Monday, August 28, 2023

Cider Review: Redbyrd Orchard Cider's 2021 Baldwin - Brown Snout - Kingston Black

I’ve gone more than a full week wearing a boot and treating my right foot as though I’m healing a break. Thankfully the boot works and eliminates pain while walking around the house, so I will not complain about it. I do look forward to being able to resume my normal habits of walking miles a day and getting outside whenever the weather is pleasing and often when it's not. But I certainly don’t mind sitting on my porch on these late summer mornings and evenings.

But I did make it out of the house briefly this weekend to celebrate a wonderful friend, and I brought Redbyrd Orchard Cider's 2021 Baldwin- Brown Snout- Kingston Black to taste and share. I picked up this Redbyrd Orchard Cider from Ithaca’s Farmer’s Market earlier in the Summer. In case you’re ever travelling this way, do not overlook the Farmer’s Market as a place to sample and buy local ciders. Our selection is really astounding!

One of the local gems in the Finger Lakes has to be Redbyrd Orchard Ciders. The cidery is based on a small biodynamic farm near Trumansburg, York. I’ve reviewed several of their ciders since first encountering them in 2014. You can find more background in earlier reviews. Here's the full rundown of my earlier Redbyrd Orchard Cider reviews, including one from earlier this year. 

Biodynamic Cloudsplitter Extra Brut:

Tompkins King/Stoke Red (my #6 favorite cider of 2022):

Black is Gold (a collaboration with Black Diamond Cider and my #1 cider of 2021):

Celeste Sur Lie 2015:

The Andromeda Crab:

Their presence at an all FLX pairing dinner:

The North Star:

The Starblossom:

The Dry Harvest Cider 2013:

The Wild Pippin (my #1 cider of 2014, the Wild Pippin):

And I encourage folks to visit Redbyrd Orchard Cider online to learn more about the current cider lineup:

Here’s what I learned about the 2021 Baldwin- Brown Snout- Kingston Black from the folks at Redbyrd.  

Alcohol 8%

A beautiful dry cider made from these three apples: Baldwin, Brown Snout, Kingston Black

Certified Biodynamic® by Demeter

pressed rack and cloth with secondary fermentation in bottle, sediment natural

all grown, fermented and bottled at Redbyrd Orchard

22 cases produced

notes of chocolate mint, cinnamon, peppercorn, bittersweet apple

Appearance: intense brass color, brilliant, bubbly

Apologies for the action shot; I’m having issues with my camera lately. Still, it’s apparent that this cider shimmers with a beautifully intense brass color. It’s brilliant with bubbles as well. 

Aromas: oranges, autumnal, overripe apples, rubber

The Baldwin- Brown Snout- Kingston Black  causes an immediate salivary reaction for me! This is going to be a wonderfully exciting cider. The first aroma notes I can identify are overripe apple, oranges, and wet autumn leaves. The scents are mellow and a touch oxidized. I expect deep autumnal acid and apple flavors in this one. Yum.

Sweetness/dryness: fully dry

I love the total dryness of this cider. It’s austere and yet filled with flavor. 

Flavors and drinking experience: actively tannic, fine bubbles, funky, acid but round

The Baldwin- Brown Snout- Kingston Black tastes actively tannic, even a bit fiery and aggressive. I love its champagne-style bubbles from the cider’s second in the bottle fermentation. That crisp sophistication is made beautifully complex with some funky and metallic notes and big round acids. The mouthfeel is full, with a long blocky tannic finish. This cider goes best with salty foods. It’s big, fun, and challenging. These are wonderfully interesting apples, and I’m so glad that Redbyrd Orchard Cider made the most of them.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Cider Review: Citizen Cider’s Ruby Sipper

From moving fast to being grounded, my week has been a whirl and a shift. I’m in a boot and instructed to stay off my right foot for a few weeks as of this morning. I’d been experiencing increasing foot pain for about a month, but I’m hopeful that with the boot I can keep it immobilized for a while. Obviously, this is not what I’d like to be doing right now. I need to cut the blooms off of my basil, harvest from the garden, mow the yard, and care for all of the pets and people and house in my life. This slow down isn’t negotiable, so it’s time for me to literally put my feet up and see what work I can do from this position.

Happily, before I got this news, I was able to enjoy a fun new cider spotted in my local grocery store. Rhubarb and Hibiscus are two of my favorite flavors, so when I saw what Citizen Cider uses for the Ruby Sipper, I had to pick up a pack. I’m often fond of what this Vermont-based cidery creates, so I’ve reviewed several. More background info on the cidery is available in these earlier reviews. Here’s the full list. 

For Shore:

Tree Tapper:

Northern Spy:

Sur Lies:


The Wood:

Companion Sour Cherry:

Wit’s Up:

Barrel Aged:

Citizen Cider bRosé:

My visit to Citizen Cider:

Here’s a link to Citizen Cider’s website, where you can find info on all of the cider releases:

I’ll share the full description of the Ruby Sipper from Citizen Cider’s website. 

Introducing the Ruby Sipper - a cider in technicolor. This unique rosé seamlessly blends the wild aromas of Brettanomyces with notes of candied cherry, vanilla, and strawberry. Buckle up, because the Ruby Sipper is funky, fruity, and entirely out of this world.

Alcohol 4.20%

Appearance: ruby, brilliant, very few visible bubbles

My gracious! The Ruby Sipper has a lovely intense ruby red hue. Why on Earth is this cider sold in cans? This color was meant to be seen! The cider is brilliant, and I saw very few bubbles in my glass.

Aromas: rose hips, hibiscus, ripe apples, red grapes, mineral dust

This cider doesn’t have the most bold aroma but what’s there is enticing, The Ruby Sipper smells most immediately of rose hips, hibiscus, ripe apple, and red grapes. My cotaster said it smells like a sweeter cider. Lurking in the background I can detect mineral dust and creamy yogurt. 

Sweetness: Semi-dry to semi-sweet

This falls on the sweet side of semi-dry or the driest edge of semi-sweet. What sweetness is there is very fruity and juicy.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, ripe apple, sparkling, leather finish, rhubarb, hibiscus, smoky

Wow, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this cider based on the mention of Brettanomyces in the description. That’s honestly not what I taste. Instead, in the Ruby Sipper I get loads of high acid, plenty of fruit, and a specifically leathery finish. The fruit is a beautiful blend of apple and rhubarb and is clear in the taste in a way that was less so on the nose. 

There are elements that taste a bit smoky even meaty; they are phenols that I taste often in higher concentrations in heritage style English ciders. The Ruby Sipper has a pleasingly rich mouthful, but it’s not sticky or overwhelming. My co-taster commented that it reminded him of a sweet ripe tomato.

I enjoyed this with a wild rice and veggie salad that included tomatoes from my garden, tangy cheese, and all manner of ephemeral summer flavors.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Cider Review: Ragged and Right Cider Project's First Pick Gravenstein

This moment at the dizzy height of Summer grants a full view of the season to come: Autumn. We’re in the midst of so many harvests; school is gearing up to begin another year. Mornings are webbed with dew and spider silk. In my life, the temporary kittens have gone on to their next foster home, so I’m back to enjoying quiet porch mornings with coffee and my own pets. I’m ready for the calm that I can steal during a busy time. One evening this past week, we had a quiet dinner at home with a new cider and that was just right. Here’s how Ragged and Right Cider Project's First Pick Gravenstein worked out for us.

This is my first ever review of anything by Ragged and Right Cider Project. I believe this was another cider scored in a NW Cider Club box. Ragged and Right Cider Project comes out of Washington state. The cidery focuses on using local fruit to ferment small-batch craft cider. Here’s a quote from the website that gives a bit more insight into Ragged and Right’s priorities!

The sister company of Farmstrong Brewing, Ragged & Right Cider exists to provide high end, locally sourced, hard cider. We get our juice straight from the press at our local juice makers and don’t add sugars or substitutes. Blending unique, delicious, and complex cider that will get you somewhere between ragged and right.

Here’s the official description for the First Pick Gravenstein cider.

The inaugural bottling of our First Pick series shines a light on the delicious Gravenstein Apple, grown and pressed at Bellewood Acres in Whatcom County. The initial notes in the aroma are light and pillow like which is mimicked in the delicate first sip. Starting crisp and effervescent, the flavor unfolds in waves as the full flavors of the apple come to life with every sip. 5.3% ABV.

Find this side project of Farmstrong Brewing online here:

Appearance: pale straw, brilliant, no visible bubbles

This looks totally welcoming and familiar with its pale straw color shining in the glass. It’s not an intense shade, but rather its mellowness is gentle and appealing. I don’t see any bubbles in the glass

Aromas: mineral dust, white grapes, woody

The First Pick smells pleasant with an immediate intensity of aroma that I love. What hits first is lots of mineral dust, white grape, and some bitter notes. My co-taster smelled stone, wood, and cotton: an intriguing and clean bouquet.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

This cider is semi-sweet—surprising and unusual for a single varietal. Often those are fermented to dryness and this instead has plenty of residual sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, leather, strong sparkle, ripe green apple, vanilla

The First Pick tastes lightly leathery with high acidity. The cider offers nice richly abiding sparkle, and a full mouthfeel. The First Pick is sessionable and easily drinkable. I found the cider has a creamy finish, with notes of vanilla. The fruitiness of the midpalate is boisterous and concentrated ripe green apple.

We had this with Zucchini Pie (made by me), and the combination was ideal!

Monday, August 7, 2023

Cider Revew: Nine Pin Ciderworks' Pink Lemonade

My life is happily rather upside down at the moment! There are four little black kittens just bouncing and stalking and napping around my office. We’re short-term fostering them, and it’s the first time I’ve ever helped foster little kittens. I’ve certainly visited litters to help socialize them and raised cats of my own, but this is an entirely new situation. They’ve been here less than a day, but my heart is wrapped up in them so completely. So it seems that my current cider companions will not raise a glass with me, as they are all underage!

That’s just as well, as I’m not sure I want to share my Nine Pin Ciderworks’ Pink Lemonade. Woody bought this a few weeks ago, but I’ve found myself reaching for it on warm Summer evenings. It’s been too long since any Nine Pin has been featured on the blog! Here are all of my earlier Nine Pin Ciderworks reviews. More background info on this Albany, New York based cider can be found in these. 

House of Dabinett:

Cucumber Lime Light Cider:

Gathering of the Farm Cideries (including the Cascara cider):

Peach Tea:



Signature cider:

Here’s how to find Nine Pin Ciderworks online:

I’ll share how the folks at Nine Pin describe the Pink Lemonade. 

When life gives you New York apples, make Pink Lemonade! Nine Pin’s Pink Lemonade cider is made from 100% New York apples then infused with lemons and Citra hops. This refreshing cider is blended with juice from Samascott Orchard’s Red Ace beet crop to create that signature pink color. 6.2% ABV. 

Appearance: hazy, warm peach, some visible bubbles

Based on the name of the cider and the mention of using beets for color, I did expect bolder pink. Instead we have something lovely, soft, and natural. It looks more like peach nectar to me than pink lemonade with that warm hue and fuzzy haze. Even with the haze, I can see plenty of still bubbles that collected on the side of the glass. So inviting!

Aromas: lemons and lemonade, hops, 

The Pink Lemonade cider smells vividly of citric acid. Its a gorgeous bright neon sign blinking “Lemonade!” by way of lemon. Secondarily I get notes of hops, particularly the grapefruit face of hops. It smells zingy almost prickly. The aromas are appealing and balanced, but I would love to get more apple aroma.

Sweetness/Dryness: Semi-dry

The Pink Lemonade is neither austere nor notably sweet. It’s tart in a distinctly enjoyable way which leads me to believe there is some sweetness to balance that out. 

Flavors and drinking experience: lemony, hops, warming, clean ferment

Nine Pin has made a friendly and easy-drinking summer beverage with the Pink Lemonade. It’s tasty with a medium intensity of sparkle and a full body. It’s extremely lemony, and the hops persist but they meld with the lemon seamlessly.

It’s refreshing but warming all at once. I appreciate the clean fermentation to be expected of Nine Pin. My only hope if there are future iterations would be for more apple-forward aroma and flavor profile. Indeed this feels like a summer drink that’s simply a hopped lemonade rather than a cider made with hops and lemon. Nonetheless, it’s tremendously enjoyable! I’ll happy relish these on hot nights or thunderstorm afternoons, with kittens underfoot.