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

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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)

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.

Johannes Cyder Suchý

Johannes Cyder is a mysterious cider maker from The Czech Republic. They have their own website, but they don’t disclose much information about themselves. Luckily, I was able to determine that the cider is made by Ondra. Also, I learned that the cider was named after his son Johannes. It seems that he considers his cider as her baby as well. Currently, Johannes Cyder is available only on draught as Suchý (dry) and Sladký (sweet). I’m giving the Suchý a try.
Company: Johannes Cider
Place of Origin: Tabor or Prague Vršovice, The Czech Republic
Apples: unknown Czech apples
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 6.4%
Package type: draught
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or wine glass

Appearance: pours a slightly hazy straw yellow with no head. Medium carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is wild and refreshing with notes of barnyard, leather, fermenting cider and red apples.

Taste: it starts with high lemon-like acidity, notes of lemon flesh and lemon zest, and after a few seconds gets lightly watery with delicate notes of barnyard, fermenting apples and smoky ham. Finishes with a pleasant light grapefruit-like bitterness.

Overall: Dry from Johannes Cyder is a natural cider with a refreshing strong citrusy palate. But the Dry was a bit too sour to my liking. I must note that had it alone without any food. Yet I can imagine it would pair well with traditional Czech meals such as Roast Duck, Prague Ham or other hearty dishes. Hence, the Dry is for those who prefer dry, tart and natural cider. I would buy it again, but next time with food. 3.5/6 

Availability: only on draught in InCider Bar, La BabicheVršovická zahrada, Bajkazyl, Cafe Sladkovsky, Kavarna Liberal, Cobra , Cafe Fra and occasionally in BeerGeek Bar in Prague. Also in Kavkárna in Česke Budějovice.

Price: received it for free at InCider Bar‘s stand during Slavnost Cideru 2017.

 

Martin’s Cider Jablkovy

Martin’s Cider is a Slovak Nitra-based cider company, which was established only in 2014. Martin spent a few years in Cornwall and Somerset and fell in love with English cider and generally with cider making. Hence, once he returned to Slovakia he set up the first cidery in his home town Nitra. Their range includes cider, perry and cherry flavoured cider.
Company: Martin’s Cider
Place of Origin: Nitra, Slovakia
Apples: apples grown at the Czech-Slovak border
Sweetness as per label: sweet
ABV: 4.8%
Package type: draught
Recommended type of glass: pint glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a large foam, which quickly falls down. High carbonation. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: smells of freshly pressed apple juice from red apples. This is all I’m getting here.

Taste: it starts quite watery with a low level of acidity and moderate sweetness. The mid-palate has a flavour of apple juice with a distant hint of fermented apples. That’s basically it.

Overall: If someone passed me a glass of Martin’s Cider and told me it was an apple juice I would believe him. The Jablkovy has a strong refreshing apple juice flavour but the taste overall has nothing to do with cider. It simply tastes like a freshly pressed apple juice. I’m convinced it will appeal to those preferring sweet apple juice-tasting cider though but not to cider lovers. 2/6 

Availability: through their online shop or in InCider Bar in Prague.

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

Vinařství Mühlberger Cider

Located in Moravia, the wine region of the Czech Republic, close to the Austrian border, Vinařství Mühlberger is a small vineyard producing around 7000 bottles a year. Their focus is mainly on wine, but they have apple and quince orchards as well, so they also produce cider and quince wine. Their cider is the result of the collaboration with Eska restaurant from Prague-Karlin.Company: Vinařství Mühlberger 
Place of Origin: Jaroslavice, Znojmo district in South Moravian Region, the Czech Republic
Apples: unknown varieties
ABV: 4%
Package type: 330ml clear glass with twist-off cap
Recommended type of glass: white wine or pint glass

Appearance: pours a clear yellow straw with a quickly reducing white head. Lightly carbonated. Body is medium.

Aroma/Nose: all I can get is a scent of fermented apples and honey-like sweetness.

Taste: it starts quite sweet with a honey-like note and no acidity to break the sweetness. However, I can get a distant vinegary note with fermented apples on the mid-palate with a gentle touch of astringency, and low bitterness to the end.

Overall: I quite enjoyed the first few sips of cider from Vinařství Mühlberger, but after a while, I felt I had enough. It was tiring and quite dull due to the quite high level of sweetness/low level of acidity. Simply, too sweet for my tastes. Hence, those having a sweet tooth will be delighted with this drop. It’s really not bad and drinkable but could be more complex both on the nose and the palate. 3.5/6

Availability: you can find their cider in Eska restaurant in Prague – Karlin.

Price: paid 65 CZK (2.5 EUR) for a 330ml bottle at Slavnost Cideru 2017 in Prague

Cider Bohemia Cannabis Cider

It may come as a surprise to you, but the Czech Republic has one of the highest rates of cannabis use in Europe. Moreover, many Czechs grow and use cannabis for their own use. It still does not mean that it is legal to do so. Anyway, it was just a matter of time to see a product combining two Czech passions into one, a cider infused with cannabis by Cider Bohemia. Don’t expect to find THC here, since their cider was infused with flowers and leaves of Cannabis sativa, not C. indica.

Company: Cider Bohemia
Place of Origin: Pilzen, Czech Republic
Ingredients: cannabis with unknown Czech apple varieties
Sweetness as per label: semi-dry
ABV: 4.8%
Package type: draught
Recommended type of glass: pint glass

Appearance: pours a lightly hazy straw yellow with a short-lived head. Medium carbonated. Body is light.

Aroma/Nose: it smells mainly of marjoram, a herb typically used to marinate meat with (not to confuse with oregano)

Taste: it starts with low sweetness and moderate acidity, which is then taken over by green notes with flavours of both green and unripe apples and a gentle astringency.

Overall: Cannabis Cider basically tastes like a light soft drink with pleasant green astringent herbal notes. I must say that it was a quite interesting experience. Perhaps the taste was not spectacular, but not unpleasant either. I think that Cannabis Cider has a chance to appeal to a wider audience. Anyway, I am definitely looking forward to trying other ciders from their lineup. 3/6 

Availability: at many food and farmers markets across The Czech Republic or in the InCider Bar in Prague. Online from their online shop, from Opily Jabko (they ship abroad!).

Price: sampled at Slavnost Cideru 2017 at Cider Bohemia’s stand, 0.2L (30 CZK-1.15 EUR)