Cider

Friday Favourites: Beers and Ciders

There’s no doubt that as Christmas approaches, beers and ciders are some of our more pleasurable lighter tipples… One thing we don’t enjoy though, is in our rush to replenish our fridge, is only having a limited choice from supermarket. Supermarket buyers please take note: There are some fantastic indie brands there! With a little research we’ve found some new and interesting options, from fruity ciders to chocolately beers. Keep reading as we at The Amazing Blog introduce you to some of our new festive favourites!

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Let's start with something fresh. Sassy's Cider, created in Normandy, is made of 100% pure juice, is 100% naturallow in calories and no added sugars. We started with the L’inimitable, a bright and golden balance between a traditional-dry cider brut taste, and the fruitiness of a semi-dry cider. It works well as an aperitif, but is also delicious alongside any meat or cheese. The full bodied aroma reveals apple and leather, creating a subtle balance between acidity, bitterness and roundness. Our next treat was Le VertueuxClear and pure, this can be perfectly combined with fish or light chocolate desserts as it gives you a sharp and slightly tannic mouth feel at first, finishing off the soft and subtle flavour of pear. This taste is something we certainly hadn’t come across before and it’s delicious!

Our favourite however, is La Sulfureuse, a cider blended with apple spices, creating a soft and semi-dry cider. Ideal with desserts like sorbet or pastry. lt is lower in alcohol than other ciders and has an intense pink colour, as well as a delectable smell of apples and red fruits. If you want to try Sassy’s ciders for yourself, then you can purchase 12 mini bottles (330ml each) for €44 or 6 bottles of 750ml each for €43 here. Alternatively, you can purchase a set of three for £24 on the John Lewis website here.

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Another fresh and new cider experience is provided by Lilley's, this time from the UK. Their lightly sparkling Rhubarb Craft Cider is characteristically tart, packed full of rhubarb flavour, yet still has a delicous sweetness. The taste is fulfilling, perhaps going down a little too easily at times! Lilleys, a family run cider business, based in Frome, Somerset, offers a diverse range of traditional and experimental blends of cider. Always made with care and a lot of enthusiasm, this cider definitely helps you to get the best out of the day. The notes of rhubarb effectively take away the usual over-sweetness of fruit ciders, instead leaving a light and refreshing taste. This is one of our favourites from their extensive range. We particularly like this tart nature, and it was a hit even with those who are usually put off by flavoured ciders. This Rhubarb Craft Cider was a winner in The Great Taste Awards 2018 for being ‘very sweet with lively carbonation tart and beautifully blended’ and we couldn’t agree more. This is an excellent present for a cider lover, in it’s substantial carton 5L box of rustic goodness that is certain to pack a punch for a mere £19.80 here

Delivering to businesses all across the UK, you can purchase the 6 bottles (500ml each) for £15.18 here. Alternatively, you can mix and match this cider with other great options, buying a selection of 6 flavours, including Mango or Apple & Blackberry. Click here to personalise your own crate.

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Moving away from cider, and onto beer, we came across Lowlander. There is no doubt that Lowlander’s Beer shines amongst the competition, with a range of awards for their botanically brewed beers. With its snappy branding inspired by travel to far-away lands, and discovery of exotic herbs and spices, Lowlander beers are packed full of flavour and character. A whole new dimension of flavours is added thanks to the botanicals used, and their website provides advice on how to combine your favourite beer with either food or other alcoholic beverages.

We tested Lowlander’s Yuzu & Pink Grapefruit beer, and were surprised by the lightness and freshness of this beer, revealing a bright citrus flavour characteristic of having being brewed with earl grey tea and gose beer. We also tried their Ginger & Kaffir Lime beer, which is, in contrast, rather spicy and aromatic, delivering hints of zesty citrus. This beer is brewed with Darjeeling tea and wheat beer, and both beers are presented in colourful and flowery bottles, sure to brighten up any day. With this innovative combination of botanicals, tea and beer, Lowlander wanted to provide innovative lower alcohol options (2.5% vol.). Their beers are subsequently lower in alcohol content than other competitors, but we certainly don’t think this has dampened their flavour! Launched at the Speciality & Fine Food fair in London, these beers can now be purchased from €15 for 6 bottles (330ml each) on their web shop and you’ll find them stocked in many good bars and shops.

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Another innovative brand we came across is Pillars, founded by four guys who have created their own Lager Revolution in London. Finding its roots in a garden shed, the aim of the brand was to prove that a craft lager can be just as tasty as its ale counterparts. This is something that we think has turned out to be a great success. With a lot of creativity and quality, the tasteless reputation of Lager has been smashed!

Their first creation was the Untraditional Lager, which has since become the all-time favourite (and our favourite as well). This 4.5% Session IPL combines ingredients from all over the world, producing a never before seen combination of a pilsner and hoppy IPA. This creates the delicious flavour of local British malts, with softness and fruitiness which has a slightly citrusy, but definitely crisp, finish. We also tried their Rebell Helles (4.8% vol.) lager, which combines traditional Helles Lager with new world hops. It is most definitely waves two fingers to boring beers! It is a malty maverick, revealing a full bodied taste, yet is easy to drink. Based in Walthamstow, East London, the brewery pays homage to a brand that wants to change perceptions of lagers. The packaging is metallic orange, and black and white in design, offering a graphic look that looks great on any shelf. With a reasonable price of £2.65 for 330ml, this fresh taste is definitely worth a try. Visit their website here to see for yourself.

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Our last stop of this revealing beer and cider discovery tour is Big Cat Stout from Stroud Brewery, a British Craft Brewery founded in 2006. They create premium organic beers, offering a wide range of beers in cask, cake bottles and cans. Starting out as their pet project, this dark stout is organic, and vegan and delivers a silky complexity of dark roast malts.

We decided to give this 4.5%, easy drinking conditioned stout, a try. We were certainly more than satisfied. Encased in a stylish and simple bottle with a graphic red logo, we were impressed to find that this stout is organically brewed, without any artificial preservatives, flavourings or colourings. The taste is not highly bitter, and we think is best combined with rich spicy foods, mature cheddar, chocolate or coffee based pudding. The silky smooth texture is full bodied, delivering a fruity dark chocolate aroma, with a hint of liquorice. Winner of a 2 star Great Taste Award (2017), this beer is definitely not what you find in an everyday pub! Purchase 12 bottles of 500ml each for £33 here.

As Christmas draws nearer, we hope to have opened your eyes to a few new festive tipples, we think in particular that these are great for those who normally steer clear of beers, ciders and stouts. So go on, give it a go, why not try something new?

Friday Favourites Irish Alcohol

We at The Amazing Blog were lucky enough to be guests of Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board), at their Spirit of Sharing event at the Irish Consulate earlier this year. Bord Bia brought together 20 Irish drinks companies to introduce them to the UK market, and we have picked an initial few here of our favourites that we discovered (we'll be featuring a few more later in the summer for you to read about). It is no secret that Ireland is renowned for its quality alcoholic drinks - from Cider to Whiskey to Irish Cream, and Bord Bia presented some drinks that are truly authentic in quality, history and flavour. 

For all you who want lower alcohol content without compromising on taste then do we have the perfect drink for you; Finnbarra's Tobairín. This cider is crisp and light, ideal for a mid-day drink with lunch in the hot sunshine. Despite being just 1.5%abv the cider’s complexity and character doesn't suffer in any way. Light in colour, the drink has a distinguished ‘nose’ and a smoothness which is in part due to the naturally cultured champagne yeast included in the recipe. 

The apples in the cider are meticulously selected and are grown elsewhere in Ireland as the distillery is located by the sea which is not good for the growth of apples. This careful selection process helps the cider remain crisp and pristine.  Everything about this drink has been carefully selected, including the name. Tobar means “well” (as in wishing well) and “ín” means small or light, coming together as Tobairín. 

So, if you are looking for a low alcohol, refreshing and almost champagne-like tasting beverage, then this is the one for you. 

As Finnbarra is currently looking for a distributor if you would like more information on pricing or to find your local stockist you can contact them at info@finnbarra.com

 

 

Another cider from Finnbarra has made it onto our list, and it’s Stonewell Tawny. If you enjoy a more opulent and rich cider, you should look no further than this delightfully dark drink. This viscous cider possesses a blend of complex bittersweet flavours that is deliciously moreish. The cider is created by chaptalizing the blends of Michelin and Dabinett apple juice while it ferments. Once the fermentation is complete, and the alcohol content reaches 15% Stonewell arrest the fermentation. This leaves residual sugars which encourage the developments of the cider's highly complex flavours to flourish during the minimum 12-month ageing process. 

The Tawny cider is produced in incredibly small quantities, around 3000 litres a year. Each bottle is sealed with food grade beeswax and an individual label identifying the bottle number.  This is a still cider and perfect for a leisurely picnic in the sun, as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to cheese or desserts. This cider reminded us a little of Calvados.

As Finnbarra/Stonewell is currently looking for a distributor, should you want more information on pricing information, or to find your local stockist you can contact them at info@finnbarra.com

Now,  when one thinks about Irish alcohol, Irish Cream is always one of the first to come to mind, and for us, Feeney’s Irish Cream is a really good example. Feeney’s know that to create the freshest and richest tasting Irish Cream you need to look after and nurture the cows being milked. It is this belief that has given their products the high-quality taste and has helped them win award after award; including a 2015 Platinum Sip Award and a 2015 Great Taste Award.

The cream produced by these pampered cows is then combined with a fine three-year-old barrel aged Irish whiskey. All of this careful selection leads to a scrumptious product where every sip tastes sweet, creamy and indulgent. This is delicious on its own, but our favourite way to enjoy Feeney's is to pour some over a bowl of vanilla ice cream!

Trust us, you cannot go wrong with this drink and you can purchase it here from Tesco for £15.50

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For those of you looking for a delicious, traditional and aged whiskey then we recommend you try Hyde. Made in County Cork on the wild Atlantic Southwest Coast of Ireland, Hyde is producing some beautiful smooth Irish Whiskeys using traditional old age craft techniques. The family have been involved in the drinks business for over 12 generations since 1640, so you know that when they say they use traditional methods, you know that they truly do. 

Originally distilled in a traditional copper pot still, Hyde Irish Whiskey is double matured. We particularly love the Sherry Finish, which is a single malt aged in flame-charred, first fill, 200l oak bourbon barrel (giving a sweet vanilla flavour), before being transferred to a vintage Oloroso sherry cask for the final ten months. The sherry casks add a nutty, spice and dried fruit flavour to the last dram. The barrels and casks chosen are significant; as they put it, it’s all about the wood! Named after Ireland's first President, Douglas Hyde, the whiskey has an exceptional quality befitting its presidential namesake. Made in small, handcrafted and limited batches each sip of Hyde whiskey is filled with character

You can purchase a bottle for yourself here for £50.88
 

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And Finally, but by no means least, for all of you honey whiskey fans out there is The Dubliner’s Honeycomb Whiskey. The Dubliner Whiskey and Honeycomb is a delicious blend of welcoming Irish Whiskey and honeycomb and caramel flavours, which have a smooth and easy finish. The Dubliner’s value the importance of the ingredients that are in their whiskeys, as such they use only the best ingredients in their products. As they say, “only the best goes in, no exceptions, no substitutions.” 

This whiskey was created by John Drennan and is one to savour and share. We guarantee you will want more, as the warm whiskey tones blended with the soft sweet honeycomb and caramel are incredibly potent!

You can purchase a bottle to share with friends here for £19.95

All of these brands are wonderfully authentic and have created some truly delicious and refreshing products for you to enjoy. We guarantee that all of them will help bring an added sparkle and Irish flavour to your next summer event! So what are you waiting for, purchase yourself and your friends a bottle or two now. 

Celtic Marches - Abrahalls Thundering Molly Cider

I’m sure we’re not the only ones who are pleased to see that summer has finally arrived in London. Here at The Amazing Blog, we are taking advantage of these sunnier evenings by spending our time in the garden, relaxing with a drink in hand. The girls enjoy a cocktail or two, but I’m a cider man, myself. So when Celtic Marches sent us this Abrahalls Thundering Molly Cider, I was the first to pour myself a glass and venture out onto the patio.

 One of Thundering Molly’s unique attributes is her retro label. Adorned with a 1950s pin-up, the whole office was a fan of the aesthetically pleasing bottle. The cider itself has a lovely rich, golden hue, which was enough to make my mouth water just looking at it.  Celtic Marches describe the brew as a ‘well rounded medium cider’ and it certainly went down smoothly. The sweet sharpness of the apples, made with 100% fresh pressed juice gives a wonderfully refreshing taste. There is something about one of your five-a-day being turned into a delicious alcoholic beverage that I can wholly agree with, and the crew at Abrahalls have definitely become the apple of our eye.

In anticipation of warmer evenings, we'll be stocking our coolers with cider aplenty. We think that Thundering Molly will be your best friend for the coming summer months.  A 500ml bottle contains 5.2% ABV, and can be bought in a pack of 12 here for £29.99

Alastair Sawday's Special Places Pubs & Inns of England & Wales

There's nothing as typical of Britain as pubs and bars - whenever I hang out with my friends and family we all gather around a table in our favourite pub drinking beer and cider and having fun catching up. The atmosphere is warm and relaxing - there's something about pubs; that something you can't quite explain, that makes you feel at home and stay there for hours without realising you've spent the whole evening drinking. I have a few favourites on my list, however, new places are always welcome when it comes to having fun with my friends. A few weeks ago, we received Alastair Sawday's Special Places Pubs & Inns of England & Wales at The Amazing Blog - an exquisite selection of 900 pubs and inns that has helped us with many great evenings in lovely new pubs.

The book is written in a personal and laid-back style without being too informal and is neatly laid-out. Each pub or inn suggested is shown on a picture or two; opening times, contact numbers, prices, addresses, and even tube stations are provided and broken down geographically. One of the things we love the most about this guide is the fact that the information is concise and brief - they even specify which places are pet and children-friendly!

Alastair Sawday's Special Places Pubs & Inns of England & Wales is a fantastic guide that has received really good reviews from the most well-known newspapers and magazines; and at The Amazing Blog we understand why. Their suggestions and the detailed and useful tips and information have never let us down. If there is something negative to point out about this fantastic guide, that should be the lack of time to visit all of these promising places in England and to a lesser extent in Wales.

You can purchase Alastairs Sawday's fantastic guides here.

 

Celtic Marches

With all the barbecues, parties and events you attend in the summer, it's always nice to mix things up. I'm sure everyone's sick of the same wines / beers / wine coolers being served wherever you go. Anyone can grab a bottle from the off license and that's all well and good, but for the more experimental drinker, The Amazing Blog has found Celtic Marches. Celtic Marches are based in Herefordshire and specialise in making unique liqueurs. And let me tell you, they're very tasty. Their two brandy based liqueurs, Bloody Furlong and Number Nine, are unlike anything you've tried - assuming you've never tried Celtic Marches. Bloody Furlong is flavoured with apple and maple, and Number Nine is flavoured with apple and blackcurrant. While they say you can drink the liqueurs neat, I prefer to mix mine, and the Celtic Marches website has recipes for delicious summer drinks. For those of you who don't want the hassle of mixing a drink, they also have a cider, Abrahall's Cider. And for the really daring drinkers amongst you, Number Nine mixed with Abrahall's is a flavour sensation. They both taste and look different to a lot of other brands on the market, and all the bottles are hand-finished in wax. They use the highest quality ingredients and you can definitely tell when you taste them.

So this summer, treat yourself and your friends to a few new tipples! Celtic Marches products are available to buy on their website.