I love Cider. I love it more than I love wearing lycra down Beach Road – and that’s a lot. I suppose i’ve never been the most masculine person (you either ED) and until recently Cider has been considered a girly drink and unfashionable. Until now as brewers revamp and relaunch brands, and smaller producers bring delicious dare i say more manly beverages to market. Cider I suppose you can liken to beer as it comes in so many different flavours, is usually served in bottles, has deep European roots and is super delicious on a hot summers day. BUT and there is a big ghetto but. Some ciders that are produced by commercial manufacturers are nothing more than over sweetened, tasteless lolly water (oh to be a teenager again). On the other end of the spectrum you have the delightful artisan ciders and more recently the middle ground where commercial brewers are trying to adapt to the artisan flavour. The journey starts usually with an old favourite such as Strongbow who have redesigned and relabelled their bottles twice in the past 5 years, predictably targeting the younger market. Then there is the heavy Irish ciders such as Magners of Bulmers which are delicious but after about 3 pints it feels like you’ve been sucking on silica jell and you’re gasping for water. The best however I’ve found are the ciders in between, those that aren’t too dry, in most cases have little added sugar and still maintain alcohol created by fermenting apples as opposed to additional alcohol added to apple juice.
So there are three categories (plus pear cider-vom) and they all present different flavours and characteristics, so which is the best? There was only one way to find out. Ed and I were going to have to drink all of them… well most of them.. and bake with the remaining one.
Here are our scientific findings.
Name: Strongbow Original
Comments: An old favourite that maintains the taste of fresh apples and is very easy to drink. Yet the high sugar content means it’s the kind of cider you may not see the end of a 6 pack.
Comments: This cider is quite dry and has a slightly red hue. This cider is best served on ice.
Origin: WA (produced by Little Creatures)
Comments: From the bottle Pipsqueak seems quite dry and tasteless, however when tasted from a glass the cider is very clean and crisp and holds a good balance between acidity and sweetness.
Name: Monteiths Cider
Origin: NZ (bro)
Comments: An amazingly clear beverage it has a very clean taste and when enjoyed from a glass it produces a well rounded flavour on the palate whilst maintaining a sharp acidic after taste. Love this Cider!
Name: Cruiser Dolce Cider
Comments: I had this cider with Dindy a week ago and I thought it was rather nice. But after tasting it last night I realised I was intoxicated last time I tried it. Steer well away from this one, made by cruiser it tastes similar to their other drinks – very fake! Weird considering the packaging shows it does not contact an additional sugar.
Comments: Much like Bulmers this cider is quite heavy but is a little dryer than its Irish cousin. Again it is best enjoyed over ice.
Name: 5 Seeds cider
Origin: Australia (produced by Tooheys)
Comments: Much like Strongbow, this cider has a very clean taste whilst not displaying the heaviness of other more traditional ciders. It is a mix between Strongbow clear and Strongbow original. Very enjoyable from the bottle in summer.
Name: Magners Pear Cider
Comments: What a waste of $6. This cider is only good for making a delicious cake
Click here for recipe
Name: Mercury Original
Comments: To be honest when I saw that Mercury had rebranded itself under its 98 Years of Underappreciation campaign. It was surprisingly smooth with a fantastic balance between sugar and acidity. Low sulphides made the palate even smoother. A real surprise.
Name: Three Oaks
Comments: Much like Mercury it has a very round palate and is very good drinking. A more sophisticated flavour than some of the bigger brands but I fear they have over sweetened this one. Still very enjoyable.
Name: Strongbow Clear
Comments: Just putting it out there… this is my favourite cider. Usually with a new cider after about 4 bottles the sensation has gone and the novelty has worn off. Strongbow clear as its name states is a very clean clear cider with its reduced carbs and sugar content. Clear is amazingly easy to drink and is fantastic for those big nights where you want to have a few without feeling ill from too much sugar or cotton mouth. AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING!
So…. From all this who’s the winner? How can we categorize these?
Well if you are looking for a cider just to have a few drinks with friends without a badge saying “hey guys im drinking cider over here” go for Strongbow clear or 5 seeds as their demeanor tends closer towards the beer drinker. If you’re after something a bit more special splurge of Pipsqueak, Monteiths or even Mercury for that as close to artisan as you can get flavour. If all else fails Magners and Bulmers are delish ciders but they aren’t good in large quantities and some people may not enjoy the taste. One thing to remember is that these are commercially produced ciders and for the price don’t expect an overly complex flavour. Stay tuned as I save some money to splurge on a dozen boutique ciders (circa $20 a bottle) with their origins in Northern France, Ireland, Germany and Tasmania.