I learned something wonderful this past week. Underneath all of the snow, we have delightful soft muddy earth! I’m hoping this change of month is bringing happy realizations or good news to all of you as well. I wanted to choose a special cider this week to go with the spring thoughts in my brain and many hopes for the future. I wanted a cider to sip while I daydream about gardening.
This week, my cider comes from the west coast: Washington state's Liberty Ciderworks. I got this cider after a mix up around Washington state’s Ciderweek. I reviewed the Wickson Crab as part of a special lineup that was originally intended to include the Major Hewes instead. I certainly wasn’t disappointed, as I love Wickson ciders. Nonetheless, folks were extremely kind and sent over this replacement bottle shortly after.
This quote from the Liberty Ciderworks website expresses the goals of this cidery clearly, so I’ll let them speak for themselves.
To us, cider is a form of art, expressing climate, topography and the wonders of exceptional, cider-worthy apples. We employ “natural wine” methods in all of our ferments, never filtering and allowing each orchard’s native yeast to work its magic. Our approach is inspired by global styles and traditions, but reflects our own apples, landscape and culture. It’s a philosophy expressed in everything we produce, and it’s one we think you’ll really enjoy.
I only have a couple of Liberty Ciderworks reviews. I encourage you to check them both out.
Manchurian Crabapple SV Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/08/cider-review-liberty-ciderworks.html
Liberty Ciderworks can be seen on the web here: http://libertycider.com
This week I’m reviewing the Major Hewes. Here’s the official description.
Appearance: saturated color, transparent, butternut squash color, no visible bubbles
ENGLISH STYLE | 07.20
A blend of British cider apples (Major) and one of the most storied American cider apples (Hewe’s Crab). Aged to perfection with a small amount of keeved cider added at bottling. Starchy apple and quince flavors with peaty earth, mild bittersweet funk and medium tannins. Bottled still.
Suggested pairings: Charcuterie, Manchego cheese and baguettes; savory galletes; maple-glazed roast vegetables; cheesecake.
Finished Gravity = 1.009 (Off-Dry)
I love it when a cider bottle uses clear glass. Getting to see a cider’s color gives me some fun preliminary clues about what’s coming. There’s no one-to-one correlation between color and flavor, but when I see an intense butternut squash color like in the Major Hewes, I do hope for a matching saturation of flavor. When I see no visible bubbles, I don’t expect a strong sparkle. The cider appears transparent, which doesn’t tell me as much about flavor, but does add to the wine-like presentation started with the bottle and label. Let’s see what these clues lead to.
Aromas: orange, winter berry, mint, herbs
The Major Hewes smells enticing! I love notes of leather and orange, which just jump out at me here. It’s a very UK cider profile. I also get winter berry, herbal notes like mint and lemon balm.
What a lovely resting place for sweetness. This tastes on the sweeter end of off-dry or the drier end of semi-dry.
Flavors and drinking experience: petillant, high acid, very tanic, citrus, hay, creamy mouthfeel
Though the cider was bottled still, it felt petillant when I tasted it. I love how a semi-dry cider can show off high levels of tannins. The cider is structured but fruity with high acidity. I get citrus fruits like Meyer lemon and tart orange. I also get hints of honey, minerals, and hay.
Everything about this cider just tastes balanced and mature. The Major Hewes has a very creamy mouthfeel. I think that correlates to its higher than usual alcohol by volume.
What a wonderful cider. I can see the UK inspiration, but this doesn’t take identical to a UK cider. There are some qualities that feel very much in line with the best American artisanal ciders. It was a lovely cider to pair with a leek and butternut squash farro risotto and black garlic puffed bread. If you have the chance to try it, you must!