Happy Wassail 2013 Everybody!

Sea-Cider-In what is fast becoming an annual family tradition, my wife and I were sure to head over the Sea Cider Farm And Cider House this weekend for the Winter Wassail! For those who don’t know, this is the ancient English tradition of reigning in another year and another successful apple harvest with plenty of food, cider, and good cheer! And as a burgeoning purveyor of excellent apple cider, the Sea Cidery marks this festival by opening their doors to the public to learn about the tradition, and share in a few rounds!

This consists of warm, mulled, and spices cider, combined with finger foods that are provided by local catering companies. And of course, there are plenty of cider samples to be tried, which will include some of their more popular regular items, and an annual Wassail cider made with apples, star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, mint, and orange zest. Tours are also held so people can learn a bit about operations around the cidery, a Mummer’s Play is performed by members of the local English country dance troupe, and people are able to take part in the ancient festival of placing cider-infused bread on the apple trees to ensure an good harvest for next year.

1850 wassailThis was our third time there and I can tell you from personal experience, the occasion does not disappoint! In fact, it is the one time of year that I break from my usual trend of sampling beer and dedicate myself to exclusively to English and European style ciders, which like beer have a long and rich history. And this year, we treated ourselves to several samples of Pippin, Rumrunner, and I was sure to grab myself a bottle of the Pommeau Normandy style strong cider before we left.

As for food, we were delighted by one of the catering companies ample supply of miniature pies. For sup, they had a chicken, apple, bacon and thyme pie which was absolutely delicious! For those who are nutritionally minded and/or vegetarian/vegan, they had a vegetable curry pie which consisted of veggies, apple, yams, and curry sauce. And for desert, traditional apple pie, where the only thing missing was a dollop of vanilla ice cream!

At the other table, they were serving a lamb stew, which we refused to partake of since my wife spent much of her childhood raising sheepies. And I, well, just haven’t been able to eat lamb since I learned that they were in fact baby sheep and some of the cutest creatures on Earth! But they did have a lovely spread of bread pudding muffins with cream cheese ice cream that was scrum-diddly-umptious!

Looking forward to next year. Hopefully, we can actually ride our bikes there and not have to worry about “overdoing it”! Kudos to you Sea Cider, and keep doing what you do best!

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New Beer and Cider!

After several months on sojourn, I came back in May 2011 with this post concerning some new beer and some rather delicious ciders! The latter were largely the result of us attending the Wassail celebration over at the Sea Cidery, which is just a short drive/bikeride away from us. In fact, there are two local cideries in our area, both of which are infinitely reachable. The second is mentioned here and is also a very good purveyor of ciders: the Merridale Cidery. Too bad they’re not within walking distance, that’d be really ideal! But I digress… Here’s the post:

Hello again! Boy, its been awhile since I reviewed any beer, which is surprising considering that I haven’t exactly been slowing down with the sampling lately. In fact, just the other week-end, my darling girl and I went to an IPA/cider/wine sampling party. Our generous hosts arranged the whole thing, with finger foods, multiple selections of each, and we even graded them and gave out prizes to whomever brought the winning selection.

Guess who won the award for best IPA? Do I need to ask? I mean, c’mon, read the title! Beer Snob, that’s who! And my entries were two favorites, Spinnakers IPA and Howe Sound Devil’s Elbow IPA. Both excellent ales in their own right, one lighter and infinitely drinkable, suitable for food pairing and the uninitiated; the other stronger and hoppier, floral in both taste and aroma and best when enjoyed on its own.

But there were other vintages that I think need some honorable mention. For instance, in terms of cider, we were treated to a series of local favorites, many of which came from either Merridale Cidery or Sea Cider. From the former, the Traditional Cider was the entry, and it was a big hit. This dry, smooth cider is a fine example of… well, traditional English cider! Not much more to say. And from the latter cidery, the party guests were treated to a taste of Pippins. This is a more sweet and scrumpy cider, named after the principal type of apple used to make it. I don’t believe this one won Best Cider, but dammit it should have! What didn’t make it in the lineup, but very well could have had my darling and I been able to show some restraint, was Sea Cider’s seasonal cider known eponymously as Perry. Like all perry ciders, its made from pears rather than apples, and the result in this case is a very dry, effervescent drink that’s perfect when paired with snacking foods like sharp cheeses and salty treats.

More to come, but first, I must review the names of some recently sampled Kolsch’s and Bitters. See ya soon!

FYI: I never did get around to reviewing Kolsch and bitters. What’s more, I should definitely dedicate some time to the wonderful Sea Cider plant and its products. That Wassail (an Old English tradition, wæs hæil meaning “good health”) was a good time! Oh well, something to do in the future!