Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Cider Review: Kite and String's Geneva Russet and Grand Illusion Hard Cider's Street Magic

We’re back on the spring roller coaster this week. Two days last week, I saw snow and then the day after I was mowing my yard in shorts and a t-shirt. Obviously, this means I’m still concerned for apple trees, orchards, and growers all over the country. I hope that trees can warm up and wake up slowly enough that they don’t lose most of this year’s apple crop.

As for myself, I’m still tasting in two seasons myself depending on the weather. I wanted to have one more review of something more cold weather friendly and a review of something downright springy.

To start, I got out my bottle of Kite and String’s Geneva Russet. I picked this up after a tasting at the Finger Lakes Cider House last summer. I knew I liked it then, so I felt confident that this would be a beautiful send off for big, structured dry ciders that work well with hearty winter meals.

Kite and String is the house cider brand of the Finger Lakes Cider House at Good Life Farm. The farm is just off of Route 89 outside of Interlaken, New York and on the west side of Cayuga Lake. This cidery and farm is a gathering place (when such things were a normal part of life) for local food, local music, and local cider.  The Geneva Russet is a cider from 2018 apples.  

Here is a quick rundown of my previous reviews of Kite and String ciders (some of which pre-date the name).


The Barrel Rye:

The Cazenovia:

The King of Hector:

I've enjoyed Kite and String ciders at a few special dinners including:

Thanksgiving 2016:

Finger Lakes Locavore Birthday Dinner:

I recommend read about both the Finger Lakes Cider House and Kite and String Cider on the website: You can also find out what’s on the curbside pickup menu!

Here’s the official description of the Geneva Russet: 
Dry, Traditional Method.Begins with honeyed floral notes, buttered popcorn, and campfire on the nose, followed by an evolving palate of dirty honey, fresh cut grass, smoked gouda and crème fraiche. Finishes with long and soft tannins. Alcohol 8.40%

Appearance: warm straw, brilliant, bubbly

This is a lovely, luscious, and appealing cider. It uncorked with a soft pop and sprang into bubbly action. The Geneva Russet looks like warm sun-toasted straw in color.  I’ll call it brilliant because it’s transparent and bright, but the bubbles are so active, it’s almost hard to tell if there’s any haze in there.

Aromas: overripe soft fruit, baking spices, autumn leaves, 

When I lifted my glass, I could smell overripe apples and pear long before it reached my nose. Mellow mouth watering soft fruit notes just tumble into the atmosphere. The cider also smells like spices and autumn leaves while still being primarily fruity! 

Dryness/sweetness: Dry to off dry

My tasting companion and I weren’t quite sure where to rate the dryness of this cider. Its not completely bone dry, but it's nearly there. What sweetness is present is very natural and integrated into a larger experience. For me it falls somewhere between dry and off dry.

Flavors and drinking experience: High acid, Clean fermentation, Medium Tannins, Fantastic

Oh what a treat! This cider is something special.  High acid and minerals make the cider bracing and exciting.The Geneva Russet offers a clean fermentation; it’s just fruit speaking. I love how taste after taste, the mouth popping acid just scrubs my palate.

Acid isn’t the only element of this cider though. The Geneva Russet is solidly anchored by  medium tannins and beautiful bubbles. My favorite part might be it’s soft roasted apple finish. Really everything about this cider works and works fantastically together. I had it with a simply meal of veggie sausages, peppers and onions, and sauteed  zucchini. It was perfect.

Now for my look forward to spring with Grand Illusion Hard Cider’s Street Magic.

I’ve reviewed a few Grand Illusion ciders before. The company was kind enough to send me a small sampler quite a while ago. This cidery and restaurant is based out of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Even though the restaurant cannot serve diners inside these days, you can order food and cider for delivery!

Here are both of my earlier reviews of Grand Illusion Hard Ciders!

Citra Pineapple:

Blue Illusion:

Appearance: hazy, peach nectar

This is a hazy almost cloud cider. I can see some bubbles but not much. The color reminds me of peach nectar.

Aromas: hops, grapefruit, sunflower seeds, tangy yogurt

The aromas are overflowing with lots of hoppy green notes. I also get bitterness and grapefruit smells. Like with many hopped ciders, there’s this combination of sweatiness, grassiness, and pine. This smells tangy almost like yogurt. And I’m surprised by a tiny whiff of sunflower seeds.

Dryness/sweetness: Semi-dry but only just

This cider tastes sweeter than I expected it would from its aromas. Its still semi-dry rather than semi-sweet but just by a hair. The sweetness is both fruity and like crystalized sugar.

Flavors and drinking experience: green apple, hoppy bitterness, grapefruit, hay   

The Street Magic speaks first with high acidity. This is a tart and zesty cider. It’s not one that trades on tannins but I can detect some bitterness that I associate with the hops and the grapefruit. All of the elements are present together and hard to fully tease out separately. I appreciate the integration of the drink.

Street Magic has a pleasant medium intensity of sparkle. There are all kinds of fruity notes in the mix like green apples, crab apples, and peaches. THere are other notes as well like sticky and bitter green hops, wood and hay.

This was my reward cider after my first trip to a grocery store in almost two months. I had it with cheese and crackers. It was a springy reward that I enjoyed very much along with a vintage episode of The X-Files. Yes, there’s a lot going on there, but every bit of it was good.