Cider scene in Copenhagen + Aeblerov: visit recap

Once I learned that my next business trip will be to Copenhagen, I started sorting out my after-hour activities by reaching out to cider makers recommended to me by Rasmus, owner of a cider bar in Copenhagen called Holm Cider. So I made a couple of appointments, which included a meeting with Paw and Kristoffer from Ciderrevolution, Cornelius from Decideret and a visit to Aeblerov‘s production site in Valby, Copenhagen. Actually, I also reached out to Lone and Jørgen from Mergelsø, who also live in Copenhagen but at the time of my visit to Copenhagen, they were at their production site in Jutland working on their November cider so I didn’t manage to meet up with them. And, Rasmus himself was skiing in the North of Sweden.

CIDERREVOLUTION

I met with Paw and Kristoffer from Ciderrevolution in Holm Cider. They are two cider enthusiasts who interestingly were united by a deep passion for cider and the ambition to bring quality cider to Denmark. They are full of cider related ideas, which they, in the end, turn to reality. They not only distribute and make their own cider. Oh no, they also contracted French cider makers to make cider for them using Danish apples. Moreover, in the summer of 2017, they opened a pop-up cider bar in Copenhagen simply called CiderBar, which closed only one month ago. Paw and Kristoffer are fabulous guys with a passion for cider and one clear goal. That is to make so much great cider, that alco-pop like Somersby will disappear for the benefit of real cider. I usually don’t wish bad for others but I hope Paw & Kristoffer’s dream will come true. Also, I’ve managed to try two ciders made by Paw & Kristoffer. Stay tuned for my tasting notes.

Decideret

My next appointment was with Cornelius from Decideret, who also works part-time in Holm Cider behind a bar. So I had a chat with Cornelius while he was serving customers at the same time. Decideret is actually made up by Cornelius and Jacob, another two guys passionate about cider. Cornelius and Jacob were actually inspired by a sickly sweet alco-pop widely available in Copenhagen. They hated the taste of it so much that they decided to create a dry alternative to it. After the first few batches, which turned to nail polish remover/vinegar, Cornelius reached out to Aeblerov, one of the first cider makers in Copenhagen. This is where Cornelius actually learned to make cider. And, why Decideret? Cause it means ‘actually’ in Danish. And, it has a word cider in it. I’ve sampled Decideret’s hopped cider that just got ready for bottling (a fine drop!) and their Sprælsk. Tasting notes for Sprælsk coming soon!

Aeblerov

img_1908On the next day, after a lovely cider evening in Holm Cider with Paw, Kristoffer and Cornelius, I headed to Valby nearly 2km from Vesterbro, where Aeblerov’s production site is located. Aeblerov was established by Morten and Christopher in 2011. Initially, these food science students wanted to make wine but quickly realised that the Danish climate is more suitable for growing apples than winegrapes. Today, Morten and Christopher make natural wild cider and their ciders pick up many awards and are available in many Michelin-star restaurants, including the famous Noma.

My first acquaintance with cider made by guys from Aeblerov was in January 2018img_1906 during my visit to Markthalle 9 in Berlin. For the past recap of the visit click here. Briefly, I have good memories of their ciders but I also remember that it was also cider that is not for everyone.

img_1911In Valby, I was welcomed by Andreas, who works at Aeblerov and takes care of the production site. Andreas has been with Aeblerov since November 2018 and actually comes from the beer industry. I was quite surprised at first as beer and cider production don’t really have much in common, but as it turned out one industry can learn a lot from another. Andreas took me behind the scenes to show how their cider is made and let me taste a few ciders basically pouring them straight out of the barrel to a glass. Andreas simply pulled the nail using a pair of pliers, caught the cider as it poured out of the barrel, and then put the nail back in the hole. A brilliant sampling method that prevents from entering extra oxygen into the barrel and allows you to pull a very small sample of cider. Apparently, this method is frequently used by brewers. As I said, both industries can learn a lot from each other.

Back to my visit. Aeblerov works mainly with Danish apple varieties, which are notimg_1912 particularly rich in tannins like apples from the UK or France but are aromatic and have relatively high acidity. Although, I’ve noticed that one of their test batches is made with Dabinett. Apart from cider made only with apples, Aeblerov has an interesting pipeline that takes advantage of local berries such as blackberries, raspberries or local cherries. I got a taste of their blackberry cider and thought it tastes fantastic! More to that, one of their cider in the pipeline is made with typical vermouth herbs. Andreas poured me some but I thought it was a bit too bitter.

img_1902Aeblerov’s facility is basically a large storage room. Each production step is carried out there. Starting from apple pressing, through fermentation, ageing, bottling, disgorging and labelling. Everything is done by hand. There are no bottling lines or anything of a kind, which make Aeblerov a true cider maker. From what Cornelius from Decideret told me earlier, Aeblerov has plans to move into bigger premises so they can also open a tasting bar. That would be a great idea!

Summarizing, the Copenhagen cider scene truly amazed me. Cider lovers can be found everywhere in the world and their cider love might be similarly deep but in Copenhagen, you get a feeling that cider revolution is actually happening. It can’t be compared to craft beer yet, but it’s slowly getting there. I wish I could see such progress also in other European cities. Copenhagen, you rock!

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Where to drink/buy cider in Copenhagen?

My last time in Copenhagen was almost three years ago and from what I remember, there was not much real cider around the city except the alco-pop produced by the Carlsberg Group. Now, three years later, cider significantly gained in popularity and is offered by many restaurants and bars. More to that, some restaurants list cider in the wine menu, not in the beer menu as almost the rest of the world does. So where you can find real cider in Copenhagen? Scroll down to see my recommendations.

Bars/Pubs

img_1888Holm Cider is the absolute #1 in Copenhagen in terms of cider. Conveniently located in a very popular and apparently the coolest neighbourhood of Copenhagen,  Vesterbro just behind the Copenhagen Central station and Tivoli Gardens with countless bars and restaurants. Holm Cider is a place that has a great atmosphere and offers a wide selection of cider on draught, by the glass or bottle to drink there or bring home. They will even make you a cocktail based on cider. If you are new to cider and don’t know exactly what you’d like to have a very friendly and knowledgable staff will assist you with your choice. Sometimes Danish cider makers stand behind the bar. Hence, Holm Cider is a true cider gem in this part of Europe. img_1897As for cider producers, you will find mainly cider from local Danish producers such as Aeblerov, CiderrevolutionDecideret Cider or Mergelsø. But also cider from many European cider makers such as Dunkertons, Burrow Hill, Manoir du Grandouet, Andreas Schneider or Cidrerie du Leguer just to name a few. Holm Cider has also an outdoor seating area so when the sun comes out you can sit outside with a glass of cider and get a feeling of Danish hygge.

Actually, I remember Holm Cider already from my last visit to Copenhagen. At the time Holm Cider was just a cider shop located on the other side of the street with very strange working hours. Since I was also on a business trip last time, I didn’t manage to get inside and speak to the owner. I was just looking through the window at cider bottles of producer I have never tried before. Finally, I had a chance! And, it was fantastic!

I haven’t been there in person but Florian Profitlich from Gutshof Kraatz warmly recommended this place to me. The bar is open only from Wednesday until Saturday and if you fancy a bottle of local cider to take home with you, you can visit their shop just a block away.

img_1856Lord Nelson Bar is a tiny bar in the city centre that doesn’t make a good impression when you walk in as it’s dark and smells of cigarette smoke although no one actually smokes there. Nevertheless, it’s worth a visit as the owners make their own cider from apples grown in an orchard close to Skælskør. They make a few different English style ciders from whole juice usually by blending two to four apple varieties. I’ve tried their Danish Misstress and really enjoyed it. Usually, they have two different ciders on tap that have various level of sweetness/dryness. For their current offer click the link.

 

  • Taphouse (Lavendelstræde 15, 1462 Copenhagen)

img_1864Taphouse is also located in the centre of Copenhagen so if you are doing sightseeing here you might sooner or later pass by this bar. Taphouse is a craft beer bar that has astonishing 61 taps and two of them are dedicated to cider or perry. At the time of my visit, they had perry from Hecks’s Cider and cider from Sheppy’s but they have also local cider from time to time. Check their website for the current tap list here and look at Tap 7 & 8 for cider/perry.

  • Fermentoren (Halmtorvet 29C, 1700, Vesterbro, Copenhagen)

img_1880Fermentoren is another place in Vesterbro offering cider. And, another spot that I really like in Copenhagen. I feel in Fermentoren like a student again meeting up with friends and having a good time. They have also an outdoor seating area which is great both when it’s hot and cold as blankets are available. Some places have just good vibes. Their current tap list can be found here. Cider/Perry offered on tap 2.

 

 

img_1858I think Charlie’s Bar should actually be renamed to Little Britain as it is a true British gem hidden in Copenhagen. The moment you walk inside you feel that you are in an actual pub in the UK. Not only because everyone speaks English here. Just look at the picture below and tell me if I’m wrong. Cider wise they have only The Westons Old Rosie and an alcopop from Mortimer’s on draught. But due to reasons named earlier, it’s really worth visiting.img_1862

  • Mikkeller Bar (Viktoriagade No. 8 B-C, 1655 Copenhagen) & Mikkeller CPH Airport (Terminal 2)

img_1917Mikkeller is a famous Danish craft beer producer that has set up craft beers bars offering his beer all around the world. Can’t speak for other branches, but Mikkeller Bar in Vesterbro and Mikkeller Bar in Terminal 2 at Copenhagen Airport offer cider from time to time. Although admittedly, this cider is usually hopped. I loved the fact that Mikkeller also has a bar at the Copenhagen airport as I could say goodbye to Copenhagen by drinking Aeblerov+Mikkeler’s’ Citra Dry Hopped Cider. Check here for current tap list in Mikkeller Bar in Vesterbro and here for CPH Aiport.

Restaurants/Shops

Yes, it is another place in Vesterbro. Kødbyens Fiskebar is a fish and seafood restaurant located in old industrial premises in the Meatpacking District (Kødbyen). I had a delicious set of oysters as starter and fish & chips as main here. Cider is listed in the wine menu and available only by the bottle either from Aeblerov or Ciderrevolution.

Apart from earlier mentioned Holm Cider, you will find also at Rødder & Vin an interesting selection of Scandinavian cider from Fruktstereo, Gustav’s Cider and Nagelsbjerg available by the bottle.

This is the place to go in Vesterbro if you’re looking for Asturian sidra from El Gaitero.

If there are more cider spots in Copenhagen worth mentioning, just drop me a line! I would be happy to update my post.

Highlights and The Top 10 Ciders of 2018

Another year comes to an end. Although I’ve never expected this, Cider Explorer has experienced fast growth this year and continued to spread the word about cider in Europe. 2018 was full of interesting activities and amazing learning experiences. Cider Explorer had the chance to attend the 5th Manchester Beer & Cider Festival, CiderWorld 2018 in Frankfurt and Slavnost Cideru 2018 in Prague. Also, I have visited cider makers such as Downeast Cider in Boston, Cydr Ignaców in Ignaców and a few cider makers based in Normandy.

In terms of achievements, Cider Explorer has been selected by Feedspot as one of the Top 40 Cider Blogs on the web making it to the 18th place. Also, award-winning writer and author at Imbibe, Susanna Forbes mentioned Cider Explorer in her book, The Cider Insider in the section on Germany, Italy & Elsewhere in Europe and in the Acknowledgments.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of this year and the greatest achievement was being selected as a jury member for the CiderWorld Awards 2018. It was an incredible honour and privilege that I have been asked to join the judging panel and I really never thought it could happen. Besides, at CiderWorld 2018 I had the chance to meet cider makers e.g. Tom Oliver and exchange thoughts on cider, cidermaking and the cider market. Actually,  Albert from Ross On Wye Cider & Perry Co. also invited me to be a guest judge at their Cider Competition in June 2018. Unfortunately, due to other obligations, I was unable to attend. Next year, perhaps?

Finally, I made a trip to Normandy, which helped me to understand how much work still has to be done in terms of cider education, a popularization of cider and changing the mindset of many cider makers. As cidermaking is not about lumping a number of apple varieties all in together. It’s about blending, taking what’s best about each fruit and creating a masterpiece in a bottle. As this is exactly how wine is made.

Last but not least, I am still overwhelmed by the positive feedback and many encouraging words that Cider Explorer received in 2018.

Thank you to those who made 2018 a successful year!

As for the best cider of 2018. In 2018, I’ve reviewed exactly 146 ciders from such European countries as Italy, Hungary, Poland, Russia or Switzerland. Not to mention the obvious cider countries such as the UK, France, Spain or Germany.  But I also got to try cider from Canada, the U.S., Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand. If we include around 30 ciders tried during the CiderWorld Awards 2018, at various cider events and during cider visits, I trust the number of sampled ciders would exceed 300. Hence, putting together a list of the top ten best ciders of 2018 is very challenging. I’ve selected ciders that either stood out, impressed me most or which I found extremely quaffable. The ciders are in alphabetical order by cider maker. Cheers and a happy cider year 2018!

  • Abavas Ābols Apiņos Hopped Apple, Slampes country, Tukuma region, Latvia, a blend of Cortland, Antonovka, Pelsamee, Serinka and Citra hops

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Opening the bottle of Ābols Apiņos Hopped Apple releases citrusy and fruity aromas raising one’s curiosity. And, with your first taste, you hear angels sighing and I’m not exaggerating. A smooth combination of green unripe mango with yellow and green apples makes this cider decidedly moreish. With Ābols Apiņos Hopped Apple, you won’t keep asking yourself, whether you’re drinking cider or beer. Brilliantly balanced cider that will please every cider purist, including myself. And, a must try for a cider lover. A masterpiece! For the full review click here

 

  • BlakStoc, Buddha’s Hand, Vienna, Austria, made with zest and albedo of kaffir lime, bergamot, Meyer lemon, Buddha’s Hand citron, orchard apple juice, Hopsteiner’s experimental Lemon Drop hops

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Buddha’s Hand is another hopped cider that managed to the top 10 of 2018. It’s a phenomenal citrusy blend, which is extremely refreshing, and acidic but without the sourness. I enjoyed every single sip full of richness while it lasted. Buddha’s Hand Lemon Cider has a structure, great taste and power. It’s a hopped cider with the wow effect. For the full review click here. 

 

 

 

  • Cidrerie Daufresne, Cidre Brut, Ouilly-Le-Vicomte, Normandy, France, a blend of 80% bittersweet apple varieties (Bisquet, Noêl des Champs and Domaine) and 20% sharp apples (Rambault)

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Cidre Brut from Cidrerie Daufresne is like combining all your all-time favourite desserts in one treat. Luscious notes of dark bitter chocolate with vanilla, baked apples and oranges are simply mind-blowing. It’s extremely drinkable with many layers of delicious flavours that you uncover with each sip. Clear notes and rich palate make it a delicious cidre suitable for everyone. For the full review click here.

 

 

  • Cydr Ignaców, Sicero 2016, Ignaców, Masovia, Poland, a blend of Kaiser Wilhelm, Bohnapfel, Ribston Pippin, Landsberger Reinette and other old apple varieties

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I have never had such a strong craving for other Polish cider than for the Cydr Ignacow Sicero 2016. If served at the right temperature (lightly chilled) and right glassware (e.g. in a pint glass), Sicero is one hell of a cider. Lovely caramel notes, burnt caramel-like bitterness and smokiness make you feel like you are drinking very drinkable English cider of great quality but with a character of Polish apples. A lovely drop that I can’t stop thinking about. For the full review click here

 

 

  • Domaine Lesuffleur, Pyrrus 2016, La Folletière-Abenon, Normandy, France, a blend of three secret apple varieties

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Actually, the whole cider lineup of Domaine Lesuffleur deserves to be included in the Top Ten of 2018. But if I had to limit myself to only one offering, it would be the Pyrrhus 2016. Pyrrhus is a wonderful, smooth and elegant cidre with a nicely balanced sweetness, light acidity and lovely notes of apples and bitter caramel. True champagne among cidre. Once you try it, it is difficult to go back to other cidre from Normandy.

  • Dunkertons, Breakwells Seedling, Pembridge, Leominster, Herefordshire, UK, made with Breakwells Seedling

img_9231Although the Dunkerton Breakwells Seedling Cider is a single-varietal cider, it has a lovely complexity. Strong tannins, wild notes and flavours of fruity, crisp yet sweet and juicy red apples with citrus notes are simply amazing and make this cider extremely drinkable. It’s a cider to sip at a slow pace rather and than drinking without stopping. For the full review click here.

 

 

 

  • Floribunda, Apfel-Cider, Salorno, South Tyrol, Italy, a blend of Pilot, Gold Rush and Topaz

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The more you drink the Floribunda Apfel-Cider the more the taste comes through and more unique aromas and flavours you get to discover. The flavours might be not strong, but they are clearly there and transform all the time into completely new flavours that weren’t there just a minute ago. Set of flavours on both, the nose and the palate are really special.  The Floribunda Apfel-Cider is a light and aromatic cider for connaisseurs, for those who take time and deeply explore what they drink. I loved it and can’t forget it. For the full review click here

 

  • Highbank Orchards, Medieval Cider, Farmley, Cuffesgrange, Co Kilkenny, Ireland, a blend of Irish apples and honey

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The Highbank Orchards Medieval Cider is an ultra-tasty sweet (but not overly sweet) that starts with a gentle lick of sweetness, followed by a strong lingering tannic kick with a touch of red apples. The addition of honey gives extra flavours to an already tasty cider made from cider apples.  It will go well on a summer afternoon but also in the winter due to the cinnamon flavour. Excellent cider. For the full review click here.

 

 

  • Oliver’s Fine Cider, Gold Rush #5, Ocle Pochard, Herefordshire, UK, a blend of vintage bittersweet and sharp cider apples

img_9756Tom Oliver and Ryan Burk at their best. Their Gold Rush #5 is a rather light cider with a beautiful and rich array of aromas and proper cider components such as tannins, notes of funk, a very long and extremely pleasant aftertaste with refreshing grapefruit notes.  It’s like a great play, filled with twists and turns. Its magnificent flavour is strong, lingers on and on and you don’t want it to stop. However, I can imagine it won’t be a cider for everyone due to notes of funk and strong tannins. For me, it was a pure joy in a glass. For the full review click here.

 

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The Pirn’sche Kälterei ApfelGold Apfel 2016 has a beautiful, strong and complex aroma so every time you take a sniff you discover a new delicious flavour. The palate is similarly complex with great depth and beautiful array of flavours like rum or sour cherries that last very long. Just like with the aroma, you discover a new flavour with every taken sip. The Pirn’sche Kälterei ApfelGold Apfel 2016 is a liquid gold made with Saxonian apples. For the full review click here.

 

Is Normandy really the land of cider?


Normandie. Terre de cidre. Normandy. The land of cider. This is a description for Normandy, which I found on a 3-pack bottle carrier for transport of purchased cider. But my recent visit to Normandy didn’t exactly give me the impression I’m in the land of cidre. I felt it was more of a wishful thinking of local cidre producers than the actual status quo. Here is why.

When you are driving west from Paris and heading to Normandy you can easily say that you are getting closer to Normandy when you start passing apple orchards with huge apple trees and subsequently multiple road signs saying cidre, calvados, pommeau or jus de pomme. Trust me, I could barely contain my excitement and each time considered making a detour. But I continued driving as I also wanted to learn more about Normandy and see the most beautiful natural places and important historic places of this French region. I have planned to visit cider makers a bit later on my trip.

After seeing on the way to Fecamp and then to Etretat and Honfleur countless apple orchards and noticing that stores offer local products from Normandy such as cheese, marmalade and cidre created by producers I have never heard of, I was initially convinced I’m in a cider paradise. The first moment of doubt occurred in the beautiful port city of Honfleur. I went to a restaurant in the port area wanting to try local seafood and cidre, of course. Firstly, I looked at the wine list listing red and white wines along with provided information about the wine type, winemaker and vintage. Secondly, I started looking for a cidre list. But all I could find was one anonymous cidre, which you could order either by the glass, pitcher or bottle. Just as if it was a table wine. Nothing about the producer or the year it was created. I’ve looked around and noticed that everyone was drinking either wine or beer. Nobody was having cidre! It needs to be said that most of the restaurant guests were tourists as I couldn’t hear anyone speaking French. After I left the restaurant, I’ve discovered a cider bar nearby and breathed a sigh of relief. But although it was barely 10 pm, the place was already closed so I couldn’t evaluate their cidre selection.

On the next day, after visiting D-Day beaches, where the Allies landed in 1944, I went to a sort of a fine dining restaurant close to Arromanches-les-Bains hoping to see a cidre list this time. Again, I found a long wine list providing detailed information about winemakers and vintage. And, one single cidre. In contrast to the restaurant in Honfleur, I could find information about the cider maker producing the cidre and the year it was created. Do I have to mention that I was the only one drinking cidre in the whole restaurant occupied by only French guests this time?

Then I visited a small town of Beuvron-en-Auge, located on the cider trail, which is advertised as a cider town. The weather was sunny, everyone was sitting outside sipping beer. I haven’t seen a single person drinking cidre.

I was deeply confused with what I saw. On the one hand, there are plenty of cider producers around and lots of shops offering cidre. On the other hand, I could barely see anyone drinking cidre here. Could that be that people from a region with such a rich and long cidre tradition and countless apple orchards bearing excellent fruit, simply perfect for cider, do not appreciate their heritage? When I was already on the cider trail I shared my observations with cider producers such as Guillaume of La Ferme de Billy, Lucile of Manoir de Grandouet and Benoit of Domaine Lesuffleur. Each of them had similar thoughts and pointed out that cidre is, unfortunately, still considered in Normandy the drink of the poor. So how to change it?

  • First of all, cider pairs very well with food. With Normandy cuisine such as seafood or cheese particularly well. So one approach is to educate restaurant owners that there are plenty of local Normandy dishes that pair greatly with cidre. Flavours of cidre can add complexity to the dish and increase the richness of the dining experience. This is for the benefit of the restaurant owner. Moreover, there are more types of cidre than just brut (dry), demi-sec (semi-sweet) and doux (sweet). Normandy cidre differs not only in terms of the level of sweetness but also the level of tannins and acidity. Furthermore, cidre can have strong wild notes or can have a clean taste with no funk. There is no one Normandy cidre! Example: La Ferme de Billy, based in Rots, literally 5km from Caen, seems to be one of the cidre makers trying to educate and change the image of cidre. At their cider house, they offer brunch with hot and cold dishes and educate their guests on how to pair cidre with served dishes to maximise the dining experience.
  • Cider is made like wine and should be treated like wine. So providing information about the production method, apple varieties and taste profile can create a unique story around the cidre. Additionally, I am encouraging Normandy cidre producers to make cidre like wine instead of fermenting all apple varieties together. Create a Normandy cuvée. Try fermenting apple juice obtained from different apple varieties in separate tanks and blend only after tasting creating cidre with different taste profile suitable for various palates and dishes. Example: This is how Benoit from Domaine Lesuffleur makes his cidre. Instead of pressing and fermenting all apple varieties in one tank, he ferments the juice obtained from each apple variety in a separate tank and subsequently blends them creating sophisticated and absolutely delicious cidre, the champagne of apples. Trust me, taste-wise cidre made by Benoit has nothing in common with the most locally produced cidre. But I have to warn you. Once you try a cidre from Benoit, there is no way back to a regular Normandy cidre.
  • What I’m going to propose may sound controversial but I think that the price for a bottle of Normandy cidre is too low. With the current retail price for a 75cl bottle in a range of 3.5-4.5 EUR, increasing the price could be a smart business strategy. This is a psychological thing. People simply more appreciate products that have a higher price tag. Example: At Domaine Dupont, a 37.5cl bottle of a cider aged in calvados barrels cost at approx. 6 EUR. Despite relatively high prices for their ciders and other products, their store was packed at the time of my visit and the salespersons were very busy barely finding time to serve you (although they were really trying hard).

Summarizing, I thought I came to a land of absolutely amazing cidre tradition dating back to the 8th century but as it turned out cidre is still underestimated and treated here as a beverage that is much less worth than wine or beer. Although cidre is sold practically everywhere, it’s not treated the way it deserves. However, changes are slowly coming. The new generation of cidre producers is trying to change the image of cidre using different approaches in terms of making cidre but also serving or pricing cidre. I may only wish that more cidre makers will join the cider revolution in France. Viva la révolution du cidre!

In the next blog post, I will share with you the recap of my visits to cider producers on the route du cidre in Normandy. So stay tuned!img_1086

7 Ciders for Valentine’s Day

February is here, which simply means that Valentine’s Day is getting nearer. I’ll solve your cider dilemma for this evening by picking seven versatile ciders packed in an elegant bottle. All ciders I’ve selected for this occasion are either sparkling or still and have a clear sophisticated taste suitable for every palate. Each of them has the right balance of sweetness/dryness, acidity, gentle tannins and lack of any notes that could be considered by some as unpleasant such as wild/barnyard, nail polish or vinegar. More importantly, all pair well with food that can be served at a romantic dinner. And, all are to die for.

Each cider is listed first by cidermaker, then by label name & year if applicable, region & country, and apple variety if known. 

img_7030Ramborn Cider, Avalon 2015, Luxembourg – a blend of 82 apple varieties

You can’t go wrong with any cider crafted by Caroline from Ramborn. But with the exquisite Avalon I assure you that the person to drink the Avalon will experience pure heaven with each sip. The Avalon is very well-balanced on the palate, with a long, and pleasant lingering finish. The level of both sweetness and acidity is just right. Moreover, the Avalon comes in an extremely inviting packaging, which makes it an elegant gift for this occasion. My personal recommendation. For the full review click here.

img_9192SIA Abavas dārzi, “Kalējkrāmi”, Premium Brut, Turkuma, Latvia – a blend of three Latvian apple varieties

Refreshing and balanced lemon-like acidity with a broad palate make the Premium Brut from Abavas indeed a perfect bubbly for a romantic candlelight dinner. Not to mention the beautiful bottle. Premium Brut tastes like a quality sparkling white wine made from white grapes with pleasant and refreshing notes of fresh apples. Since the Premium Brut is not too dry it can be appreciated by a wider audience. A very pleasant pour that will help to create a romantic atmosphere. For the full review click here

img_8527-1Gutshof Kraatz, Wilde Kerle 2016 – Uckermark, Germany – a cuvée of apples growing in the wild

Fruity, apple forward, with soft tannins, fruity apple forward palate along with exceptionally long and lingering aftertaste make this Apfelwin from Gutshof Kraatz an elegant evening companion. The Wilde Kerle is simply perfect if you want to impress your better half by serving an excellent tasting Apfelwein. Fantastic for slowly sipping will pair well with any kind of food. For the full review click here.

 

img_7574-2West Milton, Lancombe Rising – Dorset, UK – a cuvée of Dabinett, Yarlington Mill and Chisel Jersey

One of the few UK’s producers of keeved cider, West Milton created Lancombe Rising, a cider with an extraordinary and extremely rich palate of dried fruits, red apple and light citrus flavours with the right level of sweetness. Suitable for all palates. For the full review click here.

 

 

img_8231De Vergeten AppelMoesj 2016, North Brabant, the Netherlands – a cuvée of apples coming from MDe Bilt, Schijndel and Susteren

Due to high carbonation and a clear, vinous and fruity taste of the Moesj 2016 with notes of crisp apples and citruses I can easily name this Dutch cider crafted by the passionate cider-maker, Johan Holleman from De vergeten Appel, a prosecco among ciders. Moesj 2016 has the right level of acidity with a nice breadth of flavours that can be appreciated by everyone who decides to drink this beauty. Highly recommended! For the full review click here.

 

img_6238Doz de Dauzanges, Cidre Rosé, Normandy, France – a cuvée of apples and pears

With only 2% of ABV Cidre Rosé from Doz de Dauzanges is a pleasant and refreshing offering as it’s not too sweet due to the elegant red berries-like acidity balancing out the sweetness. Also, Cidre Rosé is suitable for those, who are looking for clear cider without notes of funk or strong tannins, are just looking for a change or want to finish the evening with a light bubbly. For the full review click here.

 

img_6525-1Joachim Döhne, Apfelschaumwein Brut 2013 – Hesse, Germany – a cuvée of Boskoop, Jakob Lebel, Schöner von Herrenhut and Kaiser Wilhelm

Both the palate and the nose of this Apfelschaumwein are intensely rich, with good structure and depth. Taste wise somewhere between French cidre, German Apfelwein and dry Champagne with a strong but balanced acidity. One of my picks for an enjoyable romantic dinner. For the full review click here.

 

Highlights and The Top 10 Ciders of 2017

As we wrap up another year, it’s time to look back at some of the most memorable ciders reviewed in 2017. It so happens that also my first year of blogging comes to a close. So I thought I’ll share with you my thoughts on 2017 from a perspective of a Berlin-based cider blogger.

First of all, I’ve met many inspiring people who taught me many things about cider, opened my eyes to the challenges and issues related to cider making and distribution and sales of the finished product in Europe. Thank you for sharing so many interesting stories and your experience with me!

My second observation is that real/craft cider is always made by passionate people, who not always are skilled and talented as Tom Oliver or Eric Bordelet, but they all share true love to cider and cider making. Some cider makers have a great potential for development but their cider still requires some improvement. Sometimes their cider just needs more time…

In addition, it was fascinating to see how the taste of cider might change with every batch. For example, Polish cider Japko (see the review here) I have tried in 2016 tasted much better than this year’s batch.

Last but not least, I’m proud that I have managed to bring together cider lovers from many European countries. Countries not always having a deep-rooted history of cider making. But as it turns out, cider brings people together! This is why the information about closing InCider Bar in Prague at the end of 2017 hit me really hard. InCider Bar was a unique place in Europe and will be sorely missed. But life goes on and cider drinkers can still meet at cider-themed events such as Slavnost Cideru in Prague, where you can talk to other cider lovers sharing their passion for cider just like you do. Btw, next year you can meet me on January 26th at the Manchester Beer & Cider Festival 2018.

But let’s get to the point. In 2017 I’ve reviewed around 200 different ciders mainly from Europe, but also from Canada, the U.S. and New Zealand. Some of them were exceptional and I couldn’t get enough of them, some of them went down the sink drain. And trust me, it was a real challenge to select only 10 out of over 200 ciders I have sampled (incl. cider tastings, cider festivals and ciders tried in Canada). So after long discussions (with myself) I have put together the top ten best ciders I’ve tried in 2017. I’ve selected ciders that are still available so you can purchase them and make your own opinion about them. The ciders are in alphabetical order by cider maker. Cheers and a happy cider year 2018!

  • A.K. Cider, Limonka, Vizovice, the Czech Republic, made with Jadernicka moravska (Pépin de Moravie)

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I’ve tried a number of Czech ciders this year, mainly at Slavnost Cideru 2017, but Limonka crafted by Martin from A.K. Cider was one of the best. Limonka has a complex structure and each note is nicely balanced not dominating over another. Not entirely dry, but also not too acidic Limonka is just perfect for a larger audience. I loved it! For the full review click here.

 

  • Chyliczki, Cydr Lodowy 2015, Masovia Poland

17410099_10154996658845915_458951715_nMy first acquaintance with ice cider made by Polish Cydr Chyliczki Was at the cider tasting organised by Przemek Iwanek from Piwo i Cydr in Warsaw. I was instantly blown away by Chyliczki’s ice cider. The only cider so far that got 6 out of 6. High acidity beautifully balancing out the sweetness makes this cider drinkable for everyone. Plus the flavour of baked apples and spices. Fantastic! For the full review click here.

  • Divoke Jablko, Cidre Brut, Klatovy District in the Plzeň Region, Czech Republic

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The most frequently consumed cider at Slavnost Cideru 2017, at least by me. Lovely citrusy notes of blood orange, lemon and grapefruit with a hint of funk add complexity and make this cider very quaffable. A cider for everyone. For the full review click here.

 

 

  • Dorset Nectar, Old Harry Rocks, Dorset, UK,  a blend of Brown, Dabinett, Coate Jersey, Michelin, Tremletts Bitter, Taylor, Chesil Jersey, Sweet Coppin, Harry Master’s Jersey, Yarlington Mill and Porter’ Perfection

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Old Harry Rocks is like a jazz jam session, where each flavour would play it’s own music at the same time creating a wonderful, balanced, and unique piece. Lovely refreshing due to citrusy flavours and rustic to light funky notes. A masterpiece! For the full review click here.

 

 

  • Joachim Döhne, Apfelschaumwein Brut 2013 – Hesse, Germany – a cuvée of Boskoop, Jakob Lebel, Schöner von Herrenhut and Kaiser Wilhelm

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Both the palate and the nose of this Apfelschaumwein are intensely rich, with good structure and depth. Taste wise somewhere between French cidre, German Apfelwein and dry Champagne with a strong but balanced acidity. One of my favourites. For the full review click here.

 

 

  • Gutshof Kraatz, Wilde Kerle 2016 – Uckermark, Germany – a cuvée of apples growing in the wild

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Soft tannins, fruity apple forward palate along with exceptionally long and lingering aftertaste make this Apfelwin a clear finalist and one of my favourite ciders. Perfect for slowly sipping will pair well with any kind of food. For the full review click here.

 

 

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This is the only Irish cider that made it to the top ten. But Longueville House Cider tastes really sophisticated and exceptional at the same time. It’s beautifully balanced with lots of depth and rich flavours complementing each other. This cider will simply appeal to everyone. Not too sweet, not too dry, not too sour and not too funky. Pure heaven! For the full review click here.

 

 

  • Perry’s Cider, Grey Heron, Somerset, UK, a blend of Redstreak and Dabinett

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I guess that any cider produced at Perry’s would taste glorious. It was already difficult for me to choose between the Grey Heron and The Barn Owl, which I’ve sampled in 2017. In the end, I’ve chosen the Grey Heron cause I will never forget the first sip of this cider. Lovely complex, with intensive taste, strong tannins and multiple flavours. Sweet but yet very drinkable. Unforgettable. For the full review click here.

 

  • Ramborn Cider, Farmhouse, Luxembourg – a blend of Erbachhofer, Holzapfel and Wiesenapfel

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Perhaps there is only one cidery in Luxembourg but a cidery producing outstanding ciders from locally available apple varieties. Farmhouse made it to the top ten although their Avalon Vintage 2015 tasted also spectacular, yet is not as widely available as the Farmhouse. The Farmhouse is a perfect marriage of oaky whisky notes with a crisp red apple. With every taken sip I could hear the angels singing. For the full review click here.

 

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There are many producers of sidra in Asturias but only 1947 Sidra Natural from Viuda de Angelon tasted good enough to be mentioned here. Nicely balanced sidra with a spectacular palate. Dangerously drinkable, will make you empty the bottle in no time. For the full review click here.

8 Sparkling Ciders for New Year‘s Eve

Last year I chose to celebrate New Year’s Eve with cider instead of champagne or sparkling white wine. It turned out to be a splendid idea as I didn’t have to force myself to drink a super dry champagne though I still had the pop. If champagne is not your drink of choice, as it is in my case, I am encouraging you to raise a glass of cider instead on New Year’s Eve. To help you with it I have selected the most amazing and delicious sparkling ciders out of those reviewed over the entire 2017.

I have tried many ciders suitable for this occasion, but I have compiled only 8 of picks that you pop open a bottle. It’s New Year’s Eve after all. You’d be surprised that not all of them are French.

Each cider is listed first by cidermaker, then by label name & year if applicable, region & country, and apple variety if known. 

Joachim Döhne, Apfelschaumwein Brut 2013 – Hesse, Germany – a cuvée of Boskoop, Jakob img_6525-1Lebel, Schöner von Herrenhut and Kaiser Wilhelm

Both the palate and the nose of this Apfelschaumwein are intensely rich, with good structure and depth. Taste wise somewhere between French cidre, German Apfelwein and dry Champagne with a strong but balanced acidity. One of my favourites. For the full review click here.

 

 

Dupont, Organic Cidre Bouche Brut de Normandie 2011 – Normandy, ‘France – a cuvée of 13 varietiesCidre Bouche Organic Dupont

Out of the better-known French cidre names, Dupont will provide complex richness with beautiful appley taste accompanied by citrus and funky notes. The most complex and extraordinary French cidre I have ever tried. Bouche is an elegant, light and smooth cidre for those having a sweet tooth.  For the full review click here.

 

 

West Milton, Lancombe Rising – Dorset, UK – a cuvée of Dabinett, Yarlington Mill and Chisel Jerseyimg_7574-2

One of the few UK’s producers of keeved cider, West Milton created Lancombe Rising, a cider with an extraordinary and extremely rich palate of dried fruits, red apple and light citrus flavours with the right level of sweetness. Suitable for all palates. For the full review click here.

 

 

Guzman Riestra, Sidra Brut Nature – Asturias, Spain

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Made using the Champagne Method, Sidra Brut Nature from Guzman Riestra has an exceptionally sophisticated and balanced palate full of refreshing citrus fruits and ripe apples. Every sip reveals a new taste and is like an in-depth exploration of many layers of flavours. Dry with some residual sweetness will appeal to larger audiences. For the full review click here.

 

 

Eric Bordelet, Sidre Brut Tendre 2014 – Normandy, France

img_8429Eric Bordelet’s Brut is a classic among cider lovers. Wonderfully expressing cidre with an exceptional and extremely long finish full of baking spices that linger on and on. This cidre is not too sweet but still, it tastes almost like an ice cider or dessert wine. It has a nice level of acidity to it balancing the sweetness. One of a kind. For the full review click here.

 

 

 

Mayador, Produccion Limitada Cosecha 2014 – Asturias, Spain

img_6670This bright and apple-forward sidra is a delicious example of a sidra that can be enjoyed not only by local Asturians but also by cider lovers from other regions of the world. You’ll find aromas of citruses and herbal notes, crisp acetic-acidity, and tannins on the palate. Every bottle has its own number so you know that you are drinking something special. For the full review click here.

 

 

Kliment, Demi Sec 2014 – Central Bohemia, Czech Republic

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A remarkable sparkling cider from the Czech Republic. Rich, mouth-filling and relatively high in residual sugar, with notes of baked apples, this cider is perfect for those who prefer their ciders on the sweet side. For the full review click here.

 

 

 

Kerné, Cidre Le Kerné – Brittany, France

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I like this cidre for its elegance and rustic character without intense funk, in contrast to many French ciders that are quite sweet, and because it has complex notes of dried fruits, baked apples with nice appley flavour. For the full review click here.