Sunday, 23 September 2012

Black Rat - Natural Dry Apple Cider

Black Rat – Natural Dry Apple Cider
Firstly I have to admit that this is the first canned English cider I’ve ever had. For someone who has tasted/consumed his fair share of ciders from across the world, I find it strange that this is the first. I guess what intrigued me the most was to see the differences between can and glass. I find with beer there is a distinct flavour profile difference, but cider is a totally different kettle of fish.

The cider is part of a range of locally brewed beers from the Moles Brewery who reside in Melksham, Wiltshire. Wilshire boarders Somerset to the west, and as all you cider tragic’s know, Somerset is cider country. To all you very observant readers, you’ll notice that the Black Rat cider is made in a family owned Somerset farmhouse – not in Wiltshire. Thatchers Cider Company (who produce the Green Goblin cider which I have reviewed), contract process and make the Black Rat range of ciders from their Somerset cidery. The use of local Somerset apples with bittersweet varieties like Dabinett, Tremletts Bitter, Yarlington Mill, Ashton Bitter, Somerset Red Streak and Brown’s Snout are all used in the Black Rat cider.

So after crackin’ the tinny open, pouring it into a glass seemed rather odd. Felt like I should have been sitting in my deck chair on top of the Mountain in Bathurst whilst watching 28 thunderous V8’s fly past me at 250 clicks. The cider poured bright clear and gave off a light yellowed colour. There was a constant stream of fizz, with the head fading fast. The thing I find a lot of in canned alcoholic beverages is the presence of reductive hydrogen sulfide. This compound gives off a rotten egg aroma and is the direct result of limited nutrient availability for yeast. Once in an anaerobic environment, the hydrogen sulfide is able to be produced and obviously captured in the can. This cider immediately gave off this rotten egg character, but did blow off after a few swirls of the glass. Once the eggy note disappeared, green under ripe apple characters dominated, with secondary characters like sour sobs following close behind. There was a really strong spice angle too which was complimented by some old woody offerings. The thing I really picked up on was the yeasty notes which contributed a buttery and creamy edge. This makes me think the cider was aged on less in oak before being canned. Interesting fact is the cider is not pasteurised, and the yeasty notes usually can be the result of the dead yeast cells. But overall the nose was pretty clean, fresh, and inviting.

The palate offers really good crisp and dry characters with late astringency complimenting the mouth feel. The bittersweet apples do give off some bitterness, but this is all balanced with a tiny bit of residual sweetness. Subtle apple characters and sour citrus notes offer some excitement. The yeasty characters seen on the nose don’t follow through on to the palate, and neither does the woodiness. In all honesty, the palate is pretty straight forward, and is typical of a draught style.

Really, the cider is not showy or pretentious; in fact it’s quite modest. It’s a simple style, with the drinkability being quite high suiting the Australian palates perfectly. With mass plantings of heritage cider apple varieties in Australia right now, in a few years time this style of cider will overtake the culinary/eating apple offerings which are flooding the market. This will be a step in the right direction for Aussie ciders. So in conclusion to the canned Black Rat, it’s simple, clean, fresh and a good alternative to the standard Aussie cider.

Producer: Moles Brewery
Country: Somerset/Wiltshire (England)
Alcohol: 4.7%
Website: or

Rating:  6.5 out 10

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