Angry Orchard – Summer Honey

RIP Elderflower Cider

RIP Elderflower Cider


My love for Angry Orchard’s Elderflower seasonal release is well-documented here on Bad Rider, so it should come as no surprise that anticipation of its return was a major part of my excitement for the 2015 summer seasonals to start appearing.


Rather than bring back last year’s practically-perfect-in-every-way seasonal release, Angry Orchard decided to mix things up and release something different this summer.

Something boring.

Their “Summer Honey” seasonal isn’t terrible. It’s fairly generic, tasting very much like Angry Orchard’s regular offerings, with some slight honey notes to the aroma and taste. In fact, if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like ciders with more powerful honey influence, you may still find it worth your time to give this one a try, as it’s quite mild.

That said: it’s no Elderflower cider, that’s for sure. You may as well be drinking regular Angry Orchard, or better yet, something local from a small cidery.

Want to try it? Find it wherever you usually find Angry Orchard. Me, I’ll be over here sulking with a Crispin and a dash of St. Germain to fill the Elderflower-shaped hole in my heart.

Angry Orchard – Iceman

Angry Orchard "Iceman"

Angry Orchard “Iceman”

Though the non-flavor-related driving themes of my Strawman review still more or less hold true for Iceman (for the money you’ll pay to buy it you’d be better off supporting a smaller craft outfit), I thought I’d get a review on the books for practice and for the sake of being comprehensive.

Iceman is dramatic, a bold clear orange in color and 10% ABV.  Taking its cues from ice ciders, its aroma is sweet, sweet, sweet, like candy-dipped apples, and the flavor follows with more strong sugary notes, caramel and toffee over the intensity of the tart apple.

Even for my sweet tooth, Iceman is on the verge of being too much like ice ciders and ice wines, generally consumed in small amounts, a sip at a time. It’s a big taste.

On the up side, while it’s pricey for cider (especially for commercially produced, widely-available cider), Iceman is more of a decent deal for someone who wants to try ice cider but doesn’t want to shell out $$$$ for a tiny bottle of the stuff.

Locate some Iceman for yourself here.

Best of 2014 – Cider Edition

While the cider scene isn’t as rampant as the beer scene, even here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s really seen a boom over the past few years. The rise of gluten-free awareness and consumables has helped, I’m sure, as cider is gluten-free by nature.

Starting up Bad Rider Reviews has made me appreciate just how much good cider is out there, and just how diverse the field really is.

My devious plan of dragging Andrea into this with me has also worked out perfectly, as I suspected the beer reviews would tend to bring in more readers than the cider reviews (especially now that we’re in a real live newspaper holy crap), so I feel the blog is more of a success overall than it would be if it were just me.

I’m looking forward to a whole new year of reviews to come!


Hands down, the mellow and distinctive Oak-Aged from Schilling. It’s so good it wins two categories. Not too sweet, not too dry, just an all-round solid cider — and from a great local outfit, to boot. I’m really glad this is in their regular lineup instead of being a seasonal or limited edition.


Since I haven’t actually had that much imported cider, it’s not hard to call this for Sea Cider’s excellent Prohibition, but it would be a strong contender even if the field were larger. Sweet and sharp, with a strong flavor and a dangerous bite, Prohibition is a stunner. Literally, if you’re not careful.


Since all cider is fruit cider, I can hardly pick just one, and I wanted an excuse to call out Angry Orchard’s Elderflower cider somewhere on this list. Why don’t more people make elderflower cider? Why doesn’t Angry Orchard produce it year round? My woes are neverending.


SIGH. As much as I love Angry Orchard’s Elderflower, at least I know it’ll be back; I’m still in mourning for Crispin’s Steel Town being gone forever. When I first tried it I thought it tasted kind of odd and squashy, but it lingered in my mind and the next time around I really fell for it. The blend of favors and the way the taste changed as it warmed up kept me coming back for more, right up until it was gone.


Toss-up between Crispin’s Lion Belge and Pacific Pear. Both are pear ciders; Lion Belge is one of Crispin’s higher-end ciders like Steel Town, and you’ll see a review of it later, whereas Pacific Pear I just cannot find in any local store for the life of me, and I’ve been on the lookout ever since I tried it at the Seattle Cider Summit.


I have a few:

  • Visit local cideries! There’s several, such as Finnriver, within range of a day trip, and every summer I regret not getting out of the city more often.
  • Spend more time at the Schilling Cider House. Just looking at their menu makes me excited for all the things I haven’t yet tried.
  • Track down and review more Canadian ciders. Sea Cider is great but I know there’s more out there. Andrea keeps threatening to send me the terrible cheap grocery store stuff from BC.
  • Explore homebrewing my own cider — I just laid down my first keg to ferment this afternoon. I may indulge in an occasional review of my own cider as the year progresses, if things go well (or spectacularly badly).
  • Maybe put a photo in my section of the About Us page? We’ll see.
  • And if Andrea thinks she’s not going to get a box and/or car trunk full of US pumpkin beers this fall, well, she’s got another think coming.

Angry Orchard – Strawman

Angry Orchard Strawman

Angry Orchard Strawman

Neither pumpkin-flavored nor seasonal, Strawman is one of Angry Orchard’s trio of “Cider House Collection” ciders, meant to be “rare and innovative.” It’s made from “traditional culinary and bittersweet apples” then aged in oak.

It’s a cloudy orange, with low fizz, and a bitter, slightly spicy and funky aroma. Tart acid and bitterness dominate the taste, underlaid with a bit of wood and enough sweetness to keep it from being dry.

I thought Strawman seemed an overly brash, sharply boozy-tasting cider until I saw that it’s got an ABV of 10%; that explains the alcoholic bite to an extent, though I’d still place it closer to the 12% Prohibition than the comparable 10% Bad Apple.

All in all it’s an interesting cider, very aggressive, definitely not something you’d want to drink with sweet or mild foods.

While I’m happy Angry Orchard is trying out higher-end, more interesting and complex ciders than their regular lines (though really, all I want from them is Elderflower all year round), I’m gonna have to be That Cider Snob for a moment:

At the price point of Strawman (and the rest of the Cider House Collection), you can do better.

Instead of buying 750ml of Strawman, you could buy as much or more actual small-batch craft cider that’s just as creative and interesting, from small operations that are probably local to you (wherever you are) and probably could use your business and support more.

If you respect the Angry Orchard name and want to drinking something from them that’s a little more interesting than usual, by all means try the Cider House Collection. But folks, I encourage you to check out the smaller outfits in your area and give them a chance.

Angry Orchard – ~*~ELDERFLOWER~*~

A bottle & glass of Angry Orchard Elderflower

A bottle & glass of Angry Orchard Elderflower

(Yeah, I’m a fan.)

Elderflower is Angry Orchard’s summer seasonal, and it’s pretty much exactly what you might imagine — cider that tastes like it’s been spiked with St. Germain (or other elderflower liqueur of your choice).

I have no idea how much either this cider or St. Germain tastes like actual elderflower, but on the other hand, I’m guessing neither do most other drinkers, so we’re all in this together. It’s fruity but more like mild citrus and pear than apples, flowery but not oppressively so, and even a little medicinal. It’s a complex flavor that lends itself as well to a cider as it does to any number of cocktails in the form of liqueur.

I drink a fair amount of Angry Orchard cider; having tried most of their catalog at this point, this is hands down my favorite. Like their other varieties, it’s quite sweet, but most of the apple flavor vanishes behind the elderflower, which really lightens it up and makes it much more interesting.

Angry Orchard is a pale straw color with an almost peachy undertone. It has a light but persistent floral aroma and an ABV of 5%. It’s only around April through August, so if you want to track some down, make sure you do it soon or you’ll be SOL till next spring. I’ve only found it in 12oz bottles, either in six-packs or included in the 12-bottle variety pack boxes.