Northern Ireland Craft Cider

At Hilden Beer festival a few weeks ago I met two of the players in the resurgence of artisinal cider making in Northern Ireland. Both were more than generous in letting me have some bottles of their wares to take home for tasting. Yes I know cider is not beer, but real cider is still worth campaigning for and I drank cider long before I tried beer, being Somerset born and bred!

Seán and Davy ready to start serving on Saturday afternoon

Tempted? Medium Sweet
Tempted? Cider is the youngest of the two producers, coming up to its third season of pressing around about now. Currently they make just two products, a medium dry and a medium sweet both 5.7% ABV

I was given a bottle of the medium dry but butterfingers dropped it! Luckily I tried it at the beer festival so can still let you know about it. Quite a juicy cider with some sweetness. Golden delicious apples with medium carbonation. Thirst quenching. Fairly pale for a cider, look almost perry like. 

The medium sweet is unmistakably from the same press. Golden delicious apples and apple pulp on the nose. Very appley, a mix of dessert and cookers i think, slight level of tannin leaving a sweet taste at the finish. 

Of the two I preferred the medium dry, but the medium sweet served over ice as it was at the beer festival could beat Koppaberg and Magner's at their own game.

Mac's is now at the ripe old age of 16. It has a range of four bottles, the traditional range of sweet, medium and dry plus a lower alcohol option, Lyte.

Mac's Dry
The dry is immediately different to the Tempted? ciders. Cloudy orange-gold with smells of apple peel, chutney, cinnamon and slight acetic acid. Initial flurry of apple with a rounded body and long drawn out finish with slight funkiness and hay. This a complex cider and worked very nicely with the ploughman's dinner I ate with it.

Mac's Lyte
Lyte in name (ABv 3%)doesn’t mean light in flavour in this case. Golden with slight carbonation and a scent of sweet, red skinned apples like coxes and a hint of something else that I can’t quite place. Initially tannic but with a long sweet finish, not as complex as the dry but certainly plenty of flavour for its lower strength.

Mac's Sweet
The Sweet is lighter gold than the dry and plenty of natural condition. Nothing to betray that this cider is sweet on the nose, dusty wood pulp, apple skin and slight cider vinegar. The initial taste is very dry indeed with plenty of apple fruitiness and a sweetish finish. Definitely not one for those used to artificial sweetness in their ciders. Long appley finish. Pleasantly more complex than I was expecting for the moniker "sweet", though the dry pips it to the post for me.

All in all a great bunch of ciders and I look forward to trying this year's crop when its all pressed up. Thank you Seán and Davy and for giving me the bottles to take home!


  1. Thanks for the info, and especially about Tempted? whom I'd never heard of. It's unfortunate that they've no stockists outside the greater Belfast area (says the thirsty cider-loving Armagh man).

    And they're not in the same game as Koppargerg and Magner's. Those are alcopops, not cider.

  2. Koppargerg? Even my keyboard gags at the stuff.

  3. Not the same game, no but they can wean people off of it! Koppaberg pear is refreshing enough if there's nowt else available but give me a westons perry (again not real but at least uses pear juice) any day

  4. I remain to be convinced about perry. I like the idea of it. I like pears. But the only one I've tasted was the Hereford Country Perry at the Belfast festival last year and it was pants.

    Get a decent one in this year, 'kay?

  5. yeah, it was a shite range to be fair. Westons isn't even real cider. The stuff we did get was largely through wetherspoon. There's not much cider on the flying firkin list.

  6. If only there was another way. A local producer, for example...

  7. News just in- there should be local cider at Belfast beer fest this year! Watch this space for confirmation of what nearer the time