Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Cider Review: South Hill Cider's Packbasket '15

We have a new president, and we’re closing in on the end of January! These are two great reasons to look deep into your cellar and pick out something you’ve been holding on to for a while. That’s exactly what I did when I pulled out a cider from 2015 for a weeknight dinner recently. You don’t need a special occasion to open up a bottle with some age on it. 

I chose my South Hill Cider Packbasket from 2015. I remember buying this cider years ago from my favorite downtown bottle shop in Ithaca: The Cellar D’Or. I bought a couple because I liked the cider plenty and expected it to age well. This past week, I got to test that theory.

South Hill Cider is right in my backyard. This Ithaca cidery creates cider in a range of styles. The cidery has an orchard, purchases heirloom apples from nearby farms, and creates ciders with foraged apples. Cider maker Steve Selin coaxes a fabulous array of flavors while refraining from adjunct fruits or other flavors. South Hill Ciders is all about apples. 

I've had the pleasure of reviewing many ciders from South Hill Cider. Here’s the list.

Tasting Room Flight including: Baldwin, Russet Dabinett, Old Time ‘17, Bluegrass Russet ‘17, and Pommeau: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/09/south-hill-ciders-tasting-room-and.html

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

Prelude #7: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/07/cider-review-aeppeltreow-scarlett-rosey.html

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, 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

Here’s South Hill Cider’s official description of the Packbasket.

Dry. Naturally Sparkling. 100% wild seedling apples germinated at the edges of pastures along fence lines that are barely noticeable today. Gathered by hand in the hedgerows and forests of the Finger Lakes, primarily around Ithaca, NY. The trees are often far enough from the road that they must be hauled out on our backs, hence the name Packbasket. The epitome of terroir, bringing the expression of an exact time and place into the glass. Naturally sparkling. Undisgorged.

Tasting Notes: Fresh stone fruit, mineral, citrus, pomegranate. Wine-like and chaulky with a dry and cleansing finish.

Alcohol 8.30%

Appearance: transparent to hazy, plentiful bubbles, intense apricot color

This undisgorged cider pours differently glass to glass. The first was transparent, but each subsequent glass had more sediment, making the cider more hazy. I’m hopeful that my pictures capture that. I love the intensity of color. The shade reminds me of fresh apricots. I can see so many bubbles; I know this one is going to be sparkling! 

Aromas: applesauce, golden raisins, peaches, tart cherries

The Packbasket smells like applesauce, golden raisins, tart cherries and peaches. I love the stone fruit notes. The aromas make my mouth water with their immediacy and power. My nose doesn’t have to be in the glass for these aromas to reach me.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

This is a hugely flavorful dry cider. Keep reading to find out more.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, medium tannins, delicate funk, many bubbles

The 2015 Packbasket brings wonderful intensity, complexity, and balance to the drinking experience. The cider has sharp minerality, off the chart acidity, and some tannins. It can support all of these being pronounced because the balance one another. 

I love the bubbles, and the Packbasket’s delicate funky tartness. This cider has aged beautifully.

The acid has mellowed over the years in the bottle. The beautiful fruit fruit notes taste more dried and rich rather than fresh or juicy. The spices and fruit linger in a long finish.

We had this with a green bean stir fry with egg, and it brightened the meal delightfully!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Cider Review: 2 Towns Ciderhouse 10th Anniversary Cider Pacific Northwest Heirloom Blend

We’re more than halfway through January. I’ve kept up with some healthy or happy-making habits to make things easier this season for myself. I’m happy to say that more exercise, more vegetables, and choosing the ciders I’m most excited about each week has been a nice balance of indulgence and effort. This week, I was very excited to try my 2 Towns 10th Anniversary cider.

2 Towns is an Oregon cidery with a dizzying array of inventive ciders. I review this company’s ciders often, and they consistent surprise and intrigue me. Here’s a list of all my earlier 2 Towns reviews. You can also find a lot more background info on the cider in these previous posts!

Good Limes Roll: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/07/cider-reviews-two-towns-cider-house.html

Cosmic Currant: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/12/cider-review-two-towns-cosmic-currant.html

Hollow Jack’d: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/10/cider-review-two-towns-ciderhouse.html

Afton Field: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/06/cider-review-2-towns-ciderhouse-afton.html

La Mûre: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/02/cider-review-albemarle-ciderworks.html

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/12/cider-review-eden-ciders-siren-song-and.html

Cidre Bouche: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/11/cider-review-2-towns-ciderhouses-cidre.html

Pearadise: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-2-towns-ciderhouses.html

Pineapple: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/02/cider-review-portland-cider-company.html

Bright Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/07/cider-review-roundup-common-cider-co.html

Hop and Stalk: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/12/cider-review-2-towns-ciderhouse-hop-and.html

Learn about all of 2 Towns’ ciders online here: https://2townsciderhouse.com/

Though I often receive review samples from 2 Towns, I purchased this cider of part of my new Northwest Cider Club! You can learn about all of what went into the first shipment and how the club works here: https://nwciderclub.com/.

The 2 Towns official description for the 10th Anniversary reads.


A decade of boldly crafted cider, and what a wild ride it's been. Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine coming as far as we have, and yet because of the incredible enthusiasm and support of our fans, here we are! It is in honor of you, our supporters, we release our 10th Anniversary cider, a paragon of our craft. Boldly crafted using a blend of rare, heirloom cider apples, this anniversary cider is the embodiment of our ethos as cider makers. Bringing the old and new worlds together, our cider is an ode to the craft we love and the supporters who have been with us on this journey. 5.7%ABV

Appearance: Brilliant few visible bubbles, bright daffodil yellow

This cider shines! It's hard to emphasize enough how utterly brilliant and eye catching I find this cider. There are a few bubbles I can see in the bottom of the glass but not many. The color makes me think of daffodils; it’s a warm bright yellow. 

Aromas: Cream cheese, green apples, powdered sugar

The 10th Anniversary smells like cream cheese and powdered sugar and green apples. The notes are all clean and distinct. The cider aromas are fruity, with luscious wet fruits like grapes and melons.

Sweetness/Dryness: Semi-sweet

I wasn’t sure quite what to expect in terms of sweetness level, but I think I’d call this cider a semi-sweet. The sweetness that’s there is very fruity.

Flavors and drinking experience: red fruit, very juicy, high acid, clean fermentation

I appreciate how true to the 2 Towns cider style, the 10th Anniversary cider stays. It’s a high acid, semi-sweet cider with juicy fruit flavors and a totally clean fermentation. Not all of the cidery’s beverages fit this profile, but that’s front and center 2 Towns Ciderhouse. 

Tiny bubbles keep this cider lively and fun. I’d call the body medium and the mouthfeel pleasantly full. The fruit notes remind me of many red fruits like strawberries and plums. What a treat to enjoy such a forwardly juicy and well-balanced cider!

The Tall One paired this cider with a fun movie date: takeout and our projector screen in his office. We chose Thai food and this lovely cider to accompany the long awaited Tenet. Creating special moments in dark times is incredibly worth it, and this cider helped make it a wonderful time. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Cider Review: Slyboro's Rose and Sky

January isn’t always an easy month, and this one is off to a disturbing start. We’re staying close to home and working for better days ahead. I hope you’re doing the same. Today, I’m sharing my take on Slyboro’s Rose and Sky. This cider was shared with me for review, but I’ll say again that my opinions remain my own however a cider comes to me.

My previous Slyboro reviews include:

La Sainte Terre: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/08/cider-review-bantam-ciders-americain.html

Hidden Star: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/04/cider-review-slyboro-cider-houses.html

Kingston Black: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/10/cider-review-slyboro-hard-ciders.html

Ice Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/11/happy-to-pickcider-for-thanksgiving.html

Visiting Slyboro: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-3.html

Black Currant: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/07/cider-review-slyboros-black-currant.html

Old Sin: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/06/cider-review-slyboro-ciders-old-sin.html

Learning about this cider on the Slyboro page shows more than I can tell with just a quote, but the cider description lists, “notes of pear, stone fruit, tamarind, brioche, and soft tannins.” The page goes on to describe it as an “Imperial sparkling cider. An ideal event starter and a perfect choice for celebrations large and small.” There’s a different description on the back of the bottle, so I’ll include a picture. It has a hefty 10% ABV, hence it being called an imperial cider.

Visit the Slyboro website to learn more about the orchard, ciders, and tasting room: https://www.slyborociderhouse.com/

Appearance: warm custard, hazy, plenty of bubbles

I must say that pouring this cider surprised me! I expected a cider with rose in the name and roses on the label to be a Rosé, and this poured with a sunny custard golden orange instead! I’m sure had I looked more closely at the bottle I wouldn’t have made that assumption, but I had to share! The Rose and Sky looks vibrant and hazy. The bubbles are visible but so small! My excitement was raised by seeing the cider in my glass!

Aromas: Pears, minerals, toasted breadcrumbs.

The Rose and Sky smells of minerals, pears, and toasted breadcrumbs. My mouth is officially watering.

Sweetness/dryness: Off Dry

I love an off-dry cider when all of the elements are in balance, and the Rose and Sky delivers deliciously! 

Flavors and drinking experience: biscuity, bubbly, quince, high tannins, high acid

This is a complex and lovely cider! I’m definitely a fan of the Rose and Sky. Here’s how it tastes. The Rose and Sky brings a biscuity kick of austere wood to start. This cider feels very bubbly and rich. I adore it’s concentrated apple character but the cider brings quince, honey, and lemon notes as well.

I enjoy the Rose and Sky’s lingering bitterness, high tannins, and high acid. This cider is tasty and enjoyable from tip to tail; each sip is satisfying and full.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Cider Review: Greenwood Cider Kingston Black and CiderCon is Coming!

It’s a new year, at last! For some, this might mean Dry Cider January, New Year’s resolutions, or just the feeling that hope is closer and more meaningful than it was for much of last year. I started 2021 with cider, reading, writing, cooking and exercise. I even put up my new heritage apple calendar, and I look forward to putting some cider events on there soon!

Cider Con is coming! From February 3-5, the American Cider Association will be presenting a wonderful variety of online content for cider makers, apple growers, hospitality professionals, and everyone who has a passion for cider. I’m ridiculously excited to get to taste and discuss UK ciders with Gabe Cook (the Ciderologist - https://www.theciderologist.com/).

Don’t worry, there are definitely ways to include the tasting portions of CiderCon at home!

You can find out more and register here: https://ciderassociation.org/cidercon2021/

Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on Greenwood Cider’s Kingston Black Single Varietal. I’ve only reviewed two Greenwood ciders before, and this will be the first all apple cider I’ve tried from the cidery. I’m very curious to see what will be similar and what will be different. For a touch of context, Greenwood Cider comes from Seattle. The company focuses not only on using local ingredients, but also small orchard fruits, wild apples and other small and often overlooked sources for their fermentation fodder. The company was founded (as best I could discover) in 2014 with Andy and Ryan Short and Marshall Petryni. There’s more background to be had in my earlier Greenwood Cider reviews.

Lingonberry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/07/cider-review-greenwood-ciders.html

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

You can check out all of Greenwood Cider’s available selection on the website: https://www.greenwoodcider.com/

Now for Kingston Black’s official description, “This single-varietal is a kick in the teeth in the best way. Bitter and dry from start to finish, it is our expression of this famed bittersharp and the terroir of the two Western Washington orchards where these apples were grown.” 6.8% ABV.

Appearance: deep harvest yellow, hazy, few bubbles

This looks like a very serious cider indeed with its intense warm color. The shade reminds me of a harvest moon, all golden and rich. There’s a fair amount of haze and very few bubbles. 

Aromas: clean farmyard, dry firewood, orange peel, spices

 The Kingston Black smells a bit like farmyard but clean. The funkiness is much like many English ciders I’ve tried. The cider also brings some notes that remind me of dry firewood, orange peel, and spice. I get overripe apples, leather, carrots, and pepper. There’s a lot of aroma activity!

Sweetness/dryness: Off Dry

This cider has many things going on, but the vast majority of them aren’t sweet. The cider gives many other flavors first before preparing an elegant and subtle clue of sweetness that tastes natural and not sugary. 

Flavors and drinking experience: high tannins, high acidity, black tea, appley finish

I’m always curious when I try a single varietal. Will this cider hang together? Does it have all of the elements I want? They often remain interesting but don’t achieve balance. The Kingston Black tastes a little sour at the start, but not too much. 

This cider is definitely tannic and quite acidic. It brings it all, answering one of my questions. The cider taste very good. I frequently like off-dry ciders with tannins. These particular tannins hit hard and fade fast, but give me notes of black tea. The mouthfeel is light and green. The Kingston Black’s aftertaste is like having bitten an apple. My favorite element has to be that the woodsmoke and firewood I perceived in this cider’s aromas comes through even in the taste. That’s completely lovely. 

This cider is complex and a bit spiky, but not off-kilter. It’s definitely a fun one.