Kentish Pip – tasting notes from the 2.Britisches Bier- & Cider Festival at Loch Ness (Berlin)

Although the 2. Britisches Bier- & Cider Festival (2nd British Beer & Cider Festival) that took place from 29 September – 1 October 2017 at Loch Ness Scottish Pub & Whisky Bar in Berlin may give you an impression of a huge event, it is different from the other festivals that occur in the city and that you have previously attended. What makes it unique is the fact that it’s the only festival organised in a pub (not a stadium or anything like that). In addition, there were no 700 ciders to try. Only a selection of 5 real bag-in-box ciders, all from a UK cider maker, Kentish Pip. If you include bottled cider from Annings, Brothers, Bulmers, Crabbie’s, Thistly Cross and Westons, the number will increase to 26.

Your 10 EUR (15 EUR on Saturday as it included live music) entry fee got you admittance to the Festival which includes, a festival guide, 2 tokens for 1/2 pint beer or bag-in-box cider and a card for stamp collecting (1/2pint gets you a stamp, after collection of 12 stamps you get the 13 half/pint for free). Because of this festival, I got the opportunity to taste a selection of cider from Kentish Pip. Here are my tasting notes.

Company: Kentish Pip Cider
Place of Origin: Woolen Farm, Bekesbourne Canterbury, Kent, UK
Kentish Pip Craftsman (5-6%, medium dry)

Appearance: pours a slightly cloudy pale amber with no carbonation. Body is low. Aroma/Nose: the aroma is tannic and sweet with notes of caramel, red crisp and juicy apples. Taste: it begins slightly sweet with a very low, barely detectable level of acidity. Subsequently, you get a strong tannic kick that makes your mouth dry followed by a watery taste with notes of red apples, apple juice and apple seeds. It finishes dry with a taste of juicy red apple and cinnamon with a hint of the apple seeds-like bitterness. Overall: it has a straight cider apple taste with strong tannins and nice structure. It could taste less watery though. 4/6
Kentish Pip Pear & Russet (6.5%, cider perry made with Russet and conference pears)

Appearance: pours a slightly cloudy pale golden with no carbonation. Body is low. Aroma/Nose: the aroma is funky and fruity with notes of barnyard, pear, elderflower with floral notes. Taste: it begins watery and moderately sweet with a very distant acetic acidity. On the mid-palate notes of pear, candies, cinnamon, paint remover and light funk. The finish is dry with a lingering cinnamon flavour and gentle astringency. Overall: a quite pleasant cider perry that perhaps will not appeal to everyone (I found it too sweet), but will definitely find an audience that can appreciate it. Again, it tasted too watery. 3.5/6Kentish Pip Wild Summer (4%, elderflower cider)

Appearance: pours a slightly cloudy pale yellow straw with no carbonation. Body is low. Aroma/Nose: the aroma is sweet, fruity and floral with notes of elderflower, pear and something green. Taste: it starts quite spicy with no detectable acidity and moderate sweetness. Elderflower, crisp yellow and red apples with green notes, candies and gently astringent tannins on the mid-palate. The aftertaste is dry with a spicy and herbal flavour. Overall: I guess I’m not a fan of elderflower after all as the Wild Summer was not exactly to my liking. It tastes very unique and natural and is not overly sweet as some elderflower cider tend to be, so I think, it may appeal to many. But it’s just not my cup of tea. 3/6

Kentish Pip Forager Hedgerow Berry Cider (4%, cider with hedgerow berries) – my phone died by then so I couldn’t take a picture.

Appearance: pours a clear ruby with no carbonation. Body is low. Aroma/Nose: the nose is funky, tannic and fruity with notes of barnyard,  berries and burnt caramel. Taste: it begins watery with moderate sweetness and low acidity. Raspberries, blackberries, black currant, red currant, red apple, caramel and light funk on the mid-palate. The aftertaste is dry with a lingering black currant flavour and light astringency. Overall: One of the best berry cider I had in a while. If not the watery taste I would rate it higher. 4/6

There was one more cider left to try from Kentish Pip, the Firespice Ginger, but the Festival was closing at 10pm, so I didn’t manage to give it a try. Another time perhaps.

Summarizing, each cider from Kentish Pip tasted pleasant and natural with a nice variety of flavours. I found the Craftsman to be the most to my liking as it gives one the strong tannic kick that I like yet tasted quite refreshing. I hope there will be more real cider to try next year at the 3rd edition of the Festival at Loch Ness in Berlin. Cheers! 

Advertisements

Johannes Cyder Suchý

Johannes Cyder is a mysterious cider maker from The Czech Republic. They have their own website, but they don’t disclose much information about themselves. Luckily, I was able to determine that the cider is made by Ondra. Also, I learned that the cider was named after his son Johannes. It seems that he considers his cider as her baby as well. Currently, Johannes Cyder is available only on draught as Suchý (dry) and Sladký (sweet). I’m giving the Suchý a try.
Company: Johannes Cider
Place of Origin: Tabor or Prague Vršovice, The Czech Republic
Apples: unknown Czech apples
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6.4%
Package type: draught
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or wine glass

Appearance: pours a slightly hazy straw yellow with no head. Medium carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is wild and refreshing with notes of barnyard, leather, fermenting cider and red apples.

Taste: it starts with high lemon-like acidity, notes of lemon flesh and lemon zest, and after a few seconds gets lightly watery with delicate notes of barnyard, fermenting apples and smoky ham. Finishes with a pleasant light grapefruit-like bitterness.

Overall: Dry from Johannes Cyder is a natural cider with a refreshing strong citrusy palate. But the Dry was a bit too sour to my liking. I must note that had it alone without any food. Yet I can imagine it would pair well with traditional Czech meals such as Roast Duck, Prague Ham or other hearty dishes. Hence, the Dry is for those who prefer dry, tart and natural cider. I would buy it again, but next time with food. 3.5/6 

Availability: only on draught in InCider Bar, La BabicheVršovická zahrada, Bajkazyl, Cafe Sladkovsky, Kavarna Liberal, Cobra , Cafe Fra and occasionally in BeerGeek Bar in Prague. Also in Kavkárna in Česke Budějovice.

Price: received it for free at InCider Bar‘s stand during Slavnost Cideru 2017.

 

De vergeten Appel Moesj 2016 and Moesj 2016 Met Eikenhout gerijpt

My first acquaintance with cider from the Dutch cider maker, De vergeten Appel was not the most fortunate (see my recent review on their Stam 2015 here). After the review was published, Johan Holleman (De vergeten Appel’s cider maker) reached out to me to inform me that the Stam is no longer produced and that they have a completely new range of ciders now. In addition, Johan asked me for an opinion about their new lineup. So today I’m giving the Moesj 2016 a try. Moesj 2016 is available in two versions, Moesj 2016 and  Moesj 2016 Met Eikenhout gerijpt (aged with oak chips).

Company: De Vergeten Appel
Place of Origin: Tilburg, Netherlands
Apples: made from apples coming from MDe Bilt, Schijndel and Susteren.
ABV: 6%
Package type: 375ml green champagne bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: flute or wine glassMoesj 2016 

Appearance: pours a clear straw yellow with a massive short-lived head and beautiful bubbles. High carbonation. Body is low to medium. Aroma/Nose: the aroma is vinous with yellow apples, pears, some wood and a hint of must. Very pleasant. Taste: it begins dry with some residual sweetness to it and a medium level of acidity. The mid-palate has notes of lemon, pear, white wine with a hint of yellow apple. The finish is dry with a touch of apple seed-like bitterness. The bitterness gets more present with every sip, but it’s not disturbing at all. Also, a gentle astringency appears after a few sips. Overall: it has a good level of acidity, clear taste, many good fruity flavours and just a touch of bitterness that contributes to the overall taste. 4.5/6

Moesj 2016 Met Eikenhout gerjipt (aged with oak chips)

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale golden with a small short-lived head. Medium carbonation. Body is low to medium. Aroma/Nose: the aroma is similarly vinous with yellow apples, pears, and additionally yeast. Taste: it starts dry with some residual sweetness to it and medium, but slightly lower acidity than the previous Moesj. The mid-palate is dominated by the yeasty taste with notes of lemon, pear, white wine with a hint of yellow apple in the background. The finish is dry without bitterness, but with a touch of wood. Overall: imagine one-third of the taste of the first Moesj and add a strong yeasty taste, not allowing these fruity and clear flavours to come out and shine. It’s not bad. It just tastes unbalanced and average. 3/6

Final Verdict: it turns out that Johann can indeed make a good cider 😉 Jokes aside, it’s really interesting to see such a huge difference between one and the same cider that was or wasn’t additionally aged with oak chips. You can tell on the spot only by comparing the appearance of both Moesj’s that they are different. The first one is clear, whereas the other one is cloudy. Additionally, they both taste different. The Moesj treated with oak chips has lower acidity (hence, I suspect that it underwent malolactic fermentation) and a strong yeasty flavour. Surprisingly, ageing with oak chips didn’t improve the taste or add flavours, quite on the contrary, in my view.

Personally, I prefer the Moesj without the oak chips treatment. I really enjoyed its clear, fruity and refreshing taste. Moreover, due to high carbonation and the clear and fruity vinous taste I can easily name this particular Moesj a prosecco among ciders. Highly recommended!

 

Availability: Fenix Food Factory in Rotterdam Appels en Perren in Amsterdam, De Bierbrigadier in Eindhoven, Little DevilBurgemeester JansenDe Burgerij in Tilburg, Brewpub De Kromme Haring in Utrecht. Online from Ciderwinkel.

Price: both versions of Moesj 2016 were kindly sent to me by De vergeten Appel for testing.

Perry’s Barn Owl

One of my followers recommended trying the Barn Owl from Perry’s lineup next as this one is his second favourite after the brilliant Grey Heron. So upon request, I’m giving it a try.Company: Perry’s Cider
Place of Origin: The Cider Mills, Dowlish Wake, Somerset, UK
Apples: unknown varieties
ABV: 6.5%
Package type: 500ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, chalice glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a lightly hazy pale orange with a short-lived white head. Lightly sparkling.

Aroma/Nose: on the nose funky notes of barnyard, incense, leather with a hint of fresh ripe red apples and fermented apples.

Taste: the first sip is slightly watery with medium sweetness and low acidity. Fresh and ripe red juicy apples with fermented red apples, some berries, smokiness and funky barnyard notes on the mid-palate. The aftertaste is dry with a gentle wood and leather note and a lingering strong astringency. No bitterness.

Overall: there was much oohing and aahing during drinking. Barn Owl is simply another great cider from Perry’s. The Barn Owl is, however, less sweet and lighter than the Grey Heron, but similarly mouth-puckering and refreshing at the same time. I must agree that the Grey Heron tasted slightly better as there was more weight on the palate. But, again the Barn Owl is more refreshing. A great drop for the summer, I think. On another note, please bear in mind that due to the mouth-puckering effect of the Barn Owl chatting might be difficult ;-). To summarise, I loved the Barn Owl, but I would rather drink the Barn Owl in the summer, and leave the Grey Heron for a chilly autumn or winter day. 5/6 

Availability: from their online shopBottles and BooksBristol Cider ShopFetch the Drinks, Brewers Droop, Beers by Post. In Denmark online from Klosterbryggeriet and in Germany from Ciderhof.

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

Manufaktura Cydru Wytrawny

There is a new Polish craft cider that just hit the shelves a few months ago, Manufaktura Cydru. Manufaktura Cydru was established in 2015 in a small town Podolszyn near Warsaw and currently consists of only four persons (a true craft cidery). Dorota Krawczyk, who won the Warsaw Homebrew Competition 2016 in the category of cider, is the head of cider production at Manufaktura Cydru. Recently they launched their first cider Wytrawny (dry), which was sent to me for testing.Company: Manufaktura Cydru
Place of Origin: Podolszyn, Masovia, Poland
Apples: 
Jonagold Decosta, Idared
Sweetness as per label:
dry
ABV:
4.5%
Package type: 
500ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a slightly cloudy straw yellow with no head. No carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is not very strong, but rich and pleasant. Also, rather sweet than dry. On the nose notes of juicy red apples, pears, white grapes with a hint of white wine.

Taste: the first sip is not entirely dry with some residual sweetness and medium lemon-like acidity. Subsequently, it gets slightly tart with a light watery taste. On the mid-palate notes of lemon, crisp acidic apples and yellow apples. The finish is dry with a lingering gentle honey-like flavour and a touch of distant grapefruit bitterness.

Overall: Although this cider is made entirely from dessert apples it tastes surprisingly smooth with good flavours and structure. Lemon-like acidity gives this cider a refreshing taste and good sessionability. What a shame that the summer is over as this cider would make a perfect summer drink for those who prefer their cider on the drier side, including me. The only improvement that could eventually be made is the reduction of the watery taste. Anyway, I enjoyed it and could have this cider again. I must honestly say that Manufaktura Cydru’s Wytrawny is the best and the most impressive cider made from dessert apples I had so far. Looking forward to next ciders created by Dorota Krawczyk! 4.5/6

Availability: only in Poland for now. Available in Warsaw through e.g. Skrzynka Piwa, Piwna Gwardia, Beerhub, Chmiel i Zyto, Hoppy Story, Elektoralna 24, Ingmar Piwny Sklad, Sluzewiecki Polew z BeczkiCzarodziejka Gorzalka or Stan Umyslu.

Price: Wytrawny was sent to me by Manufaktura Cydru for testing.

Bright Side Cider

All I was able to find about Bright Side Cider is that the company was established in 2016 by Thomas Nowatzky and Rudolf Moos, two cider lovers and entrepreneurs. Despite the popularity of their product, they stopped the production earlier this year for unknown reasons. But, you can still find their cider in many shops in Berlin.Company: Bright Side Cider GmbH
Place of Origin: Berlin, Germany
Apples: locally grown apples
ABV: 5%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

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

Aroma/Nose: smells like a sweet apple juice made predominantly from red apples, with a hint of fermented apples, and a buttery note.

Taste: it starts sweet and slightly watery with low acidity and a strong apple juice taste. The mid-palate has a hint of smokiness to the apple juice-like taste and gentle tannins. The aftertaste is dry and slightly astringent.

Overall: similarly to Outmost’s Outcider Mild the Bright Side Cider has a striking resemblance to Apfelschorle, an apple juice mixed with spritzer, which is a typical beverage drunk in this part of Germany. So, I am sorry to say this, but the Bright Side Cider is just another apple juice-like tasting cider. When I buy cider I want to drink cider, not Apfelschorle. Summarizing, Bright Side Cider is drinkable, but I still don’t get what is the point of producing an Apfelschorle with alcohol and calling it a cider. Is it because cider is getting more trendy? 2.5/6

Availability: only locally in Berlin from Weinberg, FlaschbierschopGetränkefeinkost Berlin

Price: purchased from Flaschbierschop in Berlin at 2.30 EUR.

Kingstone Press Classic Apple Cider

You might have heard accusations that food brands produce lower quality products for the Eastern European market. It looks that cider produced for the UK market and for the Czech market has different information on the label. Kingstone Press Classic Apple Cider made for the Czech market contains two potentially harmful azo dyes, a strawberry red azo dye, Ponceau 4R (E124), which is permitted for use in Europe, but banned in the US, and tartrazine (E102), a yellow azo dye. On the label of the same cider that I tried in Berlin, apparently produced for the UK market, no information about food colourings or any other additives can be found. Or maybe the producer wants to hide this information from the UK consumers? For both labels see below.

Czech Label: picture below is courtesy of A Dost!Bildschirmfoto 2017-08-09 um 12.22.04.png

UK Label:img_7287-1.jpgToday’s review is on the Kingstone Press Classic Apple Cider, which was awarded Bronze from the International Cider Challange 2017 and is one of the cheapest ciders in the UK, only 1 GBP in retail.img_7289.jpg

Company: Aston Manor Cider
Place of Origin: Aston Manor Cider Mill Stourport on Severn, Worcestershire, UK
Apples: a blend of Dabinett and Michelin with juice from eating apples
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 5.3%
Package type: 500ml  clear glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass
Appearance: pours a clear golden with no foam. Carbonation and body are low.
Aroma/Nose: the scent is dominated by matches-like sulphur with notes of fermented red ripe apples and caramel in the background.
Taste: the initial taste has a caramel-like sweetness with low to medium lemon-like acidity and a note of matches-like sulphur. This flavour is perceivable throughout the whole sip, which is not particularly pleasant. The mid-palate has a flavour of red apples and apple skins, and again sulphur. In the aftertaste, besides the disturbing note of sulphur, notes of red apples with gentle astringency.
Overall: the matches-like sulphur taste dominates and kills this cider. It’s really sad, cause in the background you can taste a quite nice and drinkable cider. If one could remove this unpleasant sulphur note it would make a drinkable pour. But due to this unpleasant flavour, I’m not going to buy it again. Also, because I don’t trust the company anymore and I refuse to consume health threatening compounds. 2.5/6
Availability: widely available in the UK, e.g. from Groceries Iceland. In Slovakia from DrinkShop.sk in Slovakia. In Germany through Michelle’s Specialities or Britische-Biere.de.
 
Price: paid 6 EUR in The Castle Berlin. After I learned how much a bottle costs in the UK I feel the price in Berlin is too high.