Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Cider Review: Big Fish Cider Co.'s Wild Meadow and Aeppeltreow's Siskin Scrumpy

In upstate NY, We had a teaser of incredibly warm sunny weather for two days, but now we’ve headed back into unseasonable chill and the possibility of snow this week. Spring can be so fickle. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for my orchardist friends this week. We’re also still living in a strange and scary world without much certainty. That’s why I’ve been choosing to bring out more ciders that I have extra high hopes for than usual, and this week is no exception. I’m really excited to share my thoughts on Big Fish Cider Co.'s Wild Meadow and Aeppeltreow's Siskin Scrumpy.

Let’s start with Big Fish Cider Co.’s Wild Meadow. This is a small cidery in Monterey, Virginia. I’ve had fewer than a handful of Big Fish ciders, but each one has been something special. I received the kindest gift last week when a box of three ciders arrived in the mail for me along with a nice letter from Kirk.

This cidery is all about the orchard and all about apples. 

Visit Big Fish Cider online to read about the ciders and the Virginia shipping special!

Here are my previous Big Fish reviews:

Allegheny Gold (my #3 cider from 2019):

Highland Scrumpy (my #3 cider from 2018):

Church Hill Blush:

Now for Big Fish Cider Co.'s Wild Meadow.

Here’s the official description for the Wild Meadow:
Wild Meadow is one of the most traditional ciders made at Big Fish Cider, Co. because we actually forage for wild apples in the fields and forest edges of Highland County. These are apples from trees that have grown up from seed, are higher in tannins and acidity, and typically have more depth and body that commercially grown apples.  The cider goes through a slow, cold fermentation, which also helps to retain those fruity esters and tannins. While fruity, it is not a sweet cider. You’ll find that it pairs well with pork dishes and cheese, particularly blue or sharp cheese.
Because we rely on a crop of wild apples to make this cider, and most years we cannot harvest enough. We are grateful for the farmers that allow these trees to grow. 7.7% ABV.

Appearance: brilliant, bubbly intense corn color

The Wild Meadow looks very bubbly on pouring. This cider shines with brilliance like champagne; it’s so bubbly and active! The color reminds me of ripe corn kernels. It’s a vibrant shade of gold. 

Aromas: cooked apples, spring blossoms, cherry and minerals

The Wild Meadow smell good and golden, like cooked fruit and spring apple blossoms. The notes remind me of flowers on trees. As I sit with these scents a bit longer, pie cherry notes unfurl. The last thing I noticed was some good minerality.

Sweetness/dryness: Off Dry

This cider has the ideal level of sweetness for this specific cider, which is to say not very much. The Wild Meadow’s sweetness that is present serves a role in the overall drinking experience; I’ll explain below.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, high tannins, great balance, Superb

The Wild Meadow tastes amazing! It soars on ear-curling high acid but brings heft and structure with high tannins. We need this cider to remain off-dry because it's so intense in other regards. There are so many flavors dancing through the experience. I get notes of light butterscotch and a plethora of fruits including: ripe apple, peach, apricot, and raspberry.  

The bitterness and tannins are pleasantly tactile but very integrated with the acid; they hit second and fate in the mid-palate.  I love that the Wild Meadow has a great big mouthfeel.  The sweetness, though slight, speaks clearly throughout the finish (amid a bit of spiciness).  This cider is superb.

I enjoyed mine with the first take-out I’ve had in two weeks. It went beautifully with my Broccolini and garlic sauce, veggie fried rice, and homestyle bean curd. I highly recommend setting this pairing up for yourself!

Next up, I’m so excited to share my notes on Aeppeltreow's Siskin Scrumpy.

Aeppeltreow is a Wisconsin based cidery, distillery, and orchard. Ordinarily, you can visit in Burlington, Wisconsin. Now, you can call them for a pick up appointment or order your ciders and perries shipped. The company is a family business with a deep fascination with all things fermentation science. I’ve studied cider faults with Charles McGonegal and had many a wonderful meal with him and Milissa. 

You can visit the site online here and learn about all of Aeppeltreow’s products and access the online shop:

Here are my previous reviews of AeppelTreow Ciders. There are quite a few:

Scarlett Rosey Cider:

Sparrow Spiced Cider:

Blackbird  Berried Cider:

Orchard Oriole Perry:

Appley Brut:

Sparkling Perry:

Kinglet Bitter:

Barnswallow Draft Cider:

Now for Aeppeltreow’s  Siskin Scrumpy. Here’s how the folks at Aeppeltreow describe it, 

Siskin is our flavored cider named for English-style countryside ciders. Semi-sweet with a tickle, a tang, and some smoke. 5.5% ABV.

Appearance: bubbly, deep muted orange

This cider poured with a very tall head! This is not usual for cider. The color is a deep muted orange, and I see tons of bubbles just zooming through the Siskin Scrumpy.

Aromas: leather, orange, overripe apple, twigs

The Siskin Scrumpy smells both leathery and like sweet citrus. The apple notes are overipe and accompanied by zippy woody notes. I am reminded of twigs.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-sweet 

This is a semi-sweet cider, just exactly as its official description described.

Flavors and drinking experience: low acid, spicy, oxidized, cooked fruit 

This cider has lots and lots of tannins and relatively low acidity.  It does indeed remind me of an English style cider, but the funk is milder than in some. I do get notes that remind me of apple cider vinegar. Other flavors I got include: maple, wet twigs, earth and rain. 

Somehow, this feels like a very autumnal cider to me. Like some English and english influenced ciders, it tastes caramelly and gently oxidized. This is very true to its style. I love that there’s both funk and spice. I can taste cinnamon and bacon in this cider. I had this one with a simple meal of rice and two kinds of beans with sauteed kale and cherry tomatoes. The sweetness and richness of the cider were an excellent counterpoint to the healthy and high acid meal.

Both of the ciders I tried this week can be purchased online and shipped to most states. If you like the sound of them, try them!