Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Cider Review: Eden Cider's Oliver's Twist Foxwhelp Cider

Happy snowy morning to everyone who’s celebrating! And good luck to those who don’t feel ready for it yet. We’ve been a little bit snowy here since just a few days before Thanksgiving, so it’s feeling tremendously appropriate. Tis the season to get cosy.  I’m starting to think about creating my yearly Favorite 10 ciders of the year list. If you want to see what that’s all about, here’s last year’s:


It's too soon to know what will make the cut this year, but I do like to guarantee that it will be a difficult decision by pulling out some extra special things in November and December. That was my thinking  when I reached for Eden Cider’s Oliver’s Twist. 

Eden Cider comes to us from northern Vermont. I’ve reviewed many things by Eden Ciders and much more background on this apple-centric cidery appears in earlier reviews. Here’s the full list. 

Brut Rose: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/07/cider-review-eden-ciders-brut-rose.html

Benjamin: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/06/cider-review-eden-ciders-benjamin-and.html

Deep Cut: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/08/cider-review-eden-specialty-ciders-deep.html

Peak Bloom: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/09/cider-review-eden-ciders-peak-bloom-and.html

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

Extra Sec: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/03/cider-review-angry-orchard-super.html

Eden Heritage Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/06/cider-cans-crush-it-eden-heritage-and.html

Siren Song: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/12/cider-review-eden-ciders-siren-song-and.html

Brut Nature: https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/02/cider-con-2018-pt-1-eden-specialty.html

Imperial 11 Degree Rose: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/03/the-january-2017-cidrbox-and-edens.html

Sparkling Dry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/06/cider-review-eden-sparkling-dry-cider.html

The Sparkling Dry supported my Thanksgiving & Birthday celebrations in 2016: 



You can also visit Eden Cidery online to learn about the current lineup for harvest ciders, aperitifs, and ice ciders: https://www.edenciders.com/

I chose Oliver’s Twist as part of my Thanksgiving holiday. I have a lot of hope that the tannins and acidity that I anticipate will work wonders for a rich and salty feast.

Here’s how the cider is described on the bottle.

On a visit to Herefordshire, Tom Oliver treated us to a mind-blowing taste from a five year-old barrel of cider made from Foxwhelp apples. A classic bittersharp variety, the power of its acidity after years of adversity testified to its strength of character and sunny personality. Our single variety cider is made from 100% Foxwhelp apples grown at Poverty Lane Orchards. Bright and drinkable now, we suggest putting a few bottles in your cellar. Over time it may become as mellow and friendly as Tom himself. 7.5% ABV Batch: 2018 

Appearance: warm apricot, hazy, only slightly bubbly

Consider me intrigued. Oliver’s Twist looks hazy and warm. The color reminds me of dried apricots. I can see just a handful of bubbles when I look closely. 

Aromas: minerals, citrus, ripe apple

This cider smells like lemons, ripe apples, and crushed rocks. I’m definitely anticipating both acidity and tannins based on these aromas.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

This is a dry cider that delivers in every facet. If you expect sweetness, you won’t find it. You will find everything else.

Flavors and drinking experience: sharply tart, tannic, funky, and tropical

I love a tart cider that’s practically bouncing with sharp yet not abrasive acid. Oliver’s Twist fits that description perfectly. This cider is awesomely acidic and terrifically tannic. I love that the cider can work both of those angles with intensity.

Oliver’s Twist helps keep that balance by bringing lots of bubbles and citrus zing. I love how very lemony the cider tastes. It is mildly funky but not dirty. The wildness reminds me of savory herbs. The most surprising element in the whole experience is how Oliver’s Twist leaves my palate with a tropical fruit finish. It was citrus, tannins, and bubbles up until the very end and then the pineapple and star fruit arrived! 

I saved this bottle for a special meal: cranberry and hazelnut veggie roast, balsamic Brussels sprouts, cider dressing, mashed potatoes, spicy Delicata squash, cranberry relish, rolls and gravy. I needed a cider exactly like this: exciting, zesty, dry, bubbly and super flavorful. My meal was rich, salty, spicy, sweet, with just a little bit of tart. I needed to bring sour but not solely sour to the table. Oliver’s Twist managed to have body, bubbles, complexity and plenty of sour tartness to enliven each aspect of the meal. It was a treat, and I’m glad I opened it when I did. 

What delightful ciders have you been saving in your cellar? Now would be a great time to re-acquaint yourself with them! 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Cider Review: Haykin Family Cider's Reserve Niedzwetzkyana

Last Friday, I looked out my office window to see bright golden afternoon sunshine, an and by the time I made it to the front door, a snow squall was blowing through. We’ve entered the shifting and sporadic path to Winter. We’re not there yet, but it’s on the horizon. Though we cannot hibernate properly, I’m looking forward to some human hibernation-imitating activities. One of my favorites is holing up at home with dear ones, dear pets, a good meal and a good cider. Preferably followed by a movie. This past Saturday, I got to do exactly that. 

Woody chose Haykin Family Cider's Reserve Niedzwetzkyana for us. The vivid red color and the unfamiliar name were intriguing, and everyone in my house has loads of respect for everything Haykin Family Cider puts out. It’s a Colorado based cidery and family business, making truly exciting ciders that win loads of awards. 

2018 Method Ancestrale Ela Family Farms Cuvee: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/09/cider-review-haykin-family-ciders-2018.html

Harrow Pear: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/06/perry-reviews-haykin-family-ciders.html

I recommend visiting the cidery website to learn more: https://www.haykinfamilycider.com/.

Today I’m sharing my notes on Haykin Family Cider’s Reserve Niedzwetzkyana. This cider is a  single-varietal from Niedzwetzkyana apples with 8.1% ABV. HEre’s the official description

Niedzwetzkyana is an ancient apple - originating from Central Asia, near the birthplace of all apples. One of the earliest red-flesh apples to exist, both the flesh and core are a striking shade of crimson. This highly aromatic drink leads with fresh, bright acidity followed by tart cherries, cranberries, light baking spices, chalky minerality and a soft, tannic finish. 100% Niedzwetzkyana apples grown by CiderView Orchards. This cider is dry.

Appearance: pink mousse, deep ruby color, visible bubbles

Wow! This cider looks a stunner! It pours with a tall pink mousse—lots of foam that dissipates. I’ve almost never seen such a thing. The  Reserve Niedzwetzkyana is beautifully and completely deep ruby red, like the inside of a ripe strawberry in color. I can see plenty of bubbles as well. I’m so glad that Haykin Family Cider uses clear glass for this bottle. This cider deserves to be seen!

Aromas: minerals, dried fruit, autumn leaves, baking spices

The  Reserve Niedzwetzkyana smells minerally with strong presences of dried fruit, autumn leaves, tea, and spices.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

This cider is bone dry. You could use this cider as an emblematic example of a fully dry cider.

Flavors and drinking experience: tannic, brightly high acid, floral, cherry, bold

I am in awe. This cider is bold and different and delicious. At first, the Reserve Niedzwetzkyana tastes deep and low: a pow of tannins hits immediately. Then I start to perceive acids—strong, bright acids. I can taste sour cherry notes, but nothing about the cider is sweet. The overall impression I get is intensity that holds together well. The cider tastes Floral but bold, like bark more than like petals. This breaks all expectations of a rosé cider; nothing is pastel or gentle here. The cider is red and assertive, turned up to 11 but all-natural and balanced by fiat. I adore how adventurous it tastes; this is an everything-forward cider. And it’s delicious.

The Reserve Niedzwetzkyana brings an angular mouthfeel, medium viscosity and a high level of sparkle to the drinking experience. This is a cider to savor with something strong an creamy like a soft cheese with some funk and good sturdy wheat crackers. 

What a treat!

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Cider Review: South Hill Cider's Sunlight Transformed

As we get closer and closer to Thanksgiving, I want to mention how grateful I am for my friends. I’m grateful for so many things, but friends make every part of life better. Without them, I certainly couldn’t run this blog, but there are so many things that wouldn’t be the same without the shared knowledge, experience, and support of good friends. And dear friends saved this very special cider to share with me.

South Hill Cider has to be one of my local favorites. Founder Steve Selin helps to anchor the Finger Lakes cider scene with a beautiful lineup of ciders and a full calendar of events that keep the cidery hopping. If you’re curious about South Hill Cider and don’t live locally, South Hill has a cider club! 

Here’s how South Hill introduces the cidery’s home orchard.


Our home orchard started out as a collaboration with an adjoining landowner who permitted us to plow his fallow fields and to plant it to apple trees. This land, being only 4 miles from downtown Ithaca, is under intense development pressure. So, in an effort to protect it from subdivision and development in perpetuity, we successfully have it protected by a conservation easement. We have never applied synthetic chemicals to the farm and use only organic certified inputs.

Here’s the rundown of all of my earlier reviews for South Hill Ciders.  

Packbasket 15’: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/01/cider-review-south-hill-ciders.html

South Hill Cider’s Tasting Room: 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, the 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

I recommend visiting the South Hill cider website to learn all about the cidery, the ciders, and fun upcoming events: https://www.southhillcider.com/

Today’s review is the super-limited club selection: Sunlight Transformed. One of my dear friends is a member of South Hill’s club, and she held it back for a few weeks until we could get together to enjoy a special cider with snacks.

Here’s the description, 

      Sunlight Transformed

      ABV 7.8%

      This co-ferment is a blend of Dabinett apples and Cab Franc grape skins. The grape skins were from        Bloomer Creek in Hector and the apples from Bob Norris in Wolcott. After the grapes were pressed        we added them to some fresh pressed Dabinett juice. The result is a rich and textured pet-nat with a        lot of natural pectin. The artwork is by Erika Medina, a neighbor who shares a fascination of fruit,           cycles, and nature. Tasting notes: clove, nutmeg, watermelon, rich, full-bodied, earthy, sweet                  tobacco, cola, negroni

And for a little bit of background, I want to link to a definition of petillant naturel: https://www.foodandwine.com/wine/what-exactly-is-a-pet-nat

There aren’t that many Petillant Naturel ciders for sale, relative to the size of the cider market, which makes finding each one extra exciting! Let’s see how this wild and bubbly cider tastes.

Appearance: cloudy, mulberry, bubbles

This cider looks unlike any other I’ve seen. It’s extremely cloudy and a deep mulberry color. There are just a few visible bubbles at the rim of the glass. There could be more bubbles deep in the glass, but the cider is so dark and opaque it’s hard to tell.

Aromas: malt, cinnamon, grape, baking spice, VA

The wildness of this cider is the first impression it gives. Sunlight Transformed flowers with just a little bit of volatile acidity. Other prominent notes include malt, overripe apples, cinnamon, grape, and baking spices. It’s funky and not necessarily in a familiar way. The cider doesn’t smell just like a spanish-style funky cider or a UK funky cider. Sunlight Transformed smells fresh, fruity, and tangy.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

This cider has almost more flavors than can be counted or identified, but none of them come from perceivable sweetness. It's difficult to know how much sugar is chemically present because the acidity and bitterness complicate tasting any sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: bitter, rich, fruity, funky, tannic

Sunlight Transformed cast a spell over everyone gathered at our table. We loved its bitterness, richness, and complexity. This cider is fascinating! Waves of fruit and velvety tannins and high acidity just wash over the palate. It brings spices, full body, and complexity. The funkiness that I sensed in the cider’s aromas are mellow in its flavors. There are so many flavors!

Sunlight Transformed is off the charts good! I think it's the combination of intense apple and grape fruitiness with bracing bitterness. 

Monday, November 8, 2021

Cider Review: Black Diamond Farm and Redbyrd Orchard Cider's Black is Gold

It has been far too long since I’ve gotten to share anything by Redbyrd Orchard Cider, and even Black Diamond Cider hasn’t graced the blog recently enough. I was thrilled to learn of their first annual collaboration: Black is Gold. 

Black Diamond Farm and Redbyrd Orchard Cider both anchor the Finger Lakes cider scene; they are each based nearest to Trumansburg, New York. You can find plenty of introductory info on both orchards and cideries in earlier entries. I encourage you to go back and check them out. Both of these ciders are special endeavors that produce delicious ciders. 

Here’s my list of Redbyrd Orchard Cider reviews:

Celeste Sur Lie 2015: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/10/redbyrd-orchard-ciders-celeste-sur-lie.html

The Andromeda Crab: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/01/cider-review-redbyrd-orchard-ciders.html

Their presence at an all FLX pairing dinner: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/09/finger-lakes-cider-week-and-birthday.html

The North Star: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/01/cider-review-redbyrd-orchard-ciders.html

The Starblossom: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/10/finger-lakes-cider-week-special-review.html

The Dry Harvest Cider 2013: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/12/cider-review-reddbyrd-2013-harvest-cider.html

The Wild Pippin (my #1 cider of 2014, the Wild Pippin): http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/12/cider-review-redbyrd-orchard-ciders.html

Visit Redbyrd Orchard Cider online here: https://redbyrdorchardcider.com/

And the full rundown of Black Diamond Cider Reviews:

Black Diamond Cider's 2018 Rosé: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/09/cider-review-eden-ciders-peak-bloom-and.html

Shin Hollow: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/08/cider-review-mountain-west-ciders-sweet.html

Jaywalker: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/03/cider-review-alpenfires-dungeness-and.html

Geneva Tremlett’s: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/03/cider-review-black-diamonds-geneva.html

Somerset Jersey: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/05/very-perry-may-with-vandermills-ice-ice.html

Slatestone: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/11/cider-reviews-big-hill-ciderworks.html

Hickster: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/12/cider-review-black-diamond-ciders.html

Porter’s Pommeau: https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/09/finger-lakes-cider-week-and-birthday.html

Solstice: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/08/cider-review-black-diamonds-solstice.html

Rabblerouser: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/09/cider-review-black-diamonds.html

Learn more about Black Diamond Cidery online here: https://www.blackdiamondcider.com/

The B I G Project: A Collaboration Cider is called Black is Gold. Here’s how the label describes the cider.

Black is Gold

Semi-dry Carbonated Cider

The B I G Project: An Annual Collaboration from Black Diamond Farm and Redbyrd Orchard

Made with love and care in support of the fight for racial equity and justice

The first year a blend of Goldrush, Tremlett’s Bitter, Wickson Crab, Harrison, Dabinett, Roxbury Russet, Black Oxford, Suncrisp, Razor Russet.

8.0% Alc/vol 750ml 

Appearance: shining gold, brilliant, few visible bubbles

This cider looks warm, shining, and totally brilliant. The color is a toasty gold. I can see some bubbles; they are very active and tiny. What instant appeal!

Aromas: lemon, baked apple, peach, breadcrumbs, minerals

It was fun picking out aroma notes in the Black is Gold. I noticed lemon, bread crumbs and minerality. One of my co-tasters zeroed in on the baked apple and ripe peach notes. The cider smells cleanly inviting and fruit but complex.

Dryness/sweetness: Semi-dry

The Black is Gold tastes semi-dry: exactly as the label said it would. I get enough sweetness to open up the layers of flavor and fruit but not more than that. The sweetness isn’t distracting at all.

Flavors and drinking experience: bubbly, tannic, high acid, tropical fruit, citrus, balanced

This cider! Oh my goodness, I love this. The Black is Gold blooms into a full lush experience centering on tropical fruit, sweet citrus, and juicy acidity. The cider is delightfully bubbly too. The  tannic presence helps to anchor the cider, maintaining a sophisticated sense of balance.

What a complete delight! The tropical fruit notes keep me coming back for more sips, and the ciders lovely clean finish just keeps making me smile.  I’m really digging this collaboration. The Black is Gold brings everything I enjoy to the experience: tart clean citrus, awesome bubbles, structural tannins, and enjoy fruit to keep everything fun and lively. 

We paired the cider with pasta, marinara sauce, and homemade veggie meatballs. Having all of the lightness from the bubbles and cutting acidity made for a remarkably good pairing. This cider is something special!

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Cider Review: Wild State's Triple Berry

I always greet November with both sighs and smiles. No upcoming holiday can hold a candle to Halloween and all the spooky fun it entails, plus this is frequently the month when the weather around here goes from being cute and quaint to rather more glum. To the contrary, November is my birthday month. This year is a big one. And pairing ciders for the Thanksgiving holiday feast is always a treat, but it’s still a bit early to get excited for that. 

Today’s cider is my second sip from Wild State cider. I chose it to go with my last Halloween hurrah: a double-feature of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and "Snoop and Martha's Very Tasty Halloween." We stayed in, hoping for trick-or-treaters, but alas we got none. Still, we enjoyed some candy, and I wanted a fruity cider as accompaniment. Voila!

I started with the Semi-dry recently. You’ll find more background info on the company there: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/10/cider-review-wild-state-ciders-semi-dry.html

You can also visit Wild State online and learn lots more there: https://www.wildstatecider.com/ciders

Here’s what Wild State says about the Triple Berry.

“This blend of fresh locally sourced berries is the ultimate in refreshing, sunny drinks. A perfectly balanced fruit forward semi-dry to sip all summer and beyond

Triple Berry was crafted with fresh blueberries and raspberries from Blue Vista Farm in Bayfield, WI and strawberries from Uffda Organics in Wrenshall, MN.”

The cider is listed at 6.3% ABV and does not describe what apples go into this blend. 

Appearance: brilliant, watermelon pink, few visible bubbles 

This is such a fun color. I love how the Triple berry looks fresh, ripe and fun.the color reminds me of watermelon. I wish I was taking the pictures with natural light, but drinking cider at 7pm these days is just dark! The cider is brilliant with very few visible bubbles. 

Aromas: ripe apple, raspberry, and strawberry

The Triple Berry smells like ripe apple, raspberry and strawberry. I appreciate how strong the berry notes are. What I’m getting makes me think of the fresh soft texture of berries.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

While the Triple Berry is semi dry rather than semi-sweet, it is on the sweeter and fruitier side of semi-dry. The sweetness that’s here comes across as very jammy berry sweetness. 

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, blueberry, lots of fruit, low bubble, tannic

The Triple Berry cider brings high acid as a first taste impression. I also notice how the cider’s crisp and tannic qualities are pleasantly contrasted by just a bit of jammy sweetness. The whole package is fun! In terms of texture the cider sparkles at a medium low level and has medium mouthfeel. 

I tried it from my glass and from the can to see what would change. I can taste more blueberry notes from the can whereas raspberry and strawberry dominate from the glass. The cider makes a great pairing with milk chocolate candy like: Cookies and Cream Twix, Peanut Brownie Snickers, and Miniature Reese’s Cups. While these are not foods I pair with cider regularly, I appreciate having something light, tarty and fruity with the creamy mildness of milk chocolate.