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INSTAPAPER CIDER
NEW ARTICLE ARCHIVE



Friday
Oct032008

More NW Cider Press and Cider Events at Harvest Time

Well it is that time of year again. The harvest season where you'll find all of us involved in apples (or trying to be) running like mad. Picking, milling, pressing, sanitizing, storing, testing, adding nutrients, racking, worrying. I don't have my own trees or an orchard yet but I've been beyond busy "hustling" and collecting early season apples and pressing them since about a month or more ago, and I don't see any signs of it letting up. I'm actually starting to panic about my cider storage situation. I'll probably end up a little shy of the legal home-brewing limit for the year. Good thing I haven't done any cider making since pressing last year. I have the room I think, but what I don't have is ample proper storage. But I'm working on it and welcome any and all inexpensive or reasonably priced solutions or suggestions. At least I'll be able to justify having a full size oak barrel or two.

Red Barn Ciders award winning cider Burro Loco Red Barn Cider's award winning cider "Burro Loco"

More Cider Press... The Red Barn Edition.
The Seattle Times has really been doing a great job covering the traditional and craft cider revolution happening here in the NW. They might just be trying to "predict" the next craft beverage dos to them for understanding what it is all about. I do my best with Google News Alerts to keep on top of cider news Worldwide but somehow I missed a great article featuring Drew Zimmerman at Red Barn Cider up in Mount Vernon.

Check out the Seattle Time's newest cider article "Northwest artisans are crafting a renaissance in handmade hard ciders" here.

Drew was a mainstay at Cider School last June. He is an all around really great guy, a very knowledgeable cider maker not to mention lots of fun to talk apples and cider with. It was an honor and a privilege to have him participate in WSU's Cider School. Red Barn's Cider has become one of my favorites over the past couple years and it keeps getting better. Thanks again to both Drew and the kind folks Red Barn!

Irvines Vintage Blend Cider - Vashon Winery - Vashon Island, Washington Irvines Vintage Blend Cider - Vashon Winery - Vashon Island, Washington

Vashon Cider Fest.
I've anxiously been awaiting Vashon Cider Fest coming up this weekend at home here in Washington State. Heather and I take off from tomorrow at around 8 AM to catch a ferry at around 9 AM to attend the whole event.

They've got a great line up of cider related activities planned.

  • Juice pressing and apple identification with the Vashon Fruit Club from 10 AM to 3 PM.

  • A cider making seminar with Dr. Bob Norton, Ron Irvine (Vashon Winery and Irivine's Vintage Cider) and Drew Zimmerman (Tulip Valley Winery and Red Barn Cider) from 1 to 2 PM.

  • Cider tasting showing 8 different cideries and up to 15 ciders from 3 to 6 PM.

  • All followed up by a 4 course cider dinner at Vashon's The Hardware Store Restaurant that will match ciders to each course at 6:30 PM sponsored by Vashon Island Rotary and the NW Cider Society.


Heather and I just recently signed up and paid dues with the NW Cider Society and this will be our first NW Cider Society event. Needless to say we are both pretty excited about the whole day's events, and Heather is especially excited about the dinner.

Anyway I'm hoping for some great note and picture taking so I can blog the event when I get home... Stay Tuned.
Thursday
Sep182008

Blossomwood Cidery - Semi-Sweet Farmhouse Cider

Blossomwood Cidery - Farmhouse Sem-Sweet Blossomwood Cidery - Farmhouse Sem-Sweet Label Art

This cider came to attention and my doorstep through what I can only call divine intervention. I think... Let's just call it a wonder of the internet. Whatever the case I'm very glad it it did. I sat down on a nice Summer evening with my girlfriend Heather and her brother Dave and had what I would consider real cider tasting. Tasting, focusing, concentrating, translating and recording the data with the sole purpose of writing this. I only hope we did it the justice it deserves.

In the bottle and then subsequently in the glass Blossomwood's Semi-Sweet Farmhouse Cider had an absolute crystal clear brilliance and light straw-like golden colored luminance. As clear as you could hope for with a clear pale gold with a sort of warm peachy rosé hue. Nice to look at. I know you can't judge a cider by it's clarity but as I looked at this cider it was hard not to get excited about what was to come.

The Aroma. As I recorded it we thought the cider had a clean sweet oakiness character with sweet aromas of brown sugar, caramel, apple pie, apple crisp. natural, clean, slightly baked and fresh baked.

Blossomwood Cidery - Semi-Sweet Farmhouse Cider Blossomwood Cidery - Semi-Sweet Farmhouse Cider

I generally prefer dry cider but Blossomwood's Semi-Sweet Farmhouse really skewed my impression of what a "sweeter" cider could offer. Far from the "tastes like fresh apple juice" cider  or "hard cider" cliche I found it to be intensely refreshing and not overly sweet. Crisp fresh baked tangy apple flavors and well rounded grilled pineapple sweet acidity. Gracefully almost unnoticeably it finishes gently, nice and dry leaving just enough of an oaky tannin sort of impression behind. A little earthy even. Golden, baked, crisp, clean, refreshing, sort of earthy... Sounds like Colorado to me.

I don't know of much cider activity out Colorado way but they can rest assured Blossomwood seems like a traditional cider maker that does it right. Given chance and availability this cider could be a hit with just about anyone, from the hardcore discriminate cider traditionalist to the cider new-comer you are longing to ween off the Woodchuck. Approachable levels of complexity, oakiness and character, this semi-sweet can surely hold his own against some of the best North American ciders I've tasted. Given the chance I'd pick it up again in a second and drink it nearly as fast. If I had any criticism I might say it really didn't push the envelope, then again I do find myself wondering if semi-sweet ciders should.

If you live in or near Western Colorado look for it...

Monday
Jul282008

Cider Press for 2 Vancouver Island Cider Makers

Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse ~ Vancouver Island - British Columbia, Canada Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse ~ Vancouver Island - British Columbia, Canada

It seems the media has been trying to predict Cider's comeback for a handful of years now. I think good honest traditional craft cider is just starting to get it's legs now.

Recently I've seen 2 different newspaper stories, one from the Seattle Times and one from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on a pair of craft cider makers located on Canada's Vancouver Island. Lucky for me they are just a few hours North of where I live. Vancouver Island is a picturesque locale and possesses a near perfect climate and micro-climates for terrific cider apple growing.

For those following my personal cider adventures during Cider School we were able to participate in a whirlwind day long tour of both places.

Sea Cider ~ Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Sea Cider
http://www.seacider.ca/

Having recently just celebrated it's 1st anniversary, Sea Cider's facility is a gorgeous revamped Barn. Sea Cider has small but efficient orchard of cider apples organically grown on espalier (trellaced like wine grapes). Just beyond the orchard on the horizon is surreal view of Haro Straight. They have a terrific stories of old time Rum Running that occured across this very straight during Prohibition. These stories inspired one of their more popular ciders "Rum Runner" which unfortunately for me just so happened to be sold out during my last visit. I'm anxiously awaiting a taste of that. We engaged in serious tasting during our visit and all of Sea Cider's ciders are seriously delectable. One of my new favorites. You gotta check these guys out!

Merridale Estate Cider ~ Vancouver Island - British Columbia, Canada Merridale Estate Cider ~ Vancouver Island - British Columbia, Canada

Merridale Estate Cider
http://www.merridalecider.com/

Merridale has created a terrific destination cidery and orchard nestled up in their own little corner of Mill Bay right off the Trans Canada Highway on Vancouver Island. Merridale is on the Vancouver Island Wine Route and features a classy tasting room, first rate Bistro and even Brick Oven Bakery. Merridale has a nice selection of cider varieties and is becoming a popular location for weddings and private events. A self guided tour of their orchard and facility is available using a series of informative signage. An enjoyable and educational stop for any cider lover.

EDIT: I want to thank the owners of Sea Cider and Merridale for showing the cider class around last June. It was really great to check out both of their operations. They were vastly different but in their own unique ways they have raised the bar by turning cider production facilities into a cider destinations, all the while uplifting the craft cider industry by providing an unforgettable cider experience. Thanks guys!

This is good press for cider. No pun intended. Now if we could just get the writers and corporate media to referencing the now cliche "Cider House Rules" in their article titles. It isn't cute anymore.

Thats all I have... you can check out the real articles now.

Seattle Times
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/travel/2008045521_trislandintro13.html

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08208/898678-37.stm
Wednesday
Jul232008

Cider Tasting at Gravity Beer Market

Gravity Beer Market ~ Olympia WA Gravity Beer Market ~ Olympia WA

It's been too long and I am way over due on the blog posts.
Cider School was great, everything I expected and more but I learned and experienced so much that I'm finding it difficult to decide exactly what to write about. That post will come soon.

In the meantime if any of you folks out there in and around Olympia are curious about ciders I will be helping Gravity Beer Market will be holding an informal cider tasting at their "Last Friday Tasting" which is this Friday.

Here are the details:
When: Friday, July 25th
Where: Gravity Beer Market
Time: 5-7pm
Cost: $5 per person with proper ID
Ciders: Strongbow (England), Aspall Dry (England), Sam Smith Organic (England), Wandering Aengus Semi Dry Organic (Oregon), Westcott Bay (Washington), Spire Pear (Washington)

Gravity co-owner Roma has chosen a wide variety of different ciders from the Northwest and England. We have a few craft ciders as well as a few production ciders. This would be a opportunity and introduction for folks wanting to learn a little bit about what the cider market has to offer these days.
Come with questions, I'll do my best to answer them.

PS: In the next day or so I'll posting tasting notes and reviews of a really impressive Cider and Perry from Blossomwood Cidery which is located in Cedaredge, Colorado.
Thursday
May152008

British Invasion: Samuel Smith Organic Cider?

Samuel Smith's NEW Cider
For me the release of Samuel Smith's Organic Cider comes completely out of left field. I've long enjoyed Sammy Smith beers and ales. Their Oatmeal Stout is one of my favorites, the Imperial Stout is tops, the Winter Warmer a Holiday favorite for sure and the Organic Lager and Ale always hits the spot. Let's face it for a larger independent brewer they represent consistent quality, and you can buy it absolutely everywhere and drink it most any time.

Sammy Smith's new cider holds true to standards set by it's hopped and malted forefathers. They call it an "Organic" cider and the label boasts the tag line "Produced from Organically grown apples.". That doesn't mean this isn't a cider produced from organically grown apples turned to concentrate. I haven't found any information that states whether or not it is or isn't. So who knows... The back label carries a USDA Organic logo up top. By Organic standards it looks legit.

I'd call Sammy's new cider a real solid medium sweet cider. It possesses nicely fermented apple flavors and was a lot bigger on taste and quality than I had expected. The sweetness is pleasantly backed up and balanced with a wee bit of tartness and acidity which I find absolutely necessary in a drinkable cider.

To sum it all up Samuel Smith's Organic Cider isn't as dry as I would like (not much is), nor as complex as I'd like (ditto) and I'd love to see a bit of tannin zip and zing to it (amen). It is however a really great "Daily Driver" and for what it is, what it costs and who it is competing against it is a terrific addition to the growing number of quality ciders on the market. If you like the Strongbows, Blackthornes, and Magners out there or if you are even just starting to look into enjoying ciders you are sure to enjoy Samuel Smith's new organic cider and I whole heartedly recommend it. This could be your "gateway" to real ciders.

Enjoy and if anybody out there is able to find it and give it a try, I'd love it if you would drop on back by and tell me what you think.

Got suggestions or even review requests? I'd be happy to oblige and/or add them to my list of "to-do's". In the not to distant future I hope to review 2 of my absolute Northwest favorites... Westcott Bay Ciders from San Juan Island Washington and Wandering Aengus from Oregon. Not to mention a couple bourbon recommendation.

Thanks for reading.

Update: Ran across a new post about Sammy Smith's new cider here http://blogs.timesunion.com/dowdondrinks/?p=504