Cydr Radosny – tasting 19.06.2021

When one notices that one single cider maker wins Gold, Silver Bronze in an amateur cider competition, overtaking competitors in almost all categories, it is simply impossible not to get curious. Just take a look at the results of the Greater Poland Cup 2021 below or click the link.

Dry still cider

  1. Oaza Spokoju 2020
    Radek Ogar – Cydrownia Saint Cyprien / Cydr Radosny
  2. #13
    Jakub Ejsmont – Cydr Północy

Dry sparkling cider

  1. Rajskie 2020
    Radek Ogar – Cydrownia Saint Cyprien / Cydr Radosny
  2. Antonówka 2020
    Radek Ogar – Cydrownia Saint Cyprien / Cydr Radosny
  3. Debiut 2020
    Radek Ogar – Cydrownia Saint Cyprien / Cydr Radosny

Cider with additives

  1. Chmielony z gujawą 2019
    Radek Ogar – Cydrownia Saint Cyprien / Cydr Radosny
  2. Cydr Radosny z kwiatem czarnego bzu 2019
    Radek Ogar – Cydrownia Saint Cyprien / Cydr Radosny
  3. Cydr Elderflower 2019
    Radek Ogar – Cydrownia Saint Cyprien / Cydr Radosny

As you might have noticed, Cydrownia Saint Cyprien / Cydr Radosny basically smashed the competitors winning basically everything. So in a situation like this, what do you when you are temporarily located in the same city as the cider maker and you have already tried two ciders from their cider range? That’s right, you want to learn MORE and understand why on Earth this particular cider maker won so many awards.

I’m referring here to Cydr Radosny Wroclaw, Lower Silesia, Poland. As a refresher, Cydr Radosny (Polish for Joyful Cider) is made up by Radek and Mikołaj. I previously reviewed their Brettoffowy and Igielkowy z Imbirem. 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.

After seeing the results of the Greater Poland, I first thought that there were only little cider makers who entered their ciders. However, I was told that approx. 120 ciders were entered into this cider competition, and roughly 20 were entered by Cydr Radosny. If that is indeed the fact, then this is a truly remarkable achievement for Cydr Radosny!

Radek and Mikołaj

And then, what happened is the following: I received an invitation to an exclusive tasting of some of the Cider Radosny winning ciders. Apart from me there were two friends of Radek and Mikolaj and a Wroclaw food blogger Magda of Zwidelcempowroclawiu. The tasting took place in one of the idyllic old post-German allotment gardens in the Osobowice neighborhood of Wroclaw, Lower Silesia in Poland. Needless to say that the conditions among old fruit trees, herbs and hedgehogs passing through were simply fabulous. Well, except perhaps for the mosquitos craving for our blood and flying continuously above our heads. Anyway, Radek and Mikolaj prepared several cider flights:

  1. Oaza spokoju 2020 (a blend of several varieties of 2020)
  2. Grochówka 2020 (a single varietal made with Bohnapfel using wild yeast maturated until 01.2020) and Grochówka 2020 (a single varietal made with Bohnapfel using wild yeast maturated until 03.2020)
  3. Antonowka 2020 (a single varietal made with Antonowka using selected yeast), Pigwowiec 2020 (made with Japanese quince)
  4. Reinettes 2020 (a blend of Reinette du Canada 66% with Reine de Reinettes 33% using selected wine yeasts), Brettofowy Debiut 2020, Kamieniaki spod Ślęży 2020 (a blend of two different ciders made with Bohnapfel)
  5. Rajskie 2020 (a blend of old apple varieties and crab apples using selected yeast)
  6. Elderflower 2019 (made with Elderflower syrup), Elderflower 2018 (made with elderflower), Elderflower 2019 (made with elderflower), Elderflower 2020 (made with elderflower).

Overall, I must admit that I was amazed by the quality of ciders made by the guys from Cydr Radosny. Although Radek and Mikolaj are still at an early stage of cider making, where they are experimenting with different apple varieties, different blends and even additional ingredients such as Japanese quince, elderflower or hops, their ciders made quite an impression on me. All of their ciders were complex, highly drinkable with a structure, a broad array of flavours and good length. As there were overall only 4 participants in our small cider tasting, it was interesting to see that we all had different taste preferences. My personal favorites were Oaza spokoju 2020 and Antonowka 2020. Their Antonowka really amazed me as the nose was very aromatic with a strong note of green apples although apparently the apples used for this cider were ripe and definitely not green. Also, this apple variety is usually rich in acid, however, the level of acidity in this cider was just right, very refreshing but not too strong. This is something I could imagine drinking on a hot summer day or pair with fish or sea food.

I also thought that the flight with different versions of elderflower was inspiring. Admittedly, I preferred the cider made with elderflower to elderflower sirup. It gave a completely different taste profile.

I summary, I enjoyed the possibility of trying several different ciders made by Cydr Radosny and being able to directly compare the differences between the taste profiles of ciders made using different production methods, blends or ingredients. Not sure how about you but I don’t get a chance like that every day. Also, It was interesting to see how different perception of different ciders among our tiny audience was.

Needless to say after this cider tasting at Cydr Radosny, I’m no longer surprised by the results of the Greater Poland. Ciders made by Radek and Mikolaj are really well one, have a good quality and are very drinkable. And, I do hope that soon they will be commercially available so a broader audience can try and make their own opinion about the ciders made by Cydr Radosny.

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!

Cider Tasting – Gutshof Kraatz in Frankfurt

img_4397Have I already told you that Frankfurt is a fantastic city, especially if you’re into Apfelwein? Apfelwein can be purchased pretty much everywhere here. One of the great apple wine spots in Frankfurt is the Apfelweinhandlung run by Jens Becker, where recently a tasting of apple wines made by Florian Profiltich of Gutshof Kraatz from the Uckermark took place. Actually, it’s not so long ago when I visited Florian in the Uckermark and had a guided tour of the facilities located 200km north of Berlin. For detailed visit recap, click here.

Actually, Florian together with his wife Edda just started their vacation. Their plan was to visit Metz, Luxembourg and Pfalz. But they also decided to squeeze in a short stop in Frankfurt and showcase Florian’s apple wines at Apfelweinhandlung before really going on vacation. Florian brought a couple of bottles that I have already tried and even reviewed. But, he also brought with him wines that were new to me so I was very excited to taste them.

Altländer Pfannkuchenapfel Schaumwein 2017 (ABV: 8% )

img_4386It’s not my first acquaintance with this apple wine as I tried it at Florian’s Gutshof Kraatz and also reviewed it recently (click here for the full review) so I was happy to be able to try this beautiful sparkling apple wine again.  Florian mentioned that this apple variety needs a marine/coastal climate and is rare to find in other regions of Germany. It’s a typical cooking apple used for baking. In addition, it’s a great apple to press and quite similar to Bohnapfel but with less astringency. The 2017 vintage was made from apples grown in two locations and bottled in 2018. Appearance: clear, golden, still. The body is medium. Aroma: caramel, lemon, yellow apples, a distant hint of Bretts. Taste: dry, moderate lemon-like acidity, yellow apples, smokiness, low bitterness, low astringency. Overall: Just like the last time and time before last time, drinking the Pfannkuchenapfel Schaumwein was a pure pleasure. Smooth, quite light, nicely balanced with a long-lasting taste. Interestingly, the wild notes were less strong both on the nose as on the palate. Other participants were fond of this drop too! 5.5/6


Schwarze Katze 2018 (8.5%)

Schwarze Katze is made mainly with Bohnapfel. The juice was pressed 5 days after crushing, so the fermentation kicked in spontaneously and gave better juice yields. After the primary fermentation, Schwarze Katze underwent secondary fermentation in the bottle and was aged on lees. Appearance: cloudy, golden, medium carbonation. The body is medium. Aroma: yellow apples, not strong. Taste: dry, moderate to high lemon-like acidity, moderate astringency, low astringency, off-notes, short taste. Overall: Again, this was the 3rd time I was tasting this drop (here is full review). And, it still didn’t convince me. The off-notes are too strong. Also, the taste was rather short. Despite nice apple-y flavours on the palate, I’m not going to be friends with this one. 3/6

Bohnapfel 2018 aus dem Holzfass (8%)

img_4391This is a single-varietal apple wine made with Bohnapfel that was aged in French oak barrels that were previously used for red wine. Florian recommended decanting the Bohnapfel 2018. Appearance: clear, golden, still. The body is medium. Aroma: caramel, moderately strong, vanilla. Taste: dry, moderate to high lemon-like acidity, yellow apples,  lightly watery, low astringency, lemon, caramel, vanilla. Long taste. Overall: I tried this wine for the first time. It lacked the body although it was rich in terms of flavours. Others liked it and thought it was interesting but could imagine drinking only a glass of it, not more. I think it’s a good description as it didn’t strike me as well. 3.5/6

Goldrenetten 2018 (9.5%)

img_4394-2Goldrenette is a blend of 5 different renettes including Kasseler Renette, Blenheim Renette, Goldparmäne, Graue Renette and Boskoop. Appearance: clear, golden, still. The body is medium. Aroma: caramel, butter caramel, strong. Taste: lightly sweet, low acidity, low but lingering burnt caramel-like bitterness, medium astringency, caramel, butter caramel, vanilla. Long taste. Overall: Again, I tried this wine for the first time. There was lots going on both the nose and the palate. And, it was indeed a pleasure to drink this drop. I love the rich apple wines that make you discover more notes with every sip. Also, I personally loved the flavours of butter caramel. Definitely, something that I would like to try again. 5/6

Adamsparmäne 2018 (9.5%)

img_4396Adamsparmäne is actually an English apple variety also known as Norfolk Pippin. It gives quite small apples according to Florian. Appearance: almost clear, golden, still. The body is medium. Aroma: quince, strong, aromatic, apple skin, vanilla. Taste: lightly sweet, low acidity, moderate caramel-like bitterness that lingers on, caramel, butter caramel, quince, low astringency, alcohol. Long taste. Overall: I didn’t like the 2016 vintage at all (for full review click here) as I thought it tasted way too bitter. Hence, I was very curious to taste the 2018 vintage. The 2018 vintage is admittedly also quite bitter but the bitterness is not striking, not unpleasant. It’s just not a plain bitterness but a nicely incorporated bitterness contributing to the overall taste instead of killing it. Its taste is rich, with lovely notes that go on and on. I enjoyed it this year. 4.5/5

Wilde Kerle 2017

img_4398Florian makes this apple wine from wild apple varieties that once. Appearance: clear, pale golden, still. The body is medium. Aroma: caramel, quince, rather weak – but the tasting temperature was here a bit too low. Taste: dry, moderate to high acidity, yellow apples, moderate caramel-like bitterness, quince, high astringency. Long taste. Overall: It’s different to the 2016 vintage that I absolutely adored (to read the full review click here). The taste is still very long and a lot is going on on the palate here. Interestingly, the level of acidity was higher than I remember and made this apple wine taste very refreshing. Still, the acidity was a bit too strong even for me. It didn’t compliment this offering. But from what I heard also others had similar thoughts to mine. 4.5/6

Wilde Kerle 2018

img_4399It’s the 2018 vintage of the same blend. Appearance: clear, golden, still. The body is img_4404medium. Aroma: vanilla, caramel, lightly citrusy. Taste: slightly sweet, low acidity, caramel, apple seeds and apple seeds- bitterness, apple skin,  moderate astringency. Long taste. Overall: It’s fascinating to compare two very different vintages that were made from the same apples but in a different year. The 2017 vintage had a much higher acidity, while the 2018 vintage was rather low in acid. Also, while the 2017 vintage is more fruity with notes of quince, the 2018 vintage has more body and alcohol with more caramel-like notes. Even the colour was different. It shows how different weather conditions were in this region in both years (see the pic above). 5/6

Sauerkirschen 2018 (16%)

img_4400This is not an apple wine  as you can judhe by the colour but a wine made with sour and sweet cherries. Florian made only 300 bottles of this drop. It was the first time he managed to get the fruit as previously the birds would eat almost the whole crop. But somehow in 2018, starlings spared the cherries so Florian could also experiment with cherries. Appearance: dark magenta, still. The body is medium. Aroma: cloves, cinnamon, blackberries, like mulled wine, very strong. Taste: moderately sweet, low acidity of cherries, cinnamon, cloves, low bitterness, moderate astringency. Long taste. Overall: I double-checked with Florian if he added any spices to this wine. So no spices added. I was amazed as the notes of cinnamon and cloves together made this drop taste like a not so overly sweet mulled wine with extremely strong notes of Christmas spices. All participants loved this offering including me. 5.5/6

Overall, I knew Florian before and tried many apple wines or fruit wines made by him. So it wasn’t a surprise to me that most of the wines tastes during this evening were really brilliant. But this tasting gave me a rare opportunity of comparing different vintages of the same wines from the range of Gutshof Kraatz. It was striking that most of the 2018 vintages had a rather unusually low level of acidity but higher alcohol level. This is in line with weather conditions that were in 2018 that caused lower acid levels in apples. Also, it was interesting to see how the taste of Altländer Pfannkuchenapfel Schaumwein 2017 evolved. I tried this wine three times within 3 months and now there were almost no funky notes on the palate.  It just shows that there are truly many factors influencing the taste of cider and that apple wine is a wine not without a reason. With age, it changes. I wish there would be another tasting in another 3 months so I can compare my notes. From left to right: Edda Müller, Natalia Wszelaki, Florian Profitlich, Christine Isensee-Kiesau, Jens Becker, Michael Stöckl

CiderWorld2019: visit recap

Remembering my great impressions of CiderWorld 2018 (for my visit recap of CiderWorld2018 click here), I could hardly wait for CiderWorld2019 in Frankfurt to begin! Especially, that also this year, I was honoured to have been selected as part of a prestigious panel of jurors for CiderWorldAward in Frankfurt. 2a5e8933-2812-4361-8fae-a45f481c2df4As a refresher, CiderWorld is an international cider fair in Frankfurt, Germany launched in 2008 as Apfelwein International and organised by Michael Stöckl, Apfelwein sommelier. And, an event that can’t be missed!

CiderWorld2019 started very well for me as once I checked in at the hotel, Grandhotel Hessischer Hof, and entered the hotel room I saw a bottle of the Ramborn Original and a welcome note from the organisers of CiderWorld waiting for me. It’s just a small thing but it’s something that immediately puts a smile on your face and makes you feel welcome.


Since I’m based in Berlin, not in Frankfurt, I was not able to participate in the CiderWeek that similarly as last year was held in Frankfurt before the actual CiderWorld began. But still, I would like to briefly tell you about it. Just like last year, there were multiple events happening in different venues in Frankfurt promoting cider culture, and most importantly, educating! Events such as AfterWork CiderParty in Manhattan Bar, where cocktails are served based on Apfelwein; Sidra y Tapas, where participants get to try sidra from Asturias and sagardoa from the Basque Country; Irish Cider Tasting, where various ciders from different Irish counties are poured or Frank Winklers große Probe with local Frankfurt dishes paired with exquisite Apfelwein made by producers from Hesse are great opportunities to introduce many to cider and showcase different cider styles around the world and make people understand that cider is meant for pairing with food. As I am looking up all the events that took place during the cider week, I read that most events were sold out! Great to hear that cider is so popular in Frankfurt!

Friday. Judging Day.

img_2127When I came last year to Daheim im Lorsbacher Tal, where the jury was supposed to sample ciders submitted to the CiderAwards, I was a little bit insecure and a little unconfident as I simply didn’t know anyone of the judges in person. It was my first judging panel and I didn’t know if I perform well. This year was different. As I entered the restaurant I saw many friendly and familiar faces. I’m not only referring to Michael Stöckl, who gave me a very warm welcome but also Frank Winkler, Susanna Forbes, Eduardo Vázquez Coto, Darlene Hayes, Gabe Cook and many, many more. I’m not going to bore you with details of the judging itself as it essentially had the same format as last year. However, we tried a bit fewer samples than last time. My judging panel was supposed to try 22 ciders, which ended up in 24 ciders as one of the judging panels needed more time for sample evaluation as mine.

My observations from the judging are that despite deep knowledge about cider and cider making, not everyone can be a good judge.  If you want to be a judge, you have to be fair and evaluate products by their quality and regionality using a scoring system. Judging is not a matter of personal preferences. One doesn’t have to be a fan of Asturian sidra, Basque country sagardoa or English “West Country” cider but has to evaluate this type of product according to the scoring system. I’m bringing this up as one of the judges on my panel apparently didn’t appreciate Spanish style cider and initially gave a lower score to one of the sampled ciders. Only after explaining that this style typically has a higher level of volatile acid and consulting with an Asturian colleague, finally, the score was changed. I don’t think that any festival has the perfect jury so I’m not blaming anyone but situations like these simply make me angry.

img_2137Right after the jury tasting, Susanna, Darlene and Gabe decided to pay Apfelweinkontor a visit so I thought I’ll join them. Apfelweinkontor is an Apfelwein store located in the Sachsenhausen area of Frankfurt. Josef was there to welcome us and give us another round of Apfelweintasting. We tried a couple of German Apfelwein and Apfelschaumweins. The Weihman & Groh Boskoop was my favourite of this round.

CiderWorld Preview & Awards

img_2152To be honest, I have not the faintest idea of how the organisers managed to calculate all the points and print the certificates for getting either Gold, Silver or Honor in categories, still, sparkling, flavoured & mixed and ice cider. All this basically overnight. It requires a lot of work and organisational skills so bravo for that!

Although the scoring system hasn’t changed since last year, most ciders awarded this time truly deserved the CiderWorldAward. I think that the quality of ciders was simply overall much higher than in the previous year as this year I had significantly fewer reasons to complain. To see the full list of the winners click here. I’ll dedicate a section about my favourite ciders in the later part of this post.

Cider Gourmet

img_2173Luxembourg was this year’s guest of honour. And, on Saturday Ramborn as the main Luxembourgish cider maker hosted an incredible cider dinner at a two-star Restaurant Lafleur located in Gesellschaftspalmengarten. Two famous two-Michelin-starred chefs Léa Linster (who happens to come from Luxembourg) and Andreas Krolik were asked by Ramborn to prepare a 7-course menu and pair it with a variety of ciders. And, as the cherry on the cake, Gabe Cook aka the Ciderlogist was invited to introduce cider that was paired with each dish. Doesn’t it already sound like a great event? There were approximately 90 tickets for this exquisite evening priced at 198 Euro and they sold out in just five days of being available. Luckily for me, Ramborn kindly invited me to Cider Gourmet. Thank you for having me!

img_2180To summarise it in two words, it was an epic dinner. Each dish was absolutely fabulous and pairing them with cider elevated the dining experience to new heights. Each chef had its own style but both were simply excellent. Most ciders were fantastically paired and complemented these exquisite dishes. There were a few cider pairings that were sensational, incredible, fantastic, just blown me away. I was especially fond of the Speierling from Jens Becker paired with fried artichoke and gourmet mushroom ravioli with artichoke veloute, peas, roasted quinoa and hazelnut-lemon foam. Ice Cider from Brännland paired great with duck foie gras marinated in ice cider with mango jelly and toasted brioche. img_2166And, the Ramborn Bourbon Barrel Aged still cider was absolutely fantastic in combination with saddle and cheeks of Vogelsberger free-range beef with red wine butter, truffle jus, oven-cooked celery, roasted leek and turnips with Ramborn Cider. Unfortunately, two ciders that were selected for this evening didn’t pair well in my opinion. I think that the Old Man and the Bee from Little Pomona was much better without food than with food. Also, Edu by Angry Orchard tasted better on its own than paired with fried artichoke and gourmet mushroom ravioli.

The idea of pairing cider with food is not new. But if you invite two two-Michelin-starred chefs such as Léa Linster and Andreas Krolik to create dishes with ciders and to pair dishes with ciders, it is much more than just fine cuisine. Let me explain to you briefly why.

img_2178I assume that most guests booked a ticket for cider dinner because of the duo of two-Michelin-starred chefs Léa Linster and Andreas Krolik. But what the guest got in return was not only sensational food but also an introduction course to cider. Based on my observations, most guests had rather limited knowledge of cider before the dinner so each cider style that was served was new to most. I heard oohs and aahs on ice cider from Brännland but I noticed that some guests sitting at my table refused to drink the Old Man and the Bee from Little Pomona, the English “West Country” cider, which may not be suitable for everyone. But as Gabe Cook pointed out when I brought this up, all the guests learned that cider may have many faces and may come in different flavours. It is difficult to disagree with that.

img_2177Another advantage of such an event is getting awareness of chefs that food can also be paired with cider and can amplify the pleasure associated with eating. This is of extreme importance as chefs are also influencers and can hugely impact restaurant guests and so introduce them to quality cider, which hopefully will lead to a cider chain reaction. Not only guests could be converted to cider but also sommeliers, who are in charge of food pairings. Thank you, Ramborn for letting me participate in this sensational cider dinner and promoting cider in such an outstanding way!

From left to right: Carlo and Adie from Ramborn, Edu (Cider Guerilla Imports), Lea Linster, Gabe Cook (The Ciderologist), Susanna Forbes (Drink Britain), Caitilin Braam (Angry Orchard), Natalia Wszelaki (Cider Explorer) and Andreas Krolik

Sunday. Frankfurt Cider Fair. 

img_2215Michael Stöckl must have some kind of magic powers as the day when CiderWorld actually begins for visitors, is always warm, sunny and simply beautiful. This time, ninety cider makers from twenty countries gathered and poured cider/Apfelwein/sidra/sagardoa/sidro or siider to thousands of visitors. Similarly to last year, visitors came to Gesellschaftspalmengarten to sample cider from around the world. At some point, there were so many visitors that it was a challenge to move from one cider booth to another. From what I heard, some came to CiderWorld, not because of cider but because they heard of CiderWorld and wanted to check this event out. And, in the end, they were surprised that cider can taste so good! When you hear opinions like these you know that events like these are important and meaningful!

Best CiderWorld’s 2019 Cider Discoveries

img_2151As I mentioned earlier, the quality of ciders this year was exceptionally high. I’ve sampled so many great cidres that I had difficulties shortlisting them. Obviously, also this time I failed to try everything. So I might have missed a few cider discoveries for which I apologise. You might actually say that ciders below picked up Cider Explorer’s Gold.

  • Hawkes brought three cidres from London. But especially their All Made Equal (Dry), a blend of tannic cider with acidic dessert apples and the fruit of a collab with Tom Oliver won my heart.
  • Gutshof Kraatz from Uckermark is a great cider producer in general. But their 2018 vintage is spectacular. Everything I tried from them was outstanding. Although my absolute favourite was the Boskoop that was bottle conditioned.
  • Jaanihanso – a cider maker from Estonia. I sampled every product made by them and thought they all were outstanding!
  • Ramborn Bourbon Barrel Still Cider – a cider made with 82 apple varieties aged in Bourbon Casks. I adored the smokiness and delicate acidity. Excellent drop.
  • Jens Becker – Jens Becker is a Frankfurt Apfelwein producer and his Speierling, which is an Apfelwein made with sorb, left me speechless with its beauty.

Closing remarks

CiderWorld in Frankfurt is one of those events that you look forward to every year and once it belongs to the past, you can’t believe it’s over. Especially, if you are a cider lover or a fan of quality cider. Not only I tried many new ciders from cider makers sometimes  I haven’t even heard of but I also met with many old friends and made new friends. In addition, it was great to finally meet in person with cider makers, whom I only exchanged emails with for the last year. CiderWorld is a true cider celebration of cider as a beverage and of the cider community, which turns out to be fantastic and very supporting people. Already planning my trip for CiderWold2020! Cheers!


Slavnost Cideru 2018: visit recap

The magic of Prague, delicious duck in U Medvídků and the rapidly increasing number of cider makers in the Czech Republic made me hit the road to Prague also this year and participate in the third edition of  Prague’s cider festival Slavnost Cideru.I’m not going to provide you with details about the festival’s setting and how it was organised as it didn’t differ from last year’s edition. If you’re interested in this information please read my last year’s visit recap here. This time I would like to focus more on cider makers that took part in this year’s edition of Slavnost Cideru and cider they made available to the festival visitors.

Same as last year, mainly Czech and a few Slovak craft cider makers had their booths along the festival street. Also, a few stands offered English, French, Spanish and even Russian cider. But also commercial brands with fizzy alco-pops offered their products. In contrast to last year, however, a few new to me Czech cider makers took part in this year’s Slavnost Cideru featuring Bacha, CiderTalk, Darebak, Don Cidre, Cider Eden, Winka z Vinka,  Bubak and Norler. But his year, also one Austrian craft cider maker brought his ciders to Prague. Karl from BlakStoc is a unique cider maker on Europe’s cider map as he combines Styrian apples with various fruits and veggies such as black currants, ginger, kaffir lime or quince with hops with a great result. Having a memory of Karl’s delicious Buddha’s Hand Lemon Cider, I started my exploration with this cider. And, it was a terrible idea, because none of the ciders offered at Slavnost Cideru could beat Karl’s mind-blowing cider. Perfectly balanced, extremely drinkable and refreshing on this hot summer day in Prague. But, also the Ginger For My Honey deserves a shout out. It tasted surprisingly refreshing despite the addition of ginger and made you crave for more. I was a bit less fond of the Quincy & Jo Hops Edition, which was simply not as balanced as the previously mentioned ciders. Needless to say that Karl’s range of hopped ciders was to me, but I think many will agree with me, the absolute highlight of this year’s Slavnost Cideru.

Among the Czech cider makers, A.K. Cider’s booth was the most worth visiting. This year Martin made especially for this event a cider made with strawberries. I thought it was a bit too sweet to my palate, but still, it could be considered a naturally tasting alternative to commercial brands. But personally, I thought that the Dry from A.K. Cider was absolutely fantastic! It’s a different cider category to what BlakStoc and shouldn’t be compared. A.K. Cider’s Dry is a classical and traditional, perfectly balanced cider. Indeed dry as advertised with a touch of sweetness to it, the medium acidity of lemon and lovely flavours resembling quality English cider. In a blind tasting, I would guess it’s an English cider. Also, bottled Limonka, one of my last year’s Top 10 Ciders tasted as delicious as I remembered it.

Apart from the Buddha’s Hand, Ginger For My Honey and Dry and Limonka from A.K. Cider, I was able to sample a few interesting ciders from cider makers that are to watch in my opinion. Namely, Bacha and CiderTalk, both newcomers on the Czech cider scene. At their booth, Bacha offered 9 ciders that carried names from No. 1 to No. 9. I thought that No. 2 and No. 4 from Bacha tasted very promising. From CiderTalk I tried their Dry and was similarly fond of it. Ciders from Bacha and CiderTalk were bone dry, citrusy with nice apple notes and therefore would pair excellently with food. No. 6 from Bacha could be aged a bit longer as it tasted of alcohol, whereas No. 1 was just too thin. Perhaps not my favourite, but also, cider from Bubak Cider is worth mentioning here. Bubak’s ciders, the original and hopped were pretty well-made and stood out from the mostly average tasting available Czech ciders. Bubak’s cider could become a crowd pleaser due to refreshing notes of fresh pressed apple juice. Also, I quite liked Tátův Sad‘s Bourbon, which as already the name indicates was aged in bourbon barrels. I can imagine it’s their special release as I haven’t seen this one anywhere else.

Divoke Jablko, one of my last year’s favourite ciders tasted only okayish to my surprise. These lovely blood orange and grapefruit notes that I adored that much in their Divoké Jablko Cidre Brut were missing in this year’s batch. Melanie, what did go wrong? Please bring my favourite cider back!

Same as last year, visitors could vote online for the best cider of the festival. The results weren’t officially announced yet so I wonder if last year’s situation will repeat again. See my 2017 recap for more information.

img_0210Apart from cider, and what was new this year, I discovered a bunch of people, at the festival ground who were tattooing bananas. It was one of the entertainments provided by the organisers. Just opposite the banana tattoo saloon, one could spin a lottery wheel at 50 CZK (1.94 EUR) and win…something. Unfortunately, my Czech is terrible so I didn’t get what one could win. But I know that one of the awards was an apple. img_0196

Overall, it is great to see that the interest in proper cider in the Czech Republic is growing along with the number of cider makers. However, most cider makers still require more experience, better skills, apples or patience. Indisputably, BlakStoc smashed the Czech competition with his hopped and fruity cider blends.

I would like to thank the organisers and festival visitors for creating a great and friendly atmosphere during the festival, sharing the love for the apple beverage, inspiring and interesting talks and new friendships.img_0209

CiderWorld 2018: visit recap

img_9619CiderWorld 2018 began for me already in January 2018 when Michael Stöckl, Apfelwein sommelier and organiser of CiderWorld, offered me the opportunity to join the judging panel of the CiderWorld Awards 2018, an international cider fair in Frankfurt, Germany launched in 2008 as Apfelwein International. The thought of meeting cider makers in person, trying multiple ciders from all over the globe and spending a great time with so many cider lovers in one place was already fantastic, but being in the judging panel among such cider experts as Claude Jolicoeur from Canada and Peter Mitchell from the UK was never in my wildest dreams. Ever since I have been waiting with excitement for CiderWorld to begin!


Finally, April arrived, and with it CiderWeek and CiderWorld. In order to extend the celebration of cider before the announcement of CiderWorld Awards, various events were organised in many locations such as restaurants, bars and speciality shops all over Frankfurt. Since I’m based in Berlin I couldn’t participate in all events, but I’ll name a few to give you a better picture. Since Ireland was the Guest of Honour this year, there was an Irish Cider Night with Irish music and Irish cider. Also, Jörg Stier, an Apfelwein maker from Hesse served his various Apfelweins in combination with a 5-course set menu served by Gerbermühle. In addition, Michael Stöckl along with Naïv organised an interesting event ‘Craft Cider meets Craft Beer’, which offered an opportunity for food pairing and tasting cider and beer. Another event covered tasting of 5 sparkling ciders from Bretagne and Hesse selected by Mark Gleonec of Breton Cellar and Michael Rühl of Apfelweinkontor, respectively. Sidra y Tapas featured sidra from Asturia, sagardoa from Basque Country along with tapas and Spanish music. As you can see, CiderWeek gave the opportunity of exploring many cider styles paired with food. I must admit that I regret I have missed it. Next year I have to plan some more time in Frankfurt.

Friday. Judging Day.

img_9494Friday the 13th was a gloomy and rainy day in Frankfurt, perfect for indoor activities in  Lorsbacher Thal such as blind tasting of 160 international ciders submitted for the CiderAward in categories still sparkling, flavoured, blended with other fruits or fruit wine. Due to this astonishing number of submitted ciders and fruit wines, there were approx. 30 judges divided into 6 groups featuring 5 experts from the area of cider and wine, including myself, sampling between 25-30 ciders. Michael Stöckl began the blind tasting with a short introduction, explained how ciders have to be assessed and points assigned. Each cider could get a maximum number of 120 points split for components such as colour, clarity/aroma, palate incl. flavour, mouthfeel, length and regional taste profile. And, of course, an overall impression. A score of 109 – 120 equated to Gold, 97 – 108 points equated Silver and for ciders that scored between 80 – 96 points there was an Honour Award. As mentioned above, the judges evaluated the regional taste profile as well, so before the actual blind tasting started experts in the area of Spanish cider (Eduardo Vázquez Coto of Guerilla Imports), French cidre (Mark Gleonec of Breton Cellar), English cider (Peter Mitchell of Cider & Perry Academy) and German Apfelwein (Michael Stöckl) gave a brief introduction to typical features for each cider style.

img_9497And so it began, my judging group featuring Peter Mitchell, Frank Winkler (owner of Lorsbacher Thal), Michael Koch (responsible for wine purchase for Selgros Cash & Carry) and Evert Kornmayer (publisher at Kornmayer Verlag) evaluated 26 blinded samples from Japan, Latvia, Ireland and the U.S. It took us around 4 hours to try and assign points to each cider. I don’t think I have ever tried that much cider in such a short time so I was really glad to make a new experience and still stay sober. As for sampled ciders and assigned points, as usual, some ciders tasted pleasant and stood out from the crowd, some tasted average or even in rare cases terrible. Interestingly, points assigned by the judges in my group didn’t deviate too much from each other so it was good to see that we had a similar palate and were on the same page with regard to ciders that picked up awards. I don’t have to tell you that I was very eager to try the remaining submitted ciders! But it had to wait until the next day.img_9499CiderWorld Preview & Awards

img_9572Saturday began with lots of sunshine and the lovely perspective of trying even more cider. So I headed to the Gesellschaftshaus Palmengarten, where the Preview and the announcement of the CiderAwards were supposed to take place. The venue was absolutely brilliant with a garden view creating a nice connection between the naturally produced products and nature itself. This part of CiderWorld was available only for retailers, sommeliers, restaurateurs and trade press. So once I got myself a tasting glass with a beautiful CiderWorld logo on it I started my cider exploration. I didn’t get to try many ciders before the CiderAwards were officially announced as I was chatting to cider folk that I was in touch with earlier but never actually met in person or those who I admire a lot such as Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider & Perry.

But then, the Cider Awards including Gold, Silver and Honour Awards in all categories were announced. On top of that, there were awards for ciders that scored the most points in each category. After the announcement was made and almost every participating cider maker went to the stage I had a feeling that there was an ‘everyone is a winner’ situation, which I personally think is not really rewarding if there are 21 Gold medals in 5 categories, meaning approx. 4 Golds per category. It feels like a consolation prize for everyone. I’ve decided to bring this up after sampling a bunch of awarded ciders afterwards that were only average or even weak. I’m sorry to say that but in my judgement, the number of the CiderWorld Awards devalues the meaning of the CiderAward.

What do you usually expect from a Gold winner? Cause I expect a nicely balanced product with a remarkable aroma and palate. Speaking for myself, one Gold, one Silver and one Bronze in each category would be a truthful award. A real and meaningful achievement for a cider maker and a clear message to the world ‘this is an outstanding product in its category’. I have to stress again that there were way too many awards in my opinion.

The full list of awarded products is available here.img_9505

CiderWorld Party

img_9517After the tasting of ciders taking part in the competition, the cider folk changed the venue to a more cosy one, ‘Kleiner Mann mit dem Blitz’ in Sachsenhausen, a vibrant neighbourhood of Frankfurt. There was time for more networking, getting together, eating local specialities and drinking traditional Hausschoppen from Frank Winkler’s Lorsbacher Thal. I’ve made many new friends and discussed cider, cider and cider. img_9520But, the highlight of the evening was the visit to the cellar of Frank’s restaurant Lorsbacher Thal just nearby. Frank took over the restaurant in 2014, but the building is much older than that. The cellar is over 200 years old and has a piece of history behind. Back then each restaurant in Hesse would produce its own Schoppen (traditional Hesse apple wine) and mature it in massive oak barrels kept in the cellar. Each barrel in Frank’s cellar could fit up to 60.000 L. Could. Unfortunately, the cellar was flooded in 1960s and when Frank took over the restaurant the barrels could no longer be used for the production of Schoppen. Anyway, they still look gorgeous and increase the heart rate of every cider lover. Apart from the barrels, I was amazed by Frank’s extensive cider stash. Frank’s impressive cider collection counts over 200 ciders mainly from various German cider makers, but also from other countries such as Spain, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, the Netherlands or the U.S. This place was so magical and mystical I didn’t really want to leave it. But I had to get ready for the next CiderWorld day.

Each barrel could fit up to 60.000 l Schoppen

Frank Winkler, owner of Lorsbacher Thal

Frank Winkler and his extensive cider collection of international ciders

Schoppen quality control

Leftovers from blind tastings

Sunday. Frankfurt Cider Fair. 

img_9588As you know, cider is best appreciated in nice surroundings, with great people and tasty food. And, it is exactly what was provided by the organizers. Anyone who has been to the Gesellschaftshaus Palmengarten in Frankfurt has to admit the building and the gardens are beautiful. 95 exhibitors coming from 17 countries brought their products and poured cider and fruit wines to glasses of visitors who decided to spend the Sunday celebrating various fermented beverages made from apples and other fruits. Invited food vendors offered meals such as local BBQ specialities, pretzels or an extensive selection of cheese that paired well with offered beverages.

But let’s go back to the beginning, the opening ceremony was initiated by the Irish dancing incl. step dancing as Ireland was the Guest of Honour of this year’s edition of CiderWorld and followed by the speech of Michael Stöckl who officially opened the fair. On the ground floor, one could find booths serving products from Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, the UK, Japan and Spain. On the top floor cider from Switzerland, Austria, Italy, France, the Netherlands, the US, Latvia, Denmark, Finland and Norway.

Visitors sampling ciders from 17 countries

Edda and Florian of Gutshof Kraatz from Uckermark with their elegant wines

Sebastian and Tim from CiderKultur, a recently launched German craft cider webshop

Olan of Dan Kelly’s and Davy of Tempted Cider, both in a great mood

Rubert of Longueville Cider House proudly presenting one of my favourite ciders

Best CiderWorld’s 2018 Cider

CiderWorld Award was a competition for cider makers but CiderWorld was a challenge for me as I wanted to try every single cider. I failed. So instead of choosing the best cider, I will share with you my most exciting cider discoveries.

  • Domaine Lesuffleur – Benoit Lesuffleur brought three ciders from Normandie. All outstanding, balanced with a great aroma and palate, but my personal favourite was his Missùs 2016. A true rising star!
  • Prosequ from Austria entered the CiderWorldAward with their Quittensecco (sparkling wine from quince) and picked up Silver. Strong and lovely fruity aroma and a good taste.
  • BlakStoc from Austria with the Buddha’s Hand, made with kaffir lime, bergamot, Meyer lemon and Buddha’s hand citron with fresh pressed wild orchard apple juice. What an aroma and delicious taste! Shame, it’s only seasonal.
  • Obsthof Krieger from Germany with their single varietal Trierer Weinapfel. Refreshing acidity, great palate. I could have more of this one.
  • Gutshof Kraatz with their lovely sparkling wine made from Mostbirnen (perry pears)
  • Cold Hand Winery from Denmark with their nicely balanced ice cider
  • Paladeus from Italy with their Sidro Frizzante di Mela that sat 8 months on its lees. The nose is a bit too yeasty but on the palate a lovely, fruity offering for a hot summer day.
  • Criagies Cider from Ireland. I thought it was a quite pleasant everyday cider.
  • Tempted Cider with their Elderflower. Its beautiful aroma literally pours out of a glass.
  • Finnbarra with Rós, a nice and light rhubarb cider

In addition, I wish here to acknowledge ciders that I have sampled previously. All of them were present at CiderWorld 2018 and are cracking good!

Benoit Lesuffluer’s Missùs 2016 won my heart this year

Closing remarks

I guess CiderWorld showed me the meaning of the phrase ‘time flies’. It was a spectacular and truly international event dedicated to cider, perry and other fruit products that continued for me for three days although it felt like an hour, tops. CiderWorld 2018 was special to me as a cider blogger and cider drinker. I made new friends and met old ones. I have encountered a very warm welcome from the organiser’s of CiderWorld 2018, Michael Stöckl and Christine Isensee-Kiesau. Also, I have finally met my idol, Tom Oliver who is not only a great cider maker but an absolutely fabulous and warm-hearted person.

Although I might not agree with the number of the winners of the CiderAwards, I’m glad that I could be a part of CiderWorld 2018 as a CiderWorld Award judge and guest. Seeing so many visitors on Sunday at CiderWorld lit a new cider fire in me. Now, it’s time to educate others that cider is the best drink in the world! See you next year in Frankfurt!

5th Manchester Beer & Cider Festival 2018: visit recap

When I learned about the 5th Manchester Beer & Cider Festival taking place in January 2018 from Eric West’s list of international cider festivals and events I realised that I’ve never been neither to Manchester nor to a cider festival in the UK before. So I thought that I might as well kill two birds with one stone. The decision was made, I’m going to Manchester to get a taste of English cider from the North.

For the record, Manchester Beer & Cider Festival is the biggest festival in the northern part of the United Kingdom gathering once a year brewers and cider makers, not to mention beer and cider lovers from the UK and abroad. In 2018, the festival took place on 25-27 January.


The venue is located within a 10-minute walk from Manchester Piccadilly in Manchester Central Convention Complex, which is the former Manchester Central railway station built in 1880. It is a beautiful, giant exhibition. In my opinion, Manchester Central is a perfect place for an event like this. The organisers have picked up a really beautiful location.

There were three beer bars in the back and a few more in the centre and international beer bars to the right from the entrance. The cider & perry bar was located to the left from the entrance. Food vendors had their stall just opposite the cider & perry bar on the left side. All around the exhibition hall, there were countless banquet tables and chairs around them creating a large sitting area for visitors. Only, it was actually quite chilly inside the hall. 


There were two ways to purchase your entry ticket to the festival. Either at the door or online. Knowing that tickets can sell out quickly at similar events in the UK, I’ve decided to purchase my ticket online for Thursday, 25th January at 7.63 GBP as I wanted to avoid the crowds. Tickets for 26th and 27th were slightly more expensive to my knowledge. Also, CAMRA members would get a ticket at a discounted price.

I thought it was an excellent idea that a festival glass was already included in the ticket price. In addition, you could get to choose between either a regular pint glass or a tasting glass lined at the third or half pint measures if you wanted to sample more. Also, glass washing devices were available if you needed to clean your glass. I loved it that you could even swap a glass at any time for a clean one at the glass stand. To be honest, it’s the first time I experienced festival glasses being washed in a dishwasher at the spot. Brilliant! At the end of the festival, you could either return the glass to the glass stall and collect 3 GBP or take your glass home as a souvenir.


Festival programme was not included in the ticket price and was available for purchase at 1 GBP. I had the impression that the festival programme was dedicated almost entirely to beer. Each beer would get a short description, whereas cider and perry were just mentioned by name of the cider makers and cider name. In the end, out of 66 pages, only 6 were dedicated to cider. Don’t cider & perry deserve a proper description?img_9177CIDER MAKERS

Overall, 77 ciders and 25 different and perrys coming from 63 different English producers were available over the three days. Meaning, some of the ciders and perrys that I was eager to taste on Thursday were simply not available. So if you thought you’d be able to try selected ciders and perrys on one day you’d be disappointed as it was in my case. There was no list of cider and perry available that day at the bar so literally, no one was able to prepare a list of ciders to try. Not sure what sense does it make, as in the end of the day you don’t want to stay with all these full or half-empty bag-in-boxes. Usually, vendors want to leave with as little products as possible. I’m afraid I couldn’t get the logic behind not making all ciders available at the same time. Also, as you can see I was a bit frustrated because my list of ciders to try that I prepared before the event had to undergo massive changes.img_9178

Since taste description for cider and perry was not provided in the festival programme, you could rely only on a taste guide with the level of sweetness (see the picture) or ask staff behind the bar for a recommendation or a sample.

Interestingly, cider at the bar was poured only from bag-in-boxes, different to what I’ve seen at other festivals in Europe. Where did the tradition of serving cider from bag-in-boxes actually come from? Also, both cider & perry were still and served at room temperature. I wonder whether the surrounding temperature and bag-in-box might have led to the observed changes in the flavour profile of cider and perry sampled at the festival.

As I just mentioned in the beginning of this section, I was really looking forward to getting a taste of cider and perry from the North of England. Sadly, only cider & perry from 15 various producers from North and West Yorkshire, Cheshire Lancashire or Greater Manchester were on sale at the Cider & Perry bar. To be honest, I expected cider makers from the North to make up most of the cider & perry selection, not less than half! But Phil of Pulp Craft Cider, who I met up with at the festival explained to me that in the North the climate is not good enough for growing cider apples, thus there are not so many cider makers around here. Judging by the number of present producers from the North I guess it must be true then. For the full list of cider & perry available at the festival click the link.

Since the Manchester Beer & Cider Festival is advertised as the largest festival in the img_9069North I expected many visitors. Indeed, there were lots of beer and cider drinkers around already on Thursday, the first day of the festival. But to my surprise, the number of food vendors was rather limited compared to the number of visitors as there were perhaps only 5 stalls offering the choice of Polish pierogi, burgers, Mexican food, cheese toasts and Caribbean cuisine. Despite the relatively high number of visitors, the lines to each food vendors were not very long so you could get a set of pierogi in relatively low time. I found it very interesting, as in Berlin you have to wait sometimes in very long line for your burger from a food truck. Once I had to wait over an hour! But here I got my burger in less than 5 minutes. I guess people in the UK don’t eat and drink at the same time.

Moreover, I was hoping to listen to any kind of music, but at least on Thursday, there was no such entertainment. The whole afternoon and evening were filled with voices of visitors and vendors, sounds of poured beer and cider but sadly no music. I think that music creates a great drinking atmosphere. So music is something that was simply missing that day in my opinion. Did anyone attend the festival on Friday or Saturday and can tell me if there was any music?

However, I’ve learned that there are quite interesting English pub games. I must say I found some of them quite amusing and spent some time watching folks playing various games that I can’t even name.img_9167CIDER & PERRY COMPETITION 2018  

The festival was not only about sampling real cider and perry but also about a  competition. Cider and perry were entered to be judged by the festival’s jury. Interestingly, festival attendees could also vote their favourite cider and perry during the festival with a voting card.

And here are the results of the Cider & Perry Competition 2018 judged at the Manchester Beer & Cider Festival on 26th January 2018. La Cantina’s Yesterday’s Dreams was the winner, whereas the Waterloo Sunset from Udders Orchard was the Runner-Up in the perry category. As for cider, Hedgehoggers’ Old Aged Pig was the winner, and the Traditional Still from Ampleforth Abbey was the Runner-Up.

Festival attendees had a slightly different opinion about their favourite cider and perry as Cleeve Orchard Dry was voted the best cider and Hecks Perry won in the perry category.

Sadly, I’ve managed to sample only the Traditional Still from Ampleforth Abbey. It was actually quite ok. For my detailed tasting notes scroll down.


Ampleforth Abbey Traditional (ABV 6.5%)

Appearance: slightly cloudy, golden, still, low body. Aroma: weak, red and yellow apples, acetic, hints of funk. Taste: low sweetness, low lemon-like acidity, crisp yellow apple, yellow apple flesh, a hint of alcohol, lightly watery, very light astringent taste. Overall: it tasted quite alright. Nice and easy-drinking pour. 4/6

Blackmore Vale Sweet (ABV unknown)

Appearance: clear, golden with orange hues, still, low body. Aroma: polyfloral honey, burnt caramel, acetic. Taste: moderately sweetness with low lemon-like acidity, yellow apple, polyfloral honey, burnt caramel, fresh apple, light bitterness, light astringent taste, beeswax, lightly watery. Overall: a beautiful apple forward taste with notes of beeswax and honey. 4.5/6

Grumpy Johns Dry (ABV 6%)

Appearance: clear, golden, still, low body. Aroma: beeswax, caramel, fermented apples, vinegar. Taste: low sweetness with low to medium lemon-like acidity, beeswax, leather, funk, lightly watery, light bitterness, but not disturbing. Overall: tasted pretty average, but drinkable. 3.5/6

Hartland Perry (ABV unknown)

Appearance: cloudy, golden, still, low body. Aroma: nail polish and vinegar. Taste: low to medium sweetness with low vinegar and lemon-like acidity, blood orange, pear, light bitterness, a sweetener-like aftertaste. Overall: quite dry for a perry. Rich with a nice palate and pleasant tannins to it. 4/6

Madhatters Farting Dog (ABV 6.5%)

Appearance: almost clear, golden, still, low body. Aroma: nail polish and vinegar, pear, sweetener. Taste: low sweetness with low to medium vinegar-like acidity, citrusy, yellow apples, sweetener, medium to high astringent taste. Overall: Tastes quite ok. Rich, but not overwhelming. 3.5/6

Newtons Thorn Perry (ABV 6%)

Appearance: clear, dark golden, still, low body. Aroma: pear, ripe pear, vinegar. Taste: low sweetness with low to medium vinegar and lemon-like acidity, citrusy, green and yellow pear, unripe pear, lightly watery, low to medium astringent taste. Overall: a decent nearly dry perry. One of the best I had recently. 4.5/6

Oliver’s Medium Dry (ABV 6%)

Appearance: cloudy, pale amber, still, low body. Aroma: leather, red apples, beeswax,  vinegar. Taste: moderate sweetness with low vinegar-like acidity, citrusy, sweetener, grapefruit, red apples, light apple-seed bitterness, blood orange, medium astringent taste, lingering acidity. Overall: very rich palate, with good levels of tannins. I guess you can’t go wrong with Oliver’s cider. Can you? 4.5/6

Thornborough Dry (ABV 6%)

Appearance: cloudy, golden, still, low body. Aroma: yellow apples, lemon, vinegar. Taste: bone dry with light to medium lemon and vinegar-like acidity, yellow apples, barnyard, low to medium astringent taste, light bitterness, beeswax. Overall: beautifully dry with lovely tannins and a pleasant finish. For those who like their cider dry. 4.5/6

Ventons Medium (ABV unknown)

Appearance: cloudy, golden, still, low body. Aroma: vinegar, beeswax, honey, barnyard. Taste: moderately sweet, with medium lemon and vinegar-like acidity, barnyard, fermented apples, red apples, medium astringent taste. Overall: Lovely drop. I enjoyed it. Goes down easily. 4.5/6

Yorkshire Scrumpy Still cider (ABV 6.5%)

Appearance: clear, golden, still, low body. Aroma: red and yellow apples, tannic, a hint of an apple juice from concentrate. Taste: slightly sweet, with low medium lemon-like acidity, yellow apples, light astringent taste. Overall: It lacks depth and I didn’t enjoy having it. I suspect it might be made from concentrate. 2/6


If you made it through my tasting notes you might have noticed that almost every cider or perry I’ve sampled had at least a light acetic note. It wouldn’t be suspicious if only a few tasted of vinegar, but all of them, including Oliver’s, which I used as a benchmark here? Since some of the tasted ciders had a very strong acetic note I basically felt like at a Spanish sidra festival, not an English Cider Festival. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the vinegary note and I do enjoy Spanish sidra natural. Also, I had bottled English ciders  that had a vinegary note before. Also, I agree that the acetic note can make the palate richer but I was completely perplexed with ALL English ciders and perrys I sampled that day to taste like this.

I was trying to understand why would each cider develop this note. The only culprit I can think of is the bag-in-box itself. Bag-in-box is basically a plastic bag in a carton box. Since the bag is made of plastic it lets some air through, thus leading to oxidation of ethanol to vinegar. If bag-in-box is the reason for the development of the vinegary taste I really don’t understand why would English cider-makers rely on a bag-in-box for cider. My understanding is that a bottle can preserve the actual cider flavour just like the cider maker intended it to taste like at blending because it doesn’t let much air come in. But cider poured from bag-in-box would already have a different palate, other than at the moment of blending by the cider maker.

This leads to a further question, why would a cider festival prefer bag-in-boxes instead of kegs? Are kegs not suitable for cider? Does any of you have a similar experience with the acetic note accompanying cider served from in bag-in-boxes? Perhaps there is something I’m missing.

Another observation I made was that beer was internationally represented at the festival, including Irish, Belgian, German or Spanish brewers or beers, while cider & perry were available only from English cider-makers coming from all around the UK. Like there were no international ciders to try. If you need an introduction to cidre/sidra/sidro/siider/siideri/cydr/Apfelwein I can help you with that.

Furthermore, I think I got spoiled by cider and craft beer festivals in Germany and Czech Republic as usually, the producer would be present at the festival promoting its own product. But not here, at the Manchester Beer & Cider Festival 2018 only the product, cider & perry were available. As I found later when talking to Phil of Pulp Cider, cider makers in the UK usually don’t attend cider festivals. They arrange for the shipment of their cider to the festival and that would be it. Given the fact, that there is a cider festival every day in the UK (on the next day I visited Liverpool and discovered a Winter Ale Festival in the beautiful St George’s Hall) it is difficult to expect them visiting every festival. But still, I was a bit disappointed.


Summarizing, my expectations towards the Manchester Beer & Cider Festival 2018, my first cider festival in the UK, were high. I was really excited at first. But I must admit that I feel now slightly disappointed. No music, no cider makers to meet and chat with (thank you, Phil, that you were there to talk to!), decent and pleasant ciders and perrys but all with a vinegary note, all in a beautiful environment. I must stress that I enjoyed Slavnost Cideru 2017 (read my visit recap here) in Prague much better in that sense. This is why I’ve decided to attend the cider festival in Prague also this year.

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 in 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 included, 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! 

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.


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.


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.


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.


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? An environmental friendly festival is also a way of promoting the event and getting sponsors on board.

What I found surprising, compared 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 cider with other cider aficionados like me. I’m looking forward to next year’s edition!

Cider tasting – 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.



STARY SAD 2014 (ABV: 7% )


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 flavour 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%)


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 flavour 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





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


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 the 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 flavours with a pear hint and some sweetness on the nose. Taste: the drier side of medium dry, pleasant flavour 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%)


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%)


Not available commercially, a cider made from an apple called Ballerina giving red coloured apple juice and blended with pear juice. Appearance: hazy light amber colour 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 flavour. Interesting but this one is the worst cider so far. I hope that the taste of Ballerina will improve as well. 2.5/6




This ice cider is a blend of a few apple varieties, including Rubinette. The fermentation process took about 8-9 months. Appearance: clear golden colour. 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’ve purchased a few extra bottles? I was really in heaven! 6/6!!!



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 flavours. 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!