Tieton Cider Works – Apricot Semi-Dry

Tieton Cider Works Apricot Semi-Dry

Tieton Cider Works Apricot Semi-Dry

When last we met Tieton Cider Works, it was for their Smoked Pumpkin Cider back in October, so I figured it was high time I picked up something else from them for the pages of Bad Rider.

Tieton’s apricot cider is a medium amber, 6.9% ABV. The idea of an apricot cider being semi-dry is strange to me — but then, I freely admit I have unsophisticated opinions about fruit. Apricot? Not sweet? How odd. But sure enough: apricot, not sweet.

Dusty apricots distinctly dominate the aroma with more of a sharp, dried-fruit sort of smell, but then in the flavor the apricots come through fresh and tangy.

Tieton stays well clear of the “hint of [flavor]” approach that cider makers sometimes take with fruit blends. Of course the taste isn’t pure apricot like it might be if you were drinking straight juice, but the apples withdraw quite dramatically and really leave the apricot to shine.

You can locate yourself some Tieton via their website, and there are also some pairing suggestions here (those black bean burgers sound really good right now, actually).


In which Bad Rider gets all food bloggy

Speaking of food blogs, what should I do with all these lemons?

Speaking of food blogs, what should I do with all these lemons?

The Specs: Mt. Begbie Brewery (Revelstoke, B.C.) Powerhouse Pale Ale
4.8 per cent ABV, 650mL, regular lineup

Had Don Draper not copped ‘It’s Toasted’ for Lucky Strike back in season one of Mad Men, Mt. Begbie Brewery could’ve made a good claim for the slogan for this pale ale.

If the beer has one defining characteristic (beyond it’s decidedly non-pale amber colour), it’s the roasted flavour of its malt. Quite a lot about the beer brewing process still eludes me, but from the first sip those baked notes were impossible to miss.

Beyond that, there’s a bit of sweetness, a nice but not overpowering carbonation, and not otherwise a whole lot to report… unless, like me, you’re a nondairy vegetarian who likes to cook with beer, in which case this is shaping up to be a good standby to keep in the fridge.

The same toasted notes that add a bit of interest in the pint glass seem to do a nice job of rounding out flavours in food, adding a bit of malty depth to dishes where veg stock would only add salt. And, since it’s pretty cheap, you’re not going to feel bad pouring half into the sauce pot and drinking the rest straight out of the bottle over the stove. Actually, having partaken of this one a couple times I can confidently say it tastes best when leaning over a burner set on medium-high heat.

So far, I’ve had best success using it to punch up vegan cheese sauce (this recipe, because sometimes everyone needs nuclear orange goo in their lives regardless of weird allergies, ok?), where it couples nicely with miso and aromatics, but the right sort of chilli would also benefit from some of this, I think.

Chances are pretty good I’ll report back.

Pints With Strangers: @KamloopsBeer

As part of Bad Rider beer side’s partnership with Kamloops This Week, welcome to a new irregularly-occurring series of beer-related interviews I’m calling Pints With Strangers. Know someone else I should interview for this series, or want to nominate yourself? Drop me a line at andrea(at)kamloopsthisweek.com.

Social-media savvy beer drinkers in Kamloops may already know Jon Fulton and Matthew Tarzwell through their Twitter account, Kamloops Craft Beer (@Kamloopsbeer). For over a year, the pair have dedicated their time to tracking down hard-to-get seasonal and limited releases at liquor stores across the Tournament Capital.

For the first in our semi-irregular Pints With Strangers series, Bad Rider Reviews sat down for a beer and a chat about the account’s origins.

How did you decide to set up Kamloops Craft Beer?

Jon Fulton: Somehow we heard about Sartori. Driftwood Brewing does it, it’s fresh-hopped. In September you harvest all the hops and normally the process is you would dry them, freeze them, pellet them and ship them off. The thing with the fresh hopped beer is the oils are still really good so they harvest it, throw it in a truck, drive it to the brewery and dump it in. So it’s this super-pungent hop.

We were really big hops fans at that point and like, where in town is going to get this?

And then we noticed that every liquor store in town, they would get not even just different breweries, but different bottles from the same breweries, and we though someone needs to colalte this, so we just started doing it, and put it on Twitter so everyone knows about it.

How much do you think craft beer has caught on in Kamloops in the year since you started the account?

JF: I think it’s pretty big. For example, Sartori, the day the shipment was supposed to come in we showed up and we found some of our Twitter followers there waiting at like 11 a.m., because the truck was supposed to arrive.

Matthew Tarzwell: I think it’s like anything. You start to become aware that there’s more options. It’s like wine, it’s like restaurants. You want to try something new and you see if you like it, see what the hype is about. Now that there’s so many options when you go into the beer store I think it’s only going to grow.

JF: Even my father-in-law, he’s in his 60s and was never a big beer drinker to begin with. And I’ve totally ruined him. He’s like ‘I can’t drink any of this crap.’ So now he’s buying fancy beers — that’s what he calls them.

So what are you drinking these days?

MT: Phillips has been consistently good, Parallel 49 is consistently good, and Driftwood.

JF: Driftwood’s probably the best brewery in B.C., I think.

What’s next for @Kamloopscraftbeer?

MT: We’ve thought about having taste-offs, maybe invite some of our Twitter followers to say what’s the best IPA or what’s the best pale ale and taste them all. That would be fun.

Stepping on our usual update schedule here because I… forgot to schedule this post to publish. Glamorous blogger life. Check back soon for when I take the plunge and finally try Fat Tug IPA — the B.C.-famous beer neither of these two could believe I’ve yet to try. 

Schilling Cider – Spiced Cider (& Chaider Revisited)

Schilling Spiced Cider & Chaider

Schilling Spiced Cider & Chaider

Big day for Bad Rider reviews: our first freebie! The kind folks at Schilling messaged us on Twitter recently to express their appreciation for our reviews, and even comped me a bottle of Spiced Cider from Schilling Cider House in Fremont after I mentioned wanting to compare it to the Chaider in last week’s review. Many thanks to Marc at the Cider House and to whoever manages Schilling’s Twitter account!

It is a little unseasonal to be drinking a Spiced Cider in February, but I’m hardly one to turn down free booze — especially when it’s For Science. And sure enough, now that I’m trying them side-by-side, the Chaider and the Spiced Cider really do have a lot in common.

Where the Chaider was cloudy, the Spiced Cider is a quite clear, a bit lighter in color, and a slightly stronger 6.9% ABV to Chaider’s 6.5%.

The aroma and flavor of both bear strong similarities of cinnamon and clove, though oddly I find the aroma and flavor of the two are in opposition when compared — the Spiced Cider smells more peppery than the Chaider, while the Chaider tastes more savory and complex.

I suppose it’s good for balance in either case: let the sweetness and cinnamon come through early in the aroma of the Chaider to balance the earthiness and spices to come in the taste, and let the Spiced Cider hold some kick in its aroma to offset the greater sweetness of the flavor.

Perhaps it’s just the associated of certain smells with pumpkin pie and eggnog and general holiday festivity, but there’s an aspect to the Spiced Cider that’s almost a little — eggy? Custard-y? It’s hard to capture and put down on paper. Perhaps it’s just the pumpkin notes mentioned on the bottle copy. In any case, it’s a smoother, softer, round-er sort of taste overall than the Chaider.

Both of these are good and interesting ciders — though my personal preference would be for the Spiced Cider more specifically during the winter holiday season and the Chaider as a more season-agnostic option. You can get either at Schilling’s Fremont location, or find a more local option via their site.

Sixknot Cider – High Desert Dry

Sixknot High Desert Dry

Sixknot High Desert Dry

Sixknot Cider is a small, organic outfit in a tiny town in northern Washington; I tried their Purple Sage apple/grape seasonal at the Seattle Cider Summit this past summer and was glad to see their stock at my local liquor store so I could give one of their regular varieties a try.

High Desert Dry has a softness to its aroma, a hint of vanilla, more of the orchard’s wood than its apples. It’s cloudy amber and 6.5% ABV.

The taste is light, kind of broad and airy. It’s a little tart, a tad acidic, but mostly woody and very, very dry.

This reminds me quite a bit of Alpenfire’s Pirate’s Plank Bone Dry; drinking it gives me the same sense of (tasty) liquefied timber, though Pirate’s Plank is more dense, with a stronger flavor.

I could see this being a good pairing for rich or strongly flavored meals — something to clear out your palate with.

Locate yourself some Sixknot here.

I tried the beer and the beer won

There was going to be a review here but it turns out I can’t handle barley wine in any way, shape or form, so instead I will just leave you with a gentle caution to make sure you realize just how pungent, rich and intense a beer that’s nearly 12 per cent ABV must needs be. It’s like ice wine and beer had a baby, and that baby wants to punch you in the mouth real, real bad. Only you can know whether that’s a good thing for you, but for me it’s just a baby punch too far.

I’m going to go have some juice instead and think about my life choices.

A damn fine cup of coffee (porter)

Dale Cooper would approve.

Special Agent Dale Cooper would approve.

The Specs: Tofino Brewing Co.’s Dawn Patrol Coffee Porter
6.5 per cent ABV, 650 mL, Winter seasonal

Yup, To-fine-o Brewing again. I can’t help it, guys. I’m a sucker for porters. Also, I was too lazy to make coffee on the morning of the day I tested this and by 5:30 p.m. was hurting for a cup of the black stuff in the worst way.

Lucky for me, Dawn Patrol delivers. This isn’t some run-of-the-mill ‘notes of chocolate and coffee’ beer. This is coffee as beer. My poor, under-caffeinated soul could not have asked for a purer fusion of the two.

First, it nails the scent. Imagine taking a whiff off a good bag of corse-ground beans, about a medium roast. There’s a bit of a beery background as well, but it’s predominantly coffee on the nose.

If you’ve ever had a really good cup of cold-brewed iced coffee, you’ll recognize a lot of the notes in this beer — which plays a bit like a sharp, fruity espresso, but with the rounder, mellower tones that come from a long, cold steep. Even the bitterness here is characteristic of coffee rather than beer.

If I didn’t know it’d actually be vile, I might assume this was cold brew with beer in it, rather than beer brewed with coffee. I think the darn thing even fixed my caffeine-withdrawal headache.

That’s not to say there’s nothing beery here. You’ve got a light carbonation, and a little bit of maltiness you’d be hard pressed to get from anything on offer at your average Starbucks. There are some background tones of vanilla as well, though they’re easy to miss in all the coffeecoffeecoffee excitement.

It should go without saying that this is not a beer for you if you don’t like coffee, but I’ll say it anyway. Don’t drink coffee? Don’t drink this… leave more of it for me.

Schilling Cider – Chaider

Schilling Chaider

Schilling Chaider

Do you like cider? Do you like chai? If someone poured both those things into a single glass would you not immediately recoil in horror but instead entertain a curious thought or two about how the result might taste?

If you answered ‘Yes’ to all of the above, congratulations! A) We have something in common, and B) this is the cider chaider for you!

It’s really, genuinely, a little surprisingly…not terrible. And I don’t just mean “not terrible” in the sense that I somehow managed to choke it down — it’s interesting and totally drinkable.

Chaider is a kissing cousin to the whole pumpkin spice cider family, if that’s the kind of thing you’re into, or think you might be into.

Cinnamon and cloves are light but noticeable in the aroma, and the spices turn make it cloudy amber in the glass.

There’s something about the flavor that’s more savory than your standard pumpkin spice set — cardamom, probably? — but it never gets too overpowering.

In fact, unless my memory is playing tricks on me, Schilling has managed to improve on last year’s chai cider recipe by moderating the overall spice level, making it less aggressive, more tempered and moderate. You’re definitely drinking chai cider, but it’s not going to reach out and demand the entirety of your attention.

(Some might call that a step backward, but I approve.)

I’d like to have tried this against their “Spiced Cider” winter seasonal to more precisely identify where the two differ, but I haven’t managed to get my hands on any of that one.

Think Chaider sounds interesting? Find some for yourself and give it a shot! And then tell Schilling what you think — I saw them asking on Twitter just yesterday whether anyone had tried it.


Dat label though.

Dat label though.

The Specs: Tofino Brewing Tuff Session Ale
5 per cent ABV, 650mL, regular series

I don’t pretend to know anything about the ins and outs of craft beer marketing, so I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason that Tofino Brewing only sells this session ale in 650mL bombers (in looking at their website, perhaps because this brewery only sells beers in bombers, period?)

But, just because it likely makes more financial sense doesn’t mean I can’t be sad about it, because Tuff session ale would be a beautiful six-pack beer.

The criticism I hear over and over from non-craft drinkers is that there aren’t a lot of craft beers you want to drink more than two pints of in a go.

Depending on your drinking habits, that may be an argument for your dark, bitter, challenging brews, but it’s the reason why even now I’m as likely to take something brewed on a macro scale to any house party lasting more than three hours. In some instances, beer isn’t meant to be the star of the show.

If you’ve been at the well of the craft brew too long and find yourself a little disappointed every time you have go back to the big guys, Tuff is a great choice. After all, session ale is just a fancy term for “beer you drink all night.”

This one in particular has a malty sweetness to it, followed up by just the littlest kick of hoppy bitterness, to remind you what kind of beverage you’re imbibing. The finish is clean, the carbonation not too heavy, the mouth feel smooth.

In other words, it’s exactly as chill a beer as you’d expect from a bottle with a surfboard on its label.

One quick note: The brewery’s website tells me this beer isn’t a particularly common find outside the Lower Mainland, though pretty much the full line of Tofino brews are available here in Kamloops at the Lansdowne Liquor Store, which is kicking some serious ass at the craft game lately.

(I’m so sorry about that pun  —A.)

Alpenfire – glow

Alpenfire "glow"

The color looked much more striking and unique on the shelf, I must admit.

I’d be remiss in not stating right up front: this is a pricey cider ($28 for a 750mL bottle). The idea of a “rosé” cider intrigued me, especially given how much I loved Snowdrift’s beautiful pink Nebula Red, and I figured, well, it’s only one bottle. And if it turned out to not be worth the price, all the more reason to review it — so I could warn folks away.

While I was at the liquor store, I helped one of the guys finish off a couple of bottles of Finnriver from a tasting earlier in the evening, and when he saw I was planning to buy this cider he absolutely raved about it.

Given that the last cider this guy raved about to me was the disastrously vinegary Troy, the tang of acidity I got from Glow’s aroma had me alarmed at first — but it’s not too strong, and accompanied by a lush dessert-apple smell.

Glow is a moderate 6.8% ABV and though it definitely looks pinkish in the bottle — in fact it had quite a lovely gradation of sunset colors, which my camera and lighting have utterly failed to catch — it comes out more orange in the glass.

Happily, this cider holds up well to its price tag and to the hype. There’s a fresh sweetness to the flavor, bright and sugary but not in an artificial way. Like apple cotton candy (and there’s a product I could really get behind, come to think of it). The tart acidity I picked up in the aroma follows through behind the sweetness, keeping it from getting too syrupy and giving it a great balance.

So all in all, while I wouldn’t be inclined to purchase Glow frequently, I find myself agreeing with how it was described to me in the store — think about what you’re getting for your money in comparison to wine.

For $30 in the wine world, you can generally count on getting a solid, respectable wine (though I’ve had plenty of cheap good wines and expensive bad wines), but not necessarily anything spectacular. For $30 in the cider world, on the other hand, you’re getting some damn fine cider.

Locate some Alpenfire for yourself here!