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I have been meaning to review Magners since I joined Ciao again, but haven’t been able to get around to it until now. Magners, is by far my favourite alcoholic beverage, and has been since I was 17, replacing the copious amounts of alchopops which I used to drink. It is the staple drink I have on a night out, and can be found in nearly every pub in Britain. In fact, the only time I have had problems getting it, was when I was in Twickenham last year, where several pubs that I went in, only had Bulmers.
The title, was a literary masterpiece courtesy of the one and only - Tallulahbang!
The History of Magners
William Magner, brought an orchard in 1935 and in 1937 joined forces with H.P Bulmer. When Magner left the business, the intellectual rights were reserved by Bulmer, ensuring that the cider couldn’t be exported outside of Ireland, and it wasn’t until later that it launched, strangely enough, in the city of Glasgow in 2003, and is now apparently “Britain’s favourite bottled cider”. Over in Ireland, it is still known as Bulmers, but elsewhere, bears the name Magners, whilst keeping identical labelling.
Both companies have since diversified, and most ciders on the main market are from the Bulmers company (Scrumpy Jack, Strongbow and Woodpecker to name a few. Magners has recently also expanded into various other varieties.
Magners is a combination of 17 varieties of Apple, none of which I have ever heard of: Michellin, Dabinett, Yarlington Mill, Bulmer's Norman, Tremlett's Bitter, Breakwell Seedling, Taylor's, Harry Master's Jersey, Medaille d'Or, Reine des Pommes, Ashton Bitter, Brambley's, Grenadier, Brown Thorn, Brown Snout, Vilberies and improved Dove.
During the 14th century, children were baptised in cider - it was cleaner than water
The Magners Range
The forefront of the Magners range is of course, Magners Original Cider. That is what people would refer to as Magners, and is the sweet amber coloured drink that sits in pint glasses country wide.
Most recently, they have launched a Perry, aptly named Magners Pear Cider. There are a variety of fruit ciders on the Market, ranging from Cherry to Winter Fruits, and pear is the most common by far. You have probably seen the adverts for this on TV recently – made with “100% pears”.
There is also Magners Light, which is a low calorie version, which contains just 28 calories per 100ml compared to the 42 in normal Magners.
Finally, is the Magners Mid Strength, which is just 2.3% ABV compared to the 4.5% of proper Magners.
By the year 1800, cider was said to be 'the' cure for stomach upset, rheumatic disease and various other diseases.
How Magners Comes
The normal tipple of Magners comes in a variety of cans and bottles. At different volumes and quantities. In most pubs, they will have the standard 1 pint (568ml) bottle, and this normally sets you back anywhere from £3.00-£3.60 (at least in the pubs in Cambridgeshire I have been in). Most pubs will then offer, or automatically provide you with a glass and ice. If it is a decent pub, then they will have the proper Magners glasses, which have a nice shape, and are what I prefer my Magners in. Other pubs, might also have the smaller, 330ml bottles. I have seen these at a couple of clubs, but never brought one, so don’t really know how much they tend to charge for them.
The other way you might find this in a pub, is on Draught. I have actually only seen it in one pub like this, and that is the Five Alls, in Benwick (where I live). This should cost the same as a normal pint bottle, and does in my local. Since this is on draught, you have to have a glass, but you don’t tend to need ice, since it is chilled well in the cellars. In my opinion, the best Magners
is on draught, and it is certainly the most refreshing I have had it, and without the annoying Ice Cubes in too!!
In the 18th century part of a farm labourers’’ wages were paid in cider.
Travel now, to the shops, and our options are even wider. Go to any decent supermarket, and you should find the full range of Magners sat neatly on a shelf. But don’t expect it universally. I find that especially Tesco is shite at having the full range, unless you go to one of there large stores (and I mean the BIG ones, like Barhill, as opposed to March..)
First off, we have the pint bottles. These are easiest to find, nearly always being stocked in Tesco and different off licenses. They will be priced anywhere from £1.99 a bottle, often with offers like “3 for £5”. You can also grab a box of 6 of these. Then we have the bigger bottles. You can pick up Magners in both 1 litre and 750ml forms. I don’t ever see these at Tesco, but Co-Op have them. They are obviously a tad more expensive than the pint, but when on offer, can provide much better value for money. I think Co-Op had the 750ml for £2.99 a few months ago.
Then there are the small bottles. 330ml to be exact, which I have never seen sold individually. A box of 4 will set you back around a fiver, with various offers on in Tesco every now and again, such as two for £7, which is currently shown online.
Now, moving onto the cans. There are two sizes of can available, 500ml and 440ml and are sold in different quantities. In most off-licences, you can pick up individual or multiple cans of the 500ml variety, or in Tesco, you can get a box of 8, which is usually priced somewhere in the region of £10. The 440ml cans come in boxes of 12, which are often priced about the same, although they were on offer in Tesco at just £7 most of last month.
The Mid-Strength, Pear and Magners Light, I have only seen sold individually, in the pint bottle format.
Obviously, the packaging is diverse, over the different products. But the basic logo is the same. It is a nice logo, with Magners written on (consult pictures for what it looks like, better than me describing isn’t it..).
But, the normal bottles are brown, so you can’t see the colour of the sweet nectar that lies within. The top has a golden foil piece, and Magners looks very like the British Bulmers.
Pear Magners, is in a green bottle. With green foil, and a similar label, but has pictures of pears on it. Easy to spot. The Mid-Strength one has a brown bottle, but a green piece of foil at the top, and the Light is silver coloured rather than gold on the labels. So, now you can spot the bottles!!
The boxes of cans, tend to be black, with a photo of a Magners can upon it. Nothing fancy. It’s just a box after all..
What you actually want to know, how it tastes
Now, writing this, I can’t actually describe the cider in detail, since its been erm… 3 days since I have had any. But, I am off to the pub later tonight, and will complete this then…
But, in the mean time, what can I remember? Well, the first thing is, the taste can vary. I have no idea if it is just me, but sometimes, it tastes sweeter than other times, sometimes more appley and more refreshing, and I have even had some that have tasted a bit rough – although I think they were from the barrel going past it…
I think I have said this, and will repeat, that on tap, it needs no Ice. That is how it is best, and how I will be having it later. But if you are having a bottle, ice is recommended, even if it is from a fridge, this stuff tastes best really cold. What I hate though, is if the bottle hasn’t been refrigerated at all, since you then need more ice. Most pubs often fill a glass with ice, and I despise that, I only like 3-5 cubes max in it, since that way, it doesn’t dilute your pint too much, and it doesn’t make it too cold on the teeth. Ice cubes also get in the way when you have to race to finish your pint, because apparently your taking it too slow…
OK, I am back now, it is just gone 1 in the morning, and the testing of one pint of Magners soon turned into four. But, hey! It is all in the name of research… right? Magners has a distinctly apple scent to it, a sweet, yet bitter smell. And the amber colour glistens in the soft pub lighting. I gently raised the glass to my lips, taking time to catch the soft scent as it went up, and took a gently gulp, thinking to savour the taste. It is certainly very apple like, more so than any cider I have tasted. Think apple juice, without the added sugar. It is crisp, clear and slightly sparkling. It is not fizzy as such, not like a Coca-Cola, but you can feel the gently tingle on your tongue, and see all the little bubbles rising up your pint.
Definitely, a clear refreshing cider!!
Whilst sampling my third test pint this evening, I realised that I hadn’t hit upon the most important aspect of drinking. The dreaded hangover. Now, there is a wide variety of hangover, from the feeling of nothingness (ah, those were the days!), to the waking up at home, wandering how the hell you got there, unable to open one of your eyes, your ear feeling like it is missing, and realising that perhaps you should have more money in your wallet, then noticing that your door wasn’t unlocked, more barged off its hinges in your drunken, unable to think of keys state…
That was actually my worst hangover. Which resulted in me getting barred from the pub I mainly frequented. That, wasn’t a night on the Magners, but from the time I gradually moved over to Larger, switching from Carling, to Stella, mixing in shots of whatever I could have.
So, the Magners hangover… Depending the amount you have to drink, it can vary. After the four pints I have had tonight, I expect no hangover tomorrow, it just doesn’t do anything to me. But had I had the usual amount, which is way more, then I would have the usual headache, and dry throat. Compare that, for example, to Scrumpy Jack, which gives me the worlds worst hangover (well, in the headache scale.) Basically, I think it is much better than most drinks in hangover terms.
Now, since it doesn’t have it’s own category, and this is after all about Magners Cider in general. I thought it would be good to cover Magners Pear.
I haven’t ever touched the Magners Light, nor the Magners Mid Strength and I don’t foresee me trying them anytime soon. Maybe Magners Light would be a little healthier, but I doubt it tastes as good, and don’t want to waste my money – and mid strength? Why would I pay for a barely alcoholic drink… I did, actually, have a couple of bottles the other day given to me, but I didn’t get a chance to drink them, since I left them in my friend’s fridge… he did however say they were nice and similar to normal Magners.
But, as soon as I saw adverts for Magners Pear cider, I wanted to try it. I am a fan of the Perrys, of which there are many. Sometimes, I just fancy a softer (but equally intoxicating) drink. Of these, I have tried all the Kopparburg flavours (Cherry is the nicest, and Mixed Fruit is pretty good, though I would leave the others well alone..) and also have tried the Jacques ciders, which are incredibly sweet, and I have had the Oakley’s fruit cider, purely because my dog is called Oakley, and I thought I should try it…
OK, so I just got onto a bit of a ramble. But the basic line is, I try a lot of different ciders, and with my love of Magners, was keen to try their pear one.
Recent research shows cider contains a number of antioxidants,
Pictures of Magners Irish Cider
Me, on my first night as a Magners Drinker
the same amount as wine.
Pear ciders, as a principle should be sweeter than a normal cider, and that is what I like about the idea of them, however, there is a bit of a limit to how sweet they should be!
The first I tried was Kopparburg Pear, and yuk, that was way to sweet, it was so sickly, and like drinking a sugary fruit juice, leaving me feeling sick at the end, only able to sip gently on it, unable to take a good mouthful for fear of actually being sick. So that was a No. Then I tried other Pear ciders, although I cannot remember what they are, other than Bulmers – which again was far too sweet, and Gaymers, which I tried yesterday, whilst waiting for a bus, laying in the hot sun on Christ’s Piece. Conversely, that wasn’t quite sweet enough.
Magners how ever, seem to have create the perfect Pear Cider. You are looking at something which is perfect in sweetness, not sickly, but sweeter than a pint of Original. It obviously tastes best cold, but doesn’t require ice to make it taste great, and so is something I often have as a walking drink. The major problem with this, is that it is so hard to get! Sure, you can grab it in Tesco, but not all Tesco stores actually have it, which is frustrating. Also, I haven’t seen it in my local off-licences, and I am yet to see it in a pub, even the Regal in Cambridge didn’t have it when I wanted one yesterday. Oh, and Local don’t have them either. So, if you do want to try it, grab it when you see it!!
Magners – King of the Ciders?
Magners is by far the best Cider I have tasted. Once I began drinking Magners, I classed myself as a cider drinker, and thought I should perhaps sample various different ciders so that I can find my favourite, and that is something I do regularly, always willing to try a new cider that sits on the shelf, or, especially on tap.
So, I can safely say that out of all the ciders I have found readily available, Magners is the nicest. That means that it smashes Strongbow (I don’t really even want to call that a Cider…) into the ground, and beats Bulmers hands down. Scrumpy Jack cannot compare, and it is much more refreshing than Green Goblin. It destroys all those disgusting cheap chav-juice “ciders”, such as Diamond White and White Ice, of which, I have only tried the latter, one mouthful was enough to say I never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever want to try another again.
In the normal, bottled cider market, its only competitor is Gaymers, which is another really nice cider, which I sometimes have as an alternative to Magners. In fact, I do also sometimes have Bulmers, since that is a pretty nice one, but not as refreshing.
When the Romans arrived in England in 55BC, they were reported to have found the local Kentish villagers drinking a delicious cider-like beverage made from apples
On tap, Magners again defeats all the ciders. It is by far better on tap than in any other format, it is just more refreshing, cooler, and the taste is that much crisper. It’s only rival in on tap ciders, was sampled at a pub named The Bush Inn, down in Shimpling, near where one of my friend’s mum lives. And that was Scrumpy on tap. Which was cool, refreshing, sweet and just amazing, in the time a I stayed there with him, I found one excuse or another to visit the pub everyday, just to make sure I got a nice pint of it. Unfortunately, they said that once that barrel was up and that they were going to replace it, much to my attempts to dissuade, with Strongbow.
Like I have said, it is always best from tap, so if you have a pub with it then take advantage! But bottles are always good. As with most drinks, drinking from a can is never as good as tap or bottle, and the taste is ever so slightly less sweet, but as long as it is chilled nicely then it’s fine. Only problems I have actually had with the can recently, is that my lip piercing (which I got as a result of night on the Magners…) gets stuck in it…
I really recommend Magners. If you want an alternative to your larger, or just want to try something different they it is great. If you currently run on disgusting cider pretenders such as Strongbow, then it might be too much for your taste buds, although you should try it, and maybe you can drink something proper!!