Sunday 13 March 2011

Westons Old Rosie Cider

Well, I had to get round to this one sooner or later, didn't I. In searching for great cider, and thinking of my imaginary friend on a discovery of cider, its almost impossible to think that they (or I) wouldn't try this one.

Old Rosie was a tractor used at Westons and clearly was important (or peculiar) enough to warrent a cider being named after it. It is sold both on draught and in bottles. As I don't get out much, I am trying the bottle! It will be interesting to see how it scores (I guess it is on mass cider like this that I am declared a cider snob or cider slob...)

The first thing to note about Old Rosie is that it is a 'cloudy scrumpy'. There is a layer of dead yeast at the bottom of the bottle which gives it a light haze. Don't mistake this for in-bottle conditioning though - the cider itself is filtered and pasteurised and the yeast is added at that time. Anyway, if you want it cloudy, shake the bottle - if you want it clear pour it gently off the yeast... or buy a cider that isn't cloudy:-)

Old Rosie is a lightly carbonated, fruity cider that smells of fruit and has a pretty distinct acidic bite to it. This acid lasts through to the aftertaste. The tannin however, dies with the taste - leaving the acid on its own. Its not bad - just different. At 7.3%, its strong cider too - which comes through in the drink, although its a refreshing cider. I did feel that the 'cloudy' bit was a bit redundant - it doesn't actually add anything other than making it hazy. Nevertheless, generally its only the artisan full jucie cider producers who make cider that isn't bright and clear as a bell.

Some of Westons practices have been criticised a lot by many purists. Full juice, unpasteurised, unfiltered cider it is not. Magners it is not either. Westons are actually fairly open about their practices - they are a major business which sells some 4 million gallons a year.

This one isn't going to make my list of the best - its not even going to get an apple, but I am quite sure that most cider fans have tried it at least once and are not too disappointed when offered this as an alternative to a more 'less juice' brand.


  1. Now this cider I know very well, because it was one of the few that were available in Poland. It's very nice, but this was a huge suprise for me, that it had very little taninns.
    Anyway - two things I want to aak you. Firstly - how do you know, that the dead yeast is added post fermentation and after the filtration? Because It looks to me also like that. It's too safe to bee all natural, and the "best before" date shows clearly that it was pasteurized. But the company that brings cider to Poland actually asked Westons about that, and they said that it would be stupid of them to add the dead yeast after filtering the cider. Can we trust them? I don't think so...
    Second question is, have you tried the other "Scrumpy Cloudy Cider" made by Westons, that is sold in 2 litre jugs? It's a bit different than "Old Rosie", a little bit more alcoholic (7,5% abv) and even a bit more sharper. Funny thing, because the Westons website doesn't say a thing about this cider! Maybe they lost track of the range of their products?

    Sorry for a such long comment:)


  2. Well, to answer the first question there are a number of factors. Firstly, I was informed by a Westons employee that this is how it works. I know, that is not conclusive proof.

    Secondly, take a trip to Westons. Actually its very interesting and enjoyable. You will see that they have either 5 or 7 very large sheet filters through which everything passes.

    The bottom line is whether they filter, pasteurise and add dead yeast back in; or if they don't filter, pasteurise and leave the yeast in doesn't really matter. The yeast is dead and cooked. It doesn't add anything to the drink.

    I don't think I have tried their cloudy scrumpy cider... though I am going back in that direction in a few months so will look out for it.


    1. I am culturing the yeast from a bottle of Old Rosie as we speak. From the rapid fermentation that has occurred in a contained environment, the alcohol content of the cider by product of the growth phase, and the thick layer of yeast sediment after only a few days, I can attest that the yeast in the bottles is still alive.

      Now, how I got onto doing this in the first place... A forum recommended using a bottle of Old Rosie to get an interesting fermentation culture containing yeast and also lactic acid bacteria (which is expensive to buy on its own for propagating malo-lactic fermentation in home cider making).

      If they were to add yeast in at the end like Hoegaarden, home cider makers using this approach would only be getting malo-lactic fermentation if they were all a bit unsanitary and at the same time quite lucky. Either that, or only a few of them are (writers) and their equipment is infected.

      I'm going to email Westons, as I'd like to get to the bottom of this before I use lots of cloudy apple juice on this culture, as without the lactic acid bacteria I wouldn't want to be adding malic acid to the juice.

    2. Hmmm. As a juice sweetened cider, which is filtered and pasteurised it makes no sense to me that they would add live yeast to it. However, with a bit of air and encouragement I guess it *could* work... although given the conditions that it is used in the bottle, I find it odd.

      How quickly did it start refermenting, how long was the juice left prior to adding the yeast?

  3. Thanks very much for the answer! It's a log trip from Scotland to Herefordshire but I will visit Westons some day, I's sure of it.

  4. Just to add. I know that people are using bottles of "Old Rosie" and cartons of apple juice from supermarkets to make home made cider. Malic acid, yeast nutrient and tannin from home brew sites are added. The home brew benefits from the Malo-lactic fermentation from the bottle of "Old Rosie".

    I'm finding it hard to believe that it's all totally dead inside those bottles.

  5. Interesting point - though I am not sure that Westons pasteurise as opposed to sterile filter (i.e. such fine filtering that all the yeast is removed in a clean room environment).

    So in Old Rose's case, there is no live yeast at all. In fact, the 'cloudy' bit is dead yeast that is reintroduced!

    Any cider with sugar (juice) nutrient that is open to the air will start to referment - whether it is the right kind of yeast in the air is another question.

  6. If you try Old Rosie as it should be, still the sharpness caused by carbonating it is lost and it becomes a much more rounded flavour.
    It's not my favourite, I prefer their other cloudy scrumpy, that's a much fuller flavour

  7. This cider got me feeling drunk in just two bottles is it some sort of dodgy drink or is it bad for you to drink? I don't understand all your in depth stuff your talking about!

  8. Lee - No, it may be a lot of things (or, rather, not what you might expect it to be) but I don't think it is dodgy (any alcoholic drink is dodgy if you drink too much of it!!)

    Glad you are at least reading, even if you don't get some of it. I guess the key message to get is to make sure you try different ciders and find out what you like!