Thursday, September 29, 2016

Veggie Eaters Love Cider: How to best do FLX Cider Week as a Vegetarian! Xposted

We are now so close to the start of Finger Lakes Cider Week! I can almost taste it. But, I thought it might be nice to highlight a few events that are especially welcoming to vegetarians. I eat a plant-based diet, so I'm partly being selfish and planning out a few of my own RSVPs for the week. Some folks love love love pork with cider, but they will have no trouble finding exciting meals for that classic combo, but this list is for those of us who look beyond that into vegetable and cider pairings.

The number one event for food variety will be Apple Harvest Festival in Ithaca.

This event runs Friday September 30th through Sunday October 2nd on the commons in downtown Ithaca. You can find out about all of the activities and vendors at the website:

There's not one set of cider and food pairings but you can fantastic food from more than a dozen places, much of it vegetarian and several local cider places will be sampling and selling cider too.

The next event I want to highligh for vegetable lovers is the Tap Takeover at Moosewood Restaurant. The taps will feature South Hill Cider, Black Diamond Cider, and 1911 cider as well as the classic rotating menu that has made Moosewood famous since the 70s.

Here's a link to Moosewood's page about the restaurant:

and to the Facebook event for the tap takeover:

5 Days 5 Courses at Agava in Ithaca

Starting this Sunday at Agava, there will be a 5 course tasting menu including vegetarian options and local cider. I know South Hill Cider will be featured, but I have a feeling that other local cideries will be available as well. I do the cider week tasting menu every year at Agava and I've never been disappointed

Cider Menu at Taverna Banfi in Ithaca

I called the restaurant to find out if this week's special menu could be vegetarian friendly and I was assured that all off the special even menus at Taverna Banfi include vegetarian options and that this week will be no exception.

Cider Pairing Dinner featuring South Hill Cider at Nortstar House in Ithaca

This is another restaurant I called, and I'm glad I did because of the enthusiastic response! I love Northstar House and they tend to be very vegetable-centric and inclusive of vegetarians. This dinner will be multiple courses featuring different ciders from South Hill Cider and delicious dishes by their chef.

Finger Lakes Cider House Presents: Cider + Cheese Saturday on Saturday, October 8th, 11:00am – 6:00pm at Finger Lakes Cider House, 4017 Hickock Rd. Interlaken, NY 14847

They are celebrating the magnificent pairing that is cheese and cider with area cideries and creameries in to offer you cider and cheeses paired up for your tasting enjoyment from more producers than you can imagine.

Cider + Cheese Saturday at Engelbert Farms on Saturday, October 8th, 10:00am-5:00pm at 182 Sunnyside Rd, Nichols, NY 13812

There will be free farm tours (weather permitting) from 11 to 4 on each hour. Free samples of Engelbert’s organic cheeses and smoked sausages will be available all day. Certified organic cheeses – cheddars, goudas, feta, moochego and moovache, as well as farm-raised certified organic meats and some winter vegetables will be available for purchase in the farm store. Here are the cideries that will be represented on the farm for the day: Eve’s Cidery and Good Life Farm!

Cheese + Cider Saturday at Blackduck Cidery Saturday, October 8th, 10:00am – 5:00pm at 3046 Co Rd 138, Ovid, NY 14521.

This event will feature Crosswinds Creamery at Blackduck Cidery for cheese & cider tastings and pairings. Visitors can enjoy cider and family fun at the Candor Farm Festival. There will be barn tours, goat milk NY state made products, Eve's Cidery cider, and demonstrations of Atlatl (for those who don't know that's a specific type of ancient spear throwing). Just be sure to finish up your spear throwing before you settle in for some cider!

One last cheese and cider pairing-

Orchard Tour & Tasting at Redbyrd Orchard Cider on October 9th, tours at 11:00am and 1:00pm at 4491 Reynolds Rd, Trumansburg, NY 14886

At this event you can join orchardists and cider makers for a tour of their biodynamic orchard and learn more about what goes into each bottle of Redbyrd Orchard Cider by seeing the trees, sheep, geese, and family. Orchard walking tour beginning at 1pm and ending with a lovely apple, cheese, and Redbyrd Orchard Cider tasting. I've been told that this event is rain or shine.

These should be enough exciting activities to keep every vegetarian well entertained and well fed!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Cider Review: 1911's Founders Reserve Hopped Hard Cider and FLX Cider Week!

We're only a few day away from  Finger Lakes Cider Week! Yes, fall begins at the Equinox, but this is just about the most joyful celebration of fall and harvest that I do every year. So, while I'm counting down the days, I want to share my review of a cider from our region: 1911. 

My friend Yann made this cider for 1911 where he is now the head cider maker. He delivered this to my house some months ago to show me what he's been up to there. Yann's move to 1911 was part of the company's significant re-investment, renovation, and development of the cider side of the business. Beak and Skiff had been running as a large orchard successfully for quite some time (hence the name) and had branched out into spirits and cider using their own orchard fruit.

1911 has sometimes mistakenly been called Beak and Skiff because that's the name of the orchard from whence the apples come, and I admit I've made that mistake myself. Just for the record, the cider is 1911.

Before the new facility and long before I knew the cider maker, I reviewed a previous release of theirs:

But, as I said, things have changed a lot for 1911, so consider this review my first under present conditions. You can learn more about 1911 cider on the website: 

But I encourage you to look not just at the ciders, but also at the apple spirits. 

Official Description

Founders’ Reserve Hopped Hard Cider is a sparkling cider made with a combination of classic American bittering and aromatic hops. Fruit-forward with a floral nose.  A subtle sweetness balances the light bitterness to give a smooth, slightly resinous finish. Semi-Dry, 6.9% ABV. 22 IBUs.

Inspired by some of our favorite American craft breweries, this cider continues the innovative streak pushing cider into the 21st century. Our unique hopping process maximizes the aroma and flavor of our specially selected hop blend.


Appearance: brilliant, very few visible bubbles, squash yellow

This cider doesn't give too much away about how it will taste based on appearance. It shows a nice yellow that reminds me of a Delicata squash. Its brilliant and doesn't have a lot of apparent bubble action.

Aromas: strawberry, cherry, cucumber, so fruity

Okay, I am getting so much from the smells in this cider. I can distinctly smell strawberry, sour cherries, grapefruit, but also lots of cucumbers and even a hint of ripe zesty tomatillos. All in all this cider stands out for smelling super green. and fresh. I don't get as much distinct hoppy flavors so much as fresh, green, and tons of fruit.

Dryness/sweetness: semi-dry

This cider tastes semi-dry with tons of acid. There's a lot going on here besides sweetness and dryness though.

Flavors and drinking experience: tart, hoppy, clean

The first thing I notice in the taste of this cider is its very high acidity with a grapefruity hoppy zest. The cider is astringent but sweet enough enough to be highly and immediately drinkable. In terms of mouthfeel, I get a medium bubble. The 1911 Founders Reserve Hopped Hard Cider is noticeable for its very clean fermentation. 

The cider's main features are nice even acidity and well balanced hop and apple. In terms of the fruit, rather than tasting the same fruits as I smelled, there's more a lychee note.  I really enjoy the pleasantly warm quick-fading bitterness. The bigger the drink, the sweeter it seems, while staying in the semi-dry range.

I loved having this cider with grilled sundried tomato pizza. Though I had mine while summer's heat was lingering, I can easily see this cider's appeal stretching into fall.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Round Up of Finger Lakes Cider Week Round Ups! Cross Posted

Finger Lakes Cider Week offers many different ways to explore a love of cider. And we don't just do cider here, we have some of the best cider in the world. And during Cider Week, we can learn to make it, tour orchards, try new kinds of apples, pair it with fabulous foods and meet the talented cider makers that craft our favorite beverages.

But, if you're like me, one of the things I look forward to during cider week is going to one place and having multiple cider options! That's why I put together this little list. These are a few of the ways you can explore several cideries in one place during Finger Lakes Cider Week. And if you see me out and about at any of these events, come say hi!

Not to make things difficult, but I do have to share both of these events happening at the same date and time in different places. They are different events though, so read more about them to find out which format and location suits you best. Both of these will have a good number of excellent ciders.
September 30th: Cider Fest 2015 by Embark Ciderworks at Lagoner Farms in Williamson, NY:

September 30: Meet the Cider Makers at Cellar d’Or Wine and Cider Shop in Ithaca, NY

Consider me very excited about this next event. It's a stroll from my house and its a pairing event with some world class cider from Bellwether Cidery, South Hill Cider, and Hazlitt. Plus the event only costs $5. Steals like these do not happen every day.

October 5: Tasting and Pairing event at Cornell University's Bear's Den in Ithaca, NY

Then we've got a little after work 5:00 – 7:00pm tasting featuring ciders by Black Diamond and South Hill Cider for the weekly Hang Time tasting at Red Feet Wine Market.

October 6:Tasting at Red Feet Wine Market & Spirit Provisions in Ithaca, NY

I admit I've not spent as much time in Geneva as I would like. Its an interesting town with some lovely architecture. Therefore, I'm aiming to drive up for their monthly downtown evening, featuring multiple cideries sharing samples.

October 7: FLX Cider Celebration during Geneva Night Out! 5:00 – 8:00pm in Geneva, NY

If you like cider and you like cheese, you're bound to know that they pair like nothing else. This event brings together all the Cider Week FLX cideries and Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance producers for a huge celebration of two of my favorite things in the world.

October 8: Cider and Cheese Saturday Finger Lakes Cider House in Interlaken, NY

This list is just the tip of the Finger Lakes Cider Week iceberg. There really is a world of cider to explore right here. This series of events brings together one of the strongest cider regions in the United States. Come out. Try some ciders you've never had before. Remind yourself of your favorites. Bring a friend. You won't regret it.

This blog post originally appeared on the FLX Cider Week blog at: Catch more information and events listings there!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cider Review: Angry Orchard's Walden Hollow and approaching Cider Week!

Apple harvest has finally come! Perhaps the busy orchardists weren't waiting so impatiently, but I feel like I've been counting the weeks until I can start eating my favorite fresh apples. And at the same time, cider makers near me are getting ready for Cider Week in a number of locations. 

Cider Week FLX will be October 1-9:

Actually, I did a guest blog post rounding up some tastings happening during cider week, all of which feature more than one local Finger Lakes Region Cidermaker:

I'll be guest pouring at Embark Ciderworks' Cider Fest on September 30th in Williamson, New York:

Cider Week NYC will be October 21st-30th:

But I know that Cider Guide keeps much closer tabs on cider festivals than I do, so please check out his listings here to find out the nearest cider celebrations to your neck of the woods:

Angry Orchard

I have more previous reviews than I'm going to share

Today, I'm sharing my review of Angry Orchard's Walden Hollow.

"A mildly tannic, off dry cider that showcases the diversity, complexity, and depth of character of New York State apples." 8% ABV

And Angry Orchard kindly lists the apples used for this cider, "New York Apple Varieties: Rome, Jonathan, Macintosh, Newton Pippin, Golden Russet, Rhode Island Greening."

Going into a little more detail I found this.
 Walden Hollow is an annual vintage cider made with our cider maker’s choice of heirloom New York state apples varieties, including apples from the Angry Orchard in Walden, NY. The 2016 edition is a mildly tannic, off dry cider with intense apple aroma and notes of butterscotch and almond. The cider makers wanted to capture the essence of wild fermentation, but without the funkiness or sour qualities sometimes associated with the process. 

Appearance: hazy, grassy yellow, some visible bubbles
Color is grass—pale yellow with a distinctly green note. Interestingly, this isn't a purely shining brilliant cider; its just a touch hazy.

Aromas: Bread dough, apples, yeast

I like how bready, yeasty,  and appley this cider smells. What makes it striking isn't the individual notes but how each of those things distinctly. I don't know if I have ever smelled  cider that reminds me of fresh bread dough. There's just a little sourness in the array of smells. Overall these aromas are excellent.

Sweetness/dryness: semi dry

This can be accurately described as a semi-dry cider, and I appreciate the accuracy of the official descriptions thus far.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, medium tannins, clean fermentation, short finish

Like lots of ciders with New York state fruit, this cider tastes very tart because of its high acid. First, I get an initial malic sweetness, then a quick wave of tannins, with a gentle slightly caramelly finish. It stimulates lots of salivary action. Quite good, but a little curiously light bodied. There's
 not a lot of heft for so bready a cider. 

Interestingly, I can taste something that reads as cooling in the taste (it reminds me of some  Vandermill ciders in this feature). The Walden Hollow hits notes that feel "low" in the mouth. The cider is very clean. I had expected a warmer, funkier, longer-lasting effect based on the aromas, but this is a sleek and clean beverage. What lingers longest is actually the bright acid. 

I find this cider enjoyable; I'm grateful that it brings some complexities,The label points out its 8% ABV but the cider doesn't come across as boozy. I'd have guessed a lower ABV myself. It offers some bubble action with low to medium intensity of small bubbles. They meld in sensation with the high acidity. Big sips have nice plum and plumskin notes.

This was lovely on my porch with my last tomato galette of the season and corn on the cob, but I could also see pairing it with richer foods to give the acid something weighty to counterbalance. All in all, a very nice beverage. I look forward to the next Cider House Series offering.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Cider Review: Crispin's Browns Lane Imported Classic English Dry Cider

It has been so long since I've reviewed a Crispin cider that I feel like the whole cider world has changed! Crispin used to be a Minnesota cider company. At some point they bought the perry company Fox Barrel. The whole time I've been reviewing them, they've been owned by MillerCoors, but they have tried a few different things with the brand in that time.

I've had some great experiences with Crispin Ciders and tasted a few that weren't really compatible with my preferences. But I've always head about more interesting Artisanal limited release ciders than I've seen for sale. Many of these are differentiated either by interesting yeast choices or experimental barrel-aging techniques.

Here are all of my previous reviews of this brand, some of which go pretty far back:

The Saint: This review of a fun and approachable cider includes the first appearance of any of my cats in a the blog!

Georgia: This was a wild cider that had so many flavors like mint and peach that it scarely felt like a cider at all.

Honey Crisp: This is a different post as the Honey Crisp cider was used to make a cider maple glaze for scones as well as for drinking.

You can read about Crispin on the website:  

One bit of evidence for the change since I started reviewing Cripin can be seen in thattwo of my other previous reviews were then Fox Barrel Perries but are now Crispin Pear Ciders!

The sweet and juicy Blackberry Pear:

And the first Perry review I ever wrote Fox Barrel Pacific Pear:

This is how Crispin introduces their Browns Lane.
Crispin Browns Lane is a dry, classic English style cider made from traditional English bittersweet cider apples. Named for the original Jaguar® auto factory in England, it pays homage to the great motor-racing heritage of Britain. 
AppearanceDeep golden straw, slight amber hues, brilliant clarity. 
AromaEarthy, ripened apple, slight honey, slight Brett saison farmhouse ale aroma. 
TasteEarthy flavors, slightly musty, bittersweet overripe apples, honey nutty toasts 
MouthfeelDrying, bitter, medium body, slightly woody. 
FinishLingering dryness and woody finish.
Now I'm curious to see how much I will agree or disagree with these fairly specific descriptions.

Appearance: popcorn kernel gold, brilliant, visible bubbles

This cider pours with a lot of exciting effervescence! The color separates it immediately from most american ciders because of the depth and vibrance of that popcorn kernel color. I'd also call the cider brilliant which is the style of some english cider but far from all.

Aromas: cooked apples, mellow, cellar, wood

This smells mild but distinctly like more English ciders. Smells a little sweet and musty and cooked but in a very good way.

Sweetness/dryness: semi dry

Definitely semi dry and definitely drier than other Crispin ciders including their Brut.

Flavors and drinking experience: fruity, barely bitter, well balanced, mellow, ever so slightly funky

I like how this cider is a little bitter, a little aged, teensy bit funky but fruity well balanced mellow and semi dry. I think I like more it than any other Crispin cider.  A cider that reminds me of baked apples and hints of barrel richness that don't go overboard is a good thing.

For pairings, I've had this one a few ways, but my favorite was drinking this with friends while watching the excellently silly film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ( But I could also make some more taste oriented suggestions like a potato and mushroom frittata, which would would go rather well with this cider or a vegetarian roast once the weather cools off just a bit more. I'd rather pair this with rich and salty flavors than things too light or sweet.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

European Cider Roundup: Manoir de Grandouet Cambremer Cidre de Tradition AOP Pays d’Auge, Le Brun: Brut Cidre du Bretagne, & Sidra Asturiana Mayador

An importer was kind enough to share some very interesting samples of french and spanish ciders with me. It just so happened a week or so after they arrived that a friend of mine said that he wanted to learned to articulate his cider tasting experiences more comfortably. I've rarely heard a better use for a Sunday afternoon, so he cooked and I brought cider. I know his tastes to veer towards french and spanish ciders far more than our local offerings, guiding my choices to be three from my recent European samples.

I chose three that I hoped would show real breadth in terms of tannins, acidity, sweetness, and mouthfeel. These are some of the characteristics that are reasonably approachable when it comes to tasting cider and learning to talk about what we taste.

For food pairings, we had a selection of cheeses with crackers followed by super tasty fish tacos and ending up with a flourless chocolate torte. You wish you could have been there. We had fun, learned things, and laughed a bunch. I also got to meet an amazingly interesting artist visiting from the pacific Northwest. And I've always found cider to be a great thing to bring fabulously varied people to the proverbial table.

Manoir de Grandouet Cambremer Cidre de Tradition AOP Pays d’Auge (4.5%):

Official description: “FLAVORS: This coppery yellow cider reveals aromas of cooked fruit, dried herbs and leather. This semi-sweet cider is very fruity, with a full mouth feeling of softness and very slight bitterness”

Aromas: applesauce, peas, juicy orange

This smells of fruit quite pleasant and wild. We could smell apple, pear, blueberry, orange juice, and applesauce. It smelled like an appealing brunch spread!

Sweetness/ dryness: semi-sweet

A lovely fresh fruity semi-sweet. It is marked brut but because of the fermentation methods used, it will not taste brut to most drinkers of any other style of cider.

Flavors and drinking experience: green grapes, mellow, balanced, blueberries, fresh

Wow! What a well balanced and fruity cider. This style of cider isn't for everyone, but its so much fun. We had this one first with some brie which brought out its bitter notes, which I found tremendously appealing. Everyone liked the tiny champagne like bubbles. This had low acid and higher tannins, but it remained overall within balance for its style. I enjoyed it deeply.

Official description: “FLAVORS: A crisp, well balanced apple cider. Acidic, tart, and dry with a strong finish. Beautiful woody note in the aftertaste.”

Aromas: barnyard, vegetal, tannic, and funky

These aromas offer up a lot of phenolic action. Some of those notes drew us in, while others were more ambiguous, but the overall impression is one of fermented rusticity and mellow cooked apple.

Sweetness dryness: semi-dry

This is a challenging cider, though its sweetness/dryness level is not the most controversial aspect.

Flavors and drinking experience: very fermented, fruity, low acid, vegetal, funky

I liked this one the most, after it sat open a while anyway. I found this low-acid, high tannin cider very intriguing and divisive. I liked it. My companions were more split in their opinions. I found some of the characteristics reminiscent of what I like about english ciders; its decidedly woody and appley in a fermented way.

Sidra Asturiana Mayador:

Official description: “This limited edition sparkling sidra is made of Asturias apples. The aroma is moderate to light heavy apple, tart apples, apple skin/peel and oaky scents. This sidra’s flavor is moderate sweet and a light acidic with a long to average length for the finish.” Interesting thing to note, this was fermented in chesnut barrels!

Aromas: brine, grass, tropical fruit

This smelled really interesting wildly not like pomme fruits. I found more grass, pineapple, and brine in the aromas.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

This is a firm semi-sweet. It has plenty of sweetness to allow the fruit flavors to come through, but the sweetness does not dominate the experience.

Flavors and drinking experience: acidic, floral, sparkling, tropical fruit

This was my companion's favorite without any question. This tastes very true to the flavor profile I associate with spanish ciders. Tartness and acidity dominate. I enjoyed the herbal an grassy notes but found the volatile acidity to be less in my wheelhouse. The cider changes as it gets warmer, and I found it more mellow and pleasant after it had been in an open glass for several minutes. The most interesting phrase in my notebook about this one is, “a small army of flowers.” 

What a great set of ciders to explore and discuss!