Brothers Festival Pear Cider

While doing some background research on Brothers’ and their cider range, I’ve stumbled upon quite interesting facts. Francis, Jonathan, Matthew and Daniel Showering, who stand behind the Brothers, originally had a site at the Glastonbury Festival 1995 selling their Festival Pear Cider. Moreover, since the term perry didn’t ring a bell to many at the time, they called their beverage ‘pear cider’ as it’s “like cider but made from pears”. So know you know where the names ‘Festival Pear Cider’ comes from.Company: Brothers Drinks Co Ltd.
Place of Origin: Shepton Malet, Somerset, UK
Pears: unknown
ABV: 7%
Package type: 500ml brown glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear deep golden with no head. Slightly sparkling. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: it smells terribly artificial and chemical of cheap and ordinary booze with a note of pear. Very unpleasant.

Taste: it starts very sweet with no detectable acidity. Followed by notes of cheap booze, strong taste of alcohol and pear leaving extremely unpleasant chemical aftertaste with a flavour typical for juice made from concentrate.

Overall: Festival Pear Cider is a horror to a cider afficionado. It tastes sickly sweet and resembles a chemical solution of unknown origin than any kind of juice or fermented juice. I winced after every sip as swallowing this pear cider was a torture! I gave up after half a pint. Undrinkable. I wonder how all these people attending the Glastonbury Festival were able to drink it. 0/6 

Availability: surprisingly very broad. From their online shop. In Berlin at Hopfen und Malz and at The Castle. In Germany, online from Cider & More. Dear Stockists, do you drink sometimes what you offer?

Price: purchased locally in Berlin at 3.5 EUR from Hopfen und Malz


Galipette Cidre Brut

Perhaps it has already come to your attention that Galipette Cidre Brut is produced by Les Celliers Associés. Les Celliers Associés is a cooperative bringing together nearly 189 producers from Brittany and 212 producers from Normandy. It was set up in 1953 in Pleudihen-sur-Rance, Brittany, France and is responsible for manufacturing Val de Rance cidres. Galipette Cidre Brut is made with such cidre apples as Kermerrien, Marie Ménard or Judor.Company: Les Celliers Associés
Place of Origin: Pleudihen-sur-Rance, Brittany, France
cidre apples grown in Brittany such as Kermerrien, Marie Ménard or Judor.
Package type: 
330ml amber glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a lightly cloudy amber with a very large white head that doesn’t really dissipate. High and artificial carbonation. Body medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong with sweetish notes of dried apricots, cider apple juice, wood.

Taste: it starts with a moderate to high sweetness and low acidity. Followed by light smokiness, woody notes, a bit watery, light to medium astringency. Finishes with a strong note of caramel and distant low bitterness.

Overall: Galipettes Cidre Brut is a good cidre. Clearly made with cidre apples, with structure and a taste that is longlasting. The aroma is strong and pleasant. But similarly to the previously reviewed cidre Biologique from Galipette, it doesn’t stand out. Anyway, if you decide to purchase a bottle of Cidre Brut I think you won’t be disappointed. I have tried much richer tasting offerings from cider makers from Brittany so it doesn’t impress me much. But for an average cider drinker who appreciates quality and hasn’t tried many cidres from Brittany, it will be a delicious offering that will go well with Galettes, duck or simply on its own. 4/6

Availability: in the UK from Waitrose and Eebria. In the Netherlands from Drank Direct. In Sweden from Systembolaget.

Price: a sample of this cidre was provided by Cider Supply Co.

Kernhaus Johannisbeere

As most of you probably know, cider is completely naturally free of gluten. Thanks to this feature, Maren discovered cider on her trip to Australia and New Zealand. Her husband is gluten intolerant so he drunk cider instead of beer. In solidarity with her husband, Maren also drunk cider and developed a passion for this beverage.   Company: Kernhaus Cider
Place of Origin: Hamburg, Germany
Ingredients: apple cider, blackcurrant juice (4%), sulphites
ABV: 4%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: wine glass

Appearance: pours a cloudy blood orange red with a white head that quickly dissipates. Low artificial carbonation. Medium body.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is fruity of blackcurrant juice with a hint of yellow apples. The nose is strong but one-dimensional.

Taste: it begins watery, with a very low sweetness and low to medium acidity. Light bitterness, a bit of blackcurrant and lemon. Finishes citrusy with a note of lemon and blackcurrant.

Overall: there is not really much to say about this beverage. If you ever had a watery blackcurrant juice then you can get an idea about the taste of the Johannisbeere from Kernhaus. Both the taste and nose are one-dimensional and boring. Why would you cover the taste of apples with blackcurrant? I guess those who like their cider tasting like a watered down blackcurrant juice, oh I forgot they call it fruit cider now, will be satisfied as it is a drinkable and naturally tasting offering. Yet those who are looking for real cider will not find it in this bottle. 3/6 

Availability: online in Germany from Ciderei or Solvino.

Price: Kernhaus Johannisbeere was a sample provided by Ciderei.

Cydr Ignaców Sicero 2016

With Sicero, Tomasz from Cydr Ignaców wanted to create cider appreciated by all layers of society. By simple drinkers purchasing their cider from an off-licence, those who purchase their products through craft beer stores or wine stores but also those who visit exquisite Michelin star restaurants. Seems that it worked for Sicero as it is carried by an off-licence in Grójec but also available in good restaurants in Warsaw, Poznań and Cracow. Sicero is a combination of two words, sicera, a Latin name for cider and Cicero, a Roman statesman, orator, lawyer and philosopher.Company: Cydr Ignaców
Place of Origin: Ignaców, Masovia, Poland
Apples: a blend of Kaiser Wilhelm, Bohnapfel, Ribston Pippin, Landsberger Reinette and other old apple varieties
ABV: 7%
Package type: 500ml amber glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass

Appearance: pours a clear deep golden/pale amber with a small quickly dissipating white head. Lightly sparkling. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is moderately strong with notes of caramel, smokiness, red and yellow apples.

Taste: my first taste is lightly sweet with low to medium acidity. On the middle palate notes of caramel, white wine notes, smoky notes, lingering bitterness of burnt caramel, light herbal notes and light astringency. Finishes with a light burnt caramel bitterness and a hint of lemon.

Overall: Actually, this is my fourth time trying this cider. Strangely enough, each time I had Sicero I had different thoughts about this cider although my tasting notes were in a way similar. First time I had the Sicero I thought it was fantastic! The second and third time I tried it I thought it was just ok but not spectacular. So I shared my impressions with Tomasz, cidermaker at Cydr Ignaców and he advised me to drink Sicero from any glass but not from a wine glass. Initially, I thought it was a rather strange suggestion. Nevertheless, I decided to follow this advice and went for a pint glass at my 4th attempt. And, you know what? Tomasz was right. The larger sips you take of the Sicero, the more flavours you get and appreciate this cider more. All these caramel notes, burnt caramel-like bitterness and smokiness make you feel like you are tasting very drinkable English cider of great quality but with a character of Polish apples. Drink it only lightly chilled from a pint glass. Will go well with any kind of food. Well done, Tomasz. 4.5/6

Availability: broad in Poland. From an off-license in Grojec up to good restaurants in Warsaw, Poznań and Cracow.

Price: Tomasz passed me a bottle when we met up in Warsaw.

Cidery visit: Cydr Ignaców

img_1373It was a brisk, warm and sunny late October day in Warsaw when Tomasz from Cydr Ignaców picked me up and drove me out of Warsaw to Ignaców, where the cidery is based. Ignaców is a tiny village located approx. 60km south of Warsaw in the heart of Grojec County, the EU’s largest apple growing region. Interestingly, apples and other fruits have been grown here since the middle ages. On the way to Grojec County, we drove through countless orchards of apple and cherry trees. But most grown apple varieties are eaters and cookers, not suitable for cider making. Despite this fact, Marcin, who is a 4th generation apple grower and Tomasz’s partner at Cydr Ignaców, tracked an old, for local standards practically ancient, orchard with old apple varieties. These apples are used today to make Cydr Ignaców. But how it all began?

Cydr Ignaców is the first official Polish cider producer, as I mentioned in one of my earlier reviews on ciders created by Tomasz Porowski (Czarny Ignac 2015 and Renety Zlota i Szara 2016). Tomasz is a lawyer by profession, so his background has nothing to do with cider making. But it surely helped him with the extremely complicated Polish regulations and formal procedures so he could set up the first Polish cidery in 2011. Tomasz didn’t learn everything about cidermaking by himself. He approached a few cidermakers in the UK. Three great cider makers replied back and offered to share their cider related knowledge and experience, Michael of Ross on Wye, Julian of Burrow Hill Cider and Tom of Oliver’s Cider. With a bunch of new valuable information, Tomasz was almost ready to introduce cider to Polish consumers. Almost. As back then he had no access to good quality fruit suitable for cider. A breakthrough came when Tomasz met Marcin through mutual friends. And, Marcin found the old orchard with old apple varieties that I already mentioned earlier.

img_1379Tomasz gave me a tour around the orchards and cider making facilities. Apples used for Cydr Ignaców come from an old and forgotten apple orchard where you will find old apple varieties such as Kosztela (a very old Polish variety dating back to 17th century), Boskoop, Boiken, Antonovka and many different wild apples that are small, very bitter, aromatic and simply glorious. Each apple coming from a wild apple tree had a different and unique taste profile. I would even say that I enjoyed them more than the cider apples from Normandy. The fruit was much smaller, the taste more concentrated, more bitter and acidic. Each bite was like a taste explosion! Perfect fruit for cider!  Interestingly, in the orchard, there is even an apple variety (not wild) that can’t be identified even by the oldest generation of apple growers living in Ignaców. So Tomasz simply named this apple Sphinx. In addition, due to the warm and long summer, some late apple varieties were harvested this year for the first time as they actually finally ripened. So this year’s vintage at Cydr Ignaców is expected to be amazing as well. As I wandered through this orchard, I was stunned. I could get the taste of almost all varieties and could see a great potential in the fruit.

As we drove back through other orchards to the cidery, I noticed a lot of good fruit simply lying on the ground beneath the tree and rotting. All were large, shiny and red eating apples. This is because apple prices reached bottom this year in Poland and harvesting simply didn’t pay off. It was a very sad view. Also, I’ve learned from Tomasz that it is a challenge to find apple trees here that are older than 12 years as apple growers rip the trees out once they turn 12. This is because older apple trees bear much less fruit and are not profitable enough for the grower.

img_1359When we reached the cidery we entered a rather chilly, large fermentation room filled with various fermenting tanks with cider beautifully bubbling. The sound of bubbles going through airlock has something peaceful in it. Don’t you think? Since apple trees bore lots of fruit this year giving much juice, it is likely that Tomasz and Marcin will exceed the production limit of 10.000 litres set by Polish Authorities (imagine that Mayador in Asturias makes 7.5mln litres annually!). If you are looking for an example of how stupid regulations can negatively impact cider production, just look at Poland.

Tomasz let me have a taste of ciders that weren’t released yet. One cider was a blend of img_1353Dabinett and Michelin, two English and French, respectively cider apple varieties that were planted in Ignaców a few years ago. It was a dry, very aromatic cider, clear (although it came straight out of a glass carboy) and very drinkable. Since it was still it tasted like a great quality wine. I loved it. The second cider was ice cider, a blend of few vintages that was deliberately oxidised giving a nutty flavour with notes of distant nail polish remover and raspberries. Almost tasting like a sherry mixed with ice cider. The level of sweetness was just right. God, I could use a glass now of Tomasz’s ice cider to warm up.

img_1384At the end of the tour, we visited a company that presses the juice for Cydr Ignaców Tomasz and Marcin don’t press apples on their own as they don’t have the capacity. Instead, they contract a local company offering apple pressing services. It doesn’t give them control over the pressing process but at the current stage, there is nothing else that cone be done.

During this cider tour, I could sense Tomasz’s undoubted passion for cider as all he does and says is related to cider. But I also felt a sort of despair in his voice due to a long ongoing battle against the Polish regulations or Polish restaurants that set high prices for a bottle of cider so the consumer picks a bottle of wine instead, etc. In my view, with such apples like the wild apples that I tried in the orchards of Cydr Ignaców, Polish cider has a huge potential. But the growth and expansion of Polish cider are slowed down by stupid local laws and regulations and the mindset of many restaurant owners.

I wish Tomasz and Marcin all the best, you are both doing a great job and you showed many times that you are unstoppable pioneers fighting all possible hurdles in the Polish market.

For those of you who are reading this, next time you’re visiting Poland look out for products created by Cydr Ignacow. I promise you won’t regret it. Soon I will post tasting notes for ciders that were passed to me by Tomasz so stay tuned!

Hoxton Cidersmiths Harry Masters’ Jersey

Last year, after publishing the first review on cider from Hoxton Cidersmiths, the Michelin & Brown’s I learned that guys from Hoxton Cidersmiths don’t make their cider themselves. Their cider is made under contract by cidermakers at Sheppy’s Cider and bottled as Hoxton Cidersmiths cider. So I’m not exactly sure how does it make them a craft cidery. Anyway, Harry Masters’ Jersey is an English cider apple variety coming straight out of Somerset.
Hoxton Cidersmiths 
Place of Origin: 
London, UK
 Harry Masters Jersey
Sweetness as per label:
ABV: 4.5%
Package type: 
500ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, snifter or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with a short-lived head. Carbonation is artificial. The body is light.

Aroma/Nose: the nose exhibits notes of funk, barnyard, leather, caramel, red apples, hay, and a hint of sulphur.

Taste: the first sip is very sweet with only low acidity. On the mid-palate light smokiness resembling the rind of camembert, followed by yellow fresh juicy apple and light astringency. The finish is dry with a lingering smoky note of smoked cheese and distant sulphur.

Overall: if you like your cider on the sweeter side and enjoy light cider then this cider is for you. I found it too sweet and too average. It tasted balanced and rich, yet something was missing. This is pretty common among single varietal ciders. Anyway, if you are only at the beginning of your cider adventure I think this cider is a good one to start with as it is quite sweet and mild. For the record, the sulphur hint is just there, adds complexity, but I can’t say it’s anyhow disturbing. Goes well with fish & chips. 3.5/6 

Availability: online through Ciderlab or locally from  The Cider House in London.

Price: purchased in the Curator in Terminal 3 at London Heathrow Airport at 5.75 GBP.

Cidrerie des Terroirs Royal Guillevic Label Rouge 2016

The vast majority of cidre producers in Brittany and Normandy make cidre by blending at least a couple of apple varieties. So seeing a single varietal cidre from Brittany is extremely rare. As a matter of fact, I have never reviewed or even sampled a single varietal French cidre. But here comes the opportunity of trying one. I’m giving you the Royal Guillevic 2016 from Cidrerie des Terroirs. Royal Guillevic is a small green apple that is grown in the Morbihan region in southern Brittany. The Royal Guillevic has been awarded the Label Rouge quality mark, the official endorsement of the superior quality of food. Company: Cidrerie des Terroirs
Place of Origin: Lizio, Morbihan, Brittany, France
Royal Guillevic
Package type: 
750ml green glass champagne corked and wired bottle
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale amber with a large white head that slowly dissipates. High carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is moderately strong with notes of dried apricots, raisins, wood and spicy of old spice. A hint of tangerine far in the background.

Taste: it begins sweet with a very low acidity. Further down, fresh green apples, smokiness, raisins, dried apricots and peach. Low astringency. Finishes citrusy and refreshing with a note of peach and distant peppermint.

Overall: for a single-varietal cidre the Royal Gullevic is surprisingly full-bodied yet smooth. The taste is intense, strong and clear although I can’t get that many notes. The level of sweetness is just right. In the beginning, there was almost no acidity. But surprisingly citrusy acidity with a hint of peppermint appeared at the finish leaving a very refreshing aftertaste. Also, its favour is compelling but somehow this Royale Guillevic from Cidrerie des Terroirs didn’t wow me. the Royal Guillevic will go great with savoury Galettes. 4.5/6

Availability: directly through Cidrerie des Terroirs. In Germany from Vinizone.

Price: a sample of this cidre was provided by Lucian from Cidrerie des Terroirs