You’ll have to bear with another short and sweet review this week at Birds and Booze. Not only is spring migration picking up even more than last week, but I’ve also been busy planning my first trip to the southern hemisphere: in another week, I’ll be on a flight to Peru. I hope to review something appropriate for my upcoming trip for next week’s edition, but in the meantime, we have an easy-drinking draft cider that makes a lovely tipple for these cool and crisp early days of spring. And one named for that timeless and cosmopolitan harbinger of warmer weather: the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica).

Barn Swallow Draft Cider isn’t the first cider we’ve enjoyed from ÆppelTreow Winery & Distillery – we had a good long look at their Kinglet Bitter Draft Cider back around the holiday season of 2017 – so I don’t feel like I’m giving these dedicated cidermakers short shrift with this week’s review. Besides, ÆppelTreow makes several other ciders named for birds, so I’m certain we’ll be revisiting their products again before too long.

Despite being gussied up in a handsome green champagne bottle with its namesake bird on the label, Barn Swallow Draft Cider makes for an approachable, everyday cider that provides plenty of crowd-pleasing apple flavors, but with a touch of finesse that puts it a cut above standard-issue supermarket draft ciders. An unmistakable aroma of ripe, honey-sweet table apples emanates from this cider’s lustrous citrine hue, punctuated by a steady stream of lively bubbles. The dry and tangy palate provides enough counterpoint to prevent this blend of Red Delicious, Cortland, Ida Red, and Rhode Island Greenings apples from becoming too cloying, though Barn Swallow ends with a punchy and fruity finish that doesn’t overwhelm with tartness or tannins.

Good birding and happy drinking!

ÆppelTreow Winery & Distillery: Barn Swallow Draft Cider

Three out of five feathers (Good).

Written by Tristan Lowery
Tristan Lowery’s busy homebrewing schedule took a hit in 2010 when he discovered birding and found that scanning the waterfowl at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on a frigid midwinter morning could be just as much fun as standing over a steaming mash tun in a sweltering Queens apartment in August. While his growing commitment to birding has undeniably diminished his brewing output of ales - fine and otherwise - Tristan finds that birding still affords him plenty of excuses to at least keep drinking beer, especially when celebrating life birds, lamenting unsuccessful chases, and capping off an exhausting Big Day or Christmas Bird Count. After leaving behind a hectic cooking career in New York City’s fine-dining scene, Tristan moved inland to the New York's Capital District, where the relative abundance of Pileated Woodpeckers almost makes up for the fact that he’s only seen a single Sanderling in Albany County ever. When he isn’t birding his local patches in urban Albany, Tristan works in energy regulation for the State of New York.