Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Cider Review: Eden Cider's Peak Bloom and Black Diamond Cider's 2018 Rosé

I write on a rainy evening, when perhaps I should be packing just a few more boxes. That’s because the Along Came a Cider HQ is moving! Not a far move, I doubt it's even a mile. But if you’ve sent me ciders in the past, please reach out to get the new address! This time next week, I’ll be writing from the new house!

Before then I want to share two reviews by two of my favorite cider makers: Eden Specialty Ciders and Black Diamond Cider!  

I have shared several Eden cider reviews here. Check them out to see the full range that Eden Ciders creates and to learn more about this very special Vermont cidery. 

Here’s the full list!

Deep Cut Harvest Cider:

Extra Sec:


Siren Song:

Imperial 11 Degree Rose(my number one cider of 2017):

Heritage canned cider:

Sparkling Dry:

2016 Sparkling Dry:

Brut Nature:

You can learn about all of Eden’s ciders on the website:

Here’s how Eden describes the Peak Bloom in its release sheet.

Taste: Apple Sunshine in a Can

Lush apple fruit balanced by light tannin and

soft lingering tartness. Notes of white grape,

applesauce and lime. Superbly crushable.

Apple Varieties Grown for Cider



100% Locally and Sustainably Grown






One Batch Per Year for Best Flavor

12 g/L residual sugar from arrested fermentation

6 g/L malic acidity, medium tannin

Filtered, carbonated, and pasteurized

No added sugar, color, flavoring or preservatives

Naturally gluten-free and vegan

Appearance: brilliant, intense warm straw, plenty of visible bubbles

This cider looks lovely, brilliant and glowy. I can see so many bubbles in its warm straw shade.

Aromas: oatmeal, tropical fruit, flowers, overripe apples

I was surprised by a note of sweet oats or oatmeal alongside the overripe apples and tropical fruit. The Peak Bloom certainly smells luscious. I expect this will be a fair bit sweeter than many of Eden's ciders. 

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-sweet

As I expected, this is sweeter cider! It has enough acidity to balance the sweetness, but the sweetness and the ABV add to a certain fullness in mouthfeel. It reminds me of cream more than water. 

Flavors and drinking experience: rich, full mouthfeel, fruity, high acid, baking spice, carrots

That intriguing oatmeal note from the aroma does translate into the Peak Bloom’s flavor. I’m reminded of a spiced carrot cake because of the combination of richness, baking spices, creaminess and high acidity. It’s a wonderful effect and very different from other Eden ciders.

This cider comes across as smooth, clean, and sophisticated. I think it’s aromas and mouthfeel work together such that it demands to be poured into a glass rather than consumed straight from the can. This cider deserves to expand fully into a glass and into your palate. The apple notes are present but not alone. I also get some tropical fruit presence and floral grace notes. 

The whole experience is charming and well balanced.  The bubbles aren’t as strong as in Eden’s bottled sparklers; I’m not sure a can could hold that pressure!  I think of the two new canned ciders, I’ll reach for the Deep Cut more often, but that’s simply my preferred profile. This cider uses its sweetness, mouthfeel, tannins and acidity well. It’s a lovely well-rounded experience. 

I didn’t follow the pairing suggestions, but I paired mine with blackened tilapia, steamed sweet potato, and sautéed bell peppers with zucchini. I wanted the sweetness to contrast against the mild spice of the blackening spices but to augment the acid driven flavor of the peppers. I’m well pleased and would create that meal again.

My next set of notes is not for a cider that’s easy to buy, so I’m sorry for that. But I couldn’t resist writing up my thoughts when I tried Black Diamond’s rosé! I was visiting the orchard for the kickoff to the farm’s apple CSA, and they had something fun just for sale at the farm.

Black Diamond Cider is based in Trumansburg, New York in the Finger Lakes region. It was founded by Ian and Jackie Merwin. You can check out my earlier reviews to get some more contextual notes for this cidery and my thoughts on other releases

My previous reviews include:

Shin Hollow:


Geneva Tremlett’s:

Somerset Jersey:



Porter’s Pommeau:



Here are Black Diamond’s notes on their 2018 Rosé.
A dry rosé cider, perfect for summer afternoons by your favorite lake!
Tasting notes: Our take on a Finger Lakes rosé cider, made with a blend of black currants, blueberries and plums all grown on the farm. This cider is fruit forward, with notes of dark dusky plum and black cherry with a touch of sweetness.
This cider is a limited release available only in growlers and by the glass. Enjoy it while it lasts!
Apple Varieties: Espous Spitzenburg (45%), Shiro plum, blueberries, Titanium black currant (25%), mixed varieties (30%). ABV 7.8% Residual Sugar: 1.0%
Conversation at the tasting allowed to find out that the fruit was fermented, and that the mixture included some Porter’s and Kingston Black apples.

Appearance: brilliant, watermelon, bubbly
This cider looks like heaven to me. I love the brilliance, watermelon color, and the ring of miniscule bubbles around the edge of my glass. 
Aromas: Minerals, berries, sweet, ripe apples
This rosé smells of pleasing mineral and blueberry notes. The scent is sweet, earthy but clean. These elements are balanced by bright ripe apples.
Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry
This is a lovely semi-dry cider with only natural elements to the sweetness. 
Flavors and drinking experience: medium tannins, high acid, citrus, maple, pear
The rosé  tastes enchanting with high acidity and grippy medium tannins both from apples and currants. Something about it reminds me of an underripe pear with a maple note. The finish gentle wafts into citrus. 
My notes end with the brief statement, “Obviously excellent.” And I think that says what it needs to say.  I paired my cider with a walking tour of one of the Black Diamond orchard blocks, and it was extremely enjoyable. For a food pairing, I’d try walnuts and a soft cheese.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Cider Review: Liberty Ciderworks Wickson Crab, Alpenfire's Glow Airlie Red, and Dragon's Head Heritage


We’ve crossed the Autumnal Equinox and (in the Northern Hemisphere) begun our descent through our harvests to the colder and darker portion of the year. Happily, we’re well into the local apple harvest, and I’ve been experimenting with apple recipes and desserts as well as cider.  

This week I want to cover the amazing ciders I got to enjoy as the Washington Fine Cider tasting last Friday evening. Tech issues gave me problems connecting and hearing folks, so I wasn’t able to connect with cider folks as much as I hoped. Nonetheless, I was thrilled about this cider lineup, and I understand that the session had plenty of good cider making and orcharding education. 

Thanks so much to Washington Cider Week and the folks who made it possible for attend virtually this year! Hopefully in a year very soon, I’ll make it out there, and we can enjoy these west coast orchards, ciders and dinners together in person. Here's hoping!

I started my tasting with Liberty Ciderworks’ Wickson Crab and a sharp Vermont cheddar.

For background info on Liberty Ciderworks, you can visit the cidery online or take a peek at my review of the Manchurian Crabapple SV cider.  

I only have one previous Liberty Ciderworks review. Check it out below.

Manchurian Crabapple SV Cider:

I recommend checking out Liberty Ciderworks on the web:

The official description for Liberty Ciderworks Wickson crab single varietal reads:


One of pomologist Albert Etter's finest creations, Wickson crabapples (introduced in 1944) were developed with west coast conditions in mind. True to form, this cider exhibits a bright, spicy character with green apple, nectarine, lemongrass and stone fruit notes. ABV 6.5% 

Aromas: overripe oranges, powdered sugar, dark berries, ripe apple, barrel 

The Wickson Crab smells rich, darkly barrel-esque (though from my understanding it isn’t barrel aged), with notes of apple seed, sweet cream and overripe oranges. Something in the aroma reminds me of powdered sugar. 

Sweetness/dryness: Off Dry

This is a lovely off dry cider.

Flavors and drinking experience: citrus, high tannins, medium sparkle, clean 

This cider tastes not sweet but citrusy, like blood orange. It certainly brings high acidity and medium to high tannins. I love that the Wickson tastes leathery but refreshing, which is a remarkable combo. This is one of my favorite apples, so I’m not surprised that a single varietal can taste this good! This cider offers a medium intensity of bubbles but I usually wish there was more. Liberty Ciderworks created a nice clean bright finish; I feel that’s extra neat given the cider’s dark nose. 

Next, I opened up my bottle of Alpenfire Glow Airlie Red. This needed to be paired with a very dark chocolate mousse. For background on this Washington cidery, I recommend my previous coverage of the company and Alpenfire’s website. 

My earlier Alpenfire reviews include the following.

You can visit Alpenfire to find out more from the cidery online:

The folks at Aplenfire offer lots of info about the Glow Airlie Red
Single Varietal Rosé Cider
Winner, Cidercraft Double Gold 2018
Winner, Dan Berger Int’l Wine Competition Double 2016
Winner, SIP Best of the Northwest Silver 2016
Winner, GLINTCAP Silver Medal 2012

Vintage | 2018 (released October 2019)

Package - Cases | 500ml - 55 cases, 750ml - 164 cases, draft - 180 gallons

ABV | 8.2%

Varietals | Airlie Redflesh (Hidden Rose®)

Process | 8 week cold fermentation, 9 months matured in stainless tanks.

Our award winning Alpenfire Glow is fermented from the Airlie Red, an organically grown apple from the south end of the Willamette Valley with red flesh is what we use to create this single varietal rosé cider. No filtration, adjuncts, colorings, or other fruits are added to this cider, just full strength fresh pressed red fleshed apple nectar.
Aromas: floral, tropical, perfumed, ripe apples

The Glow smells tropical, perfumed, and floral. The predominant note is ripe apples, but I also smell peaches, pineapples, and bananas.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-dry

This is a semi-dry cider with no hint of anything artificial or non apple in its sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, low tannins, very sparkly, mild funk

Somehow the Glow tastes low in the mouth. I’m not entirely sure what characteristic I’m getting at when I say that, but it’s what I perceived. The cider brings a bit of Funk and loads of high acid that cling a with a pleasant burn. This doesn’t have the flavor profile of many rose ciders. The Glow is semi-dry with present but understated tannins. I love how much sparkle I get from this cider.  

The Glow has a lithe and zestly mouth feel. This is a fun one if you want to expand your expectations for Rose ciders!

I finished my tasting with Dragon’s Head Heritage cider.  

Dragon’s Head is a cidery based on Vachon Island off the coast of Washington State for more background information, I’ll point readers to my earlier reviews.

Here’s the website where you can learn more about Dragon's Head Cider:

Here’s how the folks at Dragon’s Head describe it. 

Our heritage cider is crafted from a blend of more than 20 traditional English and French cider apple varieties grown in our orchard on Vashon Island, WA. These time-honored apples create a richness of flavor and character to cider that can’t be achieved with ordinary culinary apples. ABV of 7.3%.

I am so excited at that description of Estate bittersweet apples.

 Aromas: sugar snap peas, salt, wine grapes, wild rice

This is a cider that smells like a sea breeze. The notes I get are all fresh air, salt, wine grapes, and minerals. There’s a springy vegetal element like sugar snap peas. The Heritage Cider smell farmy, with shadows of mushrooms, wild rice.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

This is unambiguously a dry cider, yet I’m glad it was saved for last.

Flavors and drinking experience: unusual profile, medium acid, high tannins, very funky 

What a wonderfully wild profile. This cider really does take those apples and make something very different than even the heritage ciders I’m accustomed to in my region. The Heritage has medium acidity but very high tannins. The apples certainly are bittersweets rather than bittersharps. I taste grape stem, there’s a bit of astringence and austere structure. The notes of wild rice and mushroom flavor that came through in the aroma continue to the flavor. I also get some cheese notes of extreme cheddar sharpness. The fruit comes across as the barest hint of a little dark sweetness. The cider is mature and very funky.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Cider Review: Mission Trail Cider's Dryhard Gold and Washington Cider Week!

I know it’s not a pleasant or fun thing, but so much of my brain is on the West Coast wildfires. My heart goes out to everyone there who has lost a home or orchard, had to evacuate, or cannot safely go outside. 

Here’s a list I found of ways to help. Feel free to put other suggestions in the comments.

I’m reviewing Mission Trail Cider's Dryhard Gold today. Founded by two brothers Monte and Victor Jones, Mission Trail is a small producer not only of cider, but also perry, wine, mead, and jerkum. This Sonoma County producer began selling cider in 2014. Here’s how the folks at Mission describe their aim, “Mission-Trail has one simple goal- create innovative, and artisanal jerkum, perry, wine, and mead, while using traditional and innovative wine making practices.”

I have two previous reviews of Mission Trail Cider.

Champagne Style Hard Cider:


You can check out Mission Trail on the web here and buy cider online:

Here’s the official description of the Dryhard Gold, “Perfectly bone dry, single varietal Newtown Pippin aged one year for your sipping pleasure. Great acidity makes for a dry, tart finish. Alcohol 6.90%”

Appearance: brilliant, pale straw, no visible bubbles

Mission Trail’s Dryhard Gold looks very wine like in the glass. I’d call the color pale straw, and it's totally brilliant. I didn’t see any bubbles in the glass either.

Aromas: ripe apples, minerals, berries, melon

The Dryhard Gold smells like ripe apples, minerals, strawberries and melon! This smells like it's going to be a fun and fruity cider.

Sweetness/dryness: dry but fruity

This dry cider is as fruity as the smell promised. Its always fun when a complete dry cider is still brimming with fruit notes.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, bubbly, nutty, boozy and warm

The Dryhard Gold cider tastes warm but not hot but it feels a touch more boozy than its ABV usually does. The cider also brings some seriously high acid to the party. That might be part of how the cider tastes so fruity yet dry. I love a bubbly beverage, and the sparkle on the Dryhard Gold suits me well. 

As I sip the cider more, I can detect a nutty element in the warmth. I appreciate how cleanly fermented and not funky this cider tastes. Yes, I also love a bit of barnyard, but I don’t need that in every glass, and this one is shiningly clean. The medium tannins keep things anchored well.

This cider’s pleasing floral finish kept us sipping until the bottle was too quickly gone.

I had this delicious cider with Okonomiyaki, and our little group was wowed by the pairing. I highly recommend exactly this!

Now it’s time to share my unquenched excitement for Washington Cider week!

Check out the full even listing (including lots of shippable cider specials!) here:’

Join me (virtually) this Friday at the Washington Fine Cider Tasting!:

And for one more recommendation, this Instagram Live event with Caitlin Braam (founder of Yonder Cider) Sara Harvey (Head Chef of Hama Hama Oysters) sounded really interesting:

Stay safe out there, and I hope to see you Friday!

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Cider Review: Farmhaus Cider Co.'s Trocken Dry and Washington Cider Week!

Labor day has come and gone. I’ve been to Black Diamond’s orchard for the first time to walk through with Ian Merwin and pick up my apple and cider CSA. It’s a grand time of year, even in the bizarre pandemic life we’re trying to create. I’ll even give a silver lining, because so many cider week events have had to move online, it’s easier than ever before to take part in a cider week further afield. I never want to travel much during the local apple harvest time here; it’s simply too nice to miss. That means not seeing other harvest places and celebrations, until now!  

This year, I can join Washington Cider Week without having to fly across the country, and I’m grateful for that. 

There are still some things I cannot do, like enjoy a cider and pairing meal of Taiwanese food from BB6: 

Amazingly, there’s so much more I can do, including tour cideries and orchards and taste along with cider makers. The event I’m most excited about is the Washington Fine Cider Virtual Tasting with Dragon’s Head, Libery and Alpenfire. It will be a live tasting of 3 amazing ciders  Alpenfire Cider’s Glow; Dragon’s Head Cider’s Heritage; and Liberty Ciderworks’ Major Hewes with all the cider makers plus Cidercraft’s Erin James will be moderating.

Here’s the link if you want to find out more and join us!

You can read about all the events and cider makers at the Washington Cider Week website:

Now for my review of Farmhaus Cider Co.'s Trocken Dry! The kind folks at Farmhaus Cider Co. shared a few ciders with me, and this is the last of them. 

I have three earlier reviews of Farmhaus Ciders.



Sweater Weather:

Find out all about this Michigan family-farm company on the website:

So, what does Farmaus Cider say about the Trocken Dry? Here’s the introduction to it from the website.

Tart. Crisp. Unfiltered.

A delicious hard cider made with all local Michigan ingredients. This cider is fermented completely dry, giving it a crisp, tart taste consistent with a German Apfelwein, or some even say a sour craft beer. This cider pairs well with savory meats, strong cheeses and anything with spice. 6.9% ABV.

Appearance: Brilliant, moonglow, few bubbles

I was surprised to find the Trocken Dry rather brilliant for being unfiltered. Even with it’s clarity, something about this cider just looks thick. The Trocken Dry has a lovely pale moonglow color.

Aromas: sweet, overripe apples, cream, pastry

The Trocken Dry smells sweet like overripe apples. The concentration of apple aroma goes past juicy into nearly syrup territory. There are some notes that remind me of pastry and powdered sugar, but the whole experience is very appley though—that's the immediate smell. But I think my favorite surprise is how the aromas include just a hint of heavy cream. 

Dryness/sweetness: Semi-dry

To me, this cider tastes semi-dry but not actually dry. It’s fruity and natural in its sweetness, but it's not a dry cider.

Flavors and drinking experience: Medium high acidity, green apple, citrus, pleasantly drinkable 

The Trocken Dry offers up medium high acidity; again it’s quite appley: I’ll even go so far as t specifiy a certain tart green apple flavor. This is a relatively straightforward cider with a nice blend of fruit notes that include cherry and citrus as well as apple. The cider tastes pleasant and drinkable. The Trocken doesn’t rely on tannins for structure, that comes from the acidity and the sparkle. There’s much more acid in the flavor than the smell.

Another note in addition to the Granny Smith apple and tart cherries is almost a balsamic note—a good and intriguging one. I read an interesting dialogue between sweet rich smell and tartness.   The Trocken Dry has a thick mouthfeel.The fruit intensity is a bit like an apple syrup. Indeed, the cider drinks like a german apfelwein, a bit reminiscent of Charles Dodge's cider. It’s especially nice in big sips. I appreciate the cider’s clean fermentation.  

Ideally, I’d love to serve this with veggie tacos. The spice of chipotle roasted sweet potato, the warmth and substance of black beans, sweet onion and corn, a sharp cheddar, and some crunchy cabbage slaw would show off the tasteful simplicity of this cider beautifully.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Cider Review: Raging Mead and Cider Company's Them Pet-Nat Southern Apples

Like many folks, I think I’m getting to a slow point in my COVID pandemic marathon. I may only manage single review posts for a while. It’s not that I don’t love cider or love sharing my opinions (trust me, I do) it’s just that making more time to write after working intensely at the computer five days a week isn’t easy. I have a harder time not obsessing about the news when I’m on the computer all the time, so I try to close the laptop when I can. Thank you for understanding!

Thanks to a trade with Dave, I was able to sample my first beverage by Raging Cider and Mead company this week. Raging Cider and Mead was founded in California in 2015 by Dave and Kerry Carr. This is my first review of any Raging ciders. They had been fermenting cider years before that. Here’s a quote from the website about the company’s goals and identity. 

One of the commitments Dave and Kerry have made is to only source apples, pears, honey, and other fruit from San Diego County in order to support the local farming community and to try and regrow the rich apple & pear orcharding traditions of the local San Diego mountains (in particular the Julian region). They have also committed to purchasing "ugly" and overproduced fruit to help local farmers derive a secondary income source from fruit that may have gone to waste and reintroducing traditionally made ciders (or heirloom ciders) to the American consumer by wild fermenting all their ciders on native yeast and using various techniques such as fermenting and aging on the lees in wine barrels in addition to various types of barrel aging.

You can visit Raging Cider and Mead online to learn more about what the company is up to!

Here’s how the Them Pet-Nat Southern Apples cider is described on the bottle, “A dry blend of heirloom apples originally discovered in the American south, wild fermented in stainless then bottled before completion of fermentation for natural in bottle carbonation. Nuancedwith hints of strawberries, melon, spices, light leather, rich mouthfeel, and tiny bubbles.” ABV of 8.2%.

The cider comes with very important instructions to chill it for a minimum of 24 hours before daring to open the cider. I kept my bottle in the fridge for closer to a week. 

Appearance: cloudy, ochre, extremely bubbly!

The Pet-Nat fountained out of the bottle as soon as it was opened! I poured it quickly and ended up with a fizzy cloudy glass of ochre cider. There’s no mistaking this pet-nat for any other natural sparking method.

Aromas: white grapes, baking spice, yeast, leather

The Pet Nat smells lush and champagne like with prominent notes of crushed white grapes. I also get baking spices, leather, yeast and some funk. This is a lovely and complex array of aromas.

Dryness/Sweetness: Dry

As promised, this is a dry cider. It might not be strictly bone dry, but sweetness isn’t noticeable.

Flavors and drinking experience: bubbly, high acid, medium tannins, medium funk

As I dearly hoped, Them Pet-Nat Southern Apples is delightfully bubbly. It has beautiful high acid and is funky but not too funky. It’s a natural fermentation and that shows, but it tastes a bit more restrained than it smelled. The cider has mild tannins and floral finish.

But what I might like best about it is that the pet-nat has a firm and substantial body. It’s hefty and taut. Pet Nats might be one of my favorite styles in that they have such potential to be dry, bubbly and just a hint wild. This one definitely hits all of those delightful criteria!

I had this cider with a veggie stir fry with almonds, yellow peppers,and a tasty citrusy Ponzu sauce. It was an easy pairing, and one I’d enjoy eating again!