Feb 202103Wed

It’s been a great evening. Our first outing to the range since the second lockdown was lifted on Monday, four great rounds shot, and two pints of MPA – one while bottling my first extract brew, another over excellent chicken & chorizo Jambalaya dinner. What better way to finish than with a comparison between two dry-hopped ciders currently hiding in the fridge?

Mangrove Jack’s Dry-hopped Cider

Great carbonation right off the bat, absolutely perfect for this type of drink. Looking back over my notes I see that each 50 ml bottle had two Easybrew carbonation drops, but so have plenty of my beers and none of them has this amount of fizz. Must be a cider ‘ting.

Taste is perfect at first hit, the hops adding a definite flavour of their own which is unlike anything else you can put in cider. Just wonderful. Sweetness is also great at the start, then you begin to wonder halfway through what it would be like with the sugar turned down by 50%. Not that it’s cloying or overly syrupy, you just get the impression that it would work equally well as a semi-dry or a dry cider. Repeating this at different levels of sweetening shouldn’t be too hard, as I recall there was a small sachet of sweetener to be added before bottling, with instructions to add half for a semi-dry cider and add all for a sweet cider. I added all because it was a ridiculously small sachet for 23 litres of brew, but next time I’m going to try just half.

Orchard Orgy Type 22a

My second hoppy dose of apples this evening, and this one’s a deeper shade of greeny-amber (damn this colour blindness!) with a totally different feel and taste.

First off it’s the carbonation, and there’s a whole lot less of it. Looking back over my notes just now (and in the bin, to get the bottle’s number) I see that I bottled 37 x 500 ml in total with various amounts of sugar and carbonation, but my bottle is #38 and it’s a 275 ml Heineken, one of the runts from the bottom of the bucket. (the other recent trial was probably #39) With no record of how much sugar and carbonation I added to this one it makes the comparison rather pointless … erm … yes. But to be repeated! *

Worth noting however that the cider in our own Type 22a tastes much more like real cider, and I’m not just saying that because I helped press it 131 days ago. There’s a scrummy, scrumpy complexity that you just don’t find in the extract concentrate, and I can’t wait to sample & compare some full-size bottles of this stuff over the coming weeks.

Oh, and the hops? Different too, and not as prevalent here as in the MJ version. Each had 50g of Citra added before bottling (MJ 2 days, 22a 3 days) and I’m inclined to put a difference in taste down to the type of cider that we started with rather than the extra day that was afforded to the Citra in 22a. It’s almost certainly something to do with our apples, most of which were of the sweet variety as opposed to dedicated cider apples.

… and the winner is:

Undecided. Let’s revisit once we know we’re comparing apples with apples, at which point I’ll get some photos and a second opinion.

* Scratch that – just read my notes properly and apparently the Heinekens had 2 carbonation drops and 10 ml sweetener. Well, they were flat, and tasted as though no sugar was added. Neither of those facts bodes well, though I suppose there’s the outside chance that the caps didn’t go on 100% right on the Heineken bottles, which have small shoulders and felt iffy during capping. As always, fingers crossed.