Meet: Æblerov from Copenhagen
Æblerov - WILD DANISH CIDER
We make wild, Danish apple cider. Naturally fermented on clean, unpasteurized must - just pressed apples coming from orchards from organic fruit growers around about Denmark and Copenhagen backyards. We do not add yeast, sugar or other fittelihut, we just let nature do its thing. This means, among other things, that the fermentation is kick-started by the wild yeast cells that live on the surface of the apple - the small bubbles then naturally appear during bottle fermentation - just like a Champagne.
This is what we modestly call 'real cider'.
Aeblerov means "Apple robbery"
Apple robbery is a tasty revolt.
It all started in 2011 as a hobby project in a small garage on Limfjordsvej in Vanløse. Here stood our newly purchased 30 liter plastic buckets with fermenting apple juice and bubbling among rusty lawn mowers, a discarded pram and a litter of dried paint buckets. The start-up capital was a modest DKK 1,500, the fruit grinder was cranked and the small apple press was kindly lent by Miljøpunkt Nørrebro.
We - Morten Sylvest-Noer and Christopher Melin, then two happy wine waiters who in addition studied food science at the University of Copenhagen - had long dreamed of making wine. But as we found ourselves far from vines and south-facing slopes, in a country where the climate year after year gives us some of the world's best apples, it made more sense to throw ourselves over the apple cider. There was only one problem. We had no apples.
The solution lay just ahead. We went on apple robbery. First in the backyards of family and friends, before we headed out into Copenhagen's residential areas, where tons of apples rot every autumn to no one's benefit. There we went and scouted over wooden fences and privet hedges and then called the homeowners who had well-hung apple trees in the garden. The first year's prey resulted in a modest 65 bottles of spontaneously fermented cider. But when we finally - after beating the sign of the cross - opened the first bottles, the smell of Danish apples spread in the small garage. Wow! It tasted good and there were even bubbles in it! Even the people around us were impressed. We were left with apples in our noses and blood on our teeth.
In the established cider industry, table apples were junk. Real cider could only be made by mixing French cider apple varieties, just as one could only create a uniform product using artificial yeast and sulfites. But as conventions, as you know, exist to be broken, we rebelled. We did not see much sense in making French cider on Danish soil and would rather create a sustainable and naturally fermented cider on the eating apples we had available at home.
Therefore, we spent the first years fermenting up to 20 varieties individually, to get control of the components.
Okay, that was not all we did that summoned the angels' song. In fermented form, a classic, Danish apple like Ingrid Marie appeared uninteresting at best, while cider on Tyrrestrup Kirsebæræble was decidedly undrinkable. But Belle de Boskoop sprang up with a nice acid that gave memories of Riesling, varieties like James Grieve, Red Aroma and Filippa each retained their tasteful aroma, and pigeon apples, which are otherwise used in Christmas decorations, gave a nice structure and bitterness that bit the French cider varieties in the hashes. We quickly found our style: dry, sleek and more vinous ciders that spoke the same language as the new Nordic gastronomy.