Rumble in the Bramble: Seattle Cider’s PNW Berry vs. 2 Towns’ Throne of Thorns

PNW Berry and Throne of Thorns

PNW Berry and Throne of Thorns

It’s summertime, which means all manner of fruits and veggies and flowers and trinkets at the various farmer’s markets scattered throughout the Seattle area. In the past, I’ve been known to buy a truly outrageous amount of blackberries at the market near work on Thursdays, intending to use them in pies and cooking, but usually they end up unceremoniously dumped in a bowl and eaten as-is.

This summer brings us not one, but two berry-themed seasonal/limited-release ciders (actually, probably more than that, but these are the ones I’ve found so far) — Seattle Cider’s PNW Berry and 2 Towns’ Throne of Thorns. I’ve pitted them against each other for your (and my) enjoyment and edification.

Color: Seattle Cider gives us a lovely rosy peach color in the PNW Berry, while 2 Towns goes for a much more dramatic garnet.

Aroma: 2 Towns has a strong aroma, sweet-tart and fruity, while the PNW Berry has very little in the way of aroma at all, just a soft hint of sweetness.

ABV: PNW Berry clocks in at 6.9% to Throne of Thorns’ 6% even.

Flavor: These two ciders are a great illustration of how you can go very different places from a common start.

Despite the light, sweet aroma, Seattle Cider’s PNW Berry is quite dry, with some mild acidity and light fruit aspects coming through in the taste. It’s a fairly subtle interpretation of the “berry cider” concept (PNW Berry has a little blueberry in addition to the blackberry and raspberry).

On the other hand, Throne of Thorns is sweeter, stronger in flavor, more tart — it really centers the berries and lets them assert themselves. Throne of Thorns is a shout where PNW Berry is a murmured aside.

Overall: I wouldn’t say either one of these ciders is better than the other — they definitely both have their places. If there’s food involved, I would make sure to pair Throne of Thorns with something that’s going to stand up to its bold flavor, while PNW Berry could go with something that has lighter, more nuanced flavors.

2 Towns Ciderhouse – Fly’n South

2 Towns Fly'n South

2 Towns Fly’n South

I don’t know why it is that my local Bartell’s seems to have a lock on every new flavor 2 Towns puts out, but I’m certainly not going to complain. Fly’n South is a limited release cider, clear light yellow and clocking in at 6% ABV, fermented with Oregon gooseberries.

Keeping in the tradition of past 2 Towns ciders I’ve had, Fly’n South delivers as promised without going overboard. The gooseberry tartness comes through in the aroma, but not too much, and the flavor is moderately tart and dry.

The most interesting part about this cider for me is that the gooseberries also somehow bring in an acrid, slightly ashy, smoky aftertaste. Again, nothing overpowering or unpleasant — just a reminder, as I drink, of summertime in the desert and the almost-taste in the back of your throat on the hazy days when you can see a plume of smoke off in the distance.

It does transport me out of Seattle’s gray and gloomy winter, that’s for sure. Strange as it may sound, I think this cider came along at just the right time for me to appreciate it.

Check out 2 Towns’ site and find some for yourself!

2 Towns Ciderhouse – Nice & Naughty

2 Towns "Nice & Naughty"

visual puns are my weakness / that “snow” cap really is the best

(to the tune of “O Tannenbaum”)

Nice & Naughty, Nice & Naughty,
How lovely your aroma!
Rich with cloves and cinnamon spice,
Clear gold in hue, with bubbles light,
Nice & Naughty, Nice & Naughty
How lovely your aroma!

Nice & Naughty, Nice & Naughty,
Your label is quite charming!
2 Towns’ black tree, snow-capped in white,
The bottle, too, to my delight,
Nice & Naughty, Nice & Naughty,
Your label is quite charming!

Nice & Naughty, Nice & Naughty,
You’re 10.5% ABV!
Though pumpkin spice still dwells in minds,
Your flavor’s mulled and less pie-like,
Nice & Naughty, Nice & Naughty,
You’re 10.5% ABV!


2 Towns Ciderhouse – Cidre Muscato

2 Towns Cidre Muscato

2 Towns Cidre Muscato

My love of muscat goes at least back to college, when I discovered Kasugai fruit gummies and ate a copious amount of them, especially the muscat and melon flavored ones. As I eventually developed a taste for wine, at first I leaned toward sweet wines such as muscats, and now that I’ve tried 2 Towns’ Cidre Muscato it’s not a surprise that I enjoy it as well.

It’s a clear, pale yellow, almost a tiny bit greenish even, and has a definite recognizable muscat aroma, light and sweet and sharp.

It’s definitely sweet — like a muscat wine would be, not syrupy. It really does taste rather like a muscat wine profile is sort of overlaying the cider. There’s an immediate hit of sweetness in the taste, and some acid, but then it dries out and develops into something more complex before fading and leaving an echo of grapes lingering in your mouth.

Overall, this cider seems lighter than a comparable muscat wine would be — understandable, since muscat wines tend to be 10% and up in ABV while this is only 6.9%. As far as I’m concerned, it’s another hit from 2 Towns. Locate some for yourself here!

2 Towns Ciderhouse – ‘Cot in the Act

2 Towns Ciderhouse "Cot in the Act"

2 Towns Ciderhouse “Cot in the Act”

I’ve been on a bit of a pumpkin spice mean streak so I wanted to mix things up and review something that’s not at all autumn-themed. My local Bartell’s was happy to oblige with some limited-release 2 Towns ciders such as this “‘Cot in the Act” apricot cider.

True to the name, it has a light apricot aroma; it’s a light, clear yellow with medium fizz and 6% ABV.

Though the apricot also comes out in the taste, it’s not terribly sweet overall and has some nice tartness backing it up. A bit sharp and acidic, but not too much.

As we already know, I’m not the world’s best guesser, but this definitely tastes to me like it’s got a definite portion of bittersweet and/or cider apples rather than just a straight dessert apple blend.

I wasn’t able to find info about this limited release on 2 Towns’ website, but the bottle copy does say it’s “just for the dog days of summer,” so you may be out of luck finding it locally yourself now that we’re well into October.

Best of luck, though — I feel like I’m starting to recognize the general taste profile of 2 Towns, and I enjoy it.

2 Towns Ciderhouse – The Bad Apple

Bottle & glass of 2 Towns "The Bad Apple"

Bottle & glass of 2 Towns “The Bad Apple”

When I saw this in the store I thought, ah, surely this is a cider for the Thoroughbred of Sin himself. Having tried it, I’m inclined to stand by that initial impression.

The bottle description claims notes of fruit and vanilla; though I wouldn’t have picked vanilla out of a hat myself, having read that I do get some vanilla coming through in the aroma. The taste is sharp and strong, quite tart but not bitter, just sweet enough to earn its “semi-dry” self-description.

It’s definitely a very present cider, the kind of thing you pay attention to while drinking — no idle sipping while your mind is elsewhere, and a taste that lingers in your mouth.

From a purely aesthetic perspective, the way the red cap on the bottle picks up the red accents in the label is a nice touch that drew my eye. It’s surprising what something as trivial as “not a generic black or gold/brass cap” can do to boost your visibility and appeal. (Yeah, I’m a sucker for presentation; I judge books by their covers too.)

The Bad Apple is a vivid amber in color, low fizz, and a surprising 10.5% ABV. There’s a map of where you can find 2 Towns cider on their home page.