first ever viewing of Candyman! I highly recommend this combo.

Now for Blue Bee Cider Hewe’s Crab.

Blue Bee Cider was kind enough to share this cider with me for review. This company describes itself as Virginia's first urban cidery. The way the folks at Blue Bee talk about the cider making process emphasizes concepts like seasons, small batches, and the special characteristics of different apple varieties.  

I don’t have as many previous Blue Bee Cider reviews as I’d like just because I don’t often see the cider for sale. Here’s what I’ve managed.

Hopsap Shandy:

Charred Ordinary (my #4 cider of2017): http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/03/cider-review-blue-bee-cider-charred.html

Here’s how Blue Bee cider introduces the single-varietal Hewes Crab.
A rare breed, the HEWE’S CRAB apple makes a comeback from near-extinction in this distinct, fruit forward cider. Bright, floral, notes of cumin and honey.
RS 0.3%, ABV 8.5%.

Appearance: Active bubbles, brilliant medium straw

This cider has so many tiny super fast bubbles! I love to just watch the Hewe’s Crab go! The color is a pleasant medium straw.

Aromas: Green apple, honey, white flowers, minerality 

Something about the Hewe’s Crab cider’s aromas feels very pointed to me. I think it’s somehow the acidity coming through without it being at all volatile. It reminds me of minerals and green apples. I also smell white flowers and honey. Everything about this is consonant with other crabapple ciders I’ve tried before. 

Sweetness/dryness: off-dry to dry, but not bone dry

The Hewe’s Crab dances across the palate with lots of flavors and almost no sweetness. What’s there is fruity and more than balanced by everything else happening.

Flavors and drinking experience: tangerine, orange blossom, tropical fruit

The Hewe’s Crab reminds me of Orange blossoms and tangerine. This cider is off dry and pleasingly puckeringly acidic. It’s definitely filled with my favorite characteristics of crabapples. The cider brings just a bit of tropical sweetness, specifically pineapple and citrus.

Of course, I love that this cider overflows with the tiniest champagne-like bubbles. The fermentation is gloriously clean and the cider is headily aromatic. As we all enjoyed it with dutch herbed cheese and apples, it warmed up slightly and the aromas kept unfolding. The minerality of Hewe’s Crab aromas come through in taste. I get a little spice and fair amount of white pepper. 

This cider leaves a tannic residue on the lips. One of my co-tasters noticed a very wet mouthfeel, but I am not quite sure what to make of that. We all agreed that the cider tastes complex but unified And consistently interesting. This is an outstanding cider!

Coming up November 15th through 24th, Cider Week VA will be celebrating cider all over the beautiful state of Virginia. I talk a big game about New York ciders, but Virginia is another state that has amazing apple varieties and some of the most talented cider makers and orchardists active today. I loved this week’s Blue Bee cider, and the company is far from alone in making thoughtful delectable ciders.

Let me encourage you to check out the website which has event listings and introduces all of the cideries participating: https://ciderweekva.com/

I can see bonfires, pairing dinners, comedy shows, cider making workshops and more on the list of events.  These are some fun, creative events! This is the perfect time to spend some time doing fabulous cider things before the holiday rush eats your calendar for the next six weeks!