Saturday 18 August 2012
Solway Cider Northern Monkey (GBBF)
Its that time of year again, ladies and gentlemen. So, in case you couldn't make it I have made my annual journey to London to take in CAMRA's Great British Beer Festival.
This festival has resisted the urge to vacate the capital, even at a time when the Olympics seems to have taken over. The GBBF is one of those festivals not to miss on the calendar of festivals. For those who are more northerly and cannot be doing with a festival that is stubbornly London, I would recommend the Nottingham Festival in October as a good alternative... or the Winter Ales Festival in Manchester (although a lot of really good ciders are not available in February).
So, having gone through the online list and whittled a few down to make sure I don't wake up in a hospital as another statistic to alcohol abuse, here I go...
OK, first up we have a cider from waaaaay outside the traditional regions of South West/South East. Looking back at all my notes, I have to admit I had a leaning towards producers from out of area at this years GBBF. I should also add that this made the results a little more variable than aiming for the very best (most of which I have tried anyway).
I am a little unclear whether Solway cider hails from Cumbria or Somerset. The story seems to be that they make cider in Cumbria and also juice is also pressed and fermented in Somerset. The only information I can get is from around 2009 though, so things may well be set up differently now.
As you can see from the image, Northern Monkey is cloudy and golden. Its pitched as a medium dry on the CAMRA listings although you cannot guess this from the aroma, which is rough and ready (and a little bit yeasty).
Its good though. There are some real sharps going on but at the same time some heavy tannin counters this well. There are definitely cider varieties in this - judging by the profile it could be something like Tremletts Bitter as its a heavy hitter. At the same time, there is cooking fruit in here too. Perhaps I should stick my head on the block and suggest Bramley, though its not sour particularly. The acid wins through in the end and this is the most drying part of the cider.
This is an interesting cider and an enjoyable start to GBBF. The aftertaste is long and tannic and pleasant - all in all a well presented and nicely put together cider with a good character. A score of 73/100 and the first GBBF bronze is away.