by Julia Thiel
As the afternoon went on and more people arrived, lines got longer and pours got shorter. By 5, many of the vendors were out of cider, and people were still arriving. Still, for a fledgling event this one wasn't bad: there was a little food available, the crowds were manageable, and several dozen ciders were available for tasting. Below are a few favorites.
Virtue Cider Mitten: This was the first cider I tasted and one of the best. The latest release from Virtue (which also makes Lapinette and Redstreak), it's aged in bourbon barrels and then blended with fresh cider and apple juice. It's clean and bright, the barrel flavor subtle: the cider tastes a lot like a sweet, tart apple.
Thistly Cross Whiskey Cask: The complete opposite of the Mitten, this cider aged in whiskey barrels tasted like scotch, peaty and smoky. On the sweeter side, it was still surprisingly well-balanced.
Vander Mill Blue Gold: A few weeks ago I tried and enjoyed Vander Mill's Totally Roasted cider, made with cinnamon-roasted pecans—and that one is still my favorite from Vandermill. But their blueberry cider ain't bad either, tart and sweet with a nice blueberry flavor.
AeppelTreow Barn Swallow: I made the mistake of tasting some of the stronger-flavored ciders early on, which made some perfectly decent, straightforward ciders seem sort of boring. I don't have a lot of notes on this one other than that it's a good basic cider, not too sweet or sour.
Sarasola Sagardoa: This cider from the Basque region of Spain is completely different from the others I tried: it's funky, earthy, and tastes sort of barnyardy. It takes a little getting used to, but once you adjust to the flavors it's incredibly complex.