Muxaller Cider Friesenjung

The Muxaller Cider Friesenjung is a cider that received Honor in the category sparkling cider in the recent Cider World’21 Award. As the name already indicates, the Muxaller Friesenjung is made in Muxall, Schleswig-Holstein, not exactly a typical cider area of Germany. The person behind this cider is Steve O’Connor, who originally comes from New Zealand and has background in winemaking. Looks that not only traveling but also migration contribute to the spread of cider culture.

Friesenjung is the first cider released by Steve but he is planning to launch more ciders soon.

This will be my first time trying anything from this cider maker.

Company: Muxaller Cider
Place of Origin: Muxall Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Apples : a blend of apples from Schleswig-Holstein, Germany (Boskoop, Holsteiner Cox) and Devon, UK (Dabinett, Browns)
Sweetness as per label: n/a
ABV: 5,7%
Package type: 330ml amber glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler

Appearance: pours a clear cloudy golden yellow with a little foam. The carbonation is low and artificial. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is weak with notes of caramel, creamy caramel, yellow apple, a bit tannic, phenolic.

Taste: my first taste is lightly sweet with a low to medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, notes of yellow apple, moderate astringency and a touch of bitterness. Finishes dry with a touch of caramel and sort of liquid sugar.

Overall: The Muxaller Friesenjung is a cider that will be to everyone’s taste. It is a very balanced marriage between the German and English style cider. It has the right level of refreshing acidity thanks to local German apples and the tannin and body of Dabinett and Brown’s from the UK. There are no potentially off-putting off-notes, literally nothing disturbing. Also, it’s neither too sweet or too sour. Just right. Nevertheless, I’m going to give this cider only 4/6 and this is because of the aroma that is rather weak although admittedly complex and because the length might have been longer. It’s not short but the lovely tastes disappears too quickly. Steve wanted to create a cider that goes well with food and can be enjoyed on its own. Steve, you made it. But I think you can do better. 4/6

Availability: directly from Muxaller Cider. Also, in selected restaurants and outlets in the north of Germany.

Price: Steve provided me with a sample.

CiderWorld’21 Award – recap

The jury tasting of CiderWorld’21 Award was four weeks ago, the lucky winners were already announced so I owe you a brief recap of this event that happened in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. Just a refresher in case you have never heard of CiderWorld before, it is an international and one of the most renowned cider competition taking place annually in Frankfurt, Germany and organized by Michael Stöckl and Christine Isensee-Kiesau. I also happen to be the ambassador of this event.

As you may already assume, also this year I was sitting on the jury panel of CiderWorld’21 Award. The jury tasting took place on 21st of June 2021, and in contrast to previous years, in a very cosy and typical for Frankfurt Apfelwein restaurant called “Zum lahmen Esel”. This is due to the fact that this location had big enough premises to keep a safe distance between the judges. Another safety measure was that everyone had to present a negative Covid test before entering the premises.

While the inside of the restaurant looked really cool, we were seated in a place that resembled rather a school classroom than a restaurant. This somehow deprived this competition of the previous Apfelwein atmosphere that was present when judging at Daheim im Lorsbacher Tal in previous years. The Covid-19 is obviously all to blame.

Instead of explaining the flow of how the judging happened like I did in the past years (if interested click here), I’d like to share with you my thoughts re. CiderWorld’21 Award.

This year, I was in a group of three judges, in contrast to me, my fellow judges came from the wine world, which can be regarded as an upside but also as a downside in a way. You may say that cider is wine but when it comes to evaluating both I don’t think that same features can be evaluated for both beverages in the same way. Usually, good wines have no faults, no off-notes unless they are natural wines. With ciders, this applies only if they are made with selected wine yeasts, which is often not the case. And, when you look at the categories of Cider World: still cider, sparkling cider, mixed & flavored cider, ice-cider, etc. there is none dedicated to still cider wildly fermented or still cider made with selected wine yeast. So when my fellow-colleagues evaluated wildly fermented ciders, they were often deducting points due to faults, which to me weren’t any faults but simply belonged to cider and added complexity to it. Because of this, none of the nearly 20 evaluated ciders by my judging group received Gold. Last year, when there were more cider related judges on my judging panel, the situation was quite the opposite, we were quite generous with the prizes as only several ended up without receiving any medal.

Looks that CiderWorld’ Award is going digital as instead of filling the evaluating sheets on a paper, my group of judges was asked to put all points in an app that was specially developed for this competition. I thought it was really a step into the future as it really facilitated all the counting of points a lot, not to mention that it minimized the risk of errors in counting. And, I’m sure it helped the organizers with identifying the winners. So bravo for this step!

Another comment I’d like to make is the way the judges dressed for the competition. Almost everyone with a few exceptions was wearing rather very causal clothes, not even business casual. Actually, I got used to that as I didn’t really have a reference before. However, when I went to the Polish wine competition Polskie Korki that took place in Poznan, Poland last weekend, I’ve noticed that everyone on the jury panel was wearing business casual. And, although myself I obviously prefer wearing comfortable clothes I think that what the wine judges had on showed their respect to wine and made wine elegant and noble this way. Maybe we should also start respecting cider and make it elegant in a similar way?

Summarising, to me CiderWorld Award has always been a fantastic experience and it hasn’t changed. This is always a great networking opportunity to meet up with cider colleagues (although this year due to pandemic only with those from Germany) and to sample a number of ciders from literally around the globe. I hope that next year it will possible to return to the classical format of CiderWorld Award’21 and CiderWorld and meet face to face with cidermakers and ciderlovers. As CiderWorld is not only a cider competition but also an opportunity to try multiple ciders and see how different and fascinating a cider can be.

For the full list of winners of this years Cider World’21 Award, check out the link below.

I also recommend that you take part in CiderWorld’21, which due to Covid-19 will this year take place also virtually. Already looking forward to it!

1785 Cider Brut

1785 Cider. No, 1785 is not a vintage. I don’t think you will find a cider that old! 1785 actually refers to the year where the house on a farm in the beautiful Black Forest belonging to Patrick and Wendy was built. Patrick grew up in the area making traditional “Moscht”, while his wife Wendy originally comes from Seattle. And, Seattle its the place where the idea of making cider was born. Thanks to the progressing craft cider evolution in Seattle, both Patrick and Wendy decided to leave their well paid jobs and focus on cider making in Germany.

This will be my first time trying anything from this cider maker.

Company: 1785 Cider
Place of Origin: Unterkirnach, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Apples : a blend of local apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: brut
ABV: 7,4%
Package type: 750ml green glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler

Appearance: pours a slightly cloudy golden yellow. The carbonation is moderate and natural. There is a foam that reduces slowly to a ring. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is moderately strong and complex with notes of yellow apple, ripe pear, some sweetness and spiciness. I’m also getting a touch of funk.

Taste: it starts dry with a touch of residual sweetness and a low to medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, notes of yellow apple, lemon, low astringency and some bitter notes. Finishes dry with a touch of sherry and a touch of grapefruit-like bitterness and just bitterness.

Overall: The 1785 Brut is a properly made cider that has complexity, an array of flavours, good body and a long-lasting taste. The nose is strong and appealing. Like I said, it is properly made. From the technical point of view, I have nothing to complain about. Yet, I didn’t find it exciting. The combination of many flavours both on the nose and the palate didn’t steel my heart. And, I’m afraid I will rather quickly forget its taste as it resembles many others ciders or sparkling apple wines made with so called Streuobst apple varieties available out there. Then again, if you decide to purchase this cider I think that you will not regret your decision as like I said it is properly made. And, you might also enjoy its pleasantly coating citrusy notes like I did. But it’s not enough to call this cider very good. It’s simply good. 4/6

Availability: from their online shop.

Price: Patrick provided me with a sample.

Cydr Radosny Igiełkowy z Imbirem 2020

Today I’m giving you a cider that is very suitable for this gloomy, cold and wet May weather, the Cydr Radosny Igiełkowy z Imbirem 2020 (Polish for needle & ginger cider). “Needle” because it is made with the needles of Douglas fir tree and pine tree. I don’t think that the ginger part requires any explanation. The Igiełkowy z Imbirem 2020 is made using a commercial yeast strain by the guys from the Polish Cydr Radosny, Radek and Mikołaj. I have previously reviewed their BrettOffowy 2020.

Company: Cydr Radosny
Place of Origin: Wrocław, Lower Silesia, Poland
Ingredients: a blend of old apple varieties that are locally grown with needles of Douglas fir tree and pine tree along with ginger.
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6%
Package type: 500ml amber glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler

Appearance: pours a very hazy pale golden yellow with a foam that reduces to a ring. The carbonation is medium. Body is also medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong and floral with something spicy. I’m getting notes of desiccated ginger, elderflower with a piny touch.

Taste: it begins dry with a medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, notes of desiccated ginger, floral notes, smokiness, yellow apples but also a bit watery. Finishes dry with notes of pine.

Overall: When using flavoring ingredients for cider, there is always a risk that you overdo these ingredients and the cider doesn’t taste like actual cider. However, the guys from Cydr Radosny managed to add just the right amount of these ingredients to their Igielkowy. When drinking, you can still tell that you are drinking a cider as the apple character still plays the main part here. And, the notes of needles and ginger are just supporting here by adding additional floral/piny flavors. But, also due to this fact you can tell that the apples used for this cider were not exactly cider apples – this is due to the watery taste. In a way, it can be seen also as an advantage as exactly this makes this cider taste rather light and suitable not only for the winter time but also for the summer. Anyway, I thought the Igiełkowy z Imbirem 2020 was very drinkable and wouldn’t mind having it again. I hope to see this cider commercially available soon! 4/6

Availability: unfortunately, not available commercially for now

Price: Radek provided me with a sample.

Kertelreiter Highway to Hüll 2019

Barry’s adventure with fermenting has begun in 2006 when he started experimenting with different hop varieties in his beers. Once Barry discovered cider, as a former beer brewer, he took advantage of his brewing experience and tried dry-hopping ciders with popular US hops that are frequently used by craft beer brewers. But due to citric flavors that would come with these hope varieties he wasn’t exactly happy with his experiments. So Barry turned to less known hop varieties that give more vinous flavors such as Hüll Melon. Hüll Melon is a German hop variety that is supposed to give fruity notes of honey melon, strawberry, apricot along with some sweetness.

The Kertelereiter Highway to Hüll is a small batch cider dry hopped with Hüll Melon. Previously, I sampled Barry’s perry, the Levitation 2019, cider, the An Craobh Airgid 2019 and quince wine, the Kertelreiter Quince 2019.

Company: Kertelreiter Cider
Place of Origin: Schefflenz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Ingredients : a blend of local apple varieties along with a hop variety Hüll Melon
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6,6%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler

Appearance: pours an almost clear pale golden yellow. The carbonation is moderate and natural. There is a foam that reduces slowly to a ring. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is moderately strong and complex – it’s not easy to identify any particular notes. But I got a note of honey melon, elderflower and of salty olive brine.

Taste: my first taste is dry with a low acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, spiciness, notes of yellow apples, mineral notes, low but long-lasting bitterness and a touch of honey lemon. Finishes dry with a mineral note and a very low bitterness along with a note of salty olive brine.

Overall: Not sure how about you but when I see a hoped cider I have a sort of an idea how it may taste like. This is mostly due to the use of specific hop varieties for dry hopping of cider. Well, this is indeed not the case with the Highway to Hüll made by Barry. While having the Highway to Hüll, I never had a feeling that I was drinking a hopped cider. Neither a cider. Due to mineral notes I had the impression I was drinking a pleasant white wine from the Rhine area. It is complex, nicely build so for me it was actually a challenge to identify notes both on the nose and on the palate. I didn’t get any notes of strawberries or apricots but there was indeed something fruity in there. It doesn’t mean that there are no flavors but rather that they come at the same time -due to this fact the taste is perhaps not really short but not exactly long-lasting. I thought that the Highway to Hüll was a unique and interesting offering but it didn’t steal my heart. Anyways, definitely worth trying. 4/6

Availability: from their online shop– they also ship to other EU countries!

Price: Barry provided me with a sample.

Cydr Radosny BrettOffowy 2020

Some of you may know that I review not only ciders already commercially available but also those that are made by cider lovers who may want to launch their products in the future. A cider that I’m going to review today, belongs to the latter group.

Cydr Radosny (Polish for Joyful Cider) is made by Radek and Mikołaj in a neighborhood of Wroclaw, Lower Silesia, Poland called Karłowice. Radek has always wanted to make wine. So in order to practice wine making techniques he started experimenting with an easily available fruit that in the Autumn usually rots on the ground under the trees as no-one picks it up – an apple. In 2018, Radek entered his first cider in a competition Lubelskie Stowarzyszenie Milosnikow Cydru (The Lublin Association of Cider Lovers) and won the first prize. Nicely done!

The Cydr Radosny BrettOffowy 2020 is made with old locally grown apple varieties using wild yeast. It’s my first time trying anything from Radek and Mikołaj.

Company: Cydr Radosny
Place of Origin: Wrocław, Lower Silesia, Poland
Apples: a blend of old apple varieties that are locally grown.
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6%
Package type: 750ml clear glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler

Appearance: pours a hazy pale golden yellow with a foam that reduces to a ring that doesn’t go away. The carbonation is medium. Body is also medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is moderately strong and fruity with notes of yellow apples, a hint of pear and leather.

Taste: my first taste is dry with medium to high acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, notes of lemon, yellow apples, smokiness, low bitterness, and a touch of alcohol but also a bit watery. Finishes dry and fruity with a touch of lees.

Overall: The Cydr Radosny BrettOffowy 2020 is a really decent offering. It is complex, well made with a long-lasting taste and a nice array of fruity flavors. The level of acidity is just right and together with the fruity notes of yellow apples and pears make this cider very drinkable. This is something that I wouldn’t mind drinking again. Moreover, I’d like to stress that I have already tried several Polish commercially available craft ciders that tasted much less interesting or simply much worse than cider made by Radek and Mikolaj. Yet, while drinking the Cydr Radosny BrettOffowy 2020 I had a sort of dejavú, the impression that I have tried something similar before. Hence, I didn’t find the BrettOffowy 2020 somehow unique comparing to many ciders I haver tried so far. As I said in the beginning, it is a really honest and good cider and I’m going to cheer the guys from Cydr Radosny on their cider journey. If I find their cider one day on a store shelf, I’m going to purchase it. And, you also should. 4/6

Availability: unfortunately, not available commercially for now

Price: Radek provided me with a sample.

Kertelreiter Quince 2019

The Kertelreiter Quince 2019 is a quince wine made with the fruit donated by friends and neighbors. Barry must be either well known and respected in his home town or have really a lot of friends since in 2018 they gave him 450kg of quince. Not bad!

Previously, I sampled Barry’s perry, the Levitation 2019 and cider, the An Craobh Airgid 2019.

Company: Kertelreiter Cider
Place of Origin: Schefflenz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Fruits: quince
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6,2%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler

Appearance: pours a bit cloudy pale golden yellow with a greenish hue. The carbonation is very low and natural. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong and fruity with a beautiful note of quince. I’m not getting anything else apart from quince.

Taste: it begins bone dry with high acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, notes of quince, lemon low bitterness. Finishes dry with notes of quince and green, unripe lemon.

Overall: The Kertelreiter Quince 2019 is not going to be everyone’s favorite. High acidity in the first sip may give one a better awakening kick than a morning espresso. But with the second sip you can really get to appreciate further notes that are on the mid-palate. I especially liked the combination of quince, lemon and green, unripe lemon as I thought it contributed very nicely to the overall impression of this quince wine. Although the nose war really pleasant, fruity, there wasn’t a big variety of flavors as I could get mostly only the notes of quince. Also, I was rather surprised by the lack of tannins as usually quince is mixed with other fruits due to high tannin content. Interesting. Food-wise, due to high acidity I think it would pair very nicely with fish. Despite rather one-dimensional and quince-lemon character I enjoyed it and would buy it again. 4/6

Availability: from their online shop– they also ship to other EU countries!

Price: Barry provided me with a sample.

Tabun Cydr z Otomina Nehou 2020

This is the third cider from the line up of Tabun Cydr z Otomina from the Polish Pomerania made by Michał after the Krik 2020 and Wytrawny 2020. And, the second single-varietal cider made with a cider apple variety, this time it’s Nehou. Nehou is a bittersweet cider apple variety widely grown in England. As you can tell by its name, it’s not an English variety as it originated in Nehou, Normandy, France.

I’ve never tried a single-varietal cider made with this variety so let’s review it.

Company: Restauracja Tabun
Place of Origin: Otomin, Pomerania, Poland
Apples: Nehou
Sweetness as per label: wytrawny (dry)
ABV: 7%
Package type:
500 ml amber glass with crown cork
Recommended type of glass:
white wine glass

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale amber with an orange hue. Medium body. Low to moderate natural carbonation.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is moderately strong but there is not much on the nose. All I could get were notes of funk, something spicy to it and milled, ripe apples.

Taste: my first taste is bone-dry with a very low acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, watery, with a very high astringency and notes of wood, dried apples, dried pineapple and other dried tropical fruits. Finishes dry with a lingering astringency and a note of woody bitterness.

Overall: I guess there must be a reason why there are no single-varietal cider from Nehou. The Tabun Nehou is a truly hardcore and in a way unbalanced cider. The nose is rather average with dominating notes of funk and doesn’t really say a lot about what you might expect on the palate. But when you take the first sip, you get a feeling that you have just licked the inside of a barrel or cask. I’m not kidding! The tannin in this cider is extremely strong giving a very strong woody flavor and aggressive astringency accompanied by interesting but difficult to describe fruity flavors that closely resemble tropical fruits. The length is good although the Nehou itself tastes watery. I asked Michał whether this cider was matured in a cask but until now I didn’t get an answer to my question. But that would have been my first thought that the Nehou was barrel-aged. Or maybe this apple variety is a real hardcore as a single-varietal but gives a great kick when blended? Personally, I found the Nehou too harsh, too aggressive for ma palate and wouldn’t buy it again. Nevertheless, I think it is an interesting and worth-trying offering that will certainly find a group of fans. Especially if you are into flavors that resemble barrel-aging or come from barrel-aging. 4/6 

Availability: only in Poland for now at Restauracja Tabun in Otomin. Perhaps soon in Gdynia from Afroalko, in Warsaw from Zrodlo Niebanalnych Piw i Alkoholi and in Krakow from Winnacja.

Price: a bottle of this cider was provided by Michał (Restauracja Otomin)

Kertelreiter An Craobh Airgid 2019

Since Barry is Irish by origin, it is not a surprise that one of his ciders carries an Irish name. “An Craobh Airgid” is Irish for “the Silver Branch”, a symbol found in Irish mythology and literature. The Silver Branch with white apple blossom coming from a sacred apple tree represented a gateway to the Celtic otherworld.

The Craobh Airgid is a blend of Reine de Reinette, Jonagold, Boskoop, Brettacher and further apple varieties that was matured on pomace before moving to the oak barrel for 9 months. Afterwards, it was aged on toasted apple wood.

Company: Kertelreiter Cider
Place of Origin: Schefflenz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Apples: a blend of Reine de Reinette, Jonagold, Boskoop, Brettacher and more
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6,6%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale golden with a greenish hue and moderate and natural carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong with wild notes, a touch of vinegar, grapefruit, distant yellow apples and and something spicy to it.

Taste: my first taste is bone dry with low to medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, watery notes, low grapefruit-peel like bitterness and plain bitter notes with faint notes of yellow apples. Finishes dry with a lingering acidity of lemon, green notes, notes typical for malo-lactic fermentation and a touch of astringency. Also, a champagne-like appeared to the end.

Overall: When I asked Barry whether he used wild yeast for the An Craobh Airgid, he denied as he usually works with selected wine yeasts. But after a while he admitted that the base cider for this cider was aged on pomace, which could be the source of wild yeast. Well, the funky notes on the nose clearly indicate that wild yeast had “their hands” in this cider. The nose was strong and rich and fruity and to me “obviously” very inviting. Although the palate also had many various flavors to offer with a good length and long-lasting notes of lemon and grapefruit, somehow they were not in harmony with each other. Despite so many features of a good cider – strong and rich nose, many flavors on the palate that went on and on, I didn’t enjoy having this drop. I tried to evaluate what is it in this cider that makes it to me taste rather unpleasant and I came to a conclusion that it’s the combination of green notes with the plain bitter notes. I suppose some may enjoy this combination but I clearly don’t belong to this group. 3.5/6

Availability: from their online shop– they also ship to other EU countries!

Price: Barry provided me with a sample.

Tabun Cydr z Otomina Wytrawny 2020

After I published the very favourable review of the Tabun Krik 2020, Michał of the Polish Tabun Cydr z Otomina, reached out to me with regards to the Wytrawny 2020 saying: “Don’t drink it! Let it go down the drain”. How could I possibly do that with a craft cider? Admittedly, I have already done that with several industrial alco-pops but never to a proper cider made from real fruit and without unnecessary additives.

This the third vintage that I’m sampling of Michał‘s Wytrawny after the 2018 and 2019 vintage. However, this time Michał made some changes to the blend adding Granny Smith and introducing new experimental apple varieties. Company: Restauracja Tabun
Place of Origin: Otomin, Pomerania, Poland
Apples: a blend of old apple varieties with dessert apple varieties and experimental apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: wytrawny (dry)
ABV: 7,1%
Package type: 
750 ml green glass with crown cork
Recommended type of glass:
 white wine glass

Appearance: pours a hazy pale straw yellow colour with a greenish hue and a small head that reduces to a ring around the glass. Low carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is rather weak, but pleasantly fruity with notes of raw pineapple, green notes, wood, distant lemon juice and a touch of funk. 

Taste: it begins bone dry with low to medium acidity of lemon juice. On the mid-palate, slightly salty at first, watery with a lingering note of diluted lemon juice, green unripe banana, lime juice, a touch of astringency and vinegar. Finishes with a notes of lime, pear, green unripe banana and lees.  

Overall:  I had the Wytrawny 2020 on a very cloudy, gloomy and rather cold Sunday afternoon, while I think it is a cider to be drunk on a warm sunny day due to its pleasantly citrusy and thus refreshing character. The Wytrawny 2020 is a complex cider with plenty of various notes both on the nose and on the palate. With each sip I could discover a new flavor that I didn’t get before. So drinking the Wytrawny 2020 was a true cider exploring journey. And, a pleasant one on top of that. Similarly to previous vintages, it kept the citrusy character but the 2020 vintage is much more complex than just a lemon spritzer. With all these lemon, lime and green banana notes Michal managed to create a really pleasant and light drink although completely different than the Krik 2020. So why is this cider getting only 4/5? Because the nose could have been stronger and the taste a bit less watery.  I know, I always have to look for sth to complain about. Overall, the Wytrawny 2020 is a light and nicely drinkable pour that will go well on its own but will also pair nicely with e.g. Spanish tapas. 4/6 

Availability: only in Poland for now at Restauracja Tabun in Otomin and from Alfroalko in Gdynia. In Warsaw from Zrodlo Niebanalnych Piw i Alkoholi and from Winnacja in Krakow.

Price: a bottle of this cider was provided by Michał (Restauracja Otomin)