Cornish Orchard’s Trilogy

It’s been another hot day, I’m sweating like a… well, I’ll let you choose. That box of Cornish Orchards, I got for my birthday, will be a welcome guest.

Cornish Orchards Box

Cornish Orchards boxed set. Game of Thrones got nowt on this!

I stick them in the fridge. However, when it comes time to try the first, it’s still a bit warm. That’s not such a problem for cider, as it doesn’t taste too bad when warm, unlike lager – uuurgh! No wonder they try to make it extra cold, so it freezes your tastebuds.

Now is a good chance to try out those ice rocks, that I was also given for my birthday. These Sagaform rocks seem a bright idea to chill your drink, without the ice watering it down. Just freeze the rocks and shove them in. Why didn’t I think of that?

Episode I: Vintage
Cornish Orchards VintageI put half the rock cubes in a half-filled pint, but after a while it’s still not that cool. I put the rest of the cubes and the cider in, but it’s still not as cold as ice. Probably a bit colder than without, and getting colder, but maybe all the cold is at the bottom of the glass. Like in the sea, when you dive down a bit on a hot day and suddenly get really cold, and have a weird rush. This only works in hot countries, don’t try it in the North Sea. I think these rocks just work for drinks ‘on the rocks’. I’ll get them out for my gin and lemon – they’re more of a breakfast-time utensil.

Anyway, on with the sensing.

Just a moment – while I’m looking up a link to their website, I want to make a point. Normally alcohol websites ask you to put in your birthday, as this would obviously fool any under 18 year old, into being refused entry to the website, repeatedly, as they won’t realise that if they add a few years to their entry, they’ll get in. But Cornish Orchards, only ask me to tick a fucking button to say I’m over 18. What is the point of this, but to waste mine and several million other under-18s’ time? 

Vintage is an almost clear cider, lightly sparkling, but that might be the reaction of the rock cubes! There’s a bit of leather and washing up liquid in there, and a tart taste, like a fine, lime marmalade. This 7.2% cider from Duloe, Liskeard, Cornwall, apparently goes well with a platter of cheese. Well, it will just have to make do with a tin of Moomin biscuits from Finnish duty free. Very acidic, but a pleasant drink.

Episode II: Farmhouse.

Cornish Orchards FarmhouseThis 5% cider smells more cold and musty, like a farmhouse. It has more of a burn at the back of the mouth, a more oaked cider. It tastes stronger than the last one, though it apparently isn’t. Very drinkable, though. I read that this one goes well with a Cornish pastie, or a ploughman’s platter. Well, as long as that ploughman’s platter only includes Moomin biscuits, I’m well on track.

It’s a broader, less sharp taste, than the vintage. A pretty good for one. A bit of old cardboard in there. It’s funny what you can smell when you put your mind to it. Cornish Orchards say they use 100% pressed apple juice. It makes you wonder why people drink the keg ciders, but then you sometimes risk getting off your nut on the real stuff.

Episode III: Heritage
Cornish Orchards HeritageThe final espisode of the trilogy uses windfall apples, like Cornish Kingston and Tommy Knight. Though they sound like low-budget UK porn stars, they are respectable varieties of cider apple. 
This one is darker, and had the caramel taste of the traditional medium sweet, but with a certain dryness. Heritage has a rich taste. This is what I want my own cider to taste like. My own cider is a work in progress, and probably won’t taste anywhere as good as this.

Vintage: 3.5/5
Heritage: 4/5
Farmhouse: 4.5/5

Jolly Judge Menu

Morningcider at The Jolly Judge

The Edinburgh Festival is in full swing. My friends have taken me to see a bit of everything at the Fringe, so far, but on my final night, I’m let loose in my own.


The Meadows at Twilight

The sun is setting over The Meadows, and an African drum band is practising next to some acrobats and a woman in a bowler hat, who is rolling colourful balls up her arms. Like circus folk do. There’s also the odd alcoholic staggering round, with a can of Tennents and a sleeping bag.

I’ve an hour to kill before the gig at George Heriot’s School (BBC venue). Thankfully, a couple of cider fans have created a handy cider venue map for just such an occasion. I check out the Edinburgh Cider View map and head for the Jolly Judge. There’s not much on the website of this pub, but I head up the Royal Mile, and down one of the little passageways, and descend the steps, to a low-ceilinged, cosy pub. It’s not that big, but there’s enough room this time.


Up The Back Passage For The Jolly Judge

I’d attempted this pub last year, but on a hot day, and being quite busy, thought better of it. The Cider View tells me that there should be some real ciders on, here. I see the boxes at the end of the bar, they have Morningcider! I’ve read about this one. It is also coincidence that I’m staying in Morningside, the well-to-do suburb of Edinburgh, and namesake of this cider. It’s a must-see, then.

I ask for the Morningcider, but I’m saddened to hear that it may be off. The barman seems dubious about its quality and allows me a taste, telling me he’s “been told it’s fine”. It does look horrendous, but, “It tastes ok”, I say, after a sip of deep brown, opaque liquid, so I order a pint. It didn’t look like this in the photos. I take the glass of what looks like sewage water, over to a table, wondering if I will be producing something similar, myself, in the morning. Well, there’s only one way to find out!


Morningcider On A Bad Day

It has a ripe smell, like a septic tank in a forest. But I’m determined to finish it. There’s something delicate under the dark mask and at least it will make a good story. You wouldn’t get this with a Strongbow, this looks set to be a proper festival experience, even if it may be my last. At least I’ll die happy. And probably televised, live on the BBC.

After the initial farmyard taste, it’s quite a pleasant cider, a little bit of dry, just enough sweet and the slightest of stings to the aftertaste- perfectly blended, I’d say – just the wrong side of dysentery brown. It reminds me of a crab apple cider I once tried. Proper home made stuff, in fact, Morningcider is picked from fallen apples of gardens.  I can taste the Auld Reekie, however, it does make a change from the sweeter, dessert apple-style ciders that normally seem to come out of Scotland. Made with traditional, ‘heritage’ Scottish cider apples, I’m apparently supporting the ciderisation of Scotland. I reckon this unfortunate batch must have been oxidised, or something scientific like that. Where’s Brian Cox when you need him?

There’s a good mix of people in here, and colourfully painted ceilings. It’s filling up now, I’m sitting between some Americans and some Germans. Edinburgh, at festival time, brings the world together. My glass should be enough to start a conversation, but no one seems to notice that I’m drinking a pint of ditchwater. Probably too polite to give a second look, or maybe it just looks like a watered-down stout. Well, £3.50 isn’t bad for a 5% Scottish cider from John Hancox. Cheers, Mr Hancox.

I’m wondering where the toilets are, my dad always said cider was “gut-rot”. Though he also says it’s a good thirst quencher. It depends if I’m drinking it, or he is. An exhausted looking woman comes down the stairs. I presume the toilets are up that way, I also wonder if she’d just had a Morningcider, too.

Twenty minutes to go. Best head up the stairs and bag a space at this gig. A strange warm feeling is spreading across my midriff….


……if I close my eyes

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