Hogan’s Dry

John Stewart was a very special person in Hogan’s life. John was Hogan’s neighbour and the person who actually introduced Alan Hogan to cider and cider making. It is thanks to John Alan learned how to make cider from locally grown cider apples and how to appreciate it. Think about John Stewart next time you drink Hogan’s cider.

Today I’m trying their Dry, which is advertised as peaty and smoky.Company: Hogan’s
Place of Origin: Alcester, Warwickshire, UK
Ingredients: English cider apple juice, water, sugar, carbon dioxide, malic acid, preservative: potassium metabisulphite (sulphites)
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 5.8%
Package type: 500ml amber glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with no head. Slightly sparkling. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is tannic with hints of funk, notes of lemon, grapefruit and beeswax with a distant acetic acidity.

Taste: it starts relatively dry with a low acidity of both lemon and acetic acidity. Then the taste moves to notes of grapefruit (quite prevalent), blood orange, light beeswax, a light watery taste, smoky note and a medium astringent taste. It finishes dry with citrusy notes of grapefruit and with a smoky note. Also, there is a lightly biting taste due to carbonation.

Overall: similarly to the previously reviewed Medium, the Dry from Hogan’s could be described as a cross between English cider and a Spanish sidra. But it’s drier, similarly rich, yet light and watery. It’s a nice cider with a refreshing citrusy and smoky twist, exactly as advertised. Too watery perhaps so I would suggest considering to not water down this cider that much. Overall, it didn’t hook me but I thought it was quite ok. A pleasant, refreshing and light cider for every palate. 3.5/6 

Availability: from their online shop. In Germany exclusively from CiderKultur. In the UK from Crumpton Hill Farm Shop.

Price: Hogan’s Dry was a sample provided by CiderKultur, a recently opened webshop run by two cider aficionados offering a selection of great cider.

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Hogan’s Medium

2005 is the year when Allen and Jane Hogan brought their 20-year-old hobby to the next level and established Hogan’s Cider in Alcester, Warwickshire, UK. They sold their first cider at Stratford Farmers market and quickly gained happy returning customers. Profits allowed Allen and Jane to expand and focus entirely on cider making and experimenting with various ingredients such as elderflower or dark muscovado sugar.

Hogan’s have a very impressive line-up featuring Dry, Medium, Vintage Perry, French Revelation, Killer Sharp, Hip Hop, Libertine and High Sobriety available in bottles. And, Original Draught, Harvest Press, Hazy Rays, Lonely Partridge Perry, Panking Pole, Wild Elder and Mulled on tap. I’m giving their Medium a go. Company: Hogan’s Cider
Place of Origin: Alcester, Warwickshire, UK
Ingredients: English cider apple juice, water, sugar, carbon dioxide, malic acid, preservative: potassium metabisulphite (sulphites)
Sweetness as per label: medium
ABV: 5.4%
Package type: 500ml amber glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with a quickly dissipating white head. Slightly sparkling. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: smells slightly vinous and fruity with notes of yellow and red apples, red fresh apples, red fruits, berries, grapefruit with hints of funk and a distant acetic acidity.

Taste: my first taste is slightly sweet of caramel, with a low acidity of both lemon and distant vinegar. Notes of yellow and red apples, light funk, lightly syrupy, some smokiness with a light astringent taste and a touch of light apple seed bitterness, which with time transforms to a grapefruit bitterness. The finish is dry and has a lingering note of caramel and a pleasant lingering bitter note of grapefruit peel.

Overall: after reading the label I was quite sceptical at first, but honestly, the Medium tastes natural. The aroma resembles dessert apples with an acetic note typical for Spanish sidra. Taste-wise you will find many flavours, but classical English cider notes clearly take over the palate. Therefore, I would describe Hogan’s Medium as a fusion of English cider with Spanish sidra and eating apples (although Hogan’s claim it is made entirely from cider apples). Despite many interesting notes on the palate, I thought Hogan’s was quite average. I didn’t think it was special as some sort of balance was missing. Anyway, I think that Hogan’s Medium can be likeable especially by those having a sweet tooth. 3.5/6 

Availability: from their online shop. In Germany exclusively from Cider Kultur. In the UK from Crumpton Hill Farm Shop.

Price: Hogan’s Dry was a sample provided by Cider Kultur, a recently opened webshop run by two cider aficionados offering a selection of great cider.

Sheppy’s Falstaff

Sheppy’s, a cider maker from Somerset, usually blends typical cider apple varieties with eating apples. But cider I am sampling today is a single varietal cider made only from Falstaff. Falstaff is an eating apple, which was developed by the East Malling Research, UK in 1965 and is claimed to be popular in the UK. This apple cultivar is a hybrid of Golden Delicious, and James Grieve producing crisp, sweet and juicy red apples. Previously I’ve tried their Somerset Traditional Cider and Somerset Oak Matured Vintage 2015, both created for Marks &  and their Dabinett.Company: Sheppy’s
Place of Origin: 
Taunton, Somerset, UK
Apples: 
single varietal, made from Falstaff
Sweetness as per label: 
medium sweet
ABV:
 5.6%
Package type:
500ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass:
pint glass, snifter or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale golden with no head. Lightly sparkling. Also, the body is light.

Aroma/Nose: smells of sulphur, lots of it. Other notes include sweet red apples with red apple skins, pears and elderflower. Rather unpleasant due to dominating sulfur notes.

Taste: it begins sweet but less sweet than I would expect from a medium sweet cider.  Tastes little watery with low to medium lemon-like acidity. Notes of red apples with a light smoky taste on the mid-palate. In the aftertaste, I pick up a gentle astringent taste, a note of red apples with a touch of bitterness.

Overall: Briefly, Sheppy’s Falstaff tastes like a slightly watery fizzy apple lemonade. I would say that it tasted just average. Perhaps because Falstaff is an eating apple, not a cider apple, but I have had many ciders made from eating apples, which tasted far much better than the Falstaff. And, this unpleasant note of sulphur appearing once you open the bottle. Like matches. Summarizing, if you want your cider on the light and lemonade side, this cider is for you. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend Sheppy’s Falstaff. 2.5/6 

Availability: very broad. In the UK from Waitrose, Sainsbury’s or Booth’s, online from Beers of Europe, eebria, dike and son, Beer Ritz. In Germany online from ciderhofbanneke, gourvinodrinks of the world, Weinkontor Goldene Krone. Locally in Karstadt, Getränke Hoffman, Galeria Kaufhof or Kadewe.

Price: purchased locally in Berlin from Getränke Hoffman at 2.99 EUR.

Ross-on-Wye Ashton Brown Jersey

Ashton Brown Jersey is a relatively young cider apple variety grown at the National Fruit and Cider Institute, Long Ashton, Bristol in 1903. It’s a cider apple with hard tannins producing full-bodied medium bittersweet cider. Ashton Brown Jersey is not often found as a single variety, it’s rather used as part of a blend.

Ashton Brown Jersey is my first cider from the multi-award winning cider producer from Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, the Ross-on-Wye Cider & Perry Company.Company: Ross-on-Wye Cider & Perry Company
Place of Origin: Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, UK
Apples: single varietal, from Ashton Brown Jersey
ABV: 6.2%
Package type: 750ml green glass bottle with plastic screw cup
Recommended type of glass: flute, chalice glass or wine glass

Note: no sulphites, unpasteurised

Appearance: pours a hazy golden with orange hues and a white short-lived head. Medium to high carbonation. Body is low. Some sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is acidic and wild with notes of barnyard, beeswax, grapefruit, orange, light sulphur and a hint of red apples and vinegar.

Taste: the first sip is slightly sweet with a low acidity of lemon. On the mid-palate a strong watery note with a touch of smoke, a moderately astringent taste, hint of sulphur and a distant acetic note. It finishes dry, citrusy and crisp with notes of grapefruit, blood orange, a touch of grapefruit flesh-like bitterness and a hint of beeswax. It gets more bitter the more you drink it.

Overall: as mentioned in the introduction part, Ashton Brown Jersey is a cider apple variety that is almost always blended with other cider apples. You don’t see many cider producers launching single varietal cider with Ashton Brown Jersey. After tasting this cider I can see why. It lacks body, the initial taste is fruity but rather unexciting with a strong watery flavour. Also, I didn’t pick up any apple flavour here. But the taste improves with every sip towards pleasant and refreshing notes of citruses including grapefruit and blood orange. So I can imagine it would taste lovely once it gets warm outside again. Overall, the Ashton Brown Jersey is worth trying. Also, if you’re looking for a lighter cider then I think it’s a good option. 3.5/6 

Availability: from their online shop.

Price: Ross-on-Wye’s Ashton Brown Jersey was a donation from Phil of Pulp Craft Cider who I met up with at the Manchester Cider Festival 2018.

Beard & Sabre Yardarm

Sailors favourite time of the day on the ship was just around 11am when the Sun passed the yardarm (the spar and mast to which the sails are set), and the first-morning drink was allowed. Hence, the Yardarm, a medium cider crafted by guys from a British cider maker Beard & Sabre is supposed to help you relax and enjoy the moment.

Yardarm is fermented for 6 months at room temperature with champagne yeast, subsequently undergoing malolactic fermentation.

Company: Beard and Sabre Cider Company 
Place of Origin: Cirencester, Gloucestershire, UK
Apples: a blend of cider apples
Level of Sweetness: medium
ABV: 5.5%
Package type: 500ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, snifter or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a lightly cloudy amber with light orange hues and no head. No carbonation. Body is low to medium.

Aroma/Nose: the nose exhibits notes of crisp and fresh red apple, fermented apple, caramel, vanilla, hints of funk and a very distant note of nail polish.

Taste: it begins with a medium sweetness and a note of a sweetener, followed by low to medium acidity (like biting into a crisp tart red apple). On the mid-palate notes of red apples, apple skin, a strong note of smoked cheese, oak, caramel and hints of lemon and funk. It finishes dry with a moderate astringent taste, red apple note and a sweetener-like taste with a very distant bitter note.

Overall: guys from Beard & Sabre have been producing consistently good cider at least based on my experience. Also, their Yardam is a very drinkable cider with a good level of tannins, lovely apple forward taste, nice sweetness and level of acidity (slightly higher than usually found in an English cider). All these flavours produce a refreshing and easy going cider suitable for everyone. Briefly, it tastes like a refreshing lemon iced tea, but with the buzz. Only the sweetener taste is a bit of a turn-off to me, but overall it is a really decent drop. I think I wouldn’t say no to another pint of the Yardam. 4/6  

Availability: Beard & Sabre attend many food festivals in the UK. Otherwise, check Eebria or Fetch the Drinks, I wasn’t able to find any other store outside the UK selling their cider.

Price: came with my Orchard Box subscription.

Dorset Nectar Wildcat Cider

Is the Wildcat Cider from Dorset Nectar as wild as the name indicates? Is it sharp as the wildcat’s claw and teeth? Or dangerously good? There is only one way to find out.Company: Dorset Nectar
Place of Origin: Bridport, Dorset, UK
Apples: local organic cider apples 
Sweetness as per label: medium
ABV: 5.5%
Package type: 500ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass
Note: no sulphites, fermented with natural yeast

Appearance: pours a cloudy amber with orange hues and no head. Slightly sparkling. Body is medium. Sediment in the bottle. Little flecks floating as well.

Aroma/Nose: the nose is fruity and exhibits notes of fresh apple juice, tart apples and red apples with caramel, beeswax and leather,

Taste: the first sip is slightly watery with a delicate sweetness and very strong tannins coating your mouth and giving a strong astringent flavour (detectable throughout the whole sip). On the mid-palate red apples, caramel, low to medium acidity with a lemon citrusy taste, some funk, fresh apple juice and apple seed-bitterness. After a while, a grapefruit-like bitterness appears on the mid-palate. The finish is dry with notes of watermelon or melon. A tingling sensation on the tongue to the end.

Overall: this cider falls into a category of anti-social ciders due to the strong astringent taste that by drying your mouth shut your mouth 🙂 Similarly to the previously reviewed Old Harry Rocks the taste explodes in the first sip leaving your eyes wide open.  But then, a beautiful lingering appley and citrusy flavour appear. It’s like a dance of many flavours. Yet it tastes different than the good Old Harry Rocks. Also, I don’t remember having a cider with both types of bitterness before, grapefruit and apples-seeds-like, which were both fantastic! The Wildcat is a lovely pour with pronounced tannins, full body and a powerful apple taste. I loved it. 4.5/6

 Availability: in the UK only. From their online shop, Eebria, Fetch the Drinks, Cider Supermarket. Locally in Bristol from Bottles and Books.

Price: came with my monthly subscription from Orchard Box.

St Pauls Sacrifice​

St. Pauls Cidery is a micro cidery from St. Pauls, Bristol, UK. They have a range of ciders with devilish-sounding names such as Lucifer, Pagan or Sacrifice. I’ve been looking forward to trying one of their ciders for a while now. It’s time to sample the Sacrifice.Company: St Pauls Cidery
Place of Origin: Bristol, UK
Apples: unknown
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 8%
Package type: 500ml amber glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, chalice glass or white wine

Appearance: pours a cloudy pale golden. No visible carbonation. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the aroma is sweetish with notes of sulphur (matches-like), yellow apple, pineapple, apple seeds with a hint of nail polish

Taste: the first sip is dry with some residual sweetness to it. No detectable acidity. On the mid-palate a flavour of white wine, canned pineapple juice, toffee, yellow apples, a hint of pear, watery flavour leading to a biting booze finish with a plain bitter flavour. No tannins detectable.

Overall: I wish I could give a better rating but the Sacrifice tastes really terrible. To give you a better picture, it’s like drinking a badly mixed cocktail made with pineapple juice, vodka and some apple juice, which has the alcohol content way out of proportion. So now you can imagine that it wasn’t exactly a pleasant drinking experience. I have the impression that the Sacrifice is a cider made mainly from dessert apples and sat too long on its lees giving the bitter off flavour. I wouldn’t buy it again. 2/6 

Availability: from their online shop. Through Brewers Droop, Better Food stores in Bristol. At Harvest Bath in Bath.

Price: came with my Orchard Box.