Given the Czech Republic’s legendary beer consumption, wine-growing regions, and bathtubs full of Slivovice, you’d be forgiven for thinking that cider hasn’t enjoyed much popularity here. Sure, people in Central Europe drink significantly less of it than their British counterparts, but cider has gained popularity over the last few years. Kingswood is widely sold in Czech bars as an alternative to the traditional lager, and several artisanal cideries have opened to cater to this growing market.
Neither beer, nor wine, nor apple juice, but somehow all three at once, this refreshing drink can be lightly sparkling or still. Cider is made from a base of pulped apples, which are left to ferment before being bottled. Fermentation is a form of natural preservation that doesn’t require artificial additives, and it is during this process that cider becomes slightly alcoholic.
There are significant regional variations at play: English cider, with its bittersweet taste and clear appearance, doesn’t seem to have much in common with French cidre, which – predictably – resembles wine more closely than beer. In fact, the French version cannot legally be called cidre if it doesn’t contain 100% apple juice, while English cideries can use as little as 35% apples in production.
Cider in the Czech Republic is associated with long summer afternoons, when people most appreciate its sweet and refreshing taste. Indeed, the Czech cidery Tátův Sad has branded itself as the drink of choice for the summer months. The company has tried to reconcile age-old rivalries by combining English and French apples in its orchards, meaning that the base of its drinks has a multi-layered, complex taste. When fruit is collected and pulped, its juice is used to make bottled lemonade and cider to be sold across the country. The people at Tátův Sad pride themselves on their small-scale operation, which allows them to deliver a consistent product and treat their six hectares of orchard with love and respect.
Craft cideries are less common in the Czech Republic than elsewhere in the world, but Ciderie Kliment stands out as an example of small-scale, exemplary cider production. The company puts fruit at the centre of its process, claiming that all it needs are “apples, and time”. It boasts an impressive selection of ciders – from demi-sec to extra brut – and its seasonal specials vary year on year, depending on the harvest.
Although most Prague bars sell some kind of draught cider, it’s worth visiting a specialist shop to get a sense of the drink’s complexities. Dobrý Cider in Prague’s Podskalí is jam-packed with different kinds of cider from all over the world, including local brands from the Czech Republic. It specialises in bottled cider from France, Spain and the UK. Cider amateurs will love the tastings available in store, which provide novices with a whistlestop tour of the cider-growing world and aficionados with a chance to discover a really special bottle. For those who don’t want to limit themselves to just one kind of cider, gift baskets are available online and in store and tasting sessions can be organised in both Czech and English.
This article was written by the people at Dobrý Cider, for more information visit their website at www.dobrycider.cz