#ciderchat with Tilted Shed Ciderworks


6/5/2014  6pm PST / 9pm EST

Ellen Cavalli and Scott Heath, are the husband and wife team behind Tilted Shed Ciderworks – a small cidery in the center of wine country, Sanoma County. Well actually Sanoma County was once a leader in apple farming and Tilted Shed aims to bring back that almost forgotten tradition.



Experimenting in New Mexico from 2007 to 2011, Scott Heath, the mad scientist/cider maker honed his cider making skills and brought his partner back to Northern California and opened Tilted Shed, producing small batch ciders the traditional way – from pressing to blending by hand.

Ellen, the master behind the scenes takes care of sales, marketing and distribution and will be joining us this week on #ciderchat along with Scott Heath, talking apples, cider making and the future of California cider.


Tilted shed


Join other cider fans on twitter by following hashtag #ciderchat on Thursday 6/5/2014 6pm PST / 9pm EST.  See you there.


#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.






Cidery Profile – Millstone Cellars

millstone tasting room

A passionate Chef walks the busy street market touching, smelling and inspecting the local produce for inspiration for today’s menu.  He finds heirloom tomatoes, yellow beets and, smoked duck.  Ooh La La “Todays salad.”

This is exactly what came to mind when I met  kyle Sherrer from Millstone Cellars, the award-winning cidery and meadery from Monkton, Maryland.  Kyle is a young, creative, and ambition bloke who is putting Maryland cider on the map.

Baby Ginger, Wildflower, Cranberry, Blueberry and Tulip Poplur Honey. local Chinook Hops, sour cherries and I thought I heard him mention gooseberries?  I hate to compare them to a craft brewer but this is certainly how the craft breweries went from pale ales in the early 90s to wild fermented ales and the exotic potions of today’s brews.

The difference is the cider makers of today have already taken that craft approach and are concocting basically whatever the hell they want.  Kyle and his father, along with 100 hundred other cider makers are combining tradition with artistic ingenuity, redefining what a cider should or shouldn’t be.

Millstone Cellars sits in a refurbished 1840s grist mill located in Monkton, MD. Millstone currently distributes to Washington, DC and Maryland.

Their tasting room is available for free tours and tastings every sat, 12  6pm.
I asked Kyle to reminisce the old days how he and his father started on this fermentation journey.  This is what he had to say:
We got started with my father being in the wine industry (went to UC Davis for viticulture and winemaking, winemaker in MD and VA during 80’s & 90’s) and I had just graduated from college with a degree in finance and saw this as an opportunity to get into a creative business that had growth potential.  Saw cider(and mead) as a way of exploring wine styles while remarkably old where it seems forgotten which allowed us to recreate them with some of our own idea’s and stylistic contributions in the process.
Kyle also shared with me the near future plans of Millstone Cellars.

Working on our fall line up now. Harvest, our still semi sweet aromatic style cider recreation from last year was just bottled and we are now getting ready to blend farmgate, our still bone-dry style cider focusing on the tart and tannic apples and has a nice oaky finish.  Seasonal ciders on the way are cherrykriek tart cherry cider, hopvine dry cascade hopped cider, and a session (8% alc.) plum mead.  Working on some cool projects to work on some new styles for next year involving wild yeast ferments, skin contact, perry, and  brettanomyces. 

Did he say brett? For those who are not familiar with brettanomyces. see this link I have decided to write my posts a little different from the previously traditional reviews. My main focus is to profile the cider makers and tell their story. Then dive into a variety of their ciders. This way I can compare their ciders and give a fresh perspective, plus it’s just fun.

Ciderberry is the first of three I tried this week.  This is what Kyle had to say about Ciderberry:

Ciderberry is a sour dry cider that we made using 10% red raspberry from Agriberry in V.A.  We liken it to a framboise style lambic but without the sweetness that you find in your average lindermans.  The red raspberries fermented and aged for about 6 months before we blended it into our cider. 
Cidderbery, a blush color, somewhat cloudy  medium bodied cider consisting of Red Raspberries, Rome Beauty, and Stayman Winesap apples. Tart raspberry, tangerine, sweet apple. light spice, oak and subtle vanilla make up the complex bouquet.
This was a dry, clean cider with an intense raspberry profile. I was reminded of a Flanders Red Ale, a drink for the sour lovers. I found notes of light apple, pink grapefruit, Mineola and oak aged characters, but not over the top. So you non-oaky folks out there won’t be discouraged.  The tart berries obviously steal the show.
millstone baby bginger

Next up Is Millstone’s Gingeroot. A straw-champagne colored semi-sweet cider constructed with Baby Ginger, Blueberry Honey, Mcintosh ,  and Summer Rambo apples.  Gingeroot starts with an aroma of crystalized ginger, lemon, sweet dessert apples and dried flowers.

Now this is the difference between dried and fresh ginger, The baby ginger must give it a sweeter and less sharp taste.  Ginger and lemon dominates the front and hides behind the tart middle palette then comes back stronger in the finish.  A lingering long dry finish leaves the palate refreshed.
Bringing in the rear of this threesome is Millstone’s Winesap.  Stayman Winesap, Tulip Poplur Honey and York Imperial are the main stars in this off-dry cider.

Aromas of sweet apple peel, tart apple sauce, floral, honeysuckle, quince. and star fruit makes for a complex nose.

Medium to full-bodied. Roasted apple, apple peel, and bitter apple seed makes up the front palette.   Acidity dominates the front and middle but finishes in balanced fashion. Tart apple follows through the end. Bitterness is higher than other ciders. a hop head’s delight. The finish was clean and quick.

I will say it now. Keep your eyes out for this young MD cider and mead producer.  They are a force to be reckoned with and they will help change the misconceived idea of what a cider is and should be.

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 – Distillery Lane – The Jefferson

The-Jefferson-Label-224x300I can actually say I’m pretty set on cider for now, mainly because I started a cider trade with Meredith from Along Came A Cider.  Meredith has it pretty damn good.  Living in New York, she has access to Farnum Hill, Steampunk, Naked Flock and much more. So I made sure to find some great cider from my neck of the woods.  However, it did require some traveling but this was exactly what I needed, an excuse to visit a couple of cider houses and meet the cider makers first hand.

My goal, take the family, a 6-year-old, 4-year-old twins and wife, all girls, find something for the family to do in the area, meet the cider masters, tour the cider houses and bring home lots of cider.

Maryland was the destination,  Distillery Lane, Millstone and Great Shoals are all within a 1.5  to 2.5 hour drive. Continue reading

Cider Review – Blazing Star Sparkling Peach

BSSP-Label-29-Jan-2013-cropped-171x300I recently wrote a review on Black Twig Cider from Great Shoals.  The Black Twig apples were acquired from T.S  Smith and Sons, a Delawarean orchard.  Around that same time, I came across an article about a new Delaware cider from Great Shoals.  Funny thing though, I live in Delaware and you would think I would have inside information on the Delaware cider industry. LOL.  But one of my fellow bloggers, United States Of Cider, beat me to the punch.

This time T.S Smith and Sons provided Blazing Star Peaches.  I was stoked and a bit skeptical.  Just like my beers, I am put off by overly sweet and sticky drinks.

I contacted Greer Stangi from T.S. Smith And Sons to discuss how I could find the Blazing Star Sparkling Cider and congratulate them on another product.  Coincidentally enough, that upcoming weekend, T.S Smith hosted a spring fest at the farm. There would be wagon rides, cooking demonstrations, live music and of course, sampling of the new cider.  I was hoping to take my female dominant family but they had hair cuts that same day.  So I was on my own. Continue reading

Cider Review- Original Sin Hard Cider

original sinHere is a quote from Mick Ralphs that suits me well: “Since I’ve got on the Internet, it’s opened a whole world of wasted time for me.  My wife says she’s an Internet widow.”  Well I say, “You can have your Honey Boo Boo, I have Philly Tap Finder.”  It’s true, I do spend too much time online,  but every once in a while I come across that perfect ….. . Oh stop with all the b.s. Huff.  The point is, I came across a beer and cider man’s dream.  Well at least in the Delaware County area.

On Philly Tap Finder, you can locate your favorite beer and the bar that serves it.  In reverse you can find the bar first and then the tap list.  But I wasn’t looking for beer, I was searching for local ciders, and sure enough, cider is on the style list.  Hot damn.

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Cider Review- Doc’s Draft Hard Apple Cider-

778201122_8fe12c666e_tWith 6 cider producers along the Hudson Valley alone, New York is a driving force in the American cider industry. Warwick Valley Winery And Distillery, The producers of Doc’s Draft Hard Ciders, represent one of Hudson Valley cideries that, as far as I am concerned, kicks ass.

Warwick started their venture in 1993.  That was actually two years before Dogfish Head Brewery from Rehoboth  Delaware opened their doors.  In 1993, the only thing that resembled hard cider in my store was the sweet sticky cider pops such as Continue reading