Kings & Spies from Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse

Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse in Saanichton, British Columbia has become my latest obsession. This small, artisanal cider-maker is certified organic. They press their own heritage apples using the traditional rack and cloth method and ferment them with champagne yeast for a delicate sparkle. In their orchards they grow old-school cider apples – not the eating apples you get in the store – with names like Bill’s Red flesh, Brown Snout, and Winter Banana. They make awesome cider!

Really. This is some of the best cider I’ve ever had.

Four varieties are currently available in the Twin Cities – Prohibition, Pippins, Wild English, and Kings & Spies. Wild English uses a wild yeast fermentation for an earthy, funky profile. Pippins is light, bright, and tart. Rum-barrel-aged Prohibition is a strong cider with deep brown sugar and rum notes. You can read my notes for Pippins and Prohibition here.

Kings & Spies is the last of the bunch for me to try. It’s made primarily from Kings and Northern Spies apple varieties that the bottle says yield “a fruit-forward, Italian-style sparkling cider.” Making it even better, proceeds from this cider support Lifecycles, a Victoria organization that promotes local food security.

Here’s my notes.

Kings & SpiesKings & Spies
Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse, Saanichton, British Columbia
Style: Off-dry, Sparkling Apple Cider
Serving Style: 750 ml bottle

Aroma: A fruity nose full of red and green apples and hints of pineapple. It’s light and bright, but darker notes of raisin and brown sugar provide a suggestion of something deeper. I even get a skosh of oak, although I don’t know that this cider ever sees a barrel.

Appearance: Brilliant clarity with a light golden color.  Forms a foamy, white cap when poured, but it dissipates immediately. Small bubbles rise in the glass.

Flavor: A juicy sweetness up front that dries up in the finish, leaving behind a lingering tartness. Fresh red and green apple flavor, but with a wild edge, like the crab apples I used to eat off the tree as a kid. Lots of interesting fruity highlights – oranges and lemons, pears. The fruit finds a contrast in tones of earth and herb. Vague hints of brown sugar and raisin.

Mouthfeel: Light body with moderates bubbles.

Overall Impression: Another OMG-good cider from Sea Ciderhouse. A delight to drink from the start to the end of the bottle. Light enough for patio sipping in the summer, but deep enough to satisfy me on a cold January night.