Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Cider Review Aeppeltreow Sparrow Spiced Cider and B. Nektar's Cranberry Orange Zest

Winter is going to last a long time. There’s no need to look at the 10 day forecast because it’s all going to vary between cold and very cold. I need to learn to relax into the season, because there are many things about Winter to love. I just need to remember what they are, and I want to share two enticing and richly flavored ciders this week to help me. 

The first is Sparrow Spiced by AeppelTreow.

Aeppeltreow is a Wisconsin cidery, winery, and distillery run by Charles and Milissa McGonegal, founded in 2001. Aeppeltreow partners with Brightonwoods Orchard. More than 200 apple and pear cultivars are grown at Brightonwoods, giving Aeppeltreow access to a rich palette of apples from which to create different cider blends. Charles was kind enough to give me this sample at GLINTCAP this past year.

I’ve enjoyed many different Aeppeltreow ciders. Find the links below.

One of my favorite perries ever, the Orchard Oriole Perry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-aeppeltreows-orchard.html 

For bubble lovers, the Appley Brut: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/09/cider-review-appeltreow-winerys-appley.html 

The Blackbird Berried Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/06/cider-cans-crush-it-aeppeltreow.html

My favorite might still be the 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 

I reviewed the Sparkling Perry as part of Very Perry May: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/05/very-perry-may-pt-1-aeppeltreow.html

At my friend El’s birthday dinner, I included the Americana:

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

On to the Sparrow Spiced cider

The official description keeps it short and sweet, “Seasonal cider infused with our custom spice blend. Mace, two cinnamons, and more. Pre-mulled, as it were.” 5.5% ABV

Appearance: brilliant, fine bubbles, antique gold

I know using gold as a color descriptor is almost a cheat, but the color of this cider really does remind me of gently patina-ed antique gold. 

Aromas: clove, nutmeg, mace, cooked apples, and cinnamon

This smells so rich and spicy! I can tell that there’s apple in the mix, but I do smell spices in the foreground. Aroma notes include clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and mace. There’s also something else going on in the aroma that reminds me of nuts or olive oil.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

This cider is semi-sweet! It needs to be because of the intensity of the spices.

Flavors and drinking experience: medium acidity, lots of spices, cooked apples

The Sparrow Spiced Cider offers up a tidy balanced drink with a strong foundation. That foundation is the counterbalance between medium acid, some sweetness, and mild astringence from lots of classic mulling spices. These characteristics all work together along with the notes of cooked apples to create a tantalizing cider. It’s warming and rich. The bubbles are present but not overpowering. 

I enjoyed this cider with an episode of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and some popcorn. And I heartily recommend the experience.

Next up: B. Nektar's Cranberry Orange Zest!

I know I’ve tasted several B. Nektar ciders and a few meads before, but none have ever made it into the blog before. I apologize for the omission because B. Nektar makes really adventous beverages: beers, ciders, and meads. The company was founded in 2006 in Michigan by Kerri and Brad Dahlhofer and Paul Zimmerman. 

Visit the meadery and cidery online: http://www.bnektar.com

I apologize for not having the company’s official description on this one. It’s my fault because the review notes have waited way too long. What my online searches turned up is that this is a semi-sweet cider blended with cranberry juice and orange zest. 6% ABV.

Appearance: deep tawny copper, hazy, bubbly

This  Cranberry Orange Zest pours with a bit of bubble that doesn’t stick around long. Looking at pictures of different batches online, the color has varied some, but mine was a deep tawny color somewhere copper meets red. It’s a very pretty cider. 

Aromas: Yeast tart berries and mustard, with a cold funk

Whoa, what interesting aromas. I can definitely smell yeast and tart berries, but that’s not all. The Cranberry orange zest seems to almost include mustard seed note and a hint of funkiness. This smells wild!

Sweetness/Dryness: Semi-Dry/Semi-Sweet 

This cider is right on the line where semi-dry meets semi-sweet. It’s a fruity sweetness balanced nicely by cranberry tartness, but more about that later. I do think it’s probably much sweeter than it perceives as because it is both very bubbly and very high acid.

Flavors and drinking experience: cranberry, high acid, bitter, orange zest, funk

The most forward taste in this cider is the cranberry, in all its bitter tartness. I do get the orange zest in a final note that adds to the puckering tartness. I tastes the sort of mild fruity bitterness that I associate with cranberry but low tannins.  It is semi-sweet but never with a moment of pure sweetness. 

In terms of texture and mouthfeel, the Cranberry Orange Zest is heavily sparkling, perhaps to the degree that it overwhelms the gently rustic funk (which can be smelled but only weakly tasted). This cider seems like an orange zest cider that was then mixed with straight cranberry juice. The apple flavors are there but never featured over cranberry or orange. The whole cider tastes bright, but gets darkly interestingly acidic and closes in the end at the back of the throat. I find it really quite nice and different.