Making the Most of it

We’ve had a bit of a hiatus on the blog awaiting our final couple tanks of cider to finish fermenting and not having much to report in general. There are many months of not so much to talk about in cider making other than “yup, those are the tanks where the cider is fermenting.” Finally over the long Easter weekend we had time to box and bottle the remaining 90 litres of drinkable cider.  We’ve boxed up 55 litres and the remaining ~20l (15l may have been drunk over that weekend) has been put into 330ml bottles. We have a 30l tank of undrinkable 100% Worcester only cider, which will be turned into apple cider vinegar as soon as we get ourselves some mother. It’s very pectin heavy. If we were down in West country it may be called “drinkable,” but we can’t do it.

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Our three remaining ciders in bottles

Our “1” was our fully-fermented-nothing-added-only-maybe-a-bit-of-love-and-fun. Our “3” was a sulphites only batch, which at nearly 6 months, took the longest to ferment. That was no surprise having killed off all the little critters in the drink with sulphites.  1 has mellowed since we boxed up half of it back in January and become more interesting and full bodied. Three is still fresh and on the edge of inducing a face pucker, but not quite. I hope this will mellow over the next couple months into something those who aren’t into tartness will be able to like a bit more.

Austria

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Mostviertel, Austria

This time last week we were about to set off on a final cycling-for-cider adventure in Austria. We spent a week in the cider (or Most in German) producing region of Austria. We decided to go there after James found out about the region on some European cider producer website. Then we found out about the excellent cycling routes in the area and we were sold. We had grand plans for a cycling touring trek, but we ended up staying in one place for 6 days from which we could easily cycle to most of the places we wanted to see. We stayed in Mühlviertel, which was on the North side of the Danube across from Mostviertel, the region named for its perry production and mature Pear trees.

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James and Pears
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More Pears and James on a bicycle

We camped in a lovely campsite called Au an der Donau.  It was a lovely campsite with an even lovelier bar and owner Gerhard. The bar had Most on as well, so we didn’t have to go far to get a drink or stumble home. We spent one of the first days cycling on the Moststraße, (literally the cider road), a series of roads and cycleways where supposedly many of the cider/perry producers a located on. But for some reason the route we chose we could only find one Mostheuringe (where the cider is produced, but you can drink and eat there too) and it was closed until 9th June.

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Trying to figure our where we can get Most! We were thirsty!
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The (mostly) well marked farm roads of the Mostviertel

As we came there for the Moststraße, Gerhard helped point out some great cider producers who weren’t on the Moststraße.  And were much closer too. He sent us to Moser, which was a new award winning cider producer about 13km from the campsite and in Mühlviertel. We cycled there one day and met Andreas and his wife Christine, who were very lovely and showed us their operation. Andreas makes about 10,000 litres of different perry and cider drinks a year most of which he bottles in 750ml to 1l bottles by hand. Some are ciders, some are perries and some are a mix of apples and pears. Their ciders were very clean, crisp and light in taste. This may be due to him letting the sediment settle in the juice after pressing before he puts it into fermentation tanks. He also uses a white wine yeast, giving a slightly more aromatic smell than ours. I am pretty sure his were all fully fermented with nothing added later. He said his cider is ready within 3 weeks of fermentation starting, which is the quickest I’ve heard of fermenting cider. Moser also makes loads of different distilled fruit Schnapps, brandies, white wine and whisky! We tried the whisky, which was really tasty. Very plum, almost Port like flavour through the middle.

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Moser
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The ironic advert for cider opposite Moser’s entrance

The other producer we were able to meet and discuss was Schober, who’s facilities were just down the road from Au. Wolfgang the Most maker produces 100,000 litres a year. He also had a pretty mean collection of ciders, perries and cider/perry mixes like Moser. We arrived saying we didn’t know much German, but wanted to try some of his Most. He sat us down in a room next to his show room with about 6 bottles to try, shut the door and let us get on with tasting. Wolfgang back sweetens his Most giving it a slightly sweeter flavour than Moser. Our campsite served Schober’s Apfel-most on tap in the bar. He also showed us his equipment and his automatic bottling machine, which he sub contracts out to other Most producers in the region.

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Schober
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Some of Schober’s Most we sampled

We cycled to several other producers, but they were either closed or didn’t have places to sit (Hiebl and Baumgartner), so we just picked up a bottle and continued our cycling. The Most ranged from €1,70-€7 for 1 litre. Most was available from all the Gasthof’s we went to in the region ranging from about €2,50-€3,50 a half litre. They offer it pur (pure) or gespritzt (or with soda water) as the Germans do. This may be something we adopt with our cider in the long term as it’s very refreshing after a long cycle ride.  All in all, it was an excellent trip all around. We reckon we cycled 150+ miles in the week on beautiful cycle ways. I think we will be heading back soon to pay a visit to Gerhard and try to plan our visit better around when the Mostheuringen are open!

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This wasn’t on our maps, but we cycled by it. They had a small shed with things for sale with an honesty box by the road. They sold pasta, eggs and Most (90% of Colleen’s diet). 
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Planning out our route with bottles ready to sample
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Most (gespritzt) at a Gasthof in Wallsee. We found this helpful map and brochure about the Mostviertel Moststraße on our last cycling day at 5pm. Perfect.
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Donauradweg (Danube cycle way) in Au
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Posing next to some rapeseed, slightly buzzed and weary after 25 miles of tough up and down cycling in Mostviertel

After coming up with some ideas for labelling in Austria, we created some prototype labels this week and James made one of them into proper labels for our remaining bottles and boxes.

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Jimbo’s label design

Today we are heading Bromley Cider festival, which we went to last year and quite enjoyed. I don’t know of any other cider only festivals in South London, so it’s not to be missed. This year we have some people to connect up with and talk cider with, which we are looking forward to doing. We should have some exciting news afterwards!

That’s it for now. Prost! – Colleen

 

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