Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Cider Reviews: Citizen Cider Currant Affair and Starcut Cider’s Pomace Cult

Summer has finally arrived, Cider Lovers. And we had our first whole weekend of warm bright summery weather. After such a rainy spring, this feels especially welcome! I spent part of my weekend touring around my region in search of food and beverage excitement, and the other part of my weekend was spent preparing my screened in porch for semi-outdoor relaxing. There’s nowhere quite like a screened in porch for a summer cider.

This week, let’s start with a limited release Citizen Cider that I picked up from them quite some time ago: Currant Affair. Citizen Cider makes Burlington, Vermont it’s home base. The company now sells it’s ciders in several states, but it certainly maintains its strong ties to Vermont. 

I’ve reviewed quite a few Citizen Ciders before. Here’s the rundown in no particular order. 

Sur Lies: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/02/cider-review-citizen-cellars-sur-lies.html

Barrel Aged: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/02/cider-review-citizen-ciders-barrel-aged.html

The Wood: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/07/cider-review-citizen-ciders-wood-and.htm

Companion Sour Cherry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/06/pickcider-review-citizen-ciders.html

Tulsi: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/03/cider-review-fable-farms-greensboro-and.html

Wit’s Up, a Belgian beer inspired cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/04/cider-review-citizen-ciders-wits-up.html

Citizen Cider bRosé: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/02/cider-review-citizen-cider-brose.html

I visited Citizen Cider's production facility and tap room in Burlington: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-2.html

You can visit Citizen Cider online to learn more about the company including recent releases, special events, and more: https://www.citizencider.com/

Now on to Citizen Cider’s Currant Affair. Here’s the official description: 
Currently, Citizen Cider is having an affair with currants and cider. Currants like the cold, so do apples, and as it happens they pair well through fermentation. This rose cider is big, bright, fruity and exciting. Please have your own little affair and enjoy this cider. 100% locally sourced apple cider, black currants, sugar. Contains sulfites. Naturally gluten-free. 6.9% ABV

Appearance: tawny, brilliant, bubbly

What fun color. It’s almost hard to characterize because it has shades of red, brown, and orange but somehow seems more carnelian and gem like with a tawny hue.

Aromas: Raspberries, red fruits, powdered sugar, green wood

The Currant Affair smells like raspberries and red fruits. I get hints of aroma that remind me of sweetness particularly powdered sugar. There’s something else though; I can detect a flexible backbone of green wood.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi Dry

This cider is semi-dry, but that’s far from the most exciting thing about it. 

Flavors and drinking experience: super tart, tannic, bubbly, red fruit

The Currant Affair is tart and tannic! I get a strong salivary reaction the second I taste it.
Not all tannins are the same; these notably taste fruity and astringent. They come from the currants rather than from wood aging or apples. 

One of the other features of this cider I noticed first was how bubbly it is.  This high acid cider brings tons of red fruit and fun to every sip. I get some apple notes but it reminds me more of black currants, red raspberries, and super tart cherries. I enjoyed it very much, and I recommend pairing this cider with relaxing with your favorite animal companions and just quietly watching the world go by. Food wise, it goes well with a light and creamy pasta salad or some goat cheese and grapes.

Now, I want to rewind one last time to my trip to Grand Rapids this spring. While in Michigan, I judged for GLINTCAP, took my CCP Level 2 exam and volunteered for the Grand Rapids Cider Festival! It was a whirlwind trip. And one of the ciders I got taste at the Grand Rapids Cider Festival was Starcut Cider’s Pomace Cult. 

The name alone was intriguing, but once I saw that list of apples I had to try it. 

Starcut Ciders is  based in Bellaire, Michigan and was founded in 2014. 

I first reviewed Starcut Cider when I tried the Immortal Jelly: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/01/cider-review-starcut-immortal-jelly.html

More recently, I tasted Pulsar: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/04/cider-review-slyboro-cider-houses.html

You can learn more about Starcut Ciders at: http://starcutciders.com/

Here’s Starcut Cider’s Pomace Cult’s official description: 
Pomace Cult is a dry cider made with a blend of heritage apples. Made with Golden Russet, Brown Snout, Jonagold, Spitzenburg, Dabinett, Reine des Pommes, Yarlington Mill, Goldrush, Kingston Black, Reinette Zabergau, Calville Blanc, Roxbury Russet, Bramley’s Seedling, Harry Masters Jersey, Puget Spice, and Macoun apple varieties, this golden colored cider has an inviting aroma of tart fresh apples. Crisp and clean, this cider finishes dry with apple tartness. 7.7% ABV

Appearance: deep butternut color, hazy, bubbly

This cider brings such vibrant color to my glass. I’ll call the hue butternut squash. I couldn’t quite tell the clarity working with the cups we had at the festival, but I think it was just a bit hazy and bubbly.

Aromas: melon, apples, mild

Though the aromas aren’t strong, the Pomace Cult smells like freshly cut melon and apples.
Sweetness/dryness: Dry

This is a dry cider! I have no doubts about this. 

Flavors and drinking experience: astringent, high acid, bubbly

I had this cider after volunteering for a few fun and sunny hours, so I was ready for something with acidity and plenty of flavor. The Pomace Cult did not dissapoint. I wanted a cider that could wake up my mouth, and the super tart astringent cider did exactly that. I think my initial notes just said, “acid, like whoa!”

I would pair this cider with a hot soft pretzel and honey mustard or with an episode of Good Omens. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Cider Review: 2 Towns Ciderhouse Afton Field and James Creek Ciderhouse Harvest Moon

This is my last post before the Summer Solstice, and I can barely make sense of that idea! The weather doesn’t feel summery, and I am not ready to be headed toward longer nights and shorter days. Enough of my fretting though, the seasons circle around and the weather does what it will do. What I can muster is appreciation the lovely long spring we’ve had, and enthusiastic participation in the warm weather fun that I know is coming.

I’ve reviewed quite a few 2 Towns Ciders, but the Ciderhouse’s offerings are so different, I want to showcase the variety. 

Most recently, La Mûre knocked my socks off: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/02/cider-review-albemarle-ciderworks.html

Fighting winter vibes is easy with the Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy, a lemon and raspberry cider:

I loved The Cidre Bouche; it’s my favorite of anything they’ve made. It made my top 10 of 2017: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/11/cider-review-2-towns-ciderhouses-cidre.html

During Very Perry May last year I tried the Pearadise:

I tried the Pineapple because I am enraptured by that fruit: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/02/cider-review-portland-cider-company.html

Speaking of enrapturing fruit, The rhubarb and hops of The Hop and Stalk was delicious: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/12/cider-review-2-towns-ciderhouse-hop-and.html

I reviewed the Bright Cider as part of a travel roundup: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/07/cider-review-roundup-common-cider-co.html

The  2 Towns Ciderhouse Website has tons more info about the company and all the ciders: https://2townsciderhouse.com/

Here’s 2 Towns Ciderhouse’s description for Afton Field.
AMERICAN FARMHOUSE CIDER~ Oregon grown crab and heirloom apples ~ ~ Fermented with wild yeast strains ~ ~ Aged in oak barrels ~  
Inspired by farmhouse ciders of the pioneer West, Afton Field is a testament to the tenacity of these settlers and their enduring orchards. Fresh-pressed, hand-picked Wickson crab, Newtown Pippin and other pioneer apple varieties are fermented, aged in oak barrels, and bottle conditioned with wild Brettanomyces yeast. Bone dry, unfiltered and uncompromising, this farmhouse cider is wild at heart and at home on the rustic table. 6.9% ABV

Appearance: Hazy, warm straw, no visible bubbles

This cider looks like a wild ferment! It’s cloudy, straw colored and shows no bubbles.

Aromas: Funky, barnyard, cheesy, musty, 

This wild cider is funky! I get mild hints of apple and citrus, but much more than that this cider smells of barnyard and farmhouse cheese. It’s a bit reductive and very tart smelling.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

This cider certainly is dry! The crab apple tartness and Brettanoyces sourness amp up the perception of dryness.

Flavors and drinking experience: oaky, lemon, bready, tart and astringent

The Afton Field tastes much fruitier than it smelled. To taste it, I got waves of lemon, ripe apple, and sourdough yeastiness. It’s a zesty astringent cider with acid going sky high. It’s very true to a sour farmhouse style. I had this with colleagues and fun snacks; it worked that way. 

Now for the James Creek Cider House Harvest Moon!

I’ve not reviewed anything by James Creek before, but I had the pleasure of meeting folks from there at CiderCon 2018. From North Carolina, James Creek Ciderhouse makes ciders from local farms from 125 miles or fewer of the home base. James Creek put in an on site orchard in 2009 with over 65 different apple varieties. I was given a bottle of the James Creek Harvest Moon Dry Cider back in 2018, so this review is long overdue.

Visit this Ciderhouse’s website https://jamescreekciderhouse.com/

Appearance: marigold yellow, very bubbly,  brilliant

Gushingly bubbly, I can see explosive sparkle action once I pour this cider. I’ll call the color marigold yellow. 

Aromas: Apple skins, apple pastry, mouth watering

The Harvest Moon smells like apple skins and apple pastry. Ooh this lush aroma makes my mouth water. Yeast smells can very so much, so when I get one that hits fruity and fresh like this, I get excited.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

This cider tastes dry as promised, but there’s a lot more going on there. 

Flavors and drinking experience: overripe apples, tangerine, tea, floral finish

I love how the Harvest Moon tastes likes overripe apples, tangerines, and tea. This cider brings lots of acid to the drinking experience. The Harvest Moon is refreshing and approachable with a  light body and plenty of fizz. I especially like the crab apple sharpness to the acid. The cider winds down gently with long floral finish.

I had this cider with a meal of chili lime sweet potato fries, brown bread topped with butter and radishes and some excellent Field Roast sausages. It was followed by game of Scrabble; sadly, I didn’t win. But the cider and the evening were both fantastic.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Perry Reviews: Haykin Family Cider's Harrow Pear and Le Pere Jules Poiré de Normandie

I know we just completed Very Perry May, but I had the unexpected good fortune to run into two deeply enjoyable perries in the last couple of weeks. I didn’t want to save these notes almost another year until May comes around again. So, I’m indulging myself with a double perry review. Perhaps I’m not the only one who can’t resist a special perry. And I love bringing two new producers into the blog in the same week!

I want to start with a perry I brought home from GLINTCAP. I got to share a meal with Talia and Daniel Haykin and run into them a few times in those busy days. This cidery and tasting room operates in Aurora, Colorado. We found our a few weeks later that Haykin Family Cider’s  Harrow Pear earned a Bronze in the Modern Perry category.

What I didn’t yet know when we met is that the Haykins and I share a love of bubbles! I was chuffed to see a more prominent mention of the importance of sparkle in their beverages. That’s not the only way I like my cider or perry, but I do love the fizzy ones!

Learn about all the fun stuff going on at Haykin Family Cider online: https://www.haykinfamilycider.com

Here’s the official description, “Harrow Pears are a Canadian variety that produce a lot of tannin when grown in Colorado. It ferments into a rich perry, with a lush and juice aroma, like a virtual bite of a ripe and melting pear on a warm day, like pear drop candy, lime and tonic water, offset by clay and minerality. Pears grown at Ela Family Farms.6.7% ABV”

Appearance: bubbly, warm straw color, brilliant 

Pours with a massive head, but the foam doesn’t stick around. Even so, it’s obvious how bubbly this cider is when you take a peek. It’s almost too bubbly to see that it’s brilliant, but I could tell after waiting a bit. The color is a warm straw.

Aromas: citrus, yogurt, stony, spicy

This perry smells exciting and dynamic. I can detect aroma notes including: yogurt, citrus, sharpness, and stones. The whole impression I get from this perry is a fun interplay of spicy, nutty ( particularly macadamia), and fruity.

Sweetness/Dryness: Sweet

This is a lovely sweet cider. The specific style of sweetness is burnt sugar, vanilla, and pear

Flavors and drinking experience: super bubbly, tart yet sweet, vanilla, tannic finish

The Harrow Pear tastes quite sweet with a soft vasilla first note, but that’s followed by plenty of tartness. The perry is just loaded with oodles and oodles of flavor!  I get some neat nutty/yogurty acids at the start and at last fascinating tannins coming only at the finish. As I hoped, the Harrow Pear is extremely bubbly.

After a few sips, I notice bits of burnt sugar blending with the spiciness. Drinking this perry is exceedingly interesting; it’s complex, thoughtful, and highly drinkable. My co-taster noticed that big sips are nice; just a little note of bitterness—this correlates with the dust and stony scents. What a charming perry; I’m so glad I got to try it!

And my other perry of the week is Le Pere Jules Poiré de Normandie Brut.

My introduction to perry included perries from Normandy right away; they have a reputation for reaching the apex of what’s deliciously possible for pears.

Le Pere Jules makes not only perry, but also cider and Calvados (apple brandy) and started doing so in 1919. It is still a family business, founded by Jules Desfrièches, now in its third generation with Thierry Desfrièches.

See the website in French or English here and learn more about Le Pere Jules: http://www.calvados-leperejules.com/

Here’s Poiré de Normandie’s Official description 

Our “Poiré”, or Pear Cider, is produced from three varieties of pears that come from multi centennial orchards.  It is known it’s the fresh and refined taste.  As with the cider, our Poiré is lightly filtered and  bottled to develop its fine natural gas.  It is excellent to drink with any sea food. 4%ABV”

Appearance: hazy, lemon curd, bubbly

This perry reminds me of homemade lemon curd in color. It’s hazy gentle gold just makes me think of citrus and cream. 

Aromas: farmyard, mineral, citrus

This perry’s aromas certainly remind me more of French and English perries than most American ones I’ve tastes. There’s some farmyard, citrus, and stony mineral smells going on (tiny hint of volatile acidity), but I expect it might taste fairly different from how it smells. 

Sweetness/dryness: off dry

This Brut Perry tastes off dry to semi-dry and very natural in its suggestions of sweetness. There’s far more to the whole experience than its level of sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: Bubbly, tart, pear skins

I love this perry’s beautiful bubbly texture. I was wowed by it immediately! There’s a high level of sharp and fruity tartness that wakes up the entire mouth. The Poiré de Normandie tastes minerally but somehow stays so fresh, floral, and fruity And I simply adore how the finish is warm pear skins. Perries sometimes do this magical thing where they allow me to taste what seems like the texture of a ripe yet firm pear. This perry allows me exactly that! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Her Father's Cider Bar and 3 Windswept Orchard Ciders: Ida Red, Crimson Crisp and Golden Russet

I spent Memorial Day weekend in Toronto celebrating a birthday; This meant three amazing days, eating, walking, gawping at fish in the aquarium, and generally exploring this cool new city. No exploration is complete without checking out a new cider scene, and I was stoked to see what Toronto has to offer cider-wise. 

After a shockingly intense thunderstorm, we headed off to Her Father’s Cider Bar for dinner and cider. I’d heard about this particular spot for more than a year. When we arrived, I was instantly charmed by seeing how the world-class cider selection is stored and displayed. Looking at the menu only increased my excitement. The cider menu didn’t fit in a paragraph, or a column, or even a page. It was a book and a chalkboard. I knew we’d come to the best place in all of Toronto, and that was before we tried the chickpea fries!

You can see some lovely photos and check out the extensive menus online: https://www.herfathers.ca

I love how the ciders are divided into styles in the menu of bottled and canned ciders. That gives the drinker enough information to really hone in on a style they like and still try something unfamiliar. Plus the flags make identifying cidery location very simple too. Check out this cider by the glass page. It's positively swoon-worthy.

My cider co-pilot Woody had an adventurous flight of ciders with different additives and fermentation technique experiments, and I tried the Single Varietal Flight from Windswept Orchards. I love apple blends, but I am always curious to try a single varietal from an apple I've not tasted singly before and this flight had two: Ida Red and Crimson Crisp. And the one apple I did know from other single varietals is the Golden Russet which has contributed some fantastic ciders.

Windswept Orchard Ciders is a relatively young Ontario cidery: started in 2016. From what I read on the website; Windswept uses foraged fruits from abandoned orchards and has invested in the future with a young orchard on the farm.

Visit the cidery website to learn more and to peek at all the gorgeous labels: https://windsweptcider.com/

Ida Red

Here’s Windswept Orchard Cider’s official description:
Ida Red apples are known for their sweet aromas and zippy tart finish. Light, crisp and delicate, great on it's own as an aperitif. Crafted with 100% Ida Red apples from a single orchard overlooking the shores of Georgian Bay near Thornbury, Ontario. Bottle conditioned, contains lees. 7.4% 500ml 101 cases produced.
I found the Ida Red a bubbly dry, delicate cider. I loved it’s pear-apple aromas and clean fermentation. It brough an airy  light body and lots of bubbles to the experience. This is definitely one I’d like to seek out again. 

Next up was the Crimson Crisp: a GLINTCAP Silver Medalist

Here’s the official description for Crimson Crisp: 
A modern varietal with heirloom appeal, Crimson Crisp apples are rich, tart and full of flavour. Lush, vinous and textural. Crafted with 100% Crimson Crisp apples sourced from a single orchard and grown on the slope of the Niagara escarpment on Georgian Bay. Bottle conditioned, contains lees. 7.4% ABV 500ml 101 cases produced.
For me the Crimson Crisp smelled just like homemade apple sauce; it reminded me of ciders with a lot of Northern Spy. I like the super vivid apple aromas that make me think of the texture of ripe apples as much as the taste. When drinking, I found this cider a bit more yeasty and fermented. Something about it connoted cold though it’s serving temperature was the same as its compatriots.

I want to finish up with the Golden Russet, starting with its official description:
Rich, lively honey apple finish. Coveted amongst cidermakers, Golden Russet apples are known for their perfect balance of sweetness, acidity and tannin. Crafted from 100% Golden Russet apples grown in a single orchard overlooking the shores of Georgian Bay near Meaford, Ontario. Bottle conditioned, contains lees. 7.4% ABV 500ml 155 cases produced
Oh boy! This cider smells mature and farmy! The Golden Russet is the funky one of the flight! It was smart to put it last on the list, as it’s a build up to this wild and barny cider. The aromas remind me not only of barn wood but also a dry sherry. The tastes are very different from the cider’s smells. The Golden Russet tastes like pear and like a soft overripe apple. I love this one.

The food was absolutely as good as the cider, and I wouldn't trade the whole experience for anything. Toronto was a great place to visit and a fun place for cider.