Portland Cider – Kinda Dry

Portland Cider Kinda Dry

Portland Cider Kinda Dry

Trust Portland to be the kind of place with a cider named “Kinda Dry.” At least there aren’t any birds on the label.

Most ciders I drink have an aroma you have to look for and pay attention to, but my glass of Kinda Dry is sitting on my desk and the smell is steadily wafting into my nose from a couple feet away. It smells bittersweet, and almost boozy — but not like alcohol, more like fragrant orchard apples beginning to sour.

Living up to its name, Kinda Dry is not sweet, but retains just enough to keep it from giving ever entirely to bitterness and dryness.

Portland Cider Company’s website says it was founded in part by British expats “with the mission of bringing handcrafted cider in the English tradition to the northwest,” which explains why Kinda Dry puts me in mind of some English ciders I’ve tried in the past.

It’s hard to pin down notes of the flavor for me; various aspects chase each other around the corners of my mouth. It’s not predominantly bitter, nor sweet, nor dry, but it is all of those things in part; it’s light and finishes with a lingering woody aftertaste. Overall, I like it. It’s interesting.

Kinda Dry is a clear gold, low fizz, and 6.8% ABV. Find some for yourself here.

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!

Snowdrift Cider – Cliffbreaks Blend

Snowdrift Cider's Cliffbreaks Blend

Snowdrift Cider’s Cliffbreaks Blend

My first experience with Snowdrift Cider was a glass of their Nebula Red at Capitol Cider a while back. It was, and I put this mildly, like pure manna from heaven descended into a glass. Nothing I’ve tried from Snowdrift since then has quite lived up, as is so often the case, but I still get excited when I see their labels.

Deep golden in color, 7.8% ABV and mostly still, Cliffbreaks has a fresh, tangy scent underlaid with light bittersweetness.

For some reason the aroma led me to expect a drier cider than it turned out to be. In addition, the bittersweet notes in the aroma don’t particularly translate into bitterness in the flavor.

It has some tannins supporting a profile largely dominated by strong, mouth-puckering tartness and acidity, but is decidedly more on the sweet side than the dry.

That’s not to say it’s over-sweet, or that I’m bothered by the lack of bitterness — the balance is quite good. “Bold & Assertive” is how the bottle sums up Cliffbreaks, and I’m not inclined to argue (though I’m not entirely on board with the more detailed notes they claim, like an “aromatic coconut finish”).

Find yourself some Snowdrift here! They’re pretty small right now, so good luck if you’re not in Washington, but they do have an online shop, and I look forward to them expanding over the coming years.

Doc’s Draft – Pumpkin Hard Apple Cider

Doc's Draft Pumpkin Hard Apple Cider

Doc’s Draft Pumpkin Hard Apple Cider

I found one more pumpkin cider! Okay, now that Halloween is over I know everyone’s on to peppermint everything, but I couldn’t resist sneaking in one more. Besides, the Pumpkindrome isn’t over so we’re not done with pumpkin season here at Bad Rider anyway.

Doc’s Draft is a production of Warwick Valley Winery in NY, and the bottle copy mentions roasted pumpkin, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg.

I do actually get some pumpkin in the aroma, along with the spices — mainly the cinnamon and ginger.

A little mustiness comes out in the flavor, which is acidic and medium-dry. The pumpkin gets rather drowned out by the tartness, acidity and spices, but it’s still there in the background.

It’s slightly fizzy and a clear light yellow, with a 6% ABV. As ciders go, it’s kind of strange, but neither terrible nor great. I wouldn’t pass up a really good cider in favor of this one, but if you’d like to give it a try it’s not the worst choice you could make when it comes to pumpkin cider. I know, I know, damned with faint praise, etc.

It is, at least, more likely that East Coast folks will be able to find this one than many of the other ciders I’ve reviewed — in fact, Warwick Valley’s locator site only lists locations in New England. So give it a try!

Boonville – Bite Hard

Glass of Boonville Bite Hard cider & small Portal turret bot

Bonus Portal turret since I don’t have a bottle or can to show off.

Boonville’s Bite Hard made a brief appearance in my Cider Summit roundup post, but now that it’s shown up on tap at my favorite liquor store’s growler station I’ve been able to write a proper full review of it.

Bite Hard is a clear, light yellow, with a light aroma, fresh and tart. It lives up to its name in flavor with an immediate snap of tartness and acidity — this is definitely a cider with personality.

It’s very dry, and a little bitterness comes forward after the initial bite, fading without much in the way of aftertaste. There’s some body to it, but overall I wouldn’t describe it as terribly complex — not that it’s bad, just that it’s straightforward.

It’s a good palate-clearing cider, to have with something rich and heavy that will benefit from a contrast with Bite Hard’s crisp tartness and acidity instead of being overwhelmed by it.

Boonville is located in California, and their locator page only lists places in CA and MI to find their cider, so good luck searching to those of us in the Pacific Northwest I guess. If you spot it, do give it a try!

D’s Wicked Cider – Baked Apple

D's Baked Apple Cider

D’s Baked Apple Cider

Like Angry Orchard’s Strawman, D’s Baked Apple isn’t a seasonal offering, but thematically it fits well enough.

D’s is a small outfit in eastern Washington, an area better known for its wines than its ciders — though, come to think of it, it’s also known for apple production, so I’m a little surprised I haven’t heard about a cidery out that way before now.

In color, Baked Apple cider is cloudy and amber like real non-alcoholic cider (not the fake rebranded juice crap), and there’s a sort of cinnamon-y, roasted aroma to it. Honest to goodness like baked spiced apples.

It’s quite sweet, but there’s also vanilla and a little bit of a pie crust sort of taste to it.

To be honest, the first time I tried this cider I wasn’t wild about it, but coming back to it after a couple of months I appreciate it more for doing exactly what it claims to. I mean, it’s named “Baked Apple” and it really does taste like baked apples.

If that sounds like something you’d be into, look for some in a store near you! No locator available but you can check out their website here.

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.