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Böhm Ciderwerkstatt – Rekindling Hohenloher Mouschd

It’s about time for another of my infrequent profiles of a German cider maker, this time Manfred Böhm and his small cidery, Böhm Ciderwerkstatt (or cider workshop in English). Manfred started making and selling cider in 2018 in his home village of Hollenbach, within the Hohenlohe region of Baden-Württemberg. The Hohenlohe is quite known for its fruit, and is also on the edge of the Württemberg and Franken wine producing regions, being just about 60km south of Würzburg, where I’ve had a lovely wine cellar tour and plenty of Sylvaner.

As usual with German makers, it was through Instagram that I first learned about Manfred, where he is quite active. I’ve always been impressed with his community engagement and have enjoyed drinking his ciders over the past couple of years, so I asked him if he’d be interested in participating in this series of profiles. His work very much represents the smaller scale of the maker spectrum, whch is the type of maker that I am most interested in, as it is as grassroots as it can possibly get. It’s through such small makers that you get a real feel for regional, or hyper-local variations and terroir, and I do feel there is a surge in such makers here at the moment, which is really encouraging.

To try and keep the translation of our conversation as close to the spirit of Manfred’s words as possible, I’ve decided against trying to consistently translate some specific terms, but will instead try to explain them in advance. Think of it as a kind of crash course of southern German cider terminology!

Streuobst or Streuobstwiese are two terms you will come across from many, if not most German cider makers with a more artisanal flair. Streuobst more or less translates as “scattered fruit”, or “strewn fruit”, and describes the older style of fruit growing that was typical for southern Germany, where the trees were scattered across meadowland. Remains of early forms of agroforestry or silvopasture. Hence the term Streuobstwiese, or literally “scattered fruit meadow”, which I tend to call meadow orchards as a shorthand. For many people, this form of growing has far more significance that anything else in the cider-making chain, and in some cases is used as a kind of proxy behind which less desirable processes may hide. Definitely not the case with Manfred, who uses 100% juice and great deal of care and attention with every cider he makes!

The second term you’ll see Manfred using a lot is “Mouschd”, which is a very characterful Hohenlohe dialect version of Most, the term usually used in this part of Germany for cider or Apfelwein. Where I live it’s pronounced Moscht, and when someone claims not to know what cider is, I just shout “Moscht” at them. Although it can have negative connotations, as to some it implies the rough, probably acetic kind of cider made by Grandad, slowly oxidising in the cellar as a jug is tapped every day, but Manfred touches on that during our interview.

With that very short German lesson out of the way, let’s go ahead and meet Manfred!

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Barry: Manfred, please introduce yourself and tell the Cider Review readers where you are.

Manfred: I am Manfred Böhm and together with my wife Anne and my father-in-law Johannes we founded the Ciderwerkstatt [Cider Workshop] in 2018. I grew up on a farm in the Hohenlohe region. In my early 20s, I moved away from home to study and discover the world. I lived in the Middle Rhine Valley for a long time and started my own family there. With my wife and small children, I returned to my old home in 2017. Especially with children it is wonderful here and my family and old friends are very close. We have bought a beautiful property with old half-timbered house, a large barn and a wonderful vaulted cellar.

Barry: I assume that Most/Cider in the Hohenlohe region was, like where I am, once part of daily rural life. Do you still see this in the landscape and local heritage?

Manfred: Hohenlohe is still a very rural area. As with our property, there are still many old barns or other agricultural buildings with large, vaulted cellars. Apple wine in Hohenlohe is called “Mouschd” and has a long tradition. In former times it was a staple food and was drunk with every meal. The vaulted cellars and the many orchards around the villages still bear witness to this. Often the press was an integral part of the cellar. Especially around 1900 Mouschd must have had a heyday and was very much appreciated far beyond the borders of Hohenlohe. In recent times the reputation of Mouschd has suffered greatly but there are still songs about the Mouschd and everyone in Hohenlohe knows the drink. My favourite saying is: “Trink Mouschd no kouschd” [drink most for power, I think!].

Barry: I know your family ran a farm, right? Was Most a part of your childhood or was it largely just something old people did by then (I know you’re not old!), or had it disappeared from daily life?

Manfred: My family has farming as a secondary occupation, in my childhood we had cows, pigs, and did crop farming. We also had over 4 hectares of orchards with over 200 trees, from which we made over 1,000 litres of cider every year. I remember driving to the cider press in the nearby village and my job was always to shake out the press cloths. I can still smell the fresh juice and feel the stickiness that coated everything. We always took the leftover pomace for our cows to eat. However, the cider was not made for drinking but primarily for distilling into spirits. It was filled into barrels at home and tasted during the year, with the best barrel reserved for my grandfather who enjoyed drinking a jug of cider with his evening meal. I often went to the basement in the evenings to get him a jug and received a small reward in return. I tried it too, but the stuff was so sour and rebellious that it curled your toenails. I couldn’t make friends with this cider. My grandfather didn’t necessarily value quality, but rather quantity at the time, as the majority was used for distillation anyway.

Barry: I get the impression it’s very much a family business, what with the farm the shop, and all that?

Manfred: I tend to talk too much about me and the making, but the Ciderwerkstatt is a real family business. My wife Anne has big parts in it too. She set up the website, designed our labels, runs our little store… she basically does all the marketing. My family and especially my mum maintain our orchards. In fact, she probably accounts for 80% of the work done on orchard maintenance, especially as I’m so busy with my day job throughout the year, and while I was away for 11 years, she kept the orchards going during that time. My father and my sister are the farmers and manage the meadowland parts of the Streuobstwiesen. They also have sheep and deer that graze in the orchards, which is very useful as many of our orchards are on steep slopes that are difficult to mow. Also, my father-in-law is beekeeper and contributes with honey that we sell in the shop, and providing many helpers for pollination. During harvest and pressing season all help together. Without the entire family this all would not be possible.

Barry: What inspired you to start making cider or most for yourself, and did you plan to start sell it right from the beginning?

Manfred: It was not easy to get good cider in Germany and so it seemed natural to make cider ourselves. But from the beginning we also thought about selling the cider to contribute to the preservation of our orchards.

With our Ciderwerkstatt we would like to support the preservation of our orchards. The connection to these meadow orchards is very close to my heart since I returned to Hohenlohe in 2017, after my travels in Germany and abroad. However, the low income from the sale of the fruit makes it difficult to maintain the meadows in the long run. For this reason, we have been looking for a way to generate more from the Streuobst through direct marketing. During a semester abroad in Ireland, I became a big fan of cider, which quickly made the decision of what to make from the scattered fruit. Also, in 2017, it was difficult to get good cider in Germany.

Barry: So you were lucky enough to have some traditional German Most varieties on your family property already? 

Manfred: As far as apples are concerned, I’m really very lucky and can draw on the whole range. On our orchards grow excellent cider apple varieties and all high-stem trees. Our meadows have been managed biodynamically for decades without artificial fertilizers and pesticides. The high-trunked trees with their deeply branched roots produce super tasty fruits with great taste and aroma even under difficult conditions. The main varieties with us are the Brettacher, Jakob Fischer, Goldparmäne [King of the Pippins], Bittenfelder and many more. Some varieties I still do not know, but this set of varieties is for me crucial for good cider.

Barry: And you also have access to traditional Streuobstwiesen/meadow orchards near you that don’t belong to you? Are there still many intact examples in your region?

Manfred:  In our region there are still many orchards, but the state of care is often not good and especially in recent years you can see more and more meadow orchards that are no longer maintained and then unfortunately also very quickly go wild. In Hollenbach I have leased a meadow from an old woman who can no longer take care of it. In Zaisenhausen I maintain since this year a meadow where the owners move away to live with their children. There are generally fewer and fewer people who take care of the meadow orchards, and those who still do it are getting older and older.  This is a big problem. I am offered meadows again and again, but at the moment I am already at the limit. When I take over a meadow, I want to keep it in a good condition.

Barry: You have also since started planting new trees. What have you been planting, and what has been influencing your choice of varieties?

Manfred: There is a shortage of bitter-sweet apple varieties in our region. The traditional Hohenlohe varieties such as Brettacher and Bittenfelder are very sour, which may also contribute to the negative reputation of Mouschd, as many people find it too acidic. Many farmers who make a good mouschd therefore mix the apple cider with a third of perry pears. These have similar characteristics to the bitter-sweet varieties in England and France, and their high sugar content softens the acidity somewhat and provides interesting bitters that give the cider more flavour. We also have bitter-sweet apple varieties, but they are very rare and there are usually only one or two trees of these varieties in the meadows. That’s why I ordered 20 cider trees from England, including varieties like Yarlington Mill, Dabinett, Chisel Jersey, Harry Master’s Jersey and Michelin. I think that these English varieties together with the Hohenlohe cider apples will make a great cider. However, it will be some time before this cider is available, as the trees are only 3 years old and not yet bearing fruit. Still, I’m having great luck with the varieties I already have, and it’s also a lot of fun experimenting with the pears. Barry, your passion for pears has inspired me to make a perry or two as well, and in addition to apple trees, I plant pears. The large pear trees line many streets and are a feature of our landscape, I’m eager to preserve that.

Barry: You’re singing my song now! Streuobstwiesen are a great place to find big old pear trees, too, but they seem to be dwindling around here, along with the roadside trees. 

I have to admit, when I started making cider I struggled a bit with wanting to have English and French bittersweet varieties, thinking that this were a must for making cider, but I gradually embraced the local varieties and resulting style of cider and think it’s important to also showcase those kinds of regional style differences that are often variety-driven.

Can you tell us what established, locally growing varieties you have that you would class as bittersweet, or bringing more structure to your ciders? I recall you have a Pomme D’Or, which was once used as a rootstock or stem builder here, and you find the odd one scattered about. In fact, there’s one up the hill behind my house, but it doesn’t seem as wonderfully tannic as the one you have.

Manfred: The locally growing varieties are Pomme D’or, Fresquin Rouge and Genereuse de Vitry. They were not all planted on purpose, as these are all varieties that were used as stem builders, because of their vital growing and frost hardness. In some case they were stronger than the graft. 

Barry: Let’s turn to your actual cider making. Tell us a little about the methods you use? What do you do that you consider traditional for the region, and what is more your personal influences?

Manfred: The Ciderwerkstatt stands above all for the production of artisanal cider. The most traditional thing I currently do is how we press the juice. I have an old basket press with a capacity of 200 litres of mash that is over 60 years old, and I also mill the fruit traditionally with an old mill. The juice yield is very low, but the quality of the juice is indescribable. It’s very clear and usually has a deep, dark colour.  

Many people equate pressing juice with making cider, like that’s all you need to do, but for me pressing juice is only one step in the process. In Germany, people only pay attention to the sugar/acid ratio in cider. The bitter substances are completely disregarded. For me, the secret to a good cider lies primarily in these bitter substances. They add another dimension to the taste. The ripe tannins of apples or pears bring the complexity and depth of flavour that, for me, distinguish a good cider. I think that is the main difference for me, I use that consciously in the blend of apple varieties I press.

As for cellar aging, I’ve read just about every English book on cider making I could get my hands on. Especially the Keeving method fascinated me. I have adapted this method for myself and rack the cider from the yeast several times during fermentation to remove the nutrients and to reduce the number of yeast cells and thus slow down the fermentation. I also use bentonite to precipitate as many yeast cells as possible the first time. This method I have not read about anywhere, but so far it has always worked but I must admit I am nervous every year whether the cider then remains stable in the bottle.

Barry: I was aware that you use multiple racking to get your still-fermenting cider off the lees to end up with some residual sugar in at least some of your products, which is not a typically German approach. Do you find your customers prefer a touch of residual sweetness, or do they like stuff that is a bit more… well, “strubbelich” [read as dry and scratchy], as some of our local hunters asked of me?

Manfred: A “strubbelicher Mouschd” also has its fans, but the majority of customers prefer ciders with some residual sugar. Younger customers and women in particular don’t seem to like a sour, dry cider. I think it’s similar to wine, the more you get into it, the more likely you are to end up with dry wines. The sweet ciders are fun to drink, they are drinkable and refreshing. But the sugar is often used to conceal inferior quality. With enough sugar, almost any cider is drinkable. But if a cider is dry and has little residual sugar, you can taste every fault. Dry ciders with a high proportion of bitter substances are simply more exciting in the glass. It’s the tannins that change their taste and structure on contact with oxygen that make cider a super exciting drink when enjoyed consciously. Basically, I make the dry ciders for the lovers and the sweet ones for the general customers. Although I also like to drink a sweet cider with my wife on the terrace on a warm summer evening.

Barry: One thing that has really struck me about what you do there is a kind of community engagement. So you have your cider cellar that you open once a month, and you also got LEADER funding to build a small shop with vending machines for your cider, juice and other local products. How else have you engaged with the local community and beyond? What has the overall local reaction to your ciders been?

Manfred: Rural areas in particular need young families who are also involved in their communities. That was one of the reasons for me to return to Hohenlohe. In return, Hohenlohe also offers a lot, especially for families. My children can grow up here as freely and untroubled as I used to.  

With the Ciderwerkstatt, we want to inspire others and show what you can make from local fruit and contribute to making cider and Mouschd popular again. At the moment I am also working on a lecture about making cider.

In general, our ciders are very well received. When we started making cider in 2018 we made 12 different ciders, all in glass carboys, and served them at the 800th anniversary celebration of our village. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, which encouraged us to start the Ciderwerkstatt. I think a cider can be anything, tart, sweet, dry, fruity, there is a huge variety and there is certainly not one cider that tastes good to everyone, but there is a cider for everyone that tastes good to them.

Hohenlohe has a long tradition of orcharding and there are still many associations and individuals who are committed to orcharding, but they are not really networked. In the next few years, we want to work on making Streuobst in Hohenlohe more visible again, and to network the players.

We usually press the fruit once a year with the kindergarten or a school class.

Barry: And something I like to ask all small German makers; do you see the German cider trend at the moment?  If so, what shape do you think it is taking?

Manfred: I am ambivalent about the cider trend. In general, I think it’s good that there are more and more ciders on the market and that the big brands are also launching ciders. That helps enormously to make the product known at all and to move it into the consumer’s focus. But I have no illusions – compared to wine or beer, cider will always be a niche product.

Which form the German cider trend will take depends on which lead we follow. One lead is craft beer. Cider has always been a drink closely related to beer. If we look to England, cider and beer are marketed in the same way. Cider is tapped like beer and bottled like beer. This confuses many customers. I once sat in a beer garden and a group of young people were drinking Bulmers. When a new friend joined them, they said they had to try this new apple beer. When we look at where the trend in craft beer is going, it’s very sobering. I see a trend where the word craft is more and more becoming an empty marketing phrase. Often, craft here doesn’t stand for a handcrafted product, but more for a fancy presentation with a cool longneck bottle and a hip label.

I can’t recommend this path to any cidermaker. I see two problems in particular. When we market cider like beer, cider is always compared to beer. The perceived value is then always equated with beer. No matter what drink is in a 330ml longneck bottle, the highest price customers are willing to pay for it is probably somewhere between €3.50 and a maximum of €5. So there is already an invisible upper limit here. At this price, it is very difficult for small manufacturers to achieve a margin so that their production is economical at all. The second problem will also be to maintain this high price in the long run, because with the 330ml longneck bottles I am also in the hunting ground of the big drinks producers. We are already seeing more and more big companies and small start-ups trying to conquer the market with a cider.  No matter how good my cider is, if it stands in the supermarket next to 5 others that are cheaper and, in the worst case, have a better presentation and marketing, customers will not reach for my cider.

In my eyes, the future of cider lies in wine. If we look to England at the marketing campaign “Cider is Wine”, to me, this approach also fits much better than the one with beer. Cider as I understand it, and make it, is a wine. If we market cider like wine, the possibilities are endless. If we look at the price alone, there is no upper limit here. Some bottles of wine sell for up to €3,000. I think that even in this price range, price and quality are no longer in proportion. Even if each grape was pressed individually by hand, this price would not be proportionate, but the demand is there and wine producers who have made a name for themselves can charge almost any price they want. If we now fill a cider into a wine bottle and put a fancy label on it, prices can easily go beyond €5.

I think we in Germany need a similar campaign like “real Cider” in England or “Cider is Wine”. In England, real cider stands for cider made from 100% juice, but for me this is so self-evident that I wouldn’t even mention it, but many customers are certainly not aware that industrial cider often contains only 50% juice. The approach and the marketing for real cider is certainly the same in Germany. My favourite is “Cider is Wine”.

We must manage to establish the same terms for cider as for wine. Basically, you can copy almost every marketing text from wine. Replace wine with cider and grapes with apples, adapt the whole thing to the respective region and you wouldn’t be lying. Everything that is true for wine is also true for cider. Both are drinks based on a fruit juice. With apple juice, I have the same cellar possibilities as with grape juice. With apples, I only have more variety, because there are over 2,000 apple varieties in Germany alone and there are usually more apple varieties in a single meadow orchard than there are grape varieties in an entire region.

Barry: That’s interesting. I’ve always felt there should be a great overlap with craft beer drinkers, as they are very open to new flavours and are often more adventurous than most in trying other products and flavours. And they seem to understand that artisanal, small-batch products sometimes cost a little more. At least in Germany there isn’t a massive, established industrial cider from tap culture to struggle against. Though yeah, there’s definitely an increase in super-cheap, mass-produced stuff from bigger names, or contract-made stuff which makes it hard for small, independent, artisanal producers, but I guess the markets are different. 

I get the impression that Germans and Austrians have less problems differentiating between beer, wine and wines made from other fruits, like apples and pears, and certainly seem to appreciate hand-crafted products. Or at least there seems to be a base understanding of a kind of spectrum of wine made from various fruits, so people are comfortable just accepting those comparisons. I think Ireland and the UK went in a different direction as things got more industrialised, but that’s probably a topic for a different discussion!

So how do you think your cidery and approach fit into the overall scheme of things?

Manfred: I see myself first and foremost as a Streuobstweinbauer [a Streuobst wine farmer is probably the best translation, but I think this is Manfred’s own word, German being a great Lego language]. The term Winzer (winemaker) is too elitist for me. For me, a farmer has a deep connection to his land and a lot of knowledge and experience about nature, the soil and the fruits he grows. I grew up in agriculture and for a long time I believed that being a farmer was not a job that required training, that you were simply a farmer when you grew up on a farm. In the meantime, of course, I know better and from my training as an engineer for automation technology I have also taken a completely different path, but at heart I am a farmer. For me, a Streuobstweinbauer is characterised by a deep understanding of apple varieties, growing Streuobst and making wine. In addition to knowledge in this area, a Streuobstweinbauer also has skills in using the latest technology to control the production process and manage the end product. He must have a sound knowledge of apple harvesting and fermentation in order to keep the quality of the wines constant. He must be able to grow different types of apples for different tastes and be adept at growing apple varieties and adapting demands under the climatic conditions. The wine must meet both personal taste and customer specifications. It also requires marketing skills to get the name of the winery or company out there.

For drinks like we make, made with love and passion there will always be a niche. I make cider mainly because I enjoy it. I love being in the orchard but also in the cellar. My favourite thing is to do tastings to show people how diverse and delicious meadow fruit can be. This concept is very popular and when you put your heart and soul into it, people notice it.

Barry: Any wish to go further afield? I know, like me, it’s a side-business driven more by passion than anything else, but do you have bigger plans for Böhm Ciderwerkstadt.

Manfred: We don’t really want to get much bigger, the aim is to market our own fruit sensibly and we have managed that in the meantime.

This year, however, we want to start making our work a little easier and are currently planning to convert the barn into a press house with a rinsing and bottling area. We also want to invest in modern equipment, but I’m already very attached to my old basket press!

We also want to get more people interested in orchard fruit, which is why we want to set up a large room for tastings in the medium term and offer tastings in the orchard meadows. In this way, we want to reach even more people and get them excited about orchards.

Mouschd and Perry used to have a great reputation in Hohenlohe. Some of them were even mentioned in old books as far away as Paris in France. I would like to continue this tradition by teaching people how to make good cider. It is precisely this knowledge that has been lost in recent decades. The knowledge of how to make cider was passed on from generation to generation, but there is now a gap. This knowledge was also closely linked to the meadow orchards. In Hohenlohe, there is no one who can tell you which apple varieties are best suited for a Mouschd, but the old generation knew which trees in their meadow yielded the best Mouschd.

Barry: And here’s to keeping those traditions alive! 

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Many thanks to Manfred for taking the time to chat, and for giving some well-considered responses to my questions. 

I was lucky enough to already have a few bottles of Böhm’s Ciderwerkstatt ciders in my cellar, some of which I’d bought, some of which I acquired in a maker’s exchange, and some of which Manfred gifted me around this time last year, and what better time to open them?

Böhm Ciderwerkstatt: Hollenbacher Mouschd – Apfelwein 2020 – review

How I served: Cellar temperature, c. 12°C.

Colour: Clear copper-gold with just a slight fizz on pouring.

On the nose: red apple skin, strawberry sorbet with a hint of lime, and though I know there’s no oak involved, a very pleasant suggestion of vanilla.

In the mouth: Gently effervescent on the tongue, I know it’s supposed to be still, but I’m not complaining.  Flavours almost exactly match what was on the nose, joined by a long finishing acidity. I’m guessing here is pear in the mix too. I’d say this acidity is almost representative of the region, but it’s a broad, cherry-like acidity, not a thin, screeching one like some find on Apfelwein further to the west. Lime and raspberry linger long after.

In a nutshell: Süffig, as they say in Germany, which is a far nicer word than quaffable. It’s definitely Most, but a far cry from what’s Opa would send you to the cellar to fetch of jug of.

Böhm Ciderwerkstatt: Hohenloher Mouschd – Apfelwein 2020 – review

How I served: Cellar temperature, but in March, c. 14°C.

Colour: Light amber with a light sparkle.

On the nose: Bags of overripe apples, fruit and full of berries.

In the mouth: Similar to the nose. Raspberries and cream, cream soda, cherries. Finish is swimming in soft, ripe apples and red apple skins. A hint of caramel sweetness.

In a nutshell: Simple but tasty, something I’d be happy to have a jug of with my evening meal every day.

Böhm Ciderwerkstatt: Rot – Apfelwein 2020 – review

How I served: Out of the fridge and left to stand a few minutes.

Colour: Pale orange-gold, crystal clear, as lees in the bottle stayed nicely behind.

On the nose: I see a pattern developing here. Very ripe apples are again to the fore, with a bit more force this time, reminiscent of apple drop candies.

In the mouth: Zippier acid levels than the previous two. As on the nose, a strong ripe apple flavour with apple drop candy, cut with a sherbet-like zing and a green apple skin bite. There’s an underlying sweetness that evens it out nicely, and definitely not too sweet for this dry cider fan. Slight butteriness with strawberry jam.

In a nutshell: Many people say cider should not taste like apples, as wine should not taste of grapes, but it’s extraordinary how appley this is. I liked it and would love to try it with some sparkle to lift things up even more.

Bonus Yeast Tasting!

Here’s a bonus tasting, and something that made me realise that Manfred is on a similar wavelength to myself when I saw it on Insta, as he likes to experiment, and he does so in a wonderfully controlled way (ok, in that sense we differ a little). In 2021 he pressed juice and split the batch four ways, inoculating each with a different yeast from a then new range of “cider yeasts” from Fermentis, all with an online yeast tasting in mind. When I met Manfred for the first time in person in March 2022, he kindly gave me a set, and though a comparison of yeast on the same juice probably deserves an article of its own, I thought it was a good time to crack them open and include it here. Note this was a small run, and they are not available any more, but I include them for posterity, and because it demonstrates how the choices a maker makes about yeast can have profound results. Note also that these were from a 2021 pressing, intended for a 2022 tasting event, hence the 2022 on the labels.

As this was a yeast tasting experiment base on a single pressing of juice, at least the appearance was exactly the same for all four ciders, so let’s get that out of the way.

How I served: Cellar temperature, about 14-15°C right now.

Colour: All orange-tinged gold and crystal clear. Most fairly still, but the TF-6 has a little fizz on pouring.

Right so, this is where things get interesting, but I will keep it all brief.

Böhm Ciderwerkstatt: Hefen Spezial – AB-1 – review

On the nose: Marzipan, mandarin peel, something earthy, raisins and currants.

In the mouth: Medium acidity, but somewhat to the fore. Green apple, slight nutmeg spice on the finish. Dry, with a light bitterness on the finish that lingered. Crunchy green apple all the way.

In a nutshell: I quite liked this one as the acidity is slightly up compared to the others, and that added a freshness to a fairly decent fruit profile.

Böhm Ciderwerkstatt: Hefen Spezial – AS-2 – review

On the nose: Cherry cola, blackcurrant, and a touch of butterscotch.

In the mouth: So soft, the acidity is really dialled down compared to AB-1. Buttery, lychee, faint pineapple brings up the rear with a short juicyfruit finish.

In a nutshell: Lasting impression is a soft fruit bomb, but slightly buttery.

Böhm Ciderwerkstatt: Hefen Spezial – AC-4 – review

On the nose: Very delicate at first, I have to admit I struggled to pick any descriptors, but landed on butterscotch and banana…

In the mouth: Close to the previous, but the aroma says a lot too. Add some green apple skin and grapes. Somewhat dryer feel, with a more austere finish drying the tongue. A tiny touch of cardboard.

In a nutshell: The least flavourful and my least favourite of the four.

Böhm Ciderwerkstatt: Hefen Spezial – TF-6 – review

On the nose: Honey melon, green apple peel, spiced, baked apple.

In the mouth: Buttered apple, pear, light berries, blackcurrant… ahh, a touch of banana there too. Juicy as hell and a very pleasant tingle on the finish.

In a nutshell: The most fruit forward of the four, and I felt the richest, fullest flavour with a good balance.

One can pretty much expect a change in yeast to do something to the basic parameters of flavour in a cider (or beer, or wine) based on how it metabolises all the goodness in the juice. Some produce more or less ethyl-esters, acetate-esters or phenylethanol, but it’s quite striking how yeast can manipulate the perceived acidity of a juice, either ratcheting it up or dialling it down a notch or two. The purist in me would have loved to see the local yeast included as a benchmark of sorts, and I am pretty sure that other purists are horrified at the prospect of how much a selected yeast strain can alter the core flavours of a cider. But yeast is just another tool that a careful maker can use, if they so choose, to bring forward (or maybe push back) certain properties of the juice, and it’s worth making such experiments to understand what such a toolbox can do. A topic worth more exploration, I think.


I really enjoyed chatting with Manfred about what they do at the Böhm Ciderwerkstatt. He’s definitely passionate about making use of local fruit and promoting that concept locally, and I see his name popping up at more and more events in the region. Such engagement is admirable and can only help to raise awareness of the potential of the locally grown natural resources of the Streuobstwiesen. Germany needs more Manfreds (and 1785s, and Muxallers) doing that kind of work at a small, local scale to help preserve a heritage that has for far too long been at risk of disappearing completely. And the great thing is that Hohenlohe isn’t a million miles away from where I live!

This entry was posted in: Reviews


Barry Masterson is an Irishman living in a tiny village in Germany. Working by day in GIS, he has a side-business farm/cidery making orchard-based cider and perry. Often seen with Anu the border collie, climbing into hedgerows in search of perry pear trees, with which he is obsessed. @BarMas and @Kertelreiter on Twitter. @Kertelreiter_Cider on Instagram.

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