Style: Bourbon barrel aged hard cider
ABV: 6.9%
Glassware: Bordeaux Wine Glass

Appearance: The cider sits in my glass, clear as can be. It’s straw yellow in color with a slight greenish tint.

Aroma: Sweet floral notes like elderflower hit me initially before subtle scents of apple and pear appear. The barrel aging gives it a very basic hint at sweet wood notes but it is so subtle that it is almost undetectable.

Flavor: The flavors are quite muted and the finish has the astringency of a dry apple. The apple character itself is again very subtle like it was in the nose. Pear and sweet wood also comes through but again it just hints at it.

Mouthfeel: Acidic throughout and with a thin mouthfeel.

Finish: Again, that slight astringency in the finish but it has relatively well balanced dry and acidic characters throughout.

Currently Enjoying With: I am not currently eating with my beverage here, but a few things come to mind. This would serve as an ‘aperitif’ or a before dinner drink. I’m actually thinking brunch for this one. If serving with food, I immediately think of a fresh romaine lettuce salad that has raw chopped red bell peppers, sugar snap peas, radish and a light vinaigrette. The crispness of the salad and all the raw veggies would break up the acidity in the cider, while this same cider acidity would also brighten the flavors of the vegetables. I would also stick to pairing this cider with easy fruits like melon, or perhaps star fruit. I’m hoping that these kinds of foods will coax the flavors from barrel aging out of the cider.

Overall Impression: I personally would prefer more notes of the barrel to come through. I have had Sietsma’s Lemongrass cider and it was a real delight! The flavors in the Lemongrass version are bold and balanced. Adding it to cocktails is going to be incredible! This barrel aged version though was a bit too muted for my personal preference and I wonder if different barrel usage or more aging time would be to their benefit. I look forward to trying this again in the future after some tweaks.

6.8% ABV, Can

Appearance: Medium-sized bubbles flow generously through this slightly yellow hued cider.
Aroma: Apple with earthy tones and a slight alcohol scent.
Taste: Excellent apple coverage with a slight sweetness. A mostly dry, tart flavor.
Mouthfeel: Highly carbonated and light bodied.

This is the original from Vander Mill, so I couldn’t resist reviewing it as the final featured beverage this month. Classic and original are two words meant to describe this cider. It is certainly dry, but definitely doesn’t completely neglect the sweet side. I like that it has a sour or tart-like quality, but that it represents the apple all the way through. Lovely cider that shows why Vander Mill is cider king in my book.

6.8% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Light red in hue with a medium level of flowing carbonation (medium to small bubbles).
Aroma: Sweet and slightly sour raspberry smell off the bat with a slight apple undertone.
Taste: A solid raspberry flavor is apparent from start to end of each drink. Still, Vander Mill manages to keep it not overly sweet. The apple kicks in at the end of the drink, while the raspberry is slightly tart.
Mouthfeel: This dry cider is light bodied with medium carbonation.

There is no doubt about the enjoyable and refreshing nature of Vander Mill Apple Raspberry cider. It’s nice to get raspberry without wincing in sweetness — all-the-while getting some tartness. I love Raspberry Apple as it represents the sweeter side of Vander Mill, which is not as sweet compared to most ciders on the market. It still has a dry feel, and is incredibly well perfected, making it likely my favorite hard cider from Vander Mill.

If you love raspberries and hard cider, it doesn’t get any better — Vander Mill is the king of craft cider in my book. “Apple raspberry is one of our in house favorites,” owner Paul Vander Heide says. “Fresh pressed raspberries come through without adding much sweetness at all to this very refreshing cider.”

6.5% ABV, Bottle

Appearance: Dark red tone, which I expected with a blueberry brew. Small head.
Aroma: Strong blueberry and apple smell.
Taste: Somewhat of a dry, tart apple taste with some blueberry tones. More of an apple front than what I expected.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a pretty high carbonation level.

Northern Natural’s Blueberry Apple Hard Cider is a dry, tart hard cider with a lot of apple flavor. The blueberry tones aren’t as present as the apple, which makes it not quite as sweet as I would’ve expected. Still, this is a good cider that caters itself more to hardcore cider fans, as opposed to those looking for a sweet drink. A solid offering from the cidery right outside of Manistee.