Bulmers orchard pioneers cloudy Apple cider review ” A bit of unnatural acidity and sweetness and not unpleasant” (6.5/10)

The Good

” Lasting weak acidity”.
” Significant sweetness with no unpleasant bitter taste”.
” Almost medium bodied as advertised”.
” Not a dry cider consistent with branding”.

The Bad

” Nothing natural about the sweetness or flavour”.
” Expensive for what you get and clearly commercial”.
” Limited carbonation and lack of strong acidity or tang”.
” Lack of refreshing, natural aftertaste”.
” No uniqueness or natural impression”.

Packaging

Bulmers cider is brewed in a factory in Hereford, Herefordshire. It is typically accused of not being a real cider and just an alcoholic apple juice made synthetically, although it still contains alcohol and apples so I will count it.

Previously, as you may remember, I reviewed the standard “Bulmers’ original” which I gave a 7/10 and described as “Tangy Appleade”. This cider appears different since the bottle features a man named Kier. He is depicted lassoing a Granny Smith type apple, perhaps to get it’s sharpness for extra tang.

The year of establishment is announced as 1887 making it slightly younger as a brand than Westons’ which was established at the turn of the decade in 1880. It is still a brand which, by this time, you would expect to stand for something. It announces on the blurb that it is from the next generation of apple growers who are as good as the founders of the brand. This perhaps implies on the way to this bottle some brand identity was lost over the 130 years since founding but has supposedly been restored.

The story is described with a guy named Kier Rogers who has a farm called Colcombe house with orchards surrounding the river Wye. The blurb takes a quote from him including mutterings of the finest apples and an artisan cider maker with a passionate and refreshing cloudy cider.

Supposedly this has medium body … An unusual concept considering most ciders are either watery or syrupy with not much inbetween and this seems like the first bottle I have observed advertising this. The dryness level is not announced nor is the acidity, although refreshing tends to suggest a moist dryness level and the previous Bulmers original did posses bite so I was expecting some acidity.

As for sweetness, it states “caramel sweetness” suggesting a high level of sugar aswell as “fresh apple juice flavour” which wouldn’t be a surprise for this appleade-style brand, albeit it can be nice to taste natural apples in cider.

The bottle is 500ml at 5% ABV making it pretty standard size and strength for a canned cider, yet weaker than many bottles especially those with a vintage. With the bottle costing £1.80 from the Co-op for 2.5 units this made it more expensive for a night’s drinking than Savannah, Capel road, Old Rosie, Kingstone press and Merrydown. Yes the list goes on … £3.60 for 5 units isn’t a great alcohol level for practicality, value or staying within limits. Bit of a shame …

The huge production volume with 36,000 employees and company ownership by Heineken appears to hint of Amsterdam more than anywhere else, although this is so international it does not scream small orchard to me…

I was therefore a bit sceptical of a heavily globalised product possessing the same natural feel as other ” Artisan” producers but sincerely hoped these doubts were ill-founded.

A sister product from Sarah dubbed “Red apple” is also available in the new range although was not stocked in the Co-op when I visited. This may be something to test in future for comparison. As sources suggest this cider is produced using Katy apples mostly. I scored a Thatchers’ monovarietal product featuring just this apple variety a 7.5/10. This seemed a little watery and lacking tang however, so hopefully this won’t be the only variety used.

My expectations then for this rather dull looking Bulmers’ bottle were not too great. I expected sweetness and apple but as for dryness, carbonation level, acidity and body I was a little dubious and reluctant to expect much … Let’s see.

Smell

The smell on opening was followed by a pretty weak fizz to be perfectly honestly. That said, the scent, whilst a little feeble, was quite acidic suggesting some acidity in the flavour. It didn’t possess much of a natural smell and the smell didn’t remain. After a short while there was no further scent emerging.

Taste

The taste was pleasantly sweet and not especially carbonated. The drink certainly wasn’t dry but didn’t overwhelm with moistness. The acidity was a little weak and there was no real emphasis on any characteristic during the taste experience. In terms of the medium body, this was perhaps fairly accurate although it did heir on the side of too watery. The best thing about this cider was the slight tang from the acidity although their was no real fruitiness to back this up.

On leaving the drink in your mouth the acidity remained at the same level for a reasonable length of time but no other effects were noticeable. It was not especially mature, dry or warming. There was no carbonation, tang or perry impression. No real excitement or uniqueness to the experience was present. It didn’t cut off abruptly but just faded and died much like the smell and fizz on opening.

Summary

A not unpleasant cider with very subtle carbonation. No strong acidity, full body or natural fruity sweetness is present. There is sweetness and no bitterness and a lasting tang which is perhaps the main strength. No real dryness is apparent as expected.

Sources
http://imbibe.com/news-articles/ciders/bulmers-launch-orchard-pioneers-range-2017/

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