Cider, part one

17 Nov

In the UK, artisanal cider is not the by-the-gallon juicy brown silt you pick up in US groceries around this time of year.  Cider is alcoholic.  Cider is cool.  Cider is a bit cutting edge, while also maintaining strong local traditions.  We recently visited the Cotswold Food Store and Cafe, where I saw a large display of local ciders that won me over on looks and cool factor alone.  “Let’s be cider connoisseurs!” I exclaimed to my husband.  “Let’s collect esoteric and interesting ciders from all over the region and have cider tastings!”  (I mentioned that I get carried away, sometimes, right?)

So I purchased a couple of ciders to taste at home for the start of what I envisioned as a long and happy journey into awesomeness, hip t-shirts, and apple-y beverage.

Here follows my notes — as written — from my evening of cider tasting:


Prior’s Tipple – tastes like excrement and betrayal.  (It was that bad, people.)  6.5% alcohol

Sheppy’s Dabinett Apple – More fizzy.  Slightly more apple taste.  The funk undertone — the funkertone — is more bearable.  The aftertaste is pleasant.  Four swigs in I’m liking it but it is going to my head.  Eight swigs in and it tastes like excrement again but something about the fizziness keeps me coming back.  I should make some bacon and eggs — that’s a good idea. (It was 9:30 at night, and it was a good idea)  7.2% alcohol

Old Rosie Cloudy Scrumpy – More of that apple fizz bite that I thought cider was all about.  Wheeee, this is strong.  Pour me another.  [unintelligible]  7.3% alcohol


I hate to think that cider only tastes decent if you are half tipsy already, but that seems to be the conclusion  of my taste tests so far.  I’ll assume I have a lot to learn.   Any recommendations for what to try next?


21 Responses to “Cider, part one”

  1. Anne Gearhart November 17, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    Try all three again, but this time start with the one with the higher alcohol content first. See if the results are the same 🙂 Also, keep your eyes peeled for orange shandies. Yum.

  2. apeninsulalife November 17, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    Here are my three favorites:
    1. Strongbow is my favorite and it has the most “full-bodied” taste.
    2. If you like it sweeter, try Kelly’s Irish Cider.
    3. Magners is really popular and very mild. Plus it comes in a really cool bottle made for a giant. Or at least, someone Rubeus Hagrid’s size.

    If all else fails, try a snakebite. It’s half lager and half cider (Try a strongbow and Stella/Harp combo), enhanced with a spalsh of black currant cordial. YUM.


    • Sarah November 17, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

      The lovely Kristen forgot to mention that Strongbow comes in 2 liter bottles – like SODA, or pop. 🙂 And it goes down just as easy.

      I heart Magners – AVOID Bulmers – those damn look-a-likes. And the Magners PEAR Cider??? OH HEAVEN! Sorry to shout!

      But lately I’ve been skipping the ciders and going for Ginger Beer. I have to be careful, though, because I usually drink a half and put the other half in the fridge for the next night. Where the problem lies is when I’m having my coffee and wondering if Ginger Beer would make a nice coffee chaser – at 7AM. It’s that good.

      • Monique November 17, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

        Hahaha, the morning beer! It’s health food, right? I’m amazed to find so many options at my local grocery — don’t even need to make a run to a specialty store. Viva experimentation!

    • Monique November 17, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

      ***madly writing down notes*** Thank you! Shopping trip for me tomorrow!

  3. Venus November 17, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

    Wow! I recently had a very similar experience tasting hard cider in the states. Apparently it suffers from much the same funkitude as English cider. At this point, I’ve given up on cider and just go with lambic when I want a dessert-beery-fruity beverage.

    • Monique November 17, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

      The perry I’ve had (pear cider) was very light sweet and fruity — almost syrupy — but yeah, the ciders so far are not what I expected, not fruity at all. So far I like the idea of cider more than cider … but am dedicated to trying. In the name of cultural awareness, or something. =)

  4. Zazzy November 17, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

    I’ve had hard cider before but it tasted like fizzy, alcoholic apple cider. I think I’ll skip the funkertone brews.

  5. greatscott3 November 20, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    Hahahaha! This post made me laugh out loud. Excrement and betrayal—I’m crying! ha! Jake and I have tried ciders around here too. His favorite is Aspall’s and I quite like Old Rosie. But I have to second the StrongBow recommendation–it has always been my favorite cider! Happy tasting…

  6. greatscott3 November 20, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    Oh and forgot to mention. I too tried the pear cider and it made me gag–so sweet and gicky. Never again…

  7. Living Life as an Expat Parent November 21, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    I live in the land of cider and am still an amateur, but here is what I’ve learnt along the way:

    West country folk look down on mass-produced ciders. They think that if you’re going to find a good cider, you’re going to find it being sold in someone’s back garden or small little farmhouse shop.

    Ciders vary from dry to sweet. There are farmhouse ciders, which tend to be flat, non-carbonated drinks. These will knock you right on your hindquarters. Then you have your fizzy ciders. I’ve never taken to dry, flat cider. That may have been the excrement and betrayal that you had. Sweet ciders are, in my opinion, much easier to drink, for obvious reasons.

    My in-laws have a small orchard in their back garden and started making their own cider last year. This year’s batch is sweet, fizzy, insanely good and very drinkable (which you may not remember if you want more than half a pint!). I’m guessing that if you are buying from a little shop that’s what you should tell them you are looking for ….sweet. fizzy. You can’t go wrong! Apologies if I have overwhelmed you with information you don’t really want or need.

    • Monique November 21, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

      Oh my gosh,! I’m so aware of being at the beginning of everything, it is *fantastic* to hear more. I’m going to be peeking into back yards to look for cider presses, lol

  8. Tesni December 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    It’s all about West Country cider. 🙂 I love the Apple in Bristol. It’s a pub on a boat which sells amazing cider. Old Bristolian only comes in half pints as it’s really strong, but it’s delicious! You can of course keep buying halves, so it doesn’t stop you drinking lots of it.

    • Monique December 1, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

      Ooo, excellent tip, thank you!

      • May-Beth Delacourt March 22, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

        Tastes like excrement? How do you come to know this? I’m slightly intrigued but mainly appalled at the possible circumstances of your comparison!

      • Monique March 22, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

        Ha ha. I could have gone all fancy-pants and trotted out ‘redolent of the farmyard’ as if discussing a fine wine or cheese, but why dress it up. Pretty sure we all know what poo smells like. Hm, I need to update this series, having recently found a local cider I love completely. The end of excrement and betrayal, finally!


  1. Cider, part two « Crumpets in Camelot - November 26, 2011

    […] As you can tell by the labels, I am a girl.  I pick bottles that look pretty.  Whatever.  I also did not drink all of these at once, so the taste of one was not influenced by the others.  [Edited to add: or inebriation.  Unlike last time.] […]

  2. Cider, part three « Crumpets in Camelot - January 16, 2012

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  4. Cider, part …. well, just cider. | Crumpets in Camelot - March 28, 2013

    […] up tidbits of apple-y knowledge to friends along with a bottle opener and a nice cheese.  Then I tasted real cider for the first time.  And the second.  And so on.  It was […]

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