Aspall Suffolk Draught Cyder ( Red label) review “Great acidity and mouthfeel, but lacking in dryness, value, or anything unique” – (7.5/10).

Aspall Suffolk Draught Cyder ( Red label) review “Great acidity and mouthfeel, but lacking in dryness, value, or anything unique” – (7.5/10).

The Good

– Great history and bottle design.
– Subtle balance done well.
– Punchy tang with light carbonation.
– Some dryness.
– Ideal mouthfeel and not watery.
– Pleasant smell.

The Bad

– Pricey.
– Not sweet enough.
– Not a dry cider as promised.
– Not particularly unique or complex.
– Not as practical as the organic version.

Packaging

A few centuries after Clement Chevallier converted his mid-suffolk, Aspall hamlet estate ready for Cyder making in 1728, this current bottle of Aspall suffolk Draught Cyder emerged. It was produced as an ode to Aspalls’ lengthy tradition to celebrate 8th generation direct descendants of Clement himself.

The bottle details these individuals as Barry and Henry Chevallier, aswell as a precise date for celebration. This marks the milestone of 275 years since Cyder making began at the factory. Making this Red label Cyder product about 15 years old.

Just because it is intended to celebrate a great achievement though, doesn’t make it a good quality Cyder. Looking at the drink itself, it is clear that the tradition has been carried through in the bottles’ design though with a Champagne-style vessel, and a tapered summit.

In terms of practicality, I purchased it from Sainsbury’s in May 2018 for £1.90. This was only 10p different from the last traditional Aspalls’ bottle I bought and reviewed last year; The Organic version. That had a Green label, rather than the Red shown here. It was also stronger at 7% ABV.

Our Cyder here is just 5.5% and 500ml. This makes the product relatively expensive, since you’d need 2 bottles of 2.8 units each, to get you into or above the governments’ “do not regularly exceed” boundaries. This means a costly evening of £3.80. You’d also most probably be pretty tipsy at this stage too, since 5.6 units is a lot. 2.8 for just one though, doesn’t seem like much at all however, making the bottles quite impractical for consumption.
The Green label Organic bottle fared much better though, with just the one, providing a sufficient 3.5 units , due to it’s higher 7% ABV. This also scored an impressive overall rating of 8/10 meaning the pressure is on here.

So enough background, let’s get to the liquid itself …

Issues with the Organic Aspalls were a lack of sweetness or dryness. This Draught Cyder though, claims to be dry and racy. I Interpret racy as full of flavour, so would expect sweetness from that bottle descriptor. It also claims to be fruity so let’s hope it has a pleasant Appley taste like the Organic version. Based on previously sampled Aspalls, I’d also expect light carbonation and reasonable mouthfeel, without too much wateriness. Finally, the organic had a good tang so I am certainly hoping for some level of acidity here.

Let’s hope this drink is sweet, wholesome, natural, tangy, lightly-carbonated, dry and complex then.

Smell

The scent was fairly confident and rather acidic. Almost resembling that of a Merry-down, East Sussex, cider. Although it died away fairly quickly, it was memorable. It created a lasting positive impression on the nose. On subsequent inhalations, it remained, suggesting a strong and confident drink. It convinced me well to take that all important, first sip.

Taste

There was nothing articifial about the flavour, as it was smooth and pleasant. No harsh sugary notes were apparent, yet an Appley sweetness resonated through. There was instantly, a noticeable tang as the smell suggested, which woke up my taste buds quickly. This hinted of positive acidity levels, much like the Organic (Green label) Aspalls did. On a subsequent sip, after swilling around my thirsty mouth, limited bubbles emerged, suggesting light carbonation. Carbonation level was sufficient however, to favour the acidity, which was pleasant.

The sweetness level was a little too subtle for my taste though, in much the same way as it was in the Organic. No fuzzy feeling, as should be expected from a full dry, was apparent either. The Dryness, whilst noticeable, was rather insufficient in strength. Much like in the Organic. The freshness of the apple was unique, but didn’t provide much complexity of flavour.
An aftertaste or subtle extra layer would have helped this.
It was also rather pricey for what the drink was, and not as distinctive as I was expecting. Mouthfeel was perfect however, since it was just thick enough, yet not syrupy. Dryness and sweetness were noticeable, yet a little insufficient. This meant that light carbonation, balance, and acidy tang, were the main positives to the drink.

Summary

Naturally tangy and lightly sparkling. not especially dry, sweet, or distinctive for the money though. I’d rather buy an Organic Aspalls.

 

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Thatchers Gold cider review (8/10) – “Well balanced, full-flavoured, with an eye-catching can. More dryness and apples though please”.

Thatchers Gold cider review (8/10) – “Well balanced, full-flavoured, with an eye-catching can. More dryness and apples though please”.

The Good

” Competitive price, and eye-catching packaging”.
” Well balanced carbonation, acidity and sweetness”.
” Full-flavoured as advertised with some dryness”.
” Wholesome mouth-feel”.

The Bad

” Foul smell”.
“Dying aftertaste and limited dryness”.
” Natural fruitiness lacking slightly”.
” Limited complexity of flavour”.

Packaging

As a member of the Thatchers’ family, we may expect a medium-dry cider, rooted in the Somerset countryside. The blurb affirms this, adding the words “refreshing” and “full of flavour”. I would expect then, a good mouth-feel with limited wateriness. I would expect some level of dryness, and to taste some typical Somerset apples. Namely varieties such as Dabinett. Whilst no specific varieties are named, from the vibrant, colourful orchard scene on the can, it is clear to see some bright red apples which resemble Dabinett in colour at least.

Dryness can be accompanied by acidity, although no expectation can be drawn from the packaging alone. As for carbonation level, predictions are also tentative. I would suggest a drink with limited sweetness though, due to typical Somerset ciders which are dry, lacking this a little.

I bring this review from a pleasant sunny day in the east. An Ideal day for a little evening cider tipple. Admittedly, I have previously consumed this drink, but for review purposes, I am trying to keep an unbiased perspective throughout this review.

The can is a 440 ml Thatchers gold cider coming in at 4.8% ABV, providing 2.1 units per can. It began life as a product created in 1904, evolving into the drink it has become today. It’s brother Thatchers’ Haze is a bit weaker at just 4.5%, which is quite typical for Thatchers’ cans, since they often span between 4 and 5 percent ABV. While bottled ciders can touch close to 8%, namely old Rosie at 7.3%, and Warwickshires twisted tree at 7.4%, this is fairly strong for a “canned” drink.

As for practicality, this can size brings you up to £1.88 for 2 cans to reach the top end of the 3-4 do not regularly exceed limit. This is cheaper than twisted tree at £2 to reach this, but is pricier than Weston’s blend no 5. At just 50p per can which provided the limit for just £1. This was also very good quality so no pressure.

Let’s see if Thatchers gold lives up to it’s vibrant packaging and my expectation for a medium dry, fruity cider, lacking a little in sweetness.

Smell

The smell after very limited bubbles was rather unpleasant. It smells almost like something which has decayed or is past it’s sell by date. The smell is rather strong but doesn’t last long although the liquid continues to steadily release this from the fluids’ cusp for a while. This is accompanied by a light crackle.

Taste

After the crackling died down, I took a first sip. After the unpleasant aroma, this was a very welcome surprise. The fluid had a very pleasant level of non-sickly, sweetness. The mouthfeel was confident and the flavour had a nice element of light fruit to it. I say light, since you could still feel sweetness, so this fruit element didn’t overcome that. As for dryness advertised as medium, I would suggest this was a bit of an overstatement if anything. Whilst it did leave my mouth quickly and wasn’t especially moist, the puckering dryness sometimes apparent from a medium, wasn’t there. That said it was on it’s way, with some subtle dryness. As for carbonation, the level was almost perfect. The acidity level was noticeable slightly, but not overpowering, which again was highly pleasant. No aftertaste was noticeable, as is the case with most ciders on their way to dryness. This meant I was left in no way with a sickly feeling, yet a natural lingering impression of Apple would have been preferable.

Summary

Overall, a full flavoured, clever drink with balance. It balances carbonation with sweetness and acidity. The dryness is slightly lacking along with the aftertaste. A rather unpleasant smell though.

The Mist movie – “Great emotions, good effects, a little long and dull” – (8/10)

The Mist film review (8/10) ” Great emotions, good effects but a little long and dull at times”.

The Mist is a 2007 sci-fi horror film. In my opinion it is an average horror but better as a sci-fi as it is believable, yet not consistently scary.

Plot

The plot was a basic concept but well executed to emphasise emotions and feelings, whilst maintaining tension. It was fairly consistent throughout, but enough variation in the setting, was applied to maintain interest throughout most of the movie. Themes such as racism and religion were carefully employed and likened to society of today. The people in their actions seemed to effectively mimic reality, keeping things believable in a surreal scenario.

Music

Music was absent for most of the movie. The quiet allowed emotive words to have real impact though, and the acting to be carefully observed. It was used well for eerie scenes, and seemingly impossible events were backed up with religious music. Overall the music complemented the themes of the film well.

Setting and effects

The setting was an everyday mundane location, making the events unfolding unexpected. This acted as a good surprise hook to entice the viewer to keep with the film, following the introduction. As time went on the setting became more consistent yet the strength of characters kept things interesting enough to prevent boredom.

The horror was a little too limited at times however, bearing in mind the setting and long movie length. It perhaps needed a little more shock value in places. Particularly around the 1 hour mark, I found this to be the case.

The effects for a 2007 film seemed very well done and for some peculiar life forms this did indeed feel as realistic as possible. The setting was used well to play on emotions and relationships. It also gave a sense of tension. It didn’t merit the 2-hour movie duration however, which was why certain parts felt a little dull.

Emotions were not especially effective when people were busy, and seemed to die off at times. In times of tension however, or greater excitement, the emotions also became more believable. The movie ended in a slightly predictable fashion, although the strength of emotion made this really heart- felt which left me feeling that the film was definitely worth the watch.

Summary
I would recommend watching this film as a mixture of horror, sci-fi, and almost reality drama in a way. For the film however, the duration was too long and the enemies a little sparse. Certain parts needed greater excitement and more emotion. Overall this was exciting though, and capable of keeping an interested viewer throughout.

Survival of the Dead movie – (6.5/10) – Gory comedy not horror !

Survival of the dead 2009 movie review ” Slow-beginning gory comedy. Not what I expected”- (6.5/10)

Intro

Survival of the dead is, according to Wikipedia and Google, a 2009 American horror film. It actually is a post-apocalyptic film which has gore and comedy, in my opinion. If you want horror or fear factor, don’t watch the film and stop reading this review now …

Setting

The film setting was all natural, yet not especially scary considering the world had been almost take over by zombies. It didn’t allow cornering of zombies which was a little disappointing. For a low cost production however the outside environment did convey natural beauty and was believable for the plot.

Music

The basey notes were effective for sinister scenes and for building up tension more spritely sounds were applied well.

Plot

The plot was not too complex, but a little difficult to decipher at times due to a multitude of sides and relations. Rivalry helped the plot, and it was kept light-hearted and amusing throughout, despite the sinister outcomes. It had plenty of gore and was good as a comedy. The effects were non-existent, and it took a significant chunk of time to get into from the start. Fortunately by the end it had redeemed itself as a lighthearted gory zombie comedy. If indeed such a thing exists. As for being what I expected or scary though, the plot didn’t help the setting recover this.

Summary

Slow to build with limited effects but lighthearted at every opportunity which most sci-fi movies don’t have. The setting seemed good for low cost, and gore was well implemented. Not what I expected, but as a gory comedy, good. Watch if you have time. Nothing spectacular.

Doomsday movie review ” Thought provoking, yet relaxing , action-packed entertainment- emotions or humour can be found elsewhere though”. – (8.5/10)

Doomsday movie review ” Thought provoking, yet relaxing , action-packed entertainment- emotions or humour can be found elsewhere though”. – (8.5/10)

 

Intro
Apocalyptic zombie/infection movie from 2008. Released one year prior to zombieland. Zombieland is detailed in my previous blog review. Enjoy. This film however, has twists, turns, corruption and leaves no stone unturned. The ending keeps you guessing till it arrives, and the plot won’t leave the curious mind-numbed. The ebb and flow of the action, keeps you on your toes enough at all times to concentrate for the entire 1hr 50 duration.

Plot
There was great setting the scene with clear virus and quarantine themes. The plot was more complex than zombieland but pitched on a more serious level. Action was alternated with silent calm periods well. This allowed for thoughts to be discussed well. The emotions were never heart felt though resulting in a lack of attachment to the characters. This was perhaps due to silence, and emotionless expressions dominating. The plot intensity took a while to build, yet relative to the long movie length, this felt appropriate and well considered. It was a shame that humour also seemed lacking.

Characters

The acting was highly enthusiastic and very believable with all character thoughts. The mission was not too obvious and twists and turns unravelled in a tense and exciting way throughout the bulk of the movie. There were a range of personalities. Some loud others quiet and cowardly. The range of settings and environments the characters explored, allowed their abilities to be truly tested and demonstrated. This also permitted interest throughout a rather long movie duration.

Music
The music tension was built up well and appropriately creepy tunes were selected for certain scenes. It was only employed in action to contrast well with calmer scenes.

Summary
A well pitched apocalyptic movie with enough uncertainty to unravel in an interesting non predictable way. The film had sufficient action for it’s length and only suffered from a slight lack of humour and emotion. The build up could have been slightly quicker. Strong ending though.

Zombieland – “Sci-fi action with predictable turns” – (6/10)

Zombie land film review (6/10)

Plot

The Zombieland characters were very well played and had their own rather unique personality traits. The plot was clever in terms of maintaining viewer understanding and interest with a lot of action. It included comedy in places and a variety of scenes and personalities to enhance the viewer enjoyment.

 The issue with the plot is for one it was highly predictable, and for a second point it didn’t really have much variation once the story background was understood. This could have benefitted from a better ending and explanation of the cause of the situation shown from the start of the movie.

I would suggest a cliff hanger or better progression to a set point to enhance the film ending. The beginning sets the scene well enough for effective plot understanding however, but as the film goes on, the number of surprises begins to fall dramatically until the fizzle out ending which just isn’t punchy. Don’t let me put you off viewing though as I certainly don’t regret watching and I feel this film is worth 1 and a half hours of any Post-apocalyptic Sci-fi fans’ time.

Summary

I would recommend a watch due to the action-packed nature and modest film length to keep the film as an interesting watch as intended. It isn’t hard to predict the ending however, and their aren’t many twists once the backstory is understood.

Waddle Goose Cyder “Refreshingly free from Backstory. Natural and fruity with tang though- (7.5/10).

Waddle Goose cyder ” Refreshingly free from a backstory. Natural and fruity, with a noticeable tang though” -(7.5/10).

Packaging

With a dark bottle, and bright striking white with orange pattern, you could easily be fooled by the ciders exuberant exterior. It shouts more of the Churchwards’ cider which was pretending to be something it wasn’t, than the Sxollie which attempts to be hip. This isn’t typically a negative, as packaging appropriate to it’s target audience is what every drink should aim for. Whether this is an appropriate to the drink or not.

In this case though, it doesn’t really reassure you. It’s an Aspalls cider. One of the many drinks descended from the 1728 est. factory near Debenham. A rural suffolk town. This historically has upheld various traditions. One would be to illustrate how the cider fits into it’s history, or stick to one colour per cider product showing discrete clarity. It could even be, to possess a bottle shape resembling that of a champagne-like form, most other aspalls bottles have done this since 1930. This was part of their history to create a “Special drink” like champagne itself. If you ask me it is also one of the main USP’s of Aspalls.

At first glance then, it seems rather disappointing. The bottle is shaped like that of Evian, or another dull tasting, or indistinctive product.

At £1.60 for the bottle from Waitrose, and 4.6% ABV, this means you’d have to fork out £3.20 to be just over the recommended “do not regularly exceed” limit of 3-4 units per adult man daily. This would put you at 4.6 units …

Not the cheapest then either … You do get 500ml though, which isn’t a bad capacity.

It mentions how it takes a fresh approach to Apple selection. Not using Worcester spartan or Cox, yet favouring others such as Gala and Zari. With Royal Gala being a sweet eating apple, I wondered if the cider would be nice and sweet.
Mouth-wateringly crisp and flavoursome were 2 of the traits said to be apparent on the blurb. There is nothing else though, except the announcement of ” refreshment deserves a refresh”.

Why not improve and develop rather than overhaul to refresh with a new product though. The history, bottle shape and light flavour is what made aspalls unique in my mind. This didn’t mention any of that. The motto then seems to be forget and move on , rather than refresh, which I didn’t yet, having not tasted the drink, agree with.

We shall see …

 

Smell

The smell was natural and not synthetic. Not especially potent however, and quite ephemeral. I would suggest that it is a product which hasn’t the addition of unnecessary chemicals though. It quickly fades away, and not much of a fizzy head emerges, suggesting light carbonation. Not an unpleasant smell though, which entices you in to the first sip.

Taste

On first sip, the limited carbonation is clear. The fruitiness is also present in the flavour. It is a pleasant, slightly sharp, appley flavour which goes quickly, and leaves your mouth feeling rough. There is no bitter aftertaste and no real aftertaste at all. It does leave a strong crater of dryness however. The flavour doesn’t seem especially complex, and isn’t overly warming. It is pleasant though, almost resembling a refreshing green eating apple.

This is by far the best thing about the drink…

The pleasant flavour, complemented by refreshing tang from the apples perfect level of acidity. Except for dryness though, there isn’t much to get excited about. The complexity and backstory of some ciders make them stand out. I want a story about nature, or an orchard, and then could possibly get more excited about this.

The element of sweetness is disguised by the natural Appley flavour, which does develop well through drinking. I feel the lack of noticeable sweetness is not much of an issue therefore. The flavour doesn’t have an aftertaste and dies fairly quickly which is a shame though. A little more carbonation may have helped this.

 

Summary

A pleasant dry cider which isn’t described in any way on the packaging. The drink is subtle and pleasant yet nothing too spectacular. Light carbonation, yet fading away quickly along with the enjoyment.

Creep movie ” Creepy, cunning, but consistent”. (7/10)

Creep review ” Creepy, Cunning yet fairly constant” (7/10)

The movie starts in a comforting setting, confusing you as to what is to come. Setting s are ideal throughout, to provide a real heir of tension.
The music is catchy and rhythmic with a creepy undertone. The characters are well played and the movie benefits from a relatable location, with normality as a baseline.
It cleverly builds tension with relationships emphasised at times, yet doesn’t let you know enough about the main characters in my opinion.

The film leaves space for a sequel with certain unanswered questions. The tension building whilst good, would benefit from additional special effects.
In my mind, after the tension is cut, it is never truly reestablished. The scares become repetitive and predictable without any variation except precise location. Whilst you’re encouraged to continue watching out of curiosity, this isn’t out of fear.

Darkness needs to adopt more forms to provide a more satisfying film.
The plot is good though as it is well considered. It makes logical sense and is not overextended, with a fairly minimal film duration.

With limited characters, and some considerable pauses between dramatic events, the film reaches a level and stays there. It would be great to see something more imaginative than the expected. That said worth a watch and a good movie with some level of uniqueness.

The Descent – Good storyline, tense at times, with okay acting (8/10)

The Descent 2005 review ” Good storyline, tense at times with okay acting”. (8/10)

Quite a pathetic beginning, with a lot of unnecessary details. The main concept was set out clearly though which helped the sense of adventure. It was a long while before the horror seemed to truly build, yet tension was met early on cleverly at a lower level.
The sort of film which only gets better as time goes on.

The lack of music and diverse range of gore, horror and despair worked well to keep the viewer entertained throughout the adventure. Relationships played a key part of the outcome and the film did well in bringing out personalities, and how they differed in traumatic moments.

The film gives you a sense of context aswell throughout, keeping you aware of the significance of what is going on. The title is good and reflects enough to describe the themes of the movie, without spoiling the plot.

I would have liked a little more music in tense moments and some modern effects in places as well. Cliff hangers were given which provided the opportunity for a sequel. I wouldn’t rule out watching it based on this film.

While in the opening the acting was a little overplayed, the expressions did get better throughout. The film could have given more tension, and became scarier with better acting.

Overall the movie storyline was good, the acting wasn’t great, but the tension was built well, with clever use of the camera and setting. I would recommend certainly for those into adventure horror as it is one of the better ones I’ve seen. For those looking for a truly epic film though, you may wish to look elsewhere.

Room 33 movie ” Dull title, slowly built tension to a good climax” -(7.5/10).

Room 33 film review – (7.5/10) “Slowly building to good tension using expressions and the camera”.

Room 33 has an excellent upbeat opening with nature and sets the scene for a real adventure. You might ask what could possibly wrong and you end up thinking, what couldn’t. As turmoil begins, the film rumbles on and doesn’t really have many tension building effects. It is the acting that makes it well worth a watch in the end.

The characters are played very well and actors formulate their personalities individually , to help you get to know the characters. This is vital in any horror so that you feel a sense of loss without them.
The plot has enough mystery to keep you engaged. It isn’t just a case of a psycho on the loose. Far from it in fact. The tale has history and needs the full film duration to truly understand what is going on.

The film consistently does camera angle well. The camera homes in on precisely where facial expressions or events are happening. The setting is nice and confined, keeping tension reasonable throughout. Not your typical horror film and a nice surprise. Definitely an adventure horror if such a thing exists.

I have to say it is worth a watch and you won’t be disappointed. It does enough to build tension, and has a good storyline. For a good horror film I don’t think anything else is necessary. A good film with a dull title.