Sunday, February 20, 2022

Cider Review: New York Cider Co.'s The Naturist

I’m shocked that it's taken me this long to review anything by New York Cider Co. My apologies, friends. New York Cider Company is a relatively new cidery based in Tompkins County, New York. This is my home turf, so I’ve been remiss here. I’ve tried a few by New York Cider Company, and I’ve found them consistently refreshing and interesting. 

Here’s how the cidery folks describe their approach to cider making. I’ll let their words speak for themselves.

Yet, we, at New York Cider Company, appreciate the simplicity of traditional cider craft. We believe that much of the art of cider making involves helping nature, the best artist, do the work itself. Often this means staying out of the way: Our apple trees, some more than 150 years old, are nurtured by little more than sun, rain, and maybe a sprinkle of compost. Our apples—whether we grow them ourselves, forage them from wild or abandoned trees we rescued near our farm in the New York Finger Lakes—are always interesting and picked at peak ripeness.

Similarly, our ciders are fermented naturally, without added yeast, whenever possible. “Wild” fermentations can be riskier; you never know how the natural yeasts will affect the final taste of a hard cider. To us, the rewards of wild fermentation are a worthwhile gamble. Each carboy, barrel, tank, or vat of cider truly takes on a life—and flavors—of its own. Yeast is alive, after all; each strain has a different personality. Each hard cider is a separate conversation. 

Blending is also key—and where the human touch can augment nature’s. We find that the sum is usually greater than the parts. Figuring out the tastiest combinations of separate fermentations, creating a beautiful, unified, refreshing drink, is fascinating and rewarding. It can be an art.

New York Cider Company’s artisanal approach extends to the way we bottle most of our ciders. Again, we like to let nature do the job—through bottle conditioning.  The sediment that remains at the bottom of the bottle is a testament to our artisanal approach.

You can visit New York Cider Co online here:

If you’re in the Ithaca area, you can try New York Cider Company ciders at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. That’s a wonderful way to get to know these very local, usually wild ciders. 

The Naturist was shared with me by Brian of Empire Haven who supplied the New York Cider Co. folks with these apples. He serves as director of an annual event Sentient Fest held at Empire Haven and is a seasonal family camper there.  Many thanks, Brian!

Here’s the official description for The Naturist.


Did you hear the one about the nudist and the cider maker? Neither had we. So, when a customer walked up to us at the Ithaca Farmers’ Market a few years ago and said we should check out the old apple trees at his nudist colony, we weren’t quick to respond. Then, in 2020, our own trees bore scant fruit, and we scurried. Thanks to the kind folk at Empire Haven Nudist Park in Moravia, NY, located on the remnants of a large pre-Prohibition seedling cider orchard, this story gets even better: We now introduce NATURIST, a bracingly tart, full-bodied blend of the distinctive apples we gathered there, plus two early American cultivars, Golden Russet and Rhode Island Greening. Celebrate freedom! Enjoy cool.

Alcohol 8.20%


Appearance: medium color intensity, warm straw, hazy

The cider has a gently pearly haze. The color is a classic warm straw color with medium intensity. 

Aromas: leather, overripe apples, green grapes, citrus and minerals

I'm charmed because The Naturist has so many delightful aromas! The Naturist smells like soft worn-in leather, overripe apple, green grape, citrus and minerals. Something about it is both salty and funky. 

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

The Naturist is an unapologetically dry cider. I appreciate how much is going on without any sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: hay, lime, bitter, high acid, bubbly

This cider has many scents, and its flavors are just as varied and enveloping. It tastes grassy; the cider reminds me of hay and green tea. The Naturist brings high acid with notes of lemon and lime. The whole cider is somehow both funky and fresh: dewy and bitter. The cider is alive with prickly bubbles and blocky tannins.

The Naturist is wonderfully bold; it takes the sipper on an experience. I appreciate that after the big adventures of flavor and texture, the cider ends cleanly with a pleasant aftertaste. Overall, it’s a wild interplay of austerity and citrus. I enjoyed it very much with a dinner of homemade fisher’s pie. The custardy base was rich enough to benefit from the cider’s high acidity. I’m glad it was a salty, creamy, rich dish and a zesty cutting cider. Not many pairings go better together. 

Monday, February 14, 2022

Guest Cider Review: Eve's Cidery's Butcher Hollow with Elizabeth

Hello! I’m not Meredith! Instead, I’m Elizabeth! Meredith was unable to clear time for all you lovely cider fans, and so asked me if I’d be willing to fill in for her, and of course I said yes. So hi. I’m a writer living a mile or two up the hill from Meredith in Ithaca. You can mostly find my work at, where I write about things that are very different from cider.

I’ve known Meredith since college, and was on the trip to England with her where she first fell in love with cider. You’ve seen me lurking around the edges of this blog, providing a few tasting notes here and there, and occasionally becoming the subject and occasion, such as when Meredith provided cider pairings for two of my elaborate birthday dinners: and

As those posts suggest, I’m a big lover of all things culinary. In my cooking, I strongly favor local and seasonal ingredients, and when it comes to cider my tastes are similar: I love the myriad of Finger Lakes cideries, and am members of several cider clubs in the region. It was through one of those that I got today’s cider, Butcher Hollow, from Eve’s Cidery, which Meredith has featured on the blog so many times before that I’ll just link her tag for it:

They’ve got a ton of information at their website at , including information on the cider club where I got this bottle.

The gorgeous label is described as “an abstract representation of the aura of the cider.” But it’s the back label that is truly striking, with the following simple and unsparing description of the cider:

“The apples for this cider were gathered on a single day in a single location of the Finger lakes National Forest, traditional lands of the Onödowága: where they tend productive, abundant orchards until the trees were destroyed in General Sullivan’s campaign of genocide in 1779. When the Indian orchards regrew from the roots, White Settlers made cider from them. This fraught and complicated history can still be read in the landscape today, through the story of wild apples.”

This stunningly direct account of indigenous genocide puts what initially seemed like a pretty standard bit of rural place naming in a cold new light. Thankfully, Eve’s Cidery is at the forefront of efforts to acknowledge this history and do what can be done to right these horrors through its involvement, along with Redbyrd Cidery, in newcomer Open Spaces Cidery’s biennial Reparations Packages, which offer a trio of limited and exclusive ciders to people who make an appropriate donation to organizations involved in providing farmland to BIPOC communities. You can find more information on that at, and, not to offer any spoilers, but I’ve definitely got a really interesting bottle from Open Spaces that came out of the last reparations package stashed away to bring to Meredith’s house soon, and I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about it.

The zine Eve’s sends out with its club shipments (and I cannot tell you how much that phrase delight me) gives a further sense of where these apples came from, describing a wagon wheel that had been placed around a tree, long since rotted away, leaving only a metal ring around the trunk. What a beautiful place, where such horrible things happened

The zine also gives more details of how the cider was made: it’s a wild ferment, with a secondary fermentation in the bottle, which was aged on the lees for nine months and disgorged. 

Appearance: Cloudy, yellow-amber, small tight bubbles. 

A cloudy cider, pale yellow with tones of warm gold that dominate once I took it away from the bright light I was photographing it with. 

Aroma: Apple juice, fruit forward, candied lemon, apricot, *intense* apples, like they’re just cut. Warm, inviting, some faint spice notes—nutmeg and cinnamon.

Our first impressions of the cider left us all convinced we were going to be terrible at this job as we all agreed that it was, well, appley. Eventually we managed to find our way towards notes like candied lemon, apricot, and some faint spice notes of nutmeg and cinnamon, but man, we sure appreciated how good Meredith is at this by the end of this section!

Sweetness/dryness: Dry, but, as Facebook would put it, “it’s complicated.”

This is a dry cider—the zine says “totally dry.” But it presents with almost a ghost of sweetness—flavor notes that you’d associate with sweetness but none of the actual sense of sugar. A little caramel early on, and some peach notes after the cider had a chance to open up a bit. I drank this while cooking a spicy chili, and the sips I had after spending a bunch of time tasting and adjusting it really brought that quasi-sweetness out.

Taste: Acidic but full-flavored. Pineapple, caramel, raspberry, hay, unripe plum, honeyed finish, almost a ghost of sweetness

A profoundly sharp, acidic cider, but with tremendous depth behind that. Clean and rich, but approachable. Eve’s recommends this as a cider for pairing with “roasted squash stuffed with walnuts, apples and cranberries,” and that captures its vibe well—a cider that tastes like being ushered into a warm home where a rich, flavorful winter’s dinner is waiting for you.

The emphatic acidity fades into softer, fruitier notes—pineapple and unripe plum soon after opening it, relaxing into peach and raspberry once it’s sat for a bit. The finish is honeyed and languid. The bubbles are small and soft, enough to add some zip to the mouthfeel but not enough to dominate the experience. 

This is a lovely, mature cider, comfortable and welcoming, and everything I want from the Finger Lakes It’s a perfect one to open with some friends on a quiet evening away from the cold, and left me thinking fondly of the next time I’ll get to sit on Meredith’s couch providing a few tasting notes instead of doing this whole thing myself.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Cider Review: Stormalong Cider's White Mountain Magic

This past week, we were blanketed in a generous 14-16 inches of snow over the course of a day and a half. I took a day off because snow days barely happen in the world of college campuses and working from home. And once I’d shoveled sidewalks, I made the day an easy one and a cozy one with a cider that reminded me of the season outside. Today, I’m happy to share my notes on Stormalong Cider’s White Mountain Magic.

If you aren’t familiar with Stormalong Cider, it's a Massachusetts-based cidery founded in 2014. Shannon Edgar started this very geographically oriented cidery. Stormalong is all about local apples, local ingredients, and local cider history. I’m extra excited to try this one because I have so many happy memories of visiting Hanover, New Hampshire near those aforementioned White Mountains, plus nothing is better for winter than a little maple.

I recommend learning about Stormalong Cider online on the official website:

Here are all of my Stormalong reviews from over the years! They’ve added up.

Bittersweet Symphonie:

Wicked Little Wickson:


Happy Holidays:

Esopus Spitzenburg:

Ashmead’s Kernel:


Legendary Dry:

Kingston Black:

Light of the Sun:

Mass Appeal:

Boston Heirloom: 

Here’s how Stormalong describes the White Mountain Magic.

Our new winter seasonal unfiltered cider, featuring a blend of spices, a hint of New Hampshire maple syrup from Patch Orchards and fresh pressed apples from New Hampshire-based Lull Farm and Alyson's Orchard. This cider has a delicious farmstand apple cider flavor combined with a freshly baked goods vibe. It is savory, yet crisp.

Alcohol 5.20%

Appearance: deep maple brown, cloudy, few visible bubbles

Whoa. This cider looks more like maple syrup than most cider! The color is deep warm maple brown. I don’t see much in the way of bubbles. The cider is also quite cloudy.

Aromas: ripe apples, spicy,maple

The White Mountain Magic smells freshly appley and just a little spicy. The aromas include herb and tea like notes, but the biggest impression beyond apple has to be the maple.

Sweetness/Dryness: sweet

This cider is sweet but with lots more going on in addition to sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: spice, maple, cinnamon, tea like

I love how the subtle baking spice is more intense in flavor than aroma. I can still not get enough pie spices in my life. I can definitely taste maple and dandelion but I don't know how to identify chicory as a flavor. The White Mountain Magic charms me with it’s big but more rounded (as opposed to pointed) acidity and dusty minerals. It's subtly cinnamon-like while remaining vibrantly juicy. 

The White Mountain Magic pleases me so much with it’s medium intense bubble and full body. This cider is very fun. The cider tastes leafy, earthy, and tea-like but not green or astringent. It reminds me of mulled cider but not as intensely as if it were actually mulled with brown sugar and spices. 

I like White Mountain Magic tremendously, and it makes a good companion on a snowy night. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Cider Review: Dutton Cider Co.'s Carbonated Hard Apple Cider

Today, I’m writing as I watch my cat Thistle wash her paw in the bright winter sunlight. It’s not warm, but I’m so happy to see the sun, even if I appreciate it from indoors. Many of my cider friends are traveling to (or already at) Virginia for CiderCon right now. I hope they’ll have safe trips and wonderful times at the conference; the program certainly looks amazing! 

If you want to read more about this sold-out event, check out the American Cider Association’s website:

Just because I’m staying home this year, doesn’t mean I’m not still thinking about and loving cider. I’m trying another new-to-me cidery this week: Dutton Cider Co.. I’m pairing a Dutton Cider Co.’s  Carbonated Hard Apple Cider with Penzey’s Smoky 4S and the start of Home Fires Season 2. I may not be having the most exciting winter on record, but I’ve got cozy all figured out. My thanks to Dutton Cider Co for sending me samples for review.

Here’s what I was able to find out about Sonoma County’s Dutton Cider. 

THE MAKERS Dutton Ranch farms 200 acres of CCOF certified organic apples in addition to 1200 acres of vineyards in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. Joe and Tracy Dutton founded Dutton Estate Winery in 1995 and grew up farming apples alongside vineyards. Their combined multi- generational family history inspires the crafting of hard apple cider.

You can learn more about Dutton Estates from the website:

Here’s a bit more information from the cidery about the apples and cider making.


The blending of the beloved local heirloom Gravenstein variety with Golden Delicious fashions the perfect cider... fruit-forward, like biting into fresh apples, with a touch of tartness and sweetness.


"Cold” is the secret to our cider. Cold pressing, cold settling, cold fermenting, and cold storage ensure that crisp apple flavors are retained and acidity is smooth and bright.

This cider has an ABV of 7.4%

Appearance: brilliant, shining, cool toned gold, tiny bubbles  

This is a very pretty cider; it seems a shame to hide it in a can! I poured mine into a rocks glass so I could appreciate its brilliant shine and almost cold-toned gold. I barely know how to describe the color; it’s mature yellow with a memory of green like wheat tips. I can see just a few tiny visible bubbles.

Aromas: golden raisins, overripe apples, minerals 

Ooh! This cider has some fabulous power in its aromas. The cider smells like overripe apples; the notes are concentrated like golden raisins. I also get a vibrant base of minerals. 

Sweetness/Dryness: Sweet

This is a sweet to semi-sweet cider. The sweetness is balanced by both bitterness and acidity, but it's definitely integral to the cider.

Flavors and drinking experiences: sweet, green apple, bitter, mineral finish

Dutton Cider Co.'s Carbonated Hard Apple Cider starts with a splash of bright magic acid that makes me think of green apples. The minerals are a bit sharp and the acid feels angular in my mouth. The cider isn’t funky, but it’s profile is different from most high acid and sweet ciders. Perhaps it’s that this cider is also tannic and bitter, but I’m not entirely sure yet. 

What an interesting cider. I like how Dutton’s Cider has notes of Maple with a bit of bitterness that fills out the tasting experience. For a sweet cider I was surprised by the minerality of the finish. My co-tasters disagreed about the mouthfeel: hearty vs light. I can understand the divide. Tannic ciders and sweeter ciders can feel full but acidic cider with strong bubbles feel light. This cider is all of those things.

Overall, Dutton’s cider comes across as wonderfully interesting; it's a clean polished cider that definitely has winemakers' roots. It makes for a quite nice pairing with popcorn and excellent TV.