Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cider Review: Tieton Ciderworks' Yakima Valley Dry Hopped Cider

In the name of seasonality, I've been focusing on fruit ciders more than usual lately. Summer suits them and in summer, they suit me more than the rest of the year. But that's far from the only direction summer-friendly ciders can take. One of my other favorites has to be hopped ciders. I love them year round, but I find they work especially well in the summer. Hence, my first review ever of a Tieton Ciderworks Cider, the Yakima Valley Dry Hopped Cider.

Since this is, surprisingly, my first actual blog post about a Tieton Ciderworks beverage, I'd like to introduce the company a bit. Here's what they say about themselves on their website:
Our fresh pressed juice comes from apples grown in the Pacific Northwest. We blend American heritage, English and French cider varieties with our organically grown dessert apples to capture the best of what each variety brings to the bottle: sweetness, acidity, tannin and aroma. The results are ciders with body and a depth of finish.
I appreciate how much this introduction focuses on the taste features of their cider. That's relatively rare. More commonly, I see a narrative about location, personal connections to cider, preserving heritage apple varieties, and various values that are somewhat more mediated. Mind you, those things can also anchor a wonderful cider company, so I'm not dissing that. But I prioritize taste, and when I see a cider company that speaks about taste, I have a feeling that we might speak the same language.

Taste isn't all that Tieton writes about when it comes to their history and identity. Their orchard is organic and currently worked by the third generation of this Yakima Valley farming family. And they spend a whole paragraph on the concept of food pairing with cider. 

Quick aside, the current labeling and visual branding for their ciders no longer looks like the bottle I photographed and tasted. I highly recommend taking a look at their website because the new graphic design style is simply gorgeous. I love the changes they made.

Here's the site: http://tietonciderworks.com

Tonight's cider is Tieton Ciderworks' Yakima Valley Dry Hopped Cider. Here's what the cidermakers say about it.
The Yakima Valley is known worldwide as a premier apple growing region and a prominent source of hops.  We have chosen a select blend of traditional and exotic hops to marry with our cider. This blend of hops produces an aroma of fruit-forward nuttiness followed by a citrusy palate.

500ml – 6.9% Alcohol

Our most versatile food cider:  it plays well with citrus; it loves dishes with lots of herbs, and blends with the diverse flavors of many cultures.   It is amazing because it pairs with pork in our Spicy Pork Stew; Red Posole and Tomato Fennel Soups and with fish in our White Bean and Tuna Salad, Raviolis with Prawns and our stunning Cider Battered Whitefish sandwich.   Keep several bottles of this cider around and make any meal special.

Appearance: brilliant, medium numbers of visible bubbles, bright straw

This is a lovely cider to look at. I enjoy the active bubbles and bright straw color.

Aromas: citrus, pine, green grapes

Primarily I can smells delicate green grapes, but spices take their role as well. Pine needles make it smell clean and citrusy fill out that classic hopped cider profile. Gorgeous smells. My husband gets notes of Lychee and a little rubber. All in all, it gives me the anticipation for apple citrus herbal hoppy goodness.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry to semi-dry

The cider tastes like a fruity citrusy semi-dry to me, but I'm guessing many folks would find it drier than that. The acidity and gentle bitterness of the finish balance out the fruit nicely.

Flavors and drinking experience: herbaceous, appley, balanced, fruity

This hopped cider tastes both appley and hoppy in that pine soap and lemon sort of way. Very pleasantly so. It has really lovely level of sparkle, just enough and not too much. Everything about this cider is a little on the gentle side. there's a quick initial taste of pine that melds into mild pear and peach. The midpalate generally strikes me as warmer. Then two seconds later I'm headed off into that lingering herbal grassy bitter finish. The body is light and lithe and summery.

We had this with both supper and dessert. Supper was a bruschetta with tomato, mozzarella, toasted walnuts, red bell pepper all chopped and macerated together with olive oil, garlic and salt heaped onto toasted baguette rounds. This works well with a hopped cider! I think the citrus notes bring it together the most.

The dessert, to my surprise, worked even better. This time the Yakima Valley Dry Hopped Cider complimented leftover birthday cake. That doesn't sound as epic as it tasted, because this was not just any cake. My dear friend Marybeth made a triple layer chocolate cake with caramel chocolate ganache, and, just as she promised, the cake tasted even better a day or two after it had been assembled. This is the cake that we had with delightfully light and semi-dry hopped cider. If you take any one thing away from this post; try a hopped cider with cake. You deserve it.