Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Cider Review: South Hill Cider's Stone Fence Farm

One of the cideries making the Finger Lakes cider explosion happen has to be South Hill Cider. Steve Selin's small cidery uses local fruit, heritage varietals of apple, and foraged fruit. They've not been around for many years yet, but their ciders have certainly made a name for themselves quickly. You can read about everything they do on the website.

I have reviewed two South Hill Ciders before. 

First a single batch blend with hops and cherries, the Hypothesis:

I also reviewed the 2014 batch of the foraged PackBasket also blended with foraged pears:

What I'm realizing only just now, this review of the Stone Fence Farm is my only review of a cider made from only apples. How novel! 

Here's how South Hill Cider introduces it.

A single-orchard cider, all of the fruit came from a small homestead cider orchard planted by our friend Peter Hoover between 1995-2000 near Trumansburg, NY. 
Still, DryBalanced and expressive. Aromas of wet slate, rich soil. Starfruit, lychee, walnut. Mouth-watering finish.Apple varieties: Golden and Roxbury Russets, Redfield, Tremletts Bitter, Bramleys Seedling, Zabergau Reinette, Kingston Black, Major, Michelin, Medaille d'Or, Chisel Jersey, Brown Snout, Esopus Spitzenburg, Sops of Wine, Granny Smith, Foxwhelp, Winter Banana, Calville Blanc, Cox's Orange Pippin, Sheepnose, and more.RS 0.3% / TA 7.6g/L / 7.5 ABV750 mL 
I want to take a moment just to emphasize that all of the apples for this cider came from one small orchard. And look at those varieties! These are not easily found apples. The orchard isn't a commercial operation, just the labor of love of someone who loves cider and apples very much. Its a tremendous window into this fruit to see it come together as a single batch of cider. I'm very curious!

Appearance: just a little hazy, warm saffron yellow, virtually no visible bubbles

Please forgive the helpfully labeled Chardonnay glasses in the picture. I assure you, this is cider and not Chardonnay. I love the color, its so warm and mellow. It isn't a brilliant tone of color and there are no bubbles to speak of. I predict a still cider.

Aromas: soft apples, paper, minerals, fermentation

This smells subtly floral and just a little powdery. I get tons of apple with some soft papery notes. The cider also seems a little minerally while still giving off airs of gently boozy fermentation. What a charming overall impression!

Dry/sweet: just off dry

This cider seems almost totally dry. The experience is not dominated by this factor, but I find the barest hint of sweetness quite pleasant in the context of the other flavors. Primarily though, it does come across as dry.

Flavors and drinking experience: Still, great mouthfeel, mellow, high tannin

I was right; this cider is completely still! It also resembles the aromas I noticed by being high tannin, high acid, and just off-dry. I mean its pretty functionally dry. but also warmly rich and flavorful. I adore its gentle mouthcoat. This is decidedly finger lakes in profile but well-balanced. 

It tastes like fermented fruit, not fresh fruit. This means its a little yeasty a little spicy, very mellow and offers up a golden nice long finish. I had this cider at a friends house with homemade pasta with a red cream sauce and a super flavorful salad with lots of balsamic vinegar. The cider was not overpowered by these bold combinations, but you could also let it be even more central with some more simple gentle pairings like burrata cheese, grilled peaches, and toasted almonds. At least, that's how I would do it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Cider Review: Lyme Bay Cider Company's Jack Ratt Vintage Dry

As much as I loved writing up my cider travels in Vermont last week, I'm ready to return even more to my cider roots. For me that means english cider, so today I'm sharing my review of Lyme Bay Cider Company's Jack Ratt Vintage Dry

YOu can find out about all of the ciders and wines made by Lyme Bay Winery on the website here:

Here's how Lyme Bay Cider Co. presents the brand: 
The UK has the highest per-capita consumption of cider of any country in the world, so it’s no surprise that here at Lyme Bay we are passionate about keeping the skill of West Country cidermaking alive. 
We use nothing but the freshly pressed juice of locally grown, traditional cider apple varieties such as Dabinett, Kingston Black and Yarlington Mill to produce a quality range of real, full-flavoured ciders. We are very proud that our Jack Ratt Scrumpy Cider, Jack Ratt Vintage Cider and Lyme Bay Sparkling Cider have all won numerous awards.
I admit that when I saw the unusually shaped bottle on a shelf in Lizard in Cornwall, I was more than halfway sold already. That, plus the name, and I knew I had to carry this little bottle back to New York and hope it delivered. I did look up what the company says about this cider, so as to know just a little about my choice. The cider's page on the website describes it as, "Still, full bodied, filtered strong cider in a traditional 1ltr glass flagon. Store upright."

and even more intriguingly they list its awards and put a quote (sadly un-cited) that gave me even higher hopes, "This smells of old fashioned Scrumpy, but it's clearly filtered & has been brought forward with modern techniques. It's just gorgeous- it’s got a lightness a refinement, yet it’s not lost any of it's heritage." High praise indeed, but I wish I knew where it came from! 

Anyhow, enough anticipation. Time for the cider itself. 

Appearance: hazy dark copper red, opaque

I have to note that when we got to the bottom of the bottle, this was maybe the single most opaque cider I’ve ever seen. I hate to call it cloudy because the opacity was so consistent. This cider is deep mahogany red. I saw almost no bubbles.

Aromas: Caramel, Leather, Wood, Raisin

 This cider offers up a soft caramel smell, with a nice round, easy gently sour lactic note. I'm guessing it underwent a malo-lactic fermentation. It also smells highly tannic in a way that suggests both wood and the barest hints of metal.

Dryness/sweetness: semi-dry

This cider defies the sweet/dry spectrum as I typically experience it. The cider is called dry, but it doesn't taste dry, but neither does it taste sweet. You'll have to read on to find how it registers instead.

Flavors and drinking experience: still, highly tannic, low acid

Like many of my favorite english ciders, the Jack Ratt is still and extremely tannic. But that's not all it is. I found this cider very mellow and raisiny with an enjoyable and surprising tongue drying action. The Jack Ratt reminds me of a tea made from leather, sweetened with flowers. It also only brings low levels of acid. The cider is anything but cloying.

Bigger swigs bring out a mineral flavor, a little sourness, and some spiciness! I also taste just a hint of olive brine, but its pretty under control. The cider has a surprisingly clean finish, maybe owing to its not too thick mouthfeel. I like it! A lot! The cider brings many of my favorite qualities of english cider while maintaining enough difference to be distinct.

I found the Jack Ratt extremely enjoyable and more than mildly decadent. It goes well with highly flavored savory food: my cider sharer and I had roasted veggies, sharp cheese, a homemade lemon aoli, and hummus, and it cuts them pretty ideally.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Great Vermont Cider Tour: Day 3! (Plus a bonus stop in New York)

After bidding a fond au revoir to Barney and Dee at Sunrise Orchards, my trusty cider assistant and I headed to downtown Middlebury where we met up with David of Shacksbury Cider.  He took us to Windfall Orchards, where we all hung out for a good while with orchardist Brad and with Misty the dog.

Shacksbury is the brainchild of David (originally from Kansas City) and his business partner Colin, both Middlebury College graduates.  They were fascinated by the tannic quality of English ciders, and so with unique transatlantic partnerships (most notably with Once Upon a Tree), they're now making cider in Vermont using a blend of American and English apples—even some Spanish ones too.  Since the start of 2015, they've gotten distribution beyond state lines and a earned thumbs up from Alice Feiring of the New York Times.  I served some of their Classic at my birthday party this year, since it's available on tap at Ithaca's own Cellar d'Or.  Keep an eye out for a review here.

Brad then showed us around his small but impressive and well-connected 3-acre orchard.  Windfall provides rare varietals to many cideries in Vermont, but their most public partnerships are with Shacksbury and Eden.  Brad and his wife (noted food author Amy Trubek) started working the orchard in 2002, but it's hardly new: their oldest tree is from 1918. That's the tree below. Glorious.

Windfall presses their apples three times per year, measuring careful blends of at least twelve varieties.  Shacksbury's batches are then given slow natural fermentation in uninsulated tanks, and afterwards are bottle conditioned. As David, Brad, and I discussed all this, I was casually handed a scrumptious Chenango Strawberry and St. Laurence apple to eat.

From there, the drive to Woodchuck Cider's home base was only five minutes, but in many respects it felt like a world away.  If you're reading this blog, you know who Woodchuck is.  

You need tanks like these to make eight million gallons of cider per year. You might also note, my adorable cider assistant. 

Woodchuck employs 150 Vermonters, and the cidery sources a huge amount of its apples from in-state (including from Sunrise Orchards, where we stayed last night), but as Caitlin their communications manager told me, their production demands exceed what Vermont can supply, and so they partner with growers in New York and the Yakima Valley too.  They value their local roots: I found their tasting room filling already at 11:30am, and this Saturday, August 20, they're hosting their annual Ciderstock concert, with Sublime.

Woodchuck is the flagship mark of the Vermont Hard Cider Company (which is owned by Pabst, and which also runs Wyder's), and offers both their classic drinks and a host of more recent mass-market experiments like Gumption and the Out On a Limb series.  I'm fond of some of their more straightforward ciders like the Local Nectar (of which I snagged a Michigan-edition sixpack), but I was also happily surprised by their June & Juice (review coming in a month or two.)

Their current facility opened in 2014, and it is enormous, clean, and designed for ecological efficiency.  

They can fill 600 bottles a minute here, and Woodchuck's R&D folks designed and built their own flavor extraction tank for specialty infusions like mint and chocolate.  As with other cideries, Woodchuck also barrel-ages a number of their ciders (like their Private Reserve Cherry).  

We picked up a growler of their 25th Anniversary Cider (like I said, I enjoy the classics), and then finally started the long drive home to Ithaca.  But there was one surprise stop waiting for us.

Glancing at the map, I realized that the Slyboro Ciderhouse was right on the way home, and so I called Dan from the road and set up a quick visit. He was amazingly kind to just let me drop in. Thanks, Dan!

Based in Granville, NY, Slyboro is part of the Hicks family farm and orchard, which has been operating as a public U-pick farm since 1905.  Nineteen-Oh-Five!  You can still visit the whole, beautiful complex, where they've been adding two acres per year of English and French varietals of bittersweet and bittersharp apples.

Dan's family came here in 1974, and the Slyboro cider brand was launched in 2005, which in the cider world makes them veterans.  Dan has made a number of ciders over the years (check out my reviews of his older varieties linked to the right), but these days he's settled on five in-house favorites, which total 12,000 gallons per year, mostly available in New York state.  

The Kingston Black is one of the best single-varietals and one of the best still ciders I've had, period.  Its notes are almost steak-like.  The Hidden Star is their flagship dry blend, with hints of malt.  La Sainte-Terre is a surprising and bold cider mixing complex bitterness with a 1/6 dose of sweet, rich ice cider.  Their Black Currant is a top-seller, and its fruit-forward notes make it easy to see why.  And their Ice Cider has compelling favors of peach and a good mouthfeel that finishes cleaner than many ice ciders.  I'll definitely go deeper in reviews later!

During a tour through the production room, Dan revealed that he and his team learned cidermaking by first creating single-varietal ciders of every apple they grew.  That way, the flavors were more easily understood.  "We learned quickly it was a blending art, needing one note of this and two of that to develop something that will stand on its own."  Knowing that Dan's background is in fine painting, it's easy to imagine how blending flavors might work like mixing colors. 

And from there, the long but lovely drive home.

So after all these exciting travels, tasty ciders, and thoughtful, kind people, two things occur to me.  First, the cider world is pretty small.  Folks know each other, and help each other out.  They offer apples, pressing, juice, bottling, internships, budwood, and advice to each other, and it really reinforces what I love about the larger cider family.  Second, everyone's experience is just a little different, depending on what they're doing and how.  An orchardist and an apple-dreaming mystic both approach business differently from one another, and an entrepreneur blends apple juices differently than a chemist.  I feel so lucky that these perspectives come together in creating so many different ciders, and to be afforded these visits and windows into these people's lives.  Thanks again to everyone for letting me visit!

In case you missed it here's Day 1:

and Day 2:

And thank you for reading!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Great Vermont Cider Tour, Day 2!

After a long sleep on a curiously forbidding bed in Stowe, we rose amid the beautiful grey morning rain and grabbed a few pastries and coffees at Edelweiss.  We also nabbed a Boyden Valley Honey Hopper cider and picked up some cheese and sweets at the Cabot Annex and Champlain Chocolates.  (In my next life I'm coming back as a cheese reviewer!)

Then we were off to the Farmhouse restaurant in Burlington, where we had cheddar ale soup, fries, and a beet salad.  We also tried Urban Farm Fermentory's Hopped Cidah, from Portland, Maine.  This was an unfiltered, canned cider with a smell heavy on pears and lychee (as is common with hops), but with a gentle funk—pleasantly green and sweaty.  The taste was very tart and surprisingly dry, with lots of grapefruit flavor.  It plays the edge of tasting outright bitter, but with a scintillating fruity bouquet of unripe apple.  Check it out next time you're able!

Our first cider tour of the day was at Citizen Cider, Burlington's hometown favorite.  If you've not spent time in Vermont, you might not yet know that Citizen is a major player in the cider world.  Last year's nationwide sales charts put them as the 10th biggest seller in America.  This is especially impressive given both how regional their reach is and how young a company they are!  

Citizen Cider was begun in 2010 by three friends (Justin, Chris, and Brian), who wondered why cider hadn't reemerged in America to the same popularity that it had enjoyed before prohibition.  They produced 5000 gallons their first year, and this year they're at 600,000 gallons.  For real.

Citizen makes a wide variety of ciders, with a stable of core products, seasonal releases, and limited-edition one-offs.  I tried about eight of their ciders today, and while there's a fair bit of range, the house style that unifies them is cleanness: nearly all of them were clear in their taste, brilliant in clarity, highly drinkable, and tidy in their finish.

Jordan showed us their testing areas and told us about both their exciting R&D program and their forays into crowdsourcing their apples: their Olmstead Apple Project allowed Vermonters to contribute their own backyard fruit to a community-oriented beverage. 

(And yes, that's a carboy of...could it be beet juice[?] at the bottom left of this next picture.  Get ready for the future.)

Endeavors like the Olmstead Project are indicative of the idea behind the Citizen name—community, approachability, and mutuality.

After some vintage store action in Burlington, we were off to Champlain Orchards.  Before we even get to the review, let's plug their Cider Fest, which is coming up on August 27th!  If you're in Western Vermont, stop by for some music and cider.

Champlain Orchards have been under their current ownership for 18 years, and in that time have expanded from 45 acres of active orchard to 240.  

A lot of their apples actually wind up in grocery stores, and some of them are sold to other cideries (I don't sip and tell).  But Champlain is very proud of their own cider, which has already made good growth (and won some handsome awards) in the four years it's been around.  Some of their early collaborations and much of their tutelage is courtesy of Eleanor Leger of Eden Specialty Ciders.  (I promise to visit Eden next time!)

Jane, their tasting room manager and head of sales, gave us five ciders to try.  Notable were their heirloom cider (which uses 31 varieties, with a plummy bourbon note), and their sparkling iced cider (one of the most strikingly deep tastes of any I've had, and a rare carbonated entry in the usually-still ice cider category).  

My favorites, though, were probably the Pruner's Pride, which was the first cider they ever made, and the Ginger and Spice, which really hits my "Yowza!" nerve.  I bought both of these, so stay tuned for a review of at least one of them in the coming while.

A charming dinner at the Shoreham Inn followed (that bruschetta!), and then we got cozied up at the bed and breakfast of Sunrise Orchards, with some bonus affection from Josie the dog and Fe the cat.  

Sunrise Orchard has the among the biggest, loveliest orchards I've ever seen! It was planted in 1974 by Barney Hodges, who says, "It was a dairy farm, but I thought it would make a good orchard.  And I was right."  He planted 50,000 trees (and says he was the first orchardist to use machine planting in New England).  

His son (also Barney) runs the operations today, providing apples for more than one cider that you know and like.  They mostly specialize in Macintosh, Paula Red, Empire, Red Delicious, Macoun, and a growing number of heritage and cider varieties.  An astonishing place! 

And then I was off to bed.  Stay tuned for day three of our Vermont Cider Tour tomorrow!

In case you missed it, here's Day 1:

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My Fantastic Vermont Cider Tour: Day 1 (Starting with New Hampshire)

I know my trip is Vermont trip, but it starts with a significant stop in New Hampshire. After breakfast with family at the Fairlee Diner and a quick stop in Hanover, we were off to the legendary Farnum Hill at Poverty Lane Orchards, where we were greeted by the cider dogs Crosby, Marianne, and Newton—and of course, by Steve Wood and Nicole LeiBon.  Nicole took us on a pleasantly casual but deeply educational tour of Farnum Hill's complex.  (Technically, this is in New Hampshire, not Vermont, but who's counting?)

One of the ways that Farnum Hill has communicated with fans this year has been the #OrchardYear project.  Every Wednesday they post an Instagram photo of what's going on at the cidery that week.  Mid August is clearly preparation for apple harvest: dozens of bins are left to dry in the sun before they're needed, and it reminds me of just how many apples go into those lovely bottles.  

Farnum Hill harvests entirely by hand and press small batches on-site.  Their orchard, dating to the early 1960s, is as important to them as their cider: the two are inseparable.  

We explored two holy barrel rooms and sampled (with a pipette!) some of their perry and their semi-dry, stacked high to the ceiling, these barrels are twenty years old, and neutral in flavor, save for an occasional hint of vanilla, according to Nicole. 

Our conversation ranged broadly but centered on the current state of the cider world until Steve gave us a tromp through his orchards.  Steve Wood has been working with these trees since he was eleven years old, and if that doesn't blow your mind, it should.

The public face of Poverty Lane Orchards is the grove of U-pick McIntosh and Cortland apples, but behind it are the Wickson, Spitzenberg, Golden Russet, and Dabinett apples that made Farnum Hill unique.  The trees are old and widely spaced; beneath each grows tall grass that cushions the apples' fall.  I was reminded of England and its cider heritage. These trees are grown deliberately for their results and not for their aesthetics. 

I could have chewed the fat with these two all day, but it's a working farm, and I had miles to go.  Specifically, our next stop was Fable Farms in Barnard, a cooperative so new that their cider is really only found at the local farmer's market and a few high-end restaurants.  But if their gorgeous production barn (modeled after a 1745 building) and lofty ambitions are any indication, you may be hearing more about them.  

Christopher looks the young rural prophet and speaks much the same: his vision of cider is foraged apples, wild fermented, and creatively combined with other local fruits, botanicals, and honeys. They are unabashedly ecological and esoteric in their craft, which was invigorating and inspiring.  

"There are no boundaries to cider and what it could and should be," says Christopher.  Similarly cidermaker Johnny explains that in pressing 3500 gallons from apples all hand-foraged within an eight-mile radius, Fable has begun to think of terroir as more than merely the ground, but the broader context and origin story of a cider.  

We tried four bottles by Fable and were thrilled to buy and take home a few with us.  Their strengths lay in their high tannins, strong acid, and a unique combination of the better elements from both English and Basque traditions.  Expect reviews in the coming months.

We then switched things up with a brief but absurdly delicious visit to the Vermont Creamery.  Oh goodness, that butter, that cheese.  Or as our server's t-shirt declared, "Chèvre Forèvre." I'll stand by that.

Finally, we drove to the buzzing tourist destination of Stowe, where Stowe Cider has just opened their new tasting room.  There we met with Nikki, a longtime fan of the blog and the tasting room manager for the company.  Hi Nikki!

Nikki let us try all five ciders on tap, and we walked out having purchased an armload more.  Among our favorites from Stowe Cider were their Smuggler's Bourbon (a very drinkable winter cider with good notes of maple and a little tannin) and their surprising Snow's Raspberry (sweet, yes, but so much basil!).  

Stowe Cider has a really clean finish and look (thanks in part to their cross-flow filtering), and their plans to expand their reach into New Hampshire will surely excite our Granite State readers.  I got a great vibe from Nikki's energy and from the thematics that Stowe is going for, and the elegant balance they strike between local ingredients, modern methods, and accessibility.  

That's all for the cider today!  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the completely amazing dinner we had at Plate in Stowe.  Ho. Ly. Cow.  Forward-thinking and delicious, with lots of creative vegetarian options.  Paradise on a platter.  Tomorrow, we're off to Citizen, Shacksbury, and Champlain.

Here's the link to Day 2:

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Cider Review: Seattle Cider Company's Basil Mint

The finger lakes region of Upstate New York is experiencing a once in a lifetime drought. The dryness is so much greater than usual that you can see the difference in satellite photographs. But, thunderstorms are coming. While I wait, I want cider that feels extra cool and somehow even more wet. I'm hoping that Seattle Cider Company's Basil Mint will fill this need.

First, let's talk about Seattle Cider Company. They were kind enough to send me this cider in the mail. I wish I could buy their stuff locally. Seattle Cider Company uses Washington state apples, white wine yeasts, and cane sugar. Sometimes they add other ingredients, but the website makes of point of making the ingredients clear and simple. 

You can find out more about ciders on their cleanly designed website:

Previously, I reviewed the Gin Botanical. I was bowled over by not only the creative impulse behind the cider but also its beautiful execution and balance. Feel free to check out the review:

I have a feeling that Basil Mint might share a few features in common with the Gin Botanical, that's partly why I chose it for tonight. We'll have to find out if I'm correct to anticipate cool aquatic herbal notes like I do.
I was struck by the notes and description for this cider. Take a look 

APPLES: Smith, Fuji, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala 
TASTING NOTES: Fermented with fresh basil and mint, this off-dry cider starts savory and floral, complemented perfectly by a tart, clean finish.

Many thanks to Seattle Cider Company for including their list of apples. These are a blend of eating or dessert apples. These are fairly typical choices for west coast ciders where loads of eating fruit is grown.  

As for the description of the Basil Mint, these tasting notes give me a lot to look forward to. And I'm still anticipating some echoes of the Gin Botanical.

Appearance: brilliant, wheaty gold, very few visible bubbles

While this cider appeared very pale when poured into a clear glass vessel, using my cider mug I was able to capture more color.

Aromas: mint, powdered sugar, fresh apples, hops?

Interesting, this smells like sugar, apples, and hops as well as mint. I don't smell a ton of basil.

Sweetness/dryness: sem-dry

I'd call this cider semi-dry but the flavors come from so much more what makes it semi or dry. I'd not go along with the description of off dry though.

Flavors and drinking experience: basil, mint, apple, tartness, balance

The basil appears in the flavor just not the smell. Oh that's so cool. I can taste mint and basil and apple! When I was trained to judge ciders with additional flavors, the number one consideration was balance. We must not lose sight of cider flavors in the pursuit of exciting additions. At the same time, why bother to mix in or coferment if it doesn't fundamentally change the beverage? I applaude Seattle Cider Company for so carefully preparing a drink that allows all of these ingredients to speak so beautifully together.

To go into a bit more detail, in terms of texture, I found a medium intensity of bubble in the Basil Mint. I tasted no tannins. This cider's slightly high acidity kept me on my toes in a very pleasant way. 
What a great cider to keep by my cider as I wait for rain. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Cider Review: Griffin Ciderworks' Afterburner

Summer time comes with a special magic unknown to the rest of the seasons, but this summer has been really hot and really dry. Most of the magic for me has come in quiet early mornings and nighttime walks. This does not have to deter the devoted cider lover. I've been trying things along with all of the culinary splendors of summer, just attempting more cold salads and avoiding turning the oven on more than once or twice a week. 

And cider makes a fantastic cold treat. Today's comes from Griffin Ciderworks. They are a primarily local cider producer and taproom in Cleveland, Ohio.

They don't have the most complete website, but between it and there Facebook page, you can find a fair bit of information. Here are links to both.

Today, I wanted to share my impressions of Griffin Ciderworks' Afterburner.

Griffin's official description reads:
 “Ginger Ale’d” Cider – a medium, English-styled ‘Cider Ginger. Blended with fresh ginger and allowed to mellow for a rich and refreshing cider that is great to enjoy with the return of the ‘good weather.’ The ginger adds a nice light bite and provides a lasting and satisfying finish. Serve over ice or thoroughly chilled.
You know how I feel about recommending cider over ice, but I'll not blame the cider for that. And in this heat, and I can understand the motivation.

Appearance: brilliant, corn, bubbly

I am struck by what a bright corn color appears in my glass. As the photo shows, the cider could be read through, making it brilliant. Also, bubbles.

Aromas: strong ginger, powdered sugar, baking spice, stones, dust

So many smells! I am impressed by how whoa strong this cider smells like ginger. Also, the Afterburner offers up notes of powdered sugar, stone, cooked apples, and baking spices.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

To me, this cider tastes moderately semi sweet, I found it but extremely high acidity. This might make some folks experience it as more dry.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, ginger, tart

Again with the whoa strong, but the strength builds rather than shocks. This cider goes crazy with the intense ginger flavor. I'd call the Afterburner a bit acetic, but that plausibly almost melds into the ginger element. Definitely a semi sweet. The Afterburner does really interesting things with the concept of ginger cider by taking the acidity up so high, including a little funkiness, and keeping the sweetness in the medium range, but as a result it is not very balanced.

Overall the experience is very textural. I like highly bubbly tart ciders, and this is definitely one of those. I paired this with a cool cucumber soup and hearty bread. Personally, I enjoyed going with a contrast based pairing for this particular cider; it really added to the experience.