Loïc Raison Cidre Bouché Breton Brut

Cidre Loïc Raison is a French mainstream cider brand, which was originally established in 1923. Now it belongs however to a large corporation.Loic Raison Brut.jpgCompany: Cidrerie Loïc Raison 
Place of Origin: Domagne, Bretagne, France
Apples: a blend of Bretagne apples
Sweetness as per label: Brut
ABV: 4.5%
Package type: 750ml champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass: flute or bolée (looks like a tea cup; traditionally used in Bretagne for drinking cidre).

Appearance: pours a clear, pale orange/light amber body with a huge white head, which dissipates within seconds. The carbonation is average but weaker than typically seen in ciders produced with the champagne method.

Aroma/Nose: Wood, plenty of it with crisp apple and dry white wine notes. Also, some apple flesh and distant green notes are present on the nose.

Taste: Interestingly the first perceivable taste is wood. The woody taste is strong and lingers on throughout the whole sip. It is not unpleasant but dominating, not really fading away (did they use a new oak vat for this batch?). There are also bitter notes present, which after a few seconds give room to the medium sweetness with a green apple hint. I don’t sense any sourness or perhaps acids are just well balanced with sugars. Alcohol is not perfectly hidden and slightly perceivable. The finish is dry with some apple juice hints. No astringent taste on the palate.

Overall: For a mainstream cider Loïc Raison Brut tastes satisfying. Loïc Raison Brut is drinkable, perhaps not spectacular but for sure you can’t say you are drinking an artificial fizzy drink. It is an average, simple though but still pleasant cider. But, I don’t plan to buy it anytime soon. 3.5/6

Availability: Broad in supermarkets in France such as Carrefour or Auchan. Otherwise, check out grocery stores selling French products.

Price: purchased locally from  Galeries Lafayette Berlin at 3 EUR.




Smykan Jaskół 2015

Did you know that Poland is one of the largest apple producers in the world after US and China? Until only recently most Polish apples were exported to countries like Russia. Everything changed when Russia introduced a ban in 2014 on the import of apples from the UE as this led to a cider boom in many countries including Poland. Today I would like to introduce you four guys from Smykan, Krakow, Poland, who took the advantage of the situation and make cider from Polish dessert apples.

Jaskol received a silver medal at the 2015 International Wine Trade Fair Enoexpo in Cracow.Smykan_Jaskol.jpgCompany: SLOW FLOW GROUP
Place of Origin: Raciechowice, Poland
Apples: a blend of Grochowka (Bohnapfel), Jonagored and Champion from organic farms.
ABV: 7%
Package type: 750ml green wine bottle with crown cap.
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or flute
Note: unpasteurised, unfiltered with natural sediment. No sulphites added.

Appearance: pours a lightly hazy, pale golden body with a strong head, which quickly disappears. High carbonation. There is some sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma has funky notes with a relatively strong barnyard and leather touch. Some pear and mild apple notes are also perceivable. Very pleasant and complex nose. I am really enjoying the aroma of this cider.

Taste: The palate is not as impressive as the nose. It is quite tart with some barnyard and fruit touch but pleasant. I can’t sense any residual sugar, hence I would say it is a dry to medium dry cider. The taste has some moderate bitter notes with a hint of overripe apples. The mid palate has a light sulphuric note, which I don’t like. The finish is dry with a gentle and crisp touch of pear. Drinkable and refreshing.

Overall: Not bad for a cider made from dessert apples. Guys from Smykan have produced a really nice, complex and drinkable cider. Still a tiny bit too watery though but I wouldn’t mind buying it again. Moreover, I will always choose cider without sulphites added if possible. The only thing I can complain about is the crown cork on a beautiful wine bottle, which leaves a disappointing impression. Taste wise I think there is some room for improvement but overall the impression is really good. UK and France, beware as it looks like the competition is growing in the Eastern Europe! This Polish craft cider gets 4 out of 6. 

Availability: good wine and craft beer shops across Poland such as Wine Concept, Produkty Niewinne i Winne, Raj Piwosza, Piwny KolektywChmielolak or Mielzynski all about wine. Interestingly, cider seems to be seasonal in Poland, so be prepared that it will be quite a challenge to find craft cider in the winter.

Price: purchased May 2016 from Białe czy Czerwone? Wola Park in Warsaw for ca. 32 PLN (7.8 EUR).

K Cider

I was fooled by a sophisticated look of K Cider.
K Cider.jpgCompany: C & C Group Plc
Place of Origin: UK
Apples: a blend of English apples
ABV: 8.4%
Package type: 500 ml can
Recommended type of glass: pint glass

Appearance: pours a clean, intense golden yellow with a small white head, which quickly disappears. Carbonation is high and artificial.

Aroma/Nose: aroma is sweet and slightly resembles Johnnie Walker Red Label Whisky. Some vanilla and apple juicey scents are also available. Not so bad to be honest.

Taste: not too sweet, but the sweet taste seems to come from a sweetener. There is some lemon juice like a moderate acidic taste. On the palate, there is an unpleasant, metallic flavour with a cheap whisky taste. But why whisky taste in a cider? Finish is slightly bitter with a nasty apple concentrate note, which forces me unwillingly to grimace. Alcohol taste is not really hidden as it attacks from all sides like a real booze. Apples are also perceivable but again from a concentrate. No astringent taste.

Overall: I admit that K has a complex taste, as many various flavours are perceivable. But literally, none of them can be considered pleasant or enjoyable in any way. This is an example of how cider should not taste like. Avoid! 1.5/6

Availability: It should be banned, if you ask me. 1.09 GBP in retail in the UK. Broadly available.

Price: bought online from The English Shop at 2.99 EUR.

Strongbow Original Cider

There are different versions of Strongbow Cider available in the UK and the rest of Europe. As I am drinking a canned version it must have been produced for the UK market. For the record, Strongbow produced for mainland Europe is only available in bottles and produced in Belgium.strongbow-originalCompany: H.P. Bulmers (yes, the one also making Magner’s Cider), a subsidiary of Heineken
Place of Origin: Hereford, the UK
Apples: as per website it is a blend of bittersweet cider apples, grown and pressed in Herefordshire
Sweetness as per label: dry with sugars and sweetener
ABV: 5.0%
Package type: 500ml can
Recommended type of glass: pint glass

Appearance: clear golden with no head, sparkling. I am pretty sure it is not a natural carbonation.

Aroma/Nose: slightly dry, tart, fruity, can smell apples but it is rather a natural aroma coming from apples. Quite pleasant.

Taste: well, the taste is not as nice as the aroma itself. Very watery, slightly tart, tastes a bit like lemon juice (but it is not as tart!). No bitter taste to my surprise. There is even no astringent taste. So much for complexity… In the aftertaste there is a similar taste that you can get when drinking diet coke or Pepsi Max, I suppose it comes from the sweetener used. I would rather classify this cider as medium dry than dry. Unfortunately, it tastes like cider that was diluted to obtain larger volumes.

Overall: since Strongbow is one of the largest industrial cider brands I was not expecting anything special here. And I was right, it is an average, diluted medium dry cider. It is not unpleasant and the taste is quite natural but since Strongbow Original cider was manufactured using bittersweet cider apples the question is where did the bitter and astringent taste typical for ciders made of bittersweet apples go? Hence, Strongbow Cider must be either heavily diluted or the website doesn’t provide a reliable information. Or perhaps both? Anyway, don’t waste your time on Strongbow when you can get something better. 2/6

Availability: the canned package version is available almost everywhere in the UK. In the mainland Europe available at stores selling UK products. I bought this one at Broken English in Berlin.

Price: 2.8 EUR in Berlin. In the UK probably for the similar price, you could get a 4-pack but well…