Although I couldn’t attend Oregon Cider Week this year, my mind was definitely on my friends south of the border. Seeing how I’ve been meaning to review this cider for such a long time, I thought now would be a perfect time to share with you one my favourite Cideries from my favourite State (sorry Washington friends); Bull Run Cider.
If you are following cider’s resurgence in the Pacific Northwest then you must have seen Galen Williams and Pete Mulligan’s Bull Run Cider on the shelves at your favourite bottle shop or at the many Cider Festivals scattered throughout Washington and Oregon. Their partnership may at face value may be an unlikely one, Pete’s background in the fast-pace and demanding world of Operations Management and Galen’s works in Molecular Biology and Medical Research are quite polar oposite. Despite the obvious differences in careers, thankfully the partnership works and to the benefit of us cider-drinkers.
Pete & Galen started making cider in 2009 after attending the 1st Annual Portland Fermentation Festival. It was after many years of trial and error and ensuring they would have a winning product that Bull Run entered the marketplace in March 2013. Since then, they have been innovating, expanding and making excellent cider along the way.
Powerhouse Dry Cider – 7.4%
From the website: “A tribute to the history of the Bull Run Powerhouse, this cider melds the best properties of aromatic heirloom apples with those of traditional bittersweet and bittersharp cider apples. This cider comes across crisp and balanced with a clean finish. All apples in this cider are grown within 100 miles of our cidery. From our grove to your glass; please enjoy responsibly, well chilled, and in good company.”
Aroma: Winey, citrus, tropical fruit, and strawberry. Like many other dry ciders, there’s fairly vinous nose, however this one stands out as it’s complimented well by notes of lemon, tropical fruit, strawberry and a rich, earthy, apple aroma.
Taste: The Champagne of Ciders? Perhaps. Drinking Powerhouse really reminds me of a sparkling wine, not just because of the carbonation, but because it has so many characters that I enjoy in a Brut Champagne; fruit forward, citrus burst, berry, and equally the creamy, bubbly, mouthfeel that compliments the dryness. There was a nice residual apple aroma that is rare in a cider this dry.
Overall: Very high quality cider with an excellent mouthfeel. The biggest thing that stands out is how well balanced this cider is. Not too bitter and not too acidic. It’s a dry cider which might be a little more challenging for new cider drinkers. However, if you consider yourself a fan of cider, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy its rich, creamy, mouthfeel and lingering apple aroma. Pretty darn good folks…
Gravestien SV Medium Dry Cider
From the website: “Bull Run Cider produces traditional cider that is always vegan and completely gluten-free. Made from handpicked apples, our single orchard Gravenstein varietal cider is fermented in small batches using sustainable practices. Some of the apples’ natural sugar is intentionally preserved for a crisp, clean flavor characteristic of the Gravenstein. From our grove to your glass; please enjoy responsibly, well-chilled, and in good company.”
Aroma: Hay, green apple, raspberry. There’s big earthiness to the aroma of this cider. It smells of fresh cut hay with green apple. I also noted a slight bit of banana, but it wasn’t overbearing. The overall nose was fairly light and refined.
Taste: The acidity is pleasant and quite noticeable while complimented nicely by the green apple notes that were picked up on the nose. Slightly sweeter than the Powerhouse, but still definitely on the drier side. Bold earthiness of hay and cut grass with big lemony and grapefruit notes and a green apple finish.
Overall: Again, this is another high quality cider with a clean fermentation and a brilliant clarity. Apart from the quality of the cider itself, I found the standout to be the acidity. Crisp with a pleasant earthiness and juicy green apple finish. Typically I enjoy a blend of apples in my cider as rarely does one apple contain all the right elements for a perfect cider. However, The Gravestien is one of those rare apples that really lends itself to a single variety.
Bramble Berry Dry Cider
From the website: “Bull Run Cider’s Bramble Berry is made with a selection of summer ripening apples, infused with a blend of locally grown Marion, Black and Boysenberries. The result is a cider rich in color and full of berry flavor and aroma. This fusion of apple and berry flavors offers a taste of some of the finest fruit Oregon has to offer. From our grove to your glass; please enjoy responsibly, well chilled, and in good company.”
Aroma: Massive nose of concentrated berry; raspberry, strawberry and blackberry being the most prominent with a slight cirtus burst. The aroma is rich and concentrated and reminds me of my grandmother’s homemade jam. It’s a bouquet that is both inviting and luxurious.
Taste: A lot dryer than the aroma would suggest – I had expected from the nose that it was going to be sweet and rich in flavour, however it’s dry and with very muted character. There a very prominent lemony acidity with a green apple finish. The mouthfeel is a little thin.
Overall: The nose is deceptively sweet smelling and big on berry aromas (as I would hope), however it tastes dry and that’s perfectly fine by me for most of the ciders I drink. In this one occasion, I feel a bit of sweetness would have really balanced the taste with the armoa.
Final Thoughts on Bull Run
I’m extremely impressed with the quality of Bull Run’s Cider. They are all clean fermented and well crafted, with a distinct personality that show’s that these guys really know what they are doing in the Ciderhouse. Generally I found the ciders to be bold in flavour and crafted with much care and consideration. If you like your ciders on the dry side – as I prefer as well – then expect to be happy. The folks at Bull Run aren’t shy about letting the yeast do most of the work. Which is just they way I like them. On a side note, I’m guessing from my comments on the ‘winey-ness’ of each cider that they are using a champagne yeast. I’d love to see them do a wild fermentation of their Powerhouse Dry in a oak barrel. Maybe I can ‘special order’ one? Christmas is ALWAYS just around the corner right?