Reviewed by Colin Hewitt
On hot summer evenings, I’ve always enjoyed an ice-cold cider. However, being born and bred in the South West, I’m a bit of a purist. OK, I admit it, (and much to the disgust of my fellow drinkers) on occasions I’ve bowed to pressure, betrayed my clotted-cream coloured Devonshire smock, and added a couple of ice cubes. ‘Cider should be made from apples,’ I would say, ‘and nothing but apples.’ Therefore, I’m slightly sceptical about alternative fruit-based ciders that have recently flooded the market, thinking that fashion rather than taste is leading the way. I’ve been proven wrong, very wrong. I am a born-again fruit cider drinker, notably cranberry and apple-based cider.
Cranes Drinks, based in Cambridge, was founded in 2012 by twin brothers Ben and Dan Ritsema. The company name Cranes was decided upon because the shape of cranberry blossom is similar to that of a crane’s head, in fact (and this, for any regular pub quiz contender, is a bit of brilliant trivia to retain) in the 17th Century cranberries were called ‘crane-berries’. On their website, the brothers credit the research, and name suggestion, to their father.
Cranes recently sent me a Cider Gift Set to review.
The box contained 500ml bottles of their three cranberry and apple ciders, together with a tall Cranes branded serving glass.
Cranberries and Limes. I found this to be very well balanced. Not as sweet as some fruit-based ciders. It was sharp, refreshing, and tart. It’s suggested that it should be served with ice and frozen cranberries.
Blueberries and Apples. Again, this is crisp and refreshing. Possibly the least tart, and sweetest from the Crane range, but I didn’t find the sweetness overpowering, it exhibited a natural sweetness that all three ciders present. They suggest serving over ice with frozen blueberries.
Raspberries and Pomegranates. Now, this was a revelation, something very different. I couldn’t make my mind; was it sweet or tart? My taste-buds were, in a good way, confused. Because of this, it was my favourite of the three flavours. Cranes suggest serving over ice with frozen raspberries, which on this occasion I did (this may have added to the lovely tart-sweetness confusion).
All of these ciders were delicious, and it must be noted that, by utilising the natural sugars in the high-quality cranberries and apples that Cranes select, these drinks contain 30% fewer calories than some other brands of cider.
Apart from the Raspberry and Pomegranate cider I didn’t follow the serving suggestions (they were simply served chilled and over ice), however, I could imagine all of these ciders being served in large bowled cocktail or gin glass with loads of ice and the suggested frozen fruit, all three were so vibrantly coloured, they would be visually stunning.
The Cranes website has a handy supply checker where you can enter your postcode and find your nearest stockist. You can also purchase directly from the Cranes Online Store.
It might be a bit early in the year to mention the ‘C-Word’, but it’s worth considering this gift set as a present for anyone who enjoys cider (besides, Cranberries and Christmas – they’re made for each other!)
In addition to the three types of cider, Cranes also produce a 17% Cranberry & Blood Orange Liqueur and a handcrafted Cranberry Gin, both of which I’m intrigued to try. I’m also very interested to see what other innovative products the brothers have planned in the coming years.
Cranes Cranberry Cider won’t completely replace my regular pint of ‘Farmer John’s Old Nadger Scrumpy’, and it total fairness, that isn’t the market Crane’s are aiming for, but as a deliciously refreshing, tasty alternative, especially during the summer months at barbecues and picnics, they’d be tough to beat.
A highly deserved 5/5.
RRP: £13.50 (Cider Gift Set)
For more information or to buy the Cranes Cider Gift Set visit drinkcranes.co.uk.