Monday, November 28, 2022

Cider Review: Fenceline Cider's Seedling Colorado Plateau Cider

I cannot get a movie out of my head. This weekend, I watched The Menu, and I think it’s relevant to the blog. The film satirizes high end food culture on both the production and consumption sides. There are reviews, cooks, foodies, service industry lifers, and one very particular chef. It’s dark, but it’s also tremendously funny. I recommend it. I will say that I hope that my reviews convey the love and appreciation I feel for cider makers and apple growers. I know that I can’t do what you do, and I’m so grateful that you share it. If you watch The Menu, let me know what you think!

If you’re curious to read more, here’s the Internet Movie Database page for The Menu:

Today I’m reviewing Fenceline Cider’s Seedling Colorado Plateau Cider. Yes, that’s a mouthful! This is my first ever review of Fenceline Cider. This was shared with me for review through a cider competition for which I volunteer. Many thanks!

This is what I found on the website about Fenceline Cider’s identity as a cidery. 

Rooted along the upper tributaries of the Colorado River, Fenceline was founded with a curiosity and admiration for wild and historic apples. Reviving the region’s cider traditions, our cider is crafted with cold, slow fermentation — producing a drier libation, with complex flavors, and less sugar. 

Surrounded by thousands of abandoned orchards that continue to grow in Montezuma County’s rich soil and arid climate, we are committed to upcycling the region’s heritage apples and wild, one-of-a-kind varietals into extraordinary craft cider.

You can visit the cidery online here to learn more about all of the ciders:

Today I’m tasting the Seedling Colorado Plateau Cider. Here’s what Fenceline Cider has to say about it. 

Colorado Plateau Cider

The classic American cider. Cool fall days slowly ferment a refreshing and approachable, off-dry craft cider with balanced apple notes.

TASTING NOTES:  fresh, crisp, light


6.5% ABV

Appearance: hazy, warm straw, few tiny bubbles

The Seedling is nearly transparent with just the gentlest suggestion of haze. I can see a few very small bubbles, and the color is a medium intensity warm straw.

Aromas: minerals, dust, multiple acids, peach and pineapple

This cider brings scents that remind me of minerals, dust, and malic acid, but that’s not the only acid going on. There’s a bit of volatile acidity as well. These are the notes that hit first followed by ripe pineapple and peach.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

My household disagreed a bit about the sweetness in this cider. To me, it tasted dry. The tall one agrees with the official description and calls it off dry. Either way, this cider isn’t using sweetness as a primary carrier for flavor. 

Flavors and drinking experience: wild, tangy, green apples, leather, acetic acid

The Seedling tastes untamed indeed! My first impression is one of Acetic acid and fruity tartness. The cider is sharp with tangs of wildness and a leather finish. The mid-palate reminds me of Granny Smith apples and twigs. Underneath these notes, there’s something unusual and harder to identify: maybe peanut and breadcrumb notes. It’s almost malty.

What a complex set of flavors! I keep coming back to words like wild, rustic, and funky. Though this cider might not be ideally suited to the casual cider drinker, the Seedling is likely to be a huge hit for the natural wine crowd. It certainly gives my taste buds lots of excitement and zesty stimulation.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Cider/Perry Review: Snow Capped Cider's Jala-pear-no Cider

We’re headed into Thanksgiving week here in the United States. There’s so much cultural emphasis on tradition for this particular holiday. There’s a parade every year, there’s a football lineup, there’s a traditional menu and for lots of folks a very set-in-stone way to do the whole day. It’s an uncomfortable holiday for many for some very real reasons, like the fictitious history we’re taught in school.

 It’s also the closest thing we have to a nationally recognized harvest celebration. It’s a feast of seasonal food with a strong suggestion of gathering with loved ones and expressing the gratitude out loud that we usually hold silent in our hearts. That’s how I like to celebrate Thanksgiving. Well, harvest and *my birthday* since my birthday is always near to the holiday and this year it's on the day itself. 

Does that mean my birthday meal is turkey and pumpkin pie? No! I value a bit of innovation rather than unchanging adherence to tradition. My birthday meal will be Celebration Roast, Brussels sprouts, dressing, cranberry relish, rolls and who knows what else will show up at the table. All this to be followed by a caramel crumb apple pie. And there will be cider. 

Speaking of innovation, that’s the theme with which I chose this week’s perry for review. I wanted something fun and different, and Snow Capped Cider’s Jala-pear-no seems ideal for my purpose.

I’ve reviewed a few Snow Capped Ciders before. Here’s the list.

Ashmead’s Kernel:

Blanc Mollet:

Gold Rush:

Harrison Reserve (My #5 favorite cider of 2021):

Check out Snow Capped Cider’s website and find out about all of the ciders:


Organic Colorado Bartlett’s 

Golden hue, with a fresh fruit nose, balanced by a notable Jalapeño infusion and pear sweetness. soft smooth finish.

( Perry )  100% fermented pears

Low heat/ high flavor/fresh jalapeños

ABV 6.9%

This spicy perry is available year round!

Appearance: hazy, few visible bubbles, pale straw

The color is the gentlest shade of pale straw. I don’t see many bubbles, but the perry has a slight haze throughout.

Aromas: bell peppers, fresh pear flesh, fermentation, sweetness

The Jala-pear-no smells sweet and very obviously pepper-like. There’s just the tiniest burn when you take a big whiff. The aromas are stony and fermented, and include fresh pear flesh.

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet

It’s sweet, but there’s a lot more going on than just sweetness!

Flavors and drinking experience: spicy, full bodied, vegetal, medium acid

I found the Jala-pear-no sweet and very spicy but The Tall One disagrees. He may be more trustworthy on topics like level of spice. He says it's only mildly spicy. We both found the perry 

Full-bodied and plenty bubbly! The bubbles make the spice sharper than they would feel in a more gently petillant or even a still perry.

With repeated sips, the spice keeps coming! It mellows out to a low vegetal prickling amidst the fruity notes of fresh pear.  It’s a genuinely interesting and innovative perry. 

I enjoyed mine with a movie and some good company, but I think it could go with all sorts of things. I’d like to try it again with fish tacos and pineapple salsa!

Monday, November 14, 2022

Cider Review: Angry Orchard's Buddy King

I should be thinking about Thanksgiving, about food, pairing, and gathering. Here’s the thing; I just don’t feel ready today. Tonight, I was ready to come home from work and enjoy vegetarian sausage, bell peppers, broccoli and some goat cheese and sun-dried tomato ravioli. It's a nice for living in the moment and enjoying the peace of not yet guesting, hosting, planning, or prepping. The big days will come soon enough.

Tonight I’m so happy to remember my trip to Angry Orchard’s Walden Orchard facility this past Summer and review the Buddy King cider that I picked up there. If you’re not familiar with the Walden Research and Development facility, it’s magical. Let go of all of your expectations of Angry Orchard or stereotypes about national brands. This cidery is doing its own thing and the ciders are very different from the super approachable and often sweet choices that Angry Orchard supplies to grocery store shelves. 

Here are a few of my earlier Angry Orchard reviews which include a mix of national and more limited offerings.


Newtown Pippin:


Understood in Motion 2:

Understood in Motion 3: this collaboration with Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider (this was my #6 cider of 2018):

Wooden Sleeper:

Spiced Apple:




Visit Angry Orchard online here to learn about the ciders and what’s happening at Walden:

Here’s how Angry Orchard describes the Buddy King, “A wild fermented cider that we aged on Missouri-grown blackberries and blueberries from our friends at Side Project Brewing. 7.2% ABV.”

Here’s a link to the collaborator Side Project Brewing:

Appearance: apricot, bubbly, brilliant

This brilliant cider shows off some lovely active bubbles. The bubbles are easy to see because the cider is so very transparent in its welcoming shade of apricot.

Aromas: wild, acetic acid, twiggy

Buddy King smells very obviously like a wild fermented cider. It’s zingy with notes of tropical fruit and acetic acid. What I like about the aroma is that it’s anchored with some twiggy wood notes. I definitely know to expect a tart or even sour cider from these aromas.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

This is a completely dry cider. It’s unusual to have a wild fermentation that retains sweetness because of the difference in controlling a pitched fermentation and a wild one.

Flavors and drinking experience: sour, high acid, pineapple, peppers, tannic 

My estimation based on the Buddy King’s aromas was proved right; its super sour! This high acid cider tastes like malic and acetic acids. My first impression is how very basque-inspired or Sidra like it tastes. It’s far from one dimensional though. The cider also proffers red bell pepper and tropical fruit notes while it remains bone dry.

The Buddy King is very angular with all that acid and some tannins. The hints of tomato and berry seem like they’d be in conflict, but they work harmoniously together. I appreciate that it’s petillant rather than more strongly sparkling. The acid provides enough excitement on its own without needing the needling of aggressive bubbles. 

I need to emphaize just how much tart acid the cider has. The Buddy King can cut through any food! Be sure to use this superpower and pair it with food. You could choose something hearty like Shepherds Pie or something with plenty of cheese like my ravioli meal. The fun thing about pairing the Buddy King is how much the cider changes. The cider’s funk is revealed even as the acid is tamed. What a complex and wild offering from Angry Orchard’s Walden Cider House!

Monday, November 7, 2022

Cider Review: Milk & Honey Ciders' Fauna

I write with my eyes full of sunset tonight. It’s coming earlier, but I’m glad to pay that price in order to have a few more weeks of mornings with even just the barest hint of light. I need it to get up and feel like there is a universe outside of my bed. Other folks feel the evening’s loss more keenly, I know it. I’ll take the gratitude though. In any case, I like plenty of quiet dark evenings at home with good food and good cider. This review is from just such a night; I’m trying Fauna by Milk and Honey Ciders.

This week’s cider is my first from Milk & Honey Ciders. This is a cidery out of St. Joseph, Minnesota. I’m so excited to try the Fauna. This cider was shared with me in a trade, so many thanks to everyone in my cider trading communities! You know who you are.

I recommend visiting the cidery online:

Here’s how Milk and Honey describe the Fauna:

Inside you will find an elite group of apples capable of a truly great cider. Tannic apples for depth and body. Sharps for bright fruity-vinous character. Interesting Heirlooms for aromatics. Every year the apples may change depending upon the whims of the orchard, but they will always impress. Let the apples shine.

Alcohol 6.90%

Appearance: hazy, warm straw, bubbly

The Fauna seems like a tremendously active cider. I can see tiny bubbles racing for the surface through the mild haze and warm straw color. It pours with a little bubble, but the mousse dissipates quickly.

Aromas: Malic acid, minerality, rock candy, fresh apple

This cider is brimming over with interesting scents! The first smell I notice is rock candy & malic acid in the attack, followed by something funky and more deeply minerally. Overall, it’s an austere set of smells that concludes with a sense of cold, sharpened apple.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

This is a nice dry cider. It’s neither harsh nor deceptively fruit forward.  

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, pineapple, mild tannins, bitterness on the finish

The Fauna taste well-balanced and admirably restrained. Yes, the cider has high acid, but it’s balanced by also being very mildly tannic with a low, bitter finish. I appreciate the fruity acids that remind me of pineapple. The flavors are light and immediate for the most part. I do insist that the cider be poured from its serving container. Drinking from the bottle robs the experience of its best parts, so use a glass. I also love the Fauna’s small but pervasive bubbles. They enliven the experience in a big way.

I enjoyed my cider while I was perusing a game book before playing some table-top role play awesomeness with faraway friends. I'm sure no one is surprised by that level of nerdiness, but I have to own up. I think it would also go well with a hearty minestrone soup and good bread.