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Introducing: Snowdrift Cider Company
Written by Mike Reis   
Friday, 28 August 2015 23:15
Introducing: Snowdrift Cider Company

Our relationship with Snowdrift Cider Company started at Portland, Oregon's Bushwhacker cider pub. There we sat, glass in hand, wow'ed at what we were tasting in a room full of amazing cider. We wanted this stuff in California. Several dozen emails and a small handful of phone calls later, and here we are today: Snowdrift Cider Company is available in California for the first time.

We're really excited about this stuff. These folks are making wonderful ciders of deep character, largely from cider-specific apple and perry-specific pear varieties that they grow in their own orchards. Very few producers can say that, and the dedication from limb to bottle shows. Check them (and their beautiful bottles) out!

Now available:

A stunning cider made with Washington-grown English bittersweet cider apple varieties like Bramley, Yarlington Mill, and Bulmer's Norman. Delicate and light-bodied but well-structured with tannic texture.
Available now in 750ml bottles.

A blended cider that gains loads of complexity from rare bittersharp apple varieties and the charred whiskey barrels in which the cider they produce is aged. Deeply complex and satisfying stuff.
Available now in 750ml bottles and 1/6bbl kegs.

Red Cider
Made entirely from hard-to-find red-fleshed apple varieties, this pinkish cider is lush with flavors of watermelon, rhubarb, and summer berries.
Available now in 750ml bottles.

Seckel Perry
A well-rounded and smooth perry made from 100% Seckel pears. Rich and full, with flavors of coconut, toffee, vanilla, citrus, and spice.
Available now in 750ml bottles and 1/6bbl kegs.

Perry Reserve
Perry-specific pear varieties are extremely hard to come by in the United States, but the search is worth the reward. In the right hands, they can produce incredibly complex and satisfying drinks of unparalleled character. That's what you get with Snowdrift's Perry Reserve. Expect flavors of grapefruit and dried pear, with a subtle woodsiness.
Available now in 750ml bottles.

Ale + Cider + Punk Rock = Snakebite
Written by Mike Reis   
Friday, 21 August 2015 23:30

Ale + Cider + Punk Rock = Gigantic's Snakebite

Gigantic Brewing's Snakebite is the spirit of collaboration in liquid form.

It was conceived and created in partnership with Beau's All Natural Brewing from Ontario and the folks at Portland's Cider Riot, but that's just the beginning of the various displays of camaraderie that went into this beverage.

As a part of Gigantic's "Artist & Artisan" series, even the label represents a collaboration, bearing the work of
Edward Colver, photographer known for his work documenting the early days of the Los Angeles punk scene.

And then there's the drink itself, in which beer, cider, and black currants team up to bring the drinker 22 ounces of flavor-packed refreshment. The base is about two-thirds Kölsch-style ale, blended and co-fermented with black currants and tart cider. It is smooth, delicious stuff, kept extra-crushable with a touch of acidity and tannin from the currants and apples and a soft hoppy bitterness from the Kölsch.

Now available in 22oz bottles.

Another great seasonal now available from Gigantic:

White Light White Heat
A tropical white IPA brewed with Belgian yeast to produce a beer with distinctive aromas of kumquat and pineapple.
Currently available in a limited quantity of 22oz bottles.

Now Available: Finnegan Dry Cider
Written by Mike Reis   
Friday, 07 August 2015 21:52

Now Available: Finnegan Dry Cider

Despite the recent boom in American cider production, there are very few producers that own their own orchards. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but owning your orchard makes a statement: you are serious about your fruit. Even amongst so-called "craft producers," that commitment to proper fruit sourcing is a rarity.

Finnegan Cider is definitely serious about their fruit. You won't find anymore more passionate about apples than Josh Johnson and Colleen Finnegan. In their Oregon orchards, these folks are growing difficult-to-find varieties of apples that are uniquely suited to cider production. Originating from France, England, and Colonial America, these are varieties that are mostly terrible to eat, but provide tannic structure, lively acidity, and elegant aromatics to their lovely ciders.

There's no better celebration of the apples that make Finnegan great than their Dry Cider. It is indeed bracingly dry, unrepentantly tannic, and sharply acidic. Despite its austerity, Dry is also brilliantly balanced and food-friendly. This is a cider that showcases the brilliant complexity that can be yielded from traditional cider fruit when put in the right hands.

Now available in 500ml bottles.

Also available from Finnegan:

Vintage Sparkling Cider
A masterfully-made, méthode champenoise cider with assertive tannin and acidity in perfect balance.
Now available in 750ml bottles.

A blend of juice from cider apple varieties associated with France, England, and the US, fermented to near-total dryness, resulting in a drinkable, deeply complex cider, with a touch more fresh apple character than Dry.
Now available in 500ml bottles.

Harvest Blend
Another blended cider of character, fermented to a final gravity of 1.010, leaving just a touch of sweetness for even more ripe apple character and drinkability.
Now available in 500ml bottles.
Meads to Crave: Sky River
Written by Mike Reis   
Wednesday, 05 August 2015 19:53

Meads to Crave from Sky River

Not very many folks get home from work, put down their briefcases, kick off their shoes, and think "boy, I sure could go for a big glass of mead right about now."

But if more people were familiar with the meads of Sky River, they might. These are really great, alluring honey wines that successfully explore the bounds of mead's definition with skill and an obvious sense of curiosity. If you dig sweet meads, dry ones, fruited meads or straight-forward honey + water + yeast traditional meads, you will find something to love within their portfolio. Heck, if you have really weird, really specific tastes and only like meads made with flowers, well, they've got one of those for you too.

Available now in beautiful 750ml bottles:

Sweet Mead
full-bodied mead emphasizing the natural subtlety of the honey used to make it.

Semi-Sweet Honeywine
A crisp, off-dry mead exhibiting aromatics of pear and ginger.

Dry Honeywine
Recommended with seafood, this mead is spicy and elegant with a touch of nuttiness.

Ginger Honeywine
A light-bodied and fresh-tasting ginger mead that offers a gentle warming finish.

Raspberry Honeywine
A bright and lively red mead with unbelievable balance of raspberry and honey character.

Blackberry Honeywine
Lush blackberry complements complex honey character in this summery mead.

Rose Honeywine
Unlike any other mead we've encountered, this is elegant and delicate stuff with lovely rose aromatics. Beautiful! (375ml bottle)

Solas Honeywine
A rich and ultra-satisfying whiskey barrel-aged traditional mead meant to be drunk at room temperature.

Sweet Brochet
Prior to being made into mead, the honey used for Sweet Brochet is heated to develop deep caramelized flavors you can't get from raw honey. A great end to any meal.
Tart 'n' Hoppy Refreshment By the Bottle
Written by Mike Reis   
Friday, 24 July 2015 19:22

Tart 'n' Hoppy Refreshment By the Bottle

To Øl has never been a brewery that adheres to strict style guidelines. They make wonky beers with crazy ingredients and stick them in barrels from wine and spirits producers from every corner of the world. They might make spiced beers, imperialized beers, and black versions of pale beers, and then they'll go and ferment 'em all with some strain of Brettanomyces. Imagine our surprise, then, when we received bottles of a beer called LikeWeisse, labeled simply: "Berliner Style Weisse Ale." It was hard to believe that these masters of the bold and extravagant would make a straightforward, simple, tart Berliner.

What the label neglected to mention is that this is indeed an extravagant Berliner weisse. As you'd expect, it is pale, wheaty and tart, but the To Øl twist is that, unlike it's authentically Berlin-born forebears, this is hoppy stuff. Really hoppy stuff in fact--it is citrusy and tropical with just a gentle touch of bitterness. You'll want one of these in your fridge as the thermometer creeps up this summer--it is pure tart 'n' hoppy refreshment.

And as if that's not enough To Øl-iness for you, they've also sent us a "Director's Cut" version of the same beer. It is bigger and bolder in every way. While the original version weighs in at a sessionable 3.8% ABV, the Director's Cut is a bit stronger. Okay, almost three times stronger. At 10.5% ABV, the remix is a force to be reckoned with. It's richer, more sour, and even fruitier. It's delightfully unlike anything out there.

Each variant is available now in 330ml bottles.

Also new from To Øl:

Jaemes Braun - A dense and "brauny" strong brown ale with deep malt complexity and a sturdy bitterness.

Insane in the Grain Rustic IPA - A full-bodied, earthy, zesty beer made with barley, wheat, rye and oats.

Mr. White - A "double India wheat ale" hopped with Citra, Amarillo, and Simcoe hops. 96 on RateBeer!

Reparationsbajer (Director's Cut) - An IPA made with an ultra-long boil to concentrate malty flavors and bitterness. A 17% ABV face-melter.

Simple Life Saison - A tart saison fermented in white wine barrels with Lactobacillus. Gently hopped with Mosaic and Simcoe. An elegant drink that disappears too quickly.
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