Thursday, October 14, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #72. On the craft journey with a trio of ciders: Viking, Johnny Fall Down, and Con's Irish.

A Quart of Ale± #72

On the craft journey with a trio of ciders: Viking, Johnny Fall Down, and Con's.

Viking Orchard Cuvée Cider, 5.5%, 500 bottle Bradleys

This is a medium dry cider from Waterford’s Viking Cider. We’ve already tasted a couple of their bottles in previous Quarts here.

Colour is a mid-gold with bubbles galore rising. Aromas are gentle, just like a bunch of ripe apples in your hand. It is a blend of quite a few varieties and is smooth and mild, perhaps more dry than medium. Quite round and soft all the way to its bitter sweet lip-smacking finish. Well made and in my case well appreciated.

Viking Irish Drinks at Dennison’s Farm was set up as a company in 2017, with cider production commencing in 2019. At the heart of the company is three unique craft cider styles, based on old farm recipes, including Medium Dry Orchard Cuvée, the immensely popular Harvest Blush and Ireland’s first Hop flavoured cider, Hop-IT.

The story of this cider: Apple varieties used for Medium Dry Orchard Cuvée are Dabinett, Michelin, Yarlington Mill, Foxwhelps, Kingston Black, Harry Masters, and some Bramley for acidity. Harvest time for these apples is usually mid-October, except for Foxwhelps, which is harvested earlier but blended back in.  Medium Dry Orchard Cuvée is fermented slowly on its natural occurring yeasts for up to six months. Gluten Free and Coeliac Friendly.

Technical - 5.5% ABV | Acid – 4.2 Grams per Litre | Sulphur – 0.3 trace of So2 | Calories - 55 per 100 ml

Food Pairing: Serve with traditional roast chicken/ pork and light game meats. Plus, a cider gravy adds to the flavour of the trimmings. Also try Medium Dry Orchard Cuvée with grilled Salmon and parsley butter, steamed mussels in their shell. To finish, accompany with some more-ish cheeses, like Durrus Cheese or most Irish farm-house cheeses. Best served 10 degrees.                                                                       

Johnny Fall Down Rare Apple Cider 2019, 5.5%, 500 bottle Bradleys

Amber gold is the colour of this multi-apple blend from the benign south facing slopes of Killahora, situated close to Glounthaune village, and on a slight rise above the backwaters of Cork Harbour. Uncountable little bubbles rush towards the top of the glass, this from the 2019 vintage. This is100% apple juice using wild yeasts for fermentation and is matured over 12 months.

The aromas are mild but this superb cider is intense and complex on the palate. Look out for tropical, smoky and nutty notes and a long complex finish, they advise. And that is what you get, amazing from first taste until the lingering aftertaste.

They say: We grow over 100 apple varieties and this year are including some of the best of our ciders into one fine bottle. We have also included some oak and the barrel aged ciders from 2018 to add depth to the freshness of the 2019 harvest. This cider may ruin your ability to enjoy commercial ciders. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

It is produced from the entire range of their apple harvest, a bit like a Gentil wine from Alsace. And just like that delicious and complex wine, this Glounthaune cider is more or less perfect, not too sweet and not too dry.

Pairings suggested by the producers are Pork, Chicken, spicy food, cheese and oily fish.

Con’s Irish Cider, 5.5%, 500 bottle at the Apple Farm

Real cider, it says on the label. And real cider it is. A small batch medium dry cider, “made from seasonal Irish Apples hand-picked on our family farm in Cahir… where visitors are always welcome”.

The natural imprint of the orchard is all over this one, from the golden colour, reminiscent of an Autumn sunset, to the fruity aromas and flavours, its lovely mouthful and satisfying finish. No shortage of oomph. Cider doesn’t get any more real than this tip top Tipperary bottle.

They say: For us at The Apple Farm, where we make Con’s, Real Irish Cider is made and bottled in its entirety in Ireland using the juice of Irish-grown apples, without the routine addition of either water or sugar…..

Buyer beware though, as the term Real Cider is not legally defined, and it is possible that someone adding much more sugar and water could hijack the term.

To see more of their thoughts on real versus not real cider see what owner Con Traas has to say here.  Just a short read but well worthwhile.

Con has helped quite a few Irish cider makers over the years and the 2013 Cider Celebration was held at the Apple Farm and a great day it was too with cider makers from all over the country displaying their produce! Would love to see that revived.

* Don't forget that coming up this Saturday (16th) Brian and BeoirFest have 3 brewers, 4 breweries, and 5 countries!

  • Third Barrel are one of the pioneers of brewing in Ireland and have created 3 brands to differentiate their different offerings in the marketplace.
  • Brew & Roll brew Metallica-inspired beers in Navarre.
  • Both Solo from Crete and Axiom from the Czech Republic have Norwegian Kjetil Jikiun as their head brewer.

It's a great mix of brewers and breweries for a chat. Their experience should provide some great insight and stories into the state of brewing across Europe. More details here.

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