I’m feeling in a very good mood, sitting on my friend’s sunny balcony in Helsinki, in the sun, with a selection of ciders and some kind of gay Popeye staring back at me from a packet of Kippari smoked cheese. It occurs to me that it’s only 3.30pm, and at this time of day, I’d normally be sat at work with a hundred people shouting fuck at me. Ha! I’m due to meet a friend in town in a couple of hours, but there’s still time to enjoy one more Finnish cider.
The most realistic looking ‘proper’ cider in my selection from the local shop, is one called Happy Joe’s cloudy apple cider, by Hartwall of Helsinki. It claims to be a premium English-style cider. I’m never sure what Premium means in cider terms, what’s wrong with a good old Bog Standard cider?
It’s a bottle. I fumble round looking for a bottle opener in my friend’s flat, and eventually find that under the bottle top, there’s a message for me; ‘The key to your happiness will not be found in someone else’s pocket’. Fair enough, I don’t fancy rummaging round someone else’s pocket and putting my hand on happiness, so that’s fine by me.
So Happy Joe is a bit cloudy in colour, and is slightly less sweet that the Fizz. Perhaps there’s something of the English countryside about it, maybe the addition of an aroma of haystack and combine harvester, with a hint of boiled vegetable. Incidentally, the last time I drove a combine harvester, was on a pig farm in Finland. Much of the land here is farmed and I reckon there’s real potential for a Cidersense orchard. I’ve no doubt the Finns are yearning for a proper cider to come their way. Unfortunately, it would have to be under 5% alcohol, their government won’t trust them with anything stronger.
Although they’ve managed to add the slight toilet smell of a hardcore cider, it’s still like a boiled sweet in a glass. The Finns do seem to like sweets, making even more types of gum sweets than Haribo, and though kids and Finns may love it so, I expected more from Happy Joe. The list of ingredients is worrying. Maybe the Nordic ciders are just more honest than those in the UK, but Happy Joe is filled with everything from applewine, to locust bean gum! What happened to just apples?
Well Joe, a step in the right direction, but wearing a bowler hat doesn’t make you English.