Monday, September 25, 2023

Cider Review: Eden Ciders' Fuzz Ball Harvest Cider

How can I be poetic about the time of the year when everyone I know is telling me how behind they feel? It’s not just bad stuff; people are stuffing their lives overfull with those things we must do and some of the experiences that bring us joy or contentment. That’s exactly where I am too. What the moment has in common is just the tumbling, “Are we flying or falling?”  momentum of it all. I think we’re like those busy, distracted, intense squirrels and chipmunks perhaps, trying to fit it all in before the winter comes. Or at least that’s how things look from here. 

I'm up and out of the boot, so that might be part of why I'm going absolutely everywhere. I missed this for the past 5 weeks!

Yesterday, I was determined to get one last important treat from my garden. I gathered the last of the ripe tomatoes, and we turned them into a tomato pie. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know it's one of my favorite dishes and a great cider pairing. I had a fairly new box Eden ciders too, since I’m a member of the cider club. That made choosing easy. I wanted to try the new Harvest canned cider: Fuzz Ball.

Eden is a fabulous cidery from northern Vermont. I’ve reviewed their ciders many times. In earlier reviews, I include more background on this wonderfully apple focused cidery. Here is the full list of my earlier reviews:

Cobble Knoll:


Oliver’s Twist Foxwhelp Cider:

Brut Rose:


Deep Cut:

Peak Bloom:


Extra Sec:

Eden Heritage Cider:

Siren Song:

Brut Nature:

Imperial 11 Degree Rose:

Sparkling Dry:

The Sparkling Dry featured in Thanksgiving & Birthday celebrations in 2016:

Eden Specialty Ciders can be found online here, plus you can meet the newest additions to the portfolio:

 The Fuzz Ball was included in my club shipment. It excited me, because I love a dry cider in a can. I want the ease of a canned cider sometimes. There’s not a lot that easier for a bonfire evening or a movie night. And I know that Eden Specialty Cider has made some of the best I’ve ever tasted.  Here’s what the folks at Eden Cidery have to say about this new one: Fuzz Ball Harvest Cider. 

Fuzz Ball 6.2% ABV

You should see me in a crown. 

Notes of lemon pith, soft herbs, wheat biscuits with jam.

Limited Run. Made with the pomace of the renowned Kingston Black, Fuzz Ball is dry dry dry. Crisp, structured, really, truly, if you love dry this is going to knock your socks off!

Appearance: Cloudy cool toned yellow

When poured, the Fuzz Ball reveals the reason for its name. It’s a cloudy cool toned yellow that reminds me of honey and dandelion fluff. 

Aromas: Smells sharp, crisp, white floral, ripe apples,grassy, chalk

This cider smells sharp, crisp, and apple-y immediately. I definitely recommend pouring it from the can into a glass to get the full aromatic experience. After a moment, I notice white flowers, dry grassy notes, and chalk.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

Completely dry. No fooling around here.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, astringent, twiggy, sour orange, ripe apple

Emphatically dry, this cider is more than just what it doesn’t have. The Fuzz Ball brings off-the-charts acid in a super yummy way. The Kingston Black pomace indee imparted some assertive astringence like twiggy young green wood. After the tannins and acids make their presence thoroughly known, I can get into more specific flavors like lemongrass, green apple, and sour orange.

We enjoyed this cider along with a goodbye to Summer supper of tomato pie (with a cheese crust of course) and vegetarian baked beans. It was simple and delightful. The Fuzz Ball was a wonderful accompaniment, because it lifted and separated flavors with its acidity and bubbles. 

Now if we can just find a moment to remain still and appreciate the changes of the season. 

Monday, September 18, 2023

Cider Review: Hudson North Cider Co.'s Toasted Pumpkin

Today I watched chipmunks in a garden during my lunch break and walked with normal shoes on campus for the first time in almost a month. I relished the bright blue sky and dappled shade. I noticed how good the outdoors looked and felt grateful to get to enjoy these things and notice them as they happen. This moment of seasonal shift is a lovely one. We’re almost to the Autumnal Equinox, and harvest is already underway.

Over the weekend I had the fun of trying a new-to-me cidery! One of my most wonderful co-tasters, Woody, picked up a six-pack of Hudson North Cider Co. for the first time. This Hudson Valley cidery is hoping to open a taproom in Fall 2024 and now is available in some states and shipping to many more. The apples come from Minard Farm in Clintondale, New York. 

This is the first time I’ve reviewed anything by Hudson North Cider Co. 

Find out all about the cider offerings and sign up for the newsletter here:

Here’s how the folks at Hudson North Cider Co. describe the Toasted Pumpkin.

Hitting all the flavor notes we crave in the fall, Toasted Pumpkin is packed full of warming spices and pumpkin pie. Made with Hudson Valley apples, this cider pours hazy golden brown reminiscent of a chilled mulled cider.

5% ABV — Gluten Free  —  8g Sugar

Appearance: foamy, intense pumpkin orange, hazy

The Toasted Pumpkin pours initially with a head, but it dissipates relatively quickly. The color is a fun one! It looks just exactly like a fresh pumpkin with all of that orange intensity. The cider is mildly hazy with some visible bubbles.

Aromas: Orange, citrus, nutmeg, allspice and cake and cinnamon and yeast!

Initially Hudson North’s cider’s aromas remind me of orange and other juicy citrus fruits. Secondarily, I get ripe apple, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and yeast. All in all, the range of aromas remind me of a spiced pumpkin frosting. The scents are very seasonal and appealing. 

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

There’s a lot going on in the Toasted Pumpkin cider, and it has some sweetness. In England, this would be called a Medium. I’ll call it a Semi-dry here. I think the sweetness is necessary to bring other elements together into a pleasing whole. Keep reading to see what all is going on.

Flavors and drinking experience: mild tannins, sour, apple, spices, funky

Everyone who tried Hudson North Cider Co.’s Toasted Pumpkin along with Woody and me quite enjoyed it. The cider bring mild tannins, moderate sourness,  apple, spices, and funk to the seasonal party. For me the medium sweetness really helped balance out the spices and tart or sour flavors. It reminds me of sour beer, but it’s still very recognizably cider, which is much more appealing for me! We agreed that it’s just a little bit funky, but what dominates is lots of apple followed by some pleasing Fall spice.

The Toasted Pumpkin has a light body and medium level of sparkle. It was a total delight with vegetarian sausages and multiple different kinds of homemade soft pretzel. What a treat!

Monday, September 11, 2023

Cider Review: Nine Pin Ciderworks Apple Pie-secco

Boot life continues whenever I leave the house, but this weekend I was able to take some practice time in the house to get used to moving around without it. On flat surfaces, I felt pretty good! Stairs will take a bit more time. The thrill was so real that I had to try a new recipe for my sourdough starter discard. And of course a dessert necessitates a fun cidery pairing! Nerdy domesticity rules my weekends with great joy.

Here’s what I tried:

They turned out beautifully with just one notable adjustment; my dark chocolate was a dark chocolate with almonds. Yum! And with that delicious dessert, I was very happy to enjoy Nine Pin Ciderworks’ Apple Pie-secco. Wordplay on apple pie plus Prosecco (the sparkling wine) gives the cider an immediate association with warm cooked apples and baking spices plus the delight of a sparkling beverage. 

Nine Pin Ciderworks is based out of Albany, New York but now distributed and shipped to at least 35 states. Here’s a quick list of all of my previous reviews of Nine Pin Ciders! More background information can be found in these earlier reviews.

Pink Lemonade:

House of Dabinett:

Cucumber Lime Light Cider:

Gathering of the Farm Cideries (including the Cascara cider):

Peach Tea:



Signature cider:

Nine Pin Ciderworks’ website is the best place to learn about all of this New York Cidery’s releases and taproom events:

My faithful co-taster Woody picked this up locally. So many different cideries create their own version of fall-spiced ciders, so I’m always curious to see how everyone’s tastes!

Here’s the official description from the folks at Nine Pin: Crafted from apples from Samascott Orchards in Kinderhook, New York, Apple Pie-Secco symbolizes life’s simple joys, autumnal aromas filling our homes, explosions of taste; pure comfort. 6.5% ABV. 

Appearance: Brilliant, brassy blonde, few visible bubbles 

I love how brassy blonde this color looks in the glass. It's too pretty for a can, but I say that a lot. The cider poured brilliant with few visible bubbles.

Aromas: sweet and gentled cooked apple, cinnamon, ginger, 

The Apple Pie-secco offers up a medium intense aroma of ginger, apple and cinnamon. The apple smells mellow and cooked. This definitely gets the autumnal associations flowing. One note, in order to really access these great smells, you must use a glass.

Sweetness/Dryness: Semi-sweet

This cider is on the sweeter side, but it’s notably not fully sweet. This really gives an additional level of complexity to the cider’s other qualities like acids, body, bubble, and Nine Pin’s use of cinnamon.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, strong cinnamon, vanilla finish

Nine Pin’s Apple Pie-secco starts off with a beautiful burst of high acid that I associate with New York and eastern United States ciders more generally. Next, that acid coalesces into flavors I recognize as ripe peach and cooked apple.  This cider’s midpalate expands to include spices, mostly cinnamon; it tastes holiday-ish and feels a little rough and sandpapery, The cider’s finish is oodles of vanilla.

One of the most interesting characteristics of this cider was how the bubbles felt prickly and spiky and zesty. 

I appreciate that Nine Pin’s Apple Pie-secco doesn’t just go for the same profile as the classic seasonal sipper. The vanilla is a nice touch, as is backing off on the sweetness just a touch. It was a beautiful accompaniment to my chocolate chip cookies, but I imagine it would be even better with shortbread and caramel. 

Monday, September 4, 2023

Cider Review: Albemarle Ciderworks Brut D'Albemarle Hewes Crab

We’re back to warm weather for this week, but it feels like a lingering goodbye rather than anything more lasting. I’m still moving slowly in a boot, but I’m managing more than I did last week. One evening this week, it felt right to pull something special out of the fridge and I chose Albemarle Ciderworks’ Brut D’Albemarle Hewes Crab. 

I may be a Wickson girl through and through, but my tall co-taster Alex feels almost as passionate about the Hewes Crab. He’s not wrong. This apple always brings some amazing flavor and intensity to a cider. Our expectations were high from the moment we got this cider as a gift from the kind folks at the cidery.

Here are my earlier reviews of Albemarle Ciderworks’ ciders. The newest ones are first. There’s more background information about this Virginia cidery in these, and you’ll find the most in the earliest reviews. 


Brut D’Albemarle Harrison:


Ragged Mountain:

Royal Pippin:

Pomme Mary (a Top Ten cider from 2013):

I recommend visiting the Albemarle Ciderworks website to learn more about the ciders and happenings at the cidery:

Here’s what I could find online about this cider!

A bottle conditioned cider that is very similar to an apple champagne. Great for that special celebration!

Alcohol 10.00%

And just a little more detail.

Notes from the CiderMaker: Brut d’Albemarle is a bottle conditioned cider made in a Champagne style. A single varietal of the Virginia Hewes Crab was fermented in stainless steel and bottled with a small dose of yeast and sugar. The resulting cider is more carbonated than our usual offerings making it a great bubbly beverage for special occasions and celebrations.

One last link. Here’s where to read what the cidery says about the Virginia Hewes Crab as an apple.

Appearance: Brilliant, warm goldenrod, bubbly

This cider is a spectacle! I am amazed by the gorgeous warm goldenrod color and its picture perfect brilliance. And there will be bubbles! Lovely.

Aromas: flowers, old books, ripe apples and peaches

I know to expect a dry cider, but the aromas on the Brut D'Albemarle Hewes Crab are redolent with crystalline floral sweetness. I get notes of ripe apples, peach and old books. It’s a lazy warm smell with hints of afternoon dust motes in the sunlight. I get a much more energetic salivary reaction though, so I know acid is on its way.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry, but not bone dry.

I love that the Brut D'Albemarle Hewes Crab tastes dry, but not bone dry. It feels structured and sophisticated but its also unfolding with lots of fruit and flavor. 

Flavors and drinking experience: Citrus, orange zest, stone fruit, fennel, acidic and bubbly

My high expectations are rewarded! The Brut D'Albemarle Hewes Crab is alive with flavor. This is the whole experience with acid and tannins but so fruity and bubbly! The first note I get from the cider is citrus, specifically orange zest followed by stone fruit and fennel.

It’s delightfully bubbly. I’m a big fan of strong sparkle, and this cider is a party! The bubble lifts, the tannins hold, the acids excite, and the ABV provides a substantial mouthfeel for all of the ciders many fruit flavors. All of the elements are working together to create a simply wonderful experience. This cider could be served with any number of dishes, from the simple to the elaborate. We served it with homemade summer pesto, homegrown tomatoes, pasta and zucchini. Not much could be better! Cheers.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Cider Review: Redbyrd Orchard Cider's 2021 Baldwin - Brown Snout - Kingston Black

I’ve gone more than a full week wearing a boot and treating my right foot as though I’m healing a break. Thankfully the boot works and eliminates pain while walking around the house, so I will not complain about it. I do look forward to being able to resume my normal habits of walking miles a day and getting outside whenever the weather is pleasing and often when it's not. But I certainly don’t mind sitting on my porch on these late summer mornings and evenings.

But I did make it out of the house briefly this weekend to celebrate a wonderful friend, and I brought Redbyrd Orchard Cider's 2021 Baldwin- Brown Snout- Kingston Black to taste and share. I picked up this Redbyrd Orchard Cider from Ithaca’s Farmer’s Market earlier in the Summer. In case you’re ever travelling this way, do not overlook the Farmer’s Market as a place to sample and buy local ciders. Our selection is really astounding!

One of the local gems in the Finger Lakes has to be Redbyrd Orchard Ciders. The cidery is based on a small biodynamic farm near Trumansburg, York. I’ve reviewed several of their ciders since first encountering them in 2014. You can find more background in earlier reviews. Here's the full rundown of my earlier Redbyrd Orchard Cider reviews, including one from earlier this year. 

Biodynamic Cloudsplitter Extra Brut:

Tompkins King/Stoke Red (my #6 favorite cider of 2022):

Black is Gold (a collaboration with Black Diamond Cider and my #1 cider of 2021):

Celeste Sur Lie 2015:

The Andromeda Crab:

Their presence at an all FLX pairing dinner:

The North Star:

The Starblossom:

The Dry Harvest Cider 2013:

The Wild Pippin (my #1 cider of 2014, the Wild Pippin):

And I encourage folks to visit Redbyrd Orchard Cider online to learn more about the current cider lineup:

Here’s what I learned about the 2021 Baldwin- Brown Snout- Kingston Black from the folks at Redbyrd.  

Alcohol 8%

A beautiful dry cider made from these three apples: Baldwin, Brown Snout, Kingston Black

Certified Biodynamic® by Demeter

pressed rack and cloth with secondary fermentation in bottle, sediment natural

all grown, fermented and bottled at Redbyrd Orchard

22 cases produced

notes of chocolate mint, cinnamon, peppercorn, bittersweet apple

Appearance: intense brass color, brilliant, bubbly

Apologies for the action shot; I’m having issues with my camera lately. Still, it’s apparent that this cider shimmers with a beautifully intense brass color. It’s brilliant with bubbles as well. 

Aromas: oranges, autumnal, overripe apples, rubber

The Baldwin- Brown Snout- Kingston Black  causes an immediate salivary reaction for me! This is going to be a wonderfully exciting cider. The first aroma notes I can identify are overripe apple, oranges, and wet autumn leaves. The scents are mellow and a touch oxidized. I expect deep autumnal acid and apple flavors in this one. Yum.

Sweetness/dryness: fully dry

I love the total dryness of this cider. It’s austere and yet filled with flavor. 

Flavors and drinking experience: actively tannic, fine bubbles, funky, acid but round

The Baldwin- Brown Snout- Kingston Black tastes actively tannic, even a bit fiery and aggressive. I love its champagne-style bubbles from the cider’s second in the bottle fermentation. That crisp sophistication is made beautifully complex with some funky and metallic notes and big round acids. The mouthfeel is full, with a long blocky tannic finish. This cider goes best with salty foods. It’s big, fun, and challenging. These are wonderfully interesting apples, and I’m so glad that Redbyrd Orchard Cider made the most of them.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Cider Review: Citizen Cider’s Ruby Sipper

From moving fast to being grounded, my week has been a whirl and a shift. I’m in a boot and instructed to stay off my right foot for a few weeks as of this morning. I’d been experiencing increasing foot pain for about a month, but I’m hopeful that with the boot I can keep it immobilized for a while. Obviously, this is not what I’d like to be doing right now. I need to cut the blooms off of my basil, harvest from the garden, mow the yard, and care for all of the pets and people and house in my life. This slow down isn’t negotiable, so it’s time for me to literally put my feet up and see what work I can do from this position.

Happily, before I got this news, I was able to enjoy a fun new cider spotted in my local grocery store. Rhubarb and Hibiscus are two of my favorite flavors, so when I saw what Citizen Cider uses for the Ruby Sipper, I had to pick up a pack. I’m often fond of what this Vermont-based cidery creates, so I’ve reviewed several. More background info on the cidery is available in these earlier reviews. Here’s the full list. 

For Shore:

Tree Tapper:

Northern Spy:

Sur Lies:


The Wood:

Companion Sour Cherry:

Wit’s Up:

Barrel Aged:

Citizen Cider bRosé:

My visit to Citizen Cider:

Here’s a link to Citizen Cider’s website, where you can find info on all of the cider releases:

I’ll share the full description of the Ruby Sipper from Citizen Cider’s website. 

Introducing the Ruby Sipper - a cider in technicolor. This unique rosé seamlessly blends the wild aromas of Brettanomyces with notes of candied cherry, vanilla, and strawberry. Buckle up, because the Ruby Sipper is funky, fruity, and entirely out of this world.

Alcohol 4.20%

Appearance: ruby, brilliant, very few visible bubbles

My gracious! The Ruby Sipper has a lovely intense ruby red hue. Why on Earth is this cider sold in cans? This color was meant to be seen! The cider is brilliant, and I saw very few bubbles in my glass.

Aromas: rose hips, hibiscus, ripe apples, red grapes, mineral dust

This cider doesn’t have the most bold aroma but what’s there is enticing, The Ruby Sipper smells most immediately of rose hips, hibiscus, ripe apple, and red grapes. My cotaster said it smells like a sweeter cider. Lurking in the background I can detect mineral dust and creamy yogurt. 

Sweetness: Semi-dry to semi-sweet

This falls on the sweet side of semi-dry or the driest edge of semi-sweet. What sweetness is there is very fruity and juicy.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, ripe apple, sparkling, leather finish, rhubarb, hibiscus, smoky

Wow, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this cider based on the mention of Brettanomyces in the description. That’s honestly not what I taste. Instead, in the Ruby Sipper I get loads of high acid, plenty of fruit, and a specifically leathery finish. The fruit is a beautiful blend of apple and rhubarb and is clear in the taste in a way that was less so on the nose. 

There are elements that taste a bit smoky even meaty; they are phenols that I taste often in higher concentrations in heritage style English ciders. The Ruby Sipper has a pleasingly rich mouthful, but it’s not sticky or overwhelming. My co-taster commented that it reminded him of a sweet ripe tomato.

I enjoyed this with a wild rice and veggie salad that included tomatoes from my garden, tangy cheese, and all manner of ephemeral summer flavors.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Cider Review: Ragged and Right Cider Project's First Pick Gravenstein

This moment at the dizzy height of Summer grants a full view of the season to come: Autumn. We’re in the midst of so many harvests; school is gearing up to begin another year. Mornings are webbed with dew and spider silk. In my life, the temporary kittens have gone on to their next foster home, so I’m back to enjoying quiet porch mornings with coffee and my own pets. I’m ready for the calm that I can steal during a busy time. One evening this past week, we had a quiet dinner at home with a new cider and that was just right. Here’s how Ragged and Right Cider Project's First Pick Gravenstein worked out for us.

This is my first ever review of anything by Ragged and Right Cider Project. I believe this was another cider scored in a NW Cider Club box. Ragged and Right Cider Project comes out of Washington state. The cidery focuses on using local fruit to ferment small-batch craft cider. Here’s a quote from the website that gives a bit more insight into Ragged and Right’s priorities!

The sister company of Farmstrong Brewing, Ragged & Right Cider exists to provide high end, locally sourced, hard cider. We get our juice straight from the press at our local juice makers and don’t add sugars or substitutes. Blending unique, delicious, and complex cider that will get you somewhere between ragged and right.

Here’s the official description for the First Pick Gravenstein cider.

The inaugural bottling of our First Pick series shines a light on the delicious Gravenstein Apple, grown and pressed at Bellewood Acres in Whatcom County. The initial notes in the aroma are light and pillow like which is mimicked in the delicate first sip. Starting crisp and effervescent, the flavor unfolds in waves as the full flavors of the apple come to life with every sip. 5.3% ABV.

Find this side project of Farmstrong Brewing online here:

Appearance: pale straw, brilliant, no visible bubbles

This looks totally welcoming and familiar with its pale straw color shining in the glass. It’s not an intense shade, but rather its mellowness is gentle and appealing. I don’t see any bubbles in the glass

Aromas: mineral dust, white grapes, woody

The First Pick smells pleasant with an immediate intensity of aroma that I love. What hits first is lots of mineral dust, white grape, and some bitter notes. My co-taster smelled stone, wood, and cotton: an intriguing and clean bouquet.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

This cider is semi-sweet—surprising and unusual for a single varietal. Often those are fermented to dryness and this instead has plenty of residual sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, leather, strong sparkle, ripe green apple, vanilla

The First Pick tastes lightly leathery with high acidity. The cider offers nice richly abiding sparkle, and a full mouthfeel. The First Pick is sessionable and easily drinkable. I found the cider has a creamy finish, with notes of vanilla. The fruitiness of the midpalate is boisterous and concentrated ripe green apple.

We had this with Zucchini Pie (made by me), and the combination was ideal!