Tuesday, September 24, 2019

South Hill Cider's Tasting Room and Flight Plus FLX Cider Week!

Hey cider fans! I’m so excited for Finger Lakes Cider Week! It’s coming right up, so I thought I’d put our one last reminder for a few of the awesome events that I’ll be supporting this year.

Events where you can find me:

9/26, Not Far From the Tree: An Evening Celebrating Apples & Cider- https://www.facebook.com/events/2322642131307274/

Autumn Shosteck of Eve’s Cidery and Steve Selin of South Hill Cider with both be joining me talking about orchards, apples, ciders, and food pairings. This is an evening packed with cider education plus local farm-to-table dishes and ciders at Coltivare. Tickets are $50.

9/28, Jason Wilson & Meredith Collins | The Cider Revival

I’m stoked to interview Jason Wilson about his new book at Buffalo Street Books at 4pm this Saturday. Jason will read a few sections from his book: Cider Revival: Dispatches from the Orchard and you can taste samples by Grisamore Ciderworks. This event is totally free! You can always choose to support Grisamore Ciderworks or Jason and Buffalo St. Books, and I encourage you to do so!

10/3, Basics of Cider Tasting at The Watershed:

Next week at The Watershed (http://www.thewatershedithaca.com/) join me! Everyone is welcome to purchase a glass of cider from the expanded cider week selection. I’ll be in the back discussing the basics of cider tasting and geeking out! No entry fee, just buy some cider!

I want to keep the Finger Lakes celebration going this week by talking about the opening of South Hill Cider’s new tasting room!

I've previously reviewed a few ciders from South Hill Cider:

Prelude #3:http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/12/cider-review-south-hill-ciders-prelude.html

A newer Prelude #7:

Bluegrass Russet: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/04/cider-review-sea-ciders-ruby-rose-and.html

Finger Lakes Cider pairing dinner: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/09/finger-lakes-cider-week-and-birthday.html

My top cider of 2016, the Stone Fence Farm: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/cider-review-south-hill-ciders-stone.html

2014 Packbasket: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/04/cider-review-south-hill-ciders-2014.html

And my first review for them was the hyper-limited Hypothesis: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/05/cider-review-south-hill-ciders.html

I made my way to South Hill Cider’s new tasting room on the second of two soft-opening afternoons. It was a race to make it up there after hours of my day job downtown, but I did! The setting is rural and lovely with breathtaking views and easy access to one of the area’s best waterfalls: Buttermilk Falls. Steve started the farm in 2014 after ordering a batch of cider-specific apple trees in 2012. And so much has happened in the cider world since that early investment!

The parking lot was full when I pulled in, but most folks were enjoying the outdoor area with glasses of cider and picnic tables. Steve found me and my dear friend Maria (of https://ciderwithmaria.com/) and volunteered to guide us through our tastings himself. She went with the Premium tasting and I chose the Classic South Hill Cider Tasting.

Here’s what I tasted!

We started with the Baldwin; it’s a new release. Here’s how South Hill describes it, “2018. New England single varietal. Fine bubble, mouth watering, long finish. 8.5%”

What I noticed first about it was the applesauce aroma. I am a total sucker for this particular scent, so I got very excited! This cider’s apples come from just two orchards. I loved how super dry, high acid, and super bubbly this cider tasted. It’s crisp and citrusy and may have been my new favorite.

The second cider in the flight was Russet Dabinett. The official description and tasting notes read, “Dry and Still. Complex. Featuring cider apple varieties indigenous to NY State and England. Golden Russet is native to New York and Dabinett from Somerset, England. Tasting Notes: Deep Honey color with a smooth mid-palate and a mineral and textured finish. Very long finish. Flavors of honeycomb, elderflower, lychee, sour plum, white pepper, papaya, ripe plum  skin, subtle vanilla.” 8.1% ABV

This cider’s nose reminded me white wine, almost like a spicy Gewurztraminer. When I taste this cider, it’s more mellow than the aromas imply.  Steve talked about how it is blended for structure with a different grouping of apples each year. The cider is dry but tastes off dry and just a little bit barrely.

We then moved on to Old-Time ‘17. Online descriptions say, “Off-dry. Naturally Sparkling. Predominantly from abandoned and wild homestead trees, reflecting the perfection of their diversity and age. The name Old-Time is a nod to both the cidermakers from past generations who produced ciders from these trees and to the style of music cidermaker Steve plays: American old-time music. Tasting Notes: Light gold. Soft rounded bubbles, notes of strawberry, grapefruit seed, butterscotch, musk.” 7.5% ABV

This cider is all about zesty acid in my book. I got more barrel character than from my previous two ciders. This one is definitely semi-dry with a residual sugar of 1.8% and a titratable acidity of 8.1 grams per litre. This cider is very approachable and easy; I’m sure it will be among the most popular at the tasting room.

Our next cider was the Bluegrass Russet ‘17. This cider is made from the same blend every year and fermented and aged in stainless steel. The description for this cider introduces it as, “Off-dry. This cider showcases the Golden Russet apple, a native apple to New York, historically prized for it's excellent flavor in cider and on the table. Custom fermentation and bottling using the Charmat method. Naturally Sparkling. Tasting Notes: Lively effervescence. Crisp. Peach, raspberry, beeswax.” 8.2% ABV

I got the most intense aromas yet when this cider was poured. Notes of concentrated fruitiness just wafted from the glass, primarily pineapple and pear. This has the same level of residual sugar as the previous cider but lower acidity and higher ABV. Those factors combine to make it taste both fuller and sweeter.

And we ended with one of my favorite things in the entirety of the cider world: pommeau. Steve poured the Pommeau ‘17. As South Hill’s website says, this is a “Port-style cider. An apple apertif/digestif from a blend of barrel-aged Apple Spirits (Eau de Vie) with unfermented and unfiltered apple cider. During months of aging, the pommeau naturally clarifies to an amber liquid of exquisite character. Still and sweet. Tasting Notes: Deep gold. Warming, rich and velvety. Aromas of honey and clove. Nutmeg, amaretto, sun-warmed plum.” ABV of 19%.

Based on Steve’s description of the process, it’s clear that this pommeau will change subtly year to year but slowly home in on a more and more consistent flavor profile. He uses a barrel blending method with many different vintages working to tempering the variance with those blends. The Pommeau smells simply heavenly: rich and buttery. Flavors are just silky smooth and velvety cooked apple, caramel biscuit, and butterscotch. The sweetness smoothes out the ABV and the ABV provides some backbone and fire to a sweet cider. It’s tension and balance working together perfectly!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Cider Review: Embark Golden Russet Reserve and Cider Week Finger Lakes

Finger Lakes Cider Week is almost here! It’s happening all over central New York from September 27th - October 6th, 2019. This year, not only will I be pouring samples, attending dinners, touring orchards, munching apples, and tasting new ciders, I’ll also be talking to folks about cider in three different ways! I cannot tell you how excited I am! In fact, I’m trimming the blog post for the week to only include on review, so I can spend more time sharing Cider Week love.

Check out the home page to learn a lot more about this wonderful cider celebration: https://ciderweekflx.com/flx/

But before I share some upcoming highlights, I do want to share a really fun cider review for the week.

Let’s take a look at Embark Ciderworks’ Golden Russet Reserve. Embark Craft Ciderworks is based out of Williamson, New York. This is just outside of Rochester. The cidery grew out of an apple farm. The cider makers are Jake Lagoner and Chris Gowan. Take a look at my earlier posts on Embark ciders to find out more background!

My previous review of Embark Ciders include fewer than they should:

Crab Series #1: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/08/cider-review-embark-craft-ciderworks.html

The American Hopped: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/01/cider-review-embark-craft-ciderworks.html

You can visit the website to learn more about Embark Ciderworks: https://embarkcraftciderworks.com/

The official description of this cider is short and factual, “2017 Golden Russets fermented dry and aged for 12 months then backsweetened with 2018 Golden Russet apples. 6.9%ABV”

Appearance: golden raspberry, cloudy, bubbly

Pretty pretty! I like the color on this cider. It reminds me of fall-ripening golden raspberries. The cider looks distinctly cloudy and bubbly.

Aromas: Lemon, melon, and minerals

I don’t get the most intensity of aroma from this cider, but I do get some pleasant nots of lemon, melon and stony minerality.

Sweetness/Dryness: Off dry

This cider brings more fruit, crispness, and bubble to the table than sweetness. It isn’t entirely dry, but it’s close.

Flavors and drinking experience: Bubbly, crisp, minerals

The Golden Russet Reserve brings lots of minerals to each sip. It’s wonderfully crisp, due to it’s high acidity and the intensity of bubbles. What I don’t know is how this cider also tastes creamy. The Golden Russet Reserve does a lot with it’s high level of acidity and medium tannins. It has a relatively light body and quick finish.

I appreciate how clean this cider tastes. Overall, I find it very refreshing and perfect with a last summery supper. I had mine with garlicy kale, sweet potato wedges and a sweetly smoky barbeque sauce.

Now for a few highlights of Cider Week Finger Lakes!

Events where you can find me:

9/26, Not Far From the Tree: An Evening Celebrating Apples & Cider- https://www.facebook.com/events/2322642131307274/

This is going to be a great event featuring Autumn Shosteck of Eve’s Cidery, Steve Selin of South Hill and me talking about orchards, apples, ciders, and food pairings. And we’ll get to enjoy great ciders and foods at the local farm-to-table place: Coltivare. Tickets are $50.

9/28, I’ll  be interviewing Jason Wilson about his new book at Buffalo Street Books at 4pm. Jason will also be reading sections from the book: Cider Revival: Dispatches from the Orchard. Grisamore Ciderworks will be pouring samples. And this event is totally free! It would be a gret time to pick up Jason’s book if you haven’t already.

10/3, Basics of Cider Tasting at The Watershed:

At this event, you can go straight up to the bar at The Watershed (http://www.thewatershedithaca.com/) and pick up a glass of cider from their specially expanded cider week selection. It’s already one of the strongest cider lists in town! Then come back to the big table in the back, and I’ll be discussing the basics of cider tasting. No entry fee, just buy some cider! 

Here are a few other awesome Cider Week Events

9/29, Monks & Makers: A NYS Cider Tasting Salon

Both weekends, Tours and Tastings at Black Diamond Cidery

10/1, The Emerging FLX Cider Region in the Cider Revival – Book Signing and Cider Maker Chat

10/ 3, Finger Lakes Cider Week Celebration at Mann Library on Cornell Campus: http://events.cornell.edu/event/finger_lakes_cider_week_celebration_mann_library

Monday, September 9, 2019

Cider Review: Thornapple Brewing's Rough Cut and Citizen Cider's Northern Spy, plus FLX Cider Week!

Fall is creeping in the mornings and evenings. I have dear ones holding on to each last summer tomato and sunny day, while others can’t wait to enjoy crisp autumn delights. I can see both sides of this debate, but I’m ready for Fall. I love colorful falling leaves, nighttime fires, and the harvest moon. I don’t care if it’s cheesy or basic. Fall is the greatest season, and it brings Finger Lakes Cider Week! Check the link to read more: https://ciderweekflx.com/flx/.

I’ll be participating in a few activities this year including September 26th a night of Cider and Apple education and tasting at Coltivare (https://coltivareithaca.com/) with a few of my local orchardist and cider maker friends. Stay tuned for ticket link. And on September 28th, I’ll  be doing an interview for a book launch event for The Cider Revival by Jason Wilson at Buffalo St. Books (https://www.buffalostreetbooks.com/)

But now for 2 canned cider reviews for the week, starting with Rough Cut by Thornapple Brewing. 

I picked up this can when I was at GLINTCAP this year, and I’ve been so curious about it. Reading a bit about Thornapple Brewing reveals that the company has a brewpub in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The founders Jeff Coffey and Eric Fouch make cider, wine, beer, and spirits all of which are served with food at the brewpub. This is the first appearance of anything by Thornapple on the blog.

Read more about everything going on at Thornapple on the web: https://thornapplebrewing.com/

Thornapple Cider’s Rough Cut

I was confused for the longest time about the name of this cider  because of the hand written style on the can. 

Here’s the official description, “Dry hopped cider. 7% ABV.” But I didn’t have the website up when I cracked the cider, so I was going in with no info at all.

Appearance: cloudy, marigold

The Rough Cut looks opaque and orange yellow. The color reminds me of marigolds. I can see some bubbles on the sides of the glass.

Aromas: Hopped! 

I say “Hopped!” because this was a total surprise. I didn’t see info on the can that gave me any expectation of hops. This cider smells like pear, mint, hops, and apples.

Sweetness/dryness: off dry
The Rough Cut is more dry than sweet, but it’s not bone dry. It has enough sweetness to bring out it’s fruit character. 

Flavors and drinking experience: aquatic, mild, bubbly, buttery

I really like the Rough Cut as a hopped cider, however surprised I was at first. Though one edge of this cider come across as a little bitter, perhaps this is where this is where the name comes from. Overall, the Rough Cut tastes buttery, smooth, mild, and somehow aquatic. I love that the Rough Cut offers up lots and lots of bubbles

I had this cider with homemade pesto pizza, and there are few things that go better with a hopped cider than either a pesto sauce or a hearty slice (or two) or pizza. 

Next up, it’s Northern Spy by Citizen Cider!

Citizen Cider comes from Burlington, Vermont. The company has grown a great amount in not too many years, and I can now buy many Citizen Ciders here in Ithaca. I found this one at Finger Lakes Beverage Center and picked it up for a work picnic! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

I visited Citizen Cider in Burlington back in 2016: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-2.html

Visit Citizen Cider online to see more: https://www.citizencider.com/

Here’s the official description for this cider.

Made with Northern Spy apples alone, this single varietal cider is indubitably a showcase of one proud apple. Bright and acidic with a touch of sweetness and loads of character, the Northern Spy is an exceptional addition to your personal reserve. 6.4% ABV.

Appearance: hazy, glowing, lemon ice

This color reminds of a lemon ice that’s frosty and tart. It’s a pale and hazy cider with so very many bubbles. 

Aromas: apple, sweet potato, minerals

This cider smells quite appley, but with notes of sweet potato and pumpkin as well. The vegetal notes remain present but do not blend with the minerality I’m getting from the Northern Spy. I think in a can most of these aromas would not come through strongly.

Sweetness/dryness: Off-dry

This cider brings only the minimum of sweetness, and I’m grateful for it’s restraint. 

Flavors and drinking experience: medium high acidity, low tannins, apple and blackberry

The Citizen Cider Northern Spy smelled good, but it tastes fantastic. I like how round and bubbly this cider feels. I love an off dry cider, and this one is brimming over with apple and blackberry notes. I also get some bright bitter notes. The flavor comes across well in big sips. It tastes more like fermented fruit than fresh. The Northern Spy has medium high acidity and medium low tannins but some. I get some bitterness up front that remains consistent even as sweetness and brightness changes.

I had this cider with tasty summer salads, a veggie dog, and Peach Melba cake. I recommend it with all of these, but most of all with a loaded veggie dog and a good view. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Cider Reviews: 1911 Hard Cider New England Style Hopped IPC and Kekionga Cider Company Hop

This week, I’m sharing notes on two very different hopped ciders. Some folks don’t care for hopped ciders for reasons of either tradition or taste, but I enjoy them tremendously. Also, we are headed towards  Cider Week Finger Lakes fast and furious!

Check out all the events and participants here: https://ciderweekflx.com/flx/

I'm participating in a few events this year, but 

I’m starting with 1911 New England Syle IPC Hopped Cider. I picked this can up when I visited their tasting room early in the summer.

1911 Cider and Distillery operates in LaFayette, New York and supplies many varieties of cider throughout the region and beyond. The fermentations are consistently clean, and the cidery presses local fruit to craft well-balanced, approachable, sessionable ciders in an ever-growing variety of flavors. 

 Find out more online: http://1911established.com/cider/

 1911’s Facebook page is updated regularly: https://www.facebook.com/1911Spirits/

 I have just a few previous reviews of 1911 ciders, but here they are. Keep watching the blog for more 1911 in the coming months!

Most recently I reviewed the Tropical: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/06/cider-cans-crush-it-1911-tropical-cider.html

Somerset Original Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/06/cider-review-beak-and-skiffs-1911.html

Founders’s Reserve Hopped: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/09/cider-review-1911s-founders-reserve.html

On to 1911’s New England Style IPC Hopped Cider. Here’s the official description: 

1911 New England Style I.P.C. is a supremely aromatic sparkling cider made with NY State apples and hops. Harvested from Hop Haven in Skaneateles, NY, we use only the finest Cascade, Nugget and Chinook hops, for a bold and juicy flavor profile. 6.9% ABV

Appearance: cloudy, apricot, few visible bubbles

The appearance is part of what gives the cider it’s name. One of the salient features of New England Style IPA (or IPC in this case) is the unfiltered turbidity of the beverage. This cider is quite cloudy; I’ll even call it fully opaque. The color reminds me of dried apricots.

Aromas: juicy apple, pine, pear, pineapple, hoppy

This cider smells extremely juicy with notes of fresh apple everywhere! That’s not all I get from the aroma though, it’s also piney with splashes of pineapple and pear. I get plenty of hop characteristics as well. They include more notes of spruce or clean sweat than citrus. 

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-sweet

This cider tasted semi-sweet to me and my tasting companion. We were surprised by this because of the graphic we found to indicate sweetness on the can and the website. The graphic was set up with a numeric scale of 1-6, marking this cider as a 1. I’m guessing 1 is meant to be the drier end with 6 the sweetest, but on that scale I’d give it a 3 to 4. I expect my perceptions to be shifted a little dryer than most, but I’d not call this a dry cider. 

Flavors and drinking experience: juicy, fruity, lush, apple and citrus

The IPC tastes so very juicy; it’s semi sweet bursting with crisp wet apple and citrus. I find it lush and soft. It’s not quite as high acid as it could be to balance out some of that fruitiness, but I like that it’s profile is different than many NY ciders. The cider doesn't taste sweaty but is dewy, wet, and fresh. 

The fruit notes include lots of apple, apricot, and green grapes. It has no tannins, but it doesn’t need them. It’s going much more for fun than structured.  I paired with tomato basil risotto with spring peas and it was lovely and approachable. 

Next up, it’s Kekionga Cider Company Hop

For a bit of background on the cidery, Tyler Butcher and Logan Barger founded Kekiona Cider Company in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It is closely allied with Goeglein Mill where Kekionga now has a seasonal tasting room. Reading a bit more about the company and it’s flagship ciders: the Hop, the Crisp, and the old Bicorne, the company explores with culinary and heirloom varietals. The focus appears to be on approachability and sessionability. I got my can of theirs through a cider competition this year, and I’ve been waiting on just the right enthusiasm for a hopped cider to break it out. 

Visit the company online to read more: http://kekiongaciderco.com/

Here’s how Kekionga Cider Company describes one of the flagship ciders, “Hop – Made with a unique blend of culinary and heirloom apples, Hop is then amplified with a variety of hops that are carefully selected to intensify the aroma and mouthfeel of an already great tasting cider. (Off-Dry) 6% ABV

Appearance: hazy, pale moon glow, few visible bubbles

Looking at my Hop in the glass, I can see a gentle glowy haze that makes the color remind me of the moon on summer nights. I don’t get a lot of visible bubbles when I pour the cider.

Aromas: Berries, pineapple, juicy and floral

The hop smells immediately like berry and fruit. Specifically, I get strawberry and pineapple, and tons of apple flesh. The smell overall is very wet and a bit floral. It is not distinctly hoppy. 

Dryness/sweetness: Semi-dry but close to semi-sweet

It’s right on that line between semi-dry and semi-sweet. I did expect it to be sweeter than it was because of what all I was getting in the aromas.

Flavors and drinking experience: pine, petillance, medium acid, fruity

When sitting down to taste the Hop, I got a few surprises. I did expect a more desserty cider based on how it smelled. What I taste instead starts with a little bit of pine and sweat in the hop action. It’s there, but it’s mild. The hoppyness comes through most in bigger sips. This cider has relatively low carbonation and medium acidity. My biggest surprise was that the Hop has a bit of tannin. These are shifts from the usual hopped cider profile, and they really work together well. This cider has its own identity.

As I keep drinking the Hop, it doubles down on fruitiness. All of the astringe occurs in the middle palate. Overall the cider tastes wet and cool; it comes across as aquatic. The Hop has a heavy languid mouthfeel. The whole experience feels both relaxed and sessionable. The fermentation is clean with no real flaws, and it drinks easy. I had mine with deluxe macaroni and cheese with bell peppers and local tomatoes added. The creaminess and vegetal notes played well with the mildly hopped cider.