Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Cider Review: The Citizen Cellar's Sur Lies and Eastman's Forgotten Ciders Cinnister

I’m trying to write this week’s blog post with a very cuddly cat. Princess Peppercorn doesn’t really care that I’ve got a deadline, or that I found two really interesting ciders to review for the week. All she concerns herself with are ear scritches. Nonetheless, I am thrilled to share my thoughts on two more ciders that were waiting for another cold wintery week like the one we just had. I chose both of these ciders for their seasonal suitability.

I’m starting with Citizen Cellars Sur Lie. The Citizen Cellars line is the limited small-runs available at the Citizen Cider tasting room in Burlington VT. I’ve reviewed many a Citizen Cider before; here’s the list. 

I enjoyed another Citizen Cellars before in 2017 when I reviewed the Barrel-Aged: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/02/cider-review-citizen-ciders-barrel-aged.html

The Wood used juice purchased from Poverty Lane Orchards. That orchard is home to Farnum Hill Cider (http://www.povertylaneorchards.com/farnum-hill-ciders/): http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/07/cider-review-citizen-ciders-wood-and.html

The Tulsi is a cider that uses a lesser known variant of basil: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/03/cider-review-fable-farms-greensboro-and.html

I enjoyed the Companion Sour Cherry at a summer picnic in 2017: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/06/pickcider-review-citizen-ciders.html

Earlier that year, I reviewed the Wit’s Up, the Belgian beer inspired cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/04/cider-review-citizen-ciders-wits-up.html

And a long while ago, I shared my thoughts on the Citizen Cider bRosé: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/02/cider-review-citizen-cider-brose.html

My favorite coverage of Citizen has to be when I visited the tasting room and production facility in Burlington during the summer of 2016: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-2.html

The official description reads, “Sur Lies translates from French into ‘fine lees’ and is a method of aging where a thin layer of ‘lees’ (yeast and apple fruit leftover from the fermentation) is allowed to settle during aging, imparting flavors into the cider and smoothing out the mouthfeel. This dry and bubbly cider was sur lies aged for 18 months in American Oak barrels. So we spiritedly offer this cider aged on fine lees to you, the more-than-fine citizen.” 6.9% ABV

Appearance: brilliant, bubbly, warm straw

This looks like many American ciders with it’s warm straw hue and brilliance. I expect a very bubbly cider not only from the description but from how this looks when poured. 

Aromas: flowers, barrel, honey, minerals

I didn’t know quite what to expect from the aromas of this cider, but what I got was certainly complex. The Sur Lie smells of summer flowers and barrels, vanilla and honey. I expect based on some of these aroma notes that the cider will taste very mineral rich.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

This is a dry cider, but it’s not the simplest cider to categorize because of what’s going on with this cider. It’s doing so much more than just tasting sweet or dry. You’ll have to read on to learn more. 

Flavors and drinking experience: barrelicious, bright acid, white chocolate

Oh my, oh my! This is an exciting cider that I think only got better for waiting around in my cellar for too long. My first impression comes from many barrel qualities in this cider. That includes a host of flavors including, bread crumbs, vanilla, brown sugar, and substantial mouthfeel. 

The Sur Lie doesn’t only taste like it’s barrel aging though. There’s enough bright acidity to keep the  mouthfeel firm and crisp. I get fruity flavors as well like ripe apple and pear, but they don’t appear alone. This cider just oozes with white chocolate notes! I love how creamy the Sur Lie feels.

The combination of tartness and body is very pleasing. I had this cider with pesto pasta with asparagus, roasted red pepper, and and cherry tomatoes, and it was outstanding.  

Next up, I brought the Forgotten Ciders Cinnister to a party.

Several select ciders from Eastman’s Forgotten Ciders were shared with me at the most recent GLINTCAP. This Michigan cidery doesn’t make it easy to find out very much about the ciders, but the cidery does have a well-liked Facebook page.


I shared my notes on The Mad Russian (a red cider made from red-fleshed apples) in March of 2018: 

Here’s what the label says about this cider, “Once a high priced ancient world spice from the Silk Trade Route, this now common spice evokes many memories of fall and flavor. An inviting aroma and delicate warmth are peeled back  in this cider, artfully infused with the once rare and exotic cinnamon spice” 6.9% ABV.

Appearance: pumpkin, brilliant, no bubbles

This cider looks still and brilliant. I didn’t notice any bubble action when it was poured. The color reminds me of pumpkin or roasted butternut squash.

Aromas: cinnamon roll, cleanly bready, yeasty, fruity

The Cinnister smells like cinnamon roll. The notes of powdery cinnamon are not too sweet but persistently roll between spicy and fruity. This just smells so pleasant. I appreciate the clean and yeasty bread notes. I feel like I should check on the oven to see if my cinnamon rolls are done, but sadly there are no cinnamon rolls.  

Here’s the most interesting part of the Cinnister’s aromas; as I lifted my glass and the drink approaches, I could sense the acidity as it neared. I’d not call the experience volatile acidity, or some of the aroma notes that traditionally 

Dryness/sweetness: Dry!

This cider shocked me with it’s dryness. After all of those rich and desserty aromas, this is a rough and tumble spicy dry cider! 

Flavors and drinking experience: Tart, petillant, high tannins

Wowzers, the Cinnister tastes extremely tart! And yes, this cider was surprisingly dry to everyone at the party! It simply doesn’t smell how one expects a dry cider to smell, and I think that’s because we are conditioned as Americans to associate cinnamon with dessert. 

In terms of texture the Cinner has relatively low carbonation; I’ll even call it petillant. What the cider doesn’t have in sweetness or fruity notes, it does compensate for with high tannins and high acid. The body is sharply pointed. 

This is an ideal cider for the true cinnamon fan. Notably we usually associate cinnamon with ripe apples (perhaps because of apple baked goods) but these notes are of tart underripe apples. The fermentation tastes clean, and the overall impression is very fresh and pleasant. I appreciate the spicy start that eventually shifts into an apple core finish. We had this some luxurious baked macaroni and cheese, and the contrast was epic.

Whether you’re hibernating at home next to warm cats like me, or out taking in the outdoors whatever the conditions, I hope you find just the right cider for your season. Cheers!