Strongbow is a strong, dry cider produced by HP Bulmer Ltd, a Hereford company renowned for their ciders, who also produce a range of other drinks. With an alcohol content of 5.3%, a half-litre can of Strongbow quickly knocks up 2.7 UK units, so the odd drink here and there can very swiftly suck up an entire week's worth of units in a very short space of time. The taste of apple is prominent, and the dryness of the cider is tempered somewhat by this crisp bite, and the addition of sugar and other sweeteners further helps to produce a cider which is refreshing, whilst not overly fruity. The sweetness lingers, however... not always a good thing.
Strongbow is named after the Norman knight Richard de Clare, later to become the Earl of Pembroke. Nicknamed 'strongbow' by his troops for his prowess with the longbow, an arrow slamming into a bar has long been a feature of the strongbow brand's advertising. Strongbow is a gold medal winner at the International Beer and Cider Competition, London, and stands recently stood at number eight in the top ten chart of UK best selling long alcoholic drinks. It accounts for a quarter of all cider sold in the UK, by far the best selling brand. Bulmer's are not keen to rest on their laurels, however, and relatively recently produced Super Strongbow, designed to compete with (or complement) t he high-alcohol white ciders such as Diamond White or White Lightning, both aimed at the less discerning end of the market. Differing greatly in flavour and, more importantly, in alcohol content, it is unlikely that Super Strongbow will ever threaten, let alone detract from, sales of Strongbow. Strongbow Ice and Light versions also exist, have existed and will exist, depending on the market at the time. Seriously - these brews are produced, marketed, re-marketed and ultimately re-moved with little to no warning, depending on the vagaries of the intended consumers.
As well as being the UK's most popular cider, Strongbow is also widely available in Australia, where Fosters also claim the title of most popular brand. Strongbow down under is a little different, however, having nothing to do with Bulmer's at all. The Australian version seems a tiny bit more exciting, somehow, containing 90% apple and 10% pear - a combination that leads to a 5.0% alcohol content. One can't help but imagine, though, that 10% pear juice might just make up for that 0.3% drop.