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Fermentations, Ruminations & Meditations

Spring into Summer, Cider Report from Andrew

May 23, 2016

Spring has almost passed, the biological temperatures have returned to our ambient cider hall and the slow fermentations of the winter are all but packaged and set. We made a big push this spring to introduce/create our Traditional Cider line. Three of the four ciders were made initially in the Crew Selection bottle line as a one-off; the Sidra, Oak and Apple, and Apple Abbey all began as small thoughts and ideas to entertain. It is awesome to see small ideas grow and graduate into a replicable form.

Today we are bottling the second batch of Oak and Apple- almost twice as big as the first and just down right solid. I can’t wait for my crew bottle tonight.  Looking forward to the next ferment of Apple Abbey as I think I have solved our draft stabilization issues and will be able to pull cider into kegs-- something we chose not to do in the first batch released this spring. The Sidra is still in my tank, waiting for the right level of Spanish funk to grow/develop before we bring to the world this summer. Spanish style cider is an interesting niche of sour and funk lovers, sophisticated foodies, and those lost to their memories of a time spent in the North of Spain. In research I have been consuming copious amounts of imported Sidra Natural and studying the life cycle of acetobacter, malo-lactic bacteria, and lacto bacillus. These are some of the workers that make a Sidra what it is. 

The fourth Traditional Cider is our peninsula apple, farmcrafted and rustic, Farmstead Cider. This last Fall my daughter and I were out on the beat every Thursday from Quilcene to Sequim hunting apples. We were able to create a network of hobby orchards and local farms with an apple side crop to produce near 2000 gallons of fantatic cider with apples from about 50 miles away north to south.  Do the math at 15#/gl of juice that means near 30,000 lbs of fruit! (Much of it was picked and delivered to me… but my 4 yr old and I definitely picked and packed 10,000lbs ourselves- Parents you know what this really means.) The Farmstead cider contains 52 varieties of apples- the vast majority are dessert fruit, some qualify as culinary or baking apples, a few choice crabs, and some true sharps I found near Cape George. Bottles are out in the world already if you are looking, and draft is limited to some extent so ask for it as you please. Here at the Orchard and Cider Garden, we will have Farmstead on draft as often as possible to highlight the connection of apples to place; so come on out to the Chimacum Corners! That is really the take home message here. 

And what would a Finnriver Update be without a commentary on the newest soured ciders. It is a big spring release as I have a nice friendship with the folks at Brouwer’s and their Sour Fest during the middle of Beer Week. Last night they tapped for the debut; Finnflusseweisse and Chimacum Kriek. The Finflusse is a Berlinerweisse inspired cider and the Kriek is just that, a cherry fermented homage to the creek that flows through both farms and orchard, as well as by my house near the estuary. There will be limited bottle releases of these two but plenty kept here at the Orchard to treat those who travel the distance to a bit of bacterial magic. 

Also up my sleeve is a little gem called Pear Wood. This Crew Selection is a blend of bittersweet cider, MLF (Malo-Lactic Fermentation) high acid dessert fruit, and a robust oaking to balance the sweet pear juice added to the finish. This is a rendition of our classic Pear Cider made with tannic apples, alternative bacterial fermentations, and a blend of barrel aged cider, oak staves, and cross cut oak blocks. It is a refreshing burst of tannic wood mellowed with sweet pear. I don’t think this will graduate from the Crew Selection line as it was difficult to put together in terms of sourcing and separate fermentations of bacteria, but I did put a lot of it into kegs so there will be reasonable draft availability in the next two months (In territories that carry our draft products).

Summer love From the Finnriver production crew.


Andrew B.


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