Tuesday 16 August 2011
West Croft Janets Jungle Juice (GBBF)
You may have noticed that there is an absense of alcoholic strength on these Great British Beer Festival reviews. Not entirely sure why, but this information wasn't either published or put on the polipin labels. I guess I could have asked, but then I suspect its a device to stop people from just ordering the strongest ciders. A good idea (if that is the reason) although it does go to show how daft some people are. Whether you go for a 6.5% or a 7.5% cider, its pretty much going to have the same effect... and if that is the only reason someone drinks a particular cider then they have a lot to learn about cider!
In part, that is why I started blogging publically instead of just keeping it to myself. If just one person can see these ramblings and explore different ciders then the job is done. If someone can move from an industrial alcopop type of cider (cider in its very loosest sense) to something more sophisticated and honest, then job is an absolute goodun.
OK. Moving on. This next cider was my 5th cider. Yes, there had to be a point at which reviewing cider got too tricky, but as the GBBF sold cider by the 3rd as well as the more traditional half or pint, it lent itself to trying a lot of ciders. In fact, I think I reviewed 6 before I decided to stop and just... well.. enjoyed a few more:-)
West Croft's 'Janets Jungle Juice' is a festival favourite. I don't come across it that often, but it was certainly at the Winter Festival and a few others that I have been to. I must admit, I have only tried it once before now but seem to recall enjoying it. Not only is it popular, its award winning too - being voted CAMRA's 2007 champion cider. A Somerset Cider Maker who has done big things.
Well, it smells full of fruit. Doh. That sounds very dumb, but it isn't true of all ciders - not even full juice ciders. Its nicely golden with a little haze to it which suggests no filtering or mucking around. Don't you just love full jucie, simple cider?!?!
Now, to the taste. Its not exactly straightforward. Not that there is anything particularly wrong with it technically - the fruitiness in the smell is followed through with a rich taste, a strong tannic body and a hefty bit of alcohol to it. Its pretty bloomin sweet for a dry/medium dry cider. There is little acid to offset this, so it could just be that its all made bare with the tannin. However, it does feel as though the sweetness is there to cover some of the dryness.
Two of us were trying Jungle Juice and my friends first reaction was 'vinegary'. He could be pardoned for this as, although I don't agree with it being vinegary, there is an odd taste to it. Before I could describe it, I simply wrote down 'almost chemically??'. On discussion, we developed that (with the aid of a third person) to 'petroleumish' (don't you just liove the technical descriptions... I bet there are some reviewers who would be plain jealous at our abuse of the English language!!). On reflection, I wonder if it wasn't kept in a flavoured cask - rum or whisky which imparted the odd flavour. It did detract from the enjoyment for me though.
For those considering Janet's Jungle Juice - go for it. It is a good cider - I just think my one was one of those batches that others just won't get (depending on what Mr West Croft stores the rest of his cider in...)
It scored 73/100. It should have got a silver... but it got a bronze.