Somersby Blackberry flavoured Cider (Denmark)

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  • My Rating: D+

Somersby Blackberry flavoured Cider, 4.5% ABV, 500ml, (Denmark)

Ingredients: water, apple wine (water, glucose syrup, apple juice concentrate), sugar, apple juice concentrate, carbon dioxide, natural flavour, citric acid (acidifier), potassium sorbate (preservative), colour (ammonia caramel, anthocyanins and carmine). Contains sulphites.

  • Style: (flavoured) Apple Cider
  • Taste Profile: soapy sugariness -> artificial candied blackberry/apple -> cloying/candy-sweet finish.
  • Where I got it : Port Moody Liquor
  • How much: $3, August 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to cider aficionados: no

Visual: Judging by what they put in the ingredient list, it looks to be a whole lot of sugar and apple juice, with several chemicals to enhance the flavour, appearance and texture. It pours clear rosé-orange with a quickly dissipating bubbly head, thin ringed retention, countable steady streams.

Nose: Pure soapiness. Aromatized liquid soap, bar soap, you name it. Though not completely unpleasant, all the naturalness of the apple juice is gone.

Attack: sugary (9/10)sweetness, fizzy crispness

Mid-palate: (MAIN) soapy-candied artificial blackberry, dense apple sugars

Finish: medium-cloying, thickened saliva, fizzy burpy candied-sweet finish

Summary: Sadly, the apple in the cider has been highly masked and covered up by artificial (despite “natural flavour” being in the ingredients) blackberry flavouring. McCashin does a much better job with their Fruté flavoured ciders by adding real fruit to their ciders; be sure to grab a 3pack of theirs if you ever see them at your liquor store.

Cloud Horse Mead – Meadow Vista Honey Wines (Kelowna, BC, Canada)

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  • My Rating: C+

Cloud Horse Mead 2008- Meadow Vista Honey Wines, 11.8% ABV, 750ml, (West Kelowna, BC, Canada)

on the back label:

“Piper (future Queen Bee) spotted the perfect cloud shape of a cantering horse in the sky while we were mixing our first batch of honey wine. Cloud Horse is a ‘varietal honey traditional mead’ style wine, using honey from a SINGLE FLOWER SOURCE. Enjoy this crisp, dry white honey wine on a blanket in a field watching the clouds go by.”

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  • Style: Mead
  • Taste Profile: dense fruity sugars -> honey/red apple/pear/vanilla -> tangy/sour/off-dry finish.
  • Where I got it : Hotel Eldorado (Kelowna)
  • How much: $27, Summer 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to wine aficionados: no

Visual: Winner of the ‘Best Winery at WINEFEST 2010 in Edmonton & Calgary’, a golden sticker is affixed to the bottle neck. Pours clear light golden yellow with a hint of orange colour.

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Nose: light tangy red apples and minerality

Attack: dense apple fruit (6/10)sweetness

Mid-palate: cuts off-dry, (MAIN) honey, red apple, melon, pear (HINT) vanilla

Finish: mild tannic, tangy, sour, off-dry fruity finish

Summary: Nothing too memorable. Good balance and flavours, but not something that wow’d me.

Birra Fresca Cucumber Mint IPA – R&B Brewing (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

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  • My Rating: D+

Birra Fresca Cucumber Mint IPA – R&B Brewing, 6% ABV, 650ml, (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

on the R&B Brewing website: (link may no longer be valid as this is a seasonal beer)

“Birra Fresca Cucumber Mint IPA is named after agua fresca (“fresh water”), flavoured water and sugar drinks that are found throughout Mexico and other Central American and Caribbean countries. One popular version contains cucumber and mint, and according to the brewery, ‘the thought was that the cucumber mint IPA would be just as refreshing, if not more so.'”

Based on R&B’s Hoppelganger IPA, Birra Fresca is a 6% abv and 50 IBU IPA made using more than 200 organic cucumbers that were sourced locally along with the mint, (50 IBU, 6% ABV)

  • Style: (cucumber & mint) Flavoured IPA
  • Taste Profile: creamy crispness -> cucumber/spearmint/malty -> bitter hops/cucumber/rough bitter finish.
  • Where I got it : Firefly
  • How much: $7 (after 10% off), September 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: no

Visual: Pours cloudy orange/brown with a very small head, sticky lacing, thin layer of micro CO2 retention, lots of activity.

Nose: fragrant grated cucumber and smashed mint (9/10-aromatic strength)

Attack: creamy/light fizzy mouthfeel, crispness

Mid-palate: (MAIN) cucumber, spearmint, malty (6/10-sweetness)

Finish: bitter hops, lingering cucumber, roughish palate finish mixed with vegetative bitterness.

Summary: Although I appreciated the effort and unique flavour combination, this one literally left a bad taste in my mouth. The finish is far too rough in a bitter way and the taste and texture themselves aren’t refined at all. Not worth satisfying your curiosity.

Wyld Wood Organic Cider – Westons (UK)

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  • My Rating: B-

Wyld Wood Premium Organic Classic Cider – Westons, 6.5% ABV, 500ml, (Herefordshire, UK)

  • Style: Apple Cider
  • Taste Profile: crisp tangy -> woody red apples -> tart/fruity/crisp apple finish.
  • Where I got it : W.16th (?)
  • How much: $4 (after 10% off), sometime in 2011
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to cider aficionados: yes

Visual: Simple and effect clean-looking label, I like it. Pours deep golden yellow with zero head and zero activity, rather unappealing.

Nose: vanilla-woody and tangy apples (7/10-aromatic strength)

Attack: sharp crispness

Mid-palate: rich tangy, 7/10-sweetness (MAIN) vanilla, woodiness, red apples, (HINT) barnyard, green apple

Finish: medium tartness, fruity sweet, mild saliva thickness, crisp apple finish.

Summary: Major vanilla woodness balanced with clean tart, sweet and tangy apple flavour. Very nice although I wish it was more carbonated.

West Coast IPA – Green Flash Brewing (San Diego, CA, USA)

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  • My Rating: B-

West Coast IPA – Green Flash Brewing, 7.3% ABV, 1 pt 6 fl.oz., (San Diego, CA, USA)

on the front label:

“A menagerie of hops is layered throughout the brewing process: Simcoe for unique fruitiness and grapefruit zest, Columbus for strong hop pungency, Centennial for pine and citrus notes and cascade for floral aroma. A multi-dimensional hop experience.”

  • Style: India Pale Ale
  • Taste Profile: biting hops -> orange citrus/malt -> grapefruit hops/pine/bittersweet hoppy finish.
  • Where I got it : Firefly
  • How much: $7 (after 10% off), September 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Visual: 4 different hop varieties listed on the label, each contributing to the full-bodied hoppy character of the beer, intriguing. I also like textured raised Green Flash font on their bottle. Pours almost transparent orange/brown with a nice foamy head, thin layer of micro CO2  retention, some active streams.

Nose: Inviting fruity orange citrus hops and light pine (8/10-aromatic strength)

Attack: biting pine hoppiness

Mid-palate: (MAIN) PROLONGED orange fruitiness, light malts

Finish: sharp to soft bitter grapefruit hops, pine, semi-sweet hoppy bitter finish.

Summary: Quite a fruit-citrusy IPA with lots of grapefruit bitter hoppiness to balance it out. Quite likeable if you already enjoy IPAs; probably not so much if you don’t. It gets heavy on the palate toward the end of the bottle.

Bonterra Muscat 2001 (Lake County, CA, USA)

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  • My Rating: C+

Muscat 2001 – Bonterra Vineyards, 9.0% ABV, 375ml, (Lake County, CA, USA)

from the Bonterra website:

“This Muscat has an intense floral nose with delicate notes of HONEYSUCKLE and ORANGE BLOSSOMS. Low alcohol and bold acidity offers a refreshing brightness from the wine that finishes clean and crisp.”

  • Style: (Muscat) Dessert Wine
  • Taste Profile: sugar/tangy -> red apple/pear/honeysuckle -> cloying/tangy/alcoholic bitter finish.
  • Where I got it : LD Dilworth
  • How much: $20, Summer 2011
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to dessert wine aficionados: not for the hardcore, instead for the casual drinker.

Visual: 2001 Vintage, it was already 10 years old when I picked it off the shelf. This type of wine doesn’t benefit from aging but it’s still intriguing to try a 10-year old bottle of just about anything. Note that the 2011 vintage on the Bonterra website is now 8% ABV as opposed to 9% in this bottle. Pours apple juice golden yellow with a few small bubbles settled at the bottom of the glass.

Nose: typical apple/white grape/pear of muscat wines, but not that pungent (4/10-aromatic strength)

Attack: incoming sugars, tangy

Mid-palate: dense sweetness(7/10), (MAIN) red apple, honeysuckle, bartlett pear, medium sharp acidity

Finish: medium cloying sugars, water-like viscosity, mild saliva phlegm (not exactly “phelgm” but a thickening of the saliva that kicks back up your throat due to the sugary sweetness), tangy/light sour/mild alcoholic bitter finish.

Summary: Honeysuckle is there but orange blossoms are barely detectable, if at all. Mostly tangy sweet apple and pear. Quite approachable and a good price point. Sugars get too aggressive after the 1st glass and as it warms.

Rosmarinus Aromatic Ale – Big Rock Brewery (Calgary, AB, Canada)

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  • My Rating: C-

Rosmarinus Aromatic Ale – Big Rock Brewery, 5.6% ABV, 341ml, (Calgary, AB, Canada)

on the front side label:

“Combining fresh rosemary with our all-natural beer, we present to you and invigorating and delicious pale ale. This ancient herb, long treasured for its fragrance, will seduce you with its alluring scent and vibrant taste. Rosmarinus Officinalis: Comfort in a glass.”

  • Style: (flavoured) Pale Ale
  • Taste Profile: crisp fizzy -> thin/barley malt/rosemary/grass -> dry/flat/not-clean finish.
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $12.50/6pack, September 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: no

Visual: Usually I NEVER buy 6-packs for the simple fact that I have to drink 6 of the same thing on 6 different days where I could be drinking 5 other new things instead…anyways, ended up sharing the rest with friends to go with the drinking games. Pours medium dark brown with a very small lasting thin head, foamy CO2, lots of streams.

Nose: clean sweet honey-grain malted rosemary, reminding me of sweet bread. Very pleasant (7/10-aromatic strength)

Attack: crisp, numbingly-fizzy

Mid-palate: thin-bodied, (MAIN) barley malts, med-sweetness(6/10), med-soft rosemary flavour (MILD) cereal

Finish: malty-dry, flat-flavoured burpy finish

Summary: Delivers rosemary flavour as promised, but not exactly refined or awesome. Body and mouthfeel are thin, no length/carry to the flavours. Just average or slightly less because I wouldn’t want to drink 5 more of these.