Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Cider Review: Embark Ciderworks' Apple Pie Cider and Woodchuck Cider's Kinda Cloudy

We’re making our way through January, with it’s long cold nights. I’ve been having a lot of exciting dry ciders, but I wanted to switch it up this week with two semi-sweet treats. I pair these differently, often with snacks rather than with full meals. You can absolutely make fabulous meal pairings with sweeter ciders, but I had each of these with little treats like after dinner cheese or spiced popcorn. How do you like your sweeter ciders?

Let’s start today’s review with Embark Craft Ciderwork’s Apple Pie Cider.

Embark Craft Ciderworks is based out of a small community outside of Rochester, New York. The cidery grew out of a family orchard that’s been operational since 1909. For more background, I encourage you to read backwards in my reviews. 

I’ve reviewed a few ciders by Embark before. Check out these earlier features of this neighboring cidery. 

The Northerner:

Golden Russet Reserve:

Crab Series #1:

The American Hopped:

Visit Embark online and learn more about the ciders, the orchard, and the tasting room:

Here’s how the folks at Embark describe this cider, "As American As Apple Pie" is what we are replicating with this cider. We are using a blend of American Heirloom apples and apple pie spices to create a semi-sweet cider using the best apples of the fall harvest. Cheers to Americana!” 5.2% ABV. 

Appearance: rich rose gold, brilliant, bubbly

This is such a warm color it reminds me more of a deeper rose gold than the tones of most ciders. It’s almost apricot in color. The clarity is brilliant, showing off lots of bubbles in the glass.  

Aromas: cinnamon, cooked apples, oats, vanilla

Wow! Embark really nailed the whole apple pie experience with this cider’s aromas. I can smell a strong cinnamon presence along with cooked apples, oats, and vanilla. They even captured the a la mode! I’m impressed.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

Exactly as described, this cider is semi-sweet. 

Flavors and drinking experience: spices, bubbly, honeyed finish

While it smells like apple pie a la mode, the Apple Pie Cider tastes more like a crisp! I get tons of mace, allspice, and clove notes in addition to the cinnamon. The cider just feels so full and texturally exciting. I love a rich creamy cider with plenty of bubbles and acid to keep things from veering too heavy. 

The Apple Pie Cider also brings some luscious honey notes on the finish.

Now for Woodchuck Cider’s 802 Collection Kinda Cloudy.

This cider sample was shared with me for review, but I’m sad to say that I made the notes wait several months before posting them. Apologies for the delay!

If you know cider at all, you know Woodchuck. The company has been around since the 1990s in Vermont. The ciders are varied, but they often fall on the sweeter cider. I’ve reviewed tons of Woodchuck ciders, so I’ll just list a few of the more recent and most interesting ones. Check out older posts for more background on the company that has been with this blog since the beginning. 

The Odd Crush collaboration with Farnum Hill:


Bubbly Rose:

Pear Ginger:

Smoked Apple:

June and Juice: er-review-woodchucks-june-and-juice.html

Local Nectar:

In August 2016, I visited Woodchuck as part of my cider tour of Vermont:

Here’s a link to the Woodchuck site which has even more info on ciders, events, and more:

Read what Woodchuck says to introduce it. “A traditional cider made with only fresh pressed Vermont juice from our orchard partners. Give this unfiltered semi-sweet cider a slight shake and enjoy wherever friends gather!”5.1% ABV.

Appearance: cloudy, dark sweet cider color, hard to see bubbles in the cloudiness

This cider looks like soft cider in a gallon like you see at a farm stand. The color is a warm earthy brown with hints of orange and gold. It’s tough to see bubbles in a cider this cloudy, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be sparkling.

Aromas: fresh soft juice, cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, bready

The Kinda Cloudy is just brimming over with tasty smells. It reminds me of half fermented sweet cider tastes straight from the tank. There are notes of cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, and plenty of yeast character. That part comes across as a little bready and zesty perhaps like a lemon glaze.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

This is a sweet to semi-sweet cider, exactly as promised! The sweetness that’s here tastes entirely natural.

Flavors and drinking experience: half fermented cider, bright, sweet, balanced

I am in awe. Somehow Woodchuck has stabilized a moment that I thought was purely ephemeral and fleeting. They have captured the sweetness, cloudiness, and body of half- fermented cider! I have no idea how they halted the fermentation at this point to keep it so naturally sweet and stable. I simply can’t get over it. 

The cider tastes bready, bubbly but with bigger bubbles. It’s super friendly and easy drinking. While a sweet cloudy cider is not for everyone, it’s an absolute winner at what it is aiming for. I love the full body and medium high acid. I has no tannins, but it doesn’t really need them for this experience. This cider is not watery or syrupy; it’s perfectly balanced and super apple-y.