Those of you that follow me regularly know that I do enjoy the occasional cocktail (read often) so when my friends at Tieton Cider Works reached out to me and asked if I would like to sample some of their ciders it took about two seconds to hit reply and say yes. Now I am not a huge cider fan because I find that so many taste the same — and while refreshing I find many of the brands out there too sweet or lacking any real complexity. Quite honestly cider is something that I’ll buy and have one but then they tend to sit in the back of my refrigerator until I ultimately end up throwing them out. Not the case with Tieton Cider Works.
As the bottle clearly states — all of the fresh pressed juices that Tieton uses come from locally (to them) sourced apples from the Pacific Northwest. They also incorporate American, French, and English style-blends in their ciders which reinforces that these are truly complex ciders and not your run of the mill everyday variety.
So onto the tough part — the tastings.
This variety was a bit sweeter than the other varieties but had the most interesting floral notes that was reminiscent of a fine liqueur. I could definitely see enjoying this before dinner instead of wine or an aperitif because it still had the lovely cider taste but was more mellow than anything I have had before. It is definitely a sipping cider in my opinion — though I can also see it pairing extremely well with lighter foods or to offset a more spicy dish.
Wild Washington Apple
This was a semi-dry variety that was crisp and sharp with slightly sour undertones of lemon accented by the use of green apples to give it a nice bite. This would pair well with more hearty food options because it is bold enough to not get lost among the flavors of the food. While it is a bold cider it still has a nice balance to it that makes it extremely drinkable and still well-balanced.
This was a very interesting standout among the ciders. Another semi-dry variety it is infused with the woodsy notes of apricot that perfectly complements the fresh bold apple notes this cider is comprised of. As soon as I tried this one I knew it would pair extremely well with pasta or other starches because the clean crisp taste helps cut what would typically be heavier food options.
Yakima Valley Dry Hopped
This was one of my personal favorites and a very dry variety — something I had not really experienced in a cider before. The addition of hops to this cider gave it a wonderfully nutty flavor that paired amazingly well with the citrus notes that came through in the cider. I never thought I would ever describe a cider as having a full body but this variety really knocked my socks off. If you are a dry wine lover be sure not to miss this one and try pairing it with a rich ripe cheese because that’s what I did and the cider truly helped to elevate the robust flavors of the cheese but was complementary rather than overpowering and actually helped cut the heaviness of the cheese on the palate.
Cherry Blend Cider
I tend to shy aware from fruit infused ciders as most are relatively boring blends where the fruit tends to distract from the cider itself. Not the case with Tieton’s Cherry Blend. While you can clearly taste the sweet cherry notes in this cider it is subtle and plays perfectly against the acidic notes of the apples. Perhaps the most surprising flavor note was the addition of deep spicy woodsy notes — think cinnamon or nutmeg that added an additional dimension to this extremely complex cider. As this is a bit on the sweeter side of the flavor spectrum I actually enjoyed this after dinner with some choclate and and it paired absolutely perfectly. Next time you are thinking Sauternes or ice wine for dessert, give this variety a try — it will change the way you view (and drink) cider.
If you are looking for a new take on cider or as Tieton says Traditional Cider Re:Imagined than I highly recommend that you check out Tieton Cider Works. You can learn more about their ciders on their Web site and even order (depending on the state in which you live) right from their site and have them deliver their ciders right to your door.