Hogan’s Wild Elder

In terms of taste, elderflower might be associated with the spring or summer. But elderflower has also a wide range of health benefits, especially useful for this time of year. There is a solid scientific evidence that elderflower has antiviral & antibacterial effects and what’s more important it can boost the immune system. What I’m trying to say here is that if you’re looking for an excuse to drink cider with elderflower, just say it’s for your own good. This is why I put my hands on the Wild Elder from Hogan’s Cider.Company: Hogan’s Cider
Place of Origin: Alcester, Warwickshire, UK
Ingredients: English cider apple juice, water, sugar, elderflower cordial, carbon dioxide, malic acid, preservative: potassium metabisulphite (sulphites)
ABV: 4%
Package type: 500ml amber glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or chalice glass

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

Aroma/Nose: the nose is very aromatic and smells sweetish, a bit syrupy and fruity of elderflower and grapefruit. Also, I can get herbal notes.

Taste: my first taste is medium sweet with a low acidity. Elderflower and a smoky note with a lingering light astringency on the mid-palate. The finish is dry and has notes of elderflower with a touch of grapefruit bitterness.

Overall: If you call a beverage a cider it should taste like one, right? As for the Wild Elder, it has no apple aromas at all. You can taste only the elderflower cordial that was added. Perhaps a note of grapefruit, smokiness and the tannin give you a hint that the base for the beverage is or might be cider. Leaving this fact behind, I must admit that I enjoyed having the Wild Elder. It’s fruity, refreshing and the taste is intense and lingering. Those who like their beverages (intentionally I’m not using the word cider) on the sweeter side or simply those who like elderflower are gonna love it. Have it with cheese or simply on its own to protect yourself from the cold weather. 4.5/6 

Availability: from their online shop. In the Netherlands from CiderCider. In Germany exclusively from Cider Kultur.

Price: Hogan’s Wild Elder was a sample provided by Cider Kultur.

Oliver’s At The Hop #7

Inspired by American cider makers who add hops to almost every cider they make, Tom Oliver created his own hopped cider, At The Hop. Tom infused cider with UK grown Cascade hops and Czech grown Kazbek hops, which supposedly add citrusy and floral notes to otherwise bland and dull cider.

In 2014, At The Hop picked up the first place at Royal Three Counties Agricultural Society show.

Company: Oliver’s Cider and Perry
Place of Origin: Ocle Pychard, Herefordshire, UK
Ingredients: US Cascade and Czech Kazbek hops
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 5.5%
Package type: 500ml clear amber bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber with a light orange hue and a tiny white head that quickly dissipates. Medium natural carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is strong and actually pours out of the glass. The scent is rather sweet with notes of ripe honeydew, apricots, grapefruit flesh, orange and grapefruit peel. In the background apple flavour with hints of funk, leather and distant cucumber.

Taste: it starts with a low sweetness and a medium citrusy acidity. Light watery with some smokiness, medium astringency, notes of grapefruit flesh, orange and lemon, low apple flavour and hints of funk on the mid-palate. The finish is dry with a lingering grapefruit peel – like bitterness with a touch of lemon.

Overall: I’ve tried already a number of hopped ciders and none of them tasted any similar to what Tom Oliver has crafted. I can imagine that this is partly due to Czech Kazbek hops that were used in the blend. Both the scent and the palate are very unique and rich with lots of intensive flavours that linger on and on. Also, I thought it was very refreshing due to the lovely citrus flavours. But it’s not going to be my favourite cider of Tom. Personally, I found the apple flavour too far in the background. Also, the bitter note was a bit too strong for my liking. Hence, in my humble opinion, Tom’s At the Hop could be considered a good introductory cider for those who drink beer but want to try something new as the taste of the At The Hop is somewhere between beer and cider. As a cider drinker, I think I’ll stick to Tom’s cider made only with apples. 4.5/6

Availability: from Oliver’s online shop or Beer Revolution. Locally in London from the Cider House and Bristol from the Bristol Cider Shop or  The Salutation Inn in Ham, and many others. In Austria from Beer Lovers. In Copenhagen from Holm Cider. In Germany exclusively from CiderKultur.

Price: Oliver’s At The Hop #7 was a sample provided by CiderKultur.

Dunkertons Browns

Browns is an English cider apple variety from South Devon producing a sharp juice that Dunkertons used for their single-varietal cider, the Browns. When I searched for other reviews about Dunkertons Browns, all I could find was oohing and aahing. I haven’t found a single bad review for the Browns. It seemed that literally, everybody likes the  Browns. In contrast to the wide appeal among cider drinkers, the Browns picked up only one award, first place in the International Cider Challenge 2016. As you can imagine, I got very intrigued.  Company: Dunkertons
Place of Origin: Pembridge, Leominster, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: a single-varietal Brown’s from organic farms
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 7.5%
Package type: 500ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, white wine glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a white short-lived foam. Medium carbonation.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is strong, slightly sour and fruity. On the nose hints of funk, vinegar, yellow apples, with a touch of sulphur.

Taste: my first taste is medium sweet with a low to medium acidity of lemon, and a touch of orange. Smokiness, yellow apples, light bitterness, again smokiness, a light to medium astringent note on the mid-palate. Finishes dry leaving a lingering orange and lemon note with medium astringency.

Overall: the Browns from Dunkertons is indeed an outstanding drop. It’s light, yet complex. Although the initial taste is rather sweet with no detectable acidity, suddenly and unexpectedly the sharpness kicks in and stays accompanying other tasty flavours that appear next. Admittedly, the lingering orangy/lemon aftertaste makes this cider taste very refreshing and unique. Also, I loved the bubbles in this cider, which truly complemented the taste. Overall, a great thirst quencher and perfect summer offering that I could drink over and over again. Now I understand why it is everyone’s favourite. 5/6

Availability: in the UK through their online shop, BristolCiderShop, CraftDrink The Belgian Beer Company, Hop Pocket Wine Company or Beers of Europe. However, outside the UK the availability is limited. In the Netherlands look out for Ciderwinkel and Appels en Peren. In Switzerland from Ciderhouse.ch. In Estonia from Siidirimaja. In Germany from CiderKultur.

Price: Dunkertons Browns was a sample provided by CiderKultur.

Ty Gwyn Medium Dry

Ty Gwyn from Wales (and previously Latvian Mr. Plume) proves that a combination of music and cider making is simply perfect as both take passion. Before focusing on cider making, Alex Curpin of Ty Gwyn played in a band called Tiny Monroe and supported The Pretenders, Radiohead and Suede at the Glastonbury Festival near Pilton, Somerset. I can imagine that Alex tried cider from the Brothers at Glastonbury, which inspired him to craft a much better cider.

Company: Ty Gwyn Cider
Place of Origin: Pontrilas, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: Yarlington Mill
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 5.8%
Package type: 500ml clear glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass, pint glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear pale amber with an orange hue and a little quickly dissipating white head. Light carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong, aromatic and sweet with notes of caramel, red apples, bittersweet apples, butterscotch, liquid toffee, polyfloral honey and earthy notes.

Taste: it starts with medium sweetness of caramel and low acidity. On the mid-palate notes of bittersweet apples, red apples, baked apples, caramel, light to medium astringency. Finishes dry with a light burnt caramel, low alcohol and polyfloral honey.

Overall: The Medium Dry from Ty Gwyn tastes light but still extremely complex so I would never tell that it is a single varietal cider. It has a lingering taste with beautiful caramel notes, smooth tannins and a flavour of baked apples. It basically tastes like a liquid toffee. Personally, I’d prefer a bit higher acidity level. But my friend who I shared the bottle with thought the Medium Dry tasted simply perfect. A very decent drop for the fans of liquid butterscotch. Now I understand why it has such a wide appeal. 5/6

Availability: in the UKfrom their online shop, Crafty Nectar, Hop Pocket Wine Company, Fetch the Drinks.  In Germany exclusively from CiderKultur.

Price: Ty Gwyn’s Medium Dry was a sample provided by CiderKultur.

 

 

 

 

Orpens Cider

The story behind the brand name of the Irish cider maker Orpens is a very interesting one. Orpen is a maiden name of the grandmother of the founders, Chris. Charmain Orpen was the first female professional licensed jockey in history to legally compete with men. I couldn’t think of a more galloping brand name neither. Today I’m sampling an Irish cider proudly made from selected Irish apples. Company: Orpens
Place of Origin: Dublin, Ireland
Apples: a blend of selected Irish apples
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 5.3%
Package type: 330ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, chalice glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale straw with a short-lived white head. Medium carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: it smells sweet of plain sugar and of sulphur – matches-like smell with elderflower, yellow apples and some fruitiness. The nose is rather weak.

Taste: it starts moderately sweet with a light acidity of lemon. Followed by a  watery note with yellow apples, light sulphur, a lightly vinous note and fruity flavour. It finishes with a sugary taste of lemon candy and green apples.

Overall: I’m sorry to say but I didn’t like it. Orpens Cider is clearly made from dessert or eating apples without the addition of any cider apples in the blend as there is no detectable taste of tannins. But even from dessert apples, a good cider maker can make an excellent cider. But Orpens cider, unfortunately, is not the case. The aroma of sulphur is overpowering on the nose and leaves pleasant fruity notes far behind. Taste wise it’s a sugary apple fizz with only little depth and a lingering sugary taste. It reminds me slightly of Aspall Cyder Draught, which I reviewed some time ago. Admittedly, Orpens cider tastes better than Aspalls’s but is still far from being good. I wouldn’t buy it again. Unless I had to choose between Magners and Orpens. 2.5/6

Availability: from their online shop. In Germany exclusively from CiderKultur.

Price: Orpens Cider was a sample provided by CiderKultur.

Dunkertons Court Royal

Dunkertons like to experiment with single varietal ciders. Previously, I’ve tried their brilliant single varietal Breakwells Seedling. This time, however, I’m about to sample their Court Royal. Court Royal is a sweet cider apple with low tannin and low acid, which originated in East Devon.
Company: 
Dunkertons
Place of Origin: Pembridge, Leominster, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: a single-varietal Court Royal from organic farms
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 7.5%
Package type: 500ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, white wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a white short-lived head. Medium carbonation.

Aroma/Nose: the nose has still fermenting apples, fresh yellow apples, lightly acidic. some green apple. The nose is not so strong.

Taste: it starts medium dry with a medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate green and yellow apples with a smoky and vinous note. The aftertaste has hints of fresh green and yellow apples, apple skin of green apples with a light biting taste of alcohol and a touch of bitterness.

Overall: briefly, the Court Royal tastes like a flavourful cross between cider made from eating apples and traditional cider. Meaning it’s easily drinkable, light yet very refreshing and absolutely not boring. Taste wise perhaps not extremely rich, but it still has a nice depth and structure for a single-varietal cider. The nose is not strong but is clear and full of apple aromas. The Royal Court is a cider for everyone and will taste great on a day like this with lots of sunshine. I assure you it will uplift your mood after a bad day at work as well. I’d like t to have it again. 4/6

Availability: broad in the UK through BristolCiderShop or Beers of Europe. However, outside the UK the availability is limited in the Netherlands to Ciderwinkel and Appels en Peren. In Switzerland from Ciderhouse.ch. In Estonia from Siidirimaja. In Germany to CiderKultur.

Price: Dunkertons Court Royal was a sample provided by CiderKultur.

Finnbarra Tobairín

Time for a brief Irish lesson. Finnbarra, an Irish cider maker has created a light cider, with only 1.5% ABV and called it Tobairín. ‘Tobar’ means ‘well and ‘ín’ refers to small or light. Taken together, Tobairín means ‘little well’.

Interestingly, its low alcohol content is due to the second pressing of the apple pomace. Once fermented, Tobairín is back sweetened with fresh apple juice. Company: Nohoval Brewing Company Limited
Place of Origin: Nohoval, Kindle, County Cork, Ireland
Apples: a blend of Elstar with Jonagored
ABV: 1.5%
Package type: 500 ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: chalice glass or pint glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale straw with a white short-lived head. Medium carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: on the nose sweet freshly cut yellow and red apples with red berries, cranberries and a distant buttery note.

Taste: it starts moderately sweet with low acidity. On the mid-palate cotton candy followed by a watery note, yellow and red apples, red berries such as strawberries, and cranberries. Finishes dry with a light astringent taste and a touch of buttery taste.

Overall: the ABV of barely 1.5% would rather suggest a high sweetness level, but to my surprise, Tobairín is not overly/syrupy sweet. It has a very palatable level of sweetness even to me. Also, the medium level of carbonation makes it a quite nice and refreshing cider. But the taste quickly disappears, doesn’t linger on given the fact that it is quite sweet. Anyway, it’s a good alternative for cider drinkers who are drivers at the same time. And, for those who like sweet cider. 3/6

Availability: in Ireland available as Stonewell Irish Cider, e.g. from Ardkeen, Baggot Street Wines or Redmonds of Ranelagh. In Germany available online from Cider Kultur or Ciderandmore. In Berlin from Hopfen und Malz.

Price: Tobairín was a sample provided by Cider Kultur