Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Cider Review: Rootstock Ciderworks' Ruby Mac

Spring is turning into Summer! I know that the season doesn’t officially shift for almost another month, but I feel like Summer is here already. Perhaps it was two 90 degree plus days in a row that did it, but now the season for watermelon, grilling, and bare feet has arrived! That totally changes my food habits, which in turn affect my cider habits. Welcome to warm weather cider picks!

I’m so excited to share my review of Rootstock Ciderwork’s Ruby Mac. Rootstock Ciderworks is a Rochester-area upstate New York Cidery that’s been around for a little while.  The cidery was kind enough to share a few 2020 specialty releases with me. Today I’m offering my experience with the Ruby Mac. Here’s what Luke had to say about the Ruby Mac, “we produced a single-varietal Ruby Mac, which was a whole-fruit fermentation, and all the residual sugar is from arrested fermentation.”

These facts make this cider extra interesting because the makers doubled-down on doing the more unusual, difficult, and risky thing. Any singe-varietal is risky if you ask me; most apples don't have all of the characteristics necessary to create a fully balanced cider. And arresting fermentation is a wonderfully bold choice. Keeping the naturally occurring sugars means maintaining some amazing fresh fruit flavor notes and delicious sweetness that I prefer to nearly any added sweetness, but it also risks the cider refermenting in the bottle. Anyhow, everything I know about this cider makes me extra excited to try it!

Here are my earlier Rootstock Ciderwork’s reviews.

Legend Barrel Aged: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/01/cider-review-eden-specialty-ciders.html

Rose: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/07/cider-review-shacksbury-dorset-and.html

Belgium: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/06/cider-cans-crush-it-rootstock.html

Hopped: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/10/cider-review-rootstock-ciderworks.html

Now to share the official description from Rootstock, “This single-varietal cider was made entirely from Ruby MacIntosh apples. It is unique from many of our ciders in that it was partially fermented on the mash, pressed, and then arrested with high levels of residual sugar. ABV 5.1%”

Visit Rootstock Ciderworks online to learn about all of the ciders and goings on in the tasting room! https://www.rootstockciderworks.com/

Now for my experience with the Ruby Mac.

Appearance: Brilliant, warm straw, no visible bubbles

This cider looks very much like a white wine in the glass. The clarity is brilliant and I don’t see any bubbles. That doesn’t mean the cider won’t sparkle; I just don’t see it yet. The color reminds me of warm straw on a sunny day.

Aromas: Cooked apple, powdered sugar, sweet orange

The Ruby Mac smells so intensely of apple that it reminds me of cooked apple more than raw apple. I also get strong vibes of powdered sugar and sweet orange. These are luscious sweet smells, so the mention of arrested fermentation makes sense. This is likely to be a sweet cider.

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet

This cider is sweet, and the sweetness is special! It tastes like super-intense ripe apple with perfect balancing acidity. The notes of sweetness remind me of pear juice and honey as well. 

Flavors and drinking experience: full bodied, strong sparkle, super fruity, sweet

Rootstock has succeeded in the risks because the Ruby Mac is tasty! The cider is full-bodied with a strong level of bubble. The cider’s electric acidity balances out the sweetness. All of the pear, overripe apple, honey and powdered sugar notes from the aroma come through when I taste this cider. It’s a celebration!

This isn’t a profile I’d pick up every day or for every meal, but I loved it. I paired the Ruby Mac with a spicy taco salad after a trip to a local plant sale. It was fun, tasty, and satisfying. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Cider Review: Reveille Ciderworks Serious Black Farmhouse Apricot

I’m writing with good garden dirt under my fingernails this morning. It's finally safe (I hope) for my tomatoes, peppers, basil, bee balm, tomatillos, and other seedlings to make the big leap to the outdoors. It's no coincidence that the time to start enjoying more cider outside has arrived. I’m not thinking about warming big ciders with barrel characteristics right now. I’m stocking my fridge with fruity, herbal, and hopped ciders as well as the classic dry and bubbly ciders that I love all year.  

This is how I chose Reveille Ciderworks Serious Black Farmhouse Apricot. Reveille Ciderworks comes out of Astoria Oregon. I found this cider through the Northwest Cider Club, which has done a great job of sourcing interesting ciders I would never have otherwise found! Double points for also being the first black tea cider I’ve reviewed!

Here’s a snippet from Reveille’s website, describing the cider in broad terms. 

Founded in 2016, Reveille Ciderworks –Astoria’s first and only hard cider manufacturer– opened its flagship taproom and laboratory in beautiful Astoria, Oregon. Reveille delivers an ongoing evolution of pre-prohibition farmhouse and country-style hard ciders that harken back to early American recipes long lost in the annals of history.

Visit the website to learn about all of Reveille’s Ciderworks’ offerings: https://astoriacider.com/

Now onto the Serious Black Farmhouse Apricot. 

Here’s the official description from Reveille Ciderworks.

Our current blend of heritage and table-style Washington apples is slowly fermented using our Belgian saison yeast, lending a bold, earthy front-end that finishes with clove and black pepper. We then fold in apricots to lend a big, fruity and sharp bite, highlighted by a custom blend of black tea leaves with apricot flowers for a gorgeous finish and floral bouquet. 5.8% ABV

Appearance: hazy, warm straw, delicate color

The cider reminds me of creamed honey. It's delicate rather than intense. The Serious Black is hazy and gently tinted the same color as warm straw. Please forgive the very exciting drinking vessel! I brought this cider over to share and sample at a co-working writing night with a few friends.

Aromas: apricot, sweetly fruity, spicy, peppery notes

The Serious Black smells sweet and fruity like apricot. I get plenty of overipe apple notes too. The aromas include bits of spice and pepper too.

Dryness/sweetness: Semi-sweet

This is a semi-sweet cider. Fans of sweeter cider will likely enjoy the Serious Black Farmhouse Apricot.

Flavors and drinking experience: high tannins, citrus, ripe apple, apricot, black tea, spice

The Serious Black is a fun and appealing balance of many different flavor directions.  The tea comes across as tannic, spicy, gently sweaty almost like hops and grippy. The semi-sweet fruitiness feels very directly like apricots and ripe apples. The cider balances that with high acid that’s as much sour as citrusy. 

We enjoyed this cider with fresh homemade bread topped with fancy butter and good company. I predict many more such evenings with seasonal summery ciders, and I can’t wait.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Cider Review: Stefan Vetter Cidre Rurale

I feel so lucky to live in a place that values cider. We have more than one local bottle shop that takes care in curating a consistently interesting cider selection! This week, that means I’m sharing notes on a German cider that I picked up at The Cellar D’Or but would not otherwise have had any opportunity to try. I’m happy to support my local bottle shops, and I know they support me in finding interesting ciders! 

Visit The Cellar D'Or here to learn about their cider, wine, and spirits selection: https://www.thecellardor.com/

This week Stefan Vetter Cidre Rurale is marking this cider maker’s first appearance on the blog. I’m not finding out a lot about this cider, but there are plenty of wine shops talking up Stefan Vetter as a non-traditional or raw wine maker. From what I’m reading I’m guessing this cider would also be made with spontaneous fermentation and no added sulfites, but that’s a guess.

The label does list what apples have gone into this cider: Goldrenette, Blenheim, Winterrambur, Goldparmäne, Bohnapfel. Its ABV is 7%.

Adding to the mystery, I’m not coming up with a website I can send folks to for learning more about the cidery or other projects by Stefan Vetter. If you can find something, please add it in the comments!

Appearance: Explosive, bubbly, hazy, tea orange

We scrambled to pour quickly after the cider was a little bit explosive upon opening! It had been well chilled and stored stably, so it was just over-eager. It was full of bubbles and poured with a head. The Cidre Rurale was hazy with an intense orange shade that reminds me of a strong black tea.

Aromas: ripe apples, minerals, leather, hay, wild rice 

The Cidre Rurale’s smell brough separate notes of ripened apples and clean fresh minerals. I’m anticipating a serious level of acid and just a hint sweetness, basedon what I smell. Phenolic notes reminiscent of English funky ciders are all abundant. I can smell hay, leather, acorns, wild rice and smoky bacon. 

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

I was so wrong! This cider is completely dry!

Flavors and drinking experience: Umami, bay leaf, very high acidity, leather, funk

This cider is shocking! Everyone’s first impression was how very high the acid levels are, both with familiar malic acid and acetic acid notes. The cider makes for some serious saliva gland activation too! It’s leathery and wild. The Cidre Rural brings lots of tannins, very little sugar, and powerful funk. There’s a lot going on, yet this is surprisingly refreshing. 

After repeated sips, I get notes of Umami and savory herbs like bay leaf.  The cider was very good with strong salty foods. Because it’s powerful in multiple registers, it cuts through both creamy mouth coat and the fatigue of salty foods. 

We had this at our first real post-vaccination dinner party with friends. The meal was a lovely vegetarian lasagna made with faux beef crumbles, an exceptionally tasty salad and homemade bread. It was a fun pairing for a delightful meal and simply marvelous evening.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Cider Review: Urban Tree Cidery's Sweet Heat Haze

From spring flowers back to spring showers; that’s the refrain in my head. Some years it feels like we nearly skip over spring straight into early Summer, but this year our cool rainy days are interspersed with amazing blue-sky loveliness. Things are green and mild and springy, so I’m grateful. I may not be grilling veggies every week, but that season will come soon.

Today I’m reviewing Urban Tree Cidery’s Sweet Heat Haze. I chose this one to look ahead to summery days for canned ciders to be consumed outside. Urban Tree Cidery is a cider producer working in Atlanta, Georgia. The apples are grown in the mountainous region of the state. In the city, the cidery has a taproom and event space!

Urban Tree Cidery’s Harvest Apple appeared on the blog back in March: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/03/cider-review-urban-tree-hard-cider.html

Visit Urban Tree Hard Cider here to learn about all of the ciders: https://www.urbantreecidery.com/

Today’s review is the Sweet Heat Haze. This is a cider with ginger and habanero!

Here’s The Sweet Heat Haze's official description. 

Medium bodied and perfectly balanced between a refreshing sweet zest and a subtle robust zing.

- Double Gold 2019 Seattle Cider Awards

- Gold 2019 Great Lakes Cider & Perry Competition (GLINTCAP)

I love that the company includes the awards this cider has won! From the can, I can also see that the ABV is 6.5%.

Appearance: hazy, intense butterscotch color, few visible bubbles

The Sweet Heat Haze does  bring just a bit of haze with its nod towards opacity. The cider’s color is warm and intense; it reminds me of butterscotch. I see some bubbles in the glass but not many.

Aromas: spicy peppers, melon, mango, ginger, roasted apple, and honey

This cider not only smells spicy but sniffing it get one a distinct curling prickling sensation in the nose from the spice. There are also notes of melon, honey, ginger and roasted apple. I love the vibrancy of these smells.

Sweetness/Dryness: Sweet

This is a sweet cider, and with its other characteristics that’s necessary. Keep reading to find out more.

Flavors and drinking experience: ginger, zest, high acid, spicy finish

Readers, this cider is spicy, but it’s more than just spicy. The Sweet heat Haze brings high acidity, sweetness, spice and lots of fruity notes to create a powerful and balanced whole. I love how fruity the ginger notes are and how zesty ginger melds with the habanero. The Sweet Heat Haze develops its flavor over time, finishing with a very spicy kick at the finish. Something in the herby and fruity combination reminds me of sweet red peppers as well as ginger. Apple isn’t the point of this cider, but the interplay of flavors is fun and oh-so-drinkable.

I enjoyed this with a simple picnic style dinner of cut raw veggies, a few hummuses and some cheese. Nothing could be simpler, but it was a delicious series of pairings. Each veggie, cheese, and hummus had something to say with this balanced yet complex cider. Yum!