Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Cider Review: Left Foot Charley's Fortis Maelum and Stormalong Cider's Peariful

This Spring feels like no previous Spring in my life. Instead of cider judging and circus performances, I’m plotting out how to portion out my perishable foods such that I can go longer between grocery runs. Some things haven’t changed though, and enjoying cider outdoors is one of them. This week, I tried two new ciders and I would recommend either of them with carrots, cucumbers, cheddar and fresh bread in the backyard, front steps, screen porch or balcony. Find your peaceful spot and enjoy it with cider. 

I’m starting with Left Foot Charley’s Fortis Maelum today. This Winery and Cidery dates back to  2004 in Traverse City, Michigan. Left Foot Charley remains an urban winery and cidery that purchases fruit and juice from Northern Michigan fruit growers to make a variety of ciders and wines.

I have a few previous reviews of Left Foot Charley’s ciders and a perry. Here’s the list.


Henry’s Pippin (it made my top 10 for 2016):

You can visit the Left Foot Charley website to learn more about the wines and ciders:

Here’s how Left Foot Charley describes the Fortis Maelum.
STYLE:Dry British style cider from heritage apple varieties 
THE LONG VERSION:This is a Heritage blend made from European and American cidervarieties. These apples are grown as part of an experimental blockon the Engle Ridge Farm that were planted as part of our quest fortrue cider apples that will thrive in northern Michigan.We made this classic beverage by isolating the specific applevarieties in order to create a dry British style cider. The cider wasthen fermented and aged in stainless steel. 
VARIETIES USED: Brown Snout,Porter’s Perfection, Wickson, BinetRouge, Golden Russett, EsopusSpitzenberg
ABV 9.6% 
I received my bottle of Fortis Maelum in a cider trade with a faraway cider friend. Thanks again!

Appearance: brilliant, rich toffee, no visible bubbles

This cider looks completely still and richly flavored. The color reminds me of an intense toffee. It’s brilliant and not at all bubbly to the eye. 

Aromas: cooked apple, minerals, barn yard

The Fortis Maelum smells of minerals and cooked apple immediately. I know I’m not going to be tasting a typical cider. It rumbles with leathery notes, making me expect a more tannic UK-inspired style. I also get some funk and barnyard notes.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

Dry and flavorful! This cider is not at all sugar powered!

Flavors and drinking experience: low acid, hot, tannic, funky

The first thing I noticed about the Fortis Maelum had to be the tannins. This cider brings powerful tannins and astringency to the drinking experience. It’s also lower acid than the majority of American ciders. These two factors, particularly when combined with the cider’s dryness and funk, create a solidly English style impression.

This isn’t to say that the Fortis Maelum isn’t also fruity. It is. I get notes of rear juice and other stone fruit, but also beets, grasses, and hay. The tannic profile reminds me of wet leaves and black tea. The finish is a gentle brush with olive brine. I enjoy how earthy and mulchy this cider tastes. It’s funky and fun.

More sips reveal more flavor notes including snap peas, edamame, even succotash? This savory cider brought so much pleasure and complexity to my glass. What a wonder!

Next up, Stormalong’s Peariful

Stormalong Cider is a Massachusetts cidery that’s been around since 2014. I first got to know some folks at Stormalong at CiderCon several years ago, and I’ve enjoyed following the cidery’s lineup grow ever since. This cider was shared with me for review.

To learn more about what Stormalong is up to, visit online:

Here are all of my earlier Stormalong reviews.

Legendary Dry:

Kingston Black:

Light of the Sun:

Mass Appeal:

Boston Heirloom:

And here’s how Stormalong describes the Peariful.
Refreshingly tart flavors of baked pears with a hint of oak and slight funk. Made with Bosc and Bartlett pears, aged in oak barrels, and blended with Dabinett cider apples for a complex, tannic finish.FLAVORTart with a Hint of Oak & Slight FunkAPPLESDabinett apples, Bosc & Bartlett pears6.7% ABV

Appearance: hazy, warm straw, no bubbles

I apologize for not having a picture of this cider poured. Here’s a picture of the hike I took that day instead. What I can tell you is that the cider had just a hint of haze, a warm straw, color and pretty much no visible bubbles.

Aromas: pears, wheat, nuts, hint of volatile acidity 

This pear cider smells nutty with lots of pears scent, and a tiny bit of volatile acidity. As I sniff again, I also get notes that remind me of wheat and rocks.

Dryness/sweetness: semi-dry

The Peariful is a semi-dry pear cider. It has a lot going on, but only a mild amount comes from cider’s sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, pear and apple, no tannins, mild funk

The Peariful tastes so much like a ripe pear. This cider has high acid, no tannins, and just a bit of funk. It has not only malic acid but tastes a bit like acetic acid. I appreciate that it’s a well balanced semi-dry in a distinctly perry-like way. The tartness is while and tangy and it finishes with a nice caramelized apple perfume. The cider got bonus points from me for being quite pleasantly bubbly too!

I had this one on a picnic before a remote hike. It went so well with red pepper hummus wraps, cherry tomatoes, and Havarti cheese.

Hang in there, cider friends! Do try to take a moment in a lovely spot with a cider if you can this week.