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.

Visit recap to the William’s Ale & Cider House, the Cider House and Hawkes Cidery in London (26-28.02.2020)

Did you miss my blog posts? I hope so. Cause I’m about to give you a recap of my recent visit to a few cider places in London incl. the Williams Ale & Cider House, The Cider House and Hawkes Cider and Taproom.
Coronavirus outbreak is now on everyone’s lips but when I came to London two weeks ago, I didn’ see a single person wearing a mask and the tube was as crowded as always. When I reached London on Wednesday evening, all I could think of was to have a pint of real cider. What more can I say, I’m a cider addict.
The Williams Ale & Cider House
For that purpose, when in London I would normally head to The Williams Ale & Cider Pub in Spitalfields. I have been going there for at least 4 years now, every time I had to come to London for a business trip. I loved their fish n’ chips and an amazing for London selection of ciders from Perry’s, Gwatkin or other UK cider makers. As I already said earlier, that day I was really looking forward to getting a taste of a decent UK cider.  Especially, when I heard that the Williams Ale and Cider Pub was awarded CAMRA Official Cider Pub of the Year 2019 for East London and City.  The bar was set high.
Imagine my surprise when instead of proper UK cider I saw 4 offerings from Lilley’s and two from Westons’ on tap. For those of you who are not familiar with Lilley’s, Lilley’s is a British cider producer, making cider from apple concentrate. Definitely not real cider! And, Westons is a family-owned cider maker that makes cider at a commercial scale. Not bad but something I can buy almost everywhere. I left the pub frustrated and angry with a feeling of huge disappointment as if I were cheated. So these are CAMRA’s standards that a Cider Pub of the Year can sell a cider made from concentrate? Do you think it would ever happen in a beer place? No, never! Looks that CAMRA’s recommendations reg. cider are misleading and can go straight to the bin.
This situation led to a lot of thinking about the current position of cider in the UK. I’m honestly confused, as, on one hand, I can see a strong cider movement and will to promote and educate about cider. Just look at the #rethincider and magazines that are made available to a broader audience such as “Full Juice Magazine“. But I’m afraid and sorry to say that the impact is only “rural” and doesn’t affect big cities such as London to that extent. I left The Williams Ale and Cider House hugely disappointed and will not be coming again. The fish and chips were no longer as good as I remembered it.
The Cider House
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On the next day, my conference finished at 2pm so I headed straight to the Borough Market, the home of The Cider House, which is open only until 5pm, and Fridays until 6pm. In a nutshell, the Cider House is a stand selling mainly the New Forest Cider. I visited the Cider House briefly also last year and quickly fell in love with both cider and the location. img_4863This year, they must have moved to a new location within the Borough Market, refurbished their stand so now they also offer some sitting area too. Also, what’s new in contrast to the last time is that they seem to offer also cider on tap from other cider makers such as Ross-on-Wye, Capercaillie, Hawkes, Celtic Marches, Kentish Pip but also Thistly Cross.
Apart from New Forest Cider, a decent traditional English cider, many bottled ciders from various UK regions but also a few offerings from continental Europe were on offer. Due to my cider craving, it was a huge pleasure to drink the New Forest Kingston Black. My partner wasn’t that fond of traditional cider and went for their mulled cider.
Hawkes Cidery and Taproom

img_4937My cider urge wasn’t gone until then but I quickly realised that I have never visited Hawkes Cidery, London’s first cidery so far and their taproom in Bermondsey. Hence, I quickly reached out to Radim, assistant cider maker at Hawkes Cider, whom I met last year at Cider World in Frankfurt and arranged for a cidery tour for Saturday at 4pm. Radim couldn’t be there in person as the Hawkes Team was busy with the Craft Beer and Cider Festival BrewLDN taking place in Shoreditch (apparently becoming a very trendy area).img_4936
The surrounding area of Hawkes Cidery looks rather like suburbs, a housing area with no tourists in sight. Long story short, you’d never expect a cider place in such an area. Hawkes Cidery is located under two arches of the railroad tracks, which gives it a quite industrial feeling. From the outside, you don’t expect what you get inside. The area around Hawkes Cidery looked rather abandoned as I said earlier, so I didn’t expect crowds that I found at Hawkes Cidery! It was 3.45 pm and it was quite a challenge to reach the bar area. But we made it and found our tour guide, Angus. Angus gave us a tour to the cidery and let us taste 5 of ciders from the Hawkes lineup.
img_4943But let me give you a snapshot of the history of Hawkes Cider first. As the name indicates it all started with a hawker, a person who moved from one place to another to sell products. It was Simon Wright who at first made his own ginger beer and moved from one pub to another to sell his ginger beer. He eventually moved to cider. In 2018, Hawkes Cider was acquired by BrewDog, an independent Scottish craft brewer, which opened many doors to London-based cider maker. Since then guys from Hawkes have had the wind at their back and been attending international cider fairs and craft beer festivals. just like CiderWorld or BrewLDN.
img_4929At the beginning of Hawkes Cider, their ciders were made with apples donated by people living in London. Now their ciders are made mostly with apples that are not good enough for supermarkets to stock them. As for apple varieties, they usually work with eaters and cookers such as Bramleys, Gala, Braeburn and Pink Lady. All ciders are made under one of the two arches of the cidery. In the production area, one will find an apple mill along with an apple press, tanks and a few wooden barrels. Everything is done at the spot. Currently, Hawkes has 6 cider makers who experiment with various apple varieties, fruits and ageing in different oak barrels. Also, they frequently collaborate with other cider producers. You may remember their cider made in collaboration with Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider & Perry. As noticed on the label on one of the fermenting tanks, a new exciting collab will be rolling out sooner or later. Not sure if I can reveal who the collab is with so I’ll just tease you that it sounds very promising!
img_4952As mentioned earlier, I got to try 5 different ciders from the Hawkes Cider lineup. They all tasted different, so everyone will find something to their taste. Starting with a cider that was made with eaters and resembled a little bit more sweet version and less sparkling version of prosecco, going through Kentucky bourbon barrel-aged cider, fruit cider and finishing with a tannic cider made from cider apple varieties. My favourite one was the Kentucky bourbon barrel-aged cider that actually tasted like a rum-barrel aged cider with lovely notes of tropical fruits and vanilla and coconut followed by Big Wow, a tannic cider. But other people who took the tour with us preferred lighter offerings from Hawkes. img_4945Some may criticise Hawkes for not doing cider the traditional way but crowds that I saw that Saturday speak for themselves. Many consumers seem to be looking for a natural, light, session or even alcohol-free beverages and guess what, at Hawkes all of them are available. Even those for hardcore, traditional cider drinkers like me will be pleased. I guess the acquisition by a BrewDog did them well after all.
On the way back to my hotel, I passed a pub called The Miller that also seem to have real cider on offer. Unfortunately, the place was closed until next Tuesday so I couldn’t pay them a visit. But judging by their website and their cider line up incl. Oliver’s, it could be a pub to visit next time I’m in London. Has anyone ever been to this pub? Is it any good?

Gutshof Kraatz: visit recap

Some of you may already know by now that I am moving to Frankfurt for work soon. But most of you will learn about this only by reading this blog post. But before I make a move to the capital of Apfelwein, I wanted to pay Gutshof Kraatz a visit, one of my favourite producers of apple wine that is easier to reach from Berlin than Frankfurt am Main.

Unlike most German producers or Apfelwein, Gutshof Kraatz is not based in the South of Germany. Gutshof Kraatz is located approx. 140km north from Berlin, in the Uckermark region of Brandenburg. Florian Profitlich, the owner and cider maker at Apfelwein kept inviting me to visit the premises every time we spoke on the phone or met up at CiderWorld in Frankfurt. But somehow only now an opportunity occurred to head north and get a tour behind the scenes of the production of apple wine at Gutshof Kraatz.

img_3064The history of Gutshof Kraatz is very straight forward. Florian together with his wife Edda used to live and work in Berlin. One day Florian and Edda decided to become weekend getaway homeowners and purchased a summer house located outside of Berlin, in Kraatz. Their gateway in Kraatz came with a small orchard with old apple and perry trees. In Autumn, those trees bore lots of fruits that simply fell on the ground. But how many apple pies can one eat and how many jars of apple jam can one make? Florian started looking for alternative solutions. He quickly discovered that there are more abandoned apple and pear trees in the area. And, that nobody cares about these trees.

Just a little clarification. Northern Germany doesn’t have a wine or fruit wine tradition. More like a long beer and vodka- tradition due to the fact that ingredients such as wheat or rye required for the production of these beverages grow well here. And, Uckermark has a too cold climate to cultivate winegrapes. And, apple wine? There is simply no tradition of making Apfelwein here.

Back to Florian. Florian began to think about what to do with the remaining fruit. And, came up with an idea of making apple wine. After solid research, he finally started experimenting with Apfelwein. Since his apple wine turned out really well and the fact that he and Edda started spending more and more time in the summer house than in Berlin, the decision was made to move to the Uckermark and begin a completely new life chapter. This is how Florian an Edda found a real getaway from Berlin in the Uckermark.

img_3081Honestly, I can’t blame Florian and Edda for swapping Berlin for Uckermark. Gutshof Kraatz is an estate consisting of a few houses and a large old barn surrounded by fields full of wheat and corn and a small apple and pear orchard. In addition, to promote the sales of his products, Florian and Edda set up a farm shop, holiday homes and a restaurant serving local products run by Edda. Once you arrive at Kraatz, you immediately feel the good vibes of this place and that time slows down here. Not only the building has been completely renovated but also the right modern farmhouse interior design of the restaurant and farm shop surrounded by a lovely local area make you feel most welcomed and relaxed. Perfect conditions to enjoy Florian’s Apfelwein.

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Florian makes his Apfelwein in a huge barn dating back 1870ties located on the back of the restaurant. He does everything from scratch. Apples, pears or quinces are mostly donated by people who don’t know what to do with the fruit. Also, Florian marked a few locations of wild apple trees or old apple varieties growing at the side of the road or close to the woods not far from Kraatz. Each apple variety and fruit is pressed separately in the barn and then moved to either steel or plastic Speidel tanks. img_3070Florian works with selected wine strains as he wasn’t fond of his Apfelwein experiments made with wild yeasts. Also, he prefers to make single-varietal apple wines as in his opinion a blend might taste right at the moment of blending but a few months later it may taste completely different. Cause cider or apple wine is a living product. So instead he has a very broad product range of different single-varietals apple wines such as Kaiser Wilhelm, Bohnapfel, Adams Parmäne or Boskoop. As per Florian, this huge product selection is really confusing for the guests sometimes as they often are overwhelmed and don’t know what to pick as the range features a number of apple wines or apple sparkling wines. Annually, Florian makes approx. 22.000 litres so it is rather a small operation. And, this year’s harvest will be much smaller than the 2018 crop. As you listen to Florian as he talks about his experiments, you do get his passion for apple wine. He has plenty of ideas, which he wants to try out such as ageing of apple wine in French oak barrels. He clearly is a passionate cider lover and cider maker. And, a great partner to talk about apple and fruit wine.

Florian let me try a few of his apple wines and a quince wine on the spot. And, I adored them all. Also, he gave me a few samples of his products so you may expect a few reviews on his products coming very soon, including his recently released cider the Guttshof Kraatz Schwarze Katze. So stay tuned!

Overall, within less than two hours drive north of Berlin, you not only get to taste great apple wine and other fruit wines made by Florian but also enjoy rural areas, delicious food and interesting discussions about cider and apple wine with Florian. I truly regret I haven’t visited earlier as I would have been a more frequent guest at Gutshof Kraatz. If you like apple wine and you are in the area, you have to visit Gutshof Kraatz and explore everything that it has to offer.

Crest Cyder and Perry’s Cider: visit recap

In July 2018, Carol Brown from Crest Cyder located in North Curry near Taunton, Somerset, UK contacted me and invited to visit them if passing. To be honest, I completely forgot about this invitation until I tried one of their ciders that came through Scrattings (the only UK cider webshop shipping cider to continental Europe). I absolutely fell in love with their Traditional as it was a proper and tannic cider I could drink every day. Usually, I don’t reach out to a cider maker to praise her/his cider, which I truly enjoyed. But this time it was different. Since I had to come to London for a conference in early March, I thought that I might kill two birds with one stone and extend my stay to spend some time in Bristol, the UK capital of cider and pay the Crest Cyder team a visit in nearby Taunton.

I’m pretty sure most of you haven’t heard of Crest Cyder before as it is a fairly new business. The Crest Cyder Company was officially established in March 2018 although cider was made here for much longer before that. Christopher Brown, who is in charge of cider making at Crest Cyder has been crafting cider so far only for his own use. In addition, since 2011 his ciders have picked up numerous awards at important British cider competitions such as Royal Bath & West, Royal Cornwall Show, Devon County Show only to name a few. As a side note, it is great that in the UK also a private person can take part in these competitions and get an unbiased opinion from cider experts. Apples used for Christopher’s cider come from an apple orchard located a few hundred meters from Christopher and Carol’s house. It is a 4-acre apple orchard with typical cider apple varieties such as Dabinett, Browns, Stoke Red, Yarlington Mill, Tremlett’s Bitter and a few more that were planted in the 1970s by Christopher’s father. The Crest Cyder Company is a fairly small business with a range of three ciders, Traditional, Golden and Dabinett making approx. 5000 litres annually.

img_2001Now, enough for the introduction of Crest Cyder and let’s move to my visit to Taunton. To reach Taunton, I took a train from Bristol Temple Meads so after roughly 30-minutes journey I arrived at Taunton, where Alice, Carol and Christopher’s daughter was already waiting for me and my friend. The initial plan was to visit four small local cider makers but since the apple pruning season in Somerset was in full swing, all cider makers where either out of reach or simply very busy with pruning. So instead, Alice drove us to the Perry’s Cider Mills in Dowlish Wake, 20 minutes drive away from Taunton. img_2015Previously, I have tasted a few ciders from Perry’s range, Grey Heron and Barn Owl so I was very excited to see the place and try a few more ciders from their cider range. Perry’s not only run a cider shop with merchandise products, cider books and obviously their bottled ciders. Interestingly, they also carry a variety of their cider aged in oak barrels that can be filled on the spot in a plastic container. Those are not available elsewhere, only at their cider shop, which makes a visit there even more worthwhile and exciting.

img_2011Apart from the cider shop on the site, there is a cider museum showcasing antique cider mills, cider presses and other tools required for cider making. Christopher and Carol, who we met up with at Perry’s, showed us a bit around and gave the insights of the cider production. It was very enlightening to see these tools and machines that were once used to mill apples or press the juice. Perry’s run also an eatery with local foods. Each dish on the menu had a cider suggestion next to it. I went for a selection of local cheese paired with Perry’s Dabinett. What a pleasure!


img_2022Back to North Curry, Christopher showed us his cider shed, the place where all the cider magic happens. To press the juice, Christopher uses a 100-year-old cider press that was previously used by Sheppy’s, a cider maker that is also based in Taunton. To make cider, apples are lifted to the first-floor level, where they are milled. In the second step, milled apples are moved to the press located on the ground floor and pressed. After pressing, the whole juice is moved to the tanks, slowly fermented and subsequently aged in French oak barrels that were previously used for winemaking. img_2040This cider shed has an amazing atmosphere as next to the tanks filled with cider there is a comfortable couch, where one can sit, sample cider and stare at the opposite wall full of framed awards, certificates and the side wall full of old cider posters from the times, when Gaymer’s or Blackthorn were quality ciders. After visiting the cider shed, Christopher and Alice took us to their apple orchard. Although it was a quite warm day in Taunton, early March is not the best time for a visit to an orchard as apple trees still have no leaves, not to mention any buds, thus simply look sad. The amazing thing about the UK is that grass is always green here. Christopher maintains the apple orchards and at the time he was still not done with pruning.

img_2101At the end of the visit, the Browns brought us to The Plough Inn, which is a cider pub in Taunton, literally walking distance away from the railway station, with an impressive cider wall. Interestingly, The Plough Inn is run by a woman, Karin Cooper. We need significantly more ladies in the cider world! To my surprise, Christopher ordered a beer instead of cider. He explained that he only drinks his own cider.

In summary, I spent a lovely day in Somerset being able to compare two local cider business of a different scale, Perry’s and Crest Cyder. Perry’s is a relatively large cider maker, creating fantastic cider and with a great shop, museum and eatery that support their business. On the other hand, Crest Cyder is a cidery still making baby steps in this business and learning but with huge potential and great cider! The Browns are a lovely and very friendly family crazy about cider and cidermaking. I hope I will return to Taunton. But this time definitely in Autumn.

In the next few weeks, I will post reviews on Traditional, Golden and Dabinett from the Crest Cyder Company so stay tuned!

Cider in Copenhagen: tasting notes

In Copenhagen bars and restaurants, you will not only find locally made Danish cider from Æblerov, Decideret or Ciderrevolution, but also cider or perry from a number of the UK cider producers. To my surprise, I got a taste of not only widely available cider form Sheppy’s or Westons but also perry from Hecks. The day before I arrived, I saw even cider from Ventons available in one of the Copenhagen bars. So, it seems that quality cider is gaining in popularity in this beautiful Nordic city.

Here is what I’ve tried during my visit to Copenhagen:

Lord Nelson Danish Mistress (ABV 5.9%; 36 DKK for half-pint can in Lord Nelson Bar)

img_1857Lord Nelson is actually a small bar in Copenhagen but the owners make their own English-style cider from Danish apples grown near Skælskør. Their Danish Mistress is a medium dry cider. Appearance: cloudy, golden, no carbonation, no foam. Medium body. Aroma: moderately strong of lemon, sour, funk, low sulphur. Taste: medium dry with medium acidity of lemon and vinegar, a touch of sulphur- fireworks like. Lingering vinegar and funk. Overall: I must say that I enjoyed having the Danish Mistress as it reminded me of English-style cider but with a local touch to it. Also, it tasted natural with higher acidity than a typical English cider. For those who don’t mind funk. 4/6

Westons Old Rosie (ABV 6.8%; half a pint in Charlie’s Bar)

img_1860Westons is one of the biggest cider producers in the UK. Old Rosie is actually the name given to their 1921 Aveling and Porter steam roller. Appearance: cloudy, pale amber, no carbonation, no foam. Low to medium body. Aroma: sweet of caramel, bittersweet apples and vinegar. Taste: medium sweet with low acidity, smokiness, light sulphur, a sweetness of sweet apples and caramel. Finishes with a light bitterness and red apples with low astringency. Overall: Old Rosie has many notes and structure. But although I enjoyed it in the beginning, drinking even half a pint was a real challenge. Old Rosie was just too sweet for my liking.  But overall, it’s not a bad drop. 4/6

Sheppy’s 200 Special Edition (ABV 5%; 46 DKK for 25cl in Taphouse)

img_1866200 Special Edition cider was created to celebrate 200 years of making cider by the Sheppys’s family. It was introduced in 2016 but still seems to be available. Appearance: clear, pale amber, no carbonation, no foam. Low to medium body. Aroma: caramel. Nothing more I can get. Taste: starts sweet with low acidity, watery, caramel, buttery. Low astringency, vanilla, red apple and smokiness. Overall: Briefly, it tasted like a blend of cider apples with cookers, which is not necessarily bad. The tannin was gentle and smooth. It had depth and structure. But again, I found it far too sweet for my liking. 4.5/6

Heck’s Farmhouse Perry (ABV 6.5% %; 40 DKK for 25cl in Taphouse)

img_1867The Heck’s family has been making cider in Somerset since 1841. Apart from cider apple trees, they grow perry pear trees. Appearance: almost clear, golden, no carbonation, low body, no foam. Aroma: vinegar, grass, pear, gooseberry. Taste: moderately sweet, low acidity of vinegar, watery, gooseberry, low astringency, grassy, vermouth-like aftertaste. Overall: it’s a farmhouse-style perry so it’s clearly not for every palate. It is different from other perries I tried so far as it has a lovely scent of gooseberries. I liked it but the watery note was simply too strong making it not only light but actually tasting like flavoured water. 3.5/6

Æblerov/Mikkeler Citra Dry Hopped Cider (ABV 5.8%; in Mikkeler Bar)

img_1868Æblerov teamed up with Mikkeler and made a cider dry hopped with Citra. Appearance: very cloudy, pale orange, low carbonation, large head that reduces to a ring. Low to medium body. Aroma: citrus of hops, fresh unripe mango. Moderately strong. Taste: dry with low acidity of lemon and vinegar, fresh unripe mango, nail polish remover, medium astringency, low sulphur. Overall: The Citra Hopped Cider is very drinkable.  But as it is often the case with hopped ciders, I’m not sure if I’m drinking a beer or cider. Especially, that I couldn’t really taste any apple taste at all. Only delicious hops. Nevertheless, it went down very easily so I had it again at Copenhagen airport. 4/6

Heck’s Red Blakeney Red (ABV 5.1%; in Fermentoren)

img_1882After a blend of perry pears, I had a chance to sample their single varietal perry made with Red Blakeney Red pears. Appearance: almost clear, golden, no carbonation, low body, no foam. Aroma: nail polish remover, raspberries, caramel, vinegar, grass, gooseberry, low bitterness. Taste: moderately sweet, low acidity of vinegar, watery, gooseberry, low astringency, grassy, vermouth-like aftertaste. Overall: I never had a perry like this before. It tasted lovely, fruity, light and very refreshing. Surprisingly, I liked it much better than their Farmhouse Blend. It was also watery but it didn’t disturb that much. A lovely drop. 4.5/6

Æblerov Lærkehøj  (ABV 5.9%; in Holm Cider)

img_1891Lærkehøj is a blend of Alkmene & Rød Aroma from Danish organic orchards. Appearance: almost clear, golden, no carbonation, no head. Low to medium body. Aroma: raspberry, nail polish remover, vinegar, low caramel. Taste: dry, medium acidity of lemon and vinegar, fruity, low bitterness. Overall: Every time I sample a cider from Æblerov I’m very impressed. I’d never tell it was made from eaters! Lærkehøj is rich, full-bodied and light bitterness is beautifully rounded by medium acidity and citrusy taste to it. I’d love to have it again! 4.5/6

 

Ciderrevolution Cider 2017 (ABV 5.5%; in Holm Cider)

img_1892Paw and Kristoffer from Ciderrevolution contracted cider makers in France to make a French-style cider from Danish apples. Appearance: cloudy, pale golden, medium carbonation, little foam. Low to medium body. Aroma: burnt sugar, lemon, caramel, yellow apples. Taste: a residual sweetness of burnt sugar, low to medium acidity, fruity, lemon, apple-y. Mineral taste, low bitterness. Overall: Incredible! It was one of these ciders that make you feel closer to heaven with every sip you take. Pure pleasure! I was oohing and ahhing all the time. It’s not only extremely tasty but also interesting as you can taste the influence of Danish apples and French-cidermaking methods in this cider. If that taste would have lasted a bit longer, I wouldn’t hesitate to rate it higher. A brilliant drop! 5/6

 Decideret Cider Spraelsk (ABV 5.9%)

img_1898Spraelsk is a lightly sparkling cider that was aged in oak barrels. Appearance: almost clear, golden, low carbonation. Low body. Sediment in the bottle. Aroma: not much. Vinegar and light nail polish with raspberries. Taste: dry with low sweetness, medium acidity, low astringency, low Sauerkraut, mineral, yeasty aftertaste. Overall: I hate to say it but Spraelsk was very average. I assume it was left too long on its lees as it had a taste typical for this type of cider. Also, I couldn’t get any notes typical for barrel ageing. Cornelius, cider maker at Decideret Cider tried this bottle together with me and said that it tasted completely different last time he tried it. Some ciders just don’t age well. 2.5/6

Mergelsø November Cider 2017 (ABV 5.9%;  DKK per glass in Holm Cider)

img_1915Mergelsø is the name of a lake in Jutland. On the shore of this lake grow wild apple trees along with Danish apples, which are used to make this cider. Appearance: almost clear, golden, very low carbonation, no foam. Low body. Aroma: moderately strong. Low sweetness, low acidity, light bitterness, low nail polish remover, light Sauerkraut. Taste: low sweetness, low acidity, low bitterness, a hint of nail polish remover and a note of Sauerkraut in the finish. Overall: November Cider 2017 tastes natural and quite pleasant. Its taste is dry yet fruity and nicely lingers on. But I think I would prefer it to drink it with food than on its own. 3.5/6

In summary, although to many of you the first Copenhagen cider that may come to your mind would be most probably Somersby, Copenhagen has much more to offer. English ciders and two perrys that I sampled during my stay in Copenhagen, were just a good example that quality products, especially if they taste natural, are a preferred option by many local cider drinkers. As for Danish cider, I think you may say that Danish cider producers developed their own cider style. It’s a dry and funky, sparkling cider, a cross between Spanish, English-style cider with a sparkle typical for French cider. Only, cider made by Ciderrevolution stood out from this trend. I enjoyed almost every Danish cider I sampled in Copenhagen. And, the Ciderrevolution Cider 2017 and the Æblerov Lærkehøj were my two favourites. Although Danish apples are basically eaters or cookers, Danish cider makers seem to know how to make a very drinkable, rich cider using apple varieties such as Alkmene, Rød Aroma or Ingrid Marie. Overall, the future of Danish cider looks very bright. If there is a cider festival, Rigtig Cider in 2019, I might seriously consider coming to Copenhagen again this year.

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!

Cidery visit: Cydr Ignaców

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cidreries in Normandy: visit recap

In the last blog post, I promised you to recap my visits to cider producers in Normandy.

img_1093I thought that 4 days will be more than enough to explore this part of France, but once I reached Normandy I’ve realised that I haven’t planned enough time for both sightseeing and visits to the countless cidreries! The signs inviting visitors to come in and try either cidre, calvados, pommeau, apple vinegar, marmalade or apple juice were literally every kilometre not only on the route du cidre but also outside the cider trail around Fecamp, Etretat, Honfleur, Bayeux, Falaise or the D-Day landing beaches. Cidre is made and sold everywhere in Normandy. Another question is who drinks it. Anyway, with the only 4-day itinerary, I had an opportunity to explore only a tiny bit of Normandy and its cidre. Meaning, I had to restrict myself to only a few cidermakers.

img_0964Ferme de Félicité was the first cider maker I have visited during my journey. They are based near the village of Longues-sur-Mer, close to the German gun batteries from the World War II. At the time of my visit, they were busy pressing apples so I couldn’t see their premises. But I had a brief chat with Claire, who told me more about the cidrerie. At Ferme de Félicité, they work with around 17 apple varieties that are used to make cidre, calvados, pommeau and liqueur de Calvados Félicité, a young calvados macerated with oranges, sugar and coffee beans. In terms of cidre, they produce doux (sweet), demi-sec (semi-sweet), brut (dry) and Cuvée Jardin Bosquain, which is extra dry. The latter appealed the most to my taste buds (I’ll post my tasting notes soon, so watch this space!). Interestingly, you may find their products in shops and restaurants only within the range of 10 km, nowhere else. Since they create approx. 25k bottles annually, they have no interest in distributing their products to further areas.

img_1040Even before coming to Normandy, Olivier from La Ferme de Billy reached out to me and invited to visit their premises and apple orchards. As either Olivier or myself had no service on the phone (that seems to be quite normal in Normandy), we didn’t manage to meet up, but Guillaume, Olivier’s brother was there to meet me. La Ferme de Billy was established in 1651 by the first owner Jacques de Billy. Today, La Ferme de Billy apart from products made from apples, offer brunch menus served with their cidre in a trendy, modern setting and organise art exhibition. The perfect environment for drinking cidre and socializing. Also, they have a very inviting outdoor resting area in the backyard. img_1018If you walk further and pass a little forest, you’ll discover an idyllic place, a Roman 13th-century chapel surrounded by old cidre apple trees. I’ve tried a few apples that fell down. They were much smaller than apples I’ve seen before. All tasted apple varieties were luscious! Back to la Ferme de Billy, for their product range comprising of three kinds of cidre fruité, brut and fraîcheur (tasting notes coming soon) along with ice cider (which is divine!), calvados, pommeau, apple juice and apple vinegar, they use 16 apple varieties. img_0995Recently, they acquired orchards nearby and plan to build a cider house in around two years. I admired their modern thinking outside the box and attempts to make people understand that cidre pairs well with food and with this trying to change the bad image of cidre in Normandy. If I had more time I would definitely have had a brunch there and some cidre as the food looked very inviting. But I had to hit the road as my agenda was quite full.

img_1065Next cidrerie on my journey was Domaine de La Galotière, located in a beautiful small valley in the southern part of Pays d’Auge close to Camembert. They grow approx. 50 different cidre apple varieties and since 1997 have organic certification. Jean-Luc Olivier is in charge of orchards and cidermaking but at the time of my visit, he was busy picking apples. Their product range covers cidre, ice cider (too sweet for my liking), poirè, calvados, pommeau, vinegar and apple juice. I’ll share my tasting notes on their cidre brut later.

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img_1124Pierre Huet is based on the route du cidre in Cambremer and is actually more famous for making calvados than cidre or poirè. The farm has a traditional look with sheeps wandering the apple orchards and displayed very old barrels that were once used to age calvados. I was hoping to take part in the guided tour that was supposed to start at 11am but I was told that it was only in French and required a minimum of 4 participants. Since there were only two of us, we left empty-handed and headed further down the cider trail to Domaine Dupont.

 

Domaine Dupont (La Vigannerie, Victot-Pontfol)

img_1129I believe this cider producer doesn’t require any introduction as their cidre is one of the most widely distributed Norman cidre worldwide. The farm is surrounded by apple orchards and when you drive to the front part of their premises it feels like entering a French manoir. They don’t offer guided tours buy you’re welcome to walk around and visit their distillery, surrounding orchards and cellars with different sizes of oak barrels filled with calvados. As mentioned in my previous post, when I went to their store it was really packed. It was quite shocking compared to other visited cidreries, as most of the time, I was the only guest. Cider wise, Dupont has a line up of six different ciders, including Cidre Bouché, Organic Cider, Cidre Triple, Cidre Réserve, Cuvée Colette and Give, an ice cider. With the exception of ice cider, champagne yeast is added after bottling to make cidre sparkling. At the Dupont’s store, I discovered rather unusual products such as calvados spray used for baking (!) and calvados aged in Islay single malt Scotch whisky cask. I’ve tried their ciders and the just mentioned calvados aged in Islay single malt Scotch whisky and will share my thoughts with you about them in the next blog post.

img_1164When you arrive at Manoir de Grandouet, you have a feeling that you turned back in time as some of the Norman buildings on the farm date back to 16th century. Manoir de Grandouet is set in an incredibly picturesque scenery. Pictures don’t do it justice. The views are simply amazing! Outside you can find an ancient apple press and a table where you can have a brunch. Now in its third generation of family ownership, the Grandval family makes cidre using 20 different apple varieties coming from 28 ha orchards. Lucille was there to welcome me and gave me a tour of the facility and finished with a tasting of their cidre, calvados and pommeau. They were in the middle of apple pressing so it was quite exciting to see how it’s done here. The Grandvals use a pneumatic press. Once pressed, the juice goes to tanks for fermentation with wild yeast at low temperature. After fermentation, cidre is bottled with a tiny amount of white wine yeast. For calvados production, cidre is moved to old oak barrels. Some of them date back even to 1792! If I had to choose only one cidrerie to visit along the route du cidre, Manoir de Grandouet would be the place to go.

img_1213I first met Benoit at CiderWorld 2018 in Frankfurt when he was presenting his cidre. Already then, I was very much impressed with the quality and outstanding taste of his cidre. Needless to say that Benoit’s cidre line up was the highlight of this event in terms of taste. Remembering Benoit’s cidre and his passion when he was showing me pictures of his apple orchards, I knew I had to pay him a visit when being in Normandy. Domaine Lesuffleur is not open to visitors. But Benoit was kind enough to show me his orchards and arranged for a tasting of his cidre and eau-de-vie. Benoit comes from Normandy but over the week he lives in Paris, where he works as a wine retailer selling wine to restaurants and shops. Over the weekend, he dedicates his time solely to cidre.

Back to my visit, we’ve started with the tasting of Benoit’s ciders, Friardel 2016, Missus 2016, La Folletiere 2016, La Folletiere 2015, Pyrrhus 2016 and some experimental ciders. More about the taste in the next blog post. After the tasting, we drove to visit his orchards before the sun goes down. Benoit’s apples are hand-picked and he knows absolutely everything about apple varieties in his orchards and about the soil. I’ve tasted each apple variety and it was fascinating to see the differences in terms of taste. What intrigued me most was that the same apple variety would taste differently when grown on different soil, in a different orchard. I guess that was the moment when I finally understood the meaning of ‘terroir’.

Another surprise was that apples from Benoit’ orchards were still not ripe. Although at most cideries that I visited earlier that were located closer to the coast on the route du cidre, the harvest was in full swing, here further east in La Folletière the apples were still not ready to be picked and required a few further weeks for ripening. Meaning that the climate is different in various parts of Normandy.

During the visit at Benoit’s place and the tasting, I have realised that previously visited cider makers used a known amount of bitter, sweet, bittersweet and sharp apple varieties and fermented them all together and subsequently bottled. Benoit was the only cider maker out of those I have visited who would ferment each variety separately and then decide on the blend after tasting. The visit to Benoit’s place opened my eyes. His cider is unique cause he is a rare species treating cidre like precious wine. Chapeau bas, Benoit.

Watch this space for my tasting notes! Coming soon!

Downeast Cider House: visit recap

After my business trip was over, I extended my stay in Boston to visit Downeast Cider House located in East Boston. My extra day was Tuesday, exactly the day when their taproom is closed. So I sent an email to the Downeast Cider team and explained the situation. Luckily, Max replied that he would be happy to meet me at the taproom and sample a few ciders with me.

img_0116As for some background information, the first time I came to Boston two years ago, cider from the Downeast Cider House was the first Boston cider I have ever tried. And, frankly speaking, I instantly fell in love with. Furthermore, I was so fascinated with their cider that I even considered applying for the position of cider maker, which was open at the time. Downeast Cider House was established in 2011 by two college students Ross and Tyler who instead of taking the exams and graduating, prefered to make hard cider. Over the years the company has grown and expanded and the production site had to move from the first location in Back Bay to East Boston. As for the visit, Max let me try their regular ciders and special releases. Afterwards, Max gave me a tour of their premises and explained all production steps.
img_0135For their cider, the Downeast Cider team uses culinary and table apples such as McIntosh, Red Delicious, Cortland or Gala, which come from Massachusetts and surrounding states. The juice is pressed at the orchards and delivered to the facility in East Boston where it is fermented with a pale ale yeast. img_0132Once the sugar concentration drops to the desired level, cider is pasteurised at high temperature for 30 seconds. Subsequently, cider is either canned or eventually matured in barrels (special releases).

Their current canning line is capable of producing 90 cans per minute so during a 10-hour shift they can get lots of cider into cans! Also, Downeast Cider wants to upgrade their canning line with the beginning of the new year to a more effective canning line capable of producing 200 cans per minute.img_0137

img_0117In their taproom, I’ve tried their Original Blend (their flagship cider), which is the first cider they ever released, Double Blend, Drier Side, Aloha Friday (with pineapple juice), Drier Side Hopped Grapefruit, Celebracion (special release blended with lime and aged in tequila barrels), and Hard Arnold (special release blended with Earl Grey tea). I don’t have any detailed tasting notes for you as most of the time I was speaking to Max and asking all the details related to their cider production. But, you could tell that the Original Blend is used as the base for all of the ciders from their range. All ciders were unfiltered, with a similar level of sweetness, except for Drier Side, as well as the tartness. They were all dangerously easily drinkable and very tasty, which doesn’t necessarily mean that they were very complex or full-bodied. But they tasted good anyway. Only, I was the least fond of the Drier Side, which was very watery and thin. But as for my favourite, I couldn’t really decide between Double Blend, Drier Side Hopped Grapefruit, Celebracion and Hard Arnold. In the end, I thought that the Double Blend was my personal favourite.

I wish to thank Max from the Downeast Cider House for letting me try their ciders in the tap room, explaining all production steps and showing me around. Also, for being patient and answering my countless questions.  Should I ever return to Boston, I’ll try to visit the taproom during opening hours.

For more information about the cider scene in Boston and tasting notes of the Original Blend and X Cunard No 44 from Downeast Cider, read my latest blog post.

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