So then, I have a confession to make. This is not the way I usually start my reviews but sometimes you need to change things up a bit. The first cider tasting I held for the Umeå Beer Club was a success. In fact, we sold more tickets for that tasting than any other so far. I was so happy to see lots of new faces, willing to put aside the Swedish notion of sweet cider and experiment with a big range of different styles. I had a great time, and everyone left happy. This was at the end of May 2019.
It’s now September 2019 and I am only just now getting round to writing this. As soon as the tasting ended, my work load increased and then summer descended. Two trips to England, one (very muddy) festival and many wonderful weeks with my daughter later and suddenly the summer was over an it wa back to work. Now as I sit here, I feel guilt for not writing comprehensive reviews of all the different ciders we tried. I also realise though that the amount of time that I would put into writing the reviews would probably be much more than the amount of time they will be looked at.
So in short, I will be summarising my feelings about each cider in a few short sentences. A condensed briefing if you will. I have another cider tasting coming up now in November 2019 and I will get back to my usual ways I’m sure. I hope anyway. I mean, it is quite close to Christmas…
The first cider we tried was Westons Old Rosie. I picked this to kick things off because it reminds me of growing up in Oxford. I drank this on many a night and still to this day it remains maybe my favourite cider of all time. The lovely dryness coupled with the rounded red apple and slight tang really puts this in my top league of cider. If I could only drink one cider again for the rest of my life, this would probably be it. If you haven’t tried it, put it on your list today. Cornish Orchards Blush cider though would not make my list though. It was basically an alcopop by any other name. I would say it’s a cider for people who don’t really like cider. It a candy in a bottle, simple as that.
Would you like to try alcoholic Fanta? well try Bulmers Blood Orange cider! It was rather nice actually, with a lovely fresh aroma. Slightly floral in fact, mixed with the lively orange notes. Drying the palate slowly, it was very easy to drink and a great summer cider. I couldn’t drink it all night, but definitely nice to have now and again. The same was true for its brother, Magners Cloudy Lemon cider. Easy to drink, with a great balance of sweet and sour. I could maybe do with a little more sourness to really bring that lemon note through a bit but overall an immensely chuggable sunny day cider.
It would have been impolite to have held a cider tasting without a French representative as so I went for Le Coq Toque, a dry effervescent cider from Normandy. This cider really emphasised the characteristics of a traditional French cider to me. Medium dry to dry on the palate, a delicious blend of red apple softness and green apple sharpness. Subtle hints of vanilla were also detected on the tongue to produce a very nice end product. Quebrada Nature Brut from Chile was prehaps the strangest cider I had in the tasting. It was dry, and when I say dry, it was bone dry. It was delicious, but it may be the dryest cider I’ve ever encountered. Dusty apple in aroma, it was rather acidic but very well carbonated leaving a lively cider that I would love to try again. If you’re looking for a new experience, I recommend you track down one of the few remaining bottles in Sweden.
We had 2 ciders from our local cider producer Brännlands Cider to finish the night. Just Cider is a traditional apple cider with a touch of peach and apricot thrown in there for good measure. Light and breezy, it had surprisingly low price tag for such a big bottle of a locally produced product. If the Just Cider was cheap though, the Brännlands Iscider certainly was not. Coming in at a whopping 249kr for a 37.5cl bottle, the price packs a big a punch as this freeze distilled cider does in character. Every aspect of this cider is heightened, with the sweet notes battling the apple tartness on the palate. It’s thick, intense and would be a perfect replacement for dessert wine at the end of a dinner. I thought this was a great way to end the tasting, as it really emphasized a different aspect to how apples can be used.
So there you have it, these are the quick notes from my cider tasting. I loved the Old Rosie the best, but I think I may be slightly biased by time and memories as well. The Quebrada was strange but great, and the Iscider was a beautiful condensation of all the properties I love with apples. The worst for me by far was the Cornish Blush, but I guess if you like Bacardi Breezers this could be for you. I hope this has been some use to you, the reader, and I hope you find some inspiration to reach out and try different forms of cider. I’m really looking delving deeper into the cider world in a few months time at the next tasting. Until then, cheers!