Monday, February 6, 2017

Cider Review: Citizen Cider's Barrel-Aged Cider & Chicago Cider Week

Usually, I start with my review and then share any cider news, but I want to make sure Chicago area cider lovers know that this event is already happening! Chicago Cider Week runs from February 3-11 with a plethora of cider opportunities for sipping, pairing, and learning!

Tons of fabulous cider things happen at The Northman ( and this week is anything but an exception. We can meet Pete Brown (cider and beer author), Ria Windcaller(of Cider Chat:, and some super start cider makers.   

Pairing dinners and tap takeovers are also happening all over town! Check out the event list:

And as a way of transition, today's review is a cider by Citizen Cider out of Burlington, Vermont. They have already started a full series of cider events just by themselves this week for both Cider Week and Cider Con. 

I reviewed the bRose in 2014:

More recently, I stopped at their taproom and production facility in Burlington this past summer as part of my Cider Tour:

To learn a bit more about Citizen Cider, please check out their website:

Today's review is of their Barrel-Aged Cider. I'll share the official description, but here's a spoiler, I'm not going to pair it with steak. : )

This cider is aged in reclaimed oak bourbon barrels. We take our finest cider blends, let them sit in these American oak barrels, and while they get to know each other, a beautiful relationship emerges. Best enjoyed with a big steak and a friend.
Reclaimed American Oak Bourbon Barrels are going to impart a lot of flavor, and I bet it will smell and taste boozier than its 6.9% ABV, but there's only one way to find out.

Citizen Cider was kind enough to list some additional pairing options. Here's the list, "Pairings: Lamb Stew, Veal Ossobuco, Pumpkin Pie, Dark Chocolate Souffle, Blue Cheese and Smoked Blue Fish." There aren't a ton of vegetarian options in there, but I'm never going to argue with dark chocolate souffle or pumpkin pie.

Appearance: brilliant, lots of visible bubbles, medium straw 

Like all of Citizen's ciders, this has a perfect sparkling brilliance. Its easy to see lots of active bubbles throughout the glass. I'd call the color medium straw, neither particularly light nor dark.

Aromas: almond, cherry, apple, barrel

The cider smells intensely of barrel, but that's far from the only note. I can also get wisps of apple, cherry, and almond. It smells rather like pastries altogether, but I'm guessing it will be less sweet than it smells. 

Sweetness/dryness: semi-dry

I get a bit of initial sweetness but the cider tastes dryer as the tasting experience goes on; its like many barrel-aged ciders in this way.


Flavors and drinking experience: vanilla, cooked apples, bourbon, buttered toast

Let me say first that this cider has a lot going on in terms of flavor intensity! The best part is that all of these flavors go together beautifully. I tasted this first when I toured the facility in August; my thought then was that this cider would be perfect for winter. So, I bought a bottle and saved it until the beginning of February. And I don't disagree with past Meredith. What a brilliant winter cider.

This is so vanilla, bourbon, almond, buttered toast good. All of the flavors really do cascade together over the tongue. The apple flavor is soft like the apple has been cooked or pressed into pomace. This helps the overall impression of unity I get from the flavors. 

In terms of texture, the Barrel-Aged Cider offers up great strong bubbles in bountiful quantities.  The cider also features great retro-nasal aromas: weird to say but great to experience.

I noticed when looking around online that this cider has made a few lists of ciders that beer aficionados could enjoy, and I agree. This is a particularly emphatic and well balanced cider with cohesive flavor and real verve. I'd heartily recommend it to beer and cider drinkers alike. I had mine with local cheese and Miche bread: no steak anywhere in sight, and it was totally delightful.