Tag Archives: Guinness

And Another Review of Cider

I treat my ciders like others treat beers, getting into microbreweries and flavors and styles of beer. It’s partly because I cannot drink beer, being allergic to the hops, that I got into cider. Cider is my summer alternative to wine and having a cold cider is just more refreshing at times.

But ciders don’t have as many varieties nor are cideries as multitudinous as microbreweries. So it’s often hard to find a new cider to try. As well, some coolers and other alcoholic beverages masquerade as a cider because apples are the base. In some ways, these are still ciders but in my opinion there is very little that really makes them a cider. True ciders are made with cider apples. Cysers are made with honey and there are a host of factors that make them flat or effervescent, clear or thick, sweet or dry.

Crispin Hard Apple Cider, cider, hard cider, alcohol, alcoholic bevarages, drinks

Crispin Hard Apple Cider

So, it was with interest I saw three bottles of Crispin Hard Apple Cider, which I had never seen. (In Canada when we say “cider” people presume it’s alcoholic; in the US we have to say “hard cider” or people think it’s nonalcoholic.) One was labelled as being made with honey, really a cyser called Honey Crisp, and since I don’t really like honey or mead, I decided against that one. The second was called The Saint and was made with Trappist yeast (as in Belgian Trappist monks famous for their beers) and maple syrup. I thought that might be too sweet as well so I decided on the one that looked all dark, dour and gothic, called Lansdowne, made with Irish stout yeast and molasses.

What is nice about the Crispin brand is that they use organic apples and other ingredients, make their ciders gluten and preservative free and I don’t think there are any sulfites as well. These three ciders are part of the Crispin artisanal reserve and they make a “blue” regular cider line as well. There is a fourth artisanal cider called Cho-Tokkyu made with sake yeast but I didn’t see it in the store. Crispin uses a blend of apples, with their blue line being made with the West Coast type apples, but the artisanal ciders are unfiltered with no grape or malt flavoring added, which is used in a lot of the overly sweet supposed ciders (BC has Growers and Okanagan brands).

Crispin should be given kudos just for trying the unusual, with these cider mash-ups. They also have limited releases and if I could I would definitely be buying those to try. Their operations are in California and Minneapolis. From the write-up on their site these guys are truly a cidery and very much into experimenting with apples.

The Lansdowne experiment was…interesting. Now the caveat is that I don’t drink beer and have never had a Guinness or a stout. The hops allergy and overall pungency of beer has kept me away. I actually didn’t think the stout yeast would be so…stouty. After all, beer battered fish or other foods cooked in beer rarely taste that beery to me. But this drink was heavy. I now know what Guinness drinkers mean about chewy drinks. Lansdowne is unfiltered and cloudy, dark like a watered down stout, and not effervescent at all. I immediately didn’t like it; it shocked my taste buds. However, I did some more sipping and shared it with someone who is a beer drinker. After a few sips he said it was growing on him and quite liked it. The drink was strong in all senses, tasting both of the yeast and the molasses, a lot.

However, while I didn’t like it, I did drink it all and it was okay to my taste buds. It was not sweet at all. The 500 ml (22 fluid ounces) of Lansdowne has 6.9% alcohol. I would think you wouldn’t want it with a particularly heavy meal and for me one was enough. The Crispin cidery has intrigued me and I just might try those other artisanal ciders to see how they come out. I’m more curious about their limited releases if I can find any in Canada.

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Things Irish

First posted in Oct. 9, 2007
Blarney–we heard many a tall tale in Ireland and the gift of the gab runs through many, it seems. Now that we’re nearly on the home-front we’ve checked the internet and if Liam’s fish whacking is a record it’s only in Killybegs or Donegal as there is no listing. But somehow we’re not surprised by this in the least.

Almost all the toilet bowls in Ireland are quite roundish, kinda cute…as toilet bowls go. The handles are on the right instead of the left in Canadian/US toilets. Why one side or the other, who knows?

Latches on almost every bathroom door are slide latches. It seems to be the latch style of choice. Door knobs on exterior doors are often in the middle of the door.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a face cloth at any B&B or guesthouse. I hate water in my face so I always use one. Luckily I brought my own.

About 80% of the places we stayed didn’t have hairdryers.

Everything from toothbrushes (equiv. of $8-13) to hair mousse (equiv. of $10) is really expensive.

I’ve been called love or lass but no other form, besides “girls.” So my friends who think chicken (never heard this one even the first time around Eng. and Scotland many years ago) must be remembering a local idiom from somewhere.

I was told that no matter where you are there pretty much would be the friendly Irish and you wouldn’t be sitting alone for long or they would start buying you drinks. This friendliness was apparent in the towns but by no means universal. The resort areas and modern cities were as friendly…or as unfriendly as every big, trendy place. Kilkenny would have been the same except for the lads from the North.

Food was generally of high quality and in large quantities. I had a traditional cod (I think) and cabbage dish in a creamy sauce. The cabbage is more the savoy cabbage and it wasn’t bad. In the pubs the drinks all have their name brand glasses so you’ll get Bulmer’s cider in a Bulmer glass, Carlsberg, or Guinness in their glasses with the name on them. Some of the pubs in the west and the south still have the small coal fireplaces, and they are indeed stoked with coal. Oh and at least in Donegal, pub night is a Monday, perhaps to celebrate getting through the first day of work.

Every town or village goes back centuries so the streets are narrow and winding, the buildings tall and joined together as row houses. As you get farther out from the town center you encounter newer row houses, or individual dwellings. These seem to be quite large and have at least four bedrooms. That’s why there are so many B&B’s in Ireland.

Traffic circles and few lights. They’re insane and you’ll get honked at for doing it wrong but then find in the next town that it’s different. Speed limits are for decoration. If you see a sign for 60 km, people will easily be going 120. The small roads are usually 60-80 km and the highways 100-120 km. Often you’re getting up to 80 then having to drop down to 30 two blocks later for a traffic circle (roundabout) and this goes on.

We only saw one farmer with a horse and buggy but saw some country fellows in the typical cap, jacket, baggy pants with shiny bottom, and wellies.

Ireland is green and after a few millennia of deforestation, there are border trees and groves, a few protected forests. It was a stunning thing to see flying over the country. However, we did see areas of reforestation. When flying I couldn’t figure out why the trees looked as if they were combed. It was because they had been planted at some point.

Irish roads are almost all bordered by hedgerows or stone fences. There may also be trees that have been growing there for a long while that form tunnels as the branches reach above and leave space enough for car and lorries to go through. It definitely gave a different feel to the countryside. The hedgerows and stone walls are everywhere. We were told by one B&B owner that they recycle everything, so if an old wall is pulled down, those stones are used again to build something new. Makes sense when you consider that a country with 5,000 years of habitation needs to re-use what is there.

It was also interesting seeing the Irish looking face. I never realized how Irish my friend Sam looked. His dad was Irish, and Sam would blend right in in Ireland. Many men have triangular faces with wide brows that may be lined or more wizened then their years. There is the white skin and rosy cheeks of an Irish complexion too. It made me realize where some of my friends’ ancestry began.

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