Royal Dog Cider

All I could find about the company behind the Royal Dog Cider it that is produced by Pivovar Zubr in Přerov, The Czech Republic in cooperation with Ovexim, a company producing apple juices, fruit concentrates, wines and other products made from fruits.Company: Pivovar Zubr
Place of Origin: Přerov, Olomouc Region, The Czech Republic
Apples: specially cultivated Moravian apple varieties
ABV: 4.5%
Package type: draught
Recommended type of glass: pint glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a white head, which slowly dissipates. Lightly sparkling.

Aroma/Nose: smells of apple juice from a carton with a note typical for white wine, also something chemical on the nose.

Taste: starts extremely sweet with no acidity to break the overly sweet taste. The sweetness is followed by a flavour of cheap apple juice from a carton and a chemical note to it. Can’t taste anything else. No tannins, but also no taste of alcohol.

Overall: You shouldn’t judge a book, by its cover, but even before I purchased the Royal Dog Cider I had a feeling it would turn out to a typical alco-pop. Unfortunately, I wasn’t wrong. The Royal Dog Cider tastes like an apple juice that you drink for breakfast in a budget hotel. It tastes overly sweet and chemical. It has nothing to do with real cider. I couldn’t finish it. I don’t believe that anyone could find it drinkable. 0.5/6 

Availability: seems to be available in a number of restaurants and bars across The Czech Republic.

Price: had 0.2L at Slavnost Cideru 2017 at 20 CZK (1 EUR)

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De Sas Japko

A quick bit of research told me that Japko is produced in the beautiful Barycz Valley by Winnica De Sas, which is actually a vineyard. Apples used for their cider are provided by Dominik Podchydło’s organic orchards.Company: Winnica DeSas
Place of Origin: Krośnice, Lower Silesia, Poland
Apples: organic apples
Sweetness as per label: unknown
ABV: 5.5%
Package type: 500ml green glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a hazy pale golden yellow with no head. No carbonation. Body is low. Some sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: the scent is fruity with notes of vinegar, fermenting apples, yeast, something green and a hint of paint thinner.

Taste: the first sip is sweet with medium to high both lemon-like and acetic acidity. Followed by a refreshing grapefruit peel bitterness, yeasty flavour, sour apples and a gently astringent note.

Overall: it used to be one of my favourite Polish ciders or at least the most frequently consumed back in 2016. Last year’s Japko tasted, however, less sweet than this year’s batch, with a milder note of the paint thinner. At least this is how I remembered it. Japko is still one of my favourite Polish craft ciders despite the relatively high sweetness, which surprisingly isn’t broken by relatively high citrusy and vinegary acidity. Only the increased level of sweetness and the distance from Berlin to Wrocław stop me from drinking this cider every day. Summarizing, I found this cider refreshing with a nice set of flavours and I am looking forward to my next visit to Wrocław. 4/6

Availability: straight from the vineyard Winnica DeSas. Pod Wiaduktem in Cracow, Marynka, Piwo i Aperitivo in Wrocław, and Teo in Cieszków, Lower Silesia.

Price: purchased at Marynka, Piwo i Aperitivo in Wrocław at 11 PLN (2.60 EUR)

Worley’s Beatnik Billy

Finally! A cider from Worley’s arrived with my Orchard Box. Worley’s distribution network might be broad but at least for now nobody in Germany stocks their ciders. Hence, Orchard Box was my only hope! And it finally happened, I’m sampling the Beatnik Billy, which is one of the new ciders created by Nick Worley from Worley’s in Shepton Mallett in Somerset, UK.Company: Worley’s
Place of Origin: Shepton Mallet, Somerset, UK
Apples: early-season cider apple varieties from some of South Somerset’s finest orchards
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 5.5%
Package type: 500ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with no head. Lightly sparkling, as advertised. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose has a flavour of an apple pie, baked apple and vanilla. This is all I could get.

Taste: it starts moderately sweet with a barely detectable low acidity. Further notes that appear are of dried apricots, wood, vanilla, apple pie and freshly squeezed apple juice from red apples. A lingering gentle astringency with distant apple seed-like bitterness to the end.

Overall: The Beatnik Billy is a light and refreshing cider that will go down easily especially on a hot summer day. But even now when it’s cold and gloomy outside, like today in Berlin, I finished my Beatnik Billy within 10 minutes from opening. It could be slightly less sweet though but I really enjoyed having it. Would love to have it again. 4.5/6 

Availability: In the UK from their online shop, Gluten Free Beer Store, Farm DropCider Supermarket. In Bristol from Bottles & Books and Bristol Cider Shop. In the Netherlands from Het Ciderhuis or Sterk Amsterdam,

Price: came with Orchard Box.

Ramborn Cellar Editions Erbachhoffer 2016

Erbachhoffer is an apple variety that has been used for making Apfelwein or, as locals call it, viez in German Saarland but also in small Luxembourg. When it was time to make a blend for the Farmhouse, my personal favourite cider from Ramborn, Caroline, the cider maker at Ramborn kept some separated Erbachhoffer as it simply tasted so good. Hence, tasting Erbachhoffer, a cider from Ramborn’s Cellar Editions should give one a picture of what Luxembourg’s cider apples are really like.Company: Ramborn Cider Co.
Place of Origin: Born, Luxembourg
Apples: single variety Erbachhofer
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 7.5%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or snifter
Ingredients: contains sorbic acid

Appearance: pours a clear amber with orange hues and no head. No carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is rich and slightly sweet with notes of red and yellow apples, overripe apples, apple juice, oak, and a hint of pear. I can also get a very distant flavour of caramel, cinnamon and cloves.

Taste: it starts with low sweetness and a delicate watery taste with relatively high lemon-like acidity that instantly stimulates your salivary glands to produce saliva. Subsequently, a note of red apples and yellow apples, light astringent taste, oak and apple-seed bitterness appear with a strong smoky note, detectable only in the beginning. A lingering lemon flavour with moderate apple seed-bitterness and a hint of green apple in the aftertaste

Overall: when I tried an apple juice made from Erbachhoffer I thought it tasted glorious. Hence, it is not a surprise that also a cider made from this apple variety has an exceptional palate. Ramborn’s Erbachhoffer is rich, with a good structure and nicely preserved refreshing appley taste. I was especially fond of the apple-seeds-bitterness, which was quite strong but not disturbing at all. It made me feel that I’m really drinking a traditional viez from Luxembourg. In addition, I enjoyed the fact that the Erbachhoffer is a still cider, not sparkling. For those who are not fans of sour-tasting cider, the Erbachhoffer may be less palatable. Taken together, The Farmhouse is still my favourite but I wouldn’t say no to a glass of Erbachhoffer if it’d be offered. 4.5/6

Availability: since it is a special edition cider the availability might be limited and therefore hard to get. In Germany available at this moment only from The Hop Shop Trier.

Price: Erbachhoffer was kindly sent to me by Adie from Ramborn Cider Co.

Tempted Dry

Tempted Irish Craft Cider is a family-run cidery from Lisburn in Northern Ireland, UK. It was established only in 2009 by Dave Uprichard, who is a first generation cider-maker. At Tempted only Irish apples are used, including Armagh Bramley Apple with Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status. Currently, Tempted Irish Craft Cider have five different ciders in their line-up, Sweet, Medium Dry, Dry, Elderflower and Strawberry.  Their range of ciders picked up plenty of national and international cider awards. Today I’m reviewing the Dry.Company: Tempted Irish Craft Cider
Place of Origin: Lisburn, Northern Ireland
Apples: dessert and Bramley apples sourced locally
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 5.7%
Package type: 500ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, chalice glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden yellow with a massive short-lived white foam. Medium carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is fruity and has notes of white wine, apple juice, cider apples, caramel, oak, apple flesh, fermented apples. Also, a distant buttery note. The scent is very rich and inviting.

Taste: the first sip is slightly watery and dry, but not bone dry, with medium acidity. The mid-palate has notes of a fresh apple juice and a regular apple juice with fermented apples and white wine. The aftertaste is also dry with a lingering note of smoked cheese with a touch of bitterness, watermelon and low astringent taste.

Overall: Tempted’s Dry is a refreshing combination of culinary apples with cider apples. It is a really decent cider, full-bodied with a good structure and satisfying taste. Also, it’s not bone dry, but not sweet either, which makes the Dry a lovely food-friendly crowd pleaser. I enjoyed it the crisp appley taste and would love to have it again. Sadly, the Dry is not available in Germany yet. 4.5/6

Availability: many pubs in Nothern Ireland have their cider in stock. Online in the UK from Amazon, Martin’s Off-Licence, Drink Finder. (Constantine Stores Ltd). Locally from Bottles and Books in Bristol, UK or The Winehouse in Trim, Ireland. In Italy from Sidro & Cider.

Price: came with my craft cider subscription delivered monthly by Orchard Box

 

 

 

 

De vergeten Appel ‘t Schoapke 2016

Before establishing De vergeten Appel Johan, who is the cider maker and owner of the cidery, has lived in Australia. I wonder if this is where and when he was bitten by the cider bug. Next cider from De vergeten Appel’s line-up is  ‘t Schoapke, which was made from apples coming from orchards in Susteren and Schijndel.Company: De Vergeten Appel
Place of Origin: Tilburg, North Brabant, Netherlands
Apples: made from apples coming from Susteren and Schijndel.
ABV: 6%
Package type: 375ml green champagne bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: flute or wine glass

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale straw with green hues and a huge white fizzy head that very slowly dissipates. High carbonation and likely natural. Body is low. Sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is very refreshing and slightly vinous with notes of green and yellow apples, some oak and lemon.

Taste: my first sip is dry, but not bone dry, moderately acidic and tart with notes of lemon. However, the level of acidity seems to increase with time. On the mid-palate yellow apples, some oak and white wine notes. The aftertaste is dry with a lemon touch and green notes. No tannins detectable.

Overall: after a really inviting and refreshing nose you’d wish to find the same intensity also in the palate. But in ‘t Schoapke all flavours seem to be present only in the first sip. They don’t really linger on. I must say that ‘t Schoapke lacks depth and certain structure. It’s drinkable, refreshing and I can’t say that I didn’t enjoyed drinking it. But Johan has  already created better ciders than this one. 3.5/6

Availability: locally in Rotterdam at Fenix Food Factory, in Amsterdam from Apples en Perren . Online in the Netherlands from Sans Blah Blah.

Price: ‘t Schoapke was kindly provided to me by Johan from De vergeten Appel for testing.

Where to drink/buy cider in Toronto?

Toronto is a remarkable city with many faces and great, friendly, open-minded people. It reminded me Berlin a bit, not only because of the TV tower. Cider is available here at literally every bar, pub or restaurant. To my surprise, most bars carry commercial cider from Europe such as Somersby. Fortunately, they usually also stock an alternative to this European cider from concentrate, a cider from a local cider maker Thornbury Village.

I’ve decided to check what others already wrote about cider in Toronto, and I have found at least two very good articles about where to find cider there. One from Toronto Life published Feb 2017 and one slightly older from BlogTo. Nevertheless, I’ve made the decision to compile my own list and share with you my feedback and impressions. It took me a longer while to write about all the cider spots in Toronto. But here it is!

Bars

img_7988Her Father’s Cider Bar & Kitchen is my absolutely
number one favourite in terms of cider spots in Toronto. If I had lived in Toronto I would surely become a regular customer. You can find regularly rotating tap selection featuring local cider makers from Ontario area. Cider flights are also available. If that’s not enough, they have an incredible selection of bottled cider available as well. Since I sat at the bar I kept staring at 4 giant refrigerators stocked with cider from different regions of Canada, mainly Ontario and Quebec, but also the U.S.. Also European ciders from the UK, France, Spain and even Estonia from Jaanihanso can be found here. When I was reviewing the extensive bottled cider menu I was really img_7987confused and overwhelmed by the choice here. Fortunately, the staff was amazing and  I got a few recommendations for a number of interesting Canadian ciders. Trust me, I wanted to try every single cider on the menu and it was almost a torture to pick only a few. Here is the link to their hypnotizing cider menu. If you’re into ice cider you can sample ice cider from Quebec by the glass. Also, their cocktails are based on cider if you are a fan. Even the food there tastes incredible. Pure heaven! I actually wanted to pay them a visit again on Monday but unfortunately they’re closed on Mondays so you can imagine my huge disappointment. Anyway, Her Father’s Cider Bar & Kitchen is  a must visit spot for every cider lover.

  • Cider House 391 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto ON M6R 2N1

img_7929Located in the middle of the Polish neighbourhood on Roncesvalles, the Cider House is a nice and cosy bar that has a wide selection of regional cider from Ontario on tap. Cider flights featuring 4 different ciders are available here at 9 CAD and are slightly cheaper than at Her Father’s Cider Bar & Kitchen. My tasting notes from the visit there can be found here. They also serve food but I wasn’t hungry at the time. Fortunately, Cider House is open on Mondays so I came here one more time before heading to the airport as it was close to Bloor, an UP Express station.

img_7950Birreria Volo, as the name already indicates, is located in Little Italy. It’s actually well-hidden and it took me a while to find the place. It’s pretty dark with minimalist and modern design that appealed to me. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the dim light in the place. As for cider, at Birreria Volo they usually have 2 to 4 changing regional ciders available on draught. Click here to see what is currently available on tap. Again, they even have Estonian cider from Jaanihanso by the glass. I came here a few times as it was close to my airbnb accommodation and I just enjoyed being there.

img_7962Tequila Bookworm is a lively bar based in the popular shopping street in Toronto, Queen Street West. Again, it was similarly hidden just like it was in the Birreria Volo’s case. At Tequila Bookworm they have always at least two ciders available on tap. Since they had really weird cider (at least to me) on offer at the time of my visit, such as Vanilla Ice Cream Apple Pie Milkshake cider from Revel Cider Company or Hopped Peach Cider (I’m not a fan of hopped cider) from the West Avenue Cider Company, I’ve decided not to stay there longer and continued my search for cider spots in Toronto. But if you’re not a cider purist like me, you might enjoy your glass of cider here.

Since I’ve decided to explore Toronto on foot, which turned out to be a terrible idea as I wasn’t aware that streets can be that long here, I didn’t manage to check The Only Cafe. But I hear that they also have a great cider selection. 5 changing regional craft ciders on tap. For their current line-up check here.

  • Wvrst 609 King Street West, Toronto ON, M5V 1M5

Wvrst is another place famous for craft cider, and sausages, I would guess (Wurst is German for sausage) that I didn’t manage to check out as it was on the other side of the city and thus not part of my route. However, from what I read now about this place, I do regret that I didn’t pay them a visit. Next time!

SHOPS 

img_7961In terms of shops, you will find cider at special stores that have a licence to sell alcohol called LCBO. I was told that ice cider is available only in the winter here. They have many stores around the city and the state. You can also purchase cider straight from the source if you decide to visit a tasting room of one of the local cider makers. Check out the website of the Ontario Craft Cider Association to see the list of local cideries. Cheers!

 

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