Tag Archives: farmhouse cider

Thirsty Thursday – Winter Ciders


Happy Thirsty Thursday!

You may or may not know my love for hard ciders. It’s a good go-to choice when I’m not feeling wine and there isn’t a beer on tap that tickles my fancy.

The thing is, I tend to like my ciders dry. The cloyingly sweet, commercial ones can be too much for me.

There is one exception.

J.K.’s ScrumpyScrumpy

J.K.’s Scrumpy is my favorite cider of all time and it does taste sweet. I even put it in my Fantasy Draft last year! Which reminds me, I haven’t yet done one for 2015. Time is ticking… YIKES!

Why is it my favorite? It tastes like the unfiltered cider you get at an apple orchard! We’ve given it to friends to try and I can’t think of a single person who didn’t agree that this is the best cider around. The cidery is out of Michigan. We hoped that they had a tasting room for us to try out on our next visit to the mitten; but alas, they didn’t at the time. It appears that they *might* now; but it’s hard to tell.

In any case, a trip to Total Wine not too long ago prompted us to try these two specialties!


We were looking for local seasonal brews at the time when I spotted these. It was a no-brainer to make purchase these new-to-us J.K. ciders because they come in at around $6/bottle whereas some specialty bombers of beer go for $10 to $20!

When we finally decided to crack them open one evening, I told Rob that we needed taste them side-by-side to compare. I wish I would have taken a photo so I could show you the extreme difference in color of these two nectars; but it was so dark in our living room that I’m sure the comparison would have been lost anyway.

Let’s have a look…

Cuvée Winterruption:


I’ll start with this one because after pouring them, it was lighter in color. I’d like to say that the descriptions helped guide me, too; but the truth is that the color was the sole reason I chose it as our first taste.

I thought that Rob would not be a fan because of the cinnamon. Really, who doesn’t like cinnamon?!

I do love the descriptions on the backs of their bottles as well as their words of advice… especially this time of year.

“Please enjoy a cider with someone you love and perhaps someone you don’t. Please mend a bridge, extend a hand and be good to one another.”

That’s advice we can all heed.

Northern Neighbour – Saskatoon Cuvée:

IMG_5211I feel really ignorant about the crops of our neighbors to the north. I had never heard of a Saskatoon before. I probably assumed it was one who resided in Saskatchewan! A search on The Google resulted in photos and descriptions of a berry very similar to the blueberry, but also called endearingly “the little purple apple.” Mmmm…


Our thoughts…

OH WOW! We loved them both. Neither of us could pick a favorite. They are still made in that wonderfully nostalgic unfiltered-farmhouse-orchard-cider-style. The Winterruption seemed much lighter in style. The spices were festive, yet still subtle enough that the cinnamon didn’t turn Rob off.

The Northern Neighbour is much darker in color, assumingly from the dark “little purple apples” added to the mix. The collaboration is a unique, yet perfect one.

These ciders alone could bring peace on earth. Well, at least collaborating with neighbors and suggesting kindness on the back of a bottle is a start. 😉

What beverages (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) do you find make you feel most festive over the holiday season?




Thirsty Thursday: Aussie Cider


The one thing we didn’t expect to find, nor even think to look for while we were in Australia was hard cider. I just love a good, refreshing hard cider on a beautiful spring or summer day. So we were pleasantly surprised when we found some!

Our first cider encounter was at The Norfolk in Sydney {New South Wales}. They had one on tap from New Zealand. True, it’s not an Aussie Cider, but I had never had one from NZ either. It was such a clear color! Seriously, this glass is full!


It went nicely with the Peri-Peri Chicken I had for lunch! Peri-Peri {also piri-piri} Chicken is a Portuguese-style dish that I can’t say that I’ve seen in the U.S. But I hadn’t known about it[ so I hadn’t been looking for it either. I think I was first introduced by Tiffany at Cute Dogs and Hugs. Then I noticed it all over Australia. {I also noticed a lot of chicken burgers and chicken schnitzel. HA!} Peri-peri sauce has such a nice heat!

Peri Peri Chicken

Peri Peri Chicken

The cider complemented it nicely, too. I may have to try to make Peri-Peri chicken or sauce at home. Biz, are you up for the challenge?!

But Rob also noticed on their list that they carried an Aussie cider by the bottle. We gave it a try.

Another excellent specimen! This one is from the Snowy Mountains {New South Wales}.

I was so oblivious to Australian geography before we visited the country. So, I’d like to offer you a quick lesson right now. It’ll give you an idea of where each of these ciders comes from.

Remember that Australia is roughly the size of the United States.


But there are only a total of eight states and territories!

{ACT = Australian Capital Territory, where you will find Canberra, the capital city}


Now consider that this country is in the Southern Hemisphere where the seasons are flopped from those of us in the North. {It was spring when we arrived in September! Everyone is on summer vacation over Christmas!} And, the further you go north {towards the equator}, the warmer it gets. The further south you go, the temps are cooler, creating better conditions for apple growing.

Our next cider experience was with Chloe at Young & Jackson’s in Melbourne {Victoria}.IMG_9383

We took a lovely drive with Mum & Dad from our home base in Melbourne out to the Mornington Peninsula {Victoria}. It was a beautiful day to lunch outside. I found a nice little local cider on the menu:


It comes from Wallington {Victoria}, which is just across the water from the town where we lunched. The whole arrangement made me happy – a beautiful day, lunch outside, one of the best salads I’ve ever had, and wonderful company, all while sipping a bottle of crisp local cider.

Can you tell that we were just a tad bit happy?!

Can you tell that we were just a tad bit happy?!

One thing we learned from Mum and Dad was something else that was unbeknownst to me: Did you know where the Granny Smith apple originated?


Me neither! You can read the story about Granny Smith (an actual person!) here. After learning all of this, when we saw a bottle of the cider pictured below at an establishment in St. Kilda, there was no way we could order anything else.


To be honest, I’m not even sure if this Cider House belongs to the same Smith family, nor if it is made from Granny Smith apples. But it sold us. It didn’t matter. Sipping on another Tasmanian cider that we knew we couldn’t have had at home was a treat anyway.


It was a delicious farmhouse-style cider. We love that Willie Smith & Sons is big on not adding anything artificial and that the apples are organically grown, too.


Speaking of Farmhouse-style ciders…

Rob loves Scrumpy Ciders! He used to think that the term scrumpy meant that the cider was higher in alcohol. That’s probably because many are. But now we know that the term is used more to describe locally produced ciders not made in mass quantities.  My absolute favorite Scrumpy is J.K.’s Scrumpy Farmhouse Organic Hard Cider out of Michigan. It tastes just like the unfiltered apple cider you pick up directly at an orchard!

Rob and I are highly interested in visiting Tasmania when we next visit Australia someday. It sounds like a beautiful countryside full of lots interesting history!

Rob did enjoy a Scrumpy Cider at Milk the Cow, a wine and cheese bar in the St. Kilda area of Melbourne.


This one did pack a punch at 8% ABV anyway!


Then there’s this:


What a great name! I love the crocheted label look. But there is the disclaimer that the cider inside wasn’t necessarily made with granny smiths.


The next cider, I believe, was one Rob enjoyed the night the girls shared a little bubbly with dinner.  It’s another Tassie {pronounced Tazzie!} cider:


The last cider I quaffed on our Australian trip was on a hot day while we were visiting Uluru. I’m sure we paid an arm and a leg for it at the resort restaurant. And just like in Ireland (and now more common in the U.S., too) servers always try to offer me a glass full of ice to water my cider down. I don’t get it. Maybe it’s just my personal preference: If the cider is already chilled, I don’t want your stinking ice!


I don’t mind “cloudy” or unfiltered ciders. In fact, that’s what I love in a good Farmhouse-style cider. But the Seeds cider was probably my least favorite cider of the trip. I still didn’t let it go to waste!

Then I saw that it is a product of Tooheys:


Tooheys is a mass-producer of beers and ciders in Australia. That might explain why it was my least favorite.

But overall, the ciders in Australia were delicious. Yes, it’s always a good idea to drink wine in wine countries; but if apples are a product of the region, don’t look those over either!

What’s your favorite style of cider? Dry? Sweet? Filtered? Unfiltered? Have you had a scrumpy?


Other posts about our trip to Australia:











Fantasy Draft Friday – 2014


Yesterday, I gave some tips links on how to soak up every last bit of summer in the Twin Cities.

After summer is gone, fall means…


And although I’ll talk about football briefly, the real purpose of this Fantasy Draft post is to pick my favorite BEERS! Click here to read about my 2013 Fantasy Draft Six-Pack.

But first, I need to announce that I’m especially excited for football season this year because I am finally a…



Yes, that’s right. I put my name on The Waiting List 20 years ago and I now have season tickets – for the Gold Package. For those of you who don’t know, the Gold Package consists of three games. These tickets date back to the days when The Packers played three games a year at Milwaukee County Stadium and the remaining games were played in Green Bay. If I wanted to pass on the three-game (Gold) package, I could keep my name on the waiting list for the Green package, which is for the rest of the games. The wait for that? Estimated at another 17 to 20 years.

Living in Minnesota, I’ll think I’ll take what I can get!

As much as I love Green Bay football, I have to tell you that my Fantasy Draft (beer) choices for 2014, will not be served at Lambeau Field.

What, you mean that they don’t cater to MOI?!!!


Rules for Fantasy Draft 2014:

1) No repeat beers from last year. (Although I still love all of those!)

2) No repeat breweries within the same six-pack. For example, even if I am in love with two beers from say, Sam Adams, I can only include one.


Fantasy Draft 2014

J.K.’s Scrumpy Farmhouse Organic Hard Cider (MI)

So, cider isn’t exactly the same as beer; but I’m putting it in my six-pack anyway! I’ve been meaning to tell you alphoto 1(2)l about this cider for probably a year.

It is my favorite cider of all time.

It takes like the yummy non-filtered (non-alcoholic) ciders you get right at an orchard. It’s tasty and perfect. I’ve tried other “farmhouse” style hard ciders since, thinking it was just the type I liked. But I was wrong.

Nothing else comes close.


Dangerous Man Hazelnut Porter (MN)photo 1(1)

Sorry, you can’t get this beer anywhere but the taproom. So if you are in the Twin Cities, it’s important that you make a pilgrimage. I’m not even sure if it’s on tap all of the time because they brew everything in small batches. But I’ve never had anything like it.Tthe aromas of hazelnut alone are transcending. It smells like they have been toasted. And the flavor? Just as rewarding.


New Belgium Coconut Curry Hefeweisen (CO)photo 3(1)

I normally don’t even like New Belgium’s beers. The exception was when I discovered their Cocoa Molé a couple of years ago at the Happy Gnome.

Well, they did it again.

New Belgium came up with something unique and delicious. We discovered the Coconut Curry Hefeweisen at Devil’s Advocate about a week ago. I was really surprised when my wheat-beer-despising husband ordered it. In fact, he’s not even a curry fan. But he was intrigued. And he loved it. I took a sip… and I stole it. He had to order his own.

Rob didn’t get anything but coconut; but there is a hint of heat on the finish, which is what I feel is what a good curry will do. This beer might sound kind of strange,;but it’s very rewarding and much better than I had expected. I want one while I’m writing this. It’s a specialty beer that appears to be bottled, but I haven’t done any research to see if we can get it anywhere else.


Horny Goat Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter (WI)photo 2(1)

Here’s another brewery which I’ve never found outstanding…  But when Rob picked up this beer,  it wasn’t the brewery that turned me off. It was the name/description. I mean, come on, a Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter. I personally, had never seen peanut butter done in a beer before. And it actually sounded kind of disgusting to me.

But I tried it anyway…

And they nailed it.

Seriously. I stole one from Rob’s six-pack. And he smiled. Trust me, give this one a go.


Dragon’s Milk Reserve with Toasted Chilies (MI)photo 2

You’ve probably read enough about my love of Bourbon Barrel Beers. And Dragon’s Milk is no exception. But when Rob saw this one at Blue Max in Burnsville, he thought of me. And he bought it as a surprise. It’s kind of like Dragon’s Milk meets the Cocoa Molé I was mentioning above. Have you had one of those chocolate bars with chilies in them? This is like that.

But better.

It’s Beer.

It’s Bourbon Barrel Beer.

It’s Dragon’s Milk.

With a spicy finish.

love. Love. LOVE.


Central Waters Brewer’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout (WI)

I couldn’t leave this one out. I’m still stuck in my love of Bourbon Barrel Beers.

And this is my favorite beer of all time.CW - BB Stout

I promised it to my dad for Father’s Day; but I can’t find it now. My local MGM is no longer carrying it. I can settle for the Bourbon Barrel Barleywine, which I love 99.9% as much. (I did a side by side tasting!) But I’m sure that my faves are just not around this time of year. I wanted to talk to Central Waters at the Canterbury Beer Fest. But they didn’t show up.


I searched the festival over several times. They were a no-show. {Insert Sad Face here.} I need to take a serious roadtrip to their taproom in Amherst, Wisconsin. They have many more Brewer’s Reserve beers that I’d like to try… Well, if they are available. I could become a stalker. Anyone want to join me?


Coming over to my house?

Pick up any one of these beers and you’ll win me over. 😉