Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Cider Cans Crush It: AeppelTreow Blackbird Berried Cider and Farmhaus Cider Co. Classic

My last post for Cider Cans Crush It has arrived. I don't even feel like I've scratched the surface of what kinds of cider can now be found in cans. Yes, the eight I picked are all very different from one another, but I know have at least this many more that highlight other facets of the cider world in cans. But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. I do want to show off these last two ciders in the series!

Today we're starting with AeppelTreow's Blackbird Berried Cider. This is far from my first AeppelTreow review. The cidermaker, Charles, is a friend of mine within the cider world. He regularly does trainings on fermentation and on perceiving flaws in cider from a scientific view. The whole community of cidermakers and drinkers has a lot to thank Charles for. So, I'm always happy to review any samples from AeppelTreow.

Here are my previous reviews of AeppelTreow Ciders:

Orchard Oriole Perry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-aeppeltreows-orchard.html

Appley Brut: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/09/cider-review-appeltreow-winerys-appley.html

Sparkling Perry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/05/very-perry-may-pt-1-aeppeltreow.html

Kinglet Bitter: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/09/cider-review-appletreow-kinglet-bitter.html

Barnswallow Draft Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/03/cider-review-appeltreow-barnswallow.html

You can read about many of the ciders, fruit wines, and spirits on the AeppelTreow website: http://aeppeltreow.com/ and also now http://appletrue.com

The canned line is AeppelTreow's Songbird Ciders. Blackbird Berried Cider. The ABV is 5.5%. I'll share what I saw on the can itself.

AeppelTreow Songbird Ciders are crafted in small batches from apples grown by farmers we know. They are named for the birds that live in and around the orchard.

Blackbird is our American-style berry-flavored cider, blended with the juices of black currants and elderberries. It's a little sweet and a bunch tart.

At AeppelTreow we are Apple True

Respect the land

Savor the fruit

Deliver unique flavors

Make it the hard way

Appearance: brilliant, some bubbles, mulberry

I'll call the color mulberry because it's to red to be purely purple and to purple to be purely a dark red. Though the color is dark, the cider is brilliant and shows of a host of bubbles. This one is too pretty to leave in the can! Transport it to your drinking destination, but then put this beauty in a glass!

Aromas: black currant, black berry, dusty, citric acid

The cider smells like citric acid, black currants, and dark fruity berries in general. The fermentation notes come across subtly in a very tantalizing way. It's mouth watering.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-sweet

I find this cider approachably semi-sweet. Though I tend to prefer dry ciders, I can enjoy the sweeter side of life when done well and with good balance. This is just such a cider. I like how the malic acid and citric acid keep that sweetness from getting out of control.

The cider tastes a little sticky and a bit foxy and oh so summery. I love the dark and foresty notes. The Blackbird is grippy due to black currant juice. They offer up pleasantly fruity tannins. The cider has undeniably high acid but low level bubble that keeps it from getting harsh.

This cider is very drinkable, even dangerously drinkable. Full bodied, coats but doesn’t clog. I am a big fan of the Blackbird's pert acidic finish. I find the whole experience lusciously balanced. I had this cider with homemade vegetable burritos, and it was perfect.

Farmhaus Cider Co. Classic

This company is the product of the fifth generation of a Michigan farming family. The current endeavor was founded in 2015 near Grand Rapids in Hudsonville. They even have a Cidergarten and tasting room now! I met the founders Megan and John at a cider event years ago, and I've been watching their progress and rooting for them. So, I'm happy to finally be reviewing the cider. This is a review sample shared with me.

Find out all about the company on the website: http://farmhauscider.com/

In the "About" page, there's a hilarious section dedicated to haters, even giving them a specail email address for negative feedback. I think that's so clever.

The Farmhaus Classic cider's official description follows.

Fresh. Bright. Halbbitter.

A semi-sweet cider with a fruity last and sweet aroma created using local apples and fermented in a Germanic style, giving it superior drinkability. Most often compared to a riesling or Moscato, this cider pairs well with soft & creamy cheeses, chicken dishes and your favorite pizza

Appearance: straw, transparent, very bubbly

This cider looks so bubbly! My sparkle-loving taste buds are now actively anticipating this one! I'd call the color straw and the clarity transparent.

Aromas: Stony, fresh apples, dust

I didn't get a lot of smell from the can, but I detected more aromas once I poured the classic into a glass. I can smell stones, dust, and fresh apples. These are very traditional aromas for a cider of this type.

Sweetness/dryness: right on the line between semi-sweet and semi-dry

This cider perceives as semi-dry, but only just barely. It's right on that semi-sweet/semi-dry line, but because the acid is on the higher side, I'll call it semi-sweet. The sweetness that's there is very apple-y.

Flavor and drinking experience: citrus, high acid, balanced

Like many modern ciders, the flavors are all driven by the high acidity in the Classic. It's fruity but tastes more like citrus than like pomme or stone fruits. My first impression was how very much the cider reminds me of fresh-squeezed orange juice. The cider comes across as reasonably balanced even with that high-ish acidity.

There are no tannins to speak of but it has some excellent refreshing qualities. I appreciate the nice strong bubble level. I'm always a sucker for strongly sparkling ciders. All the flavors combine to create a crisp, sessionable drinking experience. The cider has a light body and a clean finish.

One of the most interesting things I noticed about it is a floral finish and pear-like aftertaste. I had this cider with homemade popcorn and good conversation. It was a simple pairing for an approachable cider, and I enjoyed the experience.

This may be the last week of Cider Cans Crush it for June, but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop covering canned ciders. What I learned in focusing on them for 4 weeks is that there really is an amazing breadth to this format. I want to keep exploring it and showcasing all the different kinds of ciders that people are canning these days. Cans really are perfect for Summer, and I have a feeling we have a lot more hot weather coming! Cheers!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Cider Cans Crush It Eden Heritage and Treehorn El Treeablo

Thunderstorms are rumbling across my region as I write this. It’s been the first unbelievably hot day of the season so far. But, technically, what season are we even in? Summer on the books doesn’t begin until Thursday, but in my mind we’re closer to the peak of Summer than its beginning. But, those are debates that I cannot resolve on my own. It is enough to say that summer drinking has been upon us, and the need for cool refreshing ciders might be greater this week than any for many months previous. 

Canned ciders are here to help. I’ve chosen two that were shared with me as review samples. They are from very different ends of the East Coast. Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Eden Specialty Ciders’ first canned offering, the Heritage and Georgia Cidery Treehorn’s spicy El Treeablo. 

Let’s start with Eden Specialty Cider’s Heritage. This Vermont cider company is run by Eleanor Leger.

I’ve shared a few reviews of Eden ciders before.  

Imperial 11 Degree Rose: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/03/the-january-2017-cidrbox-and-edens.html
This was my number one cider of 2017!

Sparkling Dry in 2015: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/06/cider-review-eden-sparkling-dry-cider.html

I also enjoyed the 2016 Sparkling Dry as part of my Thanksgiving and Birthday celebration in 2016: 


You can find out more about the company online: https://www.edenciders.com/

Eden Heritage’s Official Description:

More Flavor Less Sweet. Authentic Heritage Cider Aromatic. Generously sparkling. Off-dry. 
The cider in your hand reflects everything we care about at Eden Ciders. Heritage Apples grown in small, regional orchards. Fresh pressed at the harvest to capture the full flavor of the fruit just as it ripens. Fermented dry and blended with just a drop of our award-winning Eden Ice Cider to create an everyday cider with extraordinary complexity.

The coolest thing is that this isn’t all the info. 

Here are the apple varieties listed: Kingston Black, McIntosh, Empire, Bulmers Norman Gravenstein.

Here are the orchards they come from: Eden Orchards, Scott Farms, Sunrise Orchards, Windfall Orchard.

Plus, "No Sugar Added. Residual Apple Fructose 1.2% by weight"

Appearance: brilliant, bright corn gold, lots of bubble 

This cider is so lovely, it’s a shame to leave it in the can. I am happy to have poured mine into a glass, so I can see the warm corn yellow color and watch those active bubbles. It’s perfectly brilliant as well.

Aromas: ripe apples, cleanly yeasty, a hint of lemon

Wow, wow, wow. This cider smells amazing; I get tons of ripe apples balanced a little cleanly yeasty presence and some lemony citrus. These aromas are completely tantalizing.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-dry shading into semi-sweet

I know this is a semi-dry cider. It has tons going on, but it’s still so fruity and approachable. It does veer almost toward the semi-sweet end of semi-dry.

Flavors and drinking experience: complex, rich, balanced

I know I try to write more descriptively and not focus on my personal evaluations, but this might be the best canned cider I have ever had. That almost makes it harder to write about. The Heritage offers up medium tannins with lots of tartness. It really is all about balance. 

In terms of more specific notes, this cider tastes freshly citrusy, fruity, gently spicy, and oh so rich. I did drink the Heritage both out of my glass and out of the can. The format does make a difference. It seemed more yeasty  from the can and also drier. Interesting! It was delicious either way. I had it with salmon, smashed fingerling potatoes, and a green salad with tons of shredded beets and carrots. 

Treehorn El Treeablo

The Treehorn El Treeablo is my first cider from Georgia! That definitely means this is my first review of anything by Treehorn. I met folksbehind this company at CiderCon, and they were kind enough to share a couple of sample cans with me. 

This company Treehorn was founded in 2013. Treehorn has a tasting room in Marietta just outside of Atlanta.

Read all about the company on the website: https://treehorncider.com/

And this is the info I found about the seasonal release: El Treeablo.

Treehorn kicks it up a notch with its limited release three-chile cider infused with habanero, jalapeno and Hatch chiles harvested and roasted at the peak of the season. El Treeablo has just the right amount of heat, perfectly balanced by its tart, lightly sweet apple cider character.  
Anyone familiar with New Mexico knows that chiles, particularly Hatch chiles, inspire religious levels of devotion. Two of our founding partners (Mallory Law and Kathryn Pierce) have lived in Santa Fe, so fresh roasted chiles are very close to our collective heart. The lovely folks at Fox Bros. BBQ were kind enough to help us out with sourcing and roasting our Hatches. We’ve been doing two batches per year and this one usually goes fast. Make sure to grab it while you can. 
A delicious and complex drink on its own, El Treeablo also excels as a cocktail mixer, and pairs exceptionally well with smokey mezcals and smooth Anejo tequilas. The bold flavor of El Treeablo stands up well to rich umami flavors and pairs beautifully with chicharrones, braised short ribs and rich, meaty stews.
Fresh ChileSubtle HeatBright Apple

Appearance: transparent, straw, few bubbles

This cider shows a straw hue, transparence, and I can see some bubbles. 

Aromas: peppers, vegetal, tart, pineapple

Oh wow! This smells veggie-ful and spicy! I can very clearly smell pepper both in their spice and their green vegetal-ness. I also got some pineapple notes!
Dryness/sweetness: semi-sweet

This cider is enjoyably Semi sweet! I think the heat of the peppers almost requires a little bit of gentle sweetness. The sweetness I taste does remind me distinctively of cane sugar.

Flavors and drinking experience: apple, spice, sweetness, and vegetal

The same notes that appeared in El Treeablo’s aromas remain present in its flavors:
peppers, fleshy vegetables, tart fruit, spice, apple and pineapple. Whew! There’s a lot going on in terms of both complexity and intensity. This has high acid, no tannin, medium high sweetness, but also lots of other flavors. This cider is fun!

One of the most striking elements in drinking this cider was how much glass shape or can usage radically affects the spice-to-fruit ratio perception! Out of the can it tastes driest and sweetest in a wine glass. It seems that spicy notes and sweet notes go together, but that the ratio does vary a bit vessel to vessel. This might be one to drink straight from the can. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Cider Cans Crush It: 1911 Tropical Cider and Devil's Bit Mountain

Our weather is thrillingly beautiful these days, which means I want to spend time outside. We’re back to another two reviews of canned ciders which make the ideal beverage companion for outdoor sipping. These are two more shared with friends at an excellent birthday party.

I‘m starting this week with a new regional release: 1911’s Tropical Cider! 1911 operates in Layfayette, New York and supplies many varieties of cider throughout the region and beyond. The fermentations are consistently clean, and the focus is on using local fruit for well-balanced, approachable, sessionable ciders.

Find out more online: http://1911established.com/cider/

The Facebook is updated regularly: https://www.facebook.com/1911Spirits/

I have two previous reviews of 1911 ciders.

I couldn’t find much of an official description of the 1911 Tropical, but as it says on the can, “Tart Pineapple with Hints of Mango.” 6.5% ABV.

Appearance: pale straw, brilliant, some bubbles

This cider has a subtle pale shade of straw. It’s totally brilliant and shows some bubble.

Aromas: ripe pineapple and mango, very juicy

This cider smells so very richly juice. It’s blowing my mind with the aromatic intensity here! I can smell both pineapple and mango districtly but there’s also a more general tropical punch background.

Sweetness/dryness: sweet

This is a sweet and fruity cider. No question about that.

Flavors and drinkin experience: fruity, full mouthfeel, creamy, tart,

All of the juicy wow factor I sensed in the Tropical’s aroma is present in the drinking experience and then some. This cider has a big creamy mouthfeel and so much juicy, punchy, fruity flavor. I can taste the pineapple and mango but also plums and strawberries. I get some tartness to balance the sweet fruity flavors, but they are undeniably the major force behind this cider. This isn’t a tannic cider, but there’s a lot else going on here.

It has a relatively clean fermentation and powerfully lingering finish. I had mine with cheeses, crackers and a veggie tray, but I don’t doubt that it would stand up well to stronger flavors. I think I’d recommend something spicy and creamy like a coconut milk curry.

Devil’s Bit Mountain Irish Orchard Cider

I know almost nothing about this cider. I found a pack of cans in Ohio on my way home from GLINTCAP. In 2017 this same cider won a gold in it’s glass and was 3rd best in the category overall. That’s high praise.  I know it’s made by Adam’s Cider Company in Tipperary.

Find out more on the website: http://www.devilsbit.ie/

Here’s the official description.

Crafted from Dabinett, Michelin and Ashton Bitter apples from their own family orchards and pressed in their own Cidery in Tipperary, they combine the age-old technique of cider making with the traditional bittersweet cider apple to create this wonderfully refreshing beverage. 

This is an award winning, gluten free medium Irish Cider with a light golden colour and crisp flavour. 6% ABV.

Appearance: brilliant, bronze, few bubbles

Intense color typical of UK and European ciders. I’ll call it bronze. The transparency is totally brilliant, and the cider shows few bubbles.

Aromas: funky, fruity, tart

This cider does have some volatile acidity going on. THe aromas are funky, fruity, and tart. I could smell ripe apples, but the leathery and solvent notes were equally strong.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

This cider is semi-sweet but with lots of other flavor contributors. In the UK, this would likely be called a medium sweet.

Flavors and drinking experience: high tannins, overripe cider apples, cinnamon

This cider offers up huge tannins. If anyone has never tastes a tannic cider or gets tannins mixed up with either dryness or acidity, this is a great cider to demystify. These are grippy tannins. I get some classic English bittersweet apple phenolics like olive brine, sweat and leather. I love these characteristics.

This one was at the same fabulous cider party, so i had it with raw veggies, hummus, creeses and crackers. But this cider would do well with a huge variety of foods. I have one can left, and my plans for it involve a frittata with blue cheese, caramelized onion, and swiss chard. That sounds delish to me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Cider Cans Crush It: Rootstock Ciderworks Belgium and Shacksbury Cider Citrus Spritz

Summer is here (at least for those of us in the Northern hemisphere). We are surrounded by thunderstorms, farmers’ markets, and long summer evenings. Hopefully, we’re spending more time outside too. I know I’m spending more time walking dogs, taking hikes, and doing yard work; this changes the ciders that appeal to me. Perhaps I’m not the only one. That means this month I want to highlight all the many kinds of ciders we find now in cans! 

There’s just something especially satisfying about the sound of cracking open a can of cider outside. And it’s not just one type of cider that can give us this thrill. Ciders from sweet to dry, from tradition to wildly innovative all have started to appear in cans. Cider cans crush it, so that’s my theme for the month of June. I hope you enjoy reading about some of the many many many ciders in cans.

My first featured can is the Rootstock Ciderworks Belgian. I was lucky enough to get to try this at a Memorial Day birthday party. The whole theme of the party was cider and cheese tasting, so a few of this month’s reviews were sampled and considered that day. It was tremendous fun not just to taste and consider on my own or with one cider companion but to take notes alongside a group of ten or so intrepid tasters. Thanks so much to the Birthday Captain for that whole day.

A bit about Rootstock Ciderworks: this cidery grew out of a multi-generational orchard and fruit farm in upstate New York. It is located near Lake Ontario and near Rochester, New York. The cidery was founded in 2012, so it’s a year or so older than this blog. The company prides themselves on not only using local fruit but also striving to for sustainability by making multiple uses of materials wherever possible and using green solar energy.  

I have previously reviewed the Rootstock Ciderworks Hopped Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/10/cider-review-rootstock-ciderworks.html

You can read more about the company and all of the ciders here: https://rootstockciderworks.com/

This is Rootstock Ciderworks’ official description of the Belgian Cider.

Rootstock Belgian is a limited release cider designed to suit all your spring time cider drinking needs. This Ben Davis heavy cider was fermented using a traditional Belgian beer yeast. Fresh peach, and apple blossom aromas accompany pleasant minerality and apple flavor that make this cider one that is not to be missed. 7.6%ABV.

Appearance: Transparent, straw, few bubbles

This cider looks almost still when poured. The color looks a familiar shade of straw, and it’s totally brilliant.

Aromas: grain, fresh apples, grass

Yep! That’s a Belgian-beer influenced style! I can smell grain predominantly, but also fresh wet apples and a hint of green grass. This shows lots of yeast character.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

This is a middle of the road semi-dry cider, but it might perceive as fully dy to some folks because of the pronounced yeast characteristics.

Flavors and drinking experience: citrus, white grape, yeast

This is so refreshing! I want to shout it out at full volume that this cider is perfect for hot days. The flavors make it super crisp, approachable, and thirst quenching! Virtually all of the characteristics of the style I noticed on the aromas were still present in the flavors of the cider. I could taste mild citrus, white grape, fresh apple, lots of yeast, but primarily lots of bread and grain characteristics. 

This is likely a cider best suited to folks who want the Belian style or for beer drinkers who want to try a cider. This is a great example of it’s style; there aren’t many ciders going for the witte-inspired profile right now, but this is a great one. I had mine at a cider birthday party, but I think my next one will be on the porch right after I’ve finished mowing my yard. 

Last time I’ll say it, but I feel I must. This is a very solid  and very tasty version of this style.

The next canned cider I’m covering is another adventurous one, this time by Shacksbury. I’ve wanted to explore the Shacksbury Spritzes as soon as I learned about them. This line of ciders has a lower ABV for sessionability, a very approachable set of flavors, and a super-cute can design.

I’ve written about Shacksbury a few times before, but the company has developed since then. Based out of Vergennes, Vermont, Shacksbury ferments a huge variety of apples in several different styles. They are often inspired the world’s different regional cider styles. The company creates limited editions and often creates collaboratively. 

I reviewed the Shacksbury Classic: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/11/cider-review-shacksbury-original.html

And I visited an orchard Shacksbury partners with as part of my Vermont cider tour: https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-3.html

Read about the company and their ciders here: http://www.shacksbury.com/

Shacksbury now has a Vermont tasting room in Vergennes!

Today, I’m trying the Citrus Spritz; Here’s all the information from Shacksbury on the Citrus Spritz, including apple sources and fun pairing suggestions.
Dry, light and refreshing with a vibrant citrus nose
Apples grown at Sunrise Orchards in Cornwall, Vermont
Tincture (citrus and rose) produced by Alice & the Magician in Burlington, Vermont
2016 harvest
Slow cool fermentation
Pairs with tapas, oysters, brunch, lawn games
Serving temperature: cold
12oz cans, 3.8% ABV
Residual sugars - 3 g/can
Produced and canned by Shacksbury Cider in Vergennes, Vermont

Appearance: hazy, bubbly peach

The color is a lovely shade of peach and the cider decidedly hazy. I can see lots of exciting bubbles, but there’s no way I could read through this cider. 

Aromas: rose, ginger, orange, apple

This cider has a really appealing set of aromas. I can smell rose first but that is is followed quickly by ginger, orange and apple notes. It all plays well together and seems light a delicate punch.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

It was tough for me to describe the level of sweetness because of the complex interplay of flavors. It doesn’t tastes particularly sweet or dry, but it tastes like so much more. The sweetness it has is very natural and not too sticky. Very pleasing!

Flavors and drinking experience: fruity, approachable, 

All of the Rose and orange and ginger from the nose of the cider remain present in its flavors. The spritz has a light body, as I expected from the name and from the ABV. This cider is so so pleasing! I like it’s semi-dry/semi-sweet herby, fruity, delicacy. Though the acidity is present, it feels very mild and balanced. 

I had this cider with some salmon, and a fun salad with candied pecans, strawberries, shredded carrot and Stilton cheese over a mix of my dad’s homegrown lettuces.