Friday, October 30, 2015

Cider Review: Tieton Ciderworks' Smoked Pumpkin Cider

Okay, I know I give pumpkin stuff a hard time. It's not that I don't absolutely love the orange gourd that has come to represent all of fall. Therefore, I'm not going to apologize for trying most pumpkin ciders that I see anywhere and anywhen. Finding one I actually really like doesn't happen even half of the time, so its a difficult hurdle and yet and interesting one.

Perhaps I've tipped my hand too soon, but here's my review of a fall seasonal by Tieton Ciderworks. 

That's alright.

You can visit their website here:

My only previous review of anything by Tieton Ciderworks has more of a company intro there:

Smoked pumpkin by Tieton cider works

Official description
An earthy nuanced cider filled with tannins and acid and smoked over apple wood – the same wood that produced the apples – which gives it a light sweetness. the earthiness of pumpkin is your first experience The apple juice steps back, allowing the smoke to be your first experience, followed by a light smoke and finishing with the acid of the cider.

This cider has the familiar 6.9% ABV of many craft ciders. at this point, its almost reassuring that this is the fermented juice of apples instead of a blend leaning too heavily on unfermented ingredients.

Appearance: aged intense gold

Like popcorn kernels and the eyes of certain cats, this cider offers a mesmerizing intensity of old gold. Its an exciting cider to see with all of those big clinging bubbles and gorgeous clarity. 

Sweetness/dryness: semi-dry/semi-sweet

Tieton's Smoked Pumpkin falls in the middle of the road in terms of sweetness, at least to me.  Truly, I'd be hard pressed to say if its more a semi-dry or a semi-sweet. Tieton calls it a semi-dry and I think most cider drinkers would find that a reasonable description.

Aromas: spicy, peppery, fruity, dusty 

Smells sweet dusty peppery

There are good notes of anticipation in here. So often I love the ciders that smell both spicy and dusty. This has that going on but also sweet and peppery.

Flavors and drinking experience: spicy, vegetal, tart, woody

I'm not sure the official description gives a guidebook the my experience of this cider! It rather rates a guidebook though because it does have multiple stages and plenty of complexity. I can taste lots of smoke, plenty of pumpkin and what feels like savory spices. Before I read the description I would have called white pepper, nutmeg, and clove but not in a "pumpkin spice" way. I taste these spices are bitterness, heat, and savory because the cider isn't very sweet and there's no cinnamon brown sugar softness to sand down the angles. But once I read more, I learned it's just pumpkin juice. Fascinating.

My tasting companion instead found tons of squash and vegetal notes and much less smoke. he noted the tension between sweet and bitter with fibrous woodiness.  Our different impressions were far more distinct than usual. 

We did agree about the full mouthfeel and medium sparkle. I'd say its tastefully fizzy but that could be even stronger.

This pumpkin cider definitely pairs well with food. I'd recommend it with a fall quinoa salad and the first roasted brussels sprouts of the season. Or have it for yourself when you open up your door for tricker-or-treaters this weekend!

Happy Halloween