Cider News: November 2013

November 29, 2013

Other news:

Cider News: October 2013

November 4, 2013

Well, I’m a little late with October’s news, but here it is:

Other news:

Initiative 522

November 2, 2013

For those about to vote in Washington regarding Initiative 522 and the labeling of products that contain genetically modified foods, you should watch the last half hour of Botany of Desire. I wrote about this PBS documentary a year ago. I want to draw your attention to the potato and history of genetically modified foods in this case.

The film is neither for nor against genetically modifying plants, so it makes for an interesting watch. At the heart, it really criticizes how the public demands the same quality of food with every eating experience, and so farmers plant only one variety to meet that demand. Now this variety, after time, will begin to grow week, as we are not allowing it to evolve into a new variety, yet the pests and diseases are. The plants begin to have no resistance. For traditional farms to compensate, the film argues, we either have to spray or make genetic modifications. The film does offer a third solution, which does require a little bit more education on the consumer’s end.

Further reading: The Columbian, Local farmers come down on both sides of I-522. Oct 20, 2013


Cider News: September 2013

September 27, 2013

If you remember at all, last year the East Coast had a horrible apple crop while Washington State had a larger than normal crop. Well, apple trees tend to be a little bi-annual, so last year’s crop failure has lead to this year’s bumper. I’m predicting next year to be a hard year again as a result.

Meanwhile, there is legislation here in the US to lower taxes on craft cider, and I’ve thrown in some other stories from around the world as cautionary tales.

Cider News: August 2013

August 30, 2013

August saw signs of the growing US cider industry taking its next steps in challenging the archaic tax code laws they are subjected to.

Cider News: July 2013

July 26, 2013

Last Friday of the July, and the cider news that is coming out is about how businesses have grown and industry figures around the world. I don’t often report world cider news, but I’m curious about what they are doing and if the US might trend like that.

Other Local News:

This past weekend, I went to Bend, OR, a place known for its up and coming beer scene with its Ale Trail. Thing is, this year there have been two new cider companies that have opened there: Atlas Cider Co and Red Tank Cider Company.

We went to Atlas Cider Co first.  They have a large industrial facility that will allow them to grow and better hours to allow you to come visit. Right now, they have two ciders: standard apple and then the same cider flavored with cherry. They are also getting ready to release an apricot version.

Maybe a quarter mile away in a different industrial complex is Red Tank Cider Company. They have tricky hours to visit, but we managed it. Their space is much smaller, but it looks like they are still trying to upgrade before they can go. They probably had a smaller start up than Atlas. I did not see a red tank. They have two ciders made from the same juice that they just have different degrees of dryness on. They also have a cider in which they flavored it with ginger and pineapple, which was unique.

Both cideries had kind of the same business model. Since Bend is a desert and you don’t even really see homestead apple trees, both companies worked with Hood River to obtain juice and then ferment it. One was picky about the apples that went into their juice, while the other seemed to care more about the acidity and sugar. One also used some berries to create some tannin. Both of them work on a beer schedule, producing nice semi-sweet/sweet refreshing ciders that probably the core cider drinking market likes. I drink them, too, but I’ve kind of gotten used to higher acid crispness of a dry cider that has been allowed to age a year.

The experience was very pleasant and a good break from all the beer, and actually better in the high temperatures than beer. Of course, I’m biased, but even Burtle is coming around to the idea that cider is more refreshing on hot days than beer is.

Charcuterie and Cider

July 8, 2013

Last summer in Normandy, France, we were enjoying a picnic and drink cider, and the cider was horrible. I thought it was infected with Bretomycies or something, as it had a sort of barnyard taste.

Well, I recently took another trip to Washington DC, of which I opened up a bottle of cider and was drinking it, and then we started eating our typical picnic food including cured meats, or charcuterie. I went to drink my cider, and it tasted horrible, just like my previous experience in France. Suddenly, a little light went off in my head – when I was drinking that “bad” cider I was drinking in France, I was also eating charcuterie! It wasn’t bad cider – it was a bad pairing!

Now the thing is, charcuterie is good with beer and is probably good with wine, but for some reason, it just brings out some icky flavors in cider. According to Wikipedia, fermented sausage such as salami does contain Lactobacillius, Leuconstoc, and other bacteria. Lactobacillius and Leuconstoc are actually used in red wine making to help raise pH and make wine less harsh. This method is available to cider makers, though most I know don’t really actively attempt it. Lactobacillius is also known for making yogurt, sauerkraut, and is even used to make sour beer. However, it is something added at the beginning of a fermentation, not after things are complete.

Really, I have no idea what is causing the bad pairing. I doubt it is the meat as cider is good with meat. I’m not sure it is the spices, either. I think it is the bacteria used to cure the meat, but I’m not positive. I just know from experience now not to eat dried cured charcuterie with cider.

I finally got on the smart phone bandwagon. In June, we have been to four beer/cider events, so I started looking into apps for tasting notes. As I see it, I could either haul around my tasting book all the time, or just take it to events. But what if I was out and about and come across something I wanted in my note book but didn’t have it with me? That’s where an app would be so much better: I always have my notes with me because I have my phone with me, but I wasn’t having to carry around an extra book to achieve this same thing.

For starters, there is nothing out there for cider, which makes me a little sad. I tried to use something like Google Docs to make a form based on the wine judging I’ve done, Blogger Cider Pages, and Andrew Lea’s Class and First Tier of Cider Flavour Descriptors. The result was that I still ended up grabbing my notebook because it was faster and easier to write in. This is kind of a shame, because my notes are not as through as they should be, so this really would have put me through the paces.

Moving on to beer, I ended up finding an app called Beeer (yes, there are three E’s in that name). There is a Lite version or a $0.99 version, which I got the full $0.99 version. It is pretty basic in that it has you enter the name, company, style, star rating, ABV, IBU, OG, TG, method of storage (bottle, can, draft, growler, cask), a beer wheel, allows you to take a photo, and then enter notes. I really liked the beer wheel, though I actually think for beer that it might actually be stopping me from thinking of other characteristics that might not be on the wheel. Maybe, because I’m a little slow with the keyboard, I wasn’t really taking additional notes. However, it is beer, which is not my strong suit, so this wheel did have me thinking about floral or citrus, etc, things I know I should be thinking about, but don’t actually do. This is actually the only app this company makes, which is unfortunate. I would really like it if they had one for wine or for cheese.

Which brings me to cheese, as two of the events I went to this past month were cheese tastings. The app I found was called Cheese Tasting Tracker (free version limits you to 25 entries). It is pretty simple in that it allows you to enter a name, producer, location, date, type, age, region, rating, and notes. Because I am a slow cell phone typer, and because I was liking the Beeer app with its beer tasting wheel, I abandoned this app in favor of a small tasting book called 33 Pieces of Cheese (The website lets you see exactly how the tasting pages are). Again, the tasting wheel is helping me develop my palette and maybe even expand my vocabulary on cheese, but I think some day it will hold me back.

I think there is a lot of potential for tasting apps out there that have yet to be tapped into. Too bad I don’t know more about programming to develop them!

What about you? Have you found some cider, cheese, beer, or wine tasting apps you like?

Cider News: June 2013

June 28, 2013

Cider news:

Other news of interest: