Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Thatchers - Green Goblin Oak Aged Cider

Thatchers – Green Goblin Oak Aged Cider
To the unaware or unfamiliar, Thatchers are a large cider producing company hailing from the western edges of Somerset in the UK. They are famous for cider labels like Green Goblin, Thatchers Gold and Thatchers Katy. To get a grasp of their sheer size and production, in 2010 they planted over 100,000 apples trees and now own over 380 acres of orchards. They also have a fermentation capacity of 1 million litres!! Think of all that cider (start drooling now). But for a company which has been established since 1904, it’s just no happenstance that they have become what they are today.

Green Goblin falls under Thatchers ‘Premium’ range, and is made by using new and traditional cider making methods. The so called traditional methods are no doubt the ageing of the cider in 100 year old wooden vats post ferment. Thatchers use the ageing in oak or ‘wood’ as their main focal point for the marketing of this cider. But as a whole, the cider is made and styled towards a fuller, bittersweet and medium dry option with apples such as Dabinett and Somerset Red Streak (both bittersweet varieties), used in the blend.

To begin with, the colour gleams golden honey with nice soft carbonation. On inspection of the nose, fresh apple characters are shadowed by distinct notes of band aid’s, or in scientific language – Brettanomyces. In simple terms, Brettanomyces or Brett for short, is considered a spoilage yeast in most wines and is a direct consequence of poor hygiene on fruit and equipment. The band aid characters are very desirable in farmhouse cider styles in the UK and France, where old oak plays a major role. It’s also very desirable in many Belgium and American beers. But unfortunately Aussie cider makers are too scared of introducing Brett into their ciders to help gain complexity. We are seeing so many fresh, clean standardised ciders right now, so where’s the diversity? The nose finishes with old leather resembling tough old boots, mixed in with dirty woody oak characters. All these descriptors may sound horrific, but all intertwined they produce a complex nose with tonnes of personality.     
The palate lives up to its medium dry promise, having lovely upfront sweetness but finishing dry. The bittersweet apples offer up mouth sapping bitterness with powdery tannins, which get massively addictive. The carbonation foams up into a soft pillow, but is short lived as the steely, metallic Brett characters slice their way through. At 6% alcohol, there is a fair bit of back palate heat which persists and lingers for minutes after swallowing. The overall feel of the cider is fairly heavy and full, with some sharp attributes and a moderate acidity. Like many ciders, there are some residual sulphur characters, which may also explain the sharp, steely notes.

I must admit I have had better batches of this cider, but taken as a whole it was a pleasant drinking experience. It is a great example of a traditional English cider from Somerset, and is a perfect option for anyone wanting to try something new. What I mean by this is the consumer can get real exposure to what bitterness, astringency, oak and Brettanomyces can all do together for a cider. This is ‘real cider’ the way it’s meant to be, and I recommend anyone to head out a grab it. To put a cherry on the top, it’s very easy drinking and is easily found in Australia.
Producer: Thatchers Cider Company
Country: Somerset (England)
Alcohol: 6.0%
Website: www.thatcherscider.co.uk

Rating:  8 out 10


1 comment:

  1. This is a bad ass review. I am a big fan of a Brett. Brett is becoming a big trend in the U.S. beer industry.