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May 23, 2011 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Beer Will Be Beer – What?! This isn’t Beer!

I grew up thinking of cider as “that shit you play scrumpy hands with”. But recently, I have been trying more and more ciders which actually taste like something other than watery apple juice. So, I spent an afternoon with friends sampling all the ciders we could get our hands on—just so I can inform you which ones you should spend your course related costs on. The things I do.
We started with something in a big bottle – Old Mout Classic Apple Cider (4.5%) packaged in a well-branded 1.25L PET bottle. This was a good start to the afternoon—it’s very pale colour hints at the subtle, yet refreshing, flavour. It is medium-dry, with a bit of yeast flavour going on.
The next cider worth mentioning was Eve’s Apple Cider (5%) – made by two beer brewers in Christchurch. This beery background revealed itself to me in the flavour of this cider, which had many similar characteristics to a Belgian Witbier. It has a Lemony apple aroma, with an interesting herbaceous flavour similar to coriander seed. This one is definitely on the drier side.
Another dry cider worth a mention was Crooked Cider (5.2%) made over the hill in the Wairarapa. Crooked uses actual cider apples and bottle ferments its cider, making for a very traditional tasting drop. The high carbonation makes for a lively aroma, while the cider is very dry yet well-balanced with complex yeast and apple tannin flavours.
We were all being very sensible up to this point. But then we decided to crack into the Kingston Fat Ass Scrumpy (9%). This one threw us all from the get go—it poured a lovely, deep, golden colour, and gave a delicious aroma of caramel apples. We all found this to be remarkably balanced, because the alcoholic bite balanced the extra sweetness nicely, with an odd burnt caramel flavour to boot. This is definitely a fun cider, but do respect its dangerous drinkability. It was probably the best deal at less than $10 for a one litre bottle from New World.
The grand finale consisted of two ciders of French origin, both sourced from Regional Wines & Spirits. Starting on Bolée D’armorique Brut (5%), we were instantly blown away. The depth of flavour far surpassed anything we’d sampled that afternoon, with amazing, funky, farmhouse flavours of earthy straw and wet leaves. It’s not dry, but the sweetness makes the intense flavour more bearable. The second Frenchie was Le Pére Jules Brut (5%). Anyone who loves the beer Orval will recognise the sweaty horse blanket aroma of the wild yeast Brettanomyces. It works amazingly with the earthy flavours, and makes for a very dry cider.
So if you’re after a more convivial cider, stick to the high quality kiwi stuff, because if you crack one of these French ciders you’ll be speechless. Vive la France!


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  1. Schtev says:

    Have you tried Magner’s Pear cider? It tastes like flowers.

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