Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Cider Review: Stormalong's Wicked Little Wickson

Apologies for the late post this week. Things are just really ramping up in every possible direction around here! Harvest is starting for apple growers. Kids are going back to school. Bats are flying through my house at night. Our county is at its highest level of active COVID cases yet. You know, all that normal August stuff. But sarcasm aside, I was completely excited to get some review samples from Stormalong Cider last week. 

Stormalong is a Massachusetts based cidery that’s been around since 2014. It was founded by Shannon Edgar Sherborn. Since then, the company has created a wide range of ciders, including last year’s Rare Apple series. Of the recent releases, I’ve been particularly excited about Wicked little Wickson because Wickson Crabapples are consistently listed as apples used in my favorite ciders.

You can visit Stormalong online to learn about all the new releases and everything else that Stormalong has cooking: http://stormalong.com/.

I’ve reviewed a fair few of Stormalong’s ciders. Here’s the full list.

Winesap: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/04/cider-review-stormalong-ciders-winesap.html

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

Here’s Stormalong’s official description:

Cider aged in neutral oak barrels. It's dry yet bursting with fruit flavor and bright acidity with a hint of oak rounding out the flavor profile. Alcohol 6.8%

Appearance: intense popcorn yellow, transparent, few visible bubbles

The cider has an appealing popcorn yellow color. To me it looks transparent with few visible bubbles.

Aromas: melon, ripe apple, summer fruit, barrel, hint of volatile acidity

The Wicked Little Wickson smells like melons and summer fruits as well as ripe apples. I do get just a bit of volatile acidity. The aromas are tempting and vivid. There's also a low mellow note that reminds me of barrels.

Sweetness/dryness: off dry

This is a perfectly balanced off-dry cider. It’s not austere, but the Wicked Little Wickson’s flavors do not come from sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: herbal, green, high acid, medium tannins

The first thing I noticed is the strong contrast between the Wicked Little Wickson’s taste and smell. The cider smells fruity, but the taste has more excitingly complex dimensions. Yes, it tastes fruit, with notes of peach and overripe apple, but this cider brings so much more to the table. 

The Wicked Little Wickson tastes savory, herbal and green. It’s sappy, tart and strongly flavored. I am super into this!  I love this strong acid and medium tannins. The cider’s flavors come across as golden and lovely.

The complexity doesn’t stop there. I appreciate this cider’s strong bubble, medium body, and warming peppery finish. I enjoyed this cider with a new kind of potato chip I’ve never seen before. I tried them with a flavor called Syracuse Style; to me, the chips were a bit like all dressed chips. The snack was successful, and the cider matched the intensity of the chips well. Next time though I think I’ll have a Wicked Little Wickson with a creamy shrimp scampi with cherry tomatoes and fresh corn. 

Monday, August 23, 2021

Cider Review: Ontario Orchards' Traditional Hard Cider

Good morning, cider friends! Back to school is the main topic in my world these days, and that calls for a cider. I don’t even have any kids, so my heart goes out to all the parents dealing with back-to-school in a pandemic (again). It’s still a challenge as a university employee with a faculty spouse at another nearby college. We take breaks from meetings and emails, even this time of year, and cider can play a starring role in after-work treats. I’m happy to be reviewing a totally unexpected cider shared with me by dear friends. Thank you! 

Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on Ontario Orchards’ Traditional Hard Cider.  This is my first review of any thing by Ontario Orchards. This cidery is based in Oswego, New York. 

Visit them online here: https://ontarioorchards.com/

There’s not a ton of info about the cider, but I found this much, “A traditional hard cider made from our own apples and bottled for us by local winery, Bella Fattoria!” 8.2% ABV. 

I wish I knew what apples go into this!

I noticed the ABV when my friends showed me the bottle. Many hard ciders end up with an ABV of 6.9% or lower, so I was curious about what made this cider end up just a notch higher. It could be any number of things, but often they correlate to a particularly tasty beverage. It’s not that ABV inherently tastes any particular way, but ripe apples often have more sugar content. Sugar is what is transformed into alcohol by yeast. Please forgive all of this total oversimplification, friends, but it’s one reason to look at ABVs. 

Appearance: transparent, pale straw, no visible bubbles

This cider looks elegant and restrained. The Traditional Hard cider is transparent with a mild hue that looks like palest straw stems. I don’t see any bubbles, but that doesn’t mean its not sparkly.

Aromas: minerals, overripe apples, baking spices

Ontario Orchard’s cider smells of clean minerals and overripe apples. I’m reminded of sun-warmed apples sitting on a limestone fence. When I sniff again, I notice baking spice notes. Nothing is overwhelming, but these aromas are enough to whet my curiosity.

Dryness/sweetness:  semi-dry

This is a pleasingly semi-dry cider. It’s not austere, but neither is it bursting juicy. The flavors come from fermentation as well as the fresh juice. 

Flavors and drinking experience: bubbly, mellow, balanced, 

The Traditional Hard Cider by Ontario Orchards certainly brings all the fun of good strong bubbles even though I couldn’t see any bubbles in the poured glass. This cider comes across as mellow and beautifully balanced. We all enjoyed it so much. I was shocked that I’d never heard anyone singing its praises  before now. Oswego isn’t that far away. 

Something in this cider reminds me of the very few Quebecois ciders I’ve tried that use heat to concentrate the apple flavors. They are called fire ciders but they aren’t to be confused with the vinegar-based cold remedy that goes by the same name. It’s an intriguing set of flavors. 

We had the cider with savory shortbread biscuits, and this simple pairing was a perfect way to unwind after lots of busy brain time. I’ll highly recommend it to any one who has the chance to try it, and when I’m near Oswego, I’ll have to check out Ontario Orchards!

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Cider Review: Wayside Cider's Hunt the Fox


I don’t know what has changed, but my mind has turned to nesting. Maybe it's the darker golden evening light, the soft morning spider webs, or the impending school year. Something has made my homing instincts come out in full force. And to take advantage of this, I opened up a 750ml bottle of cider to share last night. This felt like a change from my frequent enjoyment of canned ciders. Perhaps this was just a moment of homebody feelings, but I sense cozy times with cider ahead.

That’s part of why I chose Wayside Cider's Hunt the Fox. The other reason is that folks from the company shared this for review with me months ago! 

I have one previous review of anything by Wayside Cider. Here’s the link to my review of the Underhill: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/03/cider-review-wayside-ciders-underhill.html

I recommend visiting Wayside Cider online here to learn more about the ciders and tap room:  http://www.waysidecider.com/.

Here’s how Wayside Cider describes Hunt the Fox.

A still, unfiltered, cider featuring a blend of Chisel Jersey, Golden Russett, and Dabinett amongst others from the Finger Lakes that was fermented using a Lithuanian Farmhouse yeast. With notes of citrus, spice and a long tannic finish, this is more akin to a wine than our typical ciders. 8.5% ABV.\

Appearance: intense color, warm harvest gold, transparent

This cider is lovely in the bottle and in a glass. The intense color reminds me of a bright harvest gold. (I may have Fall on the brain.) It’s transparent through most pours, but it gets a bit hazy near the end of the bottle.

Aromas: funky, lemon, orange peel, toasted bread crumbs

This cider smells citrusy and funky. I anticipate some Spanish-style cider vibes. The citrus notes remind me of lemon and orange peel. There are also plentiful notes of toasted bread crumbs and yeast.

Sweetness/Dryness: Dry

This is a bone dry cider. The Hunt the Fox has lots going on, but none of it is sweet.

Flavors and drinking experiences: almost petillant, tannic, funky, warming

I was surprised first by the mouthfeel of this cider. It’s barely still: almost petillant. I like sparkle in any amount. Then the cider’s extremely high astringence showed up. This is the main event. Hunt the Fox is very tannic; it almost seems like a barrel-aged cider with no barrel. 

Hunt the Fox is an austere and structured experience rather than a fruity one. It’s not a carefree cider to be quaffed quickly. Wayside Cider has created a thoughtful slow cider that fans of the style will want to ruminate over. I appreciate it’s almost petillance and the low in the mouth fullness. The cider is warming.  It reminded me of a large bell, tolling slowly.

I opened Wayside Cider’s Hunt the Fox with every intention of watching a scary movie, but it ended up being a cozy night of conversation instead. I wouldn’t change that for anything. As for pairing this cider, I’d go for a mushroom dish, perhaps risotto. Lean into a rich mouthfeel and lots of umami. I think this cider looks forward to Fall too.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Cider Review: 1911's Shandy Hard Cider

I’m recovering from the afternoon sun in my living room and listening to The Tall One record takes for a strange new song. It’s peaceful and summery; before this, I was in my garden harvesting cucumbers, chard, tomatoes, yellow squash and checking on the carrots. I’m sure that we’ve done something wrong such that the carrots are still exactly the size of one bite, but gardening is always seeing changes to make for next year. In the meantime, I found a supremely summery cider to review: 1911’s Shandy Hard Cider.

1911 is a cidery, distillery, and part of Beak and Skiff’s Orchard playground in Lafayette, New York. This Finger Lakes Staple is home to many exciting and innovative beverages as well as a full calendar of music and events. I'm happy to say that I can pick up cases of canned 1911 at multiple grocery stores in town, so it tends to be a cider I bring regularly to outdoor gatherings. 

I’ve reviewed a few 1911 Ciders  before; check out some earlier reviews for more background information on this cidery. Here’s the list!

Cranberry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/12/cider-review-1911-cranberry-cider.html

Rose: https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/02/cider-review-1911-rose-and-virtue.html

New England Style Hopped IPC: https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/09/cider-reviews-1911-hard-cider-new.html

Tropical: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/06/cider-cans-crush-it-1911-tropical-cider.html

Somerset Original Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/06/cider-review-beak-and-skiffs-1911.html

Founders’s Reserve Hopped: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/09/cider-review-1911s-founders-reserve.html

You can find out about all the ciders, spirits, and events at 1911’s Apple Campus online:  https://1911established.com/product-type/hard-cider/

Here’s the official description for 1911’s Shandy Hard Cider.

Shandy Hard Cider 6.5% ABV

Why should the beer drinkers have all the fun? Cider fans are just as deserving of some lemonade love! Grab a bikini, a towel, some screen, and a can, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for some fun in the sand!

1911 includes a sweetness scale from 1-6 and rates the Shandy a 4. 

Appearance: hazy, pale yellow, few visible bubbles

The Shandy looks pale and hazy. The color is gently lemony, but it’s not intense. There are just a few little bubbles that I can see, but I have a feeling the Shandy Hard Cider will have some fizzy action.

Aromas: lemon, spice, salt, just a hint of apple

1911’s Shandy Hard Cider smells salty and minerally. There are even more lemon and spicy notes to the aroma. There’s some apple, but its more in the background. These aromas are all about citrus.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-sweet

This is a tart and sweet cider, but the balance comes across as plausibly semi-sweet.

Flavors and drinking experience: lemonade, nectarine, high acid, full body

I picked up the Shandy Hard Cider hoping for a fun summery blast, and it totally is! 1911 has released a lemonade acid bomb that brings a party to each sip. Not only do I get a zesty lemon vibe, there are also notes of nectarines, peaches, and apples in supporting roles.

I appreciate the ciders’ ear and jaw curling salivary action. That’s the acid at work. I find the cider comes across as semisweet and tasty. As it’s a shandy, it’s very lemonade like and that totally works. 

This cider succeeds at being an easy summer charmer. I find it totally enjoyable with a buffalo faux-chicken burger and sautéed zucchini. You could also just pair it with barbeque chips and a lazy afternoon. 1911’s Shandy Hard Cider makes a fun and drinkable good time!

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Cider Review: Eve’s Cidery's Orchards and Pastures

I just got back from a trip to Michigan for GLINTCAP. It was lovely. I had such a good time volunteering, seeing friends, continuing to explore Grand Rapids, and tasting some seriously good cider. It's good to be home, even though I seriously enjoyed my first vacation since early February 2020. 

Check out the best-in-show results here: https://glintcap.org/

To soften the blow of coming back to real life though I had to enjoy a genuinely special cider. I chose Eve's Cidery's Orchards and Pastures. I'm a fan of this local cidery; check out earlier reviews to find out more about the background of this fascinating cidery and farm. 

Here is a full list of all of my reviews of cideries and perries by Eve's Cidery.

Kingston Black 2017 (my #4 cider of 2019): http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/08/cider-review-eves-cidery-kingston-black.html

Northern Spy: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/04/cider-review-eves-cidery-northern-spy.html

Autumn’s Gold: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/06/cider-review-eves-ciderys-autumns-gold.html

Beckhorn Hollow Dry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/10/cider-review-eves-ciderys-beckhorn.html

Albee Hill Still and Dry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/12/cider-review-eves-cidery-albee-hill.html

Perry Pear: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/05/very-perry-may-pt3-eves-cidery-wyders.html

Autumn took us on an Orchard Tour and picnic as part of Finger Lakes Cider Week in 2016: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/11/cider-event-twilight-walk-talk-and.html

Darling Creek (#2 cider of 2018): http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/11/thanksgiving-ciders-eves-ciderys.html

And http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/12/my-favourite-10-ciders-of-2018.html

Cider Con 2018: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/02/cider-con-2018-pt-1-eden-specialty.html


Eve’s Cidery has loads on information on the website: https://www.evescidery.com.

I couldn’t find much out about this cider online, so here's what I read from the label.

“Naturally sparkling dry cider grown on our farm and wild foraged. Native yeast fermentation. Tasting notes: sweet clover, farmyard, sourdough bread. This cuvee is a blend of every cider and perry we make this season, barrel fermented and aged on its lees for 9 months in the bottle. Dry, tannic, tart and funky, this cider makes the perfect companion for cheese. 8% ABV. Batch No. 2019.”

Appearance: hazy, intense harvest gold, mousse

This cider pours with a beautiful mousse and plentiful haze. I love its intense harvest gold color. It makes me think of fall which will be here so soon. Everything about this appearance is inviting. 

Aromas: softened apples, pears, leather, nuts

The Orchards and Pastures smells of softened apples, pears, nuts, and leather. I love how everything comes together in this cornucopia of warm and mellow scents. The barrel aging definitely comes through in the caramel and vanilla notes. I also get golden raisins which remain among my favorite scents in a cider. 

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

This cider has plenty of fruity aromas, but it tastes completely dry.

Flavors and drinking experience: funky, wild rice, dried apple, Meyer lemon

I love how everything I noted in the aromas comes through in the Orchards and pastures flavor, but they are transformed. The cider tastes dry and funky yet perfumed. I get notes of overripe oxidized dried apple, wild rice, Meyer lemon, and Seville orange. The cider is redolent of baking spices.

The mouthfeel leads with high tannins and astringency, but a balancing level of bracing acid. The body has heft and fullness, but it's very firm and nearly austere. This cider sparkles strongly, and I love it. 

Eve’s Cidery has created something special with this aged cuvee blend. I love how mature and fermented it smells and tastes. I shared this with friends in my living room. We paired it with sharp cheddar and good conversation. It was simple and perfect because the cider brings plenty of fascination all on its own.