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.
Apart 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.
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.