Tag Archives: Pour the Core

Hard cider generates a buzz at LI fest

Pour logoCider, cider everywhere and every drop to drink.

For cider aficionados and a host of newbies among the 2,000 participants at the 2nd annual Pour the Core cider festival on Oct. 9 at Peconic Bay Winery on Long Island’s North Fork, there were hard ciders aplenty from near and far and places in between.

From near, imbibers could sample True Companion and True Believer, both produced at Peconic Bay, as well as ciders from Woodside Orchards down the highway in Aquebogue and Cider 139 from Wolffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack. There were ciders from Upstate New York, New England, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, California and the Pacific Northwest. And there were ciders from abroad, from England, Scotland, France and Spain. There were ciders from small artisanal producers as well as large industrial manufacturers.

And not just apple cider. Pear cider, also known as perry, also could be found, albeit in smaller numbers. And, yes, beer, too.

Apple ciders, however, became my focus as most of the perries sampled were too sweet, too watery or worse.  And beer, that’s just a different story.

Most of my cider picks among the offerings  tended to on they dry side.  Many of the cider offerings, particularly those made in the USA, were more reminiscent of wine coolers or worse, sodas. Swedish ciders, which listed their prime ingredient as local water, also were no-shows as far as I was concerned.

High on my list of favorites were the two cider offerings from Virtue Cider Co., a relatively new producer established by former Goose Island brew master Greg Hall.  His Redstreak was dry, crisp and refreshing with just a hint of apple, very much in the traditional English style. Virtue’s Sidra de Nava, done in the Spanish style, was tart like a beer in the lambic style.

Also very dry and much to my liking were a trio from England’s Aspall Cider, the very pale original and the equally light hued Organic, both were quite dry. Aspall’s Perronelle’s Blush Cider, made with added blackberry juice, also proved to be tart with an unmistakable berry character.

Another English winner, Thatcher’s Green Goblin was deep gold, full-bodies, crisp, some what tannic and with notes of oak.

A Scottish import, Thistly Cross, had a golden Champagne color and was eminently drinkable with its medium dry character.

Bob Gammon of Woodside Orchards, Aquebogue, pours his hard cider.

Bob Gammon of Woodside Orchards, Aquebogue, pours his hard cider.

I also enjoyed Woodside’s Traditional, made from a blend of eight culinary apple varieties, a crisp cider with the aroma and taste of just-picked apples.

Another local product, Wolffer’s 139, also was tart, dry and refreshingly enjoyable.

Anthem Cider, a cider label of Wandering Aengus Cider works of Salem, Ore., made from culinary apples, was deep gold, refreshing and off dry. The Wandering Aengus Blossom Cider, made with traditional English and French cider apple varieties, also was very English in style with an apple-pie nose and a mix of sweet and tart notes.

Another American offering, also on the dry side, was the brilliantly gold-hued Angry Orchard Traditional Dry, dry from start to finish with an occasional sweet note in between.

Four Screw from Harvest Moon Cidery in Cazenovia, NY, was surprisingly dry, tart and winey, and is sweetened, apparently, just a tad, by maple syrup.

Two canned ciders from Pennsylvania’s Jack’s Hard Cider surprised. Jack’s Original was quite dry, crisp with soft notes of apple. Jack’s Helen’s Blend was more piquant and quite tasty, too.

One of the more unusual ciders I’d tasted was the 10% abv  (really an apple wine) from Silver Mountain Ciders in Lempster, N.J. Cloudy from bottle conditioning with oak flavors from oak aging and tart apples notes intertwined. A bit extreme, actually.

Among my biggest disappointments were two offerings from Anheuser Busch-InBev:  Michelob Ultra Light Apple Cider, which had a passing resemblance to water kissed by apples, and Stella Artois Cidre, a sugary offering with notes reminiscent of a chemistry lab.

Also, perplexing was the variety of flavored pear ciders from Sweden’s Rekorderlig, which were served on ice with a strawberry and bit of mint. Not for me!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Cider

Pour the Core Cider Festival: Tasting the tart, the sweet and the unusual


The scene at Pour the Core Festival at Peconic Bay Winery

Pour the Core, the cider fest at Peconic Bay Winery, couldn’t have been better. The sky was blue, the temperatures comfortable and the ciders plentiful.

Some 700 people attended this first-ever cider festival on the Long Island’s North Fork on Oct. 20 and some 26 producers poured almost 50 different ciders. Also, there were wines from the festival’s host and beers from five brewers, food from Riverhead’s Maple Tree BBQ and well as t-shirt purveyors and, gasp, a cigar seller (those fumes overwhelmed the delicate apple scents of ciders being poured too near).

Pouring True Believer Cider at Pour the Core.

For me, this event was about cider. Many producers offered fruit and spice flavored cider variations, but purist that I am, I shunned most them.

The choices included a dozen from New York, others from New Hampshire, Vermont, California and Oregon, a handful from England and one from Spain. Alas, none of the wonderful farmhouse ciders of Normandy, France, were to be found.

Still, there were many wonderful ciders to taste. Ciders made from eating apples, ciders from cider-specifc apples (such as crab apples), single varietal ciders and blends. There were ciders almost as full bodied as some beers and, regrettably, some that were little more than flavored water. There were ciders fermented with cider yeast, Champagne yeast, and even ciders produced using Irish Stout and Belgian Trappist ale yeasts. There were apple ciders, pear ciders (called perry in England), ciders made from concentrated apple juice with added water, and some with added malic acid and sugar and other sweeteners. Lord knows why. And, yes, a hopped cider.

Festival participants appeared to like McKenzie’s Seasonal Reserve

My tasting notes (ciders listed alphabetically):

Anthem Hopped Cider.  From Wandering Aengus Ciderworks in Oregon. Honey Crisp, Gala, Granny Smith, and Golden Delicious apples form the base. It’s dry hopped with Cascades. Apple cider meets Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Weird.

Angry Orchard Traditional Dry, Boston Beer Co.’s entry, is golden with intense, complex apple flavors.

Aspall Dry Draft Suffolk Cyder. From England, this off-dry, balanced cider offers up baked apple flavors.

Bellwether Liberty Spy, from the Finger Lakes. A hearty semi-dry cider made from Liberty and Spy apples. Comes off more dry than sweet.

Blackthorn, an English cider. Tastes like a bad chemistry experiment. Why is this a worldwide top seller?

Cliffton Dry Premium Cider. Paler than pale, a Finger Lakes cider with 14 apple varieties, added sugar and malic acid.  Light, easy drinking, like Corona beer, but where’s the apple flavor?

Castañón Natural Cider, an extremely dry, tart Spanish offering with notes of funk. Think Cantillon lambic beer.

Crispin Landsdowne. From MillerCoors. Made with molasses, organic honey and Irish Stout yeast, this cloudy cider is for gingersnap fans.

Doc’s Hard Apple Cider, from the Warwick Valley Winery in the Hudson Valley.  Sweet without being cloying with just a touch of acidity.

Farnhum Hill Door Yard No.1212, from New Hampshire’s Poverty Hill Orchards in, this kegged cider was still, extremely dry, earthy with a zingy citrus-like finish.

Harvest Moon Rippleton Original. From Cazenovia, NY, this is light-bodied, but deeply flavored, bubbly, extra dry cider made with champagne yeast and a touch of maple syrup for bottle conditioning.

Magner’s Original Irish Cider: Red tinged, bubbly, sweet apple water.

McKenzie’s Original Hard Cider, from the Buffalo area, is flavorful, medium-bodied, crisp dry cider.

McKenzie’s Seasonal Reserve Hard Cider. Not  my cup of cider, but extremely popular among festival attendees for its apple-pie-in-a-glass character derived from added nutmeg and cinnamon.

Michelle Ultra Light Cider, pale in color and tasting like water kissed by apples. Why bother?

Naked Flock Hard Cider Original, from the Applewood Winery in Warwick, NY, Made with Champagne yeast and local organic honey. The honey is quite evident.

Naked Flock Hard Cider Draft, fermented with Belgian Trappist ale yeast with a hint of organic maple syrup, this cider has a complex flavor profile without the tang you’d sometimes get from the maple.

Peconic Bay Winery True Believer:  Bubbly, honeyish. Tart and sweet baked apples with cinnamon. Finishes dry.

Peconic Bay Winery True Companion. Molasses and orange peel added. A deep golden cider, drier that True Believer and with more depth of flavor and balance.

JK Scrumpy’s Farmhouse, from Michigan. Deep, sweet baked-apple flavor.

Steampunk Cider from the Leonard Oakes Estate in the Niagara Region, a blend of 13 apples, including traditional bitter-sweet apples and the more familiar Fuji and Braeburn. Sweetish, but has nice crisp, tart apple notes and a dry finish.

Strongbow: A UK import that’s crisp, bit tinny in the finish. Made from concentrate with sugar, water.

Wandering Aengus Ciderworks 2009 Wickson: Single variety crab apple cider from Salem, Ore. Dry as brut Champagne with Riesling-wine like flavors.

Wandering Aengus Ciderworks Wanderlust: Dry with bold apple flavors. Defintely a favorite.

Wandering Aengus Ciderworks Bloom. Crisp, juicy, semi-sweet apple, tropical fruit character with Chardonnay like finish. Another winner.

Woodchuck Amber, from Vermont. Apple soda with a moderately long finish. Carmel color added.

Woodchuck Dark. Crisp apple notes.  Some tartness and dryness. Added flavor, caramel color.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Taps - Beer