Piparkakuja Cidre Ledový Cider 2017

Today’s cider review will be very special. Special, because cider that is to be reviewed today has not been commercially launched yet (partly because of bureaucratic reasons). This Ledový cider (Czech for ice cider) was crafted by Petr Vacek from Prague with apples coming from an orchard based in Kamenice nad Lipou and Český Dub owned by his grandparents and grandparents of his wife. Since Petr prefers his cider on the sweeter side and he’s well familiar with the winemaking methods since he was nearly 5 years old (the advantages of living in a vineyard in the Czech Republic), he has started straight away three years ago with making ice cider. The name of Petr’s cider is ‘Piparkakuja’, which is supposed to mean ‘gingerbread’ in Finnish.Company: Piparkakuja Cidre
Place of Origin: Prague, Czech Republic
Apples: unknown apple varieties from orchards in Kamenice nad Lipou and Český Dub
Sweetness as per label: 
ice cider
Package type: 
500ml amber glass bottle with flip top cap
Recommended type of glass: 
white wine glass or snifter

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale amber with a giant foam that only slowly dissipates. Medium carbonation. Body is high with a creamy texture.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is very aromatic and has notes of oak, vanilla and strong alcohol. Also, light smokiness, baked apples and strong whisky notes with pears, fresh apples, caramelised apples and toffee.

Taste: the first sip is medium to strongly sweet with a high acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, a strong note of alcohol followed by oakiness, notes of stems, baked apples, caramel, vanilla, caramelised apple, a touch of orange. Finishes with light medicinal notes, raisins, low astringency and light bitterness.

Overall: Petr’s ice cider is very aromatic with clear notes and aromas. It has an array of strong and delicious apple flavours. Every sip felt like an interesting journey. Also, the sweetness was nicely balanced by the high acidity. What I also loved were the strong oaky/woody notes (note: this cider wasn’t aged in oak at all!). Yet, the flavour of alcohol was very strong. Way too strong, overpowering other yummy flavours so I had a feeling I was drinking a whisky mixed with ice cider or at least a bit outbalanced ice cider with an ABV of 12%, not 7.5%. Personally, I liked it but I can imagine that not everyone will be a fan of this ice cider. Overall, Petr’s ice cider is unique in a way and could be an interesting offering if not the aggressive taste of alcohol. It has a great potential and will most probably find fans but I think it could be much better without the overpowering boozy taste. 4/6

Availability: not launched yet.

Price:  a sample of Piparkakuja Cidre Ledový Cider 2017 was provided by Petr.

Slavnost Cideru 2018: visit recap

The magic of Prague, delicious duck in U Medvídků and the rapidly increasing number of cider makers in the Czech Republic made me hit the road to Prague also this year and participate in the third edition of  Prague’s cider festival Slavnost Cideru.I’m not going to provide you with details about the festival’s setting and how it was organised as it didn’t differ from last year’s edition. If you’re interested in this information please read my last year’s visit recap here. This time I would like to focus more on cider makers that took part in this year’s edition of Slavnost Cideru and cider they made available to the festival visitors.

Same as last year, mainly Czech and a few Slovak craft cider makers had their booths along the festival street. Also, a few stands offered English, French, Spanish and even Russian cider. But also commercial brands with fizzy alco-pops offered their products. In contrast to last year, however, a few new to me Czech cider makers took part in this year’s Slavnost Cideru featuring Bacha, CiderTalk, Darebak, Don Cidre, Cider Eden, Winka z Vinka,  Bubak and Norler. But his year, also one Austrian craft cider maker brought his ciders to Prague. Karl from BlakStoc is a unique cider maker on Europe’s cider map as he combines Styrian apples with various fruits and veggies such as black currants, ginger, kaffir lime or quince with hops with a great result. Having a memory of Karl’s delicious Buddha’s Hand Lemon Cider, I started my exploration with this cider. And, it was a terrible idea, because none of the ciders offered at Slavnost Cideru could beat Karl’s mind-blowing cider. Perfectly balanced, extremely drinkable and refreshing on this hot summer day in Prague. But, also the Ginger For My Honey deserves a shout out. It tasted surprisingly refreshing despite the addition of ginger and made you crave for more. I was a bit less fond of the Quincy & Jo Hops Edition, which was simply not as balanced as the previously mentioned ciders. Needless to say that Karl’s range of hopped ciders was to me, but I think many will agree with me, the absolute highlight of this year’s Slavnost Cideru.

Among the Czech cider makers, A.K. Cider’s booth was the most worth visiting. This year Martin made especially for this event a cider made with strawberries. I thought it was a bit too sweet to my palate, but still, it could be considered a naturally tasting alternative to commercial brands. But personally, I thought that the Dry from A.K. Cider was absolutely fantastic! It’s a different cider category to what BlakStoc and shouldn’t be compared. A.K. Cider’s Dry is a classical and traditional, perfectly balanced cider. Indeed dry as advertised with a touch of sweetness to it, the medium acidity of lemon and lovely flavours resembling quality English cider. In a blind tasting, I would guess it’s an English cider. Also, bottled Limonka, one of my last year’s Top 10 Ciders tasted as delicious as I remembered it.

Apart from the Buddha’s Hand, Ginger For My Honey and Dry and Limonka from A.K. Cider, I was able to sample a few interesting ciders from cider makers that are to watch in my opinion. Namely, Bacha and CiderTalk, both newcomers on the Czech cider scene. At their booth, Bacha offered 9 ciders that carried names from No. 1 to No. 9. I thought that No. 2 and No. 4 from Bacha tasted very promising. From CiderTalk I tried their Dry and was similarly fond of it. Ciders from Bacha and CiderTalk were bone dry, citrusy with nice apple notes and therefore would pair excellently with food. No. 6 from Bacha could be aged a bit longer as it tasted of alcohol, whereas No. 1 was just too thin. Perhaps not my favourite, but also, cider from Bubak Cider is worth mentioning here. Bubak’s ciders, the original and hopped were pretty well-made and stood out from the mostly average tasting available Czech ciders. Bubak’s cider could become a crowd pleaser due to refreshing notes of fresh pressed apple juice. Also, I quite liked Tátův Sad‘s Bourbon, which as already the name indicates was aged in bourbon barrels. I can imagine it’s their special release as I haven’t seen this one anywhere else.

Divoke Jablko, one of my last year’s favourite ciders tasted only okayish to my surprise. These lovely blood orange and grapefruit notes that I adored that much in their Divoké Jablko Cidre Brut were missing in this year’s batch. Melanie, what did go wrong? Please bring my favourite cider back!

Same as last year, visitors could vote online for the best cider of the festival. The results weren’t officially announced yet so I wonder if last year’s situation will repeat again. See my 2017 recap for more information.

img_0210Apart from cider, and what was new this year, I discovered a bunch of people, at the festival ground who were tattooing bananas. It was one of the entertainments provided by the organisers. Just opposite the banana tattoo saloon, one could spin a lottery wheel at 50 CZK (1.94 EUR) and win…something. Unfortunately, my Czech is terrible so I didn’t get what one could win. But I know that one of the awards was an apple. img_0196

Overall, it is great to see that the interest in proper cider in the Czech Republic is growing along with the number of cider makers. However, most cider makers still require more experience, better skills, apples or patience. Indisputably, BlakStoc smashed the Czech competition with his hopped and fruity cider blends.

I would like to thank the organisers and festival visitors for creating a great and friendly atmosphere during the festival, sharing the love for the apple beverage, inspiring and interesting talks and new friendships.img_0209

Redbrook Chilli Cider

Until now I have tried only one chilli-infused cider and it wasn’t a cider from a European country but from Canada. It was Sulkers Pineapple-Penos made with pineapple and charred jalapeño so it’s not entirely the same as cider I’m giving a try tonight. Redbrook from the Czech Republic has provided me with a sample of the spicy version of their Original Polosuchý (semi-dry) infused with chilli. I don’t think that any cider maker in Europe has manufactured anything similar to this. Company: Redbrook Cider
Place of Origin: Dřínov, Central Bohemian Region, Czech Republic
Apples: a blend of Czech apples from Jiří Hubáček’s orchards with chilli
Sweetness as per label: semi-dry
ABV: 6%
Package type: 330ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a clear amber with an orange hue and a quickly dissipating white head. Low carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: not too many notes here. Just a flavour of commercial tetra-pack apple juice from a supermarket and some malty notes.

Taste: my first taste is medium sweet with low acidity. The mid-palate has a slight astringent taste, a flavour of a commercial tetra-pack apple juice and some light burning from powdered chilli that lingers on. Finishes dry leaving a flavour of tetra pack apple juice note.

Overall: the spiciness of chilli is not too high but nicely complements this cider and warms you from inside like a nice spicy meal. But just like other ciders from Redbrook, it tastes like an apple juice, not cider. Although I found it drinkable it tastes only average. Also, every time I would take a sip something (must be the chilli) irritated my throat and made me cough. I don’t remember coughing when I had Sulkers Pineapple-Penos. Taken together, I think it’s an interesting offering mostly due to the addition of chilli but I wouldn’t buy it again as it resembles a commercial tetra pack apple juice with chilli. Sorry, guys. 2/6

Availability: I couldn’t track a shop offering this cider in the Czech Republic so perhaps it was just an experiment?

Price: Chilli Cider was a sample provided by Redbrook Cider.

Redbrook Cider Premium Suchý

Redbrook Cider is one of two Czech cidermakers that entered the CiderWorld Awards competition in Frankfurt this year. More than that, their Premium Suchý has received 87 points out of 120 and so qualified for an Honour Award. I do hope to see more cider makers from the Czech Republic in the next year’s edition of CiderWorld. Now let’s check out the Premium Suchý from Redbrook Cider. Company: Redbrook Cider
Place of Origin: Dřínov, Central Bohemian Region, Czech Republic
Apples: a blend of Czech apples from Jiří Hubáček’s orchards
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6%
Package type: 330ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a clear deep golden with a quickly dissipating head. Medium artificial carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: smells a bit malty with a whisky note. Also, red apples, honey and apple juice on the nose.

Taste: it begins quite dry with some residual sweetness and low to medium acidity. On the mid-palate slightly watery, with a light astringency and a malty whisky note and a hint of red apples. The finish is dry with a lingering astringent taste and a bit harsh aftertaste.

Overall: previously sampled ciders from Redbrook tasted more like juices than fermented apple beverages. But the Premium Suchy doesn’t taste like an apple juice at all. This one is definitely the best of ciders from Redbrook I’ve tried so far. Strangely enough, I have the impression that I’m drinking a cider blended with whisky. The malty note is quite strong both on the nose and the palate. Speaking for myself, I think that the Premium Suchy is drinkable and tastes quite ok. It has a nice structure, pleasant malty notes combined with red apples and a quite long aftertaste. But if you’re not a fan of whisky you may not gonna like it. Worth trying. 3.5/6

Availability: only in the Czech Republic through Sklizeno. Also, available in many bars and restaurants around the Czech Republic.

Price: Premium Suchý was a sample provided by Redbrook Cider.

Redbrook Red Fruit Polosuchý

After sampling the Perry Polosuchý and the Original Polosuchý, both from the Czech cider maker Redbrook I’m giving their Red Fruit a try. Red fruit is a mix of fermented apple juice and red fruit juice. Company: Redbrook Cider
Place of Origin: Dřínov, Central Bohemian Region, Czech Republic
Ingredients: fermented apple juice and red fruit juice 
Sweetness as per label: semi-dry
ABV: 4%
Package type: 330ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a deep ruby red with a violet hue and a quickly dissipating foam. Medium artificial carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: smells fruity and slightly acidic of blackcurrant, chokeberry and blackcurrant juice.

Taste: it starts only slightly sweet with a low to medium acidity. Blackcurrant, chokeberry, light to medium astringent taste on the mid-palate. It finishes dry with a nice lingering acidity and a flavour of red fruits.

Overall: briefly, Redbrook’s Red Fruit tastes like a blackcurrant juice mixed with some chokeberry juice. Interestingly, it’s extremely drinkable. A really delicious and good tasting red fruit juice. Actually, I would have bought it again if it was available as a regular juice as it’s not so sweet as usually juices are. But it’s hard to consider this creation a cider or wine. Sorry, guys. 3/6

Availability: only in the Czech Republic through Opily Jabko and Sklizeno. Also, available in many bars and restaurants around the Czech Republic.

Price: Red Fruit Polosuchý was a sample provided by Redbrook Cider.

Redbrook Original Polosuchý

Redbrook Cider comes from the Czech Republic and is produced in Dřínov u Slaného in the Central Bohemian Region. Apples used for Redbrook’s Cider are grown in the orchards owned by Jiří Hubáček. It’s my first time trying anything from this cider maker.Company: Redbrook Cider
Place of Origin: Dřínov, Central Bohemian Region, Czech Republic
Apples: a blend of Czech apples from Jiří Hubáček’s orchards
Sweetness as per label: semi-dry
ABV: 5%
Package type: 330ml amber glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with light orange hues with a fast reducing white foam. Medium artificial carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: it smells like a regular apple juice from a supermarket. Further notes I pick up are of distant caramel and toffee with a light buttery flavour.

Taste: the first sip is slightly sweet of caramel with low acidity. It tastes a bit watery with notes of red apples, regular apple juice (but not that strong as on the nose), light astringent taste, distant bitterness and red berries. It finishes dry with a note of dried stone fruits, including apricot, distant buttery flavour, and slightly biting due to the feeling of bubbles bursting in the mouth.

Overall: the flavour of Redbrook’s Original more closely resembles that of apple juice than that of cider or an alcoholic beverage made from apples. The Original is drinkable,  made from quality apples, but not exciting. An apple juice with added cider. Also, it has a light buttery note, which I am not a fan of. I guess it will find an audience among those who never had cider before, hence don’t know how cider is supposed to taste like. But a more demanding cider drinker will be disappointed. 3/6

Availability: only in the Czech Republic through Pochutnejsi. Also, available in many bars and restaurants around the Czech Republic.

Price: Original Polosuchý was a sample provided by Redbrook Cider.

Tátův Cider Polosuchý

One day Jan Abt and his family decided to leave Prague to live a simple and peaceful life,  away from the busy city. The family bought a farm with apple orchards, and settled in a small village Líšnice, 30 km south-west of Prague. In 2014 they launched Tátův Sad (Czech for Dad’s Orchard), which is a family business, where each family member is assigned to a different task. Dad takes care of the orchards and cider making, Mum covers the sales part, whereas Uncle is in charge of graphic design. Their current line-up features a dry, semi-dry and hopped version. Since they recently have planted new apple trees of English and French varieties, we can expect more ciders from Dad’s Orchard coming soon.
Tátův Sad
Place of Origin: Líšnice, Středočeský Kraj, Czech Republic
Apples: apples from their own and neighbouring orchards
Sweetness as per label: semi-dry
ABV: 4.9%
Package type: draught
Recommended type of glass: pint glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a large froth, which only slowly reduces. Lightly carbonated. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is rather weak and has only crisp yellow apples. That’s all I can get here.

Taste: it starts slightly watery and slightly sweet with moderate lemon-like acidity. Followed by a smoky touch, a flavour of apple juice, delicate astringency and a light bitter taste towards the end.

Overall: I could swear there is King of the Pippins in the mix, as this apple variety gives a quite characteristic bitter flavour. Anyway, Polosuchy is based on an English dry style of cider. It’s an easy drinking pretty complex drop, which will appeal to a larger audience. There could be more aroma on the nose, but it tasted quite ok. I wouldn’t mind having it again. 3.5/6 

Availability: in many bars and restaurants in the Czech Republic. From Kralupská pivotéka U Chameleona in Kralupy nad Vltavou. Online available from Dobry Cider, Opily Jabko. Delikatesy online, Beershop.cz, Cauvino or in the Netherlands from CiderLab.

Price: had it at InCider Bar at 55 CZK (2.1 EUR) a pint. InCider Bar will sadly close at the end of the year.

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)

Cidre 99

Cidre 99 was established only in 2015 by Jakub Neuls and Peter Krajčík in a small village of Roštín in the heart of Zlín, Czech Republic. Why 99? The name 99 comes simply from the property number, which is 99. Anyway, at Cidre 99 they have a traditional approach to cider making but with a modern twist. Apples are harvested from the company’s own old orchard, pressed and slowly fermented at cold temperature to preserve more of the aromatics. The result is a dry cider that meets owners expectation for taste.Company: Cidre 99
Place of Origin: Roštín, Zlín, The Czech Republic
Apples: Moravian apple from their own orchard
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 7%
Package type: draught
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or flute

Appearance: pours a lightly hazy straw yellow with a tiny head, which quickly reduces to a ring around the glass. Light natural fizz. Body is also light.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is rather weak and yeasty, earthy and exhibits fermenting apples, and green apples.

Taste: it begins slightly watery with a moderate acidity and only traces of residual sugar, indeed bone-dry. Taste of yeast, earth, sulphur and fermenting apples on the mid-palate. The finish is also dry with a touch of astringency and light lingering grapefruit-like bitterness.

Overall: I remember that last year, when I tried this cidre at Slavnost Cideru 2016 for the first time, it tasted EXTREMELY sour. I’m sorry to say that, but it was the least palatable cider of the last years’s edition of the Cider Festival in Prague. Having not the best last year’s experience in mind, I have decided nevertheless to give Cidre 99 another go this year. Cidre 99 taste-wise indeed improved, as the level of acidity significantly reduced making it drinkable, crisp und thus refreshing, especially on a hot summer day. But, Cidre 99 still tastes average. Moreover, these yeasty, sulphuric and earthy notes didn’t exactly contribute to the palate. I must emphasise that Cidre 99 tasted significantly better than the Carboy Cidre, another cider I tried at Slavnost Cideru 2017. Since I could observe a rising trend in the improvement of taste, I trust that Cidre 99 will taste better next year. 2.5/6 

Availability: in many bars, restaurants in The Czech Republic. Locally in Prague from InCiderBar or Dobry Cider. From Kralupská pivotéka U Chameleona in Kralupy nad Vltavou. Online from Opily Jabko.

Price: had 0.2L at Slavnost Cideru 2017 at 25 CZK (1 EUR)

Divoké Jablko Cidre Brut

Retirement is the perfect time to take up a new hobby. When Melanie and Jaromir retired, suddenly they had plenty of time for their trips to France. And, they also had an apple orchard full of apples. Hence, it came quite natural to them to start making cider from their own apples, and use cider making methods learned in France. I chatted to Melanie during this year’s Slavnost Cideru. She said that initially nobody really believed they would produce a drinkable cider. But, the business started to grow, the demand was rising. All of a sudden, they had to ask their neighbours for extra apples. Melanie is very positive and has a contagious smile that can’t help but spread to others. It’s not hard to tell that she is extremely enthusiastic inside and outside about her new hobby.Company: Moštárna Újezd – Melanie Čadová
Place of Origin: Chanovice, Klatovy District in the Plzeň Region, The Czech Republic
Apples: apples from their own and neighboring orchards
Sweetness as per label: brut
ABV: 7.5%
Package type: 500ml brown glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass

Appearance: pours a lightly hazy pale amber with a quickly dissipating white head. Medium carbonated. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is very rich with wild notes of barnyard, leather and beeswax. The aroma has also hints of red fermenting apples, sweet and floral honey, but also some dryness to it and a vinegary touch. Hypnotizing!

Taste: It starts slightly watery with a low level of sweetness and moderate citrusy acidity with lovely notes of blood orange and lemon. The mid-palate is funky with barnyard, beeswax, floral honey and fermenting apples. It finishes dry with a light grapefruit bitterness and a lingering moderate astringency.

Overall: This is one of the best ciders of Slavnost Cideru I had. I wouldn’t say it tastes like a French cidre though. On the last day of Slavnost Cideru I kept visiting Melanie’s stand over and over again and purchasing interchangeably the Brut and their Demi-Sec (which is even better! I’ll review this cider another time). Divoké Jablko’s Brut is extremely quaffable and has a huge breadth of flavours, which complement each other. I could drink this one every day as it has high addictive potential. A must try for every cider lover. 5/6 

Availability: on tap (sometimes) and bottled in the InCider Bar in Prague. The bottled version available online and locally from Dobry Cider in Prague.

Price: purchased locally in Prague from Dobry Cider at 58 CZK (2.25 EUR), and subsequently countless times during Slavnost Cideru 2017 at 50 CZK (1.92 EUR) at Divoké Jablko’s stand.