UK cider vintages?

Hi

I thought we didn’t generally separate vintages unless there was a clear recipe difference between each vintage?

This cider producer has had all their products entered with a year in the title:
https://www.ratebeer.com/brewers/broughton-bank-perry-and-cider/51029/

I’ve just got hold of a bottle of theirs labelled “Medium 2022”. The only entry on here is for “Medium 2020”. There’s nothing on the bottle to indicate that there’s any difference other than the year of production.

Just wanted to check - I assume I shouldn’t enter this as a new product, and should just enter my rating under the existing 2020 entry? If so, maybe an admin could go through and remove the year from all the entries for this producer (sorry!)?

Thanks.

Actually, just noticed that ABV has dropped from 6.4% to 5%, but obviously variations in ABV are common in cider, not sure that’s enough to warrant a separate entry?

I thought the rule was a 10% variation in ABV triggered a new rate, but I might have dreamed that?

<*))))))><

I think the 10% rule has been applied for beer. Whether it makes sense for cider I don’t know. Seems like it would be more variable across vintages?

For ciders if there are splits it would be useful to indicate that it’s for the abv differentiation vs just the vintage.

Can you tell if the vintages were added by a RB user vs the cidermaker?

All these ciders were user added.

The 10% variation is indeed a written rule (or more of a guideline) that exists for beer but there’s no mention of cider in it. I’m no expert but I tend to agree that this rule doesn’t make as much sense applied to cider because ABV variance is common from batch to batch.

As for these vintages, if there’s no recipe change from year to year then I don’t think the year should be included in the name, even if it’s given on the bottle. These would be legit vintages on Untappd but not on RB unless unique recipe each year. At least that’s my understanding. Perhaps a more senior admin than me can weigh in here before I edit out all those years.

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Yes have to agree with this. See also Weston’s and Sheppys. ABV variations are common as the sugar concentration will vary every year with naturally fermented (‘proper’) cider but then that also can produce flavour variations as well. I think a 2% ABV variation is fair game for a new entry.

I’ll just add that it’s not a one size fits all thing with cider. Some will produce a cider under a specific name with the same apple varieties, but a slightly different blend to alter acidity, tannin, sweetness, overall balance. Quite often this is very noticeable. The vintage is therefore useful.

I’d say the merging of years is more for commercial producers (Thatchers, Weston’s, Sheppys etc) where there is no variation at all. For independent, authentic producers id say it’s more of a case by case thing.

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It’s not only cider. When I started out I was quite hard supporter of 10% separation rule … Nowadays I am the opposite. I have heard enough stories over the years to know that ABV on the label can be total bullshit (more bullshit when we are speaking about wild cider/beer). Just to give you a couple of examples: one of my friends works in a brewery and they have proper lab, so they sometimes test beers by other breweries. In one case they tested a smoothie sour that tasted very smooth for 10% ABV, and found out that it was actually 5% ABV… (it makes zero sense to lie like this as you have to pay more tax if the ABV is higher, the only guess can be that they estimated the ABV and made a mistake). There was also a case where they tested various alcohol free drinks and one of the beers was something like 1.5% ABV (which is illegal in Estonia as alco free beer can be max 0.5% ABV), and some “alco free” kombuchas were something like 3-4% ABV (even more illegal, and possibly dangerous for drivers and pregnant ladies). Also just a couple of weeks ago one of my friends who works in another brewery mentioned a beer that came out way stronger than they expected, but labels were already printed so they didn’t change them…
I think that rb guidelines are actually pretty good in this regard: if the recipe has not changed then it is up to admin decide if it should be separate entry or not (when there is at least 10% difference)… recently I had a case where a beer was served as 10% ABV at the festival, but later released in a bottle as 15% ABV… looks like automatic new entry, but when I asked about it the brewer confirmed that is the exact same batch, and festival version was probably just estimated ABV, and bottle one was actually measured.

Ok, thanks for all the thoughts everyone. So, given the 1.4% ABV difference between the 2020 and 2022 “vintages”, do you think the way to go is:

  1. Delete the year from the existing entry and put all ratings regardless of year/ABV under that rating - might need a note adding to say something like “regardless of year/ABV shown on the bottle”.

  2. Replace the year from the current entry with a suffix saying “(6.4%)”, and then add another entry with a suffix of “(5%)”. Obviously this could become very unwieldy if every year is a different %!

  3. Keep the vintage years on the database and add another entry for the 2022 edition.

For what it’s worth, I prefer (1) but I’m not too bothered.

I think if vintages are stated on the label by the producer then for ciders they should get separate entries, as ciders can vary by year depending on the growing season for that year, and there may be changes in the blend of apples and abv also.

Anyways I thought the rule on adding vintages was this:

“Vintage entries of the same named product are allowed only if each Vintage differs commercially. A Vintage is when there is a year clearly listed on the bottle on the label, not a bottled date or an expiration date.”

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And then people over the years have picked that apart … JW Lees Harvest for example

I think we should just leave cider vintages as is … like you say apple blends can and do change and aren’t necessarily listed

Also … there’s plenty of bigger and more pressing shit to fix and sort on this site with out going over and unpicking previously verified ciders!!!

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As far as beer goes there must be also recipe difference, that’s why Fuller’s vintages are separated and Thomas Hardy isn’t (except when there is brewery change, different barrel etc.).

I’m not an expert in cider, but I would guess that to make consistent product you actually have to use different varieties in different qualities - meaning that to make two vintages that taste about “the same” you have to “change the recipe”. That is generally not a case with beer (excluding wild beers ofc) - to make about the same beer you use the same recipe. Not going more into details here, but basically one can make a case in either way.

I agree with @Theydon_Bois unless there is a big reason to go back and change verified things, it shouldn’t be done.

Commercial cider utilises various means to produce a consistent product, regardless of the harvest, apples used etc… The big players put the vintage year on the label to garner some kind of authenticity, I assume.

Authentic producers, those who make cider according to traditional processes, will make cider that shows more variation year to year.

It’s often fairly clear which is which. Having a separate vintage year for Weston’s, Thatchers or any big supermarket cider is like having a vintage for Strongbow. Completely pointless.

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Yes, agree - I think the overwhelming majority of vintage ciders with years stated on ratebeer are by craft producers (e.g. the Little Pomona, Olivers etc) where their ciders vary with each years harvest and their consumers are interested in each specific vintage. I would even specifically say craft over traditional producers, as many traditional producers don’t market their ciders as vintages e.g. examples Gwatkin, Hecks come to mind as not listing any vintages.

If you look at those larger brand examples:

Thatchers - they only have one vintage series stating the year that goes back to 2012 (as Thatchers Vintage xxxx Oak Aged Cider) to 2019 then from 2020 (as Thatchers Vintage xxxx Cider) to 2022. The labels state blended from the pick of that years harvest. I think there’s only one other one-off vintage with a date in their list, which has 95 entries on ratebeer.

Westons - out of 192 entries on ratebeer there’s only 6 with vintage dates, while there are 4 with dates as aliases to non-vintage entries.

So seems like a very small part of larger brands ranges

Big macro brands like Aston Manor and Brothers don’t have any vintages at all listed - presumably it’s not something their usual customers shopping at Home Bargains are going to be interested in - whereas raters…

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Agreed on the grab bag.

Big players produce a consistent product & only care about vintage for promotion.

Small cideries label single or blended varieties, acid or sugar content based on season & availability. It’s the same as having 300 different hop or malt varieties. Many of the same labels from year to year go from bittersweet to sweet to dry. Single varietals don’t drastically differentiate year to year but can be very different for those focused on it. Blends or seasonal changes make me more in favor of vintages. Solitary ingredients that taste better or worse year to year are pretty standard.

Cheers.

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