cider with mopey*

In the first of an irregular series of posts, I will be writing reviews of foodstuffs that have caught my eye while shopping. Being the magpie I am, these inevitably end up in my basket and then home before I give myself chance to think again.

Today, while in Sainsbury’s, I espied this cider in amongst the, erm, ciders.

Friels bottle

It’s called Friels cider and is made by a company called Cool Apple. I’m glad they decided to make cider, as they have a very silly name for timber supplies or the manufacture of oh I don’t know, shoe laces?

But I digress. So, this is Friels Cider. As anyone who knows me will be able to vouch, there is no way I could have seen a bottle like that in the supermarket and not bought it. It’s fabulous!

Sure it’s a marketing ploy. Sure, it’s been designed to catch the eye of more gullible casual shoppers. Sure it’s all about style over substance. Fortunately, they’ll have to try harder than that to catch me out!

Bugger.

This is a really lovingly crafted design, invoking and recalling the pin up girls of such talented artists as Gil Elvgren and Alberto Vargas. The retro pin-up atmosphere of 1940’s/1950’s America is just lovely.

Let’s take a closer look at that saucy young lady:

Friels

The saucy wink, the shirt-dress, pulling and gapping just enough to send the mind wild, but revealing nothing. She’s really rather charming, isn’t she?

What the hell has it got to do with apples or cider? No idea. The companion website www.frielscider.co.uk , while being a well-crafted (if infuriating) piece of Flash design doesn’t offer any further clues.

Perhaps; in much the same way as our muffins now have to be called ‘English Muffins’ to avoid confusion with American Muffins – which are just called ‘Muffins’; we will eventually have to start referring to our cider as ‘English Cider’ once these Yanks, oversexed, overpaid, over here, have flooded the market. And taken all our women with the lure of bubble gum and real nylons, not that eye-pencil and Bisto fakery us Brits have grown to know and love. There’s nothing quite like seeing a fine woman, on a warm day – the smell of beef dripping, it’s quite intoxicating!

Back on track, let’s look at the cider itself. In colour it’s a fairly pale straw colour, much more of a summer-tinged yellow than the more vivid orange you might see from a Bulmer’s or a Magner’s or any of those newer ‘ponce’ ciders. I can say ponce ciders without fear, as I drink them myself. Yes, with an Inuit-load of ice too.

Popping the cap (with a bottle opener, my hands are too soft to just twist those metal beer caps), and taking a deep inhale of the aroma, I’m struck by how yeasty it initially is. Brewing a bit more in the bottle perhaps?

It pours well, without foaming too much, at which point the smells largely dissipate. There’s no strong apple smell, just a faint, but pleasant cider scent. Which I guess is how cider should smell. Perhaps some other cider makers squirt a small amount of Ethyl-2-methyl butyrate into the bottle just before it gets capped – so it has that apple-y smell when opened?

Swilling the cider round in a glass, I can see a slight sparkliness effervescing around the edges, tiny bubbles tracing a path up and through the liquid. It all looks rather lovely, the perfect compliment to what is today, the hottest day of the year so far.

Let’s take a sip then.

Oh.

Okay, it tastes like a cider. It is so subtle though that I really cannot say more than that. It is pleasant, innocuous and inoffensive.

It lacks the apple punch of Magners. The raw kick of a good scrumpy. The rounded mouthfeel of an Aspall Organic.

I so desperately wanted to love it, for it to become my new favourite drink. To look forward to the inviting wink and glowing décolletage of our pin-up at the end of a warm summer’s day. It’s a shame that all I can say is that this drink is pleasant.

Would I drink it again? For sure. Would I urge others to buy it? Um… not really.

It’s an inoffensive, subtle cider – wrapped up in some exquisitely kitsch and super-cute packaging.

Friels Cider

  • Producer: Cool Apple
  • ABV: 4.9%
  • Bottle size: 568ml
  • Units per bottle: 2.8
  • No. of apples: 10
  • Sulphites: No
  • Price: £1.69 (Sainsbury’s)

*With profuse apologies to Laurie Lee.

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