Ramborn Cellar Editions Erbachhoffer 2016

Erbachhoffer is an apple variety that has been used for making Apfelwein or, as locals call it, viez in German Saarland but also in small Luxembourg. When it was time to make a blend for the Farmhouse, my personal favourite cider from Ramborn, Caroline, the cider maker at Ramborn kept some separated Erbachhoffer as it simply tasted so good. Hence, tasting Erbachhoffer, a cider from Ramborn’s Cellar Editions should give one a picture of what Luxembourg’s cider apples are really like.Company: Ramborn Cider Co.
Place of Origin: Born, Luxembourg
Apples: single variety Erbachhofer
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 7.5%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or snifter
Ingredients: contains sorbic acid

Appearance: pours a clear amber with orange hues and no head. No carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is rich and slightly sweet with notes of red and yellow apples, overripe apples, apple juice, oak, and a hint of pear. I can also get a very distant flavour of caramel, cinnamon and cloves.

Taste: it starts with low sweetness and a delicate watery taste with relatively high lemon-like acidity that instantly stimulates your salivary glands to produce saliva. Subsequently, a note of red apples and yellow apples, light astringent taste, oak and apple-seed bitterness appear with a strong smoky note, detectable only in the beginning. A lingering lemon flavour with moderate apple seed-bitterness and a hint of green apple in the aftertaste

Overall: when I tried an apple juice made from Erbachhoffer I thought it tasted glorious. Hence, it is not a surprise that also a cider made from this apple variety has an exceptional palate. Ramborn’s Erbachhoffer is rich, with a good structure and nicely preserved refreshing appley taste. I was especially fond of the apple-seeds-bitterness, which was quite strong but not disturbing at all. It made me feel that I’m really drinking a traditional viez from Luxembourg. In addition, I enjoyed the fact that the Erbachhoffer is a still cider, not sparkling. For those who are not fans of sour-tasting cider, the Erbachhoffer may be less palatable. Taken together, The Farmhouse is still my favourite but I wouldn’t say no to a glass of Erbachhoffer if it’d be offered. 4.5/6

Availability: since it is a special edition cider the availability might be limited and therefore hard to get. In Germany available at this moment only from The Hop Shop Trier.

Price: Erbachhoffer was kindly sent to me by Adie from Ramborn Cider Co.

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Tempted Dry

Tempted Irish Craft Cider is a family-run cidery from Lisburn in Northern Ireland, UK. It was established only in 2009 by Dave Uprichard, who is a first generation cider-maker. At Tempted only Irish apples are used, including Armagh Bramley Apple with Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status. Currently, Tempted Irish Craft Cider have five different ciders in their line-up, Sweet, Medium Dry, Dry, Elderflower and Strawberry.  Their range of ciders picked up plenty of national and international cider awards. Today I’m reviewing the Dry.Company: Tempted Irish Craft Cider
Place of Origin: Lisburn, Northern Ireland
Apples: dessert and Bramley apples sourced locally
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 5.7%
Package type: 500ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, chalice glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden yellow with a massive short-lived white foam. Medium carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is fruity and has notes of white wine, apple juice, cider apples, caramel, oak, apple flesh, fermented apples. Also, a distant buttery note. The scent is very rich and inviting.

Taste: the first sip is slightly watery and dry, but not bone dry, with medium acidity. The mid-palate has notes of a fresh apple juice and a regular apple juice with fermented apples and white wine. The aftertaste is also dry with a lingering note of smoked cheese with a touch of bitterness, watermelon and low astringent taste.

Overall: Tempted’s Dry is a refreshing combination of culinary apples with cider apples. It is a really decent cider, full-bodied with a good structure and satisfying taste. Also, it’s not bone dry, but not sweet either, which makes the Dry a lovely food-friendly crowd pleaser. I enjoyed it the crisp appley taste and would love to have it again. Sadly, the Dry is not available in Germany yet. 4.5/6

Availability: many pubs in Nothern Ireland have their cider in stock. Online in the UK from Amazon, Martin’s Off-Licence, Drink Finder. (Constantine Stores Ltd). Locally from Bottles and Books in Bristol, UK or The Winehouse in Trim, Ireland. In Italy from Sidro & Cider.

Price: came with my craft cider subscription delivered monthly by Orchard Box

 

 

 

 

De vergeten Appel ‘t Schoapke 2016

Before establishing De vergeten Appel Johan, who is the cider maker and owner of the cidery, has lived in Australia. I wonder if this is where and when he was bitten by the cider bug. Next cider from De vergeten Appel’s line-up is  ‘t Schoapke, which was made from apples coming from orchards in Susteren and Schijndel.Company: De Vergeten Appel
Place of Origin: Tilburg, North Brabant, Netherlands
Apples: made from apples coming from Susteren and Schijndel.
ABV: 6%
Package type: 375ml green champagne bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: flute or wine glass

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale straw with green hues and a huge white fizzy head that very slowly dissipates. High carbonation and likely natural. Body is low. Sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is very refreshing and slightly vinous with notes of green and yellow apples, some oak and lemon.

Taste: my first sip is dry, but not bone dry, moderately acidic and tart with notes of lemon. However, the level of acidity seems to increase with time. On the mid-palate yellow apples, some oak and white wine notes. The aftertaste is dry with a lemon touch and green notes. No tannins detectable.

Overall: after a really inviting and refreshing nose you’d wish to find the same intensity also in the palate. But in ‘t Schoapke all flavours seem to be present only in the first sip. They don’t really linger on. I must say that ‘t Schoapke lacks depth and certain structure. It’s drinkable, refreshing and I can’t say that I didn’t enjoyed drinking it. But Johan has  already created better ciders than this one. 3.5/6

Availability: locally in Rotterdam at Fenix Food Factory, in Amsterdam from Apples en Perren . Online in the Netherlands from Sans Blah Blah.

Price: ‘t Schoapke was kindly provided to me by Johan from De vergeten Appel for testing.

Tasting notes for ciders tried in Toronto 09.2017

After compiling a list of cider spots in Toronto I thought to share with you my tasting notes for ciders I sampled during my trip to Toronto in September 2017. Two of the covered ciders can be found almost everywhere in Toronto and probably Ontario. Although my goal was to focus mainly on cider from Ontario, as I usually prefer to sample local cider, I just couldn’t resist and say no to a glass of cider from Domaine Neige and ice cider from Domaine Lafrance, both from Quebec as they are extremely difficult to find in Europe.

County Cider Co A Tortured Path Apple Cider (ABV: 6.5%; at Her Father’s Cider Bar img_7983-1and Kitchen)

Ciders from Somerset, UK were an inspiration to this cider. Made from bittersharp and bittersweet apple varieties blended with Golden Russet. Appearance: clear golden, low carbonation. Medium body. Aroma: peat, Lysol (a brand of disinfecting product), very tannic, fermented apples, ripe pear. Taste: slightly watery, low sweetness, pear, light astringent taste. A touch of bitterness in the finish. Overall: I absolutely loved the rustic and peaty nose. But the palate disappointed me as it was less exciting than the aroma. I’m not a fan. 3.5/6

Domaine Neige Bulle de Neige/Neige Bubble (ABV 7.5%; at Her Father’s Cider Bar and img_7980-3Kitchen)

This one is from Quebec’s famous Domaine Neige, which was one of the first cideries to produce ice cider at all. Bulle de Neige is an award-winning blend of handpicked apples 80-90% McIntosh & 10-20% Lobo with addition of their Neige Première Ice Cider. Appearance: clear golden, slightly sparkling. Medium body. Aroma: sweetish with notes of ripe and juicy pears, camembert rind and caramel. Taste: slightly sweet, low acidity, ripe and juicy pears on the palate and light astringent taste. Finishes dry with a touch of bitterness. Overall: Incredibly light, not too sweet but also not too sour. I could swear that it’s a perry not cider. I double-checked with the bartender, who confirmed that it’s indeed cider not perry. On both, the palate and the nose there are no signs of apples, only delicious juicy ripe pears. Amazing! 4.5/6

Domaine Lafrance Ice Cider Harvest 2013 (ABV: 11%; at Her Father’s Cider Bar and img_7986Kitchen)

A multi-award ice cider made from three apple varieties.  Appearance: clear amber, high body. Beautiful lacing. Aroma: cinnamon, apple pie, baked apples, vanilla and caramel. A touch of cloves. Taste: sweet with a caramel  note and low acidity. Moderate astringent taste, baked apples, salted caramel, a touch of burnt caramel. Overall: Delicious! Indeed, a very good ice cider with a broad palate. However, it still can’t compare to the Polish ice cider from Cydr Chyliczki, which is my favourite ice cider. 4.5/6

26 Acre Handsome Cab Ride (ABV 7%; at Birreria Volo)

img_7951-126 Acre Cider Craft Cider is based in Pelham, Ontario. This is their barrel aged cider matured in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. Appearance: pale golden, no carbonation. Medium body. Aroma: light funk, fermented apples, pear, overripe apples. Taste: watery, dry with medium to high acidity. White wine notes, overripe apples, light astringent taste. Moderate bitterness in the aftertaste. Overall: Nice attempt, but it didn’t work out with the aging in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. Would never tell that it was barrel-aged. Very average cider. 2.5/6

 

Revel Cider Company x 101 Cider House Tequila Ba Apfelgose (ABV 8.5%; at Birreria img_8100-1Volo)

This is a tequila barrel-aged, spontaneously fermented cider with apricots. A collaboration with 101 Cider House from California, U.S. Appearance: cloudy golden, light carbonation, light foam. Aroma: fruity, notes of fermented apples, apricot jam and oak. Taste: low sweetness, high acidity. Notes of fermented apple, peach, medium grapefruit bitterness and grapefruit juice, low astringent taste. Citrusy and herbal. Overall: Delicious! It’s dry, fruity and sour, but refreshing. Like lemon juice mixed with grapefruit juice. Perfect refreshment on a hot cider day. 4.5/6

Brickworks Batch: 1904 (ABV 5%; at Jack Astor’s Bar & Grill)
img_7918-3This cider is a dry UK style cider made from Ontario heritage apples. 1904 is the year of the Great Toronto Fire. Available almost everywhere. Appearance: clear straw golden. Medium carbonation. Low body Aroma: apple juice, green apples, refreshing Taste: watery, dry and lightly sour. Green apple, tart, apple juice, light astringent on the mid-palate. The aftertaste is dry, chalky and slightly bitter. Overall: drinkable but unspectacular. Dominating notes of the Granny Smith apples make this cider quite refreshing, but still not exciting. 3/6

Thornbury Village Premium Cider (ABV: 5.3%; at the Irish Harp Pub)

img_8117-2Almost every restaurant, pub or bar carry this particular cider. Premium Cider is their flagship product. Made from local apples. Appearance: clear, golden, light carbonation, low body. Aroma: fermented apples, light sulphur, fresh green apple. Taste: moderate sweetness, medium acidity. Notes of fresh green apples, light sulphur, light astringent taste. In the aftertaste chalky with light bitterness. Overall: A pretty decent drop. Not spectacular but for a cider that is available everywhere in Ontario it tastes enjoyable. 3.5/6

Taken together, Quebec in terms of cider making is a clear number one. Cider makers from Ontario still have a lot to learn from the French-speaking colleagues as cider from Ontario tastes just fine, but usually is not exciting. The only exception was the delicious Tequila Ba Apfelgose from Revel Cider Company x 101 Cider House, which was a really great pour. Hopefully I will return to Canada soon to try more. If not for cider, then for Canadians, who are extremely warm and welcoming. Cheers!

Where to drink/buy cider in Toronto?

Toronto is a remarkable city with many faces and great, friendly, open-minded people. It reminded me Berlin a bit, not only because of the TV tower. Cider is available here at literally every bar, pub or restaurant. To my surprise, most bars carry commercial cider from Europe such as Somersby. Fortunately, they usually also stock an alternative to this European cider from concentrate, a cider from a local cider maker Thornbury Village.

I’ve decided to check what others already wrote about cider in Toronto, and I have found at least two very good articles about where to find cider there. One from Toronto Life published Feb 2017 and one slightly older from BlogTo. Nevertheless, I’ve made the decision to compile my own list and share with you my feedback and impressions. It took me a longer while to write about all the cider spots in Toronto. But here it is!

Bars

img_7988Her Father’s Cider Bar & Kitchen is my absolutely
number one favourite in terms of cider spots in Toronto. If I had lived in Toronto I would surely become a regular customer. You can find regularly rotating tap selection featuring local cider makers from Ontario area. Cider flights are also available. If that’s not enough, they have an incredible selection of bottled cider available as well. Since I sat at the bar I kept staring at 4 giant refrigerators stocked with cider from different regions of Canada, mainly Ontario and Quebec, but also the U.S.. Also European ciders from the UK, France, Spain and even Estonia from Jaanihanso can be found here. When I was reviewing the extensive bottled cider menu I was really img_7987confused and overwhelmed by the choice here. Fortunately, the staff was amazing and  I got a few recommendations for a number of interesting Canadian ciders. Trust me, I wanted to try every single cider on the menu and it was almost a torture to pick only a few. Here is the link to their hypnotizing cider menu. If you’re into ice cider you can sample ice cider from Quebec by the glass. Also, their cocktails are based on cider if you are a fan. Even the food there tastes incredible. Pure heaven! I actually wanted to pay them a visit again on Monday but unfortunately they’re closed on Mondays so you can imagine my huge disappointment. Anyway, Her Father’s Cider Bar & Kitchen is  a must visit spot for every cider lover.

  • Cider House 391 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto ON M6R 2N1

img_7929Located in the middle of the Polish neighbourhood on Roncesvalles, the Cider House is a nice and cosy bar that has a wide selection of regional cider from Ontario on tap. Cider flights featuring 4 different ciders are available here at 9 CAD and are slightly cheaper than at Her Father’s Cider Bar & Kitchen. My tasting notes from the visit there can be found here. They also serve food but I wasn’t hungry at the time. Fortunately, Cider House is open on Mondays so I came here one more time before heading to the airport as it was close to Bloor, an UP Express station.

img_7950Birreria Volo, as the name already indicates, is located in Little Italy. It’s actually well-hidden and it took me a while to find the place. It’s pretty dark with minimalist and modern design that appealed to me. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the dim light in the place. As for cider, at Birreria Volo they usually have 2 to 4 changing regional ciders available on draught. Click here to see what is currently available on tap. Again, they even have Estonian cider from Jaanihanso by the glass. I came here a few times as it was close to my airbnb accommodation and I just enjoyed being there.

img_7962Tequila Bookworm is a lively bar based in the popular shopping street in Toronto, Queen Street West. Again, it was similarly hidden just like it was in the Birreria Volo’s case. At Tequila Bookworm they have always at least two ciders available on tap. Since they had really weird cider (at least to me) on offer at the time of my visit, such as Vanilla Ice Cream Apple Pie Milkshake cider from Revel Cider Company or Hopped Peach Cider (I’m not a fan of hopped cider) from the West Avenue Cider Company, I’ve decided not to stay there longer and continued my search for cider spots in Toronto. But if you’re not a cider purist like me, you might enjoy your glass of cider here.

Since I’ve decided to explore Toronto on foot, which turned out to be a terrible idea as I wasn’t aware that streets can be that long here, I didn’t manage to check The Only Cafe. But I hear that they also have a great cider selection. 5 changing regional craft ciders on tap. For their current line-up check here.

  • Wvrst 609 King Street West, Toronto ON, M5V 1M5

Wvrst is another place famous for craft cider, and sausages, I would guess (Wurst is German for sausage) that I didn’t manage to check out as it was on the other side of the city and thus not part of my route. However, from what I read now about this place, I do regret that I didn’t pay them a visit. Next time!

SHOPS 

img_7961In terms of shops, you will find cider at special stores that have a licence to sell alcohol called LCBO. I was told that ice cider is available only in the winter here. They have many stores around the city and the state. You can also purchase cider straight from the source if you decide to visit a tasting room of one of the local cider makers. Check out the website of the Ontario Craft Cider Association to see the list of local cideries. Cheers!

 

If there are more cider spots in Toronto worth mentioning, just drop me a line! I would be happy to update my post.

Cidre 99

Cidre 99 was established only in 2015 by Jakub Neuls and Peter Krajčík in a small village of Roštín in the heart of Zlín, Czech Republic. Why 99? The name 99 comes simply from the property number, which is 99. Anyway, at Cidre 99 they have a traditional approach to cider making but with a modern twist. Apples are harvested from the company’s own old orchard, pressed and slowly fermented at cold temperature to preserve more of the aromatics. The result is a dry cider that meets owners expectation for taste.Company: Cidre 99
Place of Origin: Roštín, Zlín, The Czech Republic
Apples: Moravian apple from their own orchard
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 7%
Package type: draught
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or flute

Appearance: pours a lightly hazy straw yellow with a tiny head, which quickly reduces to a ring around the glass. Light natural fizz. Body is also light.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is rather weak and yeasty, earthy and exhibits fermenting apples, and green apples.

Taste: it begins slightly watery with a moderate acidity and only traces of residual sugar, indeed bone-dry. Taste of yeast, earth, sulphur and fermenting apples on the mid-palate. The finish is also dry with a touch of astringency and light lingering grapefruit-like bitterness.

Overall: I remember that last year, when I tried this cidre at Slavnost Cideru 2016 for the first time, it tasted EXTREMELY sour. I’m sorry to say that, but it was the least palatable cider of the last years’s edition of the Cider Festival in Prague. Having not the best last year’s experience in mind, I have decided nevertheless to give Cidre 99 another go this year. Cidre 99 taste-wise indeed improved, as the level of acidity significantly reduced making it drinkable, crisp und thus refreshing, especially on a hot summer day. But, Cidre 99 still tastes average. Moreover, these yeasty, sulphuric and earthy notes didn’t exactly contribute to the palate. I must emphasise that Cidre 99 tasted significantly better than the Carboy Cidre, another cider I tried at Slavnost Cideru 2017. Since I could observe a rising trend in the improvement of taste, I trust that Cidre 99 will taste better next year. 2.5/6 

Availability: in many bars, restaurants in The Czech Republic. Locally in Prague from InCiderBar or Dobry Cider. From Kralupská pivotéka U Chameleona in Kralupy nad Vltavou. Online from Opily Jabko.

Price: had 0.2L at Slavnost Cideru 2017 at 25 CZK (1 EUR)

West Milton Lancombe Rising

To tell the truth, I didn’t know much about the West Milton Cider Company before I purchased their cider. I was rather intrigued by the shape of the bottle as it was unusual for a cider coming from the UK. In that bottle happened to be their sparkling and award-winning Lancombe Rising, which turned the French cider world upside down in 2009, when it was awarded Gold at the Senator Christian Revet Cup, a prestigious cider competition in Normandy, France. West Milton Cider Co. has won a succession of awards in recent years, from the Royal Bath & West Show, and Taste of the West. Langcombe Rising is made by keeving, a typically French cidermaking process that retains the natural sweetness in cider.Company: West Milton Cider Co
Place of Origin: 1 Pear Tree Cottages, West Milton, Bridport, Dorset, UK
Apples: a blend including Dabinett, Yarlington Mill and Chisel Jersey.
Sweetness as per label: keeved cider
ABV: 5%
Package type: 375ml clear champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass: flute, chalice glass or wine glass

Appearance: pours a hazy pale amber with a massive head, which only slowly dissipates. Highly carbonated, with beautiful strings of bubbles. Body is medium. Sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: the nose has apricots, raisins, overripe and fermented apples with wood. A beautiful scent typical for French cidre that makes your mouth water.

Taste: it starts slightly sweet with low acidity and a hint of vinegar. Followed by dried fruits such as apricots, raisins and fermented apples. I can also get a bit watery taste with a smoky note, a lingering taste of wood with a medium to high astringency, a hint of lemon and a distant barnyard note.

Overall: it feels strange to drink a French-style cider from the UK. But Lancombe Rising tastes really good and indeed more refreshing that many French cidres that I have tried so far. It has a beautiful nose, good structure, and many lovely flavours on the palate. Lancombe Rising perfectly complimented my evening. I will be back for more. 5/6 

Availability: in the UK from Cider Supermarket. In other European countries e.g. from Cider Lab.

Price: purchased online from Cider Lab at 6.50 EUR.