Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Cider Review: Eve's Cidery Kingston Black 2017 and Stem Cider's Colorado Heritage Blend

We are barreling towards harvest time, the autumnal Equinox, and Cider Weeks all over the country. For us cider nerds, it’s almost show time! All that is to say that I’ve got some exciting news coming up, but I’m not quite ready to share it yet. Just keep watching this space! In the meantime, I wanted to treat myself this week. When things get busy, it’s tempting to just power through, but I think trying to do a lot is the perfect reason to slow down with a cider or two you have an extra good feeling about. That’s exactly what I’m sharing this week.

First up is Eve's Kingston Black 2017 single varietal. I loved sharing my thoughts on a delicious single varietal from only Kingston Black apples last week (thanks to Stormalong Ciders), so I looked through my cellar to see if I had any other single varietal ciders. That’s where I found another Kingston Black cider!

Eve’s Cidery operates in the small Finger Lakes community of Van Etten, New York. The cidery has been there since 2002 when the cider apple orchard was planted. Now, we can all taste the fruits of those early labors.

My previous reviews of Eve’s ciders and the cidery’s appearances at significant cider events are all shared below. I recommend checking out a few, just to see how consistently quality these ciders are!

Northern Spy: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/04/cider-review-eves-cidery-northern-spy.html

Autumn’s Gold: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/06/cider-review-eves-ciderys-autumns-gold.html

Beckhorn Hollow Dry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/10/cider-review-eves-ciderys-beckhorn.html

Albee Hill Still and Dry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/12/cider-review-eves-cidery-albee-hill.html

Perry Pear:

Autumn led an Orchard Tour and picnic as part of Finger Lakes Cider Week back in 2016:

Darling Creek:
And http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/12/my-favourite-10-ciders-of-2018.html

Cider Con: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/02/cider-con-2018-pt-1-eden-specialty.html

You can read all about Eve’s Cidery on the website: https://www.evescidery.com.

There’s a whole page about this particular cider, it’s well worth reading.


If you just need the short official description, “On the nose: melted sugar, apple crate and anise. In the mouth, rough-sawn wood and tobacco dissolving into chewiness. The finish has substantial weight and smells like Christmas spice cookies.

Now for Eve's Cidery Kingston Black 2017 Single Varietal. I purchased my bottle at the Ithaca Famer’s Market, which I use like a weekend local cider market.

Appearance: copper, bubbly,  variable clarity

It’s hard to say what the clarity is for this cider. Each glass pours differently from a brilliant first glass to a cloudy 4th glass. All of the glasses glow with an intensely dark shade of copper, and each is alive with bubbles. Everything about this suggests a dry tannic cider is waiting for me!

Aromas: overripe apples, leather, orange, tea, spice, wood

The Kingston Black smells mouthwatering. I get notes of overripe apples, leather, orange, and tea. There’s a bit of funk and yeast,  but more of the flavors remind me of fruits, spices, and mellow barn wood.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

The Kingston Black tastes dry. It does have a hint of flavors more often associated with sweetness but they waft by as suggestions and resemblances and not sweet in the cider’s essence. If you want to know what I did taste, keep reading.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, astringent, orange peel, almond

I love how the Kingston Black tastes. This cider is gently bitter and tart with high acid and high tannins. I find it notably dry throughout, but it’s not entirely without fruit character.  I taste orange peel, clove, and a bit of brown sugar. The whole experience is complex and rich; I find it  warm, but not hot. The cider has plenty of minerality but also umami that reminds me of  Almond and apple peel.

I shared this cider with dear friends and a simple meal of corn on the cob, tomato pie, and some amazing cheeses. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Next up: Stem Ciders’ Colorado Heritage Blend

Lafayette, Colorado is home to Stem Ciders. Eric Foster and Phil Kao began the company in 2013. To find more background on the company, here are all of my earlier reviews of Stem Ciders. Full disclosure, this was a sample shared with me for review.

Banjo: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/03/cider-review-stem-ciders-banjo-and.html

Pear Apple: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/06/pickcider-review-stem-ciders-pear-apple.html

Perry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-tieton-cider-works.html

You can find out all about the company online: https://stemciders.com

Here’s the official description for Stem Ciders’ Colorado Heritage Blend, “Made with a blend of local Dabinette and Winesap apples. ABV 7.7% Juicy, dry, clean, and light with a balanced acidity. Nice lingering soft tannins and a touch of grapefruit citrus without the bitterness. A quintessential hard apple cider.”

Appearance: day-lily yellow, super bubbly, hazy

This cider looks lovely in every glass we poured it in! The color reminds me of these late summer day lilies that I keep seeing all around town. It’s a mellow color that shows off all the bubbles present.

Aromas: cooked apple, dust, grain,

This cider smells just a little bit grainy and funky, but mostly I smell cooked apples. The scents remind me of homemade applesauce, warm on the stove. There are hints of dust and grain also. Based on these scents, I expect a super tart cider.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

This cider tastes even drier than I expected from the aroma! Its austere and cooling, perfect for a humid summer evening.

Flavors and drinking experience: fermented, briney, cooling
Those dusty notes in the Colorado Heritage Blend’s aroma indeed translate into high acidity and some degree of astringence. What I taste isn’t exactly what I smell though. I could smell a certain graininess, but that tastes a bit like yeast and corn. There’s some classic clean barn notes going on at the same time, and I didn’t expect those from the cider’s aromas. What I don’t know how to articulate is what makes the flavors feel cool and aquatic to me; it’s not watery but something decidedly connotes a certain chill. The cider’s finish reminds me of many UK ciders with some phenolic character that reminds me of leather and olives.

I had this one with a fish fry and broccoli slaw. I like the creamy veggie slaw with this austere and structured cider. This one could be enjoyed with a plethora of different food pairings and in any season!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Cider Reviews: Ninepin Light Cider Cucumber Lime and Stormalong Kingston Black

In thinking about cider in Summer, I feel like I’ve neglected a fairly obvious topic this year. I was reminded when I got to pick out cider for a company picnic. It was such a fun experiment to go to the local bottle (or in this case can) shop and look out for things I’ve not tried before. Cans were easy to portion out, easy to keep cold and I was able to bring more different ciders to the party than I would have been able to with 750ml bottles. I love treating cider like wine most of the time, but for a casual cookout in Summer can work amazingly well! I did get one of my sets of notes from this party, so thanks everybody! 

Ninepin Light Cider Cucumber Lime

Ninepin Ciderworks is based out of Albany, New York. This company has been making some really adventurous ciders, developing a great tasting room, growing the brand’s reach, and maintaining a super active calenar of events. I only wish I could make the trip up to Albany more regularly.  

Here are some of my previous reviews for Ninepin Ciderworks.

Gathering of the Farm Cideries (including the Cascara cider): https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/02/gathering-of-new-york-farm-cideries.html

Peach Tea: https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/06/pickcider-review-nine-pin-ciderworks.html

Blueberry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/08/cider-review-nine-pin-cider-blueberry.html

Ginger: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/10/cider-review-nine-pin-cider-works-ginger.html

And the Signature cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/04/cider-review-nine-pin-cider-works-nine.html

Visit Nine Pin Ciderworks online to learn more about the ciders, the tasting room and the events: http://www.ninepincider.com

Here’s the official description of the Light Cider Cucumber Lime. 
Light cider, historically referred to as ciderkin, was produced in great quantities in New York during the colonial period. Unlike cider, its boozy counter-part, light cider was made by taking the leftover pommace from the apple press and soaking it in water. Nine Pin’s Cucumber Lime Light Cider is a modern take on this historical New York beverage. Crafted with fresh pressed NY apples, this light cider is refreshing and flavorful, yet surprisingly low in calories. 4.3% ABV.

Appearance: deep saffron yellow, brilliant, few visible bubbles 

This cider started with a surprise! It's a much deeper color than I expected! When I hear light, I don’t think of that saffron hue. The cider is brilliant with few visible bubbles.

Aromas: Appley, aquatic, cucumber

This cider smells appley and aquatic. I am reminded of lazy lakeside evenings. There’s a vegetable that includes cucumber but also with hints of sugar snap pea. I don’t really smell much lime but there’s a clean freshness that could go with either lime or cucumber really.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

This is a semi-dry cider that puts up a small but Immediate hit of sweetness, but then dries out over the course of each sip. What’s in the sweetness is clean and fruity.

Flavors and drinking experience: cucumber, apple, easy drinking, medium acidity

The Cucumber Lime has a nice medium level of bubble. The cider goes from tasting very much like apple to cucumber. The finish includes only the lightest hints of lime. Unlike so many ciders from New York this one has medium acidity. There’s no real tannins to speak of. The whole experience is totally pleasant with clean fermentation.  The cider is very easy drinking!

I had mine with a veggie dog, potato chips, and Peach Melba cake. It was pure summer enjoyment.

Stormalong Cider’s Kingston Black

I received this review sample of the Kingston Black cider from Stormalong Cider’s Rare Apples line. Stormalong Ciders is based in Sherburn, Massachusetts, and they now have a second production facility in Leominster. The company has been around since 2014. 

Here are my previous reviews of Stormalong’s ciders. 

Legendary Dry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/12/cider-review-stormalongs-legendary-dry.html

Light of the Sun: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/08/cider-review-descendant-cider-company.html

Mass Appeal: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/12/cider-review-prospect-ciderworks.html

Here’s the cider’s official description 
THE KINGSTON BLACK apple has garnered much praise and admiration from cider makers on these shores and beyond.  Originating in the UK, and very sparsely grown here in the United States, these apples possess the 3 ingredients known to make a well balanced cider: tannins, acidity, & sugar.  The skin of these apples glow a deep red color, thus the “black” in their name.  Our experience with these apples have been happy ones.  The freshly pressed juice has a distinct ruby color tasting sharp with a dense fruitiness.  Musky tannins abound.  This balance leads to a remarkable fermented cider.  These apples are notoriously fussy to grow, but from our perspective the results are worth the effort. 7.9% ABV 
SILVER MEDAL – GLINTCAP 2016 – English Cider Category

Appearance: brilliant, harvest moon, no visible bubbles

This cider’s color reminds me of the harvest moon that’s coming. I didn’t see much in the way of bubbles from this ciders, but that doesn’t mean it’s still. It is perfectly brilliant.

Aromas: applesauce, caramel, hazelnuts, cinnamon

Oh golly! What a set of aromas. The Kingston Black cider smells so much like applesauce, caramel, hazelnuts. There are notes or  snickerdoodles and cinnamon. The aromas remind me of Fall.

Dryness/sweetness: off dry

This is an off dry cider. It maintains plenty of fruit notes, but it has almost no sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: Tannic, high acid, medium body, fruity

I love that the Kingston Black has tannins, but that isn’t the surprise of this cider. What surprises me is that this is a single-varietal that tastes well balanced. I usually prefer blends. This cider has medium high acidity and just a little bit of astringence. The fruit flavors are not green fresh fruit notes, but instead it tastes more mellow and fermented. 

The Kingston Black stays off dry from the first taste across the palate; and it ends with a lingering and gently aromatic finish. It combines overripe apple, sweet orange, and baking spice notes.  I find every note of it’s mature fruitiness tantalizing. The cider has good strong sparkle and medium body.

I had this cider with a simple popcorn snack and good company. This cider doesn’t need anything more. I love it. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Cider Review: Anxo Cidre Blanc & Aaron Burr's Homestead Locational Cider Summitville

Last week I was complaining about the heat and lack of rain. I still want rain, and it’s plenty warm out there, but I don’t feel like complaining. I see the signs around us that indicate that Summer will end. It feels too early to start finding them, but the color of the leaves is a deeper denser darker green. I run into spiderwebs when I walk in the late evening or early morning. Tomatoes are starting to be ripe around here, as are so many of my other summer favorites. Folks are moving into new apartments and houses. I feel more grateful for summer than I did a week ago, perhaps because I can see that it will not last forever.  

Both of this week’s cider reviews come from the same evening. I helped a friend move into a new apartment. It was a sweaty, intense day, but we got her moved in. Then we celebrated with cider and pizza.  

Anxo (pronounced roughly like an-cho) is not just a cidery, it’s a restaurant and a taproom in Washington DC too. And it’s the brand that woke me up to the astronomical potential of cider collaborations a few years ago. The people behind Anxo, Sam Fitz, Rachel Fitz and Cooper Sheehan, started the foray into cider by working with host cideries to produce collaborative ciders before the group had the production facility Anxo now operates. 

This nimble creativity emblematizes how I think of Anxo. It’s not just one thing. I’ve judged cider with Sam, and I enjoy hearing him talk about the ciders he tastes. (Full disclosure, Sam got me this can when we were judging together this spring.) And I love hearing visitors to Anxo tell me about the food and cider they’ve tried there. So I have been really excited to have my first sip of anything by Anxo.  

You can learn more about the cidery and the restaurant here: http://www.anxodc.com/

Official description page on the website: https://anxocider.com/cider/cidre-blanc/

I’ll pull this much from it, but there’s so much more to see including apple sourcing information (apples were grown in Pennsylvania and Virginia) and fermentation details. 
ABV 6.9%AROMA Peach, kiwi, pineapple, & white grape 
FLAVOR Bright acidity with a slight prickle of tannin, clean finish with hints of white grape and green apple. 
MOUTHFEEL Light bodied, crisp, & refreshing 

Appearance: lemon, cloudy, bubbly

This looks so refreshing! Something about it’s combination of cloudiness, bubbles, and cool lemon yellow just make me anticipate something extremely fresh, dry, and sharp. 

Aromas: farmy, yeasty, lemons

Ohh, this cider smells like its fermentation more than like fresh fruit. Mmm! I love that it smells bready (more sourdough than muffins), lemony, and farmy. 

Sweetness/Dryness: Dry!

The can is correct to call this a dry cider. It may have some fruit notes, particularly citrus, but this is a distinctly dry cider. 

Flavors and Drinking experience: Bubbly, citrus, astringent, high acid

I was not wrong to anticipate something dry and refreshing. This cider is both of those things. The Cidre Blanc tastes grainy and lemony with more bubble than I expect from a cider called petillant on the can. 

I enjoyed pairing this cider with pizza and relaxing, but I think it could be paired with lots of things. I’d pair it with grilled fish tacos and avocado slices next time! And someday, I want to drink Anxo cider while enjoying Pinxtos in DC at the restaurant!

Next up: My first Homestead Locational Cider by Aaron Burr: The Summitville 

If you care about artisanal cider in America, you’ve heard of Aaron Burr ciders. The cider is the labor of Andy Brennan in Wurtsboro, New York. The ciders are cult-classics in part because Andy has such passionate voice and challenging views on how to grow cider. I’ll just quote one sentence from the website and sent you to Andy’s book if you want to read more about his thoughts, “This focus is founded on the belief that early Americans drank history’s best cider.”  I’m sure that I don’t want to prioritize one time and one place as my holy grail of cider, but I won’t argue with the fact that Aaron Burr Cidery makes interesting ciders and has been for more than 14 years now.  

I only have one previous Aaron Burr Review, the Elderberry Apple: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/01/cider-review-aaron-burrs-homestead.html

Visit the website: https://www.aaronburrcider.com/

Read more about Andy Brennan’s book Uncultivated: https://www.groworganicapples.com/booksmd.php#uncultivated

Summitville’s official description on the Aaron Burr website reads:

Summitville. Heavier liquid sediment with deep gold color. Aggressive bubbles, probably over carbonated but we’ll see. Maybe we’ll release it, maybe not. Nose is clean, maybe British. But tart. Starts tart but goes into sweet fruit. I detect grape notes—maybe concord?  Flashes of brightness come and go and tannin anchors the ending. Source: The slope up the east face of the central plateau, starting in the Hollow (Summitville) and going up to where it levels off. Very wooded area. 7.8% ABV

Appearance: hazy, copper, tiny bubbles

The Summitville looks more like an English farmhouse cider than many American ciders based on the haze and the rich coppery color. I can only see a few bubbles; those I see are quite small and stationary.

Aromas: overripe apples, minerals, dry soil

This cider smells like my garden right now, which is to say clean, dry, and powdery dirt with minerals. I also get lots of overripe apple character.  

Sweetness/Dryness: Dry

This is another dry cider. Its astringence and acidity enhance my perception of its dryness. 

Flavors and Drinking experience: soft tannins, mushy fruit, astringent

I agree with the description’s mention of the classic UK cider profile. The Summitville has many qualities in common with a funky, astringent, tannic UK cider. I enjoy the tannins and dryness that are part of this style, but I love that  it has firm acidity and plenty of bubbles too. The cider has a light body but finishes strong. 

This cider came after the pizza, so we paired it with putting our feet up after lots of work and watching a movie. I enjoyed it like that very much. I wouldn’t actually pair this with too complex a dish. The cider has enough going on in and of itself.