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Being a teenager/student, the world of alcohol becomes a wonderful place. But its not all about getting nicely toasted. My tipple of choice for a mealtime, or an afternoon in the sun, or just simply to kick back - is Symonds Scrumpy Jack.
The very name - a great selling point for the product - evokes visions of rustic cider mills, woods, old wells, and other such old english hoohah. Apparently first brewed in 1727, this is proper scrumpy - farmhouse cider.
Unfortunately, that is not strictly true - scrumpy jack is of course mass produced like any other mainstream cider. But certainly, the taste preserves its olde-worlde bitterness and crisp finish, while remaining similar enough to its competitors to be taken seriously as a major brand.
Jack is brewed from (taken from the ECB website) "Foxwhelp, Yarlington Mill, Chisel Jersey, Brown Snout, Tom Putt, to name just a few..." a combination of quintessiantally English sounding apple varieties that aid the authentic feel. Keeping with the English theme, the drink is 'the official pint of the English cricket team' - the marketing behind this idea being that a summer drink should be partnered with a summer sport. Associations with cricket continue to build up the strong patriotic image.
So, the taste. Well, its cider - but different to the more modern high street brands. Whereas strongbow, and the horrendous diamond white, are quite sweet, fresh and therefore very quaffable, Scrumpy seems a bit more earthy. The taste is deeper and fatter than the competition, with a sweet, refreshing apple smoothness, followed by a tangy, bitter kick. The overall flavour feels very thick and fulfilling, a masculine body with just enough sweetness to keep it from slipping into extremes of taste. The aftertaste is bitter at first, gradually dulling to a dry, crisp bite.
Real, somerset scrumpy, you will discover, is nearly always manufacted still (ie, no bubbles) and in many cases drank hot. However, this can make the beverage quite overpowering for the average supermarket consumer. Scrumpy Jack has the large, nicely designed can, bubbles and inviting golden visage of many ciders, making it easily accessible for the average drinker, but keeps true to the name 'scrumpy' with thick, crunchy undertones.
Price wise, Jack competes very favourably with most canned lagers and ciders - expect to pay under £20 for a 24x500ml crate. Personally, mine is bought for me through a wholsaler - yep, i get through this stuff! 13.5% extra free is appearing on most of their cans at the moment, so now is the time to stock up!
So if you're not a cider drinker, or, perhaps you've been sticking to the sweet stuff - try something a bit more back to the roots - Scrumpy Jack.