Monday, September 25, 2023

Cider Review: Eden Ciders' Fuzz Ball Harvest Cider

How can I be poetic about the time of the year when everyone I know is telling me how behind they feel? It’s not just bad stuff; people are stuffing their lives overfull with those things we must do and some of the experiences that bring us joy or contentment. That’s exactly where I am too. What the moment has in common is just the tumbling, “Are we flying or falling?”  momentum of it all. I think we’re like those busy, distracted, intense squirrels and chipmunks perhaps, trying to fit it all in before the winter comes. Or at least that’s how things look from here. 

I'm up and out of the boot, so that might be part of why I'm going absolutely everywhere. I missed this for the past 5 weeks!

Yesterday, I was determined to get one last important treat from my garden. I gathered the last of the ripe tomatoes, and we turned them into a tomato pie. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know it's one of my favorite dishes and a great cider pairing. I had a fairly new box Eden ciders too, since I’m a member of the cider club. That made choosing easy. I wanted to try the new Harvest canned cider: Fuzz Ball.

Eden is a fabulous cidery from northern Vermont. I’ve reviewed their ciders many times. In earlier reviews, I include more background on this wonderfully apple focused cidery. Here is the full list of my earlier reviews:

Cobble Knoll:


Oliver’s Twist Foxwhelp Cider:

Brut Rose:


Deep Cut:

Peak Bloom:


Extra Sec:

Eden Heritage Cider:

Siren Song:

Brut Nature:

Imperial 11 Degree Rose:

Sparkling Dry:

The Sparkling Dry featured in Thanksgiving & Birthday celebrations in 2016:

Eden Specialty Ciders can be found online here, plus you can meet the newest additions to the portfolio:

 The Fuzz Ball was included in my club shipment. It excited me, because I love a dry cider in a can. I want the ease of a canned cider sometimes. There’s not a lot that easier for a bonfire evening or a movie night. And I know that Eden Specialty Cider has made some of the best I’ve ever tasted.  Here’s what the folks at Eden Cidery have to say about this new one: Fuzz Ball Harvest Cider. 

Fuzz Ball 6.2% ABV

You should see me in a crown. 

Notes of lemon pith, soft herbs, wheat biscuits with jam.

Limited Run. Made with the pomace of the renowned Kingston Black, Fuzz Ball is dry dry dry. Crisp, structured, really, truly, if you love dry this is going to knock your socks off!

Appearance: Cloudy cool toned yellow

When poured, the Fuzz Ball reveals the reason for its name. It’s a cloudy cool toned yellow that reminds me of honey and dandelion fluff. 

Aromas: Smells sharp, crisp, white floral, ripe apples,grassy, chalk

This cider smells sharp, crisp, and apple-y immediately. I definitely recommend pouring it from the can into a glass to get the full aromatic experience. After a moment, I notice white flowers, dry grassy notes, and chalk.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry

Completely dry. No fooling around here.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, astringent, twiggy, sour orange, ripe apple

Emphatically dry, this cider is more than just what it doesn’t have. The Fuzz Ball brings off-the-charts acid in a super yummy way. The Kingston Black pomace indee imparted some assertive astringence like twiggy young green wood. After the tannins and acids make their presence thoroughly known, I can get into more specific flavors like lemongrass, green apple, and sour orange.

We enjoyed this cider along with a goodbye to Summer supper of tomato pie (with a cheese crust of course) and vegetarian baked beans. It was simple and delightful. The Fuzz Ball was a wonderful accompaniment, because it lifted and separated flavors with its acidity and bubbles. 

Now if we can just find a moment to remain still and appreciate the changes of the season. 

Monday, September 18, 2023

Cider Review: Hudson North Cider Co.'s Toasted Pumpkin

Today I watched chipmunks in a garden during my lunch break and walked with normal shoes on campus for the first time in almost a month. I relished the bright blue sky and dappled shade. I noticed how good the outdoors looked and felt grateful to get to enjoy these things and notice them as they happen. This moment of seasonal shift is a lovely one. We’re almost to the Autumnal Equinox, and harvest is already underway.

Over the weekend I had the fun of trying a new-to-me cidery! One of my most wonderful co-tasters, Woody, picked up a six-pack of Hudson North Cider Co. for the first time. This Hudson Valley cidery is hoping to open a taproom in Fall 2024 and now is available in some states and shipping to many more. The apples come from Minard Farm in Clintondale, New York. 

This is the first time I’ve reviewed anything by Hudson North Cider Co. 

Find out all about the cider offerings and sign up for the newsletter here:

Here’s how the folks at Hudson North Cider Co. describe the Toasted Pumpkin.

Hitting all the flavor notes we crave in the fall, Toasted Pumpkin is packed full of warming spices and pumpkin pie. Made with Hudson Valley apples, this cider pours hazy golden brown reminiscent of a chilled mulled cider.

5% ABV — Gluten Free  —  8g Sugar

Appearance: foamy, intense pumpkin orange, hazy

The Toasted Pumpkin pours initially with a head, but it dissipates relatively quickly. The color is a fun one! It looks just exactly like a fresh pumpkin with all of that orange intensity. The cider is mildly hazy with some visible bubbles.

Aromas: Orange, citrus, nutmeg, allspice and cake and cinnamon and yeast!

Initially Hudson North’s cider’s aromas remind me of orange and other juicy citrus fruits. Secondarily, I get ripe apple, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and yeast. All in all, the range of aromas remind me of a spiced pumpkin frosting. The scents are very seasonal and appealing. 

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

There’s a lot going on in the Toasted Pumpkin cider, and it has some sweetness. In England, this would be called a Medium. I’ll call it a Semi-dry here. I think the sweetness is necessary to bring other elements together into a pleasing whole. Keep reading to see what all is going on.

Flavors and drinking experience: mild tannins, sour, apple, spices, funky

Everyone who tried Hudson North Cider Co.’s Toasted Pumpkin along with Woody and me quite enjoyed it. The cider bring mild tannins, moderate sourness,  apple, spices, and funk to the seasonal party. For me the medium sweetness really helped balance out the spices and tart or sour flavors. It reminds me of sour beer, but it’s still very recognizably cider, which is much more appealing for me! We agreed that it’s just a little bit funky, but what dominates is lots of apple followed by some pleasing Fall spice.

The Toasted Pumpkin has a light body and medium level of sparkle. It was a total delight with vegetarian sausages and multiple different kinds of homemade soft pretzel. What a treat!

Monday, September 11, 2023

Cider Review: Nine Pin Ciderworks Apple Pie-secco

Boot life continues whenever I leave the house, but this weekend I was able to take some practice time in the house to get used to moving around without it. On flat surfaces, I felt pretty good! Stairs will take a bit more time. The thrill was so real that I had to try a new recipe for my sourdough starter discard. And of course a dessert necessitates a fun cidery pairing! Nerdy domesticity rules my weekends with great joy.

Here’s what I tried:

They turned out beautifully with just one notable adjustment; my dark chocolate was a dark chocolate with almonds. Yum! And with that delicious dessert, I was very happy to enjoy Nine Pin Ciderworks’ Apple Pie-secco. Wordplay on apple pie plus Prosecco (the sparkling wine) gives the cider an immediate association with warm cooked apples and baking spices plus the delight of a sparkling beverage. 

Nine Pin Ciderworks is based out of Albany, New York but now distributed and shipped to at least 35 states. Here’s a quick list of all of my previous reviews of Nine Pin Ciders! More background information can be found in these earlier reviews.

Pink Lemonade:

House of Dabinett:

Cucumber Lime Light Cider:

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

Peach Tea:



Signature cider:

Nine Pin Ciderworks’ website is the best place to learn about all of this New York Cidery’s releases and taproom events:

My faithful co-taster Woody picked this up locally. So many different cideries create their own version of fall-spiced ciders, so I’m always curious to see how everyone’s tastes!

Here’s the official description from the folks at Nine Pin: Crafted from apples from Samascott Orchards in Kinderhook, New York, Apple Pie-Secco symbolizes life’s simple joys, autumnal aromas filling our homes, explosions of taste; pure comfort. 6.5% ABV. 

Appearance: Brilliant, brassy blonde, few visible bubbles 

I love how brassy blonde this color looks in the glass. It's too pretty for a can, but I say that a lot. The cider poured brilliant with few visible bubbles.

Aromas: sweet and gentled cooked apple, cinnamon, ginger, 

The Apple Pie-secco offers up a medium intense aroma of ginger, apple and cinnamon. The apple smells mellow and cooked. This definitely gets the autumnal associations flowing. One note, in order to really access these great smells, you must use a glass.

Sweetness/Dryness: Semi-sweet

This cider is on the sweeter side, but it’s notably not fully sweet. This really gives an additional level of complexity to the cider’s other qualities like acids, body, bubble, and Nine Pin’s use of cinnamon.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, strong cinnamon, vanilla finish

Nine Pin’s Apple Pie-secco starts off with a beautiful burst of high acid that I associate with New York and eastern United States ciders more generally. Next, that acid coalesces into flavors I recognize as ripe peach and cooked apple.  This cider’s midpalate expands to include spices, mostly cinnamon; it tastes holiday-ish and feels a little rough and sandpapery, The cider’s finish is oodles of vanilla.

One of the most interesting characteristics of this cider was how the bubbles felt prickly and spiky and zesty. 

I appreciate that Nine Pin’s Apple Pie-secco doesn’t just go for the same profile as the classic seasonal sipper. The vanilla is a nice touch, as is backing off on the sweetness just a touch. It was a beautiful accompaniment to my chocolate chip cookies, but I imagine it would be even better with shortbread and caramel. 

Monday, September 4, 2023

Cider Review: Albemarle Ciderworks Brut D'Albemarle Hewes Crab

We’re back to warm weather for this week, but it feels like a lingering goodbye rather than anything more lasting. I’m still moving slowly in a boot, but I’m managing more than I did last week. One evening this week, it felt right to pull something special out of the fridge and I chose Albemarle Ciderworks’ Brut D’Albemarle Hewes Crab. 

I may be a Wickson girl through and through, but my tall co-taster Alex feels almost as passionate about the Hewes Crab. He’s not wrong. This apple always brings some amazing flavor and intensity to a cider. Our expectations were high from the moment we got this cider as a gift from the kind folks at the cidery.

Here are my earlier reviews of Albemarle Ciderworks’ ciders. The newest ones are first. There’s more background information about this Virginia cidery in these, and you’ll find the most in the earliest reviews. 


Brut D’Albemarle Harrison:


Ragged Mountain:

Royal Pippin:

Pomme Mary (a Top Ten cider from 2013):

I recommend visiting the Albemarle Ciderworks website to learn more about the ciders and happenings at the cidery:

Here’s what I could find online about this cider!

A bottle conditioned cider that is very similar to an apple champagne. Great for that special celebration!

Alcohol 10.00%

And just a little more detail.

Notes from the CiderMaker: Brut d’Albemarle is a bottle conditioned cider made in a Champagne style. A single varietal of the Virginia Hewes Crab was fermented in stainless steel and bottled with a small dose of yeast and sugar. The resulting cider is more carbonated than our usual offerings making it a great bubbly beverage for special occasions and celebrations.

One last link. Here’s where to read what the cidery says about the Virginia Hewes Crab as an apple.

Appearance: Brilliant, warm goldenrod, bubbly

This cider is a spectacle! I am amazed by the gorgeous warm goldenrod color and its picture perfect brilliance. And there will be bubbles! Lovely.

Aromas: flowers, old books, ripe apples and peaches

I know to expect a dry cider, but the aromas on the Brut D'Albemarle Hewes Crab are redolent with crystalline floral sweetness. I get notes of ripe apples, peach and old books. It’s a lazy warm smell with hints of afternoon dust motes in the sunlight. I get a much more energetic salivary reaction though, so I know acid is on its way.

Dryness/sweetness: Dry, but not bone dry.

I love that the Brut D'Albemarle Hewes Crab tastes dry, but not bone dry. It feels structured and sophisticated but its also unfolding with lots of fruit and flavor. 

Flavors and drinking experience: Citrus, orange zest, stone fruit, fennel, acidic and bubbly

My high expectations are rewarded! The Brut D'Albemarle Hewes Crab is alive with flavor. This is the whole experience with acid and tannins but so fruity and bubbly! The first note I get from the cider is citrus, specifically orange zest followed by stone fruit and fennel.

It’s delightfully bubbly. I’m a big fan of strong sparkle, and this cider is a party! The bubble lifts, the tannins hold, the acids excite, and the ABV provides a substantial mouthfeel for all of the ciders many fruit flavors. All of the elements are working together to create a simply wonderful experience. This cider could be served with any number of dishes, from the simple to the elaborate. We served it with homemade summer pesto, homegrown tomatoes, pasta and zucchini. Not much could be better! Cheers.