Monday, March 27, 2023

Cider Review: Albemarle Ciderworks Brut d'Albermarle Harrison

Spring comes in fits and starts, but I’ve felt its approach even in the wet days of mud and breezes this past week. Today the sun shone as the wind blew the cobwebs from my mind. It was a perfect day to trek about in the woods, and I’m so grateful that I was able to make the most of it. Sometimes you just have to cancel all of your indoor plans and be outside. Though cider tastes divine in all sorts of weather, there’s nothing better than enjoying bliss and adding cider to the experience. 

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Albemarle Ciderworks Brut d'Albermarle Harrison.

I don’t have as many earlier reviews of Albemarle Ciders as I’d like, but here’s the list. 


Ragged Mountain:

Royal Pippin:

Pomme Mary:

Visit Albemarle online here to learn about the current line up:

Unfortunately, I didn’t get much additional information online about the Brut D'Albemarle Harrison. I was able to get some info from the bottle. 

Fermented in the Methode Traditionelle, this bottle conditioned Cidre Bouche is sparkling, spritely, and delightfully effervescent on the palate. It makes a celebratory toast entirely special. Dry and complex, it is an elegant accompaniment to most foods. Serve Chilled. Abv: 9.7%

 Appearance: shining, brilliant, bubbly, evening sun

The color reminds me of the warm evening sunlight, and the Brut D’Albemarle shines as well. The cider is alive with bubbles. It does look like champagne when poured. Lovely.

Aromas: intense, white grape, french bread and melon

What I noticed first and perhaps loved the most about the Brut D’Albemarle’s scents are how the 

aromas leapt from the bottle immediately when I opened it. The cider Looks and smells like a champagne—effervescent with white-grape and French bread smells. I loved the notes of green melon.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

As promised, the cider is dry! It’s not austere or astringent, but the dryness keeps things taut and crisp.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, buttery, tannins, nutty, white grapes, ripe apples

Heavenly. I cannot overstate how good the Brut D’Albemarle tastes. The cider is high-acid in the nicest ways. Of course, I love that the bubbles remind me of champagne with their number and size; they are the star of the show: perfectly plentiful, tiny, and excited. It offers up a complex, long and lovely finish, like a patisserie cream. The mouthfeel is creamy, full and rich. From the buttery first sip, this cider is a winner. 

The Brut D’Albemarle also shares some tannins—but nothing astringent. I found the flavors both nutty, and grapey, somehow like eating from deep in the fruit with gentle ripe apple notes. It’s all natural, exciting, surprising, and sophisticated but not austere.

My household enjoyed this cider with a lovely cheese plate, various dips, and lots of veggie crudité. What a way to celebrate the season! 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Cider Review: Two Town's Ciderhouse's The Baddie

Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on 2 Towns Ciderhouse’s The Baddie. Things have gotten only marginally springier since last week, but according to the calendar it’s now Spring. I’ll believe it once I see my first daffodil. Since I’m waiting for Spring, I’m excited to enjoy the botanicals and florals that are the absolutely crucial to this newest release from 2 Towns Ciderhouse. 

I have 16(!)  previous reviews of ciders by 2 Towns Ciderhouse! I include more background in several earlier reviews, I recommend checking them out to find more about Oregon’s 2 Towns Cidery. Here’s the full list of reviews. Gosh, this makes me what to think back to which 2 Towns have been my favorites over the years!

Crimson Bliss:

Hollow Jack’d:

Two Berry Dream:

10th Anniversary Cider Pacific Northwest Heirloom Blend:

Good Limes Roll:

Cosmic Currant:

Hollow Jack’d:

Afton Field:

La Mûre:

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy:

Cidre Bouche:



Bright Cider:

Hop and Stalk:

2 Towns’ Ciderhouse has a website that’s a great place to learn about all the cidery’s releases and events:

There’s a whole page about The Baddie and how this cider came to be. I recommend reading the whole thing to learn about this awesome project from 2 Towns Ciderhouse benefiting the Pink Boots Society:

Here’s some info strictly about the cider. 

In order to make the cider pink and live up to its name, the R&D team added hibiscus among other floral botanicals that created an elevated cider with flair, depth, and sophistication.

I did a little inquiry to find out the full list of apples, florals and botanicals and here it is, “ Pink Lady® apples, hibiscus, rose, jasmine and chamomile.” Thanks so much for the info, Danelle!

Appearance: Coral pink, hazy, bubbly

2 Towns has created a lovely cider here. The color reminds me of spring sunrises with its coral pink hue. The cider has lots of tiny bubbles and a slight haze. 

Aromas: Sweet, grapefruit, cherry, rose, & hibiscus

Different elements of this bouquet of aromas stood out to different tasters. I noticed the rose and cherry notes along with ripe apple. My co-taster found that the grapefruit and hibiscus notes stood out more to them. Either way, it’s a smooth blend of flowers and fruit. We agreed though that there is plenty of sweetness in The Baddie’s scents.

Sweetness/Dryness: Sweet!

This is a sweet cider. It’s a fun one with plenty going on, but it’s definitely sweet.

Flavors and drinking experience:  Hibiscus, white grapes, grapefruit, hibiscus chamomile

With The Baddie, 2 Towns has created an inviting blend of sweet grapefruit, rose, hibiscus, white grapes, and chamomile. It’s easy to detect so much of what was present in the cider’s aromas in the flavors as well. I love how it’s herbal yet floral like chamomile white still also offering as much vibrant fruit flavor as one could ask for. 

I liked how the hibiscus brought some tannins and high acid to the cider. I just love the hibiscus here. What makes it really come together though is that in addition to being sweet, the Baddie is bubbly and full bodied. All in all, this cider is aiming to be fun and approachable yet with some real complexity, and it totally succeeds. We had ours with a homemade fisherman’s pie, and it was a delightful pairing. 

Monday, March 13, 2023

Cider Review Greenwood Cider Co.'s Barrel-Aged Dry

Our gray and brown were temporarily replaced with a beautiful layer of snow, and as it's starting to melt snow is predicted to blanket the region again between Tuesday and Wednesday. We’ve not gotten many snows of substance this year, so I have to admit that part of me is rooting for a big enough snow to feel fully transformative to the landscape. It's always at least a little bit tense in the gray waiting hours for snowfall. More than that though, I want folks to be safe and warm. Snow may be fun for me, but it’s serious for plenty of other folks. In the meantime, I’m excited to share some notes on Greenwood Cider Co.’s Barrel-Aged Dry.

In my earlier reviews of Washington state’s Greenwood Cider Co., I’ve included a bit of additional background on the cidery. Here, I’ll quote Greenwood’s website to use their words of introduction. 

Unfiltered cider made the hard way. Founded in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle in 2015, we turn waste into resource[s] by making cider from forgotten and foraged fruits picked from around the city and deep within the Pacific Northwest forest. That approach continues today. In addition to the more standard Washington apples, we use apples from local farms, small homesteads, and abandoned orchards. We press and produce everything in the city, keeping our hands on the process from start to finish and the cider as local as possible. It's an uncompromising blend of modern tastes and traditional cidermaking.

I’ve reviewed a few Greenwood Cider Co. ciders before. Here’s the short list. 

Kingston Black:


Black Currant Asian Pear:

I recommend visiting Greenwood Cider on the web to learn about all that this company has going on:

Here’s how Greenwood Cider Co. describes the Barrel-Aged Dry.

Our signature Dry Cider blend aged for six months in bourbon barrels. Enticing aromas of green plums and vanilla are followed by bright apple acidity with a dry oak finish. 8.5% ABV. 

Appearance: brilliant, medium intensity warm straw, no visible bubbles

This mellow cider just looks tremendously inviting. I don’t see any bubbles, but I do see tremendous brilliance and a lovely warm straw color.

Aromas: barrel, hay, apple core, spicy peppers

This cider’s six months in bourbon barrels shows up emphatically in the cider’s aroma. The Barrel-Aged dry smells like butterscotch, cooked apples, apple core, and breadcrumbs. Secondarily, I notice notes of hay, hot peppers, rubber, and other elements that are either aquatic, or sharp and boozy. It’s a complex array of inviting and wild smells.

Dryness/sweetness: off dry/dry

Greenwood Cider Company has almost certainly released an actually dry cider, but barrel aging can introduce scents and flavors that can complicate the perception of sweetness. There’s enough atmosphere of butterscotch, maple and cooked fruit that it’s hard for me to fully appreciate the dryness of the cider.

Flavors and drinking experience: butterscotch, plum pudding, barrel, spicy, maple

The tall one said immediately that drinking this cider reminds him of plum pudding with raisins and hard sauce. That’s not an experience I’ve had, so I cannot speak to the association. To me, the Barrel-Aged Dry tastes like butterscotch. It’s so very barrel aged that it doesn’t taste fully dry. There are enough dessert notes that come from the apple and the barrel that don’t even rely on actual sweetness to connote butterscotch, applesauce, and maple syrup. 

That’s not all that I’m noticing though. The cider also tastes spicy with notes hot peppers like I detected in the aromas. The cider has high tannins and medium high acidity and a strong alcohol presence. The cider is warming with prickly bubbles. I love how this complex cider ends with a perfumed finish and a phenolic edge. It’s never just one thing!

Greenwood Cider Co. has created something both interesting and tasty with the Barrel-Aged Dry! I enjoyed mine with vegetarian borscht: a seasonal classic in my house.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Cider Review: Tandem Ciders' The Green Man

It’s a gray day here of the sort that makes me doubt Spring. We’re living in a gray-brown world of last year’s dead leaves, frozen mud, and dormant grass. Nonetheless, I’ve planted a few trays of seeds, and I’m watering them faithfully. Hopefully in the coming week or so, I’ll start to see fresh green seedlings. Until then, it's time to cook and nest and escape into movies. Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on Tandem Ciders’ the Green Man. Many thanks to my cider friends who got this to me to assuage my feelings of CiderConFOMO. ; ) You’re the best!

Tandem Ciders come to us from Sutton’s Bay, Michigan. There Dan Young and Nikki Rothwell founded Tandem Ciders in 2010 after their love of England and Cider combined with their love of Michigan orchard life. Find out more in my earlier Tandem reviews.

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


The Bee’s Dream:

The Smackintosh:

I recommend checking out Tandem Ciders on the web to learn about what this Michigan Cider is making and doing:

You can also read the story behind the cidery on the website here. It’s a sweet one:

Here’s what Tandem Ciders has to say about The Green Man. 

Inspired by the carvings of the Roman Baths in the heart of English cider country -- Bath, England -- this adventurous blend of Rhode Island Greenings creates a subtly sweet cider that'll leave you anything but stone-faced.

Appearance: brilliant, very few visible bubbles, low-intensity cool-toned straw

This cider is too beautiful to be sold in a can! The cool-toned pale gold and brilliance deserve to be seen! The color reminds me of straw in spring; it’s yellow and not green but only just by a hair. 

Aromas: green apple, pineapple, sweet candy dust

The Green Man certainly smells green! I get lots of malic acid green apple notes from the start. Secondarily, pineapple aromas abound; this has some tropical flair for sure! The last hints from this cider are harder to describe; it’s a sweet and dusty smell like a container that has held sugar candy enough to have its residue floating around ambiently. We’ll see how these scents translate to taste!

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-sweet

This cider tastes semi-sweet in a fruity juicy way!

Flavors and drinking experience: Bubbly, fresh apple, full-bodied

The Green Man tastes so juicy, it reminds me of pear nectar. The cider tastes tropical with bright notes of sweet apple, pineapple, and pear. The cider shows off a clean fermentation with no funk, no bitterness or anything to interrupt the fresh and fruity celebration. The cider has plentiful bubbles and a full creamy mouthfeel. The cider has medium acidity: just enough to keep the sweetness in pleasant balance. It’s an easy-drinking cider and would be a lovely introduction to the semi-sweet range of the beverage.

We enjoyed this with a chopped Greek salad. The light medley of cucumbers, peppers, feta, tomatoes, and zingy creamy dressing were a lovely counterpoint to the bursting juicy sweetness of Tandem Ciders’ The Green Man. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Cider Review: Big Fish Cider Co.'s Monterey Maple

I’ve been saving my notes on Big Fish Cider Co.’s Monterey Maple since December 27th. I got to enjoy this cider with the Tall One and my dad during our holiday get together. My dad’s awesome cat KB is in one of the pictures. Today is a day that reminds me that while Winter is here, Spring is coming. I thought it only right to share this cider that connects those seasons as well, with its hearty winter-friendly warmth and maple’s nod to Spring’s running of the sap. 

For more background information on Virginia’s Big Fish Cider Co. I recommend looking to my earlier reviews. I’ve enjoyed reviewing these ciders for a few years now. Here’s a list of all of this blog’s previous reviews of Big Fish Cider Co. ciders. There’s a very high ratio of these ciders’ appearances on the blog and in the yearly favorites list. It’s not a coincidence, as Big Fish Ciders tend to be absolutely delicious. 


Punk and Henry (my #2 Favorite cider of 2022):

Virginia Hewes Crab(my #1 favorite cider of 2020!):

Wild Meadow:

Allegheny Gold (my #3 cider from 2019):

Highland Scrumpy (my #3 cider from 2018):

Church Hill Blush:

Check out all of the ciders that Big Fish Cider has available by visiting them on the web:

Here’s the cidery’s official description for the cider.

Sparkling gold clear Off-Dry cider featuring Stayman, Gold Rush, Winesap and Pink Lady. This cider is fermented with local Maple Syrup, and then barrel aged in apple brandy barrels, 8.4% abv.

We grow amazing apples here in Highland, but we are better known for our maple syrup; this cider is a perfect marriage of the two. In the olden-days, cidermakers would add extra sugar to their cider to boost the alcohol content in order to make a more stable drink (with our long, cold winters, who could blame them?), and at one time maple syrup was inexpensive and readily available. They would ferment the cider in barrels, and with the maple flavors, this would add complexity to the cider. We used apple brandy barrels, which add another dimension to the flavors of this cider.

The Oak of the barrel comes through on the nose, but the first sip soon gives way to the brandy and flavors including vanilla and caramel notes, from the barrel, and when swallowed the essence of the maple is left on the palate, along with the tannins from the oak. Less maple flavor than most expect, and not sweet. We didn’t want the Maple to dominate, only be a supporting flavor in this cider.

Monterey Maple goes well with smoked meats and particularly grilled foods.

Appearance: bright jeweler’s gold, brilliant, bubbly

I love how intense and bright the jeweler’s gold color is in the Monterey Maple. Otherwise the cider is plentifully bubbly and brilliant.

Aromas: barrel, baking spices, maple, botanical notes, apple butter

The Monterey Maple cider smells of a gentle aged spiciness of the brandy barrel. I also get notes of concentrated apple butter, baking spices, and one thread of wildness.

Dryness/Sweetness: Semi-sweet

This cider is described as off-dry, but the maple adds presence to its sweetness, so it may function like a semi-sweet if your tastes are like mine.

Flavors and drinking experience: brandy, creamy mouthfeel, medium high acid, maple, 

Big Fish Cider Co.’s Monterey Maples tastes fantastic. Bubbles caress the thick boozy mouthfeel. The cider brings medium high tannins and medium high acid. The acidity stands out as high profile for a barrel-aged cider; I appreciate the effect tremendously. The maple is nicely integrated, but the brandy barrels speak just as clearly. The cider awakens the salivary glands. 

I love how this cider tastes warming and bright at once. The maple speaks with additional clarity  in the finish and aftertaste, which is a great place for it to show up. I also get floral notes as the cider leaves my senses. The one note of wildness from the aroma does persist, adding a burr of texture. The bubbles are a joy. Overall a perfect delight for Winter or Spring. 

Monday, February 20, 2023

Cider Review: Stormalong Cider's Collaboration with Exhibit A Brewing Co. India Pale Cider IPC

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on the Stormalong collaboration with Exhibit A Brewing Co. IPC, India Pale Cider. It’s a bit overdue as this collaboration was released in October of last year, so I apologize! I just have to find the right moment of weather, food, and mood to reach for a hopped cider outside of Spring or Summer. This past week, we had those moments a plenty as nearly a week of unseasonable warmth and glorious golden sunshine visited the Finger Lakes. I didn’t hesitate to create a meal around this cider. Read on to find out what it was.

First, I’ll quote Stormalong’s website to paint a little picture of this cidery’s identity. 

Stormalong Cider was founded in 2014 by Shannon Edgar with the desire to showcase the virtues of cider made with the right apples. Cider is a complex and nuanced beverage, and apple selection and blends are paramount.

We treat cider making as an artistic endeavor, a renaissance of sorts. Using a blend of culinary and rare heirloom varieties, we ferment and age our ciders with traditional and modern techniques showcasing the unique characteristics of these diverse apples.

At Stormalong, we are committed to quality. We don’t cut corners. We respect the apple, the ingredients, and the process. We aim to increase awareness of the diversity of apple cultivars, some of which have been around since the country was founded, while continuing to innovate and explore in the pursuit of cider’s full potential.

I’ve reviewed and enjoyed several Stormalong ciders since the cidery was founded. Here’s the list. 

Pearman Quince(my #10 cider of last year):


White Mountain Magic:

Bittersweet Symphonie:

Wicked Little Wickson:


Happy Holidays:

Esopus Spitzenburg:

Ashmead’s Kernel:


Legendary Dry:

Kingston Black:

Light of the Sun:

Mass Appeal:

Boston Heirloom:

Online you can find out about Stormalong’s current releases and full lineup:

Here’s how Stormalong and Exhibit A Brewing describe the collaboration cider: India Pale Cider.

This limited release cider features a blend of Gold Rush and Idared apples fermented with a Belgian saison yeast and dry-hopped with Mosaic and Simcoe Cryo hops. The result is a crisp 6.0% ABV cider with notes of citrus, floral, and tropical fruit enhanced by the hops.

Appearance: Brilliant, Intense pollen yellow, Ring of bubbles

I don’t expect a shining and brilliant cider for a hopped cider. Often the aesthetics of beer influence hopped ciders, and the result is a hazy to cloudy cider. The IPC instead shows off its intense pollen yellow colors and the tiny corona of bubbles I see where the cider meets the glass. Lovely!

Aromas: Grapefruit, Melon, Aquatic, Fresh apple, Clean

The first note I scent after pouring this cider is grapefruit flesh, followed by melon, fresh apple, and a wonderfully refreshing play of aquatic elements. It feels cooling, not sweaty or dirty. The overall sense I get from the IPC is that this will be fresh and clean while also tasting tremendously fruity. We’ll see if the flavors match the aromas.

Sweetness Dryness: Off Dry

This is a perfect off-dry cider in terms of its not-quite-present level of sweetness. The cider isn’t punishing, austere, or bone dry, but neither is it sweet. It’s just not-dry enough to allow that to be a background characteristic, making room for other flavors and factors.

Flavors and Drinking Experience: medium to petillant bubbles. mildly bitter, off dry, big and acidic with plenty of apple. 

Hopped ciders are more than a little bit divisive in the cider world. Lots of cider people are also beer people, and for them hops have two cleanly defined roles: aromatics and bitterness. There is less agreement about whether or not both of those roles are acceptable for hops in cider. Stormalong and Exhibit A Brewing make their collaborative case for lots of aromas and just the mildest of bittering. It’s a wise choice and a delicious one. 

The cider’s texture is medium-full bodied buoyed by petillant bubbles.  It’s refreshingly acidic cider with plenty of apple, hops and fermentation character. 

The Grapefruit notes that I noticed in the aromas persist. The hops specifically elide into a pineyness that seems woody in the context of cider. I enjoy the IPC’s nice wet mouthfeel, particularly because it stays fresh not dank, bulbous, or funky. The collaboration comes off as mature and focused by creating a hopped cider that’s balanced and sessionable with a clean finish. It's committed to doing a challenging thing well: the integration of apples and hops.

With this cider, we had open-faced cheddar melts, made from 2 year aged cheddar, along with an array of nibbles. The rich cheese went beautifully with the clean cider and walnuts, craisins, honey, carrots, peppers and hummus. A simple dinner was perfect to complement this deeply enjoyable cider.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Cider Review: Snow Capped Cider's Dabinett

I have seen the sun more in the last three days than I have in the two months before. It's restorative in a way that goes deeper than I can communicate with words. The time hasn’t come yet for looking forward to Spring, but I’m profoundly grateful for the steps we’re making in that direction. 

This past weekend, I even successfully travelled out of state to visit with dear friends and see an amazing performance; I got to see Dita Von Teese’s Glamonatrix tour!  Part of the delightful weekend included sharing cider with wonderful dinner companions. I chose to bring a cider that isn’t easy to acquire in Massachusetts: Snow Capped Cider’s Dabinett.

Snow Capped Cider comes from Colorado. I encourage folks to visit the history section of Snow Capped Cider’s website to learn all about this fascinating multi-generation farm journey:

My reviews include a few Snow Capped Ciders. I’ll share all the links below.

Jala-pear-no Cider:

Ashmead’s Kernel:

Blanc Mollet:

Gold Rush:

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

I recommend visiting Snow Capped Cider online to learn about what Snow Capped Cider is up to:

Here’s how Snow Capped Cider describes the Dabinett. 

This revered bittersweet apple was first discovered in Somerset England during the 1800’s. Our high elevation orchards increase UV exposure creating intense flavor profiles. We combine this with a slow fermentation. Our Dabinett single varietal is processed unfiltered. Further maturation is developed in the bottle evoking a deep golden hue and beckoning butterscotch aroma. This complex flavor development leads to fruity sweetness, and rich buttery floral notes. Hinting woody vanilla then building tingling warmth and tannins on the tongue for a slightly dry bittersweet finish. 100% Dabinett apples grown in our Colorado Orchards. Serve slightly chilled.

Alcohol 8.20%

Appearance: Intense apricot, no visible bubbles, brilliant

I love it when a cider dares to show such extravagant color. Snow Capped Cider’s Dabinett’s color reminds me of apricots and spring sunrises. I don’t see any bubbles but beautiful clarity.

Aromas: overripe apple, yeast, dusty limestone, 

As soon as this was pouring, the rich aromas of the Dabinett made their presence known. These very strong scents of  overripe apple and yeast along dusty limestone and peach were enveloping and inviting!

Sweetness/Dryness: Semi-sweet

The label on the bottle uses a visual scale to set expectations for the level of sweetness or dryness. This one indicated that the Dabinett would be semi dry. We tasted it and found it semi-sweet to sweet instead. Read on for more specifics.

Flavors and drinking experience: honeyed, high acid, balance, leather finish

My first thought when the Dabinett crossed my lips was how honeyed it tasted. Thankfully the cider also brought beautiful high acid as well.  The sweetness and acid brought balance to the drinking experience. It stayed clean through the mid-palate but veered just a little funky with a leather finish. I enjoyed the complexity that those gentle notes of wildness added to the overall experience. It’s a lovely cider! 

We paired the cider with an array of takeout Ethiopian dishes, and the combinations worked beautifully! The cider’s sweetness was not unwelcome among the wonderful experiences of spicy, sour, rich, and savory. The sweetness of the Dabinett helped complete the meal this way! It added to a deeply satisfying meal and a wonderful weekend start to finish. 

Monday, February 6, 2023

Cider Review: Troddenvale's Countryside Farm (100% Harrison)

Welcome back to everyone returning from their time at CiderCon. I hope you had a fantastic adventure. I loved following everyone’s posts about it. I hope re-entry into regular life is gentle and pleasant for you all. This is often a difficult season, so I offer you wishes for cold steady temperatures for orchards and warm hearths filled with love inside. Today, I’m sharing notes on a special cider that was a birthday gift last year from my darling tall one. He found for me a cider that he thought looked especially promising Troddenvale’s Countryside Farm (100% Harrison) from the Grower Series. 

Troddenale at Oakley Farm is based in Warm Springs, Virginia near the George Washington National Forest. This cider is one of the earliest releases, a batch from 2018. Here’s how the folks at Trodenvale describe their methods of cidermaking. I think it's a great introduction to the identity of this cidery more generally.

Stripping away the modern techniques and dogmatic notions of the commercial beverage industry, we strive to make pure expressions of distinct fruit and showcase where they are grown. Focusing on what the fruit can give us requires patience and limited intervention. 

Working with true cider varietals limits the need of flavor-enhancing adjuncts and corrections. Relying purely on native microbial populations provides genuine complexity and individual character. Fermenting in neutral oak creates depth and microflora continuity. Bottling unfiltered provides texture, leaving nothing behind. Limiting the addition of preservatives ensures these ciders are transparent, alive, and evolving.

Visit Troddenvale online to learn about the current lineup of ciders:

Here’s what info I could glean about the Countryside Farm from the cider's back label. 

The grower series focuses on expression of single orchard sites. 

Sparkling Cider. 100% Harrison.

Grown by Countryside Farm and Nurseries of Crimora, Virginia.

Concentrated rich aromatics. Robust phenolic structure. Drink with food. Full native yeast fermentation in neutral oak. Sur lie aged. Undisgorged.

No fining/filtration.

No pasteurization.

No chapitalization.

No acidification.

No added sulfites.

Batch 2018

35 Cases produced

Alc. 8.5% by volume

From the great springs region of Virginia, sparkling ciders of origin driven by transparency. Produced and bottled by Troddenvale, Warm Springs, Virginia.

Appearance: deep color, few visible bubbles, hazy, no sediment in the first 2 glasses

The cider is hazy with deep marigold color, few visible bubbles, no sediment in the first 2 glasses.

Aromas: Woody, twiggy, lime, mineral, and floral

There are wonderful complexities to these aromas. The Countryside Farm smells powerfully woody in a way that anticipates both tannins and acid. I think the cider will be bright and dry, but we’ll see what flavors lie in store. It smells English but not too powerfully funky. There’s also a beautiful interplay of lime, mineral and floral notes.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

The Countryside Farm tastes dry but not bone dry. The cider has a lot going on that feels totally separate from the dry/sweet spectrum.

Flavors and drinking experience: petillant, tannic, wood, full mouthfeel, angular

This cider, upon first sip, was declared an instant winner. It’s petillant with angular fruitiness, high tannins, and white wood notes. It doesn’t taste traditionally barrelly, but also definitely gained something from its fermentation in neutral oak. I appreciate how full the mouthfeel is. The Countryside Farm is boozy at 8.5oz but with no undue heat. 

It’s well balanced, especially considering that its a single varietal. I don’t expect to get the right counterbalance of acidity, tannin, bubbles, phenolics and everything from just one apple. The minimal intervention approach that Troddenvale committed to was entirely rewarding in this case. I am beyond impressed!

Overall, the cider is serious, but immediately rewarding. I love that it’s still completely delicious a full five years after fermentation (it’s a 2018 batch)! We just served it with a hearty yet simple United Kingdom inspired dinner of jacketed potatoes with beans, shredded cheddar and vegetarian sausage. It was perfect!

Monday, January 30, 2023

Cider Review: Tilted Shed Ciderworks' 2019 Echolocation

I’ve seen the sun twice this week, and I’ve recovered from Covid. You know mostly recovered in that I’m testing negative and able to go about my business. My congestion isn’t fully gone, and I’m returning to life slowly and carefully. That just seems the safest and comfiest option. That means that this set of notes is another one I took a while ago, and I’ve saved for a rainy day. Hopefully, there won’t be too many more rainy days before I can replenish these! But until then, I’m happy to share my thoughts on Tilted Shed Ciderworks 2019 Echolocation.

Tilted Shed Ciderworks has appeared on this blog regularly, so I’ll refer readers to earlier reviews for more background information on this orchard-based California Cidery.  What I will share again is that the cidery is based in Sonoma County California, where it was founded in 20111 by Ellen Cavalli and her husband Scott Heath. The cider releases are small and highly individualized, so if you’re curious about what Tilted Shed is releasing, the best way to have access is the cider club.

Find out more background in these earlier reviews.

Wickson (my #9 cider of 2021) :


Love's Labor (my 2nd favorite cider of 2020):

Lost Orchard:

Barred Rock Barrel Aged Cider:

January Barbecue Smoked Cider:

And you can learn all about what’s happening at Tilted Shed Ciderworks on the website:

I obtained this cider as part of the Tilted Shed Cider Club. Here’s what the Harvest newsletter said about it. 

2019 Echolocation    A coferment of 70% Asian pear varieties (Hosui, Shinseki, and Shinko) from Sebastopol’s Gabriel Farm and 30% Roxbury Russet from Murray Ranch on Sonoma Mountain. This was our first time working with these delightful pear varieties, and we think it turned out really well! Straw gold, with a aromatics of pear skin and just a whiff of marjoram; vivacious acidity with notes of pear and a touch of honeydew melon. I dig it, and the more I drink it, the more I find it rather beguiling. I think it’ll be a great cider for pearing...haha, I mean, pairing with a wide range of foods. Let me know what you think! PS You might be wondering where the name “Echolocation” comes from. Well, when I conceived of the art for this label, I drew four nested concentric circles representing the four types of pome fruit that go into this blend. I asked Scott to paint it for me (I cannot paint!) and when he showed me the finished art, it immediately reminded me of the radarlike imagery of echolocation—that is, the way creatures such as dolphins and bats navigate using sound instead of sight. Hence, the name. I think it is apropos as it shows how we are navigating our way through our cidermaking journey by using all our senses.

Appearance: intense aconite yellow, cloudy, few bubbles

The color of this cider is intense and joyful. It reminds me of Winter Aconite, one of the first flowers we’ll see in upstate New York. The cider is cloudy rather than clear or hazy, and it poured with a bit of a mousse. After a few moments, I can still see just a few isolated bubbles, but I still anticipate some sparkle

Aromas: Dust, red grapes, cantaloupe, apricot

The Echocolation smells rich and exciting like mineral dust, red grapes, cantaloupe, and apricot. I love the concentrated intensity of these aromas. It's tremendously inviting.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry!

Yes! Another dry one. I’m always curious about perceived sweetness when dealing with a perry because of the varying levels of sorbitol in pears. This is a conclusively dry pear and apple blend. 

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, floral, astringent, honey, ripe apple  

What a lovely and complex treat! Echolocation taste dry and yet like floral honey and fusel oil. The pear cider offers a long ripe apple finish and strong bubbles. The flavors are wild and intense and communicate while remaining fully dry. The cider creates an astringent experience that feels almost cottony in my mouth. The mid-palate’s bitterness slightly recalls wonderfully fresh red pepper. The overall effect varies between spring flowers and summer vegetables. It’s a wonderful vacation from a cold gray day and it has woken up my taste buds with amazing vibrance.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Cider Review: Wild State Cider's Classic Dry

I’m writing from my bed where I’m stuck with Covid. This is the weekend that I’m grateful to have some sets of cider review notes saved from earlier tasting sessions. For a long while, I was lucky enough to avoid the dread illness, but my luck ran out. I hope the congestion clears and that I’ll return to full sensing form soon. This is one reason why I try to keep a few sets of notes in reserve at all times. Now I’ll just write and feel envious of past and future selves that get to enjoy ciders like Wild State’s Classic Dry. 

Wild State Cider comes to us from Duluth, Minnesota. The cidery was kind enough to send me several samples for review a while back. I’ve reviewed a few Wild State Ciders, and I’ve included more background in the earlier reviews. Here’s the full list. 

Peach Basil:


Triple Berry:

I recommend visiting Wild State Cider’s website to learn about the full cider lineup and the taproom:

Here’s how Wild State describes the Classic Dry. It’s not a ton of info, but it highlights what the cidery wants us to know about this cider.

The champagne of ciders. Perfectly dry with 0g of sugar. Only 170 calories and 2g carbs. 6.9% ABV

Appearance: hazy, applesauce color, bubbly

The color of the Classic Dry reminds me of applesauce; it's warm in tone but mellow and hazy. There are drifts of bubbles resting in the bottom of the glass.

Aromas: minerals, salt, fresh green apple, sulphites 

Wild State’s Classic Dry smells initially of minerals and fresh apples. Specifically I smell the green apple malic acid note along with some hint of saltiness and sulphites.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

It is dry! I’m always curious when a cider bills itself as fully dry. Many drinkers don’t want fully dry; they prefer off dry described as dry. Not Wild State though, when they say dry, they mean it! 

Flavors and drinking experience: Austere, high acid, bracing, tannic

Wow! This is highly unusual for a canned cider. Not only is the Classic Dry actually dry, it’s bringing high acid and some tannins to the table as well. I find the cider more austere than fruit-forward, but it’s wonderfully bracing.

Because of the combination of acid, dryness, and tannins, the whole experience feels angular, almost sharp. The bubbles are plentiful and powerful too. This is a great way to wake up your mouth! I find it tremendously refreshing and very different from most of what I find in cans. 

Fingers crossed that by next week, I’ll be back up to the usual cider shenanigans. Be well, friends!

Monday, January 16, 2023

Cider Review Farmhouse Cider's Goldrush Single Varietal Cider

Farmhouse Cider is the cider line created by Back Bay Brew House: Farmhouse in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the Goldrush Single Varietal Cider, and I have to mention my thanks to the cidermaker. He shared this cider with me for review and is one of the kind folks I got to meet in the Hudson Valley this summer when I traveled to take my Pommelier exam. 

You can read about Back Bay Brewery: Farmhouse and all their beers, wines, ciders and canned cocktails here:

This is my first ever Farmhouse Cider review.

Here’s what the Goldrush Single Varietal Cider’s label says about it. 

Unlike many other cider apple varieties that are over 200 years old, the Goldrush apple was only brought to market 30 years ago. This apple brings a refreshing tartness, hints of tropical fruit, and a unique spiciness that is both warming and invigorating. 

Appearance: slight haze, vivid warm nectarine color, virtually no visible bubbles

This cider looks warm and homey with its mild haze and inviting nectarine gold color. It reminds me of the warm sunny days that are both behind and ahead of us. (Can you tell I’m missing every season but Winter?)

Aromas: tangerine, pears, ripe apples and old fashioned bubble gum

The Goldrush smells like tangerine and old fashioned bubble gum on an immediate first sniff (hat tip to my co-taster who identified the fruity mix that reminded both of us of old school bubble gum). I noticed Pear and ripe apple notes that are vivid in their intensity as well. 

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

This is a dry cider. I often expect that in a single varietal cider, but it cannot be assumed. This is a lovely true dry cider. 

Flavors and drinking experience: High acid, pear, fine bubbles

Much of what comes out in this cider’s aromas are present also in the Goldrush Single Varietal’s flavors as well. It tastes beautifully like ripe apple and pear, with a gentle background of interplaying tropical fruits. This cider brings wonderfully high acid that remains fun and fruity rather than sharp or austere. 

The pleasure of The Goldrush cider is enhanced by its plethora of very fine bubbles. Everything combines to make this cider very drinkable and delightful. I had mine with tilapia, brown rice, and delicata squash. I kept the meal very simple so I could focus on a new and exciting cider. I’m glad I did!

Monday, January 9, 2023

Cider Review: Turncoat Cidery's Madeira Cask Cider

It’s not everyday I get to try a cider that’s as new and mysterious as Turncoat Cidery’s Madeira Cask Cider. I wanted to try something new on a dark winter night in that strange time of lull after the holidays. 

Turncoat Cidery is an up-and-coming small cidery on Benedict Arnold’s historic farm, using all Rhode Island apples. Madeira Cask Cider intrigued me especially because I’ve never actually tasted Madeira. For me, it's always been one of the near infinite list of beverages that show up in novels that have piqued my curiosity for years. For some additional background information, I turned to both online sources and Turncoat’s cider maker. 

I’ll link to Turncoat Cidery’s website more for the future than for the present:

According to the Connecticut and Rhode Island Beverage Journal, “Employing 16 heritage cider varieties—including Golden Russet, Ashmead’s Kernel, Harrison, Arkansas Black, Whitney and Roxbury Russet—Turncoat! farms organically and follows low-intrusion fermentation techniques to add great character to their small-batch production.” The cider is available via distribution and at restaurants. 

Here’s what the cider’s label reads.

Madeira Cask Cider Turncoat ciders are made from heirloom cider apples grown at Fox Hill Farm, a beautiful saltwater farm at the base of Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island and the colonial era farm of Benedict Arnold. Today we honor the traditions of cider making past through thoughtful blending of bittersweet and bittersharp apples to give our cider both nuance and character.  

This particular cider went into the bottle about 6 months ago.

Appearance: hazy, medium intensity shortbread color, no visible bubbles 

The Madeira Cask Cider’s color reminds me of perfectly baked shortbread; its golden but gently so. I don’t see any visible bubbles, and the cider has a soft haze. 

Aromas: petrol, apricot, leather, walnuts, mushroom

These descriptors paint a picture for me, just like the Madeira Cask Cider’s aromas do. This is a story of mature, earthy and wild scents. Its very foresty with apricot, walnut, and mushroom notes. The cider doesn’t just smell like fairy woodland though; I also get petrol and leathery elements as well. I so appreciate the multi-dimensional funk going on!

Sweetness/dryness: bone dry

This cider is dry. Don’t ask for it to be sweet. 

Flavors and drinking experiences: sparkling, lemon, smoky and funky

This cider’s  flavors grow very naturally from its aromas. The Madeira Cask Cider has some of the barrel and oxidation-related notes more associated with Madeira itself: walnut, hazelnut, and orange peel. There’s more though; this cider is sparkling, with notes of lemon, barrel, and smoke.

This is a funky cider that I think will appeal most to fans of both UK cider profiles and genuinely dry ciders. Luckily for me, I’m very fond of both! I like the cider’s acidity, austerity, and challenge. The whole experience is angular and savory. It could stand up to a hearty meal beautifully, but the cider is complex enough to enjoy on its own. Lovely.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Cider Review: Big Fish Cider Co.'s Wassail

Let’s start off this year’s cider coverage with Big Fish Cider Co.’s Wassail! A Wassail is a celebration and collective ritual to create community and bring good harvests, so it seems an auspicious way to begin a new year! Here’s to many good and delicious things for all of us.

Big Fish Cider Company makes its home in Monterey, Virginia. The cidery was founded in 2015, though the cidermaker Kirk Billingsly had more than twenty years of home cidermaking to his credit before starting Big Fish. 

Here’s a little about how the cidery is introduced on the website.

We make ciders using locally-grown apples and traditional techniques to create completely new flavors. Our cider is available in a range of off-dry to semi-sweet blends, as well as seasonal offerings.

Big Fish has won multiple best in class, gold, silver, and bronze awards at the Great Lakes Cider and Perry Competition. We have also won both the Good Food Award and a Made in Virginia Award.

More snippets of background appear in all of my earlier reviews of Big Fish Ciders, going back to the cidery’s first appearance in 2018. Here’s the full list. 

Punk and Henry (my #2 Favorite cider of 2022):

And in case you didn’t see the favorites list:

Virginia Hewes Crab(my #1 favorite cider of 2020!):

Wild Meadow:

Allegheny Gold (my #3 cider from 2019):

Highland Scrumpy (my #3 cider from 2018):

Church Hill Blush:

One of the best ways to find out more about Big Fish Cider is to visit the homepage here:

If you’d like to read more about wassailing, I recommend Dr. Maria Kennedy’s excellent blog post about Wassails old and new:

Here’s what Big Fish Cider has to say about the Wassail.

Still gold naturally cloudy Medium Sweet cider featuring Jonagold, Pink Lady, York, and Stayman apples, 8.5% abv.

From Old Norse “ves heil” literally meaning “be you healthy.” Mulled cider was traditionally drunk as an integral part of wassailing, a medieval English drinking tradition to ensure a good cider apple harvest the following year. Wassail is made with traditional mulling spices, but not so much as to eliminate the apple’s essence and taste. It’s a great wintertime drink.

Appearance: hazy, turmeric, bubbly 

The Wassail looks like a mulled cider. The color is a rich turmeric with plenty of haze. I can barely see my fingers on the other side of the glass. There are some bubbles that gather at the edges of the cider where it rings the glass.

Aromas: clove, ginger, cinnamon, minerals, cranberry, apple and cherry

Big Fish Cider Co.’s Wassail smells immediately like cinnamon, clove, ginger, orange, and wet apples. It’s tremendously enticing. Secondarily, I get notes of minerals cranberry, and cherry.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

This is a deliciously sweet cider whose sweetness feels fruity and tastes like brown sugar. The sweetness is completely welcome in this drink. Read on to see how it fits in with this gorgeous cider. 

Flavors and drinking experience: still, spices, citrus, medium acid, some tannins

Wassail delighted us on a wintry holiday evening. All of the flavors promised by the cider’s aromas came through in the flavors beautifully. Big Fish chose to make this cider still with a bloom of warmth, fruit, and spice. The cider needs to be sweet but what I appreciate about the sweetness is how it tastes quite real: nothing fake or out of balance. It’s just so very good! 

This spiced cider not only has the spice notes of clove, cinnamon, and ginger I noted in the aromas; it also uses citrus—orange juice notes quite effectively. The cider uses medium acids and immediate tannins that commingle with the clove flavor especially. Though it's plenty spicy, the cider never feels hot, pointed, or bitter. All notes play in concert beautifully. My mom described it as liquid apple pie. The apple speaks with ripe warmth, but all elements are necessary to the overall experience. What an amazing treat.