Big brand ciders battle it out in the taste stakes

Carlsberg Somersby v Carling’s British Cider.

It wasn’t surprising that this summer we’d have two new cider’s launching into the market from the biggest brewers. With the cider category in growth (47% since 2011 to be exact) it’s understandable that they want a bite of the apple (no pun intended!)

Whether this is good or bad news for drinkers, is a topic that Jason has tackled on his blog post so I wanted to tackle the taste test.

Carlsberg Somersby Cider

This was definitely the most appealing one to me out of the two, simply because it had been given a name rather than Carling’s lazily labelled ‘British Cider’ – which they actually came under fire for.

I think part of enjoying a cider is where you drink it and how it’s served. On this particular occasion, I found myself at the delightful little country pub The Punchbowl in Lapworth. It also helped that it was a sunny evening and when walking into the bar I saw Somersby lit up on tap making it the perfect time to give it a go. I asked the bar staff their thoughts on it and the consensus was that ‘it’s nice and appley’ so I was hopeful.

Served in a branded glass, which I really liked and sets it apart from other ciders, it was definitely a lively drink – even more so than El Gaitero.

Carlsberg Somersby Cider

Carlsberg Somersby Cider

On my first sip, I was surprisingly impressed. Fresh, crisp and as described by the staff ‘appley’ so I’d place it in the medium dry category. As I continued to make my way through it, those features weren’t lost either, which actually started to create a zingy sour taste, a bit like you’d get after eating a lot of sour apple laces. I’m not sure I’d continue drinking it for that reason which is a shame because it’s a good cider. Maybe drinking it with food would help balance that out or the more you drink, the more your taste buds become conditioned to it – maybe something to try another time!

A week later I took my Mum to the same pub for her opinion. She is the one that I take after with my cider drinking ways so I was interested to see what she thought, especially because she loves her Magners. Her feedback wasn’t quite as positive as mine. Found it too dry and felt it tasted too much like larger. I don’t think she’ll be bothered about ordering it again.

From mine and my mum’s tasting, I’ve concluded that yes it’s manufactured but that doesn’t make it a bad cider, it’s a good cider which I think will do well with mainstream cider drinkers. Might even draw the larger lovers over onto the apples, which isn’t a bad thing as they begin to educate their taste buds and move on to more specially crafted ciders.

Carling’s British Cider

Going back to my point about where and how you drink a cider having an impact on your enjoyment of it, I probably put Carling’s British Cider on a back step by purchasing the bottle at my local Tesco Extra – I don’t think it’s available on draught anyway. Even more so, I drank it inside on a miserable evening but it was kind of an occasion, well it was Friday night!

Anyway, I’m just making excuses to be nice and trying to pad this section out of the review because I don’t really have much to say about it. Simply, it was pants.

Carling British Cider

Carling British Cider

It smelt like Strongbow from the bottle, which I kind of expected because of its mass manufactured production. But when I poured it into the glass, it changed to a much sweeter scent almost like a pear cider so I was thinking it might be ok. But no, it was very disappointing. I can’t even describe how it tastes as it tastes of nothing.

As always, it’s good to get a second opinion so this time I got my friend Frankie to give it a go but much the same reaction. However, she did give a strange description which I think if I haven’t already put you off, definitely will – ‘smells like popcorn, tastes like honey’.

So in the cider wars, Somersby comes out on top for me. Is it the same for you?


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