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Apple Blossoms and a Coffee Show

Well late April early May brings us apple blossoms. It is fairly an eventful time of year for me as my birthday falls on April 30. When I was a kid we would often go to the Apple Blossom Festival in Wenatchee Washington where my Mom was born and raised.

Ever since my cider pressing days started the apple blossoms mean a little bit more to me. I've also found them usefu for locating abandoned or forgotten trees. We'll see how that pans out next fall.

So as fate would have it my day job brings me to Minneapolis for the Specialty Coffee Association of America trade show. If any of you want to follow along with the adventure check out my Flickr feed.

Cider Academy.

Done deal. 4 years in the waiting and I'm finally going to attend Peter Mitchell's Cider Academy. The course I am taking is Cider Making - Principles & Practice course and it is held at the WSU Mount Vernon extension. Not too far away.

I'm pretty excited overall and the syllabus is a dream. I hope to really absorb a lot. I've never spoken with anyone who has attended these courses but I read great things. I'm hopeful as this isn't a cheap class to attend. I'm confident it will meet my expectations and be a great experience to say the least.

It is hard to choose but I expect some of the course highlights to be;

Cider Orcharding.
An really interesting topic for me. My Mom's side of the family is from Wenatchee here is Washington. The once self proclaimed "Apple Capitol of the World" is now host to a ailing apple industry and a virgining wine industry in neighboring Lake Chelan which is or was once equally apple heavy. Now orchards are being torn out to make way for vinyards. Other than just going organic can diversifying product by means of grafting cider varieties as well as other old time varieties be a viable answer? If you know apples you know apples... Why grapes? Anyway that is another blog post entirely.

Principles for Cider Production and Preparation for Fermenting.
Can you go over read about them enough times? When all is said and done this is the real reason behind going. It will be great to hear it all and take notes from a respected professional. Fruit selection, harvesting, processing, juice composition and preparation. Nice!

Commercial Cider Producer Visit
One of the days we'll be headed North of the border to Vancouver Island to check out Merridale Estate Cider. I've had sought out and had their cider twice now while in Victoria. Heading out there for a tour was high on my list for Heather and my next trip up there. It isn't harvest or anything but it should be a nice time of year to visit and for sure interesting to no end.

The Legislative Requirements, Assessment and Profiling of Cider, Blending, Lab Analysis and so-on. Honestly it all looks great and I'm pretty excited to finally be going.

On a side note some of my own pressed and blended batches are starting to take shape. Man oh man. Much much better than what I am using from the local cider mill. I don't know what they did to their recipe but at one point I was pretty successful with their juice... I was beginning to think it was me. Well anyways fresh pressed and thoughtfully blended is key, my fermentation temperature re-revelation didn't hurt either. Keep it cool brothers.

Sometimes apple picking/press partner, fellow fermenter and coffee colleague Michael Elvin wrote me up nice review of what I think will be one of the better batches yet. Surprisingly or not, it contains some great cider apples kicked down by a buddy on Whidbey. Thats trouble... How the hell am I suppose to get my hands on cider apples every year? Ideas offers and inquiries welcome...

NW Cider in the News.

Well it isn't the best example of Northwest ciders but the Seattle PI saw fit to spotlight Spire's "Dark and Dry" cider in a beer blog. Spire's D&D is Dark but 'taint Dry by any means. I drink it semi regularly as I work a block and half from the brewery and eat lunch there from time to time. Being not much of a beer guy any more I lean towards their sweet concoction for some lunch time refreshment and attitude adjusting.

Once you finish reading the blog post check out the first comment made... I couldn't have put it better myself and he nailed all the great NW cider makers so far.

You can lead them to traditional cider but you can't make em drink it.

Which beer brands (or cider) don't have twist tops?

So using Wordpress enables me to check out my stats and find out how people reached my little corner of the blogoshpere. The title of of this blog was one of the terms used today and I thought it was an excellent topic for an entry. So as a follow up to my bottle rant I am going to keep a running tally right here on which brands do and do not have twist tops. I'll edit and update this post here with my findings. If you got some suggestion let me know.

I'll create a list of cider bottles first. Naturally.

Cider bottles that can be re-cap'd and don't have twist tops.

  • Magners Irish Cider - Brown Glass

  • Blackthorne (11.2 oz bottles) - Clear Glass

  • Strongbow 12oz - Brown and Clear Glass

  • Wandering Aengus - Dark Green US bottle cap size Champagne Bottle

  • Westcott Bay Orchards - Green US bottle cap size Champagne Bottle

  • Foxbarrel - Brown Glass *labels are tough as hell to get off.

  • Spire Cider - brown 12oz labels come of fairly easy too.


Ross Family Orchards Cider - Canadian Cider from Kelowna

These days it isn't often I find a regional cider I haven't heard of or tasted. During my very recent trip to Vancouver BC seeing the Ross Family Orchards Cider on the very cool Six Acres' massive beverage menu was a nice surprise.

Overall it was pretty good and I had no problem finishing it. It had a an unexplainable semi-predictable familiarity which I can only explain as what seems to be Western Canadian Cider style.

I don't know why but even the family owned and micro cideries in British Columbia produce a real sweet product. It is like they are afraind to show people a real traditional cider. Sweet ciders may have had their day and kept cider making alive but their time is over and traditional dryer ciders are where it is at. This cider did have some great apple flavors and was sufficiently tart could have used a bit of "earthiness" and bite perhaps from some vintage cider apples or crab apples.

Another downside was the plastic bottle style cap that leaves the tamper proof lock ring behind. I was glad to find the bottle was glass although upon seeing the cap I did think it was plastic. Real farm made and fermented cider can be lots of hard work and time, and I don't know why most folks take short cuts during bottling. In my opinion a presentation faux pas like a plastic cap (or plastic anything else for that matter) does not pay the proper homage and celebrate the fruits or fermentations of their labors.

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PS. Sorry for the blog neglect. I just didn't have the energy with work, holidays and cider making/bottling. I'll try not to let it happen again and I'll get out some of the other cider critics and reviews ASAP.