Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Cider Review: Stem Cider's A Salted Cucumber and Blake’s Hard Cider Rosé

It’s not the best day, cider fans. Stress, illness, uncertainty, and economic hardship are real, and they are here. It would feel disingenuous to pretend otherwise. What I can say is that they aren’t the only things going. I’m seeing Spring, creativity, resourcefulness, generosity, love and lots of pet pictures too. They can’t necessarily fix everything, but I’ll take them and appreciate them. 

I’m excited to start this week with Stem Cider’s A Salted Cucumber! 

Eric Foster and Phil Kao founded Stem Ciders in 2013. This cidery is based in Lafayette, Colorado. To find more background on the company, I recommend checking out the about section on the Stem Cider website:

Here are my previous reviews of Stem Ciders.

Colorado Heritage Blend:


Pear Apple:


You can find out more about the company online:

Today’s review is of A Salted Cucumber. To my knowledge this is the first cider I’ve seen whose name starts with the word, “A!”

Here’s how Stem Ciders introduces this one, “Dry hopped with cascade and citra hops, finished with fresh cucumber juice and sea salt. Crafted with 100% fresh pressed apples from the Pacific Northwest.” 6.7% ABV.

My can was a souvenir brought home from a large cider event last year. 

Appearance: hazy, crocus yellow, few visible bubbles

I could see one or two trails of bubbles floating through this hazy cider, but it’s appearance isn’t very bubbly. What I see instead is a classic hop haze and a pleasingly warm crocus yellow color.

Aromas: cucumber, salt, spice, hops, apple

A Salted Cucumber smells tantalizingly of cucumber, hops and a sprinkle of salt. I’m wondering if I’m also getting just a hint of spice. The cider is very clean smelling. There’s not a strong apple presence in the aromas, but some clean freshly washed apple notes breeze through.

Sweetness/dryness: Off dry

A Salted Cucumber tastes off dry to me. The can calls it dry, but I’m often not in perfect alignment with what packages suggests for a cider’s relative dryness or sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: cucumber, peppery, high acid, bubbly

I want to start by saying how very tasty this is! This cider tastes like salted cucumber and apple. It’s like a fresh salad! My cotaster and I both found A Salted Cucumber so enjoyably drinkable!
The cider offers up peppery and vegetal notes as well as green wood.

This hoppy cider tastes clean and not sweaty or soapy! It brings high acidity and intense sparkle to a very fun and approachable set of flavors.  The balance is really cemented by one hint of bitterness.

We paired this with a bean and corn salad and roasted Arizona Dreaming and Sofritos potatoes and faux-beef crumbles. It was a marvelous pairing. The cool and savory notes of A Salted Cucumber were just amazing with roasty spicy foods! This was followed up by a game of Trivial Pursuit, and I won!

And we’re closing out the week’s reviews with Blake’s Hard Cider Company’s Rosé.

Blake’s Hard Cider calls Armada, Michigan home. This popular company is always crafting new ciders; the range of styles Blake’s produces is large. The cidery prioritizes its local connections. The cidery grew out of a family farm. The ciders are now produced with only Michigan apples. There’s a lot of emphasis on the local and regional community. Someday, I’d love to see the cidery myself!

Here are my previous reviews of Blake’s Ciders.

Rainbow Seeker:


Santa Rosa:

Beard Bender:

Apple Lantern:

Black Philip:

The Tonic:

El Chavo:



I recommend looking around Blake’s Hard Cider’s website. There’s a lot to see:

Here the official description for this cider, “Rosé Strawberry and rose hips. Semi-sweet with a citrus like acidity, this native fermented Rosé was infused with strawberries and rose hips, resulting in a vibrant finish.” 6.9% ABV.

Appearance: brilliant, watermelon, some tiny bubbles,  

This cider looks so pink and fruity. The color reminds me of watermelon. It’s brilliantly clear. I can see a few bubbles in glass, but they are small and few. The big show here is color, and it’s much too pretty to drink out of a can!

Aroma: Graham crackers, cherries, strawberries, 

When I poured this cider, I got my first aroma notes immediately. My impression is one of dessert with Graham crackers, cherries, and strawberries. These notes blend into raspberry, syrup, nectarine, and red fruit more generally. It’s very pie like. Other than my dessert impressions, the cider has aromas of minerals, wine, and walnut.

 Sweetness/dryness: sweet

This is a sweet cider! For some folks this would make a very satisfying dessert. The sweetness is intense, even with some fresh acid in the mix. It’s a bit sticky.

Flavors and and drinking experience: medium high acid, very fruity, bit sticky, full body and bubbly

I love that the Rosé begins with a little bitter bite at the start. That quickly gives way to a sweet and jammy drinking experience. The cider has medium-high acidity and a full body with floral and fruity qualities. It doesn’t really bring any tannins. The fruity notes are not powdery but are instead more than a little tropical. I also get bright banners of peach and raspberry flavor. I enjoyed this cider while relaxing with cats and my co-taster Alex after work. If you were to pair it, I think It would taste really lovely with a simple and creamy New York style cheesecake.