Thistly Cross Original

Scotch whisky is a key part of Scottish culture. And, cider? Well, Scotland has only a few cider makers, and Thistly Cross Cider is one of them. Thistly Cross Cider was set up only in Autumn 2008 and is made by Peter Stuart (cider maker) and Ian Rennie (farmer) on Belhaven Fruit Farm, close to Dunbar. The Original is claimed to be an award-winning cider, but I haven’t found a single award for the Original. Only for the cider manufacturer or for other ciders from their lineup. Company: Thistly Cross
Place of Origin: Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland
Apples: a blend of Scottish heritage apples
Sweetness as per label: sweet
ABV: 6.2%
Package type: 500ml brown glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a short-lived white head. Medium carbonated. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: smells fruity of red apples, apple juice, light raspberry and other red fruits with notes of white wine. Slightly sweetish.

Taste: the first sip is moderately sweet with low acidity. The mid-palate has fruity notes of red apples, apple juice and red berries with white wine notes. The aftertaste is also fruity with notes of apple juice and berries. Also, light bitterness and some spiciness from alcohol. It gives you a light warming effect of the alcohol.

Overall: I’m not a big fan of ciders made from dessert apples, as they tend to be too sweet, watery and boring. Perhaps the Original didn’t taste boring and watery, exceptionally sweet. I’m sure it will find a grip on people, who will find it appealing as it’s not bad. It’s just not a cider for me. 3/6 

Availability: Widely available. Locally from Asda, Sainsbury’s. From their online store, Fetch the drinks, Cider & More, Britische Biere, Depot Shop Kiel, Ciderwinkel. Locally in Berlin from Hopfen & Malz or in the Monterey Bar. In Frankfurt from Naiv.

Price:  when I was cider shopping at Hopfen & Malz in Berlin.

Gwynt y Ddraig Farmhouse Vintage Scrumpy

After the everyone’s favourite the Black Dragon (see the review here) the Farmhouse Vintage Scrumpy is another cider from this Welsh cider maker that I have the pleasure to sample. The Farmhouse Vintage Scrumpy has picked up a number of awards in the UK and Australia. 
Company:
Gwynt y Ddraig Cider and Perry Company
Place of Origin: Pontypridd, Wales, UK
Apples: cider apples grown by traditional methods in ageing orchards
Sweetness as per label: medium
ABV: 5.3%
Package type: 500ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or flute

Appearance: pours a clear orange with no head. Low petillant-type carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is dominated by sulphur, with notes of red apples in the background and caramel. This is all I picked up.

Taste: it begins with a high amount of caramel-like sweetness, which classifies this cider in my opinion rather as sweet than medium. The acidity level is low and lemon-like. Similarly as on the nose, a hint of sulphur with notes of red apple and apple juice. The finish has a low to moderate astringent taste with a refreshing note of crisp apple.

Overall: a sulphur note is not exactly my favourite flavour. Especially, if the sulphur flavour dominates the aroma, thus simply acting as a turn-off to me. The palate is much better than the nose overpowered by sulphur as it comes with a pleasant apple forward taste. But still, I can’t call this flavour not superb. In addition, I found the level of sweetness way too high to my liking. But again, if you don’t mind the sulphur flavour and you have a sweet tooth you may find this cider refreshing. Personally, I wouldn’t buy it again. 3/6

Availability: from their online shop. in the UK from BeerRitz, Dylans Wine, N.D. John Wine Merchants, Mumbles Fine Wine, Blas Ar Fwyd , CWM Deri, The Old Railway Line.In Finland from Alko.fi.  In Berlin from Hopfen & Malz. Online in Germany from Cider and More. in the Netherlands from Het Ciderhuis, Speciaalbierenwinkel.nl, Biernavigatie.

Price: purchased locally in Berlin from Hopfen & Malz at 3.5 EUR.

Hoxton Cidersmiths Harry Masters’ Jersey

Last year, after publishing the first review on cider from Hoxton Cidersmiths, the Michelin & Brown’s I learned that guys from Hoxton Cidersmiths don’t make their cider themselves. Their cider is made under contract by cidermakers at Sheppy’s Cider and bottled as Hoxton Cidersmiths cider. So I’m not exactly sure how does it make them a craft cidery. Anyway, Harry Masters’ Jersey is an English cider apple variety coming straight out of Somerset.
Company:
Hoxton Cidersmiths 
Place of Origin: 
London, UK
Apples:
 Harry Masters Jersey
Sweetness as per label:
 medium
ABV: 4.5%
Package type: 
500ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, snifter or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with a short-lived head. Carbonation is artificial. The body is light.

Aroma/Nose: the nose exhibits notes of funk, barnyard, leather, caramel, red apples, hay, and a hint of sulphur.

Taste: the first sip is very sweet with only low acidity. On the mid-palate light smokiness resembling the rind of camembert, followed by yellow fresh juicy apple and light astringency. The finish is dry with a lingering smoky note of smoked cheese and distant sulphur.

Overall: if you like your cider on the sweeter side and enjoy light cider then this cider is for you. I found it too sweet and too average. It tasted balanced and rich, yet something was missing. This is pretty common among single varietal ciders. Anyway, if you are only at the beginning of your cider adventure I think this cider is a good one to start with as it is quite sweet and mild. For the record, the sulphur hint is just there, adds complexity, but I can’t say it’s anyhow disturbing. Goes well with fish & chips. 3.5/6 

Availability: online through Ciderlab or locally from  The Cider House in London.

Price: purchased in the Curator in Terminal 3 at London Heathrow Airport at 5.75 GBP.

Hills Cider Apple & Ginger

The Apple & Ginger is the last cider from the Hills Cider Company based in North Adelaide in Australia that I sampled during my trip to Asia. It is made with apples grown in Adelaide Hills and ginger from Queensland. Company: The Hills Cider Company
Place of Origin: North Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
Ingredients: apples and ginger
ABV: 8.5%
Package type: 330ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear deep golden with a large foam, which quickly falls down. Medium carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: initially the Apple & Ginger smells of malt, white wine, fresh and spicy ginger with sweet honey and floral notes. After a few minutes, the malty aroma resembling beer is gone.

Taste: it starts moderately sweet, slightly watery and slightly spicy with a moderate level of acidity to it. On the mid-palate notes of ginger, smoky ham, and apple juice. A lingering light apple juice flavour and a very gentle grapefruit bitterness in the finish.

Overall: I was sceptical at first fearing that the ginger flavour could dominate too much. But, as it turned out the Apple & Ginger is very pleasantly balanced. Ginger is just an additional note that contributes to the flavour and complexity of this cider, not dominating over other cider taste. The Apple & Ginger is a simple and drinkable cider, which was not fine-tuned too much. For those who like experimenting with tastes coming from other ingredients than apples or pears. 4/6 

Availability: broad in Australia. Also in selected bars/shops in South-East Asia.

Price: I purchased a bottle at 24 RM (4.7 EUR) in Ales & Lagers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Albens Original

The history behind Albens Cider is really fascinating. Dina Rimandra Handayani was an MBA student at Imperial College London when she discovered cider and its rising popularity in the UK and other European countries. Once she returned to her homeland, Indonesia she set up Albens Cider in Bali, where she could source apples. In addition, Dina got Alessio Cristofoletto and Ben Wakefield as technical advisors and investors on board. Before their cider hit the shelves it took them two years to overcome bureaucratic hurdles and receive one of the first cider-production permits in Indonesia. Today their cider is available in three variants, the Original, Apple & Strawberry, Apple & Mango.Company: Albens Cider
Place of Origin: Jembrana, Bali, Indonesia
Apples: locally sourced Fuji apples
ABV: 4.9%
Package type: 330ml brown glass with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Ingredients: apple juice, water, sugar, yeast, carbon dioxide, malic acid, sulphites.

Appearance: pours a clear golden yellow with a massive short-lived white head. High carbonation with a low body.

Aroma/Nose: smells sweet of commercially available apple juice from concentrate

Taste: it starts medium sweet with low acidity. On the mid-palate a rather unpleasant buttery flavour with notes of apple juice. This is all I’m getting here.

Overall: Briefly, I didn’t enjoy the Original even a little. It’s a slightly sour tasting apple lemonade, which lacks any depth. And, it has this horrible buttery flavour! I didn’t even manage to drink the whole 330ml bottle. Apples might be scarce in Indonesia, but even if you have only dessert apples at hand such as Fuji you can make a decent drinkable cider. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend Albens’ Original to anyone. 1.5/6

Availability: in Indonesia, Singapore, Australia and Malaysia.

Price: had it at 26.5 RM from Taps Beer Bar 1Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

Hills Cider Apple

The year 2010 changed everything in the Adelaide Hills region. Although apples and pears were grown here for ages there was no cider maker that would take advantage of this. The Hills Cider Company was established by Steve Dorman and Tobias Kline in order to create the best Australian cider from the locally grown fruits.Company: The Hills Cider Company
Place of Origin: North Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
Apples: Adeleide Hills apples
ABV: 5%
Package type: 330ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden yellow with a short-lived white foam, which quickly dissipates to a ring. Low carbonation. Low bodied.

Aroma/Nose: the nose has notes of apple juice, with distant wood and incense.

Taste: the first sip is moderately sweet with low to medium acidity with notes of both lemon and vinegar. As the taste develops strong notes of apple juice. red apples and red berries appear. Subsequently, flavours of wood and apple seeds. The aftertaste is dry with a lingering taste of wood and a note of grapefruit-like bitterness.

Overall: It was my first Australian cider ever. For a cider that is advertised as the Australian’s best cider, I must admit that I indeed enjoyed having it although its taste is not very challenging. Hill’s Cider is really nicely balanced and has a straight apple character. The aroma could be stronger perhaps, but overall it is a nice drop. If you happen to be in Australia or South-East Asia keep an eye on this cider if you prefer natural and tasty cider without funkiness. 4/6

Availability: broad in Australia in South East Asia. In Europe available through CiderCider.

Price: had a bottle at 24 RM (4.7 EUR) in Ales & Lagers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

Where to drink/buy cider in Kuala Lumpur?

As you might have noticed, I travel quite frequently for work, so I always try to take advantage of it by compiling information about cider and its availability in the currently visited city. This time I had to head to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, which gave me the opportunity to explore local cider spots and sample a couple of not exactly local ciders.Malaysia is a Muslim country and for this reason, there is a high excise tax on beverages containing alcohol, cider including. Hence, cider is considered a premium product here. Most locals don’t consume alcohol, not only because of religious or financial reasons but because they prefer spending their pay on family-related activities. But, since Kuala Lumpur is a huge city with many expats living here coming from the UK, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany and many other countries, who earn incomparably more than Malaysians and have no better things to do than hanging out after work, the demand for alcohol-containing products is high.

The demand might be high, but the vast majority of grocery stores stock Strongbow, Somersby or quite recently launched Apple Fox from Heineken (I reviewed the Dutch version of this cider here). Sometimes you can find other commercial ciders from the UK such as Magner’s, Gaymer’s, Savannah Dry from South Africa or Three Oaks Cider from Australia. If you want real stuff you should check stores and bars offering craft beer. This is what I did and here is the feedback from my KL cider tour.

  • Ales & Lagers (D5-G4, 3, Jalan Solaris, Dutamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur)

Ales & Lagers, located in a shopping mall Publika, is a cosy and friendly place that shares the space with a print shop. The guy who runs the shop is a very friendly Chinese, anything but helpful in terms of cider. Don’t bother asking him about cider recommendations as his focus is only craft beer. Anyway, I liked the atmosphere there as I was treated like a regular customer, not a Masaleh. Anyway, I’ve noticed that most people visiting this shop consider Ales & Lagers as a place to have one or two beers before heading to a nightclub. Ales & Lagers stocks a small selection of ciders from the New Zeland-based Zeffer Cider Company and Australian-based the Hills Cider Company. I tried some of them and will publish the reviews soon.

Taps Beer Bar has a few locations around KL. This a good place for the Friday night hangout or to meet other expats. In addition, the food is supposed to be good as per feedback from my work colleagues who usually go there for lunch. At Taps, they usually have at least one cider on draught made by an Australian brewery 2 Brothers. You can check Taps’ current tap list here.

Not exactly based in KL, but in Petaling Jaya, which is usually referred as PJ and is a satellite city of KL. The Great Beer Bar is owned by the same person as previously mentioned Ales & Lagers so it is also a craft beer store offering beer in bottles and on tap. But, in contrast to Ales & Lagers they have their own kitchen. Cider wise they have bottled Zeffer and the Hills Cider Company.

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

 

Kiezbaum Cider Apfel

After one night out in Mainz, Rhineland Palatinate, Sebastian and Wanja have realised that there was no real cider in Germany. So in 2014, they set up Kiezbaum, their own cider brand. Their goal was to create an alcoholic beverage based on organic apples grown in Hesse that would be less tart than Apfelwein consumed in Frankfurt. To date, their line up consists of Apfel (apple) and Birne (pear). In 2016, their Kiezbaum Cider Apfel won Silver in the category New World Cider at the International Cider Challange. And, this is the cider I’m about to review right now.Company: Kiezbaum, S. Grüner, I. Kunisch GbR
Place of Origin: Mainz, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
Apples: locally grown apples from traditional orchards
ABV: 4.9%
Package type: 330ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear gold with a white foam that quickly dissipates. Medium artificial carbonation. Low body.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is quite intense and sweetish with notes of apple must, yellow apples, canned pineapple, quince. Further in the background hints of wood sulphur.

Taste: it begins with low residual sweetness with a medium acidity of lemon. Further notes that come through are of canned pineapple, yellow apples, lemon candy, very low astringency and a distant note of sulphur. The aftertaste is dry with a lingering taste of lemon candy.

Overall: it might not be love at first taste as the sour taste is very pronounced in the first sip. But in the next sip, you get used to the level of sourness in it and all you can do is enjoy it. Kiezbaum’s Cider Apfel is very aromatic, with clear taste and aroma. Flavours move smoothly making you crave for more. What I admired the most was the lingering lemon candy note and the perfect level of sweetness, not entirely on the drier side. I would love to have Kiezbaum’s Cider Apfel again, especially that I think it will pair well with most dishes. If only the carbonation was natural, I would have loved it even more. A very nice drop. 4.5/6 

Availability: online in Germany from Ciderei, Bier De Luxe, Bierlager and die Bierkanzlei. In Switzerland from Gastro Drinks.

Price: Kiezbaum Apple Cider was a sample provided by Ciderei.

Adam & Eva Cider Adam

The name ‘Adam & Eva Cider’ might imply that the brand is owned by a guy named Adam and a lady named Eva, but it’s not the case here. Two school friends Andreas and Jürgen, who grew up on the German side of Lake Constance (Bodensee in German) were wondering what to do with all these apples growing in this heavenly area. An apple jam? An apple pie? Cider, of course! Already in 2015 the first batch of Adam & Eva was bottled and hit the shelves a bit later. Today Adam & Eva Cider has a line up of two ciders, Adam and Eva. Let’s start with the Adam first. Company: Adam & Eva GbR
Place of Origin: Munich, Bavaria, German
Apples: apples from gardens around Lake Constance
ABV: 4.7%
Package type: 330ml clear bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: wine glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with a white fizz that slowly dissipates. Low to medium carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose:  it smells lightly sweet of pears, red and yellow apples with a woody touch of stems.

Taste: it begins moderately sweet with very low acidity of lemon. A taste of pear, light astringent taste with vanilla, yellow and green apples with a fresh apple juice note on the mid-palate. Very short taste leaving a light buttery aftertaste.

Overall: the Adam is just a very average offering made from eaters and cookers. It tastes clear of eating apples and its taste disappears very fast, doesn’t linger on. Also, a tiny bit higher acidity would round up the taste. I couldn’t detect any off-notes (apart from the buttery flavour in the aftertaste) or anything that I could call much disturbing but the Adam simply doesn’t stand out from the crowd in any way. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t enjoy having Adam and therefore I wouldn’t buy it again. 2.5/6

Availability: widely available in Germany e.g. through Ciderei or Getränkedienst.

Price: Adam from Adam & Eva was a sample provided by Ciderei.

Where to drink/buy cider in Wrocław?

Wrocław – the meeting place. With this slogan, this Polish city is trying to boost tourism and attract travellers. Therefore, I thought it I will lend them a hand by compiling a list of spots in Wrocław where you can meet and greet the locals over a glass of craft cider. Let me give you a brief tour through the Wrocław’s bars offering cider.Bars/Pubs

Initially, I thought that Academus is a student haven due to its name. However, everyone who likes international beer and Polish cider come here. This small pub and B&B in one is run by a friendly couple, who really pay attention to their guests’ needs. It’s located in the city centre, just a few steps from the main square. From time to time they have Cydr Tradycyjny z Trzebnicy on draught, which is a local cider from Trzebnica located 30km from Wrocław. You can click here to find if and which cider is currently available on draught. Also, you can choose from their selection of bottled Polish craft cider.

Vaffa Napoli is located in the historical Jewish Quarter and is actually a restaurant serving pizza and other Italian foods. Apart from really delicious pizza, they have craft cider from Cydr Smykan available in bottles and sometimes on draught. To check their current offer on tap click here. Just a note, they serve cider at too low temperature and with ice. Allow your cider to warm up a little otherwise, you will not taste anything. Also, ask the waiter to skip the ice.

Not far away from Vaffa Napoli, you can visit also Marynka, Piwo i Aperitivo, a craft beer bar. I come here mainly for the delicious cider, which you can find in the fridge, Japko from Winnica De Sas but also because you can sit outside in the summer and enjoy the nice weather. Interestingly, they have a book with requests for draught beer, etc. so don’t forget to leave a note ‘CYDR’ (Polish for cider) there. Another advantage is that they have a food truck on their premises, Happy Little Truck serving absolutely delicious, and probably the best pizza in Wrocław. Try their pizza ‘Capperi’, which pairs excellently with Japko.

4 Hops is another centrally located craft beer bar with austere interior design, with no fuzz and friendly staff that knows good beer. Unfortunately, no any sort of outdoor seating is available. More to that, they rarely have cider on tap. 4 Hops stocks Jabko from Winnica De Sas. You can check if they currently have any cider on draught by clicking this link. The staff keep their offer up to date.

  • Szynkarnia (św. Antoniego 15, 50-073, Wrocław)

Another spot for cider lovers, in the summer at Szynkarnia you may find at least one cider on draught from one of the Polish craft cider makers such as Cydr Chyliczki or Cydr Smykan. You can check their current offer here. In addition, bottled cider is available here. To be honest, I never come here as Szynkarnia is always crowded and full of loud speaking people. Also, they seem not to have a good ventilation system as the strong smell of food is rather disturbing. So cider is the only reason to visit Szynkarnia, if you dare.

  • Pasibus (many locations, for the map, click here)

Pasibus is a burger chain so if you want to drink sweet and dull cider of unknown origin, PasiCydr (you can find the review here) with your burger you may taste it at one of their restaurants across Wroclaw.

SHOPS

  • Drink Hala (Ludwika Rydygiera 15, 48-300 Wrocław)

Located in a neighbourhood called Nadodrze, which with every day gets more popular among locals Drink Hala is basically a craft beer shop with a really huge selection of Polish craft cider. But you will find here a range of commercial cider from Poland and the UK such as Westons, as well. I usually come here, when I want to buy a bottle of a recently launched cider as they simply would have every Polish cider here sooner or later. I haven’t seen such an extensive selection even in Warsaw.

Another craft beer shop stocking also Polish craft from Cydr Smykan and Kwaśne Jabłko along with Polish commercial cider brands.

  • Dobre Moce (Grabiszyńska 233H, 53-234 Wrocław)

Dobre Moce is a wholesaler and retailer in one. Since they are based quite far from the city centre I never made it to pay them a visit. However, I know that they stock cider from Manufaktura Cydru.

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