The Pub Curmudgeon is quite correct to comment that the drink of cider gets little attention from the beer blogs. This I suspect is because cider is by and large complete muck. However this beer blog prides itself in the glorification of complete muck, so long as the muck in question is drinkable and gets you pissed. So today’s blog is about the noble grog of cider. Oooo Arrrrr. The Wurzels etc.
For many cider has associations with underage drinking and tramps. Presumably because the person in question is or has been either an underage drinker or a tramp. My own underage drinking exploits were more alcopop than cider, so my personal prejudices are very much in the cider is for tramps camp, rather than cider is for children camp. A summer or two ago cider became a bit of a trend, with rising sales of the brand Magners. A number of reasons can be attributed to this. Firstly it was quite a nice drink and quite unlike the frankly rank foul tasting “real” ciders the beardies like to hawk. Secondly it was a nice summer, and Magners is a pleasant enough light summer drink. Thirdly, the possibility that younger drinkers like myself do not associate cider with getting teenage kicks all through the night. Fourthly the possibility that alcopops have suffered a harsh tax regime and booze producers thought a cider alcopop drink a more tax efficient way of flogging sugary ethanol alcohol to kids. The Magners trend by and large passed me by for one reason only. It was a premium priced product and I like getting pissed cheaply.
However, this weekend I put in my supermarket trolley a drink that could only be described as ambrosia. A nectar of the gods that provides 8.4 units of alcohol for £1.32. That’s 16p a unit. And the drink is quite pleasant and doesn’t make you gag. So in that sense it’s possibly quite unlike cider.
Sainsbury’s Basic Cider promises 2 litres of light golden and refreshing cider at 4.2% alcohol. The picture on the label even has a drawing of a couple of apples by the word cider so there might even be some apples in this to blend with the fermented high fructose corn syrup that provides a cheap, clean and healthy form of ethanol to sooth the soul. The drink itself is lighter in colour than you might assume, upon looking into the bottle it isn’t clear. There is a light golden tinge to the bottle hiding an altogether lighter product. The drink itself is light and refreshing and comes across as a bit of a watery lighter version of familiar commercial cider. The label promises a full refund of your £1.32 if you don’t like it and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
I liked it, and won’t be seeking my £1.32 back. In fact I loved it. The drink is kind of like cider but actually nice. Cider is a strange drink. In its natural “real” form, it is one of the nastiest ways of getting drunk imaginable. I’ve been trying to find a way of describing how bad real cider is and have come up with the following. Imagine you are Will Smith in “I am Legend” or Charlton Heston in “The Omega Man”, in so far as you are the last man alive. Now in those stories they spent a bit of time alone and then they discovered a hot chick you’d be quite happy to repopulate the earth with if you weren’t that bothered about finding a cure for what has wiped out mankind. Now imagine instead of a hot chick, you found the only bird alive was Ann Widdecome. The human race is doomed.
That’s cider. It’s the Ann Widdecome of grog. Most discerning people would rather take the pledge and go teetotal than drink it. However not all cider is “real” cider. Through the use of modern chemistry it is possible to make cider taste okay. It is possible to enjoy the odd Strongbow or Magners. My metaphor collapses a bit here as I’m uncertain what science could do to make Ann Widdecome attractive, but the metaphor is unimportant.
But suffice to say, science has surpassed itself. In the pursuit of the cheapest grog known to man, a really drinkable cider has been produced, that you can neck and not wince. Top stuff. All that remains is to think of a food to match with this fabulous grog and I can think of no better match than a Sainsbury’s basic Scotch Egg. In scotch eggs it is also, just like cider, important to go cheap. If you are not careful you can end up with free range eggs and all manner of poncy nonsense. By going cheap you ensure cheap battery, factory farmed eggs. Goes perfectly with the finest and cheapest cider known to mankind.
Edit: fellow cider drinkers here.