Ryan's Bar Facade

Bad Apple at Ryan’s N16

I’m waltzing round Stoke Newington, looking for somewhere with Sky Sports. And Cider

Past the KFC that used to be a pub many years ago, past the Tea House, that used to be a pub until a year ago, past the hour long queue of people waiting to get into the on-trend Good Egg coffee shop, even though there’s another twenty, (I counted them), places you can have coffee on this street, not to mention countless others round the corner, on the High Street! Good Egg coffee must be fucking amazing!

The cloud is burning off, and I’m getting a thirst on. I notice that Ryan’s has reopened. What used to be a fairly traditional Irish pub, with some live gigs in the basement and a massive beer garden out back, has recently had a facelift and is now a slick, dark bar inside, with the same beer garden outside.

Ryan's Bar Facade

Ryan’s: Keeping Stoke Newington drunk, since 1996

It does have a sports screen.
It does have cider.

The staff are friendly, well it is still early afternoon. The barman recommends the Bad apple cider and offers a taster, but I opt to go straight for the main course: a pint.

Bad Apple CiderIn a branded glass, looking very ‘bad’ and apply, Bad Apple is a lightly sparkling golden orange cider. The taste is not far from a usual keg cider, medium sweet, but with more of refreshing bite of sharpness. It’s bad in a good way, probably melting my teeth. There’s a little of a dessert apple to it as well. Maybe a little too sweet.

I hoped Ryan’s still has live music, open mic night was a laugh in the basement. They seem to have done away with many of the seats upstairs, standing room, maybe, but they do advertise their basement as available for gigis, quoting an impressive array of musical equipment, that reads like a roadie’s wedding list.

It seems they also do food now, with a Thai menu, but also, some locally-named burgers.

Ryans N16 Beer Garden
Ryan’s beer garden stretches into the horizon
Ryan's Bus

An evil ghost, drives the Ryan’s Real Ale Bus







The beer garden is much the same as it was, a vast tract of picnic benches, beneath a few trees. It’s a huge garden – always plenty of space and beneath some large trees. The neighbours need to tidy their garden up, though, a right mess! There’s a strange London Bus painted on the side of the fence, in which a sinister, smiling old man requests everyone to come aboard. Maybe the Bad Apple is taking effect, but as I feel his gaze caressing my neck, I decide I’d better get back inside, to the sports screen.

I hope I won’t have nightmares

Verdict: 2.5/5

(for the cider, not the venue)


Eurovision Cider Contest. Part 1

Eurovision is looming, so I’ve been into my cupboard, and dusted off a couple of old posts from last year, that never saw the light of day – it takes some time to set up that stage, and  sweep up all the empty bottles afterwards! Anyway, the fist half of the show goes a bit like this….

It’s Saturday night and I’m watching telly, but after there’s just shite on. I suddenly remember someone telling me it’s Eurovision tonight! I grab the remote and click through the channels. There it is! I’ve missed the opening ceremony, but the meaty bit is still to come.Eurovision Cider Contest

I settle into the sofa for an evening of what looks like Christmas decorations engaged in mild porn, fake smiles and frequent warnings of flashing lights. The best thing about it is Graham Norton’s sniping commentary. Australia are, strangely, also in it. But then, so is Israel.

Scoring seems to have been streamlined since I last saw it, and now each country only announces their top three scores. The scoring pattern still does not seem to have changed, in that you are required to score highly, those countries that you border, or who speak your language, or who you don’t wish to bomb you. Unsurprisingly, Russia hold the lead throughout the Eastern Bloc voting, but then neutral Sweden surge ahead and are announced winners even before the end of the scoring!

I suddenly have a moment. I have a glass of water and it goes away. Then I have an epiphany, like a voice speaks to me. Maybe God or someone. The conversation goes like this:

God: Ciderman

Me: Hiya

God: You like cider, right?

Me: Yep.

God: You like Eurovision, right?

Me: Well….yeah, it’s ok.

God: You have several ciders from around the world, in your kitchen, right?

Me: Errrrm…yeah, I’ve got some

God: Well? You know what I’m thinking, right?

Me: You want to wipe out the human race and see what happens if cockroaches rule the earth, cos you heard they survive everything?

God: Ohh,   never mind

Me: Bye

Suddenly, I have a great idea. How about a Eurovision Cider Contest!

My ciderkick tonight will be making up the other half of the judging panel. First up is Switzerland. Wearing traditional dress, in the colours of the Swiss flag, Suure Moscht is performed by Ramseier. Ramseier Suure MoschtThe can makes it look a bit dangerous, and the ‘Cidre Trouble’ at the bottom, does not help the image. However, all these words are strange, Swiss words. My Bavarian ciderkick tells me Suure Moscht, means something like ‘sour mash’. It’s not looking good, though, at only 4%, it seems its bark is worse that its bite.

The performance from this naive, bare-footed mountain girl, is fruity and fresh and sweet. This cider is a little cloudy, in true continental form, the ingredients have been listed, showing apple concentrate, so its dirndle is bolstered with apples. Well, who could resist that!

Heidi is warmly applauded, and Sweden prepare to take the stage – Rekorderlig Dry Äpple Cider

The Swedish entry was discovered in Yogi wine, dressed up like a hipster. Rekorderlig Dry AppleBreaking away from the usual, fruity, colourful Rekorderlig style, this minimal, ‘straight up premium dry cider’, seems to be looking to break into the London cider scene.

As the skinny-jeaned Swede takes the stage, it’s looking promising, but on opening  there’s a smell of fart. Both judges agree, someone has dropped one in the bottle. The colour of this 5% cider is pale, like a pear drop. As the fart recedes, it is replaced by spray paint. The next verse is sweet and bubbly with a classy prosecco aftertaste, and finishing with straw and wood. Well, it’s kind of captivating, like a car crash. Maybe there’s too many flavours going on in this one. Farting in an alcopop doesn’t make it a dry cider.

The Eurovision Cider Contest 2015 goes to a break, (this isn’t the BBC). Join us, tomorrow, for the next instalment.

Snails Bank at the Euston Cider Tap

I’ve been walking round London town, looking at stuff all day – photos and the like, pretending to be cultured. My lungs will be black by now, so I’d best get some antioxidants.

The handiest place for a pint of antioxidants in the Euston locale, is the Euston Cider Tap. It’s a bright day, as I wonder through the towers and traffic of Euston. Oh look, there’s the BT tower!

The cider menu, chalked up on the back wall, lists what’s available today. I’m going to go for the Snails Bank, it’s still, medium, and I haven’t yet tried it. “Cash only bar” is painted on the counter in Tipp-Ex, so I pay my four quid, (Cheap for London), and head outside. It’s a Saturday afternoon, so still too early for the ravers to be out and there’s plenty of room outside. A nice day to sit and sup and breathe in the nitrous oxide from the Euston Road.

I take a pew amongst the reasonably civilised, still-sober cider drinkers, and see that my Snails Bank looks, by far, the most mental drink at the table – like a pint of thick, frothy piss. Everyone else is on pale, sugar water. Snails Bank is an opaque, dark orange colour, and though it’s supposed to be a still cider, it came out with a bit of head on it. Snails_Bank (3 of 4)

Snails Bank is a 5.2% cider, I’m expecting it to be rough and dry, but it tastes as caramel as it looks. Not too sweet, but it’s cider apples dipped in honey. Actually a very mild flavour, a smokey-sunshine taste. That’s my lungs fixed, then.

A shaven-headed Harley fan and his lady, sporting his-and-hers Harley jackets, cross the road towards us. Cider drinkers, I bet. They return to the tables with some proper-looking cider. I notice the chap next to me is reading “Suicide, a modern obsession“. I’ll recommend the barman give him a plastic glass next time, just in case.

Snail’s Bank website tells me that this is a Herefordshire cider. It’s called the Appley Dappley, which adds “the more contemporary Russet apple” to the blend. They’re aiming traditional ciders at modern tastes. I can see where they’re coming from and I’d recommend this as an easy drinking cider, if cider rookies can get past the initial shock of the colour. Snails Bank also make a keg cider, which they claim is made of pure pressed apple juice. I’d like to have a go on that!

Via my eavesdropping, I find out the Harley fan is down from the Midlands, to fix his sister’s curtain rail. A string of winos file past, asking for spare change. The suicidal gives them all a bit of change, he seems a kind man. Well I suppose he won’t need it where he’s going.

Snails_Bank (4 of 4)

The only printable bit of graffiti

I’m actually surprised by the mixture of drinkers at the Cider Tap, I expected there’s be more elderly, toothless men. However, now I have the taste for something stronger, something that might knock my teeth out. I’m about to go and ask what is the worst cider on the menu, when a bunch of young lovers arrive, which reminds me I’m old and alone, so I decide to leave it for another day. A quick visit to the unisex bog, before getting on the bus, offers several minutes of entertainment, in the form of insults, and advice. Most are not printable here.

Verdict: 4/5

Hoxton Cidersmiths Harry Masters Jersey

Some time ago, I reviewed the Interesting Cider, by Hoxton Cidersmiths. Though I gave it less than full marks, due to not being particularly interesting, the nice people at HC thanked me for the post, and graciously sent me samples of one of their other ciders, Harry Master’s Jersey.
Hoxton Cider

I’ve been waiting for a perfect moment to review these ciders, ideally somewhere in Hoxton. However, rather than sit in the rain on my own in Hoxton Square, surrounded by hipsters, I’m at a barbecue on a sunny day in London Fields. Don’t worry, barbecues are allowed in the dedicated barbecue area, complete with fire buckets and water, just in case your barbie turns into a raging inferno.

I’ve brought my last remaining bottle of Harrys, intending to take in the ambience of the hipster-filled park. I assumed London Fields would be a good compromise, but we know where assumptions get us. I’m a little disappointed that, apart from a punk in a shiny suit, carrying a bag of leeks, it seems to be more full of creative director dads and multifunction buggies than sockless wonders with trousers turned up beyond reason. Hipsters can no longer afford the rents round here. I expect Class War will pay a visit, chucking paint on the barbecue bins, before knobbing off to spend their Nat King down Top Shop and KFC, in support of the diversity of community.

Oh well, the lack of interesting characters does not have to detract from the enjoyment of a cider. Harry Masters is a 4.5% cider, made using somerset apples (Harry Master’s Jersey variety). This one is more of what I’d expect from a cider. It has more depth and  tannins, but is not too dry.

The Hoxton Cidersmiths do admit that they are not aiming to make a cider like ‘that scrumpy Grandad used to make’, and their market is the person who’s looking for an easy-drinking cider, but not bog-standard chain-pub fare. Well, Harry Masters ticks the boxes. Hoxton’s have partnered with Sheppy’s cider makers, to create something that is well on it’s way to being something Grandad would be proud of. I’d like to see it on draught. In Hoxton. Maybe it is, my turn-ups are too short to be allowed in.

Myself, we’ll I’d still like to meet their Grandad.

Verdict 3.5/5

Hecks Brown Apple at the Crate Ciderfest

Today I’m going to a Cider Fest!

The Crate Brewery was suggested to me a few weeks ago. I went along to meet a couple of friends. It was easy to find from Hackney Wick train station, just follow the stream of hipsters heading that way – it’s the only thing to get off the train for. A night on the porter ales resulted in a three day hangover. However, subsequently checking out the Crate Brewery site, I discovered that a Cider fest was planned.

Cider Fest Bar

The Bar

How delightful, a cider fest with lots of proper ciders, almost on my doorstep! Now, I’ve planned and prepared, and made sure I didn’t get lashed the night before. It looks like a nice, bright day, and it’s not a long journey on the train, though if you’re not arriving from the east, the plethora of Hackney-named train stations can be a bit disorientating – get off at Downs, walk to Central, arrive at Wick.

As before, I follow the trickle of hipsters (It’s more of a trickle than a stream, this early in the afternoon). The Crate is in a big white building, aptly called the White Building, sitting just next to the canal, with several canal boats moored next to it, and even some people taking kayaking lessons overlooked by a load of fashionable boozing folk. The Cider Fest is being held in the brewery building, by the entrance of the courtyard/carpark. It’s been made to look like a traditional Somerset farmyard building, with addition of hay bales to sit on, and a band. No pigs or cows, though there’s still 10 hours to go, but there’s a manly menu of pork, beef or big mushrooms, and a healthy, long table covered in a couple of rows of cider boxes.

Cider Fest menu

The Menu

The queue’s not too bad, I approach the table, and pick out one that looks like it might be nice. The Hecks Brown Apple. ‘Good choice’, says the barman, and I think I’m off to a good start. I hand over four quid – not too bad for Hackney – and find a spot to sit, in front of a stack of hay and try to keep the bits from blowing in me pint. The Hecks is bright orange, almost hazy and slightly sparkling, in a paper cup. The smell is of fruity goodness, and it tastes sweet and spicy warm, with a smoky kick, and an almost menthol hit. In fact, looking at my string of adjectives, it’s a whole night out in a glass –  a pint, a curry, a fag and some chud. Ok, so maybe just a slow Tuesday night out, but it beats Coronation Street and a Pot Noodle.

Hecks Cider

Hecks Brown Apple

This place is kicking already, as the band sing ‘don’t stop, tomorrow is all we got’, I notice the rafters strung with skull and crossbones bunting, and wonder if the band are actually giving us a warning. If the scrumpy doesn’t get you, the canal might! Everyone seems to have a box of food, and the queue is growing. When I arrived, there were lots of middle aged people in sensible clothing, but now the kids have woken up, and people are arriving with ribbons and sequins on their faces, cavalry jackets and sports socks with brogues. The breeze is cool and picking up and blowing suspicious things into my pint, but the Hecks is nicely warming, it wouldn’t be out of place on a winter’s night. I feel there’s some liquorice in there too. As the party hots up, I decide to join the queue with a third of my cup left, as it may take some time to get served again. I’m looking forward to finding out what other lovelies are on offer.



Verdict 5/5

(another Crate Cider Fest post is to follow, soon)