Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Cider Review: Lockhorn Hard Cider Beartooth Bittersweet

The birds are singing out my windows this morning. I’m feeling more hopeful and excited about this summer, and all the cider adventures to come.  I wish this kind of hope for all my cider friends, and safe and gentle spring for apple blossoms. Today’s review is Bear Tooth Bittersweet by Lockhorn Hard Cider.

Lockhorn Hard Cider comes to the world from Bozeman, Montana. The cidery has a taproom, curbside service, a gluten-free food menu  as well as a full line up of innovative ciders. I like this phrase I found on the website for describing the cider, “[T]he first sip of Lockhorn cider has a bite, but the subtle, complex flavors resonate on the tongue, rather like wine.”

I’ve reviewed one Lockhorn Hard Cider before, the Gallatin Grapefruit: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/11/cider-review-lockhorn-hard-ciders.html

You can visit Lockhorn Hard Cider online here: https://www.lockhornhardcider.com/

Here’s how the cidery describes the Beartooth Bittersweet.

This proud cider is crafted from a blend English bittersweet and American varietal apples. With a gentle sweetness akin to Lone Mountain Cider, the Beartooth exhibits the same fruit forward apple appeal with the special bitter tannin that is so very English. The skins of the bittersweet apples impart a black tea like taste that lend a complex and extraordinary palate!

Now for my experience with Beartooth Bittersweet.

Appearance: brilliant, chick fluff yellow,  low hue intensity, no visible bubbles

This cider looks elegant and appealing with it’s brilliance. The color reminds me of baby chicks, but maybe I’ve got spring on the  brain. I don’t see any bubbles when I pour this cider, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t sparkly.

Aromas: pear, white grape, banana, fruity, juicy, powdered sugar

The Beartooth Bittersweet smells freshly juicy! These aroma notes just leap out of the can and glass.  Pear, white grape, and banana smells present themselves clearly and powerfully. I also get notes of powdered sugar. The overall smell impressions are of a tropical fruit dessert.

Sweetness/Dryness: Sweet

This is a sweet cider! I shouldn’t  be surprised because of the sweet in the name, but it’s more a true sweet than a bittersweet.

Flavors and drinking experience: low acid, low-to-medium tannins, fruity, overripe apple, cooked apple, softened leather

The first thing that I notice when I taste the Beartooth Bittersweet is how much lower I find the acid than with most American ciders. The sweetness and relatively low acidity work together to pull the Bittersweet’s profile in the direct of a medium sweet UK cider. It brings low-to-medium tannins which are a bit different from many (not all) UK ciders. The Bittersweet is very much its own cider with its own profile! 

After a few sips, I’m noticing more and more fresh apple juice, overripe apple, and cooked apple notes. The Beartooth Bittersweet offers a mellow mature flavor with a bit of softened leather to it. The finish is gentle and pleasant, but not overlong. The sparkle level is petillant rather than strongly bubbly.

I paired the Beartooth Bittersweet with a pasta dinner, but I think I’d do it differently next time. After trying this cider, I think it would be best paired with an asparagus and goat cheese quiche, maybe accompanied by a cucumber and tomato salad. I’d want to give the rich fruits something toasty and creamy to play against. And I’d like to fill in the acid level with the tomato in the salad. It’s a super Spring-friendly cider, and it would be a waste not use that. Cheers!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Cider Review: Stormalong Cider's Winesap

Leaves are appearing on trees, and I am surprised by new blooms with every walk outside. I’m so grateful for the momentum of Spring. It gets me outside and outside of my brain more regularly. That said, I feel forgetful and distracted so much lately. I might get lost in looking at clouds when I should be sending an email. Apologies if you’re waiting to hear from me. I’ll get there!

I’m glad to be returning to Stormalong Cider’s Rare Apple series today with the Winesap. Here’s the rundown of all of my previous Stormalong reviews.

Happy Holidays: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/11/cider-review-stormalong-ciders-happy.html

Esopus Spitzenburg: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/08/cider-review-ravens-moon-craft-ciders.html

Ashmead’s Kernel: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/07/cider-review-brannland-just-cider-and.html

Peariful: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/05/cider-review-left-foot-charleys-fortis.html

Legendary Dry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/12/cider-review-stormalongs-legendary-dry.html

Kingston Black: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/08/cider-reviews-ninepin-light-cider.html

Light of the Sun: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/08/cider-review-descendant-cider-company.html

Mass Appeal: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/12/cider-review-prospect-ciderworks.html

Boston Heirloom: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/01/cider-review-stormalong-ciders-boston.html

Stormalong’s website can be found here along with updates and new release information: http://stormalong.com/.

And here’s the description from Stormalong of the series and of this cider in particular. 

 This sampler consists of four distinct dry, orchard-based hard ciders that showcase the depth and complexity of cider-oriented, heirloom apples. The apples in these ciders were all grown in New England on small orchards and carefully fermented, aged and blended into the small batches canned for this tasty sampler. The mission of our 'Rare Apple Series' is to highlight the virtues of these extraordinary heirloom apples and their exquisite transformation into distinctive cider. This sampler will take your taste buds on a tour of some of cider's most cherished apples.


Tart, Fruit Forward, with Notes of Strawberry & Jammy Fruit


Made with 100% Stayman Winesap apples

ABV: 6.8%

On this page, there’s a graphic placing this cider’s sweetness/dryness at a midpoint between dry and medium dry. We’ll see what that means. 

I’ve had the pleasure of tasting Stormalong’s Winesap twice. Once on my own and once in the context of training tasting alongside some talented cider folks. 

Appearance: brilliant, few visible bubbles, medium intensity, warm straw

The color of this cider is a classic warm straw with a medium intensity. The Winesap has just a few scattered bubbles clinging to the glass all along it. THe clarity is brilliant and appealing.

Aromas: apple butter, cooked apples, grapes, 

Stormalong’s Winesap smells like apple butter. I love the focused sweetness and cooked apple smell, I’m getting from this cider. It blooms with grape notes too. The aromas are not overpowering, but I don’t have to dip my nose into my glass to get them either.

Sweetness/dryness Off dry

I agree with the graphic! It’s not bone dry, but its drier than semi-dry. The Winesap is a classic off dry cider. 

Flavors and drinking experience: sugared lemons, melon, flowers, ripe apple, white wine

Many of my favorite ciders are driven by acidity, and Stormalong’s Winesap has that going for it. The high acidity is pointed and zesty. It tightens and lightens the whole experience. The acidity reminds me of citrus like ever-so-slightly-sugared lemons.

There are many delightful summery notes to the Winesap like melon and white flowers. It feels approachable, summery, smooth, and crisp. I don’t get a strong tannic presence. The level of sparkle is enough to stay sharp from first sip to last, but it doesn’t drive the drinking experience. 

This is a fun cider to drink and a fun one to talk about. I recommend it for both. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Cider Review: Peak Light Cider's Field Run Semi-Dry Cider

As much as I want to say that I’ve arrived at the wonderful and carefree afterparty that I hope comes next in our collective social melodrama, I can’t. It’s been a rough couple of weeks(on top of the rough 13 months), and I know that’s been true for many many friends near and far. Take good care of yourself and those you love. Good luck. And until we can party in the streets with joy and safety, we can still try wonderful new ciders at home.

This week I want to share my notes on Peak Light Cider's Field Run Semi-Dry Cider. This is another cider that I received through joining the Northwest Cider Club. I highly recommend this for folks like me who don’t have easy access to lots of Northwest ciders or folks who just appreciate all of the curating work that goes into these selections. 

Learn more about club options here: https://www.nwcider.com/member-benefits/nw-cider-club/.

You can visit Peak Light Cider online to learn more about the company and its ciders: https://peaklightcider.com/

Here’s a bit of how Peak Light describes the cider process.

We adhere to principles of organic and biodynamic farming. Our practices support natural ecosystems that maximize biodiversity in the orchard—drawing beneficial insects, snakes, tree frogs, and nesting songbirds. Our flock of chickens “cleans” the orchard floor eating harmful pests during dormant winter months and provides valuable natural fertilizer to the trees.

The Peak Light cider included in my club selection is the Field Run Semi Dry, and here’s its official description.

ABV 6.5%     RS 1.4%     TA 0.5%     PH 3.8

Our field run semi-dry cider blends mid-season maturing apples. Residual sugars are left behind, lending a subtle sweetness that draws out this cider’s aromatic qualities. Lightly floral with notes of baked apple, sweet grass, and Meyer lemon. Enjoy on its own or with soft cheeses, crudités, and summer salads.

Appearance: intense popcorn gold, few visible bubbles, brilliant

The Field Run has gorgeous brilliant clarity! What a pretty cider. The color is intense. It reminds me of the gold in unpopped popcorn kernels. 

Aromas: tomatoes, cinnamon, white wine, and acetic acid

This is where things start to get really different. I was surprised to find the most recognizable aroma to be tomatoes, followed by cinnamon, and white wine. In the background I could smell a mineraly sort of aroma and some acetic acid. This makes me expect something wild, tangy, and savory.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

As promised, Peak Light’s Field Fun is semi-dry. I get enough sweetness to open up the layers of flavor but not a lot more. It's a nice approachable level.

Flavors and drinking experience: minerals, pear, cucumber, tannins

I love finding ciders that surprise me. The Field Run does exactly that with a very different flavor profile. As soon as I sip the cider, I can taste medium acidity, but it dissipates quickly on the mid-palate. What remains longer is an austere minerality and some pleasing subtle notes.

Once the acidity fades, I can sense some tannins on the mid palate. Flavors include cucumber, pear, paw paw, and apple. The cider’s sparkle is a medium petillance rather than something more effusively bubbly. The finish is quick and delicate, almost elusive. 

We had this cider with a simple seasonal meal: a frittata with spring potatoes, onion, and flaked salmon with a green salad. I think many light dishes would work well here. The Field Run could be served with many different cheeses or even a dessert course cider with pastries and fruit. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Cider Review: Salt Creek Cider House's Rebel

Welcome cider fans, hopefully Spring is arriving to your neck of the woods with bird song and sunshine. The weather went from snow to balmy perfection in two days, but I’m ready for it. And I’m excited to enjoy some seasonal cider variety. Two cider club shipments have arrived from the Northwest Cider Club (I’m happily a paying member), and I’m excited to share my thoughts on a cider that the club introduced me to! And if you’d like to learn more about the Northwest Cider Club, I’d recommend starting here: https://nwciderclub.com/.

Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on Salt Creek Cider House's Rebel. This is my first review of anything by Salt Creek Cider House, so I’m starting with the cider they chose to include in the club shipment. What makes me most curious about the Rebel is that it’s a blend of apples and pears. Part of me thought I should hold back these notes until May, but I think spring calls for pears!

Salt Creek Cider House comes to use from outside of Dallas, Oregon. It’s grown out of a second-generation family orchard, and all of the fruit used in Salt Creek Cider House’s fermentations come from the Willamette Valley area.

Visit Salt Creek Cider House online and learn about the cider lineup here: https://www.saltcreekciderhouse.com/

You can find out what Salt Creek Cider House is up to on the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/saltcreekciderhouse

Here’s how this cider is described.


Our flagship cider REBEL is a blend of Apples and Pears. Most ciders are just one or the other, but we like them together, so that's what we did. REBEL is inspired by our forefathers and pioneers of the west. It took great courage to create a new country and bravery to head west into the unknown. REBEL is the inspiration for the cidery. We felt a desire to connect with our roots and do our part to keep the American spirit alive.

Appearance: hazy, lemon curd, few visible bubbles 

What an intriguing look this cider offers! I appreciate the gentle lemon curd color along with its intense haze. I can see a few bubbles, but the cider’s opacity is a more striking feature.

Aromas: Green apples, pears, peach, cinnamon and herbs

The Rebel smells like green apples, minerals, pear maybe peach. The fruity notes are concentrated, leaning a bit to the malic acid or Jolly Rancher end of tart apple scent. I’m also reminded of wet fleshy fruit like pears and peaches. The background notes are cinnamon, grapefruit, and herbs.

Sweetness/Dryness: Semi-dry

This cider caused some disagreement about whether it is semi-dry or semi-sweet. In the end, we landed on semi-dry, but I’ll suggest that it’s on the sweeter end of that range.

Flavors and drinking experience: medium high acid, no tannins, fruity

The Rebel brings medium high acidity to balance out its semi-dry level of sweetness. There’s not a lot going on in terms of tannins. This cider tastes fruity and luscious and juicy. Those are my main impressions. The intensity of apple, pear, peach, and white grape notes is high. 

In terms of texture, this cider is relatively light and very crisp with medium sparkle. The Rebel closes out each sip with a medium finish. It’s a very drinkable cider. We paired it with a Mediterranean-inspired indoor picnic: hummus, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, feta, baba ghanoush, tzatziki, and pita. The cider’s clean flavors and light body were an excellent pairing for the snacky meal.