Continuing to answer my requests for more cider reviews, after my reviews of Crispin’s The Saint and Browns Lane, I offer a few words on a hard apple cider imported from Ireland: Magner’s. In fact, if forced at gunpoint to name a favorite “everyday” cider, this is probably the one I’d choose. There are two primary reasons. First, it’s delicious. Second, it’s almost universally available. My beloved Marley House, Mac McGee’s, and McGowan’s pubs have it on draft (most of the establishments here in pubtopia do, I think). Last night, I even found the bottles in bar in a bowling alley. My opinion of bowling alleys has gone up a notch or two.
Magner’s pours a lovely red-copper-gold, and its aroma carries citrus and floral notes as well as the expected apple. There is very little carbonation. The mouthfeel is medium. The taste … well, sweet apple with a bit of balancing tang from the alcohol. You’d expect that from a hard apple cider. But honestly, most ciders have tastes beyond what you’d expect, like the maple and Trappist yeast in Crispin’s The Saint.
Magner’s is almost surprising in its basic simplicity. In fact, I’ve even heard it criticized for being basic. Honestly, I just don’t get that. The more exotic ciders (again, like The Saint) are just that: exotic. They are special occasion ciders, if there’s such a thing. Magner’s is more like a good, favorite table wine. It’s (almost) always available, always dependable, and always delicious.
Magner’s is crisp, red-apple sweet without being cloying, and quite refreshing. In a word, it’s satisfying in a way that too few products of any sort are. Magner’s is the perfect alternative for a night at the pub when you’re just not in the mood for beer (in theory, that could happen).
It’s best served very cold (in Ireland, it’s usually poured over ice), and is mighty tasty with food, or just on its own. It also defies seasons—I tend to think of it as a refreshing spring/summer afternoon pick-me-up, perfect for a deck or a ballgame. But honestly, it’s also very nice in autumn and winter. In fact, I’ve had hot winter drinks that use it as a base, and they are amazing.
There is nothing especially unusual or distinguishing about Magner’s. It’s just a nice, slightly sweet, well-balanced, and delicious cider. Sometimes, that’s exactly what you’re looking for. It’s a staple for a well-stocked fridge. As always, please feel free to use the comment space to let me know what you think.