Wednesday, 7 March 2012


So on Thursday last week, I was invited to a tutored Cider tasting at the Euston Cider Tap, courtesy of Google Places. Having previously visited the Cider Tap's sister bar across the road several times, This was my first trip into the world of all things apples!

The night started with a glass of Kir Normand, a cocktail aperitif made with Normandy cider and cassis. As the other attendee's began to arrive the tasting got under-way. Starting off with an introduction to the evening an brief description of how cider is brewed from Charles Roberts the head brewer at Pickled Pig Cider.

The tasting was started with Calvados - Christian Drouin 3% ABV, a fruity and rich tasting unpasteurised French cider. Served along side an amazing Calvados Camembert cheese. After a the Camembert was devoured Charles talked us through his range of Ciders, starting with a traditional farmhouse cider; Pickled Pig - Old Spot - 6.5% ABV brewed naturally using three varieties of apple all grown locally to the Cambridgeshire farm. The naturally found yeast used in the fermentation gives this cider a tannic and acidic taste not dissimilar to those of a Lambic.

Next we were introduced to Pickled Pig - Rum Cask - 6.0% ABV. Slowly fermented and stored in an oak rum barrel imported from the Caribbean. This cider again had a sour tannic taste this time with a phenolic taste drawn from the rum that had previously been matured in the cask. Charles then went on to explain how the Cider would soon be changing its name to Saddle Back as a resort to meet the new laws imposed by customs and excise!

The tasting then moved to the several sparkling ciders on offer, Lilleys - Fire Dancer - 4.5% ABV described as "A traditional cloudy cider, with a rich rosy colour and full of flavour." I however thought it was heavily over carbonated and was all to similar to the more commonly found commercial ciders.

Sandford Orchards -Shaky Bridge - 6% This has a much stronger taste of apple and was much more palatable, but after several ciders my notes are somewhat lacking!

Aware that is was a school night we made plans to leave, but these where soon stifled, as we were offered a glass of Millwhites - Rioja Cask - 6.7%. With its pink hue drawn from its time in the red wine barrels, this was one of the most interesting ciders we had tasted with hints of oak tannin and warming overall sweetness. And with that the evening and my first foray into cider was over.

The Euston Cider Tap, is the only dedicated Cider bar that I'm aware of in London which is surprising since apparently we're now a nation of cider drinkers. Although I suspect this more than likely the type of cider served over ice!  If more pubs offered at least one craft or real cider, I for one would now be more inclined to move away from ales & beers every now and then. However there's still a long way for craft/real Cider to go before it can break the stereotype The Wurzels have set!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Living For The Weekend...

It's been a quiet start to 2012 on the beer front (and the blogging one), but a few weeks ago me and my good friend Moppo had a wee stroll down to tower bridge on a Friday night.As such here's his first foray into blogging....

First stop was the Dean Swift, which is located on Gainsford Street, near Tower Bridge. The pub describes itself as a ‘local beer house’, which is a fairly accurate description. Busy but not packed, the Swift is a small space with a mixed clientele: suits mixing with a smattering of trendy young people (and that was just me and Ford). The Dean Swift also boasts a very knowledgeable bar staff, each of whom was willing and able to offer recommendations among the array of pumps on the bar, and the multitude of bottled beers behind it.

First beer of the night for me was the Rooster’s Cream(4.7%), seasonal pale ale from North Yorkshire, brewed in Harrogate using hops from the States. As its name suggests, it is smooth and creamy on the tongue, with hints of vanilla, with a citrus finish. A really drinkable pint, I would have happily stayed on this all night.

From the Rooster’s, I moved on to Nibiru IPA (6.3%), brewed by Arbor Ales in Bristol. This is a really fruity beer: I’d almost say tropical, if that didn’t put me in mind of Um Bongo... Unlike that juice drink consumed in the congo, Nibiru is also bloody strong: a great supping beer.

At Tom’s suggestion, we then moved onto the bottled stuff. For me, this meant a bottle of Southern Cross India Pale Ale (7.3%), brewed in SE1 by The Kernel brewery, which had to be fetched from upstairs: too good to sell to the punters? At first taste it has a sharp, spicy quality, and it is dry, with a fruity bitterness at the back of the throat at the finish. A really great tasting beer, and a good note to finish on.

From the Dean Swift it was a short meander to The Draft House, itself only a very short trundle from Tower Bridge. You’ll forgive me for not describing the pub in huge detail, as by this point I was a fairly refreshed young man, but the main thing that struck me with regard to the d├ęcor was the Ghostbusters wallpaper on the way to the facilities. Pubs of Great Britain take note: you can do far worse than festoon your interiors with classic 80s film references, even if it is in the form of children’s wall decorations.

Choosing what beer to drink based purely on its name and how that name resonates with you at a certain stage of your Friday night probably isn’t a great plan, but it did lead me to try a bottle of Titan IPA. Brewed and bottled by the Great Divide Brewing Company in Colorado, it is a potent 7.1% ABV. In the glass, Titan has a deep amber colouration, with a small head (if you pour it properly). On the nose there’s a strong pine aroma, and on the tongue there’s a mixture of citrus hops, closing with a bitter finish which borders on sweet.  I just need to apologise to Tom for how much it cost…

Tom: No problem Moppo! Pleasure was all mine!