Apples up North

Another long overdue write-up this one, especially considering I was given these by the producers themselves. Sorry Andy and Dave!

Tempted have featured on this blog before but they have undergone a re brand and consolidation into 4 regular ciders. The new labels certainly stand out on the shelf, making good use of single colour and white space.

Summer Sweet is up first 5.7% and a hazy pale greenish gold. Dusty apple loft aroma and highly fizzy carbonation, which continues long after pouring. Fairly sweet apple fruitiness, some demerara sugar, coxs apples and a spicey apple compote finish.

The dry is also the same ABV, fizzy pale gold with slightly sulphurus tart lambic like nose. Lacing of white head with steady stream of bubbles. Spiky carbonation, dry tannic apple, slightly dusty, apple lofts, horse nosebag, old hay. Apple comes through more on the nose as it warms and a residual sweetness counteracts the tanins to make a moreish drop.
Special reserve differs from the previous releases by including cider apples in the mix alongside the cookers and eaters. Still 5.7% though. Pale golden cider with medium sweetness and a dry tannic finish. More complex than the regular dry and very drinkable. Probably my favourite of the core range.
Strawberry is as you'd expect, fairly sweet but with a real strawberry flavour rather than anything cloyingly artificial as you might expect. Its a little more sessionable at 4% and hinging on bronze in colour (perhaps from the juice). Daisy was a fan too.
Finally the XL was an 8% monster barrel aged special at Belfast Beer Festival this year. Its no longer available but was such a good drop that I will share my thoughts anyway, in the hope that Davy will make another batch! Fantastic rich molasses nose on this ochre-yellow cider. Smooth with no sign of the ABV rich rum marries fantastically with dry apple pulp and caramel to produce a superb cider. I certainly contributed to it selling out by Friday night.

Kilmegan are a relatively new concern who I hadn't heard of until coming across them at the beer festival. They're the closest thing to Somerset cider I've come across so far on this island. Andy is based inDundrum, County Down
Kilmegan Dry: Pale yellow with good mix of tannins and dry apple juice, yet not astringent and very drinkable. Bottle even drier than it was on draught but effervescence actually increases the drinkability.
Pale yellow, steady stream of carbonation, light apple and floral aroma, dry cider playing well against unmistakable elderflower, not stupidly sweet like some flavoured ciders can be. Would be fantastic with food too.

Its great to see ciders of this calibre coming out of Northern Ireland, it shows we can compete with the best in Somerset, Herefordshire and elsewhere in the world.  I tried to put the idea in the producers mind of producing a collaboration for next year's Beer Festival, we'll have to wait and see if they act on it or not!


London Brewers: A Depression

The beer which alerted me to Pressure Drop was Stokey Brown, delivered via an Ales By Mail Taste of London Case (think smoky chocolate smothered fruit cake).  It sufficiently impressed to cause me to seek out others of theirs to try, reviews below. They're now at almost 30 releases and going strong and were the tenth best new brewery in the world for 2013, no mean feat when there were more than 2600 new openings last year!

Up first is Wu Gang Chops the tree, named for the Chinese legend about the man banished to the moon to chop down a tree that regrows every night for eternity. Its a "foraged herb" hefeweisse, but we're not told whats in it. Hazy burnished gold with fluffy white head collapsing to a mere lacing. Spicey, slightly tart aroma of cloves, black pepper and lemon peel. Medium body and full of flavour for its fairly diminutive strength (3.8%). Interesting peppery tingle and a woodsy sage like herbal note, slight szechwan like tongue tingle in a dry finish. Its like a grisette saison.

Builders Tea is a 4.3% porter with added tea. Dark burgundy tinged brown with rich bourbon biscuit aroma with some vinous port notes and tart elderberry. Lacing of dark head, tingle of carbonation. Full bodied, dry and earthy, burnt toast, a sweet lactose middle section then tanins kick in. Finishes pretty dry with a bit of plum jam and plenty of burnt toast.

Slightly stronger at 4.9% is Street Porter, a take on a traditional London Porter. super dark brown with fluffy muddy mocha head. Burnt roasty barley with a fruity undercurrent. Extremely dry and toasty coffee barley, long dry finish. A little one dimensional and disappointing given the delight of the Builders Tea. Will have to give it another go next time.

Finally Bosko is Pressure Drop's signature IPA weighing in at 6.5%. dark amber brown with lacing of cream head with rich sweet malt and pithy mango nose. Full body, quite creamy mouthfeel, juicy fruit forward, low bitterness, slight acridity in finish. Its competent but not in the top league of UK IPAs.
On the strength of these beers I will definitely seek out others of theirs, particularly Freiman's Dunklelweiss which sounds particularly tasty.