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) 

Sigelsberg Suchý

Sigelsberg is a cider maker from Slovakia, who took the 2nd place in the poll at Slavnost Cideru 2017. Wait, Slovakia? Doesn’t Sigelsberg sound German? Sigelsberg is a name used under the Austro-Hungarian rule for the city of Štiavnické Bane, Slovakia where the cider makers come from. The company was established in 2011 after a very good apple harvest in their orchard. After a several rounds of experiments, the recipe was developed and their cider was ready to commercialize.Company: Piarg house s.r.o.
Place of Origin: Štiavnické BaneBanská Štiavnica, Slovakia
Apples: apples from Slovak orchards
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 5.9%
Package type: draught
Recommended type of glass: pint glass

Appearance: pours a clear straw golden with no head. Lightly carbonated. The body is light.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is rather weak as I can get only flavours of fermented and crisp apples.

Taste: the first sip is slightly sweet, with a medium acidity and moderate tannins. The mid-palate has unripe green and tart apples with other green notes and a sharp touch of alcohol. The finish is dry with a touch of bitterness.

Overall: Sigelsberg’s Suchý tastes natural and is drinkable. Even refreshing. But I can’t say that the taste is remarkable. I think the Suchý is a good and interesting alternative to ciders from concentrate and may appeal to many. Hence, the 2nd place in the poll. But it’s just slightly better than average. 3/6 

Availability: in many restaurants and bars across Slovakia. Online in Slovakia from Bottles.  In Prague sometimes available in the InCider Bar.

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

Carboy Cidre

Carboy cidre is one of the new cider makers in the Czech cider scene. They set up the company only in 2016, so no wonder that I didn’t see them at Slavnost Cideru 2016. Carboy cidre is run by Vladimir Marek, who owns an apple orchard in Kladno. His family has been experimenting with many different types of liqueurs before they decided to focus entirely on cider making.Company: Carboy Cidre
Place of Origin: Kladno, The Czech Republic
Apples: apples from own orchards
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 4.5%
Package type: draught
Recommended type of glass: pint glass

Appearance: pours a lightly cloudy straw with no head. Lightly carbonated.

Aroma/Nose: the gas has notes of yeast, sulphur, green unripe apples and flavours typical for still fermenting and fresh unmatured cider. Unpleasant.

Taste: it begins very watery and dry with no residual sweetness and moderate acidity. I can also get unpleasant yeasty flavour with sulphur and green notes. No tannins perceivable.

Overall: It’s good to see a new company making cider from real apples and without the addition of chemical junk. But, I think there is a lot about cider making that guys from Carboy Cidre need to learn. As in the current state, this cider is undrinkable due to a horrible smell and taste. My friend, who joined me at Slavnost Cideru even asked me, how could anyone sell anything like this? Hence, my advice to the company would be, let your cider age and rack off your cider sooner. As when cider sits too long on its lees it gets yeasty and develops unpleasant off-flavours as those present in your cider. Hope your next cider will be better though! 1/6 

Availability: unknown

Price: sampled at Slavnost Cideru 2017, 0.2L (25CZK =1 EUR)

Opre’ Perry

The idea of making cider from Slovak apples was born, when Gabriel Oprendek returned from one of his trips and brought a bottle of cider with him. At the time nobody produced cider in Slovakia. Cider was exotic to everyone. This inspired his younger brother Radoslav, who has a background in biology, to experiment with cider made from locally grown apples. After one year of experimenting the recipe was developed and Opre’ Cider could hit the shelves in Slovakia, Czech Republic and other countries. I tried their Perry at Slavnost Cideru 2017.Company: Opre’ Cider
Place of Origin: Budimir, Slovakia
Pears: locally grown pears
Sweetness as per label: sweet
ABV: 3.1%
Package type: draught
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or flute

Appearance: pours a slightly pale golden/pale amber with no head. Medium carbonation. Body is medium as well.

Aroma/Nose: The nose is rich and has overripe pears and apples along with pear skins, raisin-like sweetness and a touch vinegar.

Taste: it tastes very sweet with low acetic-acidity. The mid-palate has notes of ripe juicy pears and pear juice with a note of baked apples. Also, I’m getting green notes with a light bitter taste and a touch of bubble gum flavour. The finish is sweet and has ripe pear notes.

Overall: When you sip Opre’s Perry you are not quite certain, whether you are drinking a pear juice or a perry. It’s very sweet with dominating flavours typical for pear juice. However, some flavours such as of vinegar or light bitterness remind you that it is actually a perry that you are drinking. Opera’s Perry is a pleasant and pretty decent summer beverage for those having a sweet tooth. To me, this perry was way too sweet. But again, if you don’t mind the sweetness Opre’s Perry can be your thing. 4/6 

Availability: widely available across Slovakia and in restaurants, bars, cafes in the Czech Republic, Austria and Estonia. Online from Drinkshop, Since recently available through Ciderlab.nl in the Netherlands.

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

Slavnost Cideru 2017: visit recap

Beautiful architecture, great food or breathtaking views are not only reasons to visit Prague. Since 2016 there is one more reason called Slavnost Cideru, which means Cider Festival or Cider Feast in Czech. Cider festivals are still rare in Central and Eastern Europe so when I saw Prague on a list of cider festivals compiled by Cider Guide-Eric West, I knew I had to take part in it. This years’ event took place on June 16-18 2017.

LOCATION

Slavnost Cideru is situated in the heart of Prague at Smíchovská Náplavka, on the bank of the Vltava’s river. The location was absolutely perfect as you could sit on a wooden bench, enjoy the view and sip your cider in the sunshine. img_6958TICKETS

To enter the festival you had to purchase a ticket at 50 CZK (1.90 EUR), if bought at the entrance. The ticket was valid for the all three festival days. In addition, there was a 2-for-1 offer at selected cider spots in Prague and online through Cool Ticket app, if festival tickets were bought in advance. Unfortunately, the app seems to work only in the Czech Republic as I downloaded the app but couldn’t purchase the tickets. However, I liked the idea of discounted ticket prices when bought in advance as it made you visit a shop or a bar selling cider, and take advantage of this visit by purchasing cider. I bought my 2-for-1 tickets in the InCider Bar, a cider bar in Prague one day before Slavnost Cideru.

I really liked the idea that at the entrance everyone has received a brochure with a short introduction about participating cider makers.

50 CZK (1.90 EUR) is not much. But, I must make a comment here that at exactly the same time, but on the other side of the Vltava’s river, a craft beer festival was running and there was no entrance fee as such. However, if I’m not wrong you had to purchase a festival glass in order to buy beer there at all.


CIDER MAKERS

This year’s event hosted more cider makers than last year so you can see that the Czech cider scene is really blooming. Visitors were able to try a range of different ciders, mainly from Czech Republic and Slovakia. Hundreds of cider lovers could sample ciders from Opre’ Cider, Cider Magnetic Apple, Tatuv Sad, Sigelsberg, Carboy Cidre, A.K. Cider, Cider Bohemia, Cidre 99, Vinarstvi Mühlberger, Royal Dog Cider, Redbrook, Joker Cider, Divoké jablko, Kastler, Sigr z Jabka or Martin’s Cider. Additionally, you could purchase bottled F.H. Prager (perry) and BB Cidre or F.H. Prager (cider) and Rychnovsky on draught at Opily Jabko’s booth, an online cider shop, whereas InCider Bar had Pan Jablicko and Johannes Cyder on draught and bottled Cidre Kliment. I basically felt like in the largest Prague’s cider bar.
For those, who wanted to try cider from other countries than the Czech Republic and Slovakia, English cider, French cider or Spanish sidra from, respectively Aspall, Dunkertons, Louis Raison, Val de Rance, El Gaitero and The Good Cider were available.To my surprise, also commercial brands such as Strongbow, Somersby, Rekorderlig or local Kingswood were present. I get it, every festival needs a sponsor.

Drinkers could sip also other beverages than cider such as Czech beer, whisky from Tullamore Dew matured in cider casks. There was also a bar serving other alcoholic beverages. You could even get to try a freshly pressed apple juice at InCider Bar’s stand.BEST FESTIVAL’S CIDER

Cider drinkers could vote online for the best cider of the festival. To my surprise, it was Joker Cider that was voted the best cider of Slavnost Cideru 2017. I will try to explain, why I find this result surprising in my next blog post. So stay tuned.

Picture below is courtesy of Slavnost Cideru.

Here are my personal favorite ciders from Slavnost Cideru 2017:

A.K.Cider: Sweet Strong followed by Jadrnicka. Both naturally tasting and really delicious. In addition, their Medium-Sweet was my favourite cider at Slavnost Cideru 2016.   

Divoke Jablko: Demi-Sec followed by Brut. Brut had a light watery taste, whereas Demi-Sec tasted slightly sweeter, which rounded up the taste. I haven’t tried their Barrel Aged cider yet.

Sigr z Jabka: Polosuchy. I have reviewed this cider here. It’s strange that they disappeared on Sunday, which was the last day of the festival.

In general, most of the ciders that I tried tasted rather average, some of them even terrible. Since there were more cider makers than last year I expected also proportionally more decent cider. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Perhaps next year’s event will be better in terms of quality and taste of cider.

FOOD & ENTERTAINMENT

Every festival includes musical entertainment and food for purchase. Kaiser Franz, Mikro Farma, Angelato and many others served up burgers, cider steaks, hot dogs, ice cream and other goodies.

In terms of music, there was a DJ playing some club/house music. On the other side of the river, where the craft beer festival simultaneously was running, I saw that they build a stage and bands were performing. I’d prefer a live band performance to a DJ playing. I just think that listening to a band is more fun than listening to club music. In addition, bands create better cider drinking atmosphere.

Besides the cider drinking, you could get creative by painting your own brown glass cider bottle. It also kept the kids busy. Also, you could take a picture in a sort of wooden frame and tag yourself on social media. I found this idea really cool!

Overall, I think the organizers took good care of the food and entertainment part. There were no very long queues to get the food. Also, everyone could find something that would satisfy hers/his taste buds.

FINAL REMARKS

Usually, when I attend a festival there are talks done about cider making, introduction to cider processes for beginners or current trends in the cider scene. This part was missing here. Even though I don’t speak Czech I think it could be interesting for other participants to learn how cider is made and what a challenge it is to make cider in this part of Europe. Big applause for InCider Bar as they at least presented how to press apple juice using apple press.

Furthermore, you could only drink cider from disposable plastic glasses. Don’t know how about you, but drinking anything from a plastic glass is a no-go for me. Especially, cider. Not to mention how it impacts the environment. I asked Vašek from InCider Bar about the reason for pouring cider into a plastic glass. Apparently, according to Czech Regulations, your booth has to be equipped with water supply for cleaning of glasses if you want to use glasses made of glass. Since it was not feasible to arrange for water supply, only disposable plastic glasses were allowed. Somehow the craft beer festival on the other side of the Vltava’s river has solved this problem. If there are financial reasons behind it, then perhaps it would be an idea for the next year to get an extra funding from the Government to reduce the plastic caps litter and use glass instead? An environmental friendly festival is also a way of promoting the event and getting sponsors on board.

What I found surprising, compared to other festivals I attended, is that the vast majority of cider makers, with an exception of Tatuv Sad and Redbrook, didn’t sell any T-shirts, glasses or other stuff. Tatuv Sad/Redbrook were the only cider makers offering such merchandise products. Why do I think it’s important? Firstly, it promotes cider culture and makes your brand recognisable. Secondly, it is an extra money for the company that can be used to invest in the production process, marketing, etc. T-Shirts or cider glasses don’t have an expiry date! If you don’t sell everything at this event there will be another picnic, brunch or food festival, hence, another occasion to sell it. I strongly encourage to consider this. As for now only Tatuv Sad/Redbrook understand the importance of brand promotion.

As for Tatuv Sad’s cider glass, I found the design really nice! The only reason why I didn’t buy it is that the glass didn’t have a volume marking. Meaning, I wouldn’t be able to bring it to another event as nobody would know how much cider to pour in.img_6966SUMMARY

Summarizing, Slavnost Cideru 2017 was an unforgettable experience and a great cider festival. I’ve sampled a number of delicious ciders in a very friendly atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. I have learned a lot about Czech cider as well. Also, Slavnost Cideru gave me an opportunity to meet cider makers and discuss cider with other cider aficionados like me. I’m looking forward to next year’s edition!