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London Cider and other cool stuff

We had the chance to spend a few days in London. Besides taking in some of the sites, we also got to sample hard ciders from the eastern part of England. These hard ciders are generally based on dessert apples instead of cider apples. They have less tannins and phenolic compounds and more acid or tartness. Also, the English just call it cider and not hard cider like we do in the US.

The ultimate goal was to make our way to Hawkes Cidery on the south side of the Thames. However, we had a few stops to make before we’d get there.

Places like Westminster Abbey

Buckingham Palace...

And our central hub... Trafalgar Square

Which brought us to our first London hard cider experience...

Located under Charing Cross station, The Ship & Shovell is a Victorian pub tucked into Craven Passage.

It’s named after Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, who was a many times great uncle of a good friend of ours.

It’s also famous because it’s the only pub in London occupying two buildings sitting across from each other.

They are connected by a cellar running under Craven Passage.

The “Other Side”

Stowford Press is a Westons Cider out of Herefordshire. Therefore, it is not really a London or eastern cider. However, it’s color, carbonation, and crispness are more eastern than West Country farmhouse.

Since almost every hard cider was new to me, I wasn’t complaining and had a pint with my aged cheddar roll.

It was a semi-sweet cider with notes of tart apple and hints of tannins. It has a clean finish and medium carbonation, which I enjoyed.

The cider and English pub food experience at The Ship & Shovell was just cool.

After the Ship & Shovell, we checked out the Egyptian exhibit at the British Museum. My wife is an avid fan of ancient Egypt. I enjoyed the mummies and such along with seeing some of the ancient hoards that have been found across England. Think how much hard cider I could get with a hoard or two!

Exhibits at the British Museum

Our next hard cider experience, was at Woodlands Restaurant. Located at 37 Panton Street in London (Piccadilly location). We walked in on a whim and had the best food and cider pairing of our trip.

It’s a vegetarian menu, which we didn’t realize until we were seated.

However, it didn’t matter. We ordered a number of small plates because we wanted to try a variety of things.

The food was spicy, flavor packed, and just so satisfying.

And to go with it, I ordered a Garden City Plum and Ginger. It paired so well with the food that I ordered two!

Plum on the nose, ginger on the finish, and apple sandwiched in the middle.

As you can see, it had a high level of carbonation and the right amount of acid.

It was a perfect adjunct hard cider based on dessert apples and I knew when I returned to the US, I was pitching a ginger hard cider of my own and developing a hard cider recipe.

You might be wondering how we could top that experience but we did. While the food was our favorite, Hawkes Cidery didn’t disappoint.

However, we had to work our way there, which involved a number of “grueling” activities.

Starting at our Trafalgar Square base...

We checked out the impressionist and neo-impressionist area of the National Gallery. Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh, Cèzanne, Degas... I don’t need to say anymore.

Heading southwest towards our goal, we had to stop at St. Paul’s.

The climb to the top was breathtaking and worth every step. Plus, we had to start working up our hunger for hard cider and pizza.

The panoramic view of London from St. Paul’s is just awesome.

Here is the Shard.

You can see so many of the iconic sites... Tower Bridge, the Eye, and Big Ben just to name a few.

A quick bus ride from St. Paul’s got us to the Tower of London.

It’s the location of the Crown Jewels and the center of power for ages.

More importantly, it’s right across the river from Hawkes!

A short walk had us going over Tower Bridge and approaching our destination.

Take a left on Druid Street. Yes, it runs under the rail and you might start asking yourself if you are in the right spot.

You are... 86-92 Druid Street. Walk in and be embraced by the warm and friendly environment.

You have to love a place that has 8 hard ciders on tap and only 2 beers.

I really appreciated the rating on sweetness, sharpness, and tannins even though I sampled them all.

We ordered a pizza and cheese board with our first flight. I was so hungry, I forgot to take a picture of the food. Don’t worry, I got pictures of the cider flight!

Hard Cider: Flight #1 at Hawkes in London

All Made Equal was the winner of the first flight. My wife picked Doom and Bloom.

All Made Equal is a collaboration with the famous cider maker Tom Oliver. It’s everything a traditional hard cider should be. Hint of sweetness, hint of acid, and a note of tannins.

My wife, a big fan of acid adjunct hard ciders, enjoyed the Doom & Bloom. It is rhubarb and strawberry. I had already made a strawberry cider so I had to make a rhubarb version. My rhubarb hard cider recipe is in my book.

We ordered another cheese board with our second flight.

Hard Cider Flight at Hawkes in London

I picked Urban Orchard but sitting in Hawkes with my spouse eating pizza and cheese, drinking cider, and talking about the sites we’d just experienced. I think that’s called priceless.

Urban Orchard is a nicely balanced cider with apple aromas. It is semi-sweet with some tartness. It went well with the cheese.

My wife enjoyed the Dead & Berried, which is a tart cider with berries as the adjunct. It’s semi-dry and a gorgeous color.

Interested in learning more about making and experiencing cider? Get my book.

And visit my site.

Thanks for Reading!

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Prickly Cider
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