You can almost feel a little sorry for January. Hardly any other month is probably started with so many resolutions and dry, semi-dry, vegetarian or vegan pulled through or not pulled through eventually. And although exciting drinks with no or at least with less alcohol are actually interesting throughout the year, I have also used the last few years January more intensively than other months in this area to go on a voyage of discovery. Since the last few years the one or other discovery was there, which has always found its way into our glasses again, this is now also a cherished ritual, which will not be broken this year. Although it will not be completely free of alcohol, it will be significantly reduced compared to wine. The three drinks this time come from Klaar Fruchtfermente. Klaar makes drinkable stuff out of fruit since 2019 and is now part of a cooperative farm community at the Schaalsee east of Hamburg. We’re tasting three rather different bottles today, but they all rely on apple as their base.
Prunehilde 2021 is a cider made purely from Holstein Cox, fermented together with sloes, and as a non-fizzy cider with 7% alcohol, it’s the bottle with the most bang today. For the other two, apple pomace is infused with water again in the style of a piquette known from grapes, making a thinner version of the cider, which at the same time is still a great way to use leftovers and is called pomquette here. For the Mary Jane, the pomace from Boskop, Ingrid Marie, Elstar and Finkenwerder Herbstprinz is boiled down with Arianne hops and stuffed with Cascade. In Elderonora, Holstein Cox pomace is infused with a batch of elderberries and elderflowers and then spontaneously fermented with honey and elderberry mash. It is bottled unfiltered and without sulfur. After my own first experiments with spontaneously fermented cider without sulfur or added yeasts last season, I gained even more appreciation for such products.
Although Prunehilde says non-sparkling on the label, the bottle fizzes when you open it, but then is pretty quiet on the road afterwards. This smells a lot like cider, it’s clear, apple-y and musty. I like the color in the glass, which is more or less chunky depending on how good you shake it up. In the background, the sloe already announces itself in the nose in the form of marzipan. In the mouth, the acidity is crisp and this has a lot of draw. In addition to the apple cider flavor, there is then also something that I do not really get assigned. That should then be the sloe. I like it a lot and what I also like is that you can dose the funk and yeastiness yourself to a certain extent. More shaking means more funk in the glass.
Elderonora smells first and foremost of elderflower and just a bit of must. There’s also a bit of pomegranate and, as with Prunehilde, a bit of wildness and fermentation aromatics. And funnily enough just in the empty glass the honey comes fully to the nose. There’s a surprising amount of complexity behind it. On the tongue, the berries rather than the flowers come through, this is minimally musty, a bit funky, a bit yeasty, and also a tiny bit reminiscent of red currants. And for me, who only knows elderflower syrup as syrup with a distinct sweetness, this dry elderberry aroma is a real discovery. Like Prunehilde, this is really good.
Mary Jane reminds after opening first more of beer than apple and unfortunately lacks a bit of bubbles in this bottle. Gradually the aroma hops come out, you have a bit of orangina, some grapefruit and some green hoppy notes. In the mouth this is super fresh and of course slightly hoppy as well. But at the same time, the acidity here seems the cleanest compared to the other two, and thus the tamest. Through no fault of its own, this suffers just a bit from the fact that the realization that apple and hops work very well together has occurred to me before in other beverages. So this is the least new or spectacular to me right now, but of course that doesn’t make it any less delicious. I am happy that Klaar turned out to be another one of those January discoveries that I’ll be drinking more often outside of January.