Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Cider Review: Number 12 Cider House's Chestnut Semi-Dry

Good morning! This is my last review before CiderCon 2018 in Baltimore. I want to taste a cider I got to know because of CiderCon last year. I ran into one of the owners, and he shared a bottle of their newest cider with me: The Chestnut Semi-Dry.

Number 12 Cider House is based in Buffalo, Minnesota and has been making ciders since 2011. They have a tap room and three year round cider styles.

Read about the company on the website: http://www.number12ciderhouse.com/home.html

Or find them on the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/number12ciderhouse/

I've reviewed a few ciders by Number 12 Cider House before.

I first reviewed the Sparkling Dry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/06/cider-review-number-12-cider-house.html

It made it into my Top 10 Favorite Ciders of 2016 as number 4: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/12/my-10-favorite-ciders-of-2016.html

The Black Currant Dry was one of my cider recommendations for Thanksgiving in 2016:

My suggestions: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/11/pick-cider-for-thanksgiving-and-my.html

My description of the experience: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/11/happy-to-pickcider-for-thanksgiving.html

Today, I'm sharing my thoughts on their Chestnut Semi-dry Cider.

The official description reads, “Number 12 Chestnut Semi-Dry combines 5 local apple varieties with toasted French Oak. It features the Chestnut Crabapple, developed and introduced by the University of Minnesota in 1946. Hints of orchard honey and crisp apple come alive against a light sparkle and subtle tannins. This cider is approachable, balanced and delicious!” ABV 7.4%

I love crab apples, and I've really enjoyed everything by Number12 Cider House I've had before, so I am doubly curious about this cider.

Appearance: tea, hazy, many bubbles

The Number 12 Cider House Chestnut Semi-Dry looks like a spicy fruity tea. Mine poured hazy with some sediment at the bottom of the bottle.

Aromas: homemade applesauce, barrel,

Oh wow! As soon as I popped open this cider, I knew I was in for a treat. The aromas greeted me enthusiastically, giving me a few of my favorite anticipatory clues. When a cider smells like homemade applesauce smell and barrel, I start to expect some level of tannic presence and some acidity. We'll see if I'm right. 

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

The Chesnut Semi-dry does exactly what it promises in terms of sweetness/dryness. This is a textbook semi-dry cider. There's enough sweetness to open up the taste profile, but most of the flavors come from other qualities within this cider.

Flavors and drinking experience: Overripe apples, peach flesh, pear, acid

The Chestnut Semi-Dry introduces itself with a lovely roll of overripe cider apples. There are tons of other pomme fruit flavors including fleshy pear and peach notes. Though its very fruity and even juicy, the off dry to semi-dry character of the cider keeps things in shape. All of the fruits taste transformed by fermentation rather than exactly like fresh fruit from the orchard. The flavors strike me as mature and well-balanced.

I can definitely taste what the oak spirals bring to the picture and that's warm barnwood notes. There's also lots of crab apple character, bringing some seriously fun acid into the tasting experience. My tasting companion described it as fresh, clean, and crisp. The acid levels are high, perhaps affecting how I perceive the sweetness of the cider.

The mouthfeel is pleasurably middle of the road: neither zippily light nor profoundly weighty. What weight it has comes from the higher than average ABV. That can affect mouthfeel very directly. I don't taste any fermentation flaws; this cider is clean and appealing. I don't get any funk, sourness, or farmy notes. At the same time though, the cleanliness isn't sterility or over-simplicity. The use of both crab apples and wood-aging techniques makes this a cider worth real consideration.

I had mine with a simple winter supper that included asparagus and mashed sweet potatoes followed by two episodes of West World (yes, I know I'm super behind in the world of television). It would also go well with a hard-core aged cheddar and a new album. Whatever you do, don't rush. This is a cider that deserves some time and space to just enjoy.