Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Cider Review: Angry Orchard Cider's Understood in Motion 3 & Big Fish Cider Co. Highland Scrumpy

We’re halfway through August. And for once, I can believe that the month is half over. It’s been hot. It’s been humid. It’s been rainy. There’s even a flash flood watch. Summer has lots of weather drama, and that gives me every excuse to enjoy my screened porch and a cold glass of cider. This week, I wanted to try two ciders that I had really high expectations for.  I may be running out of recipes that don’t require turning the stove on, but I know that Autumn is coming. 

For the first of these a good feeling about, I chose a compilation cider put out by Angry Orchard. This is Understood in Motion 3 created by Angry Orchard Cider’s Ryan Burk and  and Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider and Perry. 

I have one previous review of an Oliver’s Cider collaboration, this one also with Ryan Burk but when he was affiliated with Virtue Cider. That’s Gold Rush.

I reviewed the Gold Rush (as part of my first visit to The Queen’s Kickshaw) http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/06/trying-virtue-and-olivers-ciders-at.html

Gold Rush also made my first ever top 10 list of ciders in 2013: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/12/my-10-favorite-ciders-of-2013.html

If you don’t know at least a bit about Angry Orchard, then you’ve not been drinking cider in the United States recently. The company burst onto the national cider scene in 2012. Three years ago, the company opened an orchard, research and development facility, and beautiful treehouse to the public in Walden, New York. 

You can visit the website to learn about the company, the Walden orchard, and everything Angry Orchard is up to: http://www.angryorchard.com/

I’ve reviewed a large number of Angry Orchard ciders: too many to post all the links here, so I’ll just share a few recent ones.

In May, I reviewed the Pear as a part of Very Perry May: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-review-of-greenwood.html

And in March I checked out the Rose which has been making a ton of waves: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/03/cider-review-angry-orchard-rose-and.html

I had the Angry Orchard Spiced Apple as a recent winter was hanging on too long: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/03/cider-review-angry-orchards-spiced-apple.html

And I did get a chance to review the Walden Hollow which was an early release from the Walden Orchard project: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/09/cider-review-angry-orchards-walden.html

Tom Oliver of Oliver's Cider and Perry is a legend in the cider community and a genuinely fun person. He's also a cider maker who respects the fruit he works with while remaining open to innovation. That's shocking special. I can scarcely believe I’ve not properly reviewed any Oliver’s Cider. That’s something I will rectify soon. Watch this space.

Find tons more information online: https://oliversciderandperry.co.uk/

Understood in Motion 3

Here’s the cider’s official description: 
Understood in Motion 03 started over two years ago, as two different natural ciders fermented with wild yeast. The Dabinett apple was the principle apple variety used in this collaboration, an 18th century English bittersweet apple that is favored for its reliability to yield fruit annually, and is now grown in the United States. The result, a still, tannic, dry, wild and funky cider that pairs well with a hearty meal enjoyed with friends. 7.2% ABV

Appearance: pumpkin, hazy, few visible bubbles

This has the deep warm color of many ciders made with cider specific apple varieties. It looks like pumpkin flesh. Based on the description, this isn’t a surprise. I don’t see a lot of bubbles, but that’s hard to do in a hazy cider. 

Aromas: cooked apples, leather, yeast, gentle funk

This cider smells yeasty in a very appealing way. I anticipate something I will love because Understood in Motion 3 also smells very much like leather and cooked apples. I’m anticipating something rich and wild.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

This is on the drier side of semi-dry. It’s still plenty fruity and full bodied though.

Flavors and drinking experience: high tannins, high acid, funky but not too funky

I like my ciders high in tannins, and the Understood in Motion 3 delivers beautifully here. The tannins add structure but not harshness. What I sometimes miss in high tannin ciders is the sharpness and zest of high acid, but I was not disappointed here. The Understood in Motion 3 combines the cider apple mellowness with some American heritage apple acidity to great effect. 

Holistically speaking, I love so many things about this cider. It has a lovely body and a long funky finish. From the great perfume of the aromas to that finish, I was a happy cider drinker. Flavor notes I noticed include tea, orange, lots and lots of mushy ripe apple, leather, wood, and smoke. All of these were balanced together such that none dominated.

Just like I loved the aroma, I really enjoyed drinking this cider. I had it with a beautiful summer meal of deconstructed kebabs(long story) with lots of peppers and zucchini. 

Big Fish Cider Co.'s Highland Scrumpy

Founded in 2015, Big Fish Cider Co. is based in Monterey, Virginia where the company creates a variety of ciders from the traditional to modern inventive cider styles.

I tried (and enjoyed) the Church Hill Blush back in May: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-aeppeltreows-orchard.html

Read more about the company here: http://www.bigfishcider.com

I am excited to try Highland Scrumpy; this bottle is a review sample from Cider Con. I’m always extra curious when folks (particularly United States cider makers) use the term. It doesn’t have one clear and unambiguous definition. 

The Highland Scrumpy’s description is pleasantly informative.
Sparkling gold clear Semi-Dry cider featuring over 20 varieties of locally sourced apples.  This is a blend of ciders using 2 different wine yeasts, but the character of this cider really comes from the wild yeast ferment that one of the blends went through. 
This cider is made from apples donated during our Community Apple Drive.  There are many trees in Highland that were planted or grafted by Highland residents 50 plus years ago.  The names of the trees have long been forgotten, but the trees still fruit. We cannot tell you the varieties, no one can.  But we can tell you it’s all Highland apples, and we think you’ll enjoy. 
This wild ferment makes our most complex cider.  It has pear and floral notes on the nose.  This well balanced cider has a clean yet creamy mouthfeel, combines the sourness of crab apples, with a hint of sweetness, a wonderful blend of earthy notes, some melon and citrus notes.  The fruity esters come alive in this cider more than most. 
This is the favorite cider of the crew here at Big Fish. This cider is best enjoyed by itself. But due to the complexity pairs well with many types of foods, including oysters, clams, quiche, poultry, green salads, and of course just about any cheese.
This cider did win a Gold Medal in the heritage category at GLINTCAP this year.

Appearance: saffron, brilliant, no visible bubbles

This is a pretty pretty cider. I can see through it easily. The glow in the picture is from condensation; I assure you that the cider brilliant. It didn’t show off any bubbles, but had a lovely saffron color.

Aromas: wet, ripe apples, green

The Highland Scrumpy smells like wet fruit. It’s very ripe appley and super fresh and almost green in my  mind.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-dry

I feel totally confident calling this a semi-dry cider.

Flavors and drinking experience: medium tannins, mellow acid, floral, citrus

Oooh. The first thing I thought when first tasted this cider was, that big apple blend certainly included some very quality apples. The Highland Scrumpy offers up medium tannins and pleasantly mellow acidity. What smelled green in the aromas tastes golden
To me on the palate. I get tons of flower and herb notes.

The sweetness that’s present is bright, with a burst of grapefruit bitterness and then a quick turn to warmer and more herbal flavors. The cider has a neat finish: short, clean, and wet. I know some of that’s far more associative than scientific, but that was my experience. 

I had this cider with fresh grapes, brie, homemade cider bread, and a good movie with friends. I must say that I recommend the experience.