Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cider Review: Redbyrd Orchard Cider's North Star

Perhaps three weeks into this shiny new year is too soon to review a cider by the folks who made my absolute favorite cider of last year. Alas, those protests will go unheeded. This set of cider notes actually pre-dates my falling totally in love with the Wild Pippin, and this represents a start of some early spring cleaning around here. I have lots of slightly odd sets of notes or sets of photos with incomplete notes. I have really extensive written notes for this cider, but much in the way of pictures. The cider is interesting, so I'll work around the lack of pictures. I plead for your patience.

Redbyrd Orchard Cider is a small local cidery made up of a wife-husband team (Deva and Eric) with a beautiful orchard and some really big goals.
Redbyrd Orchard Cider approaches cidermaking with a winemaker’s sensibility.   As with grapes to wine, to make truly great cider, you must start with truly great fruit. (You can make bad cider out of good fruit, but you cannot, no matter how hard you try, make good cider out of bad fruit.)   “We are lucky to live in an area ideal for pomme fruit and Our goal is to grow the best fruit around and in turn offer you the best cider possible!”
Read more about them, their ciders, and their really exciting cider CSA on their website:  For more frequently updated information from Redbyrd Orchard Cider, you can visit their Facebook page:

As my faithful readers I'm sure already know, Redbyrd Orchard Ciders have appeared in this blog a few times before:

The Starblossom

Their Dry Harvest Cider 2013: This is the best of the reviews not only because it talks about great cider, but because there is a kitten picture.

The Wild Pippin:

And most recently as my #1 cider of 2014, the Wild Pippin:
In looking back at those reviews, the major pattern I see from Redbyrd Orchard Cider is their love of extremely high acid ciders. We can surely expect something tart and acidic from the North Star.

This is what Redbyrd Orchard Cider says about their North Star, "A beautiful and rich blend of 70% Golden Russet, 15% Northern Spy, and 15% Rhode Island Greening.  Fruit pressed frozen on Dec. 6, 2013.  1.5 % Residual Sugar,  10% alc/vol." I'm also willing to bet that the aromas will be good; I have loved many aromas from Northern Spy and various Russet varieties. What I don't know much about is how pressing these apples frozen will have altered the finished cider. We'll see.

Appearance: brilliant, small bubbles, deep straw color

Lovely cider in the glass. It is truly brilliant. The color shades almost too deep to be called straw and instead goes in the direction of untreated pine grain or light apricot flesh. Truly lovely and a shame I don't have more and better pictures.

Aromas: applesauce, dusty, green apple, perhaps a tiny hint of acetaldehyde

This cider produces so many notes for me to smell; it really is quite complex. First I notice some dusty chalky smells that combine fluidly with the cider's primary applesauce aroma. The apple aromas smell very cooked and soft to me. Underneath all of that I get perhaps a tiny hint of acetaldehyde flaw that smells a little bleachy along with some hints of green apple candy. Though I might be detecting some imperfections, overall this smells tasty.

Dryness/Sweetness: Off dry but altered by acidity

Right at the start, on the tip of tongue I perceive a powdery, slightly honey-ish, vanilla flavor, but it becomes immediately overtaken by the North Star's acidity. Though this cider has a residual sugar of 1.5% and some fruity characteristics, it actually presents as drier than it is because of the high levels of acidity.

Flavors and drinking experience: umami, acidity, ginger, low tannins

Wow! The umani flavors in this cider really remind me of fresh ripe tomato and lots of it! That's so interesting. I can tastes med-high or even higher acidity; it really lights up salivary glands. Notes of ginger and grapefuit bounce around my palate in a super lively way. This cider is sharp and spicy
 but has almost no tannins. It does offer decent astringency and is quite drinkable. I think I enjoy the persimmon and spicy notes the most. Medium levels of sparkle.

The North Star contains a relatively high 10% alcohol by volume, which makes it's finish just a bit  bitter despite low tannins. I wonder what kind of yeast went into this.

My recommendation for pairing this cider would be to balance out the high acidity with something warm, rich, and perhaps a bit heavy. It would work well with pestos, cream sauces, mushrooms, and all manner of winter comfort foods. In my perfect world, put this cider with a vegetarian meat loaf, rich mashed potatoes, and roasted brussel sprout all slathered in mushroom gravy. That sounds pretty good right about now.