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.

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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.

Aspall Draught Cyder

Aspall’s Draught is one of the most commonly available cider or cyder in Germany and probably other European countries as well. Besides the UK, perhaps. Anyway, Aspall’s Draught Cyder is certainly most spread in Berlin. Aspall Draught Cyder received Gold from the British Bottlers’ Institute 2011 and Silver at the International Cider Challenge 2014.Company: Aspall 
Place of Origin: Debenham, Suffolk, UK
Apples: made from bittersweet, culinary and dessert apples
Sweetness as per label: dry
ABV: 5.5%
Package type: draught
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, flute or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear pale yellow straw. Lightly carbonated. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose has notes of tart and crisp green apples and unripe apples with pear and matches-like sulphur. The scent is rather weak.

Taste: it starts dry and very watery with low acidity and an overwhelming and lingering matches-like sulphur flavour. On the mid-palate overripe apples and a gentle smoky flavour with a touch of bitterness. No astringency.

Overall: I didn’t enjoy having it. It tasted watery with the persistent matches-like sulphur flavour making it drinkable only in gulps, but not in sips. I don’t think that anyone can experience pleasure from drinking this cyder. Hence, I can’t help but wonder why is this cyder so common in Berlin when it tastes worse than average. To all Berlin bars stocking cider, if you want my money give me better cider than this. 1.5/6 

Availability: from their online shop, In Germany from Cider and More. On draught at HOME Bar, Beakers, in bottles at BadFish Bar Berlin in Berlin. In terms of shops locally in Berlin from Hopfen und Malz, Galeria Kaufhof or Bierlinie.

Price: paid 3.5 EUR for a half-pint at Beakers in Berlin.

Crone’s Original

Robbie Crone, who established Crone’s Organic Cider in 1989, is actually a furniture maker. After several years of experimenting with cider, he made the decision to make cider instead of furniture. I feel you, Robbie.Company: Crone’s Cider
Place of Origin: Fairview, Kenninghall, Norfolk, United Kingdom
Ingredients: organically grown Bramley, Cox, russet, and spartan and organic cane sugar 
ABV: 7.4%
Package type: 500ml clear glass with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass, chalice glass or wine glass

Note: free from sulphites and artificial sweeteners

Appearance: pours a clear golden with no head. No visible signs of carbonation. Body is medium.
Aroma/Nose: the nose is not very strong, but rich with gentle wild notes of light barnyard, leather and wood with baked apples, sour apples and raisins.
Taste: the first sip tastes slightly sweet, thus I would classify the Original as medium dry. Fermented apples, smoky ham, red apples, raisins and very light watery taste appear on the mid-palate. Interestingly, the smoky note is lingering so you can get it even in the finish along with a distant bitterness, subtle astringency, note of lemon and a woody and smoky flavour characteristic for whisky. Despite the ABV of 7.4%, I can’t taste alcohol here.

Overall: If you are a fan of whisky or calvados, or even both, the Original will appeal to you. It’s a really a nice and complex cider with plenty of flavours to appreciate. The nose might not be strong, but rich. Interestingly, lemon notes appear only in the aftertaste, not in the beginning, which is rather unusual. I can’t call this cider brilliant perhaps as something is just missing here, but I wouldn’t mind having it again. 4/6 

Availability: only in the UK, at many festivals, pubs and online through Beers of Europe or Beautiful Beers. Locally through Books and Bottles in Bristol.
Price: came with my cider subscription delivered monthly by Orchard Box 

Worley’s Beatnik Billy

Finally! A cider from Worley’s arrived with my Orchard Box. Worley’s distribution network might be broad but at least for now nobody in Germany stocks their ciders. Hence, Orchard Box was my only hope! And it finally happened, I’m sampling the Beatnik Billy, which is one of the new ciders created by Nick Worley from Worley’s in Shepton Mallett in Somerset, UK.Company: Worley’s
Place of Origin: Shepton Mallet, Somerset, UK
Apples: early-season cider apple varieties from some of South Somerset’s finest orchards
Sweetness as per label: medium dry
ABV: 5.5%
Package type: 500ml clear glass bottle with crown cap
Recommended type of glass: pint glass or white wine glass

Appearance: pours a clear golden with no head. Lightly sparkling, as advertised. Body is low.

Aroma/Nose: the nose has a flavour of an apple pie, baked apple and vanilla. This is all I could get.

Taste: it starts moderately sweet with a barely detectable low acidity. Further notes that appear are of dried apricots, wood, vanilla, apple pie and freshly squeezed apple juice from red apples. A lingering gentle astringency with distant apple seed-like bitterness to the end.

Overall: The Beatnik Billy is a light and refreshing cider that will go down easily especially on a hot summer day. But even now when it’s cold and gloomy outside, like today in Berlin, I finished my Beatnik Billy within 10 minutes from opening. It could be slightly less sweet though but I really enjoyed having it. Would love to have it again. 4.5/6 

Availability: In the UK from their online shop, Gluten Free Beer Store, Farm DropCider Supermarket. In Bristol from Bottles & Books and Bristol Cider Shop. In the Netherlands from Het Ciderhuis or Sterk Amsterdam,

Price: came with Orchard Box.

West Milton Lancombe Rising

To tell the truth, I didn’t know much about the West Milton Cider Company before I purchased their cider. I was rather intrigued by the shape of the bottle as it was unusual for a cider coming from the UK. In that bottle happened to be their sparkling and award-winning Lancombe Rising, which turned the French cider world upside down in 2009, when it was awarded Gold at the Senator Christian Revet Cup, a prestigious cider competition in Normandy, France. West Milton Cider Co. has won a succession of awards in recent years, from the Royal Bath & West Show, and Taste of the West. Langcombe Rising is made by keeving, a typically French cidermaking process that retains the natural sweetness in cider.Company: West Milton Cider Co
Place of Origin: 1 Pear Tree Cottages, West Milton, Bridport, Dorset, UK
Apples: a blend including Dabinett, Yarlington Mill and Chisel Jersey.
Sweetness as per label: keeved cider
ABV: 5%
Package type: 375ml clear champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass: flute, chalice glass or wine glass

Appearance: pours a hazy pale amber with a massive head, which only slowly dissipates. Highly carbonated, with beautiful strings of bubbles. Body is medium. Sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: the nose has apricots, raisins, overripe and fermented apples with wood. A beautiful scent typical for French cidre that makes your mouth water.

Taste: it starts slightly sweet with low acidity and a hint of vinegar. Followed by dried fruits such as apricots, raisins and fermented apples. I can also get a bit watery taste with a smoky note, a lingering taste of wood with a medium to high astringency, a hint of lemon and a distant barnyard note.

Overall: it feels strange to drink a French-style cider from the UK. But Lancombe Rising tastes really good and indeed more refreshing that many French cidres that I’ve tried so far. It has a beautiful nose, good structure, and many lovely flavours on the palate. Lancombe Rising perfectly complimented my evening. I will be back for more. 5/6 

Availability: in the UK from Cider Supermarket. In other European countries e.g. from Cider Lab.

Price: purchased online from Cider Lab at 6.50 EUR.