Kentish Pip – tasting notes from the 2.Britisches Bier- & Cider Festival at Loch Ness (Berlin)

Although the 2. Britisches Bier- & Cider Festival (2nd British Beer & Cider Festival) that took place from 29 September – 1 October 2017 at Loch Ness Scottish Pub & Whisky Bar in Berlin may give you an impression of a huge event, it is different from the other festivals that occur in the city and that you have previously attended. What makes it unique is the fact that it’s the only festival organised in a pub (not a stadium or anything like that). In addition, there were no 700 ciders to try. Only a selection of 5 real bag-in-box ciders, all from a UK cider maker, Kentish Pip. If you include bottled cider from Annings, Brothers, Bulmers, Crabbie’s, Thistly Cross and Westons, the number will increase to 26.

Your 10 EUR (15 EUR on Saturday as it included live music) entry fee got you admittance to the Festival which includes, a festival guide, 2 tokens for 1/2 pint beer or bag-in-box cider and a card for stamp collecting (1/2pint gets you a stamp, after collection of 12 stamps you get the 13 half/pint for free). Because of this festival, I got the opportunity to taste a selection of cider from Kentish Pip. Here are my tasting notes.

Company: Kentish Pip Cider
Place of Origin: Woolen Farm, Bekesbourne Canterbury, Kent, UK
Kentish Pip Craftsman (5-6%, medium dry)

Appearance: pours a slightly cloudy pale amber with no carbonation. Body is low. Aroma/Nose: the aroma is tannic and sweet with notes of caramel, red crisp and juicy apples. Taste: it begins slightly sweet with a very low, barely detectable level of acidity. Subsequently, you get a strong tannic kick that makes your mouth dry followed by a watery taste with notes of red apples, apple juice and apple seeds. It finishes dry with a taste of juicy red apple and cinnamon with a hint of the apple seeds-like bitterness. Overall: it has a straight cider apple taste with strong tannins and nice structure. It could taste less watery though. 4/6
Kentish Pip Pear & Russet (6.5%, cider perry made with Russet and conference pears)

Appearance: pours a slightly cloudy pale golden with no carbonation. Body is low. Aroma/Nose: the aroma is funky and fruity with notes of barnyard, pear, elderflower with floral notes. Taste: it begins watery and moderately sweet with a very distant acetic acidity. On the mid-palate notes of pear, candies, cinnamon, paint remover and light funk. The finish is dry with a lingering cinnamon flavour and gentle astringency. Overall: a quite pleasant cider perry that perhaps will not appeal to everyone (I found it too sweet), but will definitely find an audience that can appreciate it. Again, it tasted too watery. 3.5/6Kentish Pip Wild Summer (4%, elderflower cider)

Appearance: pours a slightly cloudy pale yellow straw with no carbonation. Body is low. Aroma/Nose: the aroma is sweet, fruity and floral with notes of elderflower, pear and something green. Taste: it starts quite spicy with no detectable acidity and moderate sweetness. Elderflower, crisp yellow and red apples with green notes, candies and gently astringent tannins on the mid-palate. The aftertaste is dry with a spicy and herbal flavour. Overall: I guess I’m not a fan of elderflower after all as the Wild Summer was not exactly to my liking. It tastes very unique and natural and is not overly sweet as some elderflower cider tend to be, so I think, it may appeal to many. But it’s just not my cup of tea. 3/6

Kentish Pip Forager Hedgerow Berry Cider (4%, cider with hedgerow berries) – my phone died by then so I couldn’t take a picture.

Appearance: pours a clear ruby with no carbonation. Body is low. Aroma/Nose: the nose is funky, tannic and fruity with notes of barnyard,  berries and burnt caramel. Taste: it begins watery with moderate sweetness and low acidity. Raspberries, blackberries, black currant, red currant, red apple, caramel and light funk on the mid-palate. The aftertaste is dry with a lingering black currant flavour and light astringency. Overall: One of the best berry cider I had in a while. If not the watery taste I would rate it higher. 4/6

There was one more cider left to try from Kentish Pip, the Firespice Ginger, but the Festival was closing at 10pm, so I didn’t manage to give it a try. Another time perhaps.

Summarizing, each cider from Kentish Pip tasted pleasant and natural with a nice variety of flavours. I found the Craftsman to be the most to my liking as it gives one the strong tannic kick that I like yet tasted quite refreshing. I hope there will be more real cider to try next year at the 3rd edition of the Festival at Loch Ness in Berlin. Cheers! 

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Slavnost Cideru 2017: visit recap

Beautiful architecture, great food or breathtaking views are not only reasons to visit Prague. Since 2016 there is one more reason called Slavnost Cideru, which means Cider Festival or Cider Feast in Czech. Cider festivals are still rare in Central and Eastern Europe so when I saw Prague on a list of cider festivals compiled by Cider Guide-Eric West, I knew I had to take part in it. This years’ event took place on June 16-18 2017.

LOCATION

Slavnost Cideru is situated in the heart of Prague at Smíchovská Náplavka, on the bank of the Vltava’s river. The location was absolutely perfect as you could sit on a wooden bench, enjoy the view and sip your cider in the sunshine. img_6958TICKETS

To enter the festival you had to purchase a ticket at 50 CZK (1.90 EUR), if bought at the entrance. The ticket was valid for the all three festival days. In addition, there was a 2-for-1 offer at selected cider spots in Prague and online through Cool Ticket app, if festival tickets were bought in advance. Unfortunately, the app seems to work only in the Czech Republic as I downloaded the app but couldn’t purchase the tickets. However, I liked the idea of discounted ticket prices when bought in advance as it made you visit a shop or a bar selling cider, and take advantage of this visit by purchasing cider. I bought my 2-for-1 tickets in the InCider Bar, a cider bar in Prague one day before Slavnost Cideru.

I really liked the idea that at the entrance everyone has received a brochure with a short introduction about participating cider makers.

50 CZK (1.90 EUR) is not much. But, I must make a comment here that at exactly the same time, but on the other side of the Vltava’s river, a craft beer festival was running and there was no entrance fee as such. However, if I’m not wrong you had to purchase a festival glass in order to buy beer there at all.


CIDER MAKERS

This year’s event hosted more cider makers than last year so you can see that the Czech cider scene is really blooming. Visitors were able to try a range of different ciders, mainly from Czech Republic and Slovakia. Hundreds of cider lovers could sample ciders from Opre’ Cider, Cider Magnetic Apple, Tatuv Sad, Sigelsberg, Carboy Cidre, A.K. Cider, Cider Bohemia, Cidre 99, Vinarstvi Mühlberger, Royal Dog Cider, Redbrook, Joker Cider, Divoké jablko, Kastler, Sigr z Jabka or Martin’s Cider. Additionally, you could purchase bottled F.H. Prager (perry) and BB Cidre or F.H. Prager (cider) and Rychnovsky on draught at Opily Jabko’s booth, an online cider shop, whereas InCider Bar had Pan Jablicko and Johannes Cyder on draught and bottled Cidre Kliment. I basically felt like in the largest Prague’s cider bar.
For those, who wanted to try cider from other countries than the Czech Republic and Slovakia, English cider, French cider or Spanish sidra from, respectively Aspall, Dunkertons, Louis Raison, Val de Rance, El Gaitero and The Good Cider were available.To my surprise, also commercial brands such as Strongbow, Somersby, Rekorderlig or local Kingswood were present. I get it, every festival needs a sponsor.

Drinkers could sip also other beverages than cider such as Czech beer, whisky from Tullamore Dew matured in cider casks. There was also a bar serving other alcoholic beverages. You could even get to try a freshly pressed apple juice at InCider Bar’s stand.BEST FESTIVAL’S CIDER

Cider drinkers could vote online for the best cider of the festival. To my surprise, it was Joker Cider that was voted the best cider of Slavnost Cideru 2017. I will try to explain, why I find this result surprising in my next blog post. So stay tuned.

Picture below is courtesy of Slavnost Cideru.

Here are my personal favorite ciders from Slavnost Cideru 2017:

A.K.Cider: Sweet Strong followed by Jadrnicka. Both naturally tasting and really delicious. In addition, their Medium-Sweet was my favourite cider at Slavnost Cideru 2016.   

Divoke Jablko: Demi-Sec followed by Brut. Brut had a light watery taste, whereas Demi-Sec tasted slightly sweeter, which rounded up the taste. I haven’t tried their Barrel Aged cider yet.

Sigr z Jabka: Polosuchy. I have reviewed this cider here. It’s strange that they disappeared on Sunday, which was the last day of the festival.

In general, most of the ciders that I tried tasted rather average, some of them even terrible. Since there were more cider makers than last year I expected also proportionally more decent cider. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Perhaps next year’s event will be better in terms of quality and taste of cider.

FOOD & ENTERTAINMENT

Every festival includes musical entertainment and food for purchase. Kaiser Franz, Mikro Farma, Angelato and many others served up burgers, cider steaks, hot dogs, ice cream and other goodies.

In terms of music, there was a DJ playing some club/house music. On the other side of the river, where the craft beer festival simultaneously was running, I saw that they build a stage and bands were performing. I’d prefer a live band performance to a DJ playing. I just think that listening to a band is more fun than listening to club music. In addition, bands create better cider drinking atmosphere.

Besides the cider drinking you could get creative by painting your own brown glass cider bottle. It also kept the kids busy. Also, you could take a picture in a sort of wooden frame and tag yourself on social media. I found this idea really cool!

Overall, I think the organizers took good care of the food and entertainment part. There were no very long queues to get the food. Also, everyone could find something that would satisfy hers/his taste buds.

FINAL REMARKS

Usually when I attend a festival there are talks done about cider making, introduction to cider processes for beginners or current trends in the cider scene. This part was missing here. Even though I don’t speak Czech I think it could be interesting for other participants to learn how cider is made and what a challenge it is to make cider in this part of Europe. Big applause for InCider Bar as they at least presented how to press apple juice using apple press.

Furthermore, you could only drink cider from disposable plastic glasses. Don’t know how about you, but drinking anything from a plastic glass is a no-go for me. Especially, cider. Not to mention how it impacts the environment. I asked Vašek from InCider Bar about the reason for pouring cider into a plastic glass. Apparently according to Czech Regulations your booth has to be equipped with water supply for cleaning of glasses, if you want to use glasses made of glass. Since it was not feasible to arrange for water supply, only disposable plastic glasses were allowed. Somehow the craft beer festival on the other side of the Vltava’s river has solved this problem. If there are financial reasons behind it, then perhaps it would be an idea for the next year to get an extra funding from the Government to reduce the plastic caps litter and use glass instead? Environmental friendly festival is also a way of promoting the event and getting sponsors on board.

What I found surprising, comparing to other festivals I attended, is that the vast majority of cider makers, with an exception of Tatuv Sad and Redbrook, didn’t sell any T-shirts, glasses or other stuff. Tatuv Sad/Redbrook were the only cider makers offering such merchandise products. Why do I think it’s important? Firstly, it promotes cider culture and makes your brand recognisable. Secondly, it is an extra money for the company that can be used to invest in the production process, marketing, etc. T-Shirts or cider glasses don’t have an expiry date! If you don’t sell everything at this event there will be another picnic, brunch or food festival, hence, another occasion to sell it. I strongly encourage to consider this. As for now only Tatuv Sad/Redbrook understand the importance of brand promotion.

As for Tatuv Sad’s cider glass, I found the design really nice! The only reason why I didn’t buy it is that the glass didn’t have a volume marking. Meaning, I wouldn’t be able to bring it to another event as nobody would know how much cider to pour in.img_6966SUMMARY

Summarizing, Slavnost Cideru 2017 was an unforgettable experience and a great cider festival. I’ve sampled a number of delicious ciders in a very friendly atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. I have learned a lot about Czech cider as well. Also, Slavnost Cideru gave me an opportunity to meet cider makers and discuss about cider with other cider aficionados like me. I’m looking forward to next year’s edition!

Cider tasting of Cydr Chyliczki ciders in Warsaw

During my visit to Warsaw last weekend I attended a cider tasting combined with the launch of a new cider from Cydr Chyliczki at Jabeerwocky Junior. The cider tasting featured six ciders, one ice cider and one ice perry, all from Cydr Chyliczki, a craft cider producer located in Chyliczki near Warsaw. Interestingly, only a few of the sampled ciders were commercially available, which made this cider tasting really special.

What made this event really unique is also the fact that the cider maker and owner of Cydr Chyliczki, Dariusz Koros was present at the cider tasting and talked about ciders produced at Cydr Chyliczki and cider manufacturing in general. The cider tasting was led by Przemek Iwanek, from Piwo i Cydr, who also made a short introduction into craft cider.

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STARY SAD 2014 (ABV: 7% )

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This is their basic cider, which is made from old apple varieties such as Ananas Reinette, Bancroft, Bohnapfel, Boskoop, Starking and Transparente de Croncels. Stary Sad was matured two years in a bottle. Appearance: cloudy, light straw yellow. Very light carbonation, almost still. The body is also light. Aroma: unfiltered cider notes, citruses, pineapple, ripe tart apples, Brettanomyces, a distant hint of mint. Taste: dry, no residual sugar, moderate citrus-like acidity, ripe apples, some champagne flavor with sulphuric notes (perceivable only in the beginning). Green apple with light bitter notes in the aftertaste. Very refreshing and pleasant. I enjoyed having it. 4/6

KRONSELKA 2015 (ABV: 7%)

Kronselka

This is a single variety cider made from Transparente de Croncels. Appearance: cloudy light golden with a huge quickly disappearing white head.  Medium carbonation. Aroma: dry white wine notes, green apple with other unspecified green notes. There is also some sweet flavor in the aroma. Taste: dry, moderately acidic, slightly astringent. Light and short bitterness coming from the tannins. Relatively short aftertaste. Refreshing but quite average. 3.5/6

 

ZLOTA & SZARA RENETA 2015 (ABV: 8.5%)

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This cider is a blend of two old apple varieties known for their high sugar content, King of the Pippins and Grey Reinette. Interestingly, the sugar content of the pressed apple juice of King of the Pippins was at extremely high 19.5 Blg!  This cider was also matured 6 months in a bottle. Appearance: cloudy straw yellow. No visible carbonation. Aroma: apples and pears on the nose. Some citrus hints as well. Very refreshing. Taste: some residual sugar perceivable with nicely balanced medium tartness. Green notes with apple and pear hints. Slight astringency. Very pleasant gentle grapefruit-like bitterness in the aftertaste. This cider will be released soon and I am sure I will purchase a few bottles of this one. I enjoyed it. 4.5/6

(No Name) 2016

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This cider is not commercially available yet. As per Dariusz Koros, the owner, this cider is still too young and requires a few more months of maturation. Similarly to Stary Sad this one is a blend of Ananas Reinette, Bancroft, Bohnapfel and Starking. Appearance: cloudy light golden with medium carbonation. Aroma: apple and citrus flavors with a pear hint and some sweetness on the nose. Taste: the drier side of medium dry, pleasant flavor of camembert rind with dry champagne notes. Moderately acidic and slightly astringent with no bitter notes. Alcohol is not well hidden yet but I enjoyed it anyway. But overall I think it is almost ready to be released soon! 4.5/6

DELBARD 2016 (ABV: 7%)

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Another not commercially available cider from a single apple variety Delbard. Delbard is a very young cider, which was produced in 2016 and racked off only earlier this morning. Appearance: no visible carbonation. Hazy light straw yellow. Aroma: extremely wild and funky notes. Barnyard and unpleasant feces note indicating indole presence. Hay and dryness with sulphuric notes. Some green hint and dry white wine notes perceivable as well. Very rich, but not exactly pleasant aroma due to indole. Taste: Some sweetness, lime-like but rather low acidity. White wine notes with apple and citrus flavors. Slightly astringent. Delbard is a very young cider indeed and needs more structure. So, I hope in a few months it’s taste will improve as it has a big potential, I think. For now only 3/6.

BALLERINA 2016 (ABV: 7%)

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Not available commercially, a cider made from an apple called Ballerina giving red colored apple juice and blended with pear juice. Appearance: hazy light amber color with orange hues. No visible carbonation. Aroma: floral notes, some booze-like smell, and pears. Taste: fruity, quite high acidity, perceivable alcohol, some bitterness, and astringency. Green apples and raspberry hints but no pear flavor. Interesting but this one is the worst cider so far. I hope that the taste of Ballerina will improve as well. 2.5/6

 

CYDR LODOWY 2015 (ICE CIDER) (ABV: 12%)

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This ice cider is a blend of a few apple varieties, including Rubinette. The fermentation process took about 8-9 months. Appearance: clear golden color. Thick body. Still. Aroma: baked and ripe apple. Some sweetness to it and acidic notes. Taste: baked apple, apple sorbet, some nice spiciness, cinnamon but also some green notes. Moderate acidity beautifully balancing out the sweetness. Astringent, some very distant raisin notes. I was really amazed and instantly fell in love! I could swear I can still taste it in my mouth! What a great ice cider! Absolutely fantastic! Do I need to say that on the way back home to Berlin I purchased a few extra bottles? I was really in heaven! 6/6!!!

GRUSZECZNIK LODOWY 2016 (ICE PERRY) (ABV:12%)

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Ice perry is in general extremely rare. I haven’t heard so far about ice perry before, not to mention a cidery producing one. Hence, to me, this was the highlight of the evening. More to that, it is not commercially available yet. Soon, perhaps. Appearance: clear golden, thick and still. Aroma: some sweetness from ripe pears with notes of cinnamon and cloves. Taste: ripe and juicy pears with hints of honey and some pleasant spiciness with cinnamon and clove flavors. Some minor acetic acidity reminded me of clove-pickled pears. Very delicious but it can’t beat the ice cider. 5/6

Overall, the ice cider was unbeatable and unforgettable. This is the first cider ever that scored 6 out of 6! If you love cider as I do and if you ever get a chance to visit Poland, tasting the ice cider from Cydr Chyliczki should be part of your tour. Well done, Cydr Chyliczki!