Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Cider Reviews: Bellwether Rhode Island Greening and Citizen Cider's For Shore

The mild weather certainly didn’t stick around upstate New York for very long. It’s hot out and the regular thunderstorms are only doing so much to cool us down. I’m never going to turn to ice in my cider, I will make sure every cider I taste is well chilled. I may even go further than the classic advice of “castle temperature.” But in any case, I want to choose bright refreshing ciders that will enliven my evenings.

I’m starting this week with Bellwether Cidery’s Rhode Island Greening.

Full disclosure here, I worked for Bellwether about 5 years ago. At that time I didn’t review the ciders because I didn’t think it would be possible for me to be objective about them. While I still have many happy memories of my time selling Bellwether ciders, I think there’s now enough distance between me and that job for me to review Bellwether’s ciders. I am choosing to start with one that I never sold: The Rhode Island Greening.

Bellwether dates back to 1999, making them the oldest still-operating cidery in New York state (as far as I know). Cheryl and Bill Barton founded the cidery, and you can find them at the Ithaca Farmers’ Market or Bellwether’s Tasting room near Trumansburg, New York. The couple was initially inspired by French cider making regions.

Before I worked for Bellwether, I did review the Liberty Spy in my first 6 months of cider blogging!

Here’s that review: 
That cider made it to my #2 spot on the top 10 of 2013!

And the Heritage did make it into my Locavore Cider Pairing Dinner in 2017:

You can visit Bellwether online to learn more about the ciders and the wines:

Here’s the official description of the Rhode Island Greening:
Semi-Dry; sparkling; with just the right balance of sweet and sour, made from an old North American heirloom; the Rhode Island Greening was discovered in Rhode Island near Newport in the 1700's by an innkeeper/apple grower named Mr. Green. Enjoy the crisp tang of heirloom apple that was once one of NY's culinary favorites. Alcohol 6.50%

Appearance: transparent, warm straw, bubbly

This is a lovely cider in the glass. It looks very traditional for this region of ciders with a warm straw hue, almost shading into apricot. I can see that the cider will have some sparkle because I see bubbles in it. 

Aromas: citrus, Riesling, yeast, orange juice

The Rhode Island Greening smells like citrus! I get notes of orange juice specifically. The cider also brings a strong aroma of Riesling, maybe a little minerality too. The yeast notes are very clean and remind me of freshly baked bread.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

This is a semi-dry cider just as promised in Bellwether’s description. What sweetness comes to the fore is very fruity and natural.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acidity, medium tannins, citrusy and clean

The Rhode Island Greening is a very pleasing semi-dry but not dry cider with high acidity and some tannins. I taste it as pleasantly puckering. The cider offers one consistent flavor from start to finish, but not a simplistic one. This is a clean, citrusy orchard cider. It's very true to what our region can produce with interesting heirloom apples and clean fermentation.

I find it extremely drinkable. The cider offers lots of mandarin orange flavor and a little cooked apple. Something in the mix reminds me of mellow dried leaves. We enjoyed this with veggie-loaded pizza, and it was a delight.

Next up, Citizen Cider’s For Shore!

Citizen Ciders is a growing cidery based out of Burlington, Vermont. The company’s availability has spread all over the eastern portion of the United States. This company maintains its enthusiastic local focus even as it becomes a regional powerhouse.

I’ve reviewed several Citizen Ciders. Here’s the list.

Tree Tapper:

Northern Spy:

Sur Lies:


The Wood:

Companion Sour Cherry:

Wit’s Up:

Barrel Aged:

Citizen Cider bRosé:

My visit to Citizen Cider:

Check out Citizen Cider’s website to learn about all of the ciders, including a few I’ve never found for sale:

Here’s the official description of the For Shore:
For Shore is a gose inspired cider finished with coriander and sea salt. It’s dry and bubbly and best enjoyed alongside your favorite waterfront view. This gose style cider was originally created as part of our Pine St. Cellar Series. 6% ABV
Appearance: hazy bubbly lemon curd

The color of this cider reminds me of lemon curd. It’s a bit hazy but I can still see some bubbles.

Aromas: funky, salty, tropical, fusel oils

What a trip! The For Short simultaneously smells salty, funky, summery and tropical. In terms of notes I get fusel oils, charcoal, but also pineapple and melon.

Dryness/sweetness: Semi-dry

This is a semi-dry cider, but it’s so tart and funky that it’s going to register for some samplers as far closer to dry than sweet.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, green grapes, sour and funky

For Sure has off the charts acidity and fruity notes, including Pears, green grapes and pineapples. I also get other more surprising notes like cucumber, cola and Mountain Dew. This is certainly a refreshing and bright cider. I appreciate how bubbly and high acid it is.

We paired For Shore, with it’s mildly sour, fruity, and funky characteristics with a big tray of sushi and demolished both! This cider showed it’s best qualities when paired with sushi!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Cider Review: Once Upon a Tree Wild Flight and Portland Cider Co. Razzberry

While I miss so very much about times before the global pandemic, I’m finding it easier to appreciate my yard and my porch with these beautiful weeks of mild summer weather. This week, I chose two very different ciders because I wanted to see how these two flavor profiles work with sitting on a porch in the evening.

I encourage you to learn about the company through their own words. I quite like how they describe themselves on a distributor website.
Good orchard management, fantastic soils and perfect mesoclimate means the fruit is some of the best available anywhere in the UK. Cider maker Simon Day is an experienced professional winemaker who began making cider after walking through the local orchards and seeing the potential to use winemaking skills to capture the true characters of the apples in the juice and ciders.  Great care is taken to select the best fruit with the least intervention possible to maximise the flavour imparted into their ciders and perrys.

Once Upon A Tree has a great info page on the website,

The Wild Flight Single Origin Dabinett’s official description is short and to the point.  I’m surprised it doesn’t talk up the single origin element more!

“A bottle-conditioned natural sparkling dry cider made with wild yeast. Aged for over 3 years, the taste is rich with bittersweet fruit. 7% ABV”

Appearance: copper, hazy, few bubbly

The Wild Flight looks coppery and hazy when poured. I could see a fair number of bubbles rising up through the cider. 

Aromas: funky, hay, dusty, leather

I see why Once Upon a Tree included the word wild in the name of his cider; it’s really funky!

The cider smells like leather, barn wood, and oranges. I also get notes that remind me of dust and warm hay.

Sweetness/dryness: dry

This is a dry cider with some fruit and mineral notes, but no actual sweetness. The flavors all come from other elements.

Flavors and drinking experience: mega tannic, chalky, petrol, citrus

The first sip is a slap! This cider tastes hardcore tannic, mildly chalky, with some citrus and apple notes and medium acidity. It’s tannic enough that you might say it’s evocative of drinking a stick of aged barn wood or very strongly steeped black tea.  It’s certainly zingy, perhaps even a little harsh. The mineral notes shade into reminding me of petrol-heavy white wines. But the Wild Flight also offers up soft fruit and citrus notes.

I enjoy ciders like this. It’s very distinctly UK style. This cider has a lovely long appley finish. 
It’s quite bubbly and full bodied. We had it after dinner because I wanted all of the Dabinett character to shine through with the distractions of food. We did end up finding pretzels and crackers just for a bit of crunch and contrast, but this cider would pair well with simple bold flavors. I’d pair it with strong cheddar, homemade pretzels, and mustard.

My next cider was a sample shared with me by Portland Cider Co. The Razzberry! Portland Cider Co. Tends to create lots of blended ciders that use Northwest apples but also other fruits and ingredients. They are often semi-dry to sweet and more fun and innovative rather than traditional.

I’ve reviewed a few of their ciders before. Here’s the list.

Peach Berry:

Kinda Dry:



Pumpkin Spice:

Pineapple Rose:

A cool thing I just heard about is their PDX cider club! You can read about it here:

Here’s how Portland Cider Co. introduces this one, “Loads of bright raspberries combine with Northwest grown apples, a touch of lemon zest, and Hood River Valley pears for a refreshing cider that everyone will love. Easy-drinking, thirst-quenching and refreshingly tart, RazzBerry is ideal for barbecues and outdoor adventures. 5.8% ABV”

Appearance: brilliant, bubbly, strawberry red

I’d not call this cider a rose, as it's far more red than pink. The color reminds me of perfectly ripe strawberries. It’s also brilliant and bubbly.

Aromas: sweet apple, raspberry

As soon as I cracked the can on the Razzberry I could smell oodles of sweet apple and raspberry smells. This is a juicy set of smells that make me anticipate a sweet cider!

Sweetness/dryness: sweet!

While some folks might call this cider semi-sweet, I think it’s sweet! The sweetness is concentrated fruity and thick like jam.

Flavors and drinking experience: Chambord, raspberry, apple butter, pear and lemon

Pear and lemon do show up in the Razzberry’s flavors along with raspberry and apple. Lots of what I taste isn’t simple though.  A bit of concentration and booziness mean that instead of just tasting raspberries, I taste Chambord and raspberry jam. It’s all so very juicy!

I appreciate the good strong bubble and plentiful citrus acidity to this cider. It has a full body that comes more from sweetness rather than alcohol. This could be a cider to turn into a float with lemon sorbet! As it is, it was downright dessert-y and decadent. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Cider Reviews: Grisamore Cider Fillmore Perry, Tilted Shed Ciderworks Love's Labour, Plus Prospect Ciderwork's Paradise Notes

This is no time to sink back gently to the status quo. That’s true about systemic racism, police violence and pandemic precautions. Please, educate yourselves and improve the world around us. It’s also June, the month of long warm evenings and more and more fresh produce showing up in our gardens and markets. June is a wonderful time to pair cider with food, with relaxing after work, and maybe a glass beside us as we read or watch something wonderful. 

Today I want to try something a little different. I’m going to share two full cider reviews and one totally unedited set of cider notes. The notes are on a fun cider that I enjoyed but whose cider appears to be no longer active. I thought this might be a fun way to share a super candid peak at what I scribble into my phone as I’m tasting. 

But let’s start with Grisamore Cider Work’s newest: Fillmore Perry.

Before I hop into my brand introduction for Grisamore Cider Works, I should mention that I work with one of the founders at my non-cider job. We both work at Cornell University within the Library, but neither of us reports to the other or has any connection that would bias my reviews. I want to be upfront. Grisamore Cider Works is based out of Locke, New York. The cidery grew out of a third generation family farm that also hosts u-pick fruit and a greenhouse. This perry was shared with me for review.

My previous reviews of Grisamore ciders include:

A flight at the tasting room:

24.4 squared:


Here is Grisamore’s Facebook page:

And the online shop:

Tthe Fillmore Perry’s official description reads, “A smooth dry perry with ripe pear notes on the palate.” 6% ABV.

Appearance: Hazy, bright buttery gold, some bubbles

This cider looks so bright and sunny in the glass. I’ll call the color a buttery gold with a mild bit of haze. It shows some bubbles but not too many.

Aromas: tangy pears, sharp cheese, minerals

The Fillmore smells a bit tangy and also like ripe pears. I get hints of volatile acidity, sharp cheese, and loads of minerals. THis is starting to remind me of a UK perry.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

The Fillmore is a semi-dry perry.  This is always a funny category to describe because of the different sweetness (sorbitol) in pear juice.

Flavors and drinking experience: funky, savory, complex, bubbly

Whoa. There is so much to notice and contemplate in the Fillmore. This perry is woody, funky and complex. The acidity somehow feels low in the mouth (imprecise, I know). You could describe the cider as savory as well as fruity with notes that not only include pears and apples but also mushrooms, herbs and carrots. 

The perry isn’t over the top high acid but what’s there is so different from malic acid. The Fillmore also brings some tannins and lots of complexity. I appreciate how bubbly it is, and the floral and rocky finish. This really is like some classic UK perries. 

Next up: Tilted Shed Ciderworks’ Love’s Labor

Tilted Shed Ciderworks is based out of Sonoma County, California. Scott Heath and Ellen Cavalli founded Tilted Shed in 2011. The company prioritizes heritage and cider apples in their ciders. 

I’ll quote from the website for just a bit more of their ethos, “We believe that vintage ciders are the best way to express the beauty of Sonoma County apples, so we only press fresh-picked apples, in season, on-site at our cidery. "Low and slow" and "cool sh*t in small batches" are our mantras for our fermentation, as we make our ciders with wild and cultivated yeasts, and time. That's it—and that's enough!” 

Here are my earlier Tilted Shed reviews:

Lost Orchard:

Barred Rock Barrel Aged Cider:

January Barbecue Smoked Cider:

You can visit Tilted Shed online to learn about ciders and the cider club (I’m a member):

The official description for Love’s Labor says:
Our foodshed wild ferment of wild blackberries we picked from the thicket at the edge of our farm and wild native elderberries we foraged from near the Russian River. Co-fermented Sebastopol-grown organic dry-farmed Gravensteins. A beautifully brambly bubbly showcasing the bounty of our little slice of heaven in west Sonoma County.
Alcohol 8.00%

Appearance: deep fuchsia, brilliant, bubbly

This color reminds me of so many late spring flowers: Fuchsias, Peonies, and Impatiens.  The cider is brilliant, bubbly, and looks tremendously inviting.

Aromas: berries, custard, blackberries, minerals

My first thought upon sniffing this cider was, “Super berry!” The aromas remind me of custard with blackberries. The cider just smells so fruity with a lick of minerality.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi Dry

Love’s Labor is clearly a semi-dry cider. The sweetness that’s present tastes entirely natural and very much like the tart fruit that goes into this cider.

Flavors and drinking experience: crisp acidity, full mouthfeel, spritely bubbles

There is so much to love about this ciders. Love’s Labor introduces itself briskly with crisp acid. As the color and aromas promise, this cider is fruity- both berry and apple. I love it’s full mouthfeel- particularly because it’s not sugary but rather comes from that 8.0% ABV. It’s not a surprise to anyone how much I love its spritely bubbles. What anchors the experience is the presence of some tannins and minerality. 

What’s key to all of this is Love’s Labor’s balance. These are all puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly. I adore this cider.

And now for the bonus notes on Prospect Ciderworks’ Paradise.

--------------Caution: No Copy Edits Ahead!------------------------

Prospect Ciderworks
Appearance: Hazy
Smells tropical sweaty and citrus
Semi sweet
Medium acid
Farro, soft apples
Less tart than I expected from the smell
Low tannins
Genuinely different
Vanilla creamy and tropical
Allspice and cinnamon

Tiki drink esque

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

I Have No Heart for a Cider Review Today

Today there are more important things to share than my thoughts on two ciders. Those will be back next week. I cannot pretend I don’t see what’s happening all around the United States. I’m not claiming expertise, but to say nothing is to support an unacceptable status quo. Black lives matter.

The police have been militarizing for a long time, and they've upheld property above the lives of people of color for far longer. Now, when people protest the notion that police can murder with impunity, they are met with catastrophic force. The president makes it exponentially worse. 

My voice isn’t the important one. I want to amplify the voices of experience and expertise, particularly Black voices.

Here are some organizations that help. They could use support.

These are just a few, there are many many more.