ALREADY, my exploration into the controversial world of the super-strong drink has included an Duvel ale and a “barley wine” Gold Label beer. And we haven’t even reached the notorious lagers. And this instalment won’t either. You see, I didn’t realise this when I picked up this can, but we have here, a strong cider. This is K, produced by the Gaymer Cider Company from Shepton Mallet, England.
This one was from my local off-licence. And priced quite reasonably too. Why did I choose this one as the next strongest to try? Well, it has the right image. The tall 500 millilitre can is the same size as the lagers that come with free ASBOs. It provides the young, irresponsible drinker with maximum alcohol units for minimum price. Yet at the 8.4% clearly printed below the logo, it is marginally weaker than both Duvel and Gold Label. So, I’m going into this one predicting a rough experience from a strong drink, but that it won’t be as hard going as what will follow it.
Taking a closer look at the can, I think the black background and combination of red, gold and high-contrast white lettering to be a good design. This one also has a big red banner around the top explaining that this one has an extra 13.5% to bring it up to 500 millilitres. But in the market today, it’s hard to imaging them succeeding with anything less. The quote “The ultimate in quality” follows the ‘K‘ logo all the way around the can.
And around the bottom of the can are the words “Strong”, “Refreshing” and “Different”. We’ll see about that when we try it. I do like the serious but minimal look of the can however.
Around on what you could consider to be the ‘back’ of the cylindrical can are the details. All neatly contained above the barcode. The paragraph that normally gets devoted to a story or some history in this case has a lot of marketing twaddle. It truly is one of the most inane paragraphs I’ve seen on a drink. Something about how the ‘K’ stands for the ultimate in quality. You get the idea.
Also on there are the main details you’d want to know. That this is cider. That it contains sulphites. Whatever they are. That is it best served chilled. That this can manages to fit an astonishing 4.2 UK units of alcohol. And neatly hidden away is the name and address of the Gaymer Cider Company.
Now I could be wrong, but I’d say Gaymer are hiding their name. As if they don’t want the Gaymer name to be associated with the ‘K‘ brand. And who can blame them. If Gaymer is pushing their name with their other premium cider brands, they wouldn’t want to be mentioned in the same breath as words like “teenager”, “anti-social” or “disorderly”.
And that’s all there is to talk about the outside of the can. Time to open it up and see how “Strong”, “Refreshing” and “Different” K actually is.
Once poured carefully into a glass, I realise it was pointless to be careful. Cider doesn’t have a head. As K beautifully demonstrates. It’s also predictably cider-ish in colour. A good, deep, gold colour.
You don’t even need me to describe the smell to you. It smells of apples. But if you’ve had cider before, you’ll know that. I’ve not tried anything more than cheap ciders in the past so I don’t have much to compare it with. It could be substandard in some way, but I wouldn’t realise it. Leave a comment if you have an opinion one way or the other.
It’s been so long since I’ve had a cider, I’d forgotten just how refreshing they can be. And even a very strong cider like K here is just that. It does, predictably, taste a little of apples. And it does have a slightly bitter/sour aftertaste. But it’s surprising how easy to drink it is considering the 8.4% strength. It would be very easy to get through a lot of this without realising how inebriated one is becoming. And that is perhaps what K is all about. The easiest, cheapest way to consume as many units of alcohol as possible.
Working through the can, I can’t say that K is the best tasting cider out there. I’m fairly sure that big bottles of Woodpecker or Strongbow as tastier. But you can’t argue with it as an effective, accessible vehicle for all those units of alcohol. Even if the gassiness makes you burp a lot.
Final thoughts? K is an example of what I set out to find. It’s affordable. Very easily drinkable. Especially if your palate isn’t yet mature enough to appreciate beer. And it is very strong. I’d rate it higher than Gold Label for drinkability but it doesn’t have the character of Duvel or strong Scottish ales. I’d go so far as to say that K is bland in comparison. It certainly is very easy to drink though. This is going to be a challenging rating to give…
Have you tried K? What did you think?
Can you recommend any other ciders, high-strength or otherwise?
If so, leave all comments, ideas, insults and bribes in the usual place…