Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Cider Review: Ironbound Hard Cider Original Plus Full GLINTCAP results!

I’ve gone from needing sweatshirts in the evening once the sun goes down to hiding from the heat in less than a week. Thankfully, the ninety degree days will be over for a bit by the time this post goes live. I hate to complain about the weather, but I find how I feel about the world outside shapes my days as much as anything else. And the weather certainly helps me choose my ciders. 

Ironbound Hard Cider’s Original called to me for a warm evening this weekend. The cider promised crispness and looked quite sessionable at just over 5% ABV, so I thought it would be perfect for a cool evening rewatching Death Becomes Her for the first time in 20 years with the tall one. 

Here’s what I found on the website that describes Ironbound Hard Cider, the farm, and the priorities of the company.

Ironbound Farm — home of Ironbound Hard Cider and New Ark Farms - was founded on the belief that businesses must take responsibility for the impact they have on the social, economic, and ecological well-being of their communities. To that end, we fully embrace the beauty, abundance, and diversity of the Garden State through our regenerative farming practices and hard cider production. In doing so, we’ve created a unique business model that fosters resiliency and viability for our network of growers, food producers, and customers.

I also want to quote this answer to a question, on the FAQ page just because it's so fascinating! 

You may have noticed from time to time that the Ironbound you are enjoying today doesn’t taste exactly the same as the Ironbound you had last week. That is because our ciders are made from 100% fresh-pressed local apples, which vary in flavor from harvest to harvest and farm to farm— making each batch of our cider unique. So, if your Ironbound tastes slightly drier, a little funkier, or more complex, take this as our freshness guarantee! And, because we use absolutely ZERO preservatives, we recommend enjoying Ironbound cider by the “best before” date on the bottom of each package.

Visit Ironbound Hard Cider online and learn more: https://www.ironboundhardcider.com/

This is what the cidery says about the Original.


5.2% alc/vol


A sessional dry cider made from a blend of bittersweet and sweet, local fresh-pressed apples.

Appearance: brilliant, bright dandelion yellow, lots of tiny bubbles clinging to the glass

This cider is lovely to see. It’s got gorgeous clarity. A smattering of the finest bubbles lined the glass. The color reminds me of all the dandelions in my yard.  

Aromas: Grape, powdered sugar, sour green apple 

The Original smells instantly of green grape, powdered sugar, with a bit of sour green apple and a tickle to the nose. I get the slightly funky vibe, but not more than a small suggestion of funk.

Sweetness/dryness: Off-dry

I think the cider comes across just a touch drier than it might be by the numbers because it has multiple registers of acid and tartness activated, but it tastes off-dry.

Flavors and Drinking Experience: strong fizz, low tannins, grape skin, sessionable

My first impression of the Original is one of dessert apples and grapes. There’s something low, bassy, and wet about the cider. It offers strong bubble, medium acidity, and low but present tannins. I do want to mention that the acid doesn’t feel sharp and one dimensional. There’s a whole play of tart, crisp, and acid notes going on here.

I appreciate how the cider tastes off dry; the tannins of the grape skin notes play interestingly with how wet and full the mouthfeel is. The Original finishes cleanly but with a whiff of freshly ground cornmeal. The very mild funk on the nose does not come through in the flavor, which is clean, balanced, and sessionable. The whole cider experience feels refreshing. It was perfect for a warm evening and a campy movie!

And now I want to share links to this year’s GLINTCAP results. I only wish I could have been there to help judge this year. It sounds like a wonderful time was had!

This link will take you to the full results right on the front page: https://glintcap.org/

Monday, May 23, 2022

Cider Review: Angry Orchard's Baldwin Traditional Method, plus GLINTCAP results!

As I write, I’m smelling a Strawberry Rhubarb pie baking in the oven. The smells of buttery crust and spring fruit are making  my mouth water. That’s what led me to share this set of cider notes for today. I think Angry Orchard’s Baldwin Traditional Method would be the perfect cider to pair with the dessert that’s coming. When I poured this, it was shared with good friends and a pleasing dessert as well.

This is my first Angry Orchard review in a while! I’ve not had access to many new ciders of theirs, but some friends at the Walden, New York Research and Development cider house shared this with me. So many thanks!

I have plenty of earlier Angry Orchard reviews, too many to list them all. Here are a few highlights though.

Understood in Motion 2: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/02/cider-review-critz-farms-double-vision.html

Understood in Motion 3: this collaboration with Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider (this was my #6 cider of 2018): http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/08/cider-review-angry-orchard-ciders.html

Wooden Sleeper: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/12/cider-review-angry-orchards-wooden.html

Spiced Apple: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/03/cider-review-angry-orchards-spiced-apple.html

Pear: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-review-of-greenwood.html

Rosé: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/03/cider-review-angry-orchard-rose-and.html

Walden: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/09/cider-review-angry-orchards-walden.html

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

As always I recommend going to the cidery website to learn more about what Angry Orchard is up to: https://www.angryorchard.com/

There’s not a ton of available information about this cider online, but here’s what I know.

The Baldwin Traditional Method is a single-variety cider made with New York state Baldwin apples and finished in the traditional method. That means it’s twice fermented, with the second fermentation occurring in the bottle. The cider’s ABV is 8.7 which classifies it as an apple wine (legally). The cider was bottled in 2018 and disgorged three years later in June of 2021. That’s a lot of resting time in addition to the second fermentation! 

Appearance: hazy, lemon flesh, bubbly

The cider reminds me of lemon curd as I see it in the glass. The color is very much like the flesh of fresh lemons with a creamy haziness that makes me think of lemon curd. The Baldwin has a mousse of bubbles when first poured that has me very excited about the second in-the-bottle fermentation. 

Aromas: apple flesh, cinnamon, powdered sugar, honey, lemon

Tantalizing is the only word for this. The Baldwin Traditional Method smells vividly like crisp white apple flesh with a bit of cinnamon. I get secondary notes of powdered sugar, honey, and lemon.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry but fruity

Some folks say that Angry Orchard will not release a truly dry cider, but they are wrong. Lots of the limited releases from the Walden facility are completely dry and get their flavors from other elements, and the Baldwin Traditional Method is one of them. It’s a fruity, citrusy cider, but not a sweet one.

Flavors and drinking experience: lemon, bitter, clean, high acid, and super bubbly

The Baldwin is pleasing to me in a key regard that isn’t often satisfied. This cider has tons and tons of tiny zesty fun bubbles! The first strong flavor that the cider delivers is lemon, with immediate bitter notes (but not tannins). They fade fast and give way to a clean dry body. The cider is lean! From there,  it performs a clean finish that fades evenly with high acid.

The whole drinking experience is solidly pleasurable. It manages to dodge some of the bumpiness and lack of balance that can occur in a single varietal cider. I love a dry, super bubbly cider with dessert. That’s how I tasted this one, and I recommend that pairing to emphasize the textures and clean flavors of this cider. I’d pour it again tonight with my strawberry-rhubarb pie, that’s for certain!

And in the most exciting news, we have Best-in-Class results from GLINTCAP!

Check them out here: https://glintcap.org/

Full medal results will be coming closer to the end of the month.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Cider Review Open Spaces Cider's Early and Wild

Friends and family sometimes share ciders with me, and I always appreciate it. When they share ciders that are hard to come by or unusual in some way, I treasure the kindness all the more. Recently, some dear friends came over and brought this cider for sharing. I made my first veggie pot-pie, so we’d have something for pairing. My friends shared Open Spaces Cider’s Early and Wild with me, and I’m so grateful.

Here’s how Open Spaces Cider introduces the project, “Open Spaces Cider is a tiny, art-driven project foraged and fermented by a willing group of collaborators, focused on access to the bounty of public and marginal lands. OSC is made in service of reparations and reconciliation for stolen land and lives, with an agricultural and access focus.”

Open Spaces Cider is based out of the finger lakes region of New York and makes a point to start by acknowledging that the land that grows apples for the cider is Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ land. If you’d like to learn more about the indigenous people of this area, I think this is a good start: https://cayuganation-nsn.gov/tribal-history.html.

The partner collaborators are listed as: Melissa Madden, Rachel Freier, Pete Messner, and Jenn Smith. There are additional collaborators including other Finger Lakes Cideries, artists, and non-profit organizations. 

Right now, these ciders are only available in the seasonal reparations packages from Open Spaces or sold through the cider clubs of partnering ciders like Redbyrd Orchard Cider and Eve’s Cidery.

Learn more about Open Spaces Cider online: https://www.openspacescider.com/

That’s a lot of intriguing background for a cider producing group that’s more than a little unusual, but now for the cider itself. Here’s info from the label.

100% foraged apples from public space

Cold settled and racked before wild fermentation

In October 2021

Bottled during primary fermentation in November 2021

Disgorged in January 2022

Open Carefully and cold!

7.5% ABV

Produced and bottled by Eve’s Cidery, Van Etten, NY

The cider is also described as Petillant and Dry.

Now for our collective cider tasting notes.

Appearance: intense tawny orange, cloudy, bubbly 

Because the Early and Wild is bottled in clear glass, I knew it would have a rich intense color. It’s tawny orange like some earthy teas. The glasses all poured with a mousse, so I know there will be awesome levels of bubble. The cider is cloudy with some sediment pouring in the final glass of the bottle.

Aromas: olive bring, wild tang

The Early and Wild does smell wild. I get notes of olive brine, savory spices and it’s  mildly reductive. I have a feel this cider will be plenty tart and tasty.

Sweetness/Dryness: Dry

Petillant Naturels end up dry as fermentation feeds sugar to yeast and pet nats complete their fermentation in the bottle. The interventions taken to make a cider sweet aren’t really compatible with this method of cider making. 

Flavors and drinking experience: tangerine, tannic, fine bubbles

Delicious! Oh what a treat. I love when a cider can be dry and yet still substantially fruity. The Early and Wild does exactly that. It manages to be strongly reminiscent of sweet citrus, particularly tangerines, while remaining dry and crisp. Everyone agreed on citrus notes immediately! I think the reactions went like, “ So lemony and orangey—no, tangerine!”

It tastes acidic in such a refreshing way. The Early and Wild comes across as quite different in taste than in its aromas. I love how unusually fruity (though not actually sweet) this tastes for a pet nat. It’s simply a delicious cider with medium tannins, high acid, and very fine bubbles.

We enjoyed this with veggie pot pies and excellent conversation, and I’m excited to keep my eyes on Open Spaces Cider to see where they go from here. 

Monday, May 9, 2022

Cider Review: Chatter Creek Ashmead's Kernel

I often long to know what’s happening in other parts of the cider world. I could drink just finger lakes cider and still find enough good cider to keep me busy, but I love trying cider from other apples, styles, and regions. That’s why I joined the NW Cider Club and that’s how I got today’s cider: Chatter Creek’s Ashmead’s Kernel.

Here’s where you can learn more about the Northwest Cider Club: https://nwciderclub.com/.

This is my first ever review of anything by Chatter Creek. This cidery is based out of Washington state. When reading on the website, I really like how the cidery presents founder Gordon Rawson’s point of view on cider making and the goals of Chatter Creek. 

Gordon knows cider is essentially a wine made from apples. In 2015 he decided to return to his roots and apply his considerable winemaking experience to making fine ciders using Washington state apples and the finest whole ingredients.

At Chatter Creek, we apply a wine maker’s sensibility to the crafting of contemporary ciders.

Whether the cider is an all apple Heritage cider or a spice infused modern cider, we strive for the complete experience of aroma, structure, length and finish.

Visit Cider Creek’s website to learn more: http://www.chattercreek.com I recommend reading the whole “About” page.

Here’s how Chatter Creek describes this cider. 

Ashmead's Kernel, Bitter Sharp Cider

An old world apple discovered in the 18th Century, Ashmead’s Kernel originated in Gloucestershire, England and has been delighting cider makers ever since. Our varietal ciders are custom pressed from Washington grown apples and slowly fermented to retain their beautiful aromas, bright mouth feel and lasting finish. We have kept this cider off-dry to maintain the fruit’s natural brightness and food friendly character. Chatter Creek’s Ashmead’s Kernel is the perfect pairing with shellfish, grilled halibut or any hot and spicy delicacy. ABV 9.5%, rs 5g/l, CO2 2.0 volumes

9.5% ABV! Noted! And a single-varietal. My curiosity is piqued!

Appearance: pale straw, brilliant, bubbly 

The Ashmead’s Kernel is a pale straw color that’s a cool enough shade of taupe to almost veer green. This cider looks absolutely true to the type of a North American cider, but since this is a single varietal English cider, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It’s  also brilliant and bubbly!

Aromas: rich mellow overripe apple, floral

What a rich and lovely set of aromas. Chatter Creek’s Ashmead’s Kernel smells like overripe apples, white flowers, and peach. I also get wafts of Elderflower and lots of apple just again and again. There’s a bounty of rich pleasure to be had in these scents. 

Dryness/sweetness: Off dry

Ashmead’s Kernel has so much going on that it’s a little difficult to tease out the level of sweetness in the cider. There’s definitely some there, but the fruitiness of the cider isn’t necessarily coming from the sweetness; there’s more to it than that.

Flavors and drinking experience: high tannins, high acid, peach, rice, white pepper

I enjoy this cider; it’s welcoming, dynamic, and wonderful. The Ashmead’s Kernel starts off peachy, with high acidity and high tannins. At the same time, this cider is also full of body and lightened by intense sparkle. I found the mid-palate is nutty and grainy almost like oatmeal, rice, or barley. The finish was practically vibrating with crabapple flavor; it’s all fruit acid and white pepper.

This is a tremendously lovely single varietal. Each sip is a journey. I had mine after a dinner of grilled grouper tacos, but I think they would have gone beautifully together.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Cider Review: Montana Ciderworks Hopped Up Heritage Cider

Tender green leaves and apple blossoms, is there any more beautiful time than this phase of spring? As a possibility, I can only put forth the peak of apple harvest, but right now I’m very fond of this season. Perhaps I write about it too much here. This isn’t a weather blog, I promise. I did take advantage of this warmer conditions this past week, and I chose a cider that looks ahead to Summer. I’m so happy to share my thoughts on Montana Ciderworks’ Hopped Up Heritage.

Looking at Montana Ciderworks website, I was struck with this introduction of the company and its practices, “We support sustainable agriculture and the preservation of open spaces in our beautiful valley. Our cidermaking increases the value and usefulness of Montana's orchards so that they will remain on the landscape to support and delight future generations.” This thread of cider as orchard conservation is dear to my heart.

Today’s review is only my second cider by Montana Ciderworks. I first reviewed the North Fork Traditional: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2022/01/cider-review-montana-ciderworks-north.html

To learn more about this cidery visit Montana Ciderworks’ website: http://montanacider.com/

Here’s the cider’s official description.

Hopped Up, Limited Release Cider: Hopped Up is complex and curious; a semi-dry cider of bittersweet heritage apples, dry hopped with a unique hop blend to wed Continental (brown spice & herbs) with English (citrus & fruit) hop profiles. Taste true cider flavor with complementing Fuggle & Sterling (Saaz X Cascade) hop aromas.

Gold medals at the 2019 Portland International Cider Cup and GLINTCAP 2019. ABV 6.9%, available in 500ml bottles only.

Appearance: slightly hazy, sandstone, visible bubbles

The Hopped Up cider looks so much like a quintessential UK cider! The Hopped Up Heritage has a slight haze, intense sandstone color, and a few visible bubbles just at the top of the glass. It makes my mouth water to look at it. 

I am loving these aromas; the Hopped Up smells s0 juicy! It’s reminiscent of fresh pear juice, but I also get minerals; zesty citrus,  honey or nectar, and peach. This cider definitely displays the citrusy side of hops.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-sweet

Though the Hopped Up cider has plenty more going on than its level of sweetness, it has a clear level. This is a semi-sweet cider. The sweetness reminds me of apples, honey, and peaches.

Flavors and drinking experience: very fruity, citrus, pear, tannic, acid 

This cider is so much fun. The Hopped Up reminds me of Summer because it tastes like it smells! It’s very fruity and wet: citrus, pineapple, grapefuit along with pear and peach. I also get a bit of grippy tannin action. That makes the whole experience much more interesting. Perhaps what I appreciate most thought is that somehow the apple stands up to the hops, with malic acid aplenty. 

This cider has medium high acid and a nice big mouthfeel. It is a bit warming—it feels a touch more boozy than I’d expect from the ABV. The Hopped Up is quite pleasing and balanced overall. The finish emphasizes a perfumed sweet warmth of nectar. Very enjoyable!