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If you are a craft beer lover in Korea, then you are more than likely familiar with Hand & Malt. However it is not just beer that the company is making, they have just expanded their operation and are now making Korea’s first ciders! Being a west country girl, I grew up on the stuff, and when I first moved to Korea 8 years ago I was very disappointed to find that it had barely even been heard of. Luckily for me, over the years the big brands finally paid notice and the city is now awash with all sorts of bottled and canned varieties.

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But thankfully things haven’t stopped there, and cider is now being brewed right here in Korea. I’m so happy that one of my favourite drinks is finally getting the love and attention it deserves. To celebrate the release and launch of the new Hand & Apple Ciders, a media event was held last week at Hopscotch, where the who’s who of the media world (and me) were invited to try all four of the newly released ciders along with some food pairings.

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The first cider we tried was the signature Hard Apple Cider (6.5 ABV). The cider was tart and sour with a slightly sweet finish. It was a tad vinegary on first taste, but grew more pleasant over time, a good starting point at any road. This was paired with a mushroom and bacon pate on rye bread topped with a sliver of sharp cheddar and a brie encroute stuffed with candied pecans and cranberries. Cider and cheese has always been a winning combination, and it is no wonder we do both so well back home in Somerset.

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Our second course was the Hopped Apple Cider (6.5 ABV). This drink was the love child of cider and pale ale. It had the floral nose of an IPA and a fruity aftertaste. The apple really took away from the bitterness of the pale ale that I usually don’t enjoy, I can see this being extremely popular in Korea. It was paired with Bourbon honey glazed meatballs and gorgonzola garlic mash. The potatoes could have been cheesier but the meat balls were scrummy as hell.

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Our third cider was the Pecan Cinnamon Apple Cider (6.5 ABV). I was less keen on this one, but overall it does what it says on the tin and you could certainly taste the cinnamon and pecan. I think for now this isn’t going to be released and they are going to keep it seasonal. It would be perfect in the autumn once the nights turn chilly again, or mulled and served warm in the winter. It was served with Curried Picatta. The curry sauce was lick the plate clean good and I really hope they put this on the full time menu, especially if they bulk out the fish with some wild rice and green vegetables.

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Our last cider was the Raspberry Apple Cider (6.5 ABV). I’m a raspberry lover, so I was really looking forward to this one, and I was not disappointed. It was very sweet and fruity, and you could really taste the raspberry. I’m not sure if everyone liked it as much as I did, but for us girly drink likers, it is the perfect mix of fruity fabulousness and I could certainly see myself sinking a few of these on a summer afternoon. The cider was served with a caramel bread pudding for dessert. It was a proper stodgy British pud that went really well with the raspberry cider and a great way to finish the evening.

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Overall I was really impressed with what the team has produced so far, I’m sure their batches will only get better with time and my thumbs are certainly up for the Hopped Apple Cider and The Raspberry Apple Cider. I’m also keen to see if they can come up with a sweet and a dry cider over the next few months too. I’m hoping this is going to be the start of Korea cider industry.  If you are a cider lover and keen to get your lips around a glass of the good stuff then The Hand & Apple is having another free tasting open to the general public this Wednesday June 16th from 6pm-8pm sharp at Hopscotch. First come, first served, check out the full details on the facebook page.

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If you can’t make this Wednesday’s tasting the original hard Apple Cider and the Raspberry Apple Ciders are currently available to buy for around 7,000 won each at Hopscotch, The Hand & Malt Taproom, Vatos (Itaewon branch), Amazing Brewery, and Tomatillo with more to come soon. For more information about the The Hand & Apple Cider Company please see their facebook page.

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