There are two certainties once the weather is good in Ireland: The first is that people will flock in droves to the nearest canal bank pub for a sunny pint. The second is that cider sales will sore! Historically there has never been much variety available when looking to swap out a pint of beer in place of the refreshing quench of sparkling cider poured over a cold glass of ice.
Thankfully the days of sickly sweet sugary apple cider alternatives appear to be behind us as producers are paying heed to the current craft trend and adopting a more artisanal approach, with greater care given to the technique, subtler flavour combinations or big and bold new ideas.
With that in mind, here are a few outstanding craft ciders to enjoy this summer.
Scott’s: Summer Medium Cider
€4.60 – Available at Martin’s Off Licence
Don’t let the name of this one fool you, Scott’s is an Irish, family run, independent cidery led by master cider maker, Jonathan Scott, who earned his title at the Gloucester Cider Academy.
The summer medium cider from their core range has a sort of lushness to it, with flavours of rosie red apples at the peak of their ripeness.
This hand crafted artisanal product pairs well with food and is a good choice for those looking for a traditional cider taste.
Stonewell: Apple & Rhubarb Craft Cider
€3.19 – Available at Martin’s Off Licence
Owing to the salty sea air around Kinsale area, Stonewell do not actually grow their own apple but instead choose to source some of the best fruit they can from all over the country for their product.
What’s unique to Stonewell is the use of champagne yeast that helps to carbonate the final product and give a distinct nose to the cider.
This limited addition Rós blend of apple and rhubarb cider is as refreshing as it gets. With plenty of floral notes and a natural sweetness, the only problem here is the limited run. Here’s hoping for a new vintage this year.
Hogan’s: Killer Sharp Sour Cider
€4.75 – Available at Martin’s Off Licence
Based out of Warwickshire, England, Hogan’s is an independent cider producer that is really pushing the boundaries of the little round fruit.
Their level of creativity and innovation when it comes to style is second to none and they could easily go toe to toe with any of the more experimental craft beer producers of the English midlands.
Inviting ‘curious folk to taste proper cider’, Hogan’s are on point with their latest offering. Capitalising on the recent sour trend within the craft beer world, their Killer Sharp: Sour Cider is lip puckeringly tasty. However, be forewarned, this one’s not for everyone.
MacIvor’s: Vintage Reserve Cider
€2.70 – Available at Martin’s Off Licence
One of more familiar names in new wave Irish ciders, some might be surprised to learn that this Armagh based cidery dates back as far as 1855.
Now well stocked nation-wide you can find MacIvor’s cider in most off-licenses or supermarkets as well as plenty of bars and a number of restaurants.
What may be harder to come by however is the ‘Vintage Reserve’ blend. Taken from the more mature vats, this specially selected cider has a fuller more robust character without straying too far from the traditional.
Although all quite different in style the above options all share one thing in common, the pride in their craft. Let hope the rise of craft cider can continue so that the little guys can get a bigger bite of the apple.
Having previously devoted every ounce of his spare time to music, Tony is more commonly found these days in a kitchen than on a stage. With experience in writing on festivals and shows around the country he has recently turned his pen to more culinary exposés. With a particular penchant for craft beer he can often be spotted travelling from one bar to another in search of the latest brew to hit the market.