Zywer Brus 2020

I’m happy to introduce to you a new Polish cider maker, Cydrownia Zywer located in the south-eastern corner of Poland, in Kańczuga, Subcarpathian. Cydrownia Zywer is named after the two owners, Tomek and Ula Zywer, who make their cider from apples grown in very old apple orchards, once grown owned by the local fruit processing business. Currently, Tomek and Ula have two ciders in their product portfolio, Brus and Foszt.

Today, I’m going to review Brus, which in a local dialect means solid plank of rough lumber but also an uncouth person. The Zywer Brus was recently awarded Gold in the dry sparkling cider category at XI SISGA Awards in Asturias, Spain. It is my first time trying anything from this Polish cider maker.

Company: Cydrownia Zywer
Place of Origin: Kańczuga, Subcarpathian, Poland
Apples: a blend of old apple varieties such as Bohnapfel, Reinette, Boskoop, Bancroft and Oberländer Himbeerapfel grown locally
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 7%
Package type: 750ml green glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale amber with a foam that reduces to a ring. The carbonation is high and natural. Body is also medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is moderately strong with notes of yellow and red apple, apple skin and some caramel to it.

Taste: it begins dry but with some residual sweetness and moderate acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, yellow apple, touch of astringency. Finishes dry with a note of lingering note of lemon and a touch of alcohol.

Overall: Poland hasn’t got a long cider tradition so Polish cider makers are still learning how to make good quality cider. The Zywer Brus 2020 is a good example of a Polish cider that actually tastes quite nice! It’s not entirely dry with a good body. Also, the level of acidity is just fine but surprisingly doesn’t seem to be refreshing. It’s nothing bad. It will simply taste better only slightly chilled on a rather cold evening as it warms up a little. The length is good and the tannin soft yet a bit rough. It has a typical flavor for Bohnapfel, which I personally adore but which might be off-putting to some. Overall, I think that the Zywer Brus 2020 is a decent cider that I wouldn’t mind to have again. Not sure if it deserved to win Gold in Asturias as I don’t know who did it compete with. But it is without a doubt one of the best Polish ciders I tried recently. It will pay nicely with fish due to the nice acidity. Worth trying. 4.5/6

Availability: click here for the full list of stockists.

Price: Tomasz provided me with a sample.

Cydr Radosny Igiełkowy z Imbirem 2020

Today I’m giving you a cider that is very suitable for this gloomy, cold and wet May weather, the Cydr Radosny Igiełkowy z Imbirem 2020 (Polish for needle & ginger cider). “Needle” because it is made with the needles of Douglas fir tree and pine tree. I don’t think that the ginger part requires any explanation. The Igiełkowy z Imbirem 2020 is made using a commercial yeast strain by the guys from the Polish Cydr Radosny, Radek and Mikołaj. I have previously reviewed their BrettOffowy 2020.

Company: Cydr Radosny
Place of Origin: Wrocław, Lower Silesia, Poland
Ingredients: a blend of old apple varieties that are locally grown with needles of Douglas fir tree and pine tree along with ginger.
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6%
Package type: 500ml amber glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler

Appearance: pours a very hazy pale golden yellow with a foam that reduces to a ring. The carbonation is medium. Body is also medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong and floral with something spicy. I’m getting notes of desiccated ginger, elderflower with a piny touch.

Taste: it begins dry with a medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, notes of desiccated ginger, floral notes, smokiness, yellow apples but also a bit watery. Finishes dry with notes of pine.

Overall: When using flavoring ingredients for cider, there is always a risk that you overdo these ingredients and the cider doesn’t taste like actual cider. However, the guys from Cydr Radosny managed to add just the right amount of these ingredients to their Igielkowy. When drinking, you can still tell that you are drinking a cider as the apple character still plays the main part here. And, the notes of needles and ginger are just supporting here by adding additional floral/piny flavors. But, also due to this fact you can tell that the apples used for this cider were not exactly cider apples – this is due to the watery taste. In a way, it can be seen also as an advantage as exactly this makes this cider taste rather light and suitable not only for the winter time but also for the summer. Anyway, I thought the Igiełkowy z Imbirem 2020 was very drinkable and wouldn’t mind having it again. I hope to see this cider commercially available soon! 4/6

Availability: unfortunately, not available commercially for now

Price: Radek provided me with a sample.

Cydr Radosny BrettOffowy 2020

Some of you may know that I review not only ciders already commercially available but also those that are made by cider lovers who may want to launch their products in the future. A cider that I’m going to review today, belongs to the latter group.

Cydr Radosny (Polish for Joyful Cider) is made by Radek and Mikołaj in a neighborhood of Wroclaw, Lower Silesia, Poland called Karłowice. 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. Nicely done!

The Cydr Radosny BrettOffowy 2020 is made with old locally grown apple varieties using wild yeast. It’s my first time trying anything from Radek and Mikołaj.

Company: Cydr Radosny
Place of Origin: Wrocław, Lower Silesia, Poland
Apples: a blend of old apple varieties that are locally grown.
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6%
Package type: 750ml clear glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler

Appearance: pours a hazy pale golden yellow with a foam that reduces to a ring that doesn’t go away. The carbonation is medium. Body is also medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is moderately strong and fruity with notes of yellow apples, a hint of pear and leather.

Taste: my first taste is dry with medium to high acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, notes of lemon, yellow apples, smokiness, low bitterness, and a touch of alcohol but also a bit watery. Finishes dry and fruity with a touch of lees.

Overall: The Cydr Radosny BrettOffowy 2020 is a really decent offering. It is complex, well made with a long-lasting taste and a nice array of fruity flavors. The level of acidity is just right and together with the fruity notes of yellow apples and pears make this cider very drinkable. This is something that I wouldn’t mind drinking again. Moreover, I’d like to stress that I have already tried several Polish commercially available craft ciders that tasted much less interesting or simply much worse than cider made by Radek and Mikolaj. Yet, while drinking the Cydr Radosny BrettOffowy 2020 I had a sort of dejavú, the impression that I have tried something similar before. Hence, I didn’t find the BrettOffowy 2020 somehow unique comparing to many ciders I haver tried so far. As I said in the beginning, it is a really honest and good cider and I’m going to cheer the guys from Cydr Radosny on their cider journey. If I find their cider one day on a store shelf, I’m going to purchase it. And, you also should. 4/6

Availability: unfortunately, not available commercially for now

Price: Radek provided me with a sample.

Kertelreiter Quince 2019

The Kertelreiter Quince 2019 is a quince wine made with the fruit donated by friends and neighbors. Barry must be either well known and respected in his home town or have really a lot of friends since in 2018 they gave him 450kg of quince. Not bad!

Previously, I sampled Barry’s perry, the Levitation 2019 and cider, the An Craobh Airgid 2019.

Company: Kertelreiter Cider
Place of Origin: Schefflenz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Fruits: quince
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6,2%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler

Appearance: pours a bit cloudy pale golden yellow with a greenish hue. The carbonation is very low and natural. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong and fruity with a beautiful note of quince. I’m not getting anything else apart from quince.

Taste: it begins bone dry with high acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, notes of quince, lemon low bitterness. Finishes dry with notes of quince and green, unripe lemon.

Overall: The Kertelreiter Quince 2019 is not going to be everyone’s favorite. High acidity in the first sip may give one a better awakening kick than a morning espresso. But with the second sip you can really get to appreciate further notes that are on the mid-palate. I especially liked the combination of quince, lemon and green, unripe lemon as I thought it contributed very nicely to the overall impression of this quince wine. Although the nose war really pleasant, fruity, there wasn’t a big variety of flavors as I could get mostly only the notes of quince. Also, I was rather surprised by the lack of tannins as usually quince is mixed with other fruits due to high tannin content. Interesting. Food-wise, due to high acidity I think it would pair very nicely with fish. Despite rather one-dimensional and quince-lemon character I enjoyed it and would buy it again. 4/6

Availability: from their online shop– they also ship to other EU countries!

Price: Barry provided me with a sample.

Gutshof Kraatz Cydonia 2018

Quince is a quite tough fruit to work with due to its high astringency. For this reason, most fruit wine producers tend to blend it with apple juice or other fruit juice to reduce its astringency and make the fruit wine more palatable. But Florian Profitlich of Gutshof Kraatz took the risk and released a 100% quince wine made with locally sourced quinces in the Uckermark. Let’s try this beauty! 

Company: Gutshof Kraatz
Place of Origin: Nordwestuckermark-Kraatz, Germany
Fruits: made from quinces coming from local orchards
ABV: 5.5%
Package type: 750ml clear glass wine bottle with screw cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden yellow with no head. No visible carbonation. Body is medium. Some sediment in the bottom.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong (literally pours out of the glass) and clear with dominating notes of quince with some lemon to it.

Taste: my first taste is bone dry with a moderate acidity of lemon. Quince, some bitter note incl. grapefruit-like bitterness and moderate astringency on the mid-palate. Finishes with a lovely and refreshing note of lemon.

Overall: If you don’t have a clue how a quince may taste like, then you should definitely sample the Gutshof Kraatz Cydonia 2018. Its scent and taste are all about quince. Although the nose is very strong and intense, I didn’t get many notes on the nose apart from the note of quince and citrusy notes of lemon. The palate seems to be more complex with more variety of notes that can be identified but still quince is the dominating one. Also, it has a very good length that lets you enjoy all these flavours that come out while tasting. Again, if you compare my tasting notes with Cydonia 2016 that I sampled previously, you will find significant differences, which shows how the weather may impact the taste of cider/wine. Due to the bone-dry taste and a bit high astringency, I wouldn’t recommend to drink it on its own but to rather pair it with food. If you choose Cydonia 2018 to pair with fish, asparagus or soft cheese I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. 4.5/6    

Availability: from their online shop. In Frankfurt from Apfelweinhandlung.

Price: Florian contacted me and asked if I’d like to try their Apfelwein.

BlakStoc Ginger For My Honey

I shall continue my journey with cider blended with ginger. Ginger For My Honey is another cider made by the genial cider maker, Karl from Austrian BlakStoc. Ginger, Honey and West Coast Aroma hops were added to the Styrian apples creating an interesting offering. Company: BlakStoc Cider GmbH
Place of Origin: Vienna, Austria
Ingredients: Styrian apples with ginger, honey and West Coast Aroma hops
ABV: 3%
Package type: 330ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a cloudy golden yellow with a fizzy short-lived white foam that reduces to a ring. Medium carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is spicy and exhibits notes of fresh ginger, ginger ale, lemon and elderflower with some pine in the background. 

Taste: it begins lightly sweet with low acidity of lemon. Strong spicy hot ginger notes with a hint of fermented yellow apples, and a touch of elderflower on the mid-palate. Finishes with a subtle bitterness of grapefruit and a lingering and refreshing ginger flavour.

Overall: Ginger For My Honey is surprisingly light and refreshing. I could imagine drinking this also on a summer day. But to be honest, from Karl, I expected more surprising flavours/weird mixes. And, his Ginger for My Honey is rather predictable. It tastes like a natural, refreshing and zesty ginger ale with a little citrusy twist. This is one of those ciders that can be a crowd-pleaser as it is difficult not to like it. But there is not that much of Karl’s genius in it as it was in case of Buddha’s Hand or Lazy Day Cucumber. 3.5/6

Availability: widely available in Austria (Der Grissemann or Beer Lovers) and Italy (e.g. Hops Beer Shop, or Tutti Fritti in Milan; Birreria della Torre in Trezzo sull’Adda). Also available in the UK (Newcomer Wines in London), Czech Republic and Germany.

Price: Karl passed me a bottle at CiderWorld 2019 in Frankfurt

Mūrbūdu Ingvera Sidrs Džindžeris

It might have been warm last week but summer is definitely gone by now. That’s why I grabbed a bottle of cider to cuddle up with. I decided to sample a Latvian cider with ginger made by Mūrbūdu.Company: Mūrbūdu Sidra Darītava
Place of Origin: Ērģemes pagasts, Valkas novads, “Klētnieki”, Latvia
Ingredients: a blend of apple varieties from old apple orchards with ginger
Sweetness as per label: unknown
ABV: 5.2%
Package type: 
330 ml amber glass with crown cork 
Recommended type of glass: 
wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with a little white head that quickly dissipates. Medium and artificial carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the scent is moderately strong with notes of fresh ginger, ginger ale, yellow apple skin and earthy notes.

Taste: my first impression is lightly sweet with a low to medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, notes of ginger ale, lemon juice, fresh ginger and a hint of pineapple. Finishes slightly spicy with a distant note of yellow apples and low astringency.

Overall: the first thing I got after I took the initial sniff, was an earthy note. I had to grimace as I didn’t find it pleasant. But it might be just me. Anyway, there are also ginger notes present and are pleasant both on the nose and on the palate. Even if they dominate and not much cider flavours come through. It’s not very rich in terms of flavours and only the spiciness of ginger lingers on but it’s quite nicely drinkable. Overall, I think that the Mūrbūdu Ingvera Sidrs Džindžeris is indeed a nice warmer that could also be appreciated on hot summer days. 4/6 

Availability: in around 60 bars and restaurants in Riga incl. Spirits and Wine, Folkklubs Ala, Trompete Taproom, Kanepes Kulturas Centrs, Radisson Hotel and Laska Bar. Online from Calyce Cider – they ship to Germany, Belgium, Spain, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, Italy and Portugal!

Price: Mūrbūdu Ingvera Sidrs Džindžeris was a sample provided by Mūrbūdu.

Distelberger Holunderblüte

In order to keep up with the newest trends in cider/perry, Toni Distelberger of Distelberger Genuss-Bauernhof from Mostviertel, released also a hopped Birnenmost blended with elderflower syrup. Furthermore, it comes in a 33cl bottle and has an ABV of only 4.5%.Company: Distelberger Genuss-Bauernhof
Place of Origin:
Amstetten, Lower Austria, Austria
Ingredients: 
Birnenmost, water, elderflower syrup, hops
Sweetness as per label: 
unknown
ABV: 
4.5%
Package type:
 330 ml amber glass with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: 
white wine glass, chalice glass or flute

Appearance: pours a clear pale straw yellow with a huge white head that immediately dissipates. Medium carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong with notes of elderflower, lemon, ripe and unripe mango.

Taste: my first taste is moderately sweet with low acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, notes of elderflower, unripe and ripe mango and lime. Finishes with a lingering note of unripe mango and distant ripe pineapple.

Overall: I’m taking the fifth sip and still don’t know what to tell you about this beverage. But I’ll try. I think that the Distelberger Holunderblüte is a quite well done hopped perry. In a blind tasting, I would never tell it was diluted with water nor that it was hopped. The taste of elderflower is obviously there and difficult to ignore but further notes that obviously come from hops are in a nice balance with elderflower and go well together. I really liked the gentle acidity as it made this Birnenmost taste like sauvignon blanc. All the flavours seem natural, move smoothly from one to another and are in a good balance. As I expected, there is no flavour of perry/Birnenmost at all. But I enjoyed it anyway. 4.5/6

Availability: directly from their shop or through Mostbarone.

Price: Distelberger Holunderblüte was a sample provided by Toni from Mostbarone.

Les Celliers Associés L’Authentique French Cider Raspberry

Next up is another cider recently released by Val de Rance from Brittany. It’s their Les Celliers Associés L’Authentique French Cider Raspberry. Apparently, this raspberry cider received Bronze at the International Cider Challenge in London 2018. Previously, I reviewed the PearLemon Ginger and Brut.Company: Val de Rance
Place of Origin: Pleudihen-sur-Rance, Brittany, France
Ingredients: French cider, raspberry juice from concentrate, natural raspberry flavour,  natural flavour, potassium bi-disulfite. 
ABV: 4.5%
Package type: 330ml amber glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: wine glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a clear ruby with a large white head that doesn’t dissipate at all leaving a large foam. Medium carbonation. Low to medium body.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is very strong and smells of raspberry candies and raspberry candy powder.

Taste: it starts lightly sweet with low acidity of lemon and raspberry. On the mid-palate, lingering note of raspberry candy that moves towards raspberry candy powder note and creamy raspberry. Finishes with a taste of candy powder and a distant chemical and slightly bitter note.

Overall: Similarly to previously tasted ciders from their range, the Les Celliers Associés L’Authentique French Cider Raspberry can be also classified as a fruit cider and an alco-pop. Both the nose and the palate are dominated by notes typical for raspberry candies and powder candies. I can’t say that the taste is unpleasant as it was the case with previously tastes Pear and Lemon Ginger. Quite on the contrary, it’s actually drinkable. But it is definitely not a cider but a raspberry-flavoured unidentified beverage. I’m not exactly sure what’s the point of realising a product that is called a cider but has only an array of different kind of raspberries flavours. For those who don’t want to taste the flavour of apples in their cider. 2.5/6 

Availability: in Finland online through Redbev, in Germany through Ebrosia and Vinoscout.  In the UK through Dunnels. And, many more.

Price: a sample was provided by Nolwenn from Les Celliers Associés.

Gutshof Kraatz Kaiser Wilhelm Renette mit Quitte 2018

Florian of Gutshof Kraatz likes to experiment with pears and quinces that are locally grown in the Uckermark, Brandenburg. This time, he blended quince with a winter apple variety, which is widely spread across Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm. From my experience, Kaiser Wilhelm gives lovely acidity but it’s not very aromatic itself. Company: Gutshof Kraatz
Place of Origin: Nordwestuckermark-Kraatz, Brandenburg, Germany
Ingredients: Kaiser Wilhelm and quince locally grown in the Uckermark
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 8.5%
Package type: 750ml clear glass wine bottle with screw cap
Recommended type of glass: wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with no head. No carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong with dominating notes of ripe quince, yellow apples, fresh apple skin with a distant hint of vanilla.

Taste: my first taste is slightly sweet with a medium acidity of lemon. The mid-palate has a low to medium astringent taste with notes of ripe juicy quince and overripe quince, fresh yellow apple, low bitterness, alcohol, toffee and low vanilla. Finishes with notes of low bitterness, alcohol and vanilla.

Overall: I shared a bottle of Kaiser Wilhelm Renette mit Quitte with my family so there were 5 different judges. My mom who’s not a fan of cider surprisingly enjoyed her glass. My dad seems to like anything that is not sweet and doesn’t taste artificial so he obviously liked it too. My brother and his wife had mixed feelings at the beginning but with the rise of temperature (I served it chilled) or contact with air they even liked this drop. As for me, I loved the refreshing and fruity nose. Also, the bottle content seemed very refreshing despite a pungent taste of alcohol to it. It warmed me up, which is a great feature of a winter cider/apple wine. In addition, I thought it was longlasting with a nice finish. Also, the flavours seemed to change with time, which made it a very interesting drinking experience. But, due to a very intense note of quince both on the nose and the palate, to me, it tasted like a quince wine with Kaiser Wilhelm instead of Kaiser Wilhelm with quince. I’d wished more apple flavours or at least less quince on the palate. Overall, it is a good and quality product that will go well with white fish and crepes with goat cheese. 4.5/6

Availability: from their shop and online shop. In Berlin from Schaufenster Uckermark located in Markthalle Neun. Online from QRegio. In Frankfurt from Apfelweinhandlung.

Price: Florian contacted me and asked if I’d like to try his apple wine.