Zywer Brus 2020

I’m happy to introduce to you a new Polish cider maker, Cydrownia Zywer located in the south-eastern corner of Poland, in Kańczuga, Subcarpathian. Cydrownia Zywer is named after the two owners, Tomek and Ula Zywer, who make their cider from apples grown in very old apple orchards, once grown owned by the local fruit processing business. Currently, Tomek and Ula have two ciders in their product portfolio, Brus and Foszt.

Today, I’m going to review Brus, which in a local dialect means solid plank of rough lumber but also an uncouth person. The Zywer Brus was recently awarded Gold in the dry sparkling cider category at XI SISGA Awards in Asturias, Spain. It is my first time trying anything from this Polish cider maker.

Company: Cydrownia Zywer
Place of Origin: Kańczuga, Subcarpathian, Poland
Apples: a blend of old apple varieties such as Bohnapfel, Reinette, Boskoop, Bancroft and Oberländer Himbeerapfel grown locally
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 7%
Package type: 750ml green glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale amber with a foam that reduces to a ring. The carbonation is high and natural. Body is also medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is moderately strong with notes of yellow and red apple, apple skin and some caramel to it.

Taste: it begins dry but with some residual sweetness and moderate acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, yellow apple, touch of astringency. Finishes dry with a note of lingering note of lemon and a touch of alcohol.

Overall: Poland hasn’t got a long cider tradition so Polish cider makers are still learning how to make good quality cider. The Zywer Brus 2020 is a good example of a Polish cider that actually tastes quite nice! It’s not entirely dry with a good body. Also, the level of acidity is just fine but surprisingly doesn’t seem to be refreshing. It’s nothing bad. It will simply taste better only slightly chilled on a rather cold evening as it warms up a little. The length is good and the tannin soft yet a bit rough. It has a typical flavor for Bohnapfel, which I personally adore but which might be off-putting to some. Overall, I think that the Zywer Brus 2020 is a decent cider that I wouldn’t mind to have again. Not sure if it deserved to win Gold in Asturias as I don’t know who did it compete with. But it is without a doubt one of the best Polish ciders I tried recently. It will pay nicely with fish due to the nice acidity. Worth trying. 4.5/6

Availability: click here for the full list of stockists.

Price: Tomasz provided me with a sample.

Cydr Radosny Igiełkowy z Imbirem 2020

Today I’m giving you a cider that is very suitable for this gloomy, cold and wet May weather, the Cydr Radosny Igiełkowy z Imbirem 2020 (Polish for needle & ginger cider). “Needle” because it is made with the needles of Douglas fir tree and pine tree. I don’t think that the ginger part requires any explanation. The Igiełkowy z Imbirem 2020 is made using a commercial yeast strain by the guys from the Polish Cydr Radosny, Radek and Mikołaj. I have previously reviewed their BrettOffowy 2020.

Company: Cydr Radosny
Place of Origin: Wrocław, Lower Silesia, Poland
Ingredients: a blend of old apple varieties that are locally grown with needles of Douglas fir tree and pine tree along with ginger.
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6%
Package type: 500ml amber glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler

Appearance: pours a very hazy pale golden yellow with a foam that reduces to a ring. The carbonation is medium. Body is also medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong and floral with something spicy. I’m getting notes of desiccated ginger, elderflower with a piny touch.

Taste: it begins dry with a medium acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, notes of desiccated ginger, floral notes, smokiness, yellow apples but also a bit watery. Finishes dry with notes of pine.

Overall: When using flavoring ingredients for cider, there is always a risk that you overdo these ingredients and the cider doesn’t taste like actual cider. However, the guys from Cydr Radosny managed to add just the right amount of these ingredients to their Igielkowy. When drinking, you can still tell that you are drinking a cider as the apple character still plays the main part here. And, the notes of needles and ginger are just supporting here by adding additional floral/piny flavors. But, also due to this fact you can tell that the apples used for this cider were not exactly cider apples – this is due to the watery taste. In a way, it can be seen also as an advantage as exactly this makes this cider taste rather light and suitable not only for the winter time but also for the summer. Anyway, I thought the Igiełkowy z Imbirem 2020 was very drinkable and wouldn’t mind having it again. I hope to see this cider commercially available soon! 4/6

Availability: unfortunately, not available commercially for now

Price: Radek provided me with a sample.

Cydr Radosny BrettOffowy 2020

Some of you may know that I review not only ciders already commercially available but also those that are made by cider lovers who may want to launch their products in the future. A cider that I’m going to review today, belongs to the latter group.

Cydr Radosny (Polish for Joyful Cider) is made by Radek and Mikołaj in a neighborhood of Wroclaw, Lower Silesia, Poland called Karłowice. Radek has always wanted to make wine. So in order to practice wine making techniques he started experimenting with an easily available fruit that in the Autumn usually rots on the ground under the trees as no-one picks it up – an apple. In 2018, Radek entered his first cider in a competition Lubelskie Stowarzyszenie Milosnikow Cydru (The Lublin Association of Cider Lovers) and won the first prize. Nicely done!

The Cydr Radosny BrettOffowy 2020 is made with old locally grown apple varieties using wild yeast. It’s my first time trying anything from Radek and Mikołaj.

Company: Cydr Radosny
Place of Origin: Wrocław, Lower Silesia, Poland
Apples: a blend of old apple varieties that are locally grown.
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6%
Package type: 750ml clear glass bottle with crown cork
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or tumbler

Appearance: pours a hazy pale golden yellow with a foam that reduces to a ring that doesn’t go away. The carbonation is medium. Body is also medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is moderately strong and fruity with notes of yellow apples, a hint of pear and leather.

Taste: my first taste is dry with medium to high acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate, notes of lemon, yellow apples, smokiness, low bitterness, and a touch of alcohol but also a bit watery. Finishes dry and fruity with a touch of lees.

Overall: The Cydr Radosny BrettOffowy 2020 is a really decent offering. It is complex, well made with a long-lasting taste and a nice array of fruity flavors. The level of acidity is just right and together with the fruity notes of yellow apples and pears make this cider very drinkable. This is something that I wouldn’t mind drinking again. Moreover, I’d like to stress that I have already tried several Polish commercially available craft ciders that tasted much less interesting or simply much worse than cider made by Radek and Mikolaj. Yet, while drinking the Cydr Radosny BrettOffowy 2020 I had a sort of dejavú, the impression that I have tried something similar before. Hence, I didn’t find the BrettOffowy 2020 somehow unique comparing to many ciders I haver tried so far. As I said in the beginning, it is a really honest and good cider and I’m going to cheer the guys from Cydr Radosny on their cider journey. If I find their cider one day on a store shelf, I’m going to purchase it. And, you also should. 4/6

Availability: unfortunately, not available commercially for now

Price: Radek provided me with a sample.

Tabun Cydr z Otomina Wytrawny Dziki 2019

It’s time for Polish cider! Today, I’m about to evaluate a cider from Tabun Cydr z Otomina made by Michał from Otomin. As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts about Michał‘s cider made, he, like any other cider maker, likes to experiment. Especially that he is still trying to create the best possible cider. His Dziki (wild in Polish) is one of his recently released experiments. It’s made with 8 different apple varieties (a blend of old apple varieties and cookers) fermented with wild yeast. After fermentation, it has been aged for 6 months and then bottle conditioned.
As per Michał, his Dziki sells like hotcakes despite Covid-19.

Company: Restauracja Tabun
Place of Origin: Otomin, Pomerania, Poland
Apples: a blend of 8 apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: wytrawny (dry)
ABV: 6,7%
Package type: 
750 ml green glass with crown cork
Recommended type of glass:
 white wine glass

Appearance: pours a cloudy bright straw yellow colour with no head. Low and natural carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma has very good intensity, literally pours out of the glass and is pleasantly refreshing with notes of lemon, grapefruit but also funk. In the background, very distant sulphur and something spicy.

Taste: my first taste is dry with low acidity of lemon and grapefruit. On the mid-palate, watery, smokiness, notes of funk, grapefruit peel and a hint of sulphur. Finishes with a pleasant and refreshing note of grapefruit peel followed by a touch of bitterness.

Overall: So far, my favourite cider made by Michał. It is lovely refreshing with notes of lemon and grapefruit but it’s not sour at the same time. Dziki has a good intensity on the nose, a good length along with complexity. It lacks a bit of body, which Michał sees as an advantage. But if you ask me, due to lack of body and a watery taste, one could say Dziki is something between a refreshing lemonade and white wine. An enjoyable one but still. This is the only comment I can make here. Again, since Dziki was fermented with wild yeast, and has some funkiness, not everyone will like e.g. my friend refused to drink it (good for me!). Overall, I’m not surprised that this cider is so popular within Tabun’s customers. I’m going to order some myself. Will pair well with fish, seafood or pizza. 4.5/6 

Availability: only in Poland for now at Restauracja Tabun in Otomin and from Alfroalko in Gdynia. Soon available in Warsaw from Zrodlo Niebanalnych Piw i Alkoholi and from Winnacja in Krakow.

Price: a bottle of this cider was provided by Michał (Restauracja Otomin)

Cydr Ignaców Czarny Ignac 2017

Last year in April, Tomasz from Cydr Ignaców passed me a bottle of his Czarny Ignac 2015. In October 2018, when I met up with Tomasz again, I received a bottle of the 2017 vintage. It’s actually the first time when I can compare two vintages of the same cider. Well, perhaps not at the same time but still.Company: Cydr Ignaców
Place of Origin: Ignaców, Masovia, Poland
Apples: a blend of old apple varieties
ABV: 7.5%
Package type: 750ml green glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass:  flute or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a lightly cloudy pale golden with a tiny white head. Low to medium carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is strong, dry and clear with notes of ripe yellow apples, pears, apple stems and distant caramel.

Taste: my first impression is dry with a touch of sweetness and low acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate yellow apples, mirabelle plum, lemon, grapefruit, a bit salty flavour, lightly watery with distant caramel. Finishes dry with a touch of the bitterness of grapefruit with very low astringency, a touch of lemon candy and lemon.

Overall: 2017 was not the best year for apples in Europe. Not only in terms of quantity of apples but also in terms of quality as you’ll see based on the 2017 vintage of Czarny Ignac. The 2017 vintage of Czarny Ignac tastes more watery and less flavourful than the 2015 vintage. Similarly to the previous vintage, caramel notes appear only later when the temperature rises a bit. Also, the tannins seem to be less pronounced here. Overall, the Czarny Ignac 2017 is a light and drinkable cider with depth and structure. It tastes rich and round and I enjoyed having it but I prefered the 2015 version. Looking forward to trying the 2018 vintage! I bet it will be cracking good! 4/6

Availability: might be available in wine stores and craft beers shops across Poland if any left.

Price: Tomasz passed me a bottle when we met up in Warsaw.

Cydr Ignaców Czarny Ignac 2015

The name of ‘Czarny Ignac’, which I’m going to review tonight derives from a small town of Ignaców, where Cydr Ignaców is created. However, ‘Ignac’ also refers to a male short name ‘Ignacy’, Polish for ‘Ignatius’. ‘Czarny’ is Polish for black. So if you put all this together you get a name of the ‘Black Ignatius’. Sounds powerful and scary at the same time, doesn’t it?Company: Cydr Ignaców
Place of Origin: Ignaców, Masovia, Poland
Apples: a blend of wild apples, Ribston Pippin, Rederka and Arkad
ABV: 7.5%
Package type: 750ml green glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass:  flute or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear deep golden with a small white head. Medium carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is aromatic and clear with notes of ripe yellow apples, apple skins, quince, caramel and a hint of ripe juicy pear.

Taste: my first taste is dry with a medium acidity of lemon. The taste moves then to ripe yellow apples, quince, a gentle bitterness of caramel, a medium astringent taste with herbal hints and a hint of alcohol. The finish is dry with a lingering medium astringent taste accompanied by ripe yellow apples. Also, a champagne-like note appears.

Overall: I like my cider to taste like the plant it’s made from, which is one of the reasons I enjoyed the Czarny Ignac 2015. On top of that, both the nose and palate change with the rise of temperature. In the beginning, the nose is dominated by notes of ripe yellow apples but after a while, a note of caramel comes to the front. Tannins are pronounced but nicely balanced. Overall, the Czarny Ignac 2015 has depth, length and a flavorful finish. No question. One of the best Polish ciders I’ve tried so far. Czarny Ignacy 2015 will go well with pork or veal but also on its own. I would buy more. 4.5/6

Availability: it might no longer be available in most Polish speciality shops but I saw a few bottles of the Czarny Ignac 2015 in Frank Winkler’s Lorsbacher Thal in Frankfurt. Perhaps also through Apfelweinkontor in Frankfurt.

Price: Tomasz passed me a bottle when we met up in Warsaw.

WINI Cydr Jabłkowy Dry

Apples used by Krzysztof Winnicki from WINI come from his own orchards in Dębe near Warsaw, Poland. After the juice is pressed at a nearby business, the juice gets fermented at a local winery. Subsequently, Krzysztof’s cider is matured for at least three months and then bottled.    

Dry is another cider created by Krzysztof Winnicki from WINI. Previously, I had his Cydr Jablkowy, and Cydr Jablkowy Lodowy 2017, both very enjoyable.Company: WINI
Place of Origin: Dębe, Masovia, Poland
Apples: a blend of Belle de Boskoop, Cortland and Idared
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6%
Package type: 750ml green glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine glass or flute

Appearance: pours a clear pale straw with a fast reducing white foam. High artificial carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: it smells dry with a strong sulphur flavour dominating the aroma. Somewhere in the background, notes of lychee, green and red apples with white wine notes and some alcohol.

Taste: the first sip is bone dry without any sweetness left and pretty sour. It has notes of white wine with a faint flavour of green and unripe apples and a light astringent taste. The sulphur taste is also present on the mid-palate, not dominating here, but still strong. In the aftertaste, a light bitter note with a touch of astringency and alcohol.

Overall: after sampling Krzysztof’s Cydr Jablkowy, and Cydr Jablkowy Lodowy 2017, I confidently expected the Dry to be at least as tasty as the previously tasted ciders. It’s not as good as I hoped for. Unfortunately, it’s flabby and flat. The Dry is spoiled by the flavour of sulphur, both on the nose and (less) on the palate. In addition, it has no complexity, which makes it taste rather dull, almost like a cheap bubbly. I didn’t like it and I wouldn’t buy it again. Krzysztof, you can do much better than this. 2.5/6

Availability: only in Poland e.g. from Drink Hala in Wroclaw.

Price: Cydr Jablkowy Dry was a sample provided by Krzysztof from WINI.

Fortuna Cydr Miłosławski Półwytrawny

If you read on the label that a brewery is responsible for cider that you’re about to drink, you may take it for granted that this cider will not taste remarkable. Having an average tasting cider is maybe the best-case scenario for such cider. Today I’m challenging Cydr Miłosławski Półwytrawny (semi-dry) manufactured by Browar Fortuna, which is a brewery from Miłosław, Greater Poland, Poland.Company: Browar Fortuna
Region of Origin: Miłosław, Greater Poland, Poland
Apples: Polish apples
Sweetness as per label: semi-dry
ABV: 4.5%
Package type:
500ml brown glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: 
pint glass or chalice glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale straw with a huge white fizz that slowly dissipates. High artificial carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is weak and has notes of yellow and tart apples with a bit of wood and funk. Also, it smells slightly sweet of sugar.

Taste: it starts watery and medium sweet with low acidity. The medium palate is fruity with a yellow apple note with light bitterness and tartness. It leaves a light buttery and fruity aftertaste.

Overall: I can’t say that Cydr Miłosławski Półwytrawny is not drinkable. Neither it tastes artificial. However, the Miłosławski has no depth and no lingering flavours. It basically tastes like a fizzy alcoholic apple beverage. Nothing special, but can be refreshing if you’re desperately looking for a drinkable cider-like beverage. 2.5/6

Availability: almost every supermarket in Poland carries it.

Price: purchased at a convenience store Zabka in Wroclaw at 3.5 PLN (0.85 EUR).

Kwaśne Jabłko Tropikalny 2015

Marcin Wiechowski, who is in charge of cider making at Kwaśne Jabłko, is actually a psychologist by profession. Marcin, together with his wife Ewa, escaped Warsaw rat race to live in the peaceful countryside of Masuria, also known as the “land of a thousand lakes”. I am sampling their Tropikalny, which means ‘tropical’ in Polish. Previously I have sampled their Beczka 4.Company: Kwaśne Jabłko
Place of Origin:
 Świątki, Masuria, Poland
Apples:
a blend of Gravensteiner, Jonathan and Spartan
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 7
%
Package type:
750ml wine bottle with natural cork
Recommended type of glass:
white wine glass 

Appearance: pours a slightly hazy amber/orange with no head and no carbonation.

Aroma/Nose: The nose has aromas of both overripe and baked apples with tea and herbal notes.

Taste: it starts dry, but not bone dry, with low to medium acidity and a pleasant crisp apple flavour. Then moderate tannins kick in with notes of orange and gentle banana. The finish is dry with a touch of baked apples and light bitterness. Lingering herbal notes in the aftertaste.

Overall: from the name, I assumed that the Tropikalny has tropical notes. Therefore, I had the Tropikalny on two different occasions as I was intensively searching for tropical notes in this cider. And, except for gentle orange flesh and a light ripe banana note I was not able to get other tropical notes. Hence, I don’t have an idea, where did the name come from. Anyway, I think that the Tropikalny is a decent and refreshing cider, but I can’t say I’m blown away with it. The Tropikalny will appeal to those who like cider on the drier side. 4/6

Availability: directly from Kwaśne Jabłko in Masuria or through Polish wine or beer shops such as Winnacja.plZrodlo niebanalnych piw i alkoholiPod Wiaduktem in Cracow or Produkty Niewinne i Winne. In terms of bars, restaurant Jabeerwocky in Warsaw,  Lokal in Lodz, Multi Qlti Tap Bar, Pub Lawendowa in Gdansk.

Price: purchased from Zrodlo niebanalnych piw i alkoholi in Warsaw at 35PLN (8.35 EUR)

De Sas Japko

A quick bit of research told me that Japko is produced in the beautiful Barycz Valley by Winnica De Sas, which is actually a vineyard. Apples used for their cider are provided by Dominik Podchydło’s organic orchards.Company: Winnica DeSas
Place of Origin: Krośnice, Lower Silesia, Poland
Apples: organic apples
Sweetness as per label: unknown
ABV: 5.5%
Package type: 500ml green glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a hazy pale golden yellow with no head. No carbonation. Body is low. Some sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: the scent is fruity with notes of vinegar, fermenting apples, yeast, something green and a hint of paint thinner.

Taste: the first sip is sweet with medium to high both lemon-like and acetic acidity. Followed by a refreshing grapefruit peel bitterness, yeasty flavour, sour apples and a gently astringent note.

Overall: it used to be one of my favourite Polish ciders or at least the most frequently consumed back in 2016. Last year’s Japko tasted, however, less sweet than this year’s batch, with a milder note of the paint thinner. At least this is how I remembered it. Japko is still one of my favourite Polish craft ciders despite the relatively high sweetness, which surprisingly isn’t broken by relatively high citrusy and vinegary acidity. Only the increased level of sweetness and the distance from Berlin to Wrocław stop me from drinking this cider every day. Summarizing, I found this cider refreshing with a nice set of flavours and I am looking forward to my next visit to Wrocław. 4/6

Availability: straight from the vineyard Winnica DeSas. Pod Wiaduktem in Cracow, Marynka, Piwo i Aperitivo in Wrocław, and Teo in Cieszków, Lower Silesia.

Price: purchased at Marynka, Piwo i Aperitivo in Wrocław at 11 PLN (2.60 EUR)