Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Cider Review: 2 Towns Ciderhouse's Hollow Jack'd and Cider Week New York

This weekend, I walked in an orchard with my mom. We admired full-size Cortland apple trees, tasted a Karmijn de Sonneville apple, visited the Ithaca Farmers’ Market, looked for early foliage, and made our first batch of chili for the year. I even watched football with her, because she loves football. This is all extra special because she lives about 10 hours away, and she drove up for a weekend of Fall in upstate New York. We really committed to our autumnal appreciation by sharing the most seasonally appropriate cider I could get: 2 Towns Ciderhouse’s Hollow Jacked. 

Maybe I was showing off for my mom. Who am I to deny that? It’s not always that I can offer brand new seasonal releases from the opposite coast. 2 Towns Ciderhouse generously shared this cider with me to sample for potential review. 2 Towns is a cidery based out of Corvallis and Portland, Oregon. I’ve reviewed many 2 Towns Ciders and give more background on the cidery earlier. Check them out. I love how this list shows the range of this particular cidery! 

Two Berry Dream: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2022/08/cider-review-2-towns-ciderhouses-two.html

10th Anniversary Cider Pacific Northwest Heirloom Blend: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/01/cider-review-2-towns-ciderhouse-10th.html

Good Limes Roll: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/07/cider-reviews-two-towns-cider-house.html

Cosmic Currant: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/12/cider-review-two-towns-cosmic-currant.html

Hollow Jack’d: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/10/cider-review-two-towns-ciderhouse.html

Afton Field: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/06/cider-review-2-towns-ciderhouse-afton.html

La Mûre: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/02/cider-review-albemarle-ciderworks.html

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/12/cider-review-eden-ciders-siren-song-and.html

Cidre Bouche: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/11/cider-review-2-towns-ciderhouses-cidre.html

Pearadise: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-2-towns-ciderhouses.html

Pineapple: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/02/cider-review-portland-cider-company.html

Bright Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/07/cider-review-roundup-common-cider-co.html

Hop and Stalk: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/12/cider-review-2-towns-ciderhouse-hop-and.html

Learn about all of 2 Towns’ ciders and events at the website: https://2townsciderhouse.com/

Here’s how 2 Towns Ciderhouse describes Hollow Jack’d.



Extra mischievous, Hollow Jack'd takes our fall classic of fresh-pressed apples, caramelized pumpkins and sweet potatoes that are finished with local honey and spices to a whole new level.





Imperial take on our Fall classic

25+ pounds of caramelized pumpkin per barrel

10+ pounds of sweet potato per barrel

Whole fall spices and raw honey

Appearance: hazy, orange, few visible bubbles

The Hollow Jack’d looks like a classic jack o’lantern in color; its intense true orange.The cider looks slightly hazy and very appealingly autumnal.

Aromas: Nutmeg, clove, ginger, ripe apple, cinnamon

Hello spicy season! The Hollow Jacked smells redolent of fall baking or chai spices immediately. I notice nutmeg, clove, ginger, and to a lesser degree cinnamon. There are also notes of ripe apple in the mix.

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet!

This is unambiguously a sweet cider. Don’t ask it to be what it’s not. I think some sweetness is necessary to go with spice otherwise it can be very astringent and bitter. 

Flavors and drinking experience: Bubbly, cinnamon, apple, ginger, honey

The cinnamon that didn’t come through strongly in the aromas for me was much more present in the cider’s flavors. The Hollow Jack’d continues the party with lots of rich apple and ginger notes. This is a sweet and spicy blend with lots of bubbles, medium acidity, and a full body!

I didn’t taste much that I would describe as explicitly pumpkin, but it was certainly more spiced, appley, and honeyed than most pumpkin delights offered up in Fall. The Hollow Jack’d is a fun cider. If this is a profile you like, seek it out!

Cider Week New York is almost upon us! From September 29th through October 9th, we’ll celebrate cider across the state. 

Check out the upcoming events here: https://ciderweeknewyork.com/

These range from paired dinners like the one I’ll be joining at *the* Moosewood Restaurant with ciders from Black Diamond Cider, to interactive educational exhibits at Mann Library on Cornell University’s campus to amazing tap takeovers and orchard tours in every region of New York. Check out the schedule; you’ll find something amazing. 

Monday, September 19, 2022

Cider Review Wild Arc Cider! and News

Cider can be so much more than a beverage: tasted for a moment and then forgotten. Cider can make a meal, a memory, or a memorial of the harvest from which it came. This past weekend, I was lucky enough to see all of these possibilities come together in a Brooklyn night time garden with just a few friends and loved ones. Here’s how it all came together over Wild Arc Farm’s Cider! at Pheasant. 

First, a bit of background about Wild Arc Farm. Todd Cavallo & Crystal Cornish founded this small farm in New York’s Hudson valley. On the website, it’s described as, “An experiment in regenerative permaculture and viticulture in the Hudson Valley. Wild Arc Farm is a pursuit of sustainable food and beverage production within the small farm environment.” This is my first ever review of anything by Wild Arc Farm. It looks like they make more wines than ciders, and everything is made in small quantities. 

You can see some views of the farm and see where Wild Arc Farm beverages are found at the website: https://www.wildarcfarm.com/

And if you’re curious about the meal (which you should be), I recommend checking out Pheasant for yourself: https://www.pheasantnyc.com/. Everything we tasted was amazing, and the staff took wonderful care of us. 

Here’s how Wild Arc Describes the Cider:

A pear and apple blended cider. Northern Spy apples from coming from Ontario county in northern New York state and the Callery pears from the Wild Arc Farm itself. Wild yeast fermentation, not filtered or fined and aged in neutral barrel prior to being canned with a sparkling finish. Crisp, dry and pleasantly summery. 

Wild Arc Farm Description 

Todd on this bev: “We have a number of Callery Pear trees on our farm and have always wanted to do something with the tiny, tart, tannin-packed fruits.” 

Fruit: Northern Spy from an IPM-farmed orchard in Ontario County, North Fork + Callery Pears from Todd’s own farm 

Making of: a couple of buckets of pears were macerated in the cider, then racked into neutral French oak 500L puncheons and left undisturbed for 6 months before canning.

We got to sit outside in the newly cool evening in a golden back garden surrounded by plants. Now, here’s how it tasted and paired with my evening.

Appearance: hazy, lemon curd, bubbles

I love freeing cider from a can, so I can really see and smell my cider before trying it. The Cider!  was rewarding to see with its hazy lemon curd color and active bubbles. Seeing it increased my anticipation.

Aromas: minerals, melon, lemon and apple blossom

Wild Arc’s cider’ brings minerals to mind immediately as its primary aroma note. Secondarily I smell melon, summer fruits, and lemon. I get a spritz of apple blossom as well. One of my co-tasters noticed mild funk surrounded by clean mineral austerity. 

Sweetness/dryness: semi-dry

There was some friendly debate at our table about the dryness of this cider. Primarily it tastes dry, but it’s not completely dry. Pears have a kind of sweetness (sorbitol) that can never be fermented out, so that makes it just a bit tricky. The cider’s tannins and acidity will also affect how we interpret its sweetness. I think it tastes semi-dry, but the Tall One found it closer to semi-sweet.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, medium tannins, plentiful bubbles

We agreed around our table that the cider tastes not overly Perry-esque.  There’s not a ton of sorbitol or horse hoof which are both relatively common flavors for perry. The apple pear blend integrated really nicely. The whole experience is balanced and semi-dry with high but not insane acidity and medium tannins. The pears add a richness and roundness to the whole experience. 

The cider is made tremendously food-friendly with its strong sparkle. I could taste my crispy fried Delicata squash, sip my cider, and then be ready to switch to heirloom tomato salad or white wine shrimp with a clean palate. The cider finishes out with a clean clean finish that matches its aromas and flavors. I agree with the makers that the overall impression is summery. And that was key to my experience this past weekend. 

There’s nothing more summer and special than a long leisurely dinner under string lights that lets the talking stretch until late. The season has to be at that comfortable time when one can be outside and just forget about temperature altogether. I could focus on sharing bites of bitter peppers and creamy burrata or getting a perfect bit of jammy egg and sips of my ultra-refreshing  cider. Even more importantly, I could dive deep into sharing stories and connection with my people. Isn’t it nice to do that with something delicious? I treasure it.

I can’t leave this week without sharing a bit of news. I’m now officially a Pommelier! I passed my Certified Pommelier exam. It’s a tremendous honor to be one of the 45 current Pommeliers, and I can’t wait to see where this road leads.

Check out the full story from the American Cider Association: https://ciderassociation.org/third-exam-of-2022-welcomes-eight-new-certified-pommeliers 

Monday, September 12, 2022

Cider Review: Snow Capped Cider Ashmead's Kernel

I picked up my first apple CSA share of the season this past weekend. For me, this is the real start of fall. I’m ready! In the coming weeks the other signs will appear: colorful leaves, pumpkins, early evening shadows and eventually frosted mornings. I’m not in a rush to traverse it; this short season begs to be savored. One of my savorings this weekend was a quiet birthday celebration with a long-time friend, her family, my family, many snacks and Snow Capped Cider’s Ashmead’s Kernel. 

Snow Capped Cider comes to us from a multiple generation family farm in Colorado. I’ve had a few of their ciders and seen the cidery name come up as a frequent award winner. Here are all of my previous reviews of Snow Capped Cider.

Blanc Mollet: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2022/06/cider-review-snow-capped-ciders-single.html

Gold Rush: https://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2022/04/cider-review-snow-capped-ciders-gold.html

Harrison Reserve (My #5 favorite cider of 2021): http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/12/cider-review-snow-capped-cider-harrison.html

You can visit Snow Capped Cider online and learn about everything this cidery is up to: https://snowcappedcider.com/

I love how Snow Capped introduces the Ashmead’s Kernel with background and description for the apple that makes up this single-varietal cider. 

First discovered in Gloucester England around 1700 then throughout North America, Ashmead has remained popular in both cider making and eating for two centuries despite its faded color and dull outer appearance. Ashmead’s Kernel boasts incredible flavor creating a truly remarkable sensory experience. We have returned to its old world roots with a long ripening period and slow farm style fermentation method. A pétillant finish further enhances the fresh fruity aroma delivering the remarkable strong flavor combined with natural, delicate tannin and balanced sweetness. A unique enchanting cider with nearly elusive richness that leaves you questing for more. 100% Ashmead’s Kernel apples grown in our Colorado Orchards.

Alcohol 8.10%

Here are my thoughts on the Ashmead's Kernel by Snow Capped Ciders.

Appearance: mousse, medium intense amber tea color, 

This cider pours amber shading into tea with a lovely head of bubbles. The color is medium intensity. It’s a brilliant cider with no hint of opacity.

Aromas: Orange, minerals, autumn, overripe apples  

The Ashmead’s Kernel smells wonderful and enticing, What I notice first is orange and overripe apples. Secondarily I get aquatic and mineral notes. Overall the impression I get is one of maturity, full bloom, and autumnal forest floor.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

This is a dry cider. It doesn’t use sweetness to guide you through the experience. 

Flavors and drinking experience: tannic, mid-low acid, pepper, baking spice

What a treat! Everyone gathered was wowed by this cider’s profile. It is substantially different than what we taste a lot here in upstate New York. The Ashmead’s Kernel is super tannic, but that feels very surprisingly different when paired with medium-low acidity. It’s smoother and less spiky. I taste bits of sweet red pepper and fruity sweetness. 

The cider is refreshing; something about it feels not only velvety but also lush with baking spice notes. I love the plentiful bubbles! I always love plentiful bubbles. The cider’s smooth finish makes it easy to reach for a second sip. It wears its relatively high ABV well.

We had divine caprese salad, pesto bean dip, focaccia bread, peppers, cheeses and Marcona almonds with the cider. We loved trying this along side different parts of this beautiful range of treats. I think my favorite pairings were the Ashmead’s Kernel with blue cheese and with truffle dusted Marcona almonds. 

What a way to celebrate a friend and welcome Fall.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Cider Review: Dragon's Head Cider's Rosé

I write from a cozy desk spot on a rainy Labor Day. I’m grateful to have today for rest and even more grateful to those who labor to keep things functioning today and everyday. This time of year, that especially means orchard and farm workers. Thank you! 

Today, my review features Dragon’s Head Cider’s Rosé. This cider was part of a Northwest Cider Club Shipment. I love being able to purchase curated selections of ciders not usually available to me in remote upstate New York. You can learn more about the Northwest Cider club here: https://nwciderclub.com/

Dragon’s Head Cider comes to us from Vashon, Washington. Vashion is an island with an orchard off the coast of Washington state. 

Here’s how Dragon’s Head Cider introduces their process and philosophy of cider making. 

From apple to bottle, all right here on our farm.

At Dragon’s Head Cider, we take a traditional approach to cider making. Our focus is on the apple varieties that we use and the quality of the fruit. We love the story that apples alone can tell through cider, altering the flavor by changing the blend of apple varieties that we carefully select. The process is simple and the ingredients list is short. Perhaps we’re a little old fashioned.

You can read the rest of the process and learn about all of Dragon’s Head cider on the website: http://www.dragonsheadcider.com/

I don’t have many previous review of Dragon’s Head ciders, because I haven’t gotten to taste them nearly as often as I’d like. Here are all of the cidery’s earlier appearances on the blog. 

Heritage: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/09/cider-review-liberty-ciderworks-wickson.html

Wild Fermented (#1 cider of 2019!): http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/04/cider-review-dragons-head-wild.html

In 2018, Dragon’s Head appears in my coverage of CiderCon: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/02/cidercon-part-2-including-heritage.html

Here’s the official description of Dragons Head Rosé:

Our Rosé Cider is created from a unique blend of red fleshed apple varieties, including Redfield apples from our own orchard. Unlike typical apple trees, in the Spring, the blossoms on the Redfield trees are bright pink, the leaves are a reddish bronze, and amazingly the flesh of these beautiful apples is red. When the apples are pressed the juice is a crimson color that lightens and clears into the blush rosé that you see in the bottle. Bright and fruity, this cider is certainly unique for its color but also delicious in flavor.

Alcohol 6.90%

Appearance: Brilliant, Bubbly, Copper Red

What a beautiful cider. I totally understand why the Rosé cider is bottled in clear glass. The coppery red color is too inviting not to share! The cider is brilliant and bubbly as well. What a visual invitation.  

Aroma: Mineral notes, Cranberry, Grapefruit, Black Pepper

The first scents that  unfold are mineral notes followed by cranberry, grapefruit and pepper. I know some folks question minerality, but I don’t know exactly how to put it when sniffing a cider makes me think about rocks. The cider’s aromas make my mouth water.

Dryness/Sweetness: Dry

Dragon’s Head Cider’s Rosé cider is dry. I’ll not call it bone dry, but it’s close.

Flavors and drinking experience: High acidity, high tannins, peach, floral finish

The Dragon’s Head Rosé cider has high but not extreme acidity. It makes a wonderful first impression of fruity and zinginess. That’s immediately followed by medium high tannins that ground and anchor the cider. I loved the floral finish with bits of peach. It’s a deeply enjoyable cider. The texture is defined by very fine bubbles. 

Upon second and third sips, I started to notice a gentle caramel note beneath the brightness. The fruitiness gets more definitively peach, cranberry with a bit of a spicy green pepper note at the end.  The cider has a thin light body that is kept angular by the acidity. It's a stimulating cider that’s tremendously inviting for food. Dragon’s Head Cider’s Rosé is just so good!

I paired this with a roasted chickpea, tomato, feta salad. Highly recommended!