Monday, January 10, 2022

Cider Review: Montana Ciderworks' North Fork Traditional

Continuing last week’s excitement for a new cider brand, I’m moving my focus westward to Montana with Montana Ciderworks’ North Fork Traditional. Amidst our first real dip of the season into genuinely cold temperatures, I felt ready to hunker down with a cider that might be very different from what I can regularly access in upstate New York. I reached for a bottle of Montana Ciderworks’ North Fork Traditional to see what surprises might be in store.

Darby, Montana is where this week’s cidery calls home. Montana Ciderworks has been producing here since 2002! Here’s some of what I found on Montana Ciderworks’ website. It’s the cidery’s succinct introduction to cider and to their style of the beverage.

Traditional cider is a naturally fermented beverage made from apple juice. It was THE drink for Americans from Revolutionary times until Prohibition. Montana CiderWorks honors 100 years of sustainable agriculture in Montana by offering exceptional English-style ciders crafted from Bitterroot Valley apples.

You can visit Montana Ciderworks online to learn about all of the ciders they produce:

Here’s the official description for North Fork Traditional.

Semi-Dry English Style Cider.  Golden, gently bubbly, with true cider flavor. Expressive bittersweet apple character with wood, grass & smoke notes; this semi-dry cider balances faintest sweetness against sharpness, astringency, and tart fruit…Our North Fork traditional cider received a Gold Medal at the 2013 Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition.  The blend includes hard-to-find traditional cider apples & crab apples alongside Bitterroot Valley apples. North Fork offers a clean, aromatic finish that enhances the flavor of savory foods. Pairs wonderfully with spicy (ethnic) foods, game bird dishes, and hor d’oeuvres with strong cheeses.

Appearance:  warm ochre, brilliant, bubbly

The North Fork Traditional brings a lovely intensity of color; it’s a warm ochre. The cider looks both brilliant and bubbly. 

Aromas: overripe apples, baking spices, dark berries

This cider smells delightfully mellow and like overripe apples. I get secondary notes of minerals, soft muffin spices, and dark berries.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-sweet

This is just on the sweet enough side that I’ll call it semi-sweet rather than semi-dry, but I understand that my perception might skew a bit from the average here. It’s also important to note that the cider is bitter as well as sweet. That certainly affects how its sweetness plays into the full cider experience.

Flavors and drinking experience: Bittersweet, very tannic, medium high acid

Montana Ciderworks’ North Fork Traditional makes a big and bittersweet first impression. My hopes for the week are realized as this profile is quite a bit different from what I drink most often. This cider very tannic with medium-high acid and a fair bit of sweetness. It’s a clean fermentation, but otherwise I’m seeing lots of UK influence. 

I don’t habitually reach for a semi-sweet cider but the bitterness of the North Fork Traditional could change my mind! I love how very uk the profile remains sip after sip. The cider lingers with an amazing applesauce finish. This cider has plenty of bubble and a medium full body. I enjoyed the North Fork Traditional with vegetarian borscht and pierogi. It was a delightful combination.