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Even though Magners, the Irish cider brand which is called Bulmers in Ireland but not in the countries it exports to (even though Bulmers is an old English cider-making company – it’s something to do with the original Magners joining forces with Bulmers in the 1960s and adopting their name but then realising they couldn’t call it Bulmers if they exported it, so reverted back to Magners – and there was a Mr Magner in the first place, in case you’re interested) refuses to sponsor the Collings & Herrin Podcast in the accepted way of giving us money to have their name on it, they do keep teasing us with free alcohol, even though we are both trying to drink less. And they sent me a box of Pear Cider, which purists might call “perry” but that reckons without the stupidity of members of the public, who understand the words “pear” and “cider” but not any other words. I first tasted this on my recent birdwatching trip to Norfolk, mainly because I saw the picture of it in a pint glass with loads of ice in it, we were in an impulsive mood and it was to be our first drink of the evening in a village pub after a long day’s birding.

The idea of having a pint of beer with ice in it is so bizarre – only the other week I ordered a bottle of beer in the BFI bar and they gave me one with a glass that had ice in it, thus revealing that the beer was not chilled; I refused the drink on those grounds – but I am a sucker for low-temperature liquid refreshment. The pint of Pear Cider tasted good that night in Dersingham. So, I was happy to get this unexpected Pear Cider windfall: 12 pint bottles. A barbecue yesterday seemed the perfect place to try it out, so I took the box along. (I owe Richard six bottles of Pear Cider now, of course, or cash equivalent.) Anyway, here is the Pear Cider news:

The Pear Cider tasted nice, chilled, and with loads of ice in it. This way, it’s kind of self-diluting, a bit like alcohol squash. I drank a few bottles of it during the afternoon and early evening yesterday, and it suited a sunny English afternoon among friends and family. Other guests looked at my glass full of liquid and ice and asked me what it was, and I told them. In a few cases, I convinced them to try one, as if I was working for Ian Magner or Ian Bulmer. But it doesn’t taste like having a pint. It doesn’t really taste like an alcoholic drink at all. It tastes like pop. Watered-down pop. Now, this might lead you to imagine that it’s like an alcopop, and that it sneaks up on you and gets you drunk without you noticing. It doesn’t. At 4.5% it’s pretty weak, and, what with all that water you consume simultaneously, I can confirm that even after a few pints of it, you are not drunk.

So, it was pleasant to drink, and sociable, and looked nice, and sounded good with the ice cracking in the glass, but it left me feeling disappointingly sober at the end of the afternoon. And yet unable to drive home.

They should market Magners Pear Cider that way: all the inconvenience of alcohol, but none of the effects. I wonder if they’ll send us any more? (Magners didn’t ask for anything in return for the free 12 bottles; I just thought I’d review it anyway, as I should be working.)

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