#ciderchat with CIDERCRAFT Magazine



4/24/2014 6 pm Pacific – 9 pm EST


Onto our fourth #ciderchat via twitter and this week we invite CIDERCRAFT, the new bi-yearly all-cider magazine.   I made sure I got my subscription in.  I admit I didn’t expect a cider magazine to hit shelves quite yet but I knew it was inevitable.



Here is a brief description from the official press release:

Seattle, WA (April 8, 2014) – From Sip Ventures, the privately owned and operated publisher behind the award-winning regional beverage publication Sip Northwest, comes CIDERCRAFT—the first North American magazine dedicated to cider. CIDERCRAFT devotes itself to shining a light on the evolution and resurgence of one of the oldest beverages on the continent, bringing both education and appreciation of the drink to the thirsty people.

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#ciderchat with Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider and Perry



4/17/2014 6pm PST/9pm EST


Tom Oliver


Once a hop grower, now a cider master, rock and roll tour manager and social media maverick.  Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider and Perry agreed to stay up late, and by late I mean 2 am, to guest host Twitter’s weekly #ciderchat on 4/17/2014.

If you are not familliar with Tom Oliver, he is the owner and cider maker of Oliver’s Cider and Perry, an artisian cidery from Herefordshire, England.  Tom has been influential to both English and American cider makers.  Last year Tom collaborated with Virtue Cider from Michigan to produce Redstreak cider.  Did I also mention Tom is a tour manager for rock bands such as The Proclaimers.  The man does it all.

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Behind The Label- Wandering Aengus Ciderworks

wandering aengus

This post has been sitting in my draft pile for a while.  It’s a timing thing.  Last autumn Wandering Aengus, the makers of Anthem Ciders, or at least their PA reps, were pouring at Philly’s first Pour The Core cider fest.  Philly is arguably one of the best beer cities but cider is in its infancy.

Though reviewing ciders is always fun, I am sometimes drawn to the labels and story behind the cider makers.  Leprechaun, Naked Flock and Wandering Aengus all make badass labels. I have already featured the first 2 in previous posts so let’s take a look behind Wandering Aengus. Continue reading

#ciderchat with David White of Whitewood Cider



4/10/2014 6pm to 7pm Pacific/9pm to 10pm Eastern

 As you can see from the above title, I chose Whitewood Cider to represent Dave White but that is because I didn’t have enough room to list all of Dave’s organizations.  I recently identified Foggy Ridge’s Diane Flynt as one of the busiest cider producers in the country.  As for Dave, he is not only the co-owner for Whitewood Cider Co. of Washington State but also the President of the North West Cider Association, a pioneer cider blogger (oldtimeydave) and a renowned cider judge.  Oh, and I believe he has another full-time job.  Insane right?

David White

Last Thursday I hosted our first #ciderchat with special guest Diane Flynt of Foggy Ridge Cider.  It was great.  Diane is passionate and represents the true art of cider making.  We had fun and learned quite a bit. We are going to give it another go and this time we will have David White as our special guest.

For more information on Dave’s background see his complete bio here

If you missed last week’s #ciderchat or are new to twitter chats, here is how it works:

 Log into Twitter and type in the hashtag #ciderchat into the search window.  Pour yourself a cider, a Whitewood cider if you have one, and join us as we chat with David.  Learn about cider history, cider making, the cider industry and whatever else David wants to chat about.  Make sure you include #ciderchat in your tweets so we all can follow each other.






#Ciderchat With Diane Flynt Of Foggy Ridge Cider



 April 3, 2014 6pm to 7 pm Eastern Time

I have put this off for quite a while but no more. Allow me to introduce you to the first #ciderchat. I will host our weekly chat and will feature a special guest or special theme each week.

For our first #ciderchat, we will be joined by award-winning cidermaker Diane Flynt of Foggy Ridge Cider.  Foggy Ridge resides in the Blue Ridge mountains in Dugspur, Virginia.  Diane grows over 30 varieties of French and British apples.  Amongst many organizations, Diane is co-organizer of Cider Week Virginia, On the Board of directors of the Virginia Wine Board and constantly spreading the word about the cider industry.


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Cider Review – Farnum Hill Summer Cider

Farnum Hill Summer DryYes, I have been slacking recently but since I have taken a position with Great Shoals, I truly feel a part of the cider industry even though my cider cyber presence has been lacking.

Don’t bury me yet!  I am still breathing apples and to prove it I have two posts awaiting your approval.  Here is the first.

I want to give a holler out to Merideth Collins on her new position with Bellwether up in NY.  Looks like we both are riding the cider wave. Like we are becoming the Rat Pack of Cider.  Oh hell, let’s call us the “Cider Pack.”   What a good idea for my next post…

I recently reviewed a cider from Farnum Hill.  It was their Extra Dry and what a cider it was.  After visiting their web site and browsing their other available ciders, I noticed they had a summer selection.  I had to have it so I asked Merideth if she would send one over and like a true player, she did.  The weather will be breaking soon so I wanted to get my summer fix out-of-the-way.

I confess, up until the last 2 years I have dedicated most of my time toward craft beer and have seen a lot of changes over the years.  One of the things the brewers have mastered is the art of seasonal releases.  It reminds me of the produce markets.  Local tomatoes and corn in the summer, pumpkins and apples in the fall and citrus in the winter.

Will the cider folks follow the same path?  I hope so and it looks like some already are.  Strawberries and rhubarb are hitting the blend, Pumpkin and  Spices in the fall. But when I found Farnum Hill’s summer, I just knew this would be my first of many summer seasonals to come.

This is what I expect from a summer cider.  A lighter but not weak body.  Approachable but not bashful flavors. Softer tannins and balanced acidity though I wouldn’t mind a more acidic forward cider.  A quick but not premature finish.  And finally a mature carbonation. Not gassy but not still either.  Lets see how Farnum Hill’s Summer fares.

Summer pours with a champagne appearance, tight and rapid bubbles.  This looked and reminded me of a grand finale during a 4th of July fireworks.  A white thin mousse forms and quickly dissipates.

The bouquet lived up to Farnum Hill’s reputation.  A fresh and clean nose with subtle notes of apple skin, green grape and when I concentrated enough I pulled out a bit of coriander. In the end I was surprisingly hit with a bit of booziness.

I admit I spent a ridiculous amount of time whiffing this amazing cider. Like other Farnum Hill’s ciders, the body was full and creamy.  Carbonation was softer than I expected, probably because I took so long smelling the damn thing.  I bet the following pour will be different.

This reminded me of the ciders from Distillery Lane. The acidity is less intense and gives the body more texture and therefore slows the overall drinking experience.  I got citrus  in the middle and back palate. Well actually, it was lemon only.  Tannins are there but not intimidating.  Complexity is enough to remain a badass cider but light enough to drink as a summer quencher. It definitely had those familiar farmhouse qualities.  The finish was clean and crisp, just as I anticipate a summer style to be.

My overall experience:

When I poured a second glass, the acidity and carbonation was more evident and created a perfect balance.  Lemon and farmhouse qualities stole the show.  Farnum Hill’s Summer had that outside warm weather attitude.  The cider was complex enough but did not over stimulate the senses. Left enough room to enjoy the hot heat and BBQ banter.  If it had a voice, it would have tapped the other ciders on the shoulder and said “Step aside fellas, I got this one.”

Cider Review – Farnum Hill Extra Dry

“On Farnum Hill, we stick to the true meaning of the word “cider:” an alcoholic beverage fermented from particular apples, just as “wine” is fermented from particular grapes.”

This was quoted from Farnum Hill’s website and I couldn’t have said it better. Visit their website, watch their videos and you will understand the importance of true cider apple varieties. Just like a winery selects the ideal grapes, the cider maker utilizes the optimal apple varieties.foxwhelp

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Cider Review – Argus Cider – Malus Opus

opusI like history, especially food and drink history. It’s awesome to learn how something we take for granted got started.  The first time the French used forks, the first time Americans ate mussels and the first time man discovered fermentation.

Fermentation was first discovered by chance.  It was like magic.  Wild and natural yeast was the culprit but early man treated it as a work of the Gods.  I still think of it as magic, though thanks to Louis Pasteur, we now understand the role yeast plays in fermentation and can control it.

Thanks to brewers and cider makers such as Argus Cidery, we can once again relive the past and embrace what nature has given us.  Wild fermentation. Continue reading

Cider Review – Steampunk Cider

steampunkI recently acquired a bottle of Steampunk Cider from Leonard Oakes Estate Winery. Hmmmmm, Steampunk?  The name intrigued me.  I have heard the name before but where?  Oh yeah, Dogfish Head Brewery.  In 2010 Dogfish Head installed an eye-catching steampunk influenced functional sculpture that was created by artist Sean Orlando and the Five Ton Crane Arts Group in 2007.  The Tree House is 40′ tall, 40′ wide, weighs 8 tons, and consist of recycled and reclaimed materials.

But the term “Steampunk” became irrelevant to me until I opened the bottle of Steampunk Cider.  I did a little research and what I found was right up my alley.  I am a new sci-fi fan so no wonder I haven’t heard of it.

According to Wikipedia, steampunk is defined as a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery,[1] especially in a Continue reading

Cider Review – Oliver’s Traditional Cider – A Herefordshire Story

herefordshireI recently posted a Q&A with Tom Oliver from Oliver’s Cider OCLE PYCHARD, HEREFORDSHIRE, ENGLAND. You can read it here.  We know that great, some argue the best, cider is produced in West Country England.  I wanted to know a bit more about  British cider, specifically Herefordshire,  so I Googled away and found pretty much what I already know: the same thing over and over, a factual description of West Country cider.  But I wanted more stories and culture, and to feel like I am actually sitting in a Herefordshire pub.

 I finally hit Amazon and found quite a decent selection of fictional stories that focus around West Country cider, specifically Herefordshire.  To my surprise I concluded the best way to get an overall feel, of the culture and history was through fiction.  Of course I could experience it first hand but that’s unlikely to happen any time soon.  What’s the next best thing?  Fiction. Don’t believe me?  Try reading Of Apples and Serpents, by Mike Knight.  Yes, the characters and the plot is fictional but the cider culture gets right to the core of life in Herefordshire.

The story is a typical “what goes around comes around” story taken place in a town called Lower Kings Cannon.

It starts with a couple’s first visit to the old Black Lion Pub.  Over a pint of the best cider in the country,  they are greeted by a local bloke who retells the story of the “cider poisonings.”

Opening his Christmas stocking, Tom Beddows discovers an old cider recipe handed down from his Grandfather.  The recipe sits idle for years to come.  By the time Tom reaches adulthood he tragically loses his father, mother and grandfather. Not able to cope with the lost of his loved ones, he moves into the Cwm Woods and becomes a hermit.

Just when things seem impossible for Tom, the classy Lady Penelope falls off her horse near the old shack.  Tom rescues her, and to thank him, she offers him a job on the estate.  Along with his first wages came four bags of cider apples. Though Tom lived a life with few posessions he still hung on to his granddad’s cider recipe.  The typical recipe included traditional British apples such as Foxwhelp, Josie’s Crab, Slap My Girdle, Lady’s Finger, Chisel Jersey, Brown Snout and Redstreak.

Tom finally cleaned himself up and they got busy pounding apples in the tub of his shack. Tom wrapped the pulp in hessian and pressed the rough pomace in a makeshift cider press.  Oh, and he also added a freshly killed rabbit to the juice.

From the book: “He made a timber frame and with a rope and piece of timber made a tourniquet to exert pressure on the cheese.”

They shared their first batch of cider with local friends and the rest was history. They eventually formed the largest cidery in Herefordshire.

After immense success, a local childhood nemesis of Tom’s decided to poison Tom’s success by poisoning the famous cider. Dozens of young cider drinkers die from poisoned cider and Tom and his family suffer the consequences.

The book definitely epitomized the cultural life of Herefordshire.  The cider man at hay making season, the yearly wassail, agriculture and of course the local pub.

ciderNow for the cider

To represent Herefordshire cider I chose Oliver’s Traditional Cider

For the pour.  Clear with  micro bubbles. Color was that of a ripe star fruit. Based on the legs, I anticipate a full body.

On the nose, a distinct West Country perfume with floral, hay, and white grape hiding in the back.

The mouthfeel is full bodied at the highest level.  This is definitely a pub drink.  If you haven’t had a West Country British cider then prepare yourself, This cider is complex.  Big acidity caries the perfumy, floral and I mean floral notes with hay and band aid in the background. and boom, big  tannins, but not too bitter. It’s like stepping into a pool head first after sitting in the hot sun all day. Three simultaneous sensations.  As I took a couple more sips, the oak and vanilla showed up, probably from the barrels.  This is definitely dry but the intense floral notes almost reminds me of honeysuckle. This is what I want after a day of hay making or any type of farming.

People talk about aftertaste and yes this has it, we call it the finish and this is a great thing as far as I am concerned. I can imagine the cider Tom Beddows made tasting just like this.

My over all impression

This is a pub or outside beverage and since the bottle is only 16.9 oz, I can enjoy this alone.  I just love my local beer and wine store. Oliver’s is on the shelf at all times.  Folks, this is not beer, it is not wine, it’s pure cider and while the British call it lovely, I call it bad ass.