A Year of Brewing - My own scores

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JohnnyPitralon

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It is a year to the day that I started my first cider brew, not the least with some excellent advice from others on this forum. MANY THANKS!!!

Since then I have tested a number of kits and even tried my own apples (not a great success due to them not being the right apples for the purpose). Unless someone somewhere launches a new kit I am done with trying out, so here is my list with individual scores. NB: the ranking goes from top to bottom with the worst coming first:
  1. Bulldog Perfect Apple Cider
    1. Sadly a misnomer if ever I have seen (or rather tasted) one. Watery with little bouquet and flavour. Whatever it tastes of, it isn't apple.
  2. Mungrove Jack Premium Apple Cider
    1. As the Bulldog, quite watery. More like apple juice with a lot of mineral water and some acidity in the background.
  3. Bulldog Premium Cider Toffee Apple
    1. Better than the above offering from the same maker. Slightly stronger apple flavour but not solid enough to prevent the toffee from being too sweet and predominant. Having said that, with a truly strong, appley cider I could see the toffee flavour as an interesting addition.
  4. Ciderworks Superior Dry Oak
    1. It's getting better now. This one actually tastes of apple, although it is still a bit watery for me. The oak is very subtle and just about noticeable in the finish.
  5. Wobbly Gob Great Barr Gold
    1. We are entering the territory, where it is becoming good. Nice apple flavour and a true cider aroma, as I would describe or expect it, with floral tones, nice acidity, and fruit.
  6. Muntons Premium Gold Autumn Blush
    1. Quite dry but on and equal score with the Wobbly Gob above. Good apple flavour. There is really not much between the two.
  7. And so to the two stars of the show, the ones that I have used consistently now for several months. Sadly, the Wobbly Gob is a bit difficult to get hold of, at the moment (May 2021) and widely out of stock. I could not fault either and must stress that I do not have a favourite here:
    1. Wobbly Gob Black Apple Cider
      1. At first I was a bit sceptical, because I was wary they might use a lot of artificial flavours (see also final comments below). Very good apple taste and aroma. Real cider bouquet. Lovely rounded with a nice sweetness that is well balanced by just the right level of acidity. It has an interesting taste (in a positive sense) at the back of the palate, which I cannot quite pinpoint where it comes from or describe. It is a bit like a pinch of Hungarian paprika rounding off a sauce.
    2. Festival Oaked Apple Cider
      1. Once again I'd like to say that this is not better than the Wobbly Gob, just different. Like its rival it has a good apple taste and aroma. The oak comes through and it is (most likely due to its fruit pack) - you might have guessed it - fruity. Every evening I am looking forward to a glass of it.
So here you have it. The Festival and the Wobbly Gob are equal winners at the bottom of the list but the top of the podium, yet each with its own qualities.

As a rule, I do not use the apple flavour or the sweetener that come with most of the kits. It either tastes of apple or it doesn't. If the yeast packet already contains the sweetener (e.g.: Bulldog Perfect Apple Cider), I throw that away and use a separate yeast, such as Young's wine yeast for white or red - dessert /high alcohol.
Also, if you are a beginner and, like me, could not quite believe the assertion from some seasoned brewers here that cider in a plastic barrel improves over time, think again - it DOES. Unfortunately, because I do not have enough room for several buckets or barrels to let a number of brews rest at the same time, I have not yet been able to age it for longer than four weeks. But boy does it make a difference.

Happy brewing everyone.
 
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damienair

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Thanks. Great reviews on your brews. I only started in December. I have done 6 beers, 1 White Wine and 1 Cider so far. All kits. The beers are great and the wine is amazing. I learnt after the first 2 brews that I was drinking them faster than I was making them along with a little help from my Neighbour. So I decided to make up 5 kits and let them age until all are ready. That way I’ll always have something to drink and can always have another one on the go.
Festival Oaked Apple Cider is one of the kits. It was brewed 3 months ago and has been aging/conditioning for 2 months now. I only added half of the apple flavoring. I’ll be trying it out in 2 weeks time. Delighted that it made it into the top of your list.
 

JohnnyPitralon

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Hi, sorry, I was away.

Thanks for the kind comments. The drinking them faster than one can make them is a problem here too. I hope the Festival will be to your liking. After all, us brewers have different tastes, and not all will agree with my judgement.

I'd be very interested, though, which white wine kit you used, as you say it was very good. I am gradually convincing myself trying my luck with wine might be the next step.
 

A fool's paradise

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I normally do BiaB beers but do enjoy a good cider too.

The only ones I've done were the Ciderworks ones. 2 x Superior apple and 1 x Superior Elderflower. They were all fantastic although I didn't really detect any elderflower taste which was a shame. The last apple one I added a dry hop of Citra to give it something extra, it tastes amazing.

Maybe I'll use your list to look at a different one next......
 

damienair

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Hi, sorry, I was away.

Thanks for the kind comments. The drinking them faster than one can make them is a problem here too. I hope the Festival will be to your liking. After all, us brewers have different tastes, and not all will agree with my judgement.

I'd be very interested, though, which white wine kit you used, as you say it was very good. I am gradually convincing myself trying my luck with wine might be the next step.
Thank you. I did the Australian Blend Pinot Grigio. It is a 7 day 30 bottle wine kit. However I took my time with it and it took about 2 weeks before being bottled, I had a yield of 29 bottles.. Still very fast. I left it to condition for a couple of months before I drank any. It is genuinely very good. As good as any shop bought Pinot Grigio in the £10 to £15 range. We have 15 bottles left and each one is better than the last. It is my first wine kit, I made it for the lovely lady in my life, as I was making beer I thought I’d make Nicola something for the Summer BBQ’s. I’m drinking it too. Definitely doing it again. Really good.
 

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damienair

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It is a year to the day that I started my first cider brew, not the least with some excellent advice from others on this forum. MANY THANKS!!!

Since then I have tested a number of kits and even tried my own apples (not a great success due to them not being the right apples for the purpose). Unless someone somewhere launches a new kit I am done with trying out, so here is my list with individual scores. NB: the ranking goes from top to bottom with the worst coming first:
  1. Bulldog Perfect Apple Cider
    1. Sadly a misnomer if ever I have seen (or rather tasted) one. Watery with little bouquet and flavour. Whatever it tastes of, it isn't apple.
  2. Mungrove Jack Premium Apple Cider
    1. As the Bulldog, quite watery. More like apple juice with a lot of mineral water and some acidity in the background.
  3. Bulldog Premium Cider Toffee Apple
    1. Better than the above offering from the same maker. Slightly stronger apple flavour but not solid enough to prevent the toffee from being too sweet and predominant. Having said that, with a truly strong, appley cider I could see the toffee flavour as an interesting addition.
  4. Ciderworks Superior Dry Oak
    1. It's getting better now. This one actually tastes of apple, although it is still a bit watery for me. The oak is very subtle and just about noticeable in the finish.
  5. Wobbly Gob Great Barr Gold
    1. We are entering the territory, where it is becoming good. Nice apple flavour and a true cider aroma, as I would describe or expect it, with floral tones, nice acidity, and fruit.
  6. Muntons Premium Gold Autumn Blush
    1. Quite dry but on and equal score with the Wobbly Gob above. Good apple flavour. There is really not much between the two.
  7. And so to the two stars of the show, the ones that I have used consistently now for several months. Sadly, the Wobbly Gob is a bit difficult to get hold of, at the moment (May 2021) and widely out of stock. I could not fault either and must stress that I do not have a favourite here:
    1. Wobbly Gob Black Apple Cider
      1. At first I was a bit sceptical, because I was wary they might use a lot of artificial flavours (see also final comments below). Very good apple taste and aroma. Real cider bouquet. Lovely rounded with a nice sweetness that is well balanced by just the right level of acidity. It has an interesting taste (in a positive sense) at the back of the palate, which I cannot quite pinpoint where it comes from or describe. It is a bit like a pinch of Hungarian paprika rounding off a sauce.
    2. Festival Oaked Apple Cider
      1. Once again I'd like to say that this is not better than the Wobbly Gob, just different. Like its rival it has a good apple taste and aroma. The oak comes through and it is (most likely due to its fruit pack) - you might have guessed it - fruity. Every evening I am looking forward to a glass of it.
So here you have it. The Festival and the Wobbly Gob are equal winners at the bottom of the list but the top of the podium, yet each with its own qualities.

As a rule, I do not use the apple flavour or the sweetener that come with most of the kits. It either tastes of apple or it doesn't. If the yeast packet already contains the sweetener (e.g.: Bulldog Perfect Apple Cider), I throw that away and use a separate yeast, such as Young's wine yeast for white or red - dessert /high alcohol.
Also, if you are a beginner and, like me, could not quite believe the assertion from some seasoned brewers here that cider in a plastic barrel improves over time, think again - it DOES. Unfortunately, because I do not have enough room for several buckets or barrels to let a number of brews rest at the same time, I have not yet been able to age it for longer than four weeks. But boy does it make a difference.

Happy brewing everyone.
My Festival Oaked Apple Cider kit has been conditioning in my garage for 3 months now. I had a couple last weekend and another one last night. It is a beautiful Cider and I am very happy with it. At 7.5% it packs a punch and I could feel the one I had last night. It is a lovely refreshing drink and should be a perfect accompaniment to the BBQ and back garden whenever the summer decides to arrive. I made mine as per instructions except that I only added half the apple flavoring, there is no chemical taste. It comes with 140g of brewing sugar for priming, but is flat although there are some bubbles. I will do this kit again but next time might add an extra 40g of brewing sugar for priming. Big thumbs up for me.
 

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