Today, I’m happy to share with you a rarity in American hard cider—at least in Colorado—a hard cider from a small-batch, artisanal cidery in Cedaredge, Colorado, which distributes only locally, through farmers markets, and to four different liquor stores on the Colorado front range.
Blossomwood Cidery had a write-up in the Boulder Daily Camera this year which detailed what appears to be a one-man operation by owner Shawn Carney, who grows his own cider apples and uses them and other local fruit to produce his own line of natural hard ciders using several old-school techniques such as barrel-fermenting and keeving. The latter is not some sort of horrible disease, but rather a rather difficult fermentation technique for producing ciders with residual sugars (versus the bone dry ciders that you’ll generally get if you let things proceed uninterrupted) by manipulating the nutrient content of the cider such that the yeast runs out of nutrients before consuming all the sugars, resulting in a naturally sweet cider that did not have to be back-sweetened after the fact.
Blossomwood produces several ciders, including the Oak-aged subject of this post, a French cider (lower alcohol, rather sweet as a result of the above Keeving process), a Perry that I have yet to get my hands on, and a Redtop Tepache (a hard pineapple cider). I was fortunate enough to land a few bottles of Frosty Snout, French Cider, and Redtop Tepache at the Boulder Wine Merchant, which also sells Medovina, a locally-produced, small-batch mead from a mead-maker who raises his own bees that I will review for you at a later date (ah, the sacrifices I make to produce this content).
Frosty Snout pours a light, straw yellow with a faint apple aroma. It’s flavor is pleasant and impressively balanced, which I’m guessing are attributable to:
- Aging it long enough for the malic acid tartness to break down (it has a light, mild tartness It is slightly sweet but not overly so like you would get with hard ciders served to soon).
- Not overdoing the sweetness factor (which is a very, very common issue in my opinion…thankfully, not here).
- A decent representation of bittersweet and/or bittersharp cider apples in the blend.
It has a discernible hint of the tannin, bitterness, and heft that I love, though frankly I could use a lot more…that’s not everyone’s preference, though, and it’s really difficult to obtain enough cider apples in Colorado to make that sort of cider, so I’m not terribly surprised at the composition (which, to be fair, is far better than most). I don’t detect much contribution from the oak in this, but it’s fermented in wine barrels, not the strongly-flavored whiskey or rum barrels that strong beer is often aged in, so that’s not too much of a surprise.
Overall, Frosty Snout reminds me quite a bit of Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider, but with less of the English cider apple bitterness. It’s very impressive as a non-imported, local-ingredients cider in which the owner grows much of his own cider apple stock and processes it on-site. I have a particular fondness for that approach and the closeness to the process and to the land that it entails. And, in this case, I love the cider as well, so I can’t complain.
If you happen to be near one of the stores that sells Blossomwood, I highly recommend giving it a try. If you’re not, well, isn’t it time you considered a craft beer/cider/mead vacation to Colorado? If you’re planning such a thing and would like recommendations, send me a note through the contact form or leave a comment and I’d be happy to help you build an itinerary.
In addition to the other hard cider reviews, check the resource page for geographically-clustered hard cider resources—I’ll update that section as I come across these.