Ciders from CiderCon (2020 Edition)
CiderCon was hosted as a virtual experience for 2021. I’ve attended CiderCon in person for the last couple of years but had to sit this one out as we’re settling in with our new tiny human. However, I've been living vicariously through friends who are attending to feel like I’m somewhat connected. Even from the outside, it’s clear that at least one thing that doesn’t change with a virtual CiderCon: It’s a great way to connect with old and new friends, learn from cider experts, and find new ciders to explore.
Today, I’m reminiscing on some ciders that were shared with me at CiderCon 2020. We’ve got two from the West Coast, two from the Midwest, and one from the East Coast. Full disclosure: These ciders were given to me at CiderCon. My tasting notes are honest and objective.
Tanuki Cider: Santa Cruz County, CA
I hadn’t heard of Tanuki Cider before CiderCon 2020, but sure am glad I know about them now. Ru & Lou Dry Farmhouse Blend is the first cider I’ve had from Tanuki and it’s not going to be the last.
It smells and tastes like fermented apples, and stays consistent throughout. It's also a bit citrusy - think fresh lemon zest. The combination of native/cultured yeast fermentation presents itself by starting out a bit funky but finishing clean. Mildly astringent with soft but structured tannin, and a dry, mineral finish. I could drink this all day, or at least until the 8.3% ABV catches up!
Thanks to Robby for sharing this can with me, and to Dave from Raging Cider for introducing us! We’re looking forward to more laughs and more cider in the future!
Tanuki Cider’s first release from their 2020 harvest, Ru & Lou 2020, can be found at Redfield Cider Bar & Bottle Shop in Oakland.
Goat Rock Cider: Petaluma, CA
Goat Rock Cider was another new-to-me cidery - I know, I’ve been sleeping on the West Coast. We’re in the know now, so let me tell you what I know about Goat Rock’s Dry cider.
This cider is made with organic apples, yeast, and nothing else. It smells and tastes like eating a fresh apple - tart but not sour, flavorful but not forced. The flavor of apples can be lost when cider is fermented completely dry like this one (as are all Goat Rock ciders), but it’s there. It has a sandstone-like texture that makes me feel like I’m drinking this cider on the beach, without the risk of sand getting in my shoes. The cider is easy-drinking, but before you crack a can open, look on the bottom for the “best after” date. Yes, best after. Goat Rock ciders are can-conditioned, meaning the cider is canned with a bit of fermentable sugar left. It naturally carbonates over time as the yeast convert all remaining fermentable sugar into alcohol and CO2.
Thanks to Trevor for sharing this can with us, we look forward to tasting your ciders again in the future!
Goat Rock Cider is currently distributed throughout California and ships locally, with plans to expand in the near future. You can also request it at any Whole Foods store in NorCal. Their new production facility is located in Petaluma, CA (right by Lagunitas) and is open to visitors by appointment.
Two K Farms: Suttons Bay, MI
Visiting the Traverse City/Suttons Bay area has been on our radar for a while. We planned to go during autumn 2020, but our travel plans were and remain frozen for the time being. With Two K Farms Old World and New World ciders, we were able to get a taste of what we’re missing.
I opened these cans and tasted them side-by-side in an early, unaired version of what has become #TwoCiderTuesday. Both Old World and New World smell of apples, though Old World is more rustic and bittersharp whole New World is lighter with sweet floral notes. Old World has loads of malic acid and has firm, drying tannin. Stonefruit notes back up the apples. It finishes off-dry and the tannin lingers. New World has clean bright acidity and the tannins are more astringent and flexible. Yellow and green apples mix for a moment, followed by citrus notes that lean into a clean, semi-dry finish. I can't really pick a favorite between the two. Each holds its own, but I really enjoyed tasting them together.
Thanks to Max for sharing these with us. We’ll be up for a visit as soon as we can!
Two K ships to 40 states. Their farm and tasting room are beautiful and they normally offer indoor and outdoor seating. At the time of writing, they have outdoor, socially distanced seating and curbside pickup only. It is recommended to check their website, social media, or call to learn current hours and seating procedures prior to stopping by.
Stormalong Cider: Sherborn, MA
I’ve been wanting to try Stormalong cider for a long time. They’re from the Boston area, so I didn't expect that opportunity to arise while in Oakland, Ca. Life is full of surprises, I suppose. Stormalong’s Flagship cider, Legendary Dry, is a great place to start.
As soon as I poured this cider aromas of fresh, sharp apples rose from the glass. I want these aromatics as an air freshener. The bill of apples used to make this cider is stacked with heavy hitters like Ashmead’s Kernel, Dabinett, Esopus Spitzenburg, Wickson, Yarlington Mill, and more - and it shows. Fresh apples are the star here, but notes of lemon, tangerine, and dried pineapple play supporting roles. The acidity is clean and bright, the tannins are grippy, and they combine to create tongue-tingling astringency that I adore in a cider. The fresh apple flavor emulates sweetness, though this cider finishes off-dry with lasting astringency. I couldn’t put this one down and even though it comes in a 16oz can, it was gone all too soon. I have to thank Shannon, Ben, and the entire Stormalong crew for this one. It was great to hang with them, have some laughs, and nerd out over cider.
Stormalong ships to 35 states and are distributed throughout the Northeast and in SoCal. When buying directly from the Stormalong store, they have a cider club and a la carte purchase options. Legendary Dry is part of their core line-up, but they also release small-batch, limited, and seasonal ciders throughout the year, so keep an eye out for those!
CiderCon may have looked a little different for 2021, but the purpose is unchanged. It’s a place to celebrate the cider community near and far. It’s a place to make friends and learn from the experts. Moreover, it is a place to discover new ciders and ideas. Cheers!