Posts Tagged ‘shepton mallet’

Beer Review: Gaymer White Star White Cider

1 May, 2008

SURELY not every white cider on the market can be made by Gaymer? After reviewing first Diamond White and then Ice Dragon, both of which were mediocre and both turned out to be from the Gaymer Cider Company. In the same way as the rather good K, the Gaymer name was carefully hidden away. Will that be the case with my next can of strong, white cider? Will this one be better than the rest? I doubt it.

Gaymer White Star White Cider can

This can, like Ice Dragon, has a unique look, all of its own. This one goes for a white, silver and blue colour scheme. That together with the Apple Macintosh font gives it a sci-fi feel. I quite like it, I must say.

Beneath the large, “White Star” logo are the basics. It describes itself as “White Cider”. Confirms that this is a 500 millilitre can. But, I’m pleased to say, without that ridiculous claim to have been 440 millilitres in the past. Ice Dragon and the cheap super-strength lagers, I’m looking at you. Instead, this one boasts of being a “Big Value Half Litre”. Also down at the bottom of the can we learn that it has 7.5%. The exact same volume as Diamond White and Ice Dragon. A clue to it’s origin perhaps?

Turn the can around enough times and you reach the details side of the can. Again, for a can of white cider, devoid of much in the way of real details.

Gaymer White Star White Cider details side of can

We get all the familiar details like “Serve Chilled”. And “White Cider”. And “With sugar and sweetener. And “Contains Sulphites”. If someone can explain what a sulphite is, I would be very grateful.

The usual UK units of alcohol symbol is on there. And I can report that is 3.8 UK units of alcohol.

But… who made White Star? Surely Gaymer can’t be behind yet another white cider? Lets read the postal address and find out…

I don’t know whether to be surprised at this or not. But it IS the Gaymer Cider Co who are behind White Star. The same outfit from Shepton Mallet, Somerset, England, who were behind the identically uninspiring Diamond White and Ice Dragon, and the very good K. If this is going to be a re-run of the past two days, then it’s not looking good. Time to find out if my fears of another disappointment are well founded…

Poured into a glass, and it looks identical to its stable mates. It’s just as pale and fizzy as they are.

Gaymer White Star White Cider poured into a glass

It smells just as much of synthetic apples as they did, too. And, I’m sad to report, that it tastes as mediocre as they did. Yes it does taste mildly of apples. And it is moderately refreshing and easy to drink. But, there’s barely any apple-y taste and none of that lingering refreshment that you expect from a cider.

In short, White Star is just as disappointing as Diamond White and Ice Dragon. In fact, I’d be surprised if they weren’t identical, and simply packaged differently.

I’m not sure if what I’ve had this week has been a true cross-section of white ciders. Or if other manufacturers produce white ciders. If they do, I’d be interested to know how they compare. So if you’ve had a white cider from someone other than Gaymer, leave a comment at the end of this post.

If the three white ciders I’ve reviewed do sum-up what the category is all about, then I’m not impressed. They have no taste. They’re not a refreshing as other ciders. They are the lagers of the cider world. In the same way that lagers offer a fraction of the flavour, body and character of beers and ales; white ciders have only some of the flavour and refreshment of proper ciders.

If you like the apple-y taste and refreshment of ciders, look elsewhere. You wont find it with a white cider. I certainly didn’t.

Rating: 2.95

Have you tried White Star or a white cider from anyone that is no Gaymer? If so, then leave a comment with your thoughts, corrections, suggestions and recommendations.

Beer Review: Gaymer Ice Dragon Extra Strength White Cider

30 April, 2008

YESTERDAY’S introduction to strong, white cider in the form of Gaymer Diamond White wasn’t great. It wasn’t as delicious, nor as strong as Gaymer’s other strong cider, K. What I need to try are more white ciders. Which brings me to the next in my strong, white cider round-up, Gaymer Ice Dragon.

Gaymer Ice Dragon Extra Strength White Cider can

This tall, 500 millilitre can was purchased from my local off-licence for very little money. It used to be 440 milliltres. But they’ve used the old trick of adding 13.5% to make it the same gigantic size as the other alcoholics favourites.

The front of the can doesn’t give away who made it. Just like K and Diamond White, whoever is behind is keen to hide their name. And they do it well. What with the unusual, mostly blue colour scheme and red dragon logo, it stands out.

Under the solid blue and “Ice Dragon” logo, is a frosted, icey snow flake blue background. On top of which, are the basics. Namely the description of “White Cider”. A pill shaped red blob telling us that this has the typical 7.5% volume. And the words “Extra Strength”. In case you didn’t know that 7.5% alcohol volume is quite a lot for a cider. I like the way this can looks. It’s too colourful and cheerful be an alcoholics choice. Instead, it looks to be trying to be the student party cider of choice.

Turn the can around enough times, and you reach the details side of the can. Everything, or at least the details they decide to give you, are here. All in high-contrast and readably sized lettering. Thank goodness for that. After a few weeks of needing to squint to read the labels, its good to have things printed clearly and in a readable size.

Gaymer Ice Dragon Extra Strength White Cider details side of can

It may be readable. But that doesn’t mean that there’s much to read. From the top, it starts with the uninspired “Serve Chilled”. Under that, we learn that this has 3.8 UK units of alcohol. Which if you didn’t know, is a lot. You really wouldn’t want more than that amount each day.

Under that is the terse description and ingredients of “White Cider with Sugar and Sweetener Contains Sulphites”. Maybe they’re supposed to be two or more different sentences? With nothing else even approaching a sentence printed on the can, you’ll have to look elsewhere for reading material while drinking Dragon Ice.

Like Diamond White and K, the manufacturer isn’t madly keen on being identified. You have to find the postal address to find out that this is, once again, the output of one Gaymer Cider Company. The same one, of Shepton Mallet, Somerset, England who hid behind Diamond White and K. Are we going to discover that every white cider brand out there is owned by these chaps?

As for what to expect, I’m guessing that it will be a lot like Diamond White. Why shouldn’t it be? It’s white cider and it’s from the same company. Either way, it’s time to find out.

Poured into a glass, and first impressions are that it’s identical to Diamond White. It’s just as fizzy and just as pale.

Gaymer Ice Dragon Extra Strength White Cider poured into a glass

The smell is almost exactly the same, too. That is to say, it smells of synthetic apples. All in all, not a great start.

A couple of gulps in however, and it does start to redeem itself. It does taste a little more of apples that did Diamond White. And that refreshing apple aftertaste seems to stay a little longer. On the other hand, it could just be my imagination, and it’s no different at all. There isn’t much in it. It’s still very very similar.

It’s just as light, easy to drink and quite refreshing. But on the other hand, it hasn’t got much taste. Or the apple-y refreshment that you expect from cider.

If you asked me to recommend either Diamond White or Ice Dragon over one another, I would be hard pressed to come up with a winner. They’re both equally cheap, tasteless and strong.

If you are a student who is trying to decide whether to buy Diamond White or Ice Dragon, pick either. Or pick the cheapest. Or pick something else entirely. K is about as cheap, stronger and tastier. Or pick a beer, spirit or wine instead. There aren’t many reasons to recommend this.

As a consequence, it scores exactly the same mark as yesterday’s white cider.

Rating: 2.95

Have you tried Ice Dragon or any other of Gaymer’s many ciders? What did you think?
As usual, recommendations, ideas, suggestions and corrections in the comments box please.
Check back tomorrow for my next white cider review. How much worse can they get? Or will the next one surprise us all?

Beer Review: Gaymer Diamond White Strong White Cider

29 April, 2008

A FEW weeks ago, during my look at super-high-strength lagers and ciders, Gaymer K was the big surprise. It was very strong at 8.4% volume, tasty, drinkable and cheap. This, I followed up with a few days ago with Strongbow Super. At 7.5%, it was a weaker. And because it was a dry cider, it wasn’t as drinkable. But it was still cheap.

Next to them on the shop shelves however is another type of strong cider. The White Ciders. All at 7.5% volume, I’ve rounded up three strong, white, ciders. The first of which is a little bottle of Diamond White.

Gaymer Diamond White Strong White Cider bottle

The bottle isn’t unusual in shape. But it is quite small. And there doesn’t appear to be much on the labels.

The neck label keeps things simple with only the word “Strong” beneath an illustration of a diamond. That says it all really.

Gaymer Diamond White Strong White Cider neck label

The main front label doesn’t have much on it either. But it’s still the place to look for the details.

Gaymer Diamond White Strong White Cider front label

The blue background and stylised “Diamond” and “White” lettering looks good. “Strong” is still very prominent. And the 7.5% is neatly positioned to stand out. There’s also the words “Drink Cold” next to what looks like the sort of star symbol that you see on freezers. Not sure if that means you should store it in a freezer or just a fridge.

The back label doesn’t have an awful lot on it either. In fact, it’s mostly barcode with little bits of text around the edges. You get the impression that if they didn’t need a barcode, there would be no back label whatsoever. It really is little larger than a postage stamp.

Gaymer Diamond White Strong White Cider back label

Prominently positioned next to the Diamond White logo is the units of alcohol symbol. 2.1 for this little bottle. And the smallness of the bottle is confirmed by the label. It is only 275 millilitres. Unusually small, this is the first bottle I’ve seen that has this odd capacity. Also on the back label, it describes itself as “Strong White Cider”. It contains sugar, sweeteners and contains sulphites. Just like every other cider. Yet I’m no clearer on what sulphites are.

There’s still little indication of who is behind Diamond White. Hold on… what is that I see in tiny lettering beneath the barcode? It’s the postal address and name of the manufacturer. I wander who it is? Well stone me, it’s Gaymer again! The same Gaymer Cider Company of Shepton Mallet, Sumerset, England who were behind the excellent K. And if I remember, they were keen on hiding their identity on that cider too. This hints at two things. First, that Gaymer really doesn’t want to be associated with strong ciders. And two, if K was anything to go by, Diamond White will be pretty good. Time to find out.

Pouring it, the reason for the unusual 275 millilitre amount becomes clear: it filled my half-pint glass nicely. The other thing that stood out were how many bubbles were rapidly rising to the surface. So many, and so violently, they cause a quite loud fizzing sound. The last thing that strikes me, is how it looks. It’s a very weak shade of yellow for a cider. Although that could be down to it being a white cider. Until I’ve tried some others, it’s not clear if it’s unusually light in shade or not.

Gaymer Diamond White Strong White Cider poured into a glass

The smell is good though. A light and apple-y smell accompanies Diamond White. But there is something synthetic about the way it smells. Rather like it’s sister cider, K.

A couple of gulps down, and it’s clear that white cider, or Diamond White at least, is a different animal to ordinary cider. It tastes less of apples. And minus the full-flavoured, full-body that I love about cider of the non-white variety. Diamond White is… well… rather watery.

As a cider, this makes it hard to judge. With the tiny amount I’ve had so far, I’d say that it’s somewhere between a dry and a sweet cider. Although I could be wrong on that call.

There are some cider-like qualities still present however. It does taste a little of apples. And, especially when cold, it is quite refreshing. It’s also very easy to drink. And surprisingly, despite how fizzy it is, I didn’t end up burping. Which was a relief.

But I’m not impressed. It doesn’t have the lingering, apple-y, refreshing aftertaste that cider should have. It doesn’t have much taste or flavour at all. And it’s not all that potent either, if that’s what you’re after.

At the end of my glass of Diamond White, I’ve hit upon what white cider is all about. Assuming that Diamond White sums up what the category is all about. Diamond White, or white cider in general is the strong lager of the cider world. Like strong lagers to ales, Diamond White hasn’t got much taste or flavour. But it is strong. And this one is easy to drink, easy to buy and cheap. But, it isn’t as strong, or as delicious as, for example, K. And that makes Diamond White and the other white ciders a puzzle about what their purpose is. With two more white ciders to go in this round-up, there’s still time to figure it out.

Rating: 2.95

What is Diamond White and the phenomenon that is white cider all about? If you’re tried Diamond White or the other white ciders, leave a comment with your thoughts, opinions, ideas, corrections and suggestions.

Beer Review: ‘K’ Gaymer Cider

20 March, 2008

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.
K can

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.
K logo

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.
K barcode side

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.
K cider in a glass

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…

Rating: 3.3

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…


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