Zeffer Cider Company Apple Crumble

Apple Crumble is a classic UK dessert made with apples and other fruits and a crispy crumb topping. Agreed, the name sounds delicious for a pie, but for a cider? Apple Crumble is a limited edition cider from the New Zealand-based Zeffer Cider Company.Company: Zeffer Cider Co.  
Place of Origin: Auckland, New Zealand
Ingredients: unknown apple varieties, cinnamon, vanilla, blackberry leaves
Sweetness as per label: unknown
ABV: 5.4%
Package type: 330ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: chalice glass, pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear copper with a short-lived white foam, which reduces to a long lasting ring. Low carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the scent is dominated by the aroma of cinnamon. Further notes belong to blackcurrant and distant vanilla. But no apple.

Taste: the first taste has a light sweetness in there with notes of cinnamon and both lemon and vinegary medium acidity. The mid-palate has a flavour of baked apples, red apples and a distant hint of vanilla. The aftertaste has a touch of bitterness and a hint of blackcurrant.

Overall: I am pleasantly surprised with this one. The Apple Crumble is drinkable and complex with the right level of sweetness. If it tasted less sweet it would be just boring, I think. The note of cinnamon is perhaps too dominating both on the nose and the palate covering apple notes, but the palate is rich and flavours move smoothly from one to another. I think that Zeffer’s Apple Crumble is a refreshing alternative to traditional ciders. Even the cider purist in me had to admit it. 4/6

Availability: to my knowledge currently only in Lager Lager in Berlin-Neukölln.

Price: 24 RM (4.80 EUR) at Ales & Lagers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



Eric Bordelet Sidre Brut Tendre 2014

When you look up the term ‘sydre’ or ‘sidre’, which is an old French name for cidre, you will get many hits, but all associated with one name, Eric Bordelet. Eric Bordelet turned to cider in 1992 when he decided to quit his job as a sommelier at Paris’s three Michelin star Arpège to take over an apple orchard in the south of Normandy that belonged for generations to his family. His goal was to produce a sydre/sidre in exactly the same manner as wine is produced.

In the manufacturing process of Sydre Brut Tendre apples are pressed right after milling and subsequently fermented. Bordelet’s Sydre is racked off many times to slow down the fermentation process and to clear-up. Then Sydre is bottled without the addition of sugar and matured. Let’s try this beauty!
Company: Eric Bordelet
Place of Origin: 
Charchigné, Normandy, France
organic cidre apples (20 apple varieties are grown on the farm)
Sweetness as per label: 
ABV: 4%
Package type: 750ml amber glass champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass: flute or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear deep golden with light amber hues and a small frothy head. High carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is sweetish and rich with notes of red apples, baked apples, fermented apples, dried fruits, raisins, oak, apricot and cinnamon.

Taste: it starts moderately sweet with low lemon-like acidity. The mid-palate has notes of red apples, oak, smoked cheese, cinnamon with a hint of lightly burnt caramel-like bitterness with baked apples and apple seeds. In the aftertaste lightly burnt plum jam, powidl, gentle tannins with a bit of cinnamon and slightly acidic touch. All of a sudden, a note of freshly pressed apple juice appears. 

Overall: Eric Bordelet’s Sidre Tendre Brut tastes simply amazing and can be a crowd pleaser. It’s not too sweet but still, it tastes almost like ice cider or dessert wine. It has a nice level of acidity to it balancing out the sweetness.  Also, the aftertaste is amazing and extremely long. When you think it is gone, it strikes again and goes on and on. It is really different to French cidres I have tried so far but still goes down easily. Would I have it again? Perhaps not every day, but I can see myself celebrating my birthday or New Year’s Eve with this one. Remarkable! Would pair excellently with goat cheese. 5/6

Availability: very broad. In Berlin through Lager Lager or at Nobelhart & Schmutzig. Online in Germany from Weinzeche, Vino CentralABC-Wines or Weinhandlung Kreis. In Belgium from Bieres Gourmet. In Switzerland from Globus or Galaxus. In Norway through Vinmonopolet. In the UK from Uvinum. In Spain from Vinos Cutanda. In France from La Grande Epicerie. And many more.

Price: purchased from Weinzeche ta 9.90 EUR.

Celtic Marches Down Down

Down Down cider is the next cider I am sampling from Celtic Marches. This cider is basically a joint venture with an English rock band, you have surely heard of, the famous Status Quo. The rockers, Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi of Status Quo visited the facilities in Herefordshire and even assisted with harvesting, crushing apples and pressing apple juice for cider.

If you want to watch a video on youtube with a snapshot of how the Down Down cider is produced with a special appearance by Status Quo just follow this link.Company:  Celtic Marches Beverages
Place of Origin: Bishops Frome, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: apples made on a family farm. Varieties grown on the farm include Dabinett, Michelin, Harry Masters, Three Counties and Yarlington Mill.
Sweetness as per label: medium
ABV: 4.6%
Package type: 500ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Ingredients: cider apple juice, sugar and water

Recommended type of glass: pint glass or flute

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a white head, which quickly disappears. Slightly sparkling.

Aroma/Nose: not so many flavours on the nose. I can smell green apple flesh, fermented apples and pears. The scent is slightly sweet.

Taste: it begins with a watery flavour with a very low acidity and low level of sweetness. The mid-palate has notes of fermented apples with green apples. The finish is dry with a minor bitter taste, light astringency (soft tannins) and a sweetener-like aftertaste on the tongue.

Overall: To my palate, the Down Down from the Celtic Marches company is a very average cider. ABV of 4.6% along with water on the ingredients list on the label indicate that the Down Down was diluted and you can actually taste it in this cider. The Down Down is drinkable, but I was rather disappointed with the taste and I doubt, whether I would purchase this particular cider again. There are better ciders around. 3/6

Availability: locally in Berlin from Hopfen and Malz. Online Ciderandmore, Biertempel,  Beers of Europe, The Pip Stop, Best of British Beer.

Price: purchased locally from Hopfen & Malz in Berlin at 3.5 EUR. Pay them a visit if you are in Berlin and seeking proper cider!

Kwaśne Jabłko Tropikalny 2015

Marcin Wiechowski, who is in charge of cider making at Kwaśne Jabłko, is actually a psychologist by profession. Marcin, together with his wife Ewa, escaped Warsaw rat race to live in the peaceful countryside of Masuria, also known as the “land of a thousand lakes”. I am sampling their Tropikalny, which means ‘tropical’ in Polish. Previously I have sampled their Beczka 4.Company: Kwaśne Jabłko
Place of Origin:
 Świątki, Masuria, Poland
a blend of Gravensteiner, Jonathan and Spartan
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 7
Package type:
750ml wine bottle with natural cork
Recommended type of glass:
white wine glass 

Appearance: pours a slightly hazy amber/orange with no head and no carbonation.

Aroma/Nose: The nose has aromas of both overripe and baked apples with tea and herbal notes.

Taste: it starts dry, but not bone dry, with low to medium acidity and a pleasant crisp apple flavour. Then moderate tannins kick in with notes of orange and gentle banana. The finish is dry with a touch of baked apples and light bitterness. Lingering herbal notes in the aftertaste.

Overall: from the name, I assumed that the Tropikalny has tropical notes. Therefore, I had the Tropikalny on two different occasions as I was intensively searching for tropical notes in this cider. And, except for gentle orange flesh and a light ripe banana note I was not able to get other tropical notes. Hence, I don’t have an idea, where did the name come from. Anyway, I think that the Tropikalny is a decent and refreshing cider, but I can’t say I’m blown away with it. The Tropikalny will appeal to those who like cider on the drier side. 4/6

Availability: directly from Kwaśne Jabłko in Masuria or through Polish wine or beer shops such as Winnacja.plZrodlo niebanalnych piw i alkoholiPod Wiaduktem in Cracow or Produkty Niewinne i Winne. In terms of bars, restaurant Jabeerwocky in Warsaw,  Lokal in Lodz, Multi Qlti Tap Bar, Pub Lawendowa in Gdansk.

Price: purchased from Zrodlo niebanalnych piw i alkoholi in Warsaw at 35PLN (8.35 EUR)

Gusswerk Big Arlet

Do you think that a brewery can make a good cider? Me neither. But I have decided to give the Big Arlet from Brauhaus Gusswerk from Salzburg, Austria a try.Company: Brauhaus Gusswerk
Place of Origin: Salzburg, Austria
Apples: organic apples
Sweetness as per label: unknown
ABV: 4.6%
Package type: draught
Recommended type of glass: pint glass

Appearance: pours a very cloudy pale golden with orange hues and a white foam. Lightly carbonated. Body is medium. Some sediment visible on the bottom.

Aroma/Nose: smells refreshing of lemon, orange, acidic apples and fresh unmatured cider.

Taste: it tastes very sour with notes of lemon and grapefruit. I would describe this cider as dry as only minimal residual sweetness is detectable. The mid-palate has a taste of yeast, unmatured cider and is slightly watery. The aftertaste is dry with a touch of bitterness and astringency.

Overall: I can’t deny the fact that The Big Arlet is a complex cider as I could get many flavours on the nose and on the palate. But, Big Arlet is completely unbalanced. In the beginning, I found it quite refreshing, but after a while, I got tired of the taste and wanted to finish it ASAP. I think that many will find the citrusy flavours appealing, but I simply didn’t enjoy drinking this one.  2.5/6

Availability: Only in a few pubs in Vienna such as It’s all about the meat baby, The Brickmaker’s Pub and Kitchen, Charlie P’s Pub and Dining

Price: 5.90 EUR for a pint at The Brickmaker’s Pub and Kitchen in Vienna, Austria. BTW, I loved their Pastrami sandwich.

Hoflößnitz Original Sächsischer Apfelwein

Weinhaus Hoflößnitz don’t reveal too much information about themselves on their website. However, the region Hoflößnitz in Saxony, Germany has a long history of winemaking tradition, which began in 1401 with the purchase of three neighbouring vineyards by William I, Margrave of Meissen. Since wine production and cider production have a lot in common. it’s not surprising that Weinhaus Hoflößnitz also offers the Original Sächsischer Apfelwein (the Original Saxonian Apple Wine).Company: Weinhaus Hoflößnitz
Place of Origin: Radebeul, Saxony, Germany
Apples: unknown
ABV: 6.8%
Package type: 1l clear glass bottle with screw cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear orange with no head. No carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma has notes of dried fruits, apples, raisins, apricots, peaches and red apples.

Taste: the first sip is sweet with a rather low acidity. The mid-palate has notes of dried fruits, apricots, red and yellow apples with a distant bitter taste. The aftertaste has a taste of dried fruits with a persistent distant bitter taste. No astringency.

Overall: the Original Sächsischer Apfelwein is a refreshing pour that can be sipped on a hot summer day. Personally, I found it a tiny bit too sweet and too dull/tiring. I had enough after only one glass. But, for those who prefer a less tannic drink (and not tart or sour), I think this is a quite pleasant and drinkable alternative. 3.5/6

Availability: from their vineyard in Saxony, and from Not Only Riesling in Berlin.

Price: Not Only Riesling in Berlin at 6.90 EUR

Crone’s Original

Robbie Crone, who established Crone’s Organic Cider in 1989, is actually a furniture maker. After several years of experimenting with cider, he made the decision to make cider instead of furniture. I feel you, Robbie.Company: Crone’s Cider
Place of Origin: Fairview, Kenninghall, Norfolk, United Kingdom
Ingredients: organically grown Bramley, Cox, russet, and spartan and organic cane sugar 
ABV: 7.4%
Package type: 500ml clear glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, chalice glass or wine glass

Note: free from sulphites and artificial sweeteners

Appearance: pours a clear golden with no head. No visible signs of carbonation. Body is medium.
Aroma/Nose: the nose is not very strong, but rich with gentle wild notes of light barnyard, leather and wood with baked apples, sour apples and raisins.
Taste: the first sip tastes slightly sweet, thus I would classify the Original as medium dry. Fermented apples, smoky ham, red apples, raisins and very light watery taste appear on the mid-palate. Interestingly, the smoky note is lingering so you can get it even in the finish along with a distant bitterness, subtle astringency, note of lemon and a woody and smoky flavour characteristic for whisky. Despite the ABV of 7.4%, I can’t taste alcohol here.

Overall: If you are a fan of whisky or calvados, or even both, the Original will appeal to you. It’s a really a nice and complex cider with plenty of flavours to appreciate. The nose might not be strong, but rich. Interestingly, lemon notes appear only in the aftertaste, not in the beginning, which is rather unusual. I can’t call this cider brilliant perhaps as something is just missing here, but I wouldn’t mind having it again. 4/6 

Availability: only in the UK, at many festivals, pubs and online through Beers of Europe or Beautiful Beers. Locally through Books and Bottles in Bristol.
Price: came with my cider subscription delivered monthly by Orchard Box