Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Cider Review: 1911 Rosé and Virtue Cider's Michigan Apple

Oh, this feels strange! I’m blogging from the past, or you’re reading from the future. I don’t know quite how it works, but when this post goes live, I’ll be enjoying a little bit of vacation. There might even be sunshine and beaches. I don’t have a lot of cider based expectations for this locale, but there will be key lime pie. While that trip is still a dream in the future, I want to write up notes from some cider adventures from the recent past. 

Let’s start with 1911’s Rosé. I’ve had this cider a few times and in a few different incarnations, so this review feels long overdue. 

For a bit of background, 1911 has been a finger lakes cider producer for many years, but they have become a much larger regional player since 2013 or so. The cider is produced in Lafayette, New York. 

Visit the company online to learn more: https://1911established.com/product-type/hard-cider/

Here are my earlier 1911 reviews. 

Tropical: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/06/cider-cans-crush-it-1911-tropical-cider.html

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

And long ago the Somerset Original: https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/06/cider-review-beak-and-skiffs-1911.html

And here’s how 1911 describes their cider, “1911 Rosé is a blush-hued, fuller bodied version of our original hard cider. Delicate floral and crisp apple notes make this effervescent hard cider an easy-drinking favorite for all seasons. semi-sweet, lightly carbonated.” 6.7% ABV. 

On the sweetness scale, this cider is rated as a 4 out of 6, so I’m expecting a sweet cider.

My notes come from my last visit to their tasting room when my dad visited this past June. 

Appearance: barely peachy, brilliant, bubbly 

This Rosé cider is barely pink. The color is more like peach fuzz. It’s brilliant and bubbly when poured out of the can. Apologies for not having a picture of the poured cider; the color didn't really show in the context of the tasting room and small sample. 

Aromas: stone, dust, sweet, sugared fruit

The Rosé smells dusty and sweet. I often get a note in ciders from this region that reminds me of dusty stones or wet stones, and this cider definitely shows this regional character. I also get bits of sugared fruit and sweetness.

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet!

This is one for the sweet tooth cider lovers out there! It has some tartness but it’s primarily sweet. 

Flavors and drinking experience: burnt sugar, floral, red grapes 

People often tend to think associatively about Rosé. It brings to mind pink or red fruits, red flowers, and other red foods, but I didn’t experience that as much this time. I’ve been making a concerted effort to taste the cider with my eyes closed. 

This sweet cider reminds me almost of a soda or spritzer with its balance of body, sweetness, sparkle and acidity! There’s a caramel note as well as gently burnt sugar. I appreciate that this cider brings tartness and a lively light body with plenty of bubbles. These things keep the sweetness under control. 

While I most recently had this as part of a tasting, I’ve previously had this cider with fabulous veggie heavy club sandwiches and kettle chips. I recommend that, but I think this would also be good with a fish fry.

Virtue Cider’s Michigan Apple

My next review is Virtue’s Michigan Apple. This cider was shared with me for review, and I hosted a few friends for a combo of group tasting and winter game night. Many thanks to Alex, Woody, and Rachel for their contributions! 

I’ve had several Virtue ciders before. Here’s the list. 

Brut: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/02/cider-review-citizen-ciders-tree-tapper.html

The Mitten Reserve: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/03/cider-review-whitewood-cider-cos-olivia.html

Percheron: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/10/cider-review-virtue-ciders-percheron.html

Ledbury: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/02/cider-review-roundup-virtue-slyboro.html

The Mitten: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/05/cider-review-virtue-ciders-mitten-and.html

Red Streak: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/06/trying-virtue-and-olivers-ciders-at.html

Virtue calls this cider a year-round flagship. Here’s the rest of the description.
We use all sorts of Michigan apples grown on local family farms. The blend of these heirloom apples creates a complexity of flavor impossible to achieve with just a few varieties. Michigan Apple is a blend of cider from last year's harvest aged in French oak barrels, and freshly pressed apples. 
Our semi-dry cider is made from heirloom Michigan apples, then blended with hand-pressed juice from this year's harvest. The final cider offers the scent of ripe apples, a hint of oak, and a touch of sweetness 
TASTING NOTES:Michigan Apple is crisp and tart, starting with the scent of the orchard, a hint of oak, and finishing with a touch of sweetness. 
FOOD PAIRING:This cider is approachable and very food-friendly. Try pairing with cheddar, grilled cheese, roast chicken, or prosciutto.
Michigan Apple 5.5%

Appearance: foamy head, brilliant, pale straw

This cider pours with tons of mousse and foam! It did go away but not as quickly as most ciders. I was surprised. The color is pale straw, and the Michigan apple is brilliant and bubbly.

Aromas: citrus, dusty, stony, mild pear and pineapple, mineral

The Michigan apple doesn’t overwhelm with fruit aromas. It smells like minerals, dust and stones. I do get hints of citrus and bits of pear and pineapple.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-sweet

This is a semi-sweet cider with medium acidity. I know some folks find most American ciders too tart and acidic; this is one for those folks to try!

Flavors and drinking experience: concord grape, overripe apples, light funk, mild barrel

The Michigan apple reminds me of both overripe apples and intense concord grapes. The notes feel low in the mouth and the cider has a very rich body that’s thick and almost syrupy. The acidity strikes me as medium and this is not a tannic cider. It’s very sessionable and approachable for fans of this profile. There’s some funk and barrel presence but not an overpowering amount. 

Virtue began by making very very wild and funky ciders, but this is one that will please a lot of folks who have never tried regional ciders before. 

I paired this with cheese, laughter, and a fun new board game. These are all recommendations I’ll make happily! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Cider Review: AmDam Cider Brut and Ploughman Farm Cidery: Lummox Cider with Citra Hops

I’ve watched with admiration and a few pangs of envy as other cider folks I know have traveled to warmer climes this winter, especially for CiderCon. But now I’m preparing for my turn! Very soon, I’ll take my own little jaunt to the sunshine state. As I’m planning and packing, I did fit in two cider reviews that are helping me mentally prepare for warm beaches. 

Let’s start with AmDam Cider Brut! Alex brought this back from his writing trip to the Netherlands back in the fall. The company has a really cute intro that also makes the sourcing of the apples transparent, “Ever seen an apple tree in Amsterdam? Neither have we.”

From what the company makes clear online, they get cider made by Celliers de l’Odet from french cider apples. The company grew out of an import store for cider called Appels & Peren in 2015.

You can learn more about this young cidery here: https://cider.amsterdam/ 

Here’s the English language description of this cider, “Brut,the yellow one. It's softly sparkling and a bit more sophisticated. It has that unique cider ‘funk’ flavor.Try it and you are sold.” I saw more info in dutch on the website, but not on the translated page, so I don’t know if it has additional facts.

Appearance: brilliant, bubbly, harvest orange- yellow 

The Brut pours with a foamy head that had most vanished by the time I was able to take a picture. It’s there and then gone! The color is a warm harvest orange yellow with brilliant clarity.

Aromas: overripe apples, leathery, oranges

The Brut smells leathery, like overripe apples with hints of orange. These aromas remind me of English or French ciders right away.

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet

This cider is sweet, which is a bit of a surprise since it’s labelled Brut. Often though french ciders use that term differently than other regions or beverages. A cidre brut is not as dry as a brut champagne for example. The sweetness is very natural and fruity.

Flavors and drinking experience: Tannic, medium acidity, citrus, apples, caramel

I love that this cider is decidedly tannic with medium acidity! I don’t usually get ciders that have these two characteristics, particularly not when appearing with some sweetness. The Brut’s flavor notes were very similar to what I got from it’s aromas: overripe apple, oranges, but I also tasted some wheaty and caramelly elements. 

The Brut stretches the tasting experience out with a lovely long finish with lots of apple character. I’d describe it as mostly a french-style cider that shows some english influence. I appreciate the Brut’s full body and intense bubbles! This is such a fun and friendly cider. 

I totally didn’t expect something so approachable, balanced, and appealing! Were this available more widely, I’d definitely drink it again and recommend it! 

Next up Ploughman Farm Cidery’s Lummox Cider with Citra Hops!

When travelling for the PA farm show in December, I picked up some cider treats for the future and I was so excited to get this particular one from Ploughman Farm Cider because I’d failed to get one of these home safely from GLINTCAP earlier in 2019.

Ploughman Cider is based out of Adams County in Pennsylvania; that’s definitely an unofficial cider capital of the state. Fruit for Ploughman Cidery beverages comes from Three Springs Fruit Farm.

Here’s a link to the Ploughman Cider website where you can read about all the ciders: 

Here are my previous Ploughman Cidery reviews.

Dornick: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/01/cider-review-tilted-shed-ciderworks.html

Pinot N’arlet: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/04/cider-review-blakes-hard-cider-black.html

Appearance: transparent, warm straw, no visible bubbles

This cider looks more transparent than most hopped ciders. It doesn’t have a haze to it, but instead I can see the warm straw color clearly. I don’t see much in the way of visible bubbles.  

Aromas:  herbal, aquatic, vegetal, citrus

The Lummox smells herbal and darkly aquatic. I also detect some mouthwatering citrus notes, but there’s still more going on. I can smell ripe apples, but they aren’t as strong as the other notes that associate with hops for me. There’s also something just a bit creamy and almondy. Dancing in the far background I also get a sense of green tea.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

This semi-dry cider has lots of flavor going on that dominate far more than the sweetness. I think many drinkers who often tend towards semi-dry ciders might call this dry because of the bitterness and acidity, but more on that soon.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, grapefruit pith, bitterness, medium tannins

My first impression on tasting the Lummon is that this is a hopped cider than most beer lovers will enjoy! It brings zesty high acid, but the first note is grapefruit pith. I get strong fruity bitterness in this semi-dry cider. The flavors also make me wonder if it was fermented with beer yeast. The Lummox also packs some tannins. This is a complex cider! After having it from the can and in a glass, I think it reveals its strengths best cold and straight from the can.  

I think it could taste cooling and refreshing (in a bracing way!) in the summer. It’s more of a beer drinker's cider than a wine lover’s cider. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Cider review: Critz Farms Double Vision and Angry Orchard and EZ Orchard's Understood in Motion 2

It's a mouthful this week with two cider reviews that cumulatively represent 3 different cideries! I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve shown New York much love, so I’d like to include two different New York ciders this week. 

 Let’s start with Critz Farms’ Double Vision. I’m seeing double because I used to know Critz Farms cider’s under a previous name (formerly Harvest Moon Cidery). This farm cidery now also brews beer! The folks behind this cider started making cider commercially in 2011, though the family farm has been functioning for far longer!

I can’t believe I’ve not reviewed any of the ciders since 2013, but that’s what it looks like. Here’s my review of the Heritage Hops: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/06/cider-review-harvest-moon-heritage-hops.html

Learn about the cider here and you can easily find your own way to the beer: http://www.critzbrewandcider.com/cider/

Here's how Critz Farms introduces the Double Vision. 
DOUBLE VISIONALCOHOL (ABV): 5.5%RESIDUAL SUGARS: 4.5% TASTING NOTES:Aged hard cider blended with fresh pressed sweet cider. A double dose of apple gives this cider a true flavor of the fall season. Lightly carbonated. 
Double Vision Hard Cider is our unique blend of aged hard cider and fresh pressed sweet cider. We take the fermented cider from last year’s apple crop, age it for 6 to 12 months, then blend it with the fresh pressed sweet cider from this season’s apple harvest. Available primarily from September through November, this lightly carbonated cider offers a double dose of apple goodness and a true flavor of the fall season.

Appearance: pale, gently hazy, bubbly

This is a very pale cider. It has only the barest hint of yellow. The cider shows just a bit of haze and a fair number of visible bubbles. 

Aromas: Spring flowers, creamy, yogurt, sweet, fresh apples

This cider smells appley and sweet and very creamy. More specifically I gather notes of a rich vanilla yogurt, fresh apples and spring flowers.

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet!

I served this cider last at a tasting party and it was a fine finish to some cider exploration because it was sweet enough to still stand out even to un-fresh palates. Fans of sweet ciders will like how natural and appley this tastes.

Flavors and drinking experience: full mouthfeel, medium high acid, very bubbly

This cider came across as exceedingly fresh and zesty while also being sweet and full bodied. It isn’t a cider for everyone, its flavors come very much from fresh unfermented juice rather than tasting like wine or champagne. It’s sweet and fun and bubbly. 

 I paired this with a pile of great friends, lots of cheese, and a strawberry ginger icebox cake. I can recommend it with all of them! 

Now It’s time to share my notes on a collaboration, this time between Angry Orchard and E. Z. Orchard: the Understood in Motion 02. This is a cider that was shared with me when I visited the Innovation Center for Angry Orchard in Walden, New York. 

Here’s what I wrote about that visit for Cider Culture: https://www.ciderculture.com/angry-orchard-innovation-cider-house/

You can also visit Angry Orchard online: https://www.angryorchard.com/

Here’s a link to E. Z. Orchard’s website: https://www.ezorchards.com/cider

Here's a quick list of some of my most relevant previous Angry Orchard reviews (this is not all of them!)

Understood in Motion 3: this collaboration with Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider (this was my #6 cider of 2018): http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/08/cider-review-angry-orchard-ciders.html

Wooden Sleeper: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/12/cider-review-angry-orchards-wooden.html

Spiced Apple: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/03/cider-review-angry-orchards-spiced-apple.html

Pear: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-review-of-greenwood.html

Rosé: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/03/cider-review-angry-orchard-rose-and.html

Walden: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/09/cider-review-angry-orchards-walden.html

Supernatural: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/03/cider-review-angry-orchard-super.html

And here are my E. Z. Orchard reviews: 

Willamette: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/10/cider-review-e-z-orchards-williamette.html

Poire: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/05/very-perry-may-pt-5-e-z-orchards.html

Here's the official description for Understood in Motion 02.
East Coast meets west coast with Understood in Motion 02, a collaboration between Angry Orchard and E.Z. Orchards Cidre. The cider is homage to style, tradition, and a shared respect for the integrity of the fruit. Apples used are Bittersweet Muscadet de Lense and Marie Menard from Oregon, and heirloom, acid-forward Gold Rush and Northern Spy from New York. The fruit was naturally fermented in a process that requires very little intervention but lots of careful attention. ABV 7.2%.

Appearance: Hazy, peach, tiny visible bubbles 

This color reminds me of a tiki drink: something with peach, pineapple, or apricot juice! Hazy ciders have been really making a splash lately, and this picks up on that fresh fruit juice or craft beer hazy look. 

Aromas: pineapple juice, apricot, citrus

This cider is bursting with mouthwatering smells including: apricot, pineapple, citrus, and fresh apple.

Dryness/Sweetness: Semi-dry

This is a semi-dry cider which definitely seems like a comfort zone for both E. Z. Orchards and Angry Orchard. All of the sweetness that is here feels very natural and like a product of the fermentation style. 

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, tropical, petillant 

This semi-dry cider is just as tropical to taste as it was to smell! The Understood in Motion 02 brings medium tannins and high acidity to a very fruity overall flavor profile. The sweetness in this cider helps contribute to its creamy full body. 

What surprised me most when drinking this cider was it’s short clean finish. After being so flavorful and aromatic, it leaves the palate as quickly as it had arrived.

I paired this with a hearty yet simple winter dinner of sun-dried tomato veggie sausage and sauteed peppers over brown rice. The salty, spicy, and umami paired beautifully with the ciders acidity and hint of sweetness. I enjoyed the pairing very much! 

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Cider Review: Citizen Cider's Tree Tapper and Virtue Cider's Brut

We’ve made it to February! The days are noticeably longer, and I’ve seen some of the most incredibly colorful sunsets lately. I’ll take any color I can get; most days here are still pale gray. Hopefully, you’ve got some color and cheer in your life and in your glass too.

I’m headed to the reviews quickly this week, but I do want to share a quick link of both local and cider interest. Here’s a story about the closing (definitely seasonal, likely permanent) of an anchor to the local cider community: the Cornell Orchard Store. Take a moment with me to read and appreciate what this store has done for apples hence for cider in the Finger Lakes area.


Turning to the bright side, I got to try two fun new samples shared with me by companies who’ve been part of the blog (and the cider community) for years!

Let’s start with Citizen Cider’s Tree Tapper.

Citizen is a Vermont cidery that has been going strong since 2010! The company now sells cider in 14 states, but the company’s identity still manages to stay very distinctly Vermont. Citizen Cider is based in Burlington; I got to visit the tasting room and production facility back in 2016. I’ll include the link with my previous Citizen Cider reviews.

Northern Spy: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/09/cider-review-thornapple-brewings-rough.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

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

My visit to Citizen Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-2.html

Check out Citizen Cider’s website to learn about all of the ciders and local events: https://www.citizencider.com/

The Tree Tapper is part of Citizen’s Origin Series: a limited availability specialty line, each with connections to something local and special to Citizen Cider. The Northern Spy that I reviewed last year was another from this lineup.

Here’s an excerpt from the Tree Tapper’s press release, “ Tree Tapper is fermented with maple syrup, red wine yeast, aged on untoasted oak and infused with dark Belgian candi syrup to add rich and hearty characteristics reminiscent of the season and the good maple farmers at the sugarhouse.”

Here’s other information about the cider gleaned from the Citizen Cider website
• No added sugar, never from concentrate.
• Apples pressed at our very own Flynn Ave Press House, Burlington, VT
• Made with pure VT maple syrup from Runamok Maple in Northern Vermont.
• Manufactured in Burlington, VT.
• Naturally Gluten Free
This cider’s ABV is 6.9% 

Appearance: tawny, brilliant, few visible bubbles

This cider reminds me of the tawny colors I see on desert animals; it’s warm and falls somewhere between yellow, orange, and brown. The cider offers up perfect brilliance and few visible bubbles.

Aromas: Dried cherries, milk chocolate, riple apples

Wow. I didn’t know quite what to expect but this cider really reflects so much more than simply maple plus apple. The Tree Tapper smells like dried cherries, milk chocolate, ripe apples, and also dusty stones.

Sweetness/dryness: Off dry

From those aromas, I really expected something with almost dessert levels of sweetness, but this is an off dry cider! Very nice!

Flavors and drinking experience: roasty, oaky, yeasty and bubbly

I appreciate how very bubbly the Tree Tapper is, but everyone knows that I’m a sucker for strong sparkle. The cider also brings lots of clean and pleasant yeast character to the finished beverage. This cider has high acid and low (but present) tannins.

Perhaps the most surprising element is the little touch of bitterness that appears in the Tree Tapper’s mid-palate. Sweetness hits first, then it gets quite dry and eases up.  The maple is not obvious initially, but there is a darkness that it brings—something roasted—especially in the finish.  Both in the smell and taste there is an oak barrel note. I love it when my tasting notes are backed up by the cider making process.

Next up is Virtue Cider’s Brut

Virtue is a Michigan-based company that sprang onto the scene in 2011. I first met founder Greg Hall when I first started this blog in 2013. He was leading a cheese and cider pairing class that I still remember fondly. 

I’ve reviewed a few Virtue ciders before. Here’s the full run down. 

The Mitten Reserve: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/03/cider-review-whitewood-cider-cos-olivia.html

Percheron: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/10/cider-review-virtue-ciders-percheron.html

Ledbury: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/02/cider-review-roundup-virtue-slyboro.html

The Mitten: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/05/cider-review-virtue-ciders-mitten-and.html

Red Streak: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/06/trying-virtue-and-olivers-ciders-at.html

You can find out about all of Virtue's ciders online: http://www.virtuecider.com

Here’s the description of the Brut from Virtue’s website.

“Our dry brut is a blend of hand-pressed heirloom apples aged in French oak barrels that features the scent of fresh apples, a touch of oak, and finishes crisp and tart.”

And Virtue’s tasting notes say, “Virtue Cider Brut bears the scent of crisp apple and citrus notes with a bit of yeast. Clean and crisp up front, it follows with a tart, dry, lightly oaky lingering finish.” This cider's ABV is 6.7%.

Appearance: warm straw, brilliant, few bubbles 

Aromas: alpine cheese, peppers, citrus, minerals

This cider brings so many enticing smells including alpine cheese, ripe peppers, and citrus. There are other pleasing mineral, aquatic, and creamy notes as well. It just makes me anticipate a super fresh cider. 

Sweetness/dryness: semi-dry

For me, this tastes more like a semi-dry rather than a brut level of dryness. Historically, Brut refers to drier than dry! 

Flavors and drinking experience: ripe apples, very bubbly, high acid, peanuts 

Virtue’s Brut tastes easy going and pleasant. The cider offers a good level of active sparkle. The primary tasting note I get from this cider is ripe apples. Secondarily I taste tropical fruit, oranges, and peanuts. This cider offers up high acid, higher than many ciders from Michigan but not much in the way of tannins. I also get a grainy or almost corn-like aftertaste. It’s not enough to be funky, but just another layer in the overall experience. 

I enjoyed this cider with friends, lots of cheese, and a fun new horror game: Escape From Tall Oaks! Check out this indie game here: https://mixtapemassacre.com/escape-from-tall-oaks/

Whatever you pair with your February ciders, I hope you have fun!