There was a lot of talk about the 2014 rooibos patent when it came to beer, but very little was said in relation to cider. In fact until quite recently, very little at all seems to have been said – or written – about cider in South Africa.
Windermere are at present the only cider producer in SA using rooibos (to my knowledge) and I must say, I think the aromas and flavours associated with rooibos meld much better with cider than they do with beer. In general, the concept of Red Dawn’s patent makes way more sense with cider and indeed wine than it does with beer. The rooibos is meant to act as a preservative, replacing the sulphur often used in wine- and cider-making. Beer already has its own natural preservative, thanks, so all rooibos seems to do there is overpower the other ingredients and cause arguments…
Rooibos can be quite potent but it doesn’t overwhelm the base beverage here like I’ve experienced with beer. I picked up a predominant aroma of apple-flavoured boiled sweets with just a slight background earthy note from the rooibos.
There’s a solid sweetness here though it’s not an intense or cloying at all. It’s balanced nicely by the acidity which smacks you around the sides of your tongue. Flavour-wise it’s quite a complex cider – stewed apples, a smidgen of strawberry and a kind of minty zing that I imagine comes from the rooibos. I wish I’d tasted it alongside the standard cider to see how much flavour the rooibos has added, because it’s certainly a lot more subtle than the flavours of Stellenbrau’s rooibos-infused beer.
I like my ciders to have plenty of flavour and to pack a bit of a punch, so I enjoyed Windermere’s rooibos offering. I have always seen cider as a daytime drink – a sunny daytime drink – and I expect to need an afternoon nap after a pint or two. At 7% the alcohol in this brew quickly hits and I wasn’t disappointed – I was soon snoozing in the hammock when I’d finished a couple of bottles.