Schilling Cider – Berry

Schilling Berry Cider

Schilling Cider & Bad Rider Reviews: two great tastes that taste great together.

One of these days I’m going to write a whole review from Schilling’s Cider House, because they get a fair amount of stuff on tap that you can’t buy bottled or in a growler, but today I just wanted to pick up a couple things to review (and a bottle of Honey Bear because I had a craving), so here we are with today’s subject: Schilling’s Berry Cider.

It’s a mild 5.5% ABV and a clear ruby in color — not a dark ruby like red wine, more like a rosé. It smells kind of like breakfast:  a slice of buttered toast slathered with raspberry jam in your hand, a glass of apple juice beyond, on the table waiting for you to take a sip.

As you might expect from any cider with berry fruit, the taste is sour, tart, sharp with acid but also sweet. It’s a fruity, cheerful, summertime sort of flavor to me, and it gives an edge of eager enjoyment to days like today, when the sun is bright and the sky is clear and it’s not quite summer yet but you can tell we’ve turned the corner.

I’ve never seen this stuff bottled or canned, so unless you can come by the Cider House here in Seattle, I think you’re more or less on your own if you want to find some. (I’m just gonna say, though: it’s a beautiful day in the Emerald City.)

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.

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.

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.

Schilling Cider – Oak-Aged

Schilling Cider Oak-Aged

Schilling Cider Oak-Aged

For Thanksgiving, I bring you all one of my favorite ciders: Schilling’s Oak-Aged. The very first time I tried Schilling’s Oak-Aged it went straight to my go-to list. It’s a mellow and easy-drinking cider, with a distinctive taste, at a reasonable price, from a local cidery. What more could a cider drinker ask for?

The aroma is sweet and spicy, more pepper and cinnamon than apple, with a kind of burnt, nutty smell following behind. It’s a clear, pale gold and 6.5% ABV.

After an initial hit of spice there’s an edge of sweetness to the taste, but it’s more than balanced out by the woody flavor and bitterness imparted by the aging process. The aftertaste lingers only a little and then fades. Still, it’s not brash — I stand by my description of “mellow.”

I definitely think this is a cider that would pair well with a wide variety of meals; I’ve had it on its own as well as with meals from sandwiches to sushi.

Schilling’s Oak-Aged is absolutely my favorite Schilling cider of their offerings I’ve tried thus far — sometimes they tend to go a little strong for regular drinking for my taste (as in their Chai Spice and Grapefruit ciders), but it’s hard to go wrong with the Oak-Aged.

Track yourself down some Schilling here, and don’t hesitate to check out some of their other flavors as well.

Schilling Cider – Grapefruit

A bottle & glass of Schilling Grapefruit Cider

A bottle & glass of Schilling Grapefruit Cider

For this review I actually went out and got a Steigl Grapefruit Radler to compare with, even though beer is gross, because I couldn’t quite believe how much this grapefruit cider doesn’t appeal to me.

Turns out Stiegl Grapefruit Radler is not all that bad to an anti-beer person, really. (Which has cued subsequent curiosity for me about whether hopped and yeasty ciders are eroding my hardline resistance to ALL BEERS EVER.)

There’s certainly a lot of grapefruit taste in this cider, even a grapefruit aroma stronger than any aroma I get from most ciders. But it’s not a good grapefruit taste, it’s bitter and sour and tart, with no balance. My original notes on this cider started with “blech.”

Perhaps grapefruit and apple is just inherently a bad combination, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true without additional data points. Instead let’s chalk this up to a learning experience for Schilling, a new local company I’m otherwise fond of — their Oak-Aged is one of my go-to ciders and will show up in a later review.

Schilling’s Grapefruit Cider is a cloudy pale yellow and has an ABV of 6.0%. Schilling seems not to acknowledge that this cider exists anywhere on their site, so I’m not sure where you can find it — in my case, it was at a small deli/convenience store that opened up just down the road from where I live.