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#Rethinkcider Part 1 – The Ciderologist

My approach to writing articles on my own website is a little like my approach to my tax return – I really want to do it and gain great satisfaction when I do, but it takes a lot of energy. So I procrastinate. And then get distracted (“ooh, look, a badger…”) In this case I’ve been procrastinating for 5 months. Crikey, it wasn’t even Christmas the last time I wrote. Where did the time go? I know I’m nearer to 40 than to 30 because all I seem to say is “Isn’t the year going fast?!”

But, for me, it is going fast, and for that I need to be thankful. Sitting in the golden sunlight of a spring in full bloom writing about the fermented apple is always a joy. And you know what, whisper is quietly, but this cider thing is all about to kick off. But, anyone who knows me knows that even my whisper can be pretty audible. What gives me the confidence to say this? Well, enough things that have come to pass so far this year, and enough that lies ahead, for me to make this article a two-parter, so hang onto your smock and settle in for the ride.

Selling out cider tastings in the dead of January, discovering fine cider in Glasgow’s cool beer fridges and having cider being discussed on multiple panels at CBR – the biggest craft beer event in the UK – wasn’t happening a year ago. It is now. This is testament to the actions of the progressive cider crew of makers, talkers, distributors who are all trying to make a difference. Now really is the time for the drinks trade and drinkers to #rethinkcider.

CiderCon once again demonstrated the USA’s continued juggernauting into Cidersville – the people, the passion, the downright unabashed fun of it all. Wow! It’s so invigorating. Wouldn’t it be great if something, even vaguely, resembling that took place in the UK? Well, up steps the Three Counties Cider and Perry Association to host the inaugural CraftCon at Pershore College. And what a resolute success it was, too! Part technical training, part industry discussion, part mega knees up (I mean, networking opportunity, obvs), for the first time, it felt there was some real cohesion in the room. Too often smaller cider makers seek to point the differences between themselves, or lament what is not right, real, or proper. CraftCon managed the trick of reminding these producers that there’s more that binds them together than separates them. Bravo.

CraftCon 2019 #rethinkcider panel discussion

Posted by Crafty Nectar on Friday, 5 April 2019

The most surprising experience was my attendance at CiderWorld – Europe’s biggest cider event, that has been held for more than a decade in Frankfurt, Germany. It may come as a surprise to learn that Germany, especially the Hessen region, with Frankfurt at its core, has an old cider heritage – known there as apfelwein. Comprising of a competition followed by trade and consumer fair, CiderWorld attended not only by German producers, but also by cider makers from Norway, Finland, Italy, Spain, Austria, the USA and Luxembourg. So many new names, new faces, new tastes and new styles. I was like a kiddie in a sweet shop.

Speaking of Luxembourg, my old friends from Ramborn did something rather special during the course of CiderWorld. Teaming up with Two Michelin starred Frankfurt restaurant, La Fleur, and award-winning Luxembourgish chef, Lea Linster (imagine a slightly more flirtatious Delia), and with a little bit of assistance from me, a 6 course cider matched dinner was put on. But this was no ordinary dinner, this was the most sensational and important Cider Gourmet the world has ever seen! To have the foodie glitterati happily paying €198 a head for supping on fermented apples and having their minds blown was a highly gratifying and seminal moment. Bravo.

And then, without a doubt, the most bonkers experience has been delivering my cider courses as part of the Beer & Cider Academy to a roomful of Norwegian cider makers (current and prospective) and food & drink experts. At a cider farm in Norway. In a fjord. On the same latitude as Southern Greenland. OMG. Not only to find apples being grown, but West Country varieties, to boot, was mind-blowing.

Surely this must be the furthest north such apples are grown anywhere in the world (someone prove my 100% unsubstantiated assertion wrong please!). To be admiring a Dymock Red cider apple tree with the snow capped jagged peaks behind was an experience I’ll never forget. The hospitality, friendliness and quality of the cider from the family behind the Ciderhuset and Ballholm was something that will forever be with me. Tusen Tak Age, Eli-Grete, Aard, Tuba and Edda!

Stay tuned for part 2 of #rethinkcider. It’s going to be a busy old spring and summer of cider!

The Foundation Course in Cider / Ciderhouse-Norway

The foundation course in ciderWe had a very informative day yesterday with Gabe Cook in Ciderhouse, Balestrand, the only ciderologist in the world !!!The three days of cider courses we are arranging, together with Beer and Cider Academy, started with the foundation course . We started the day by defining cider. The day was about appreciation of the history and methodology of cider making, major styles, and flavor distinctions. One of the most important things was enhancing the passion of cider. And little important information, all the participants passed the assessment at the end of the day and we are exploring the cider-world all together today as well…We are looking forward to the next two days.The Beer and Cider Academy The Ciderologist BalholmAmalia Pop

Posted by Ciderhuset on Wednesday, 10 April 2019

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Cider

#Rethinkcider Part 2: FULL JUICE

One of the signposts that gives me confidence to say that 2019 is the year the world gets to #rethinkcider is that there is so much bloody stuff going on. The fact that I have to extend your reading misery by doing this article over two parts is testament to the sheer number of cider events taking place this year. But, of course, dear readers, as we know, quantity is not necessarily commensurate with quality. Well, luckily for us ciderphiles, it just so happens that we have a stellar line up of events.

First up, exceedingly imminently, and in the first flush of is the joy that is Blossomtime at the Big Apple. In my book, Ciderology (still available – please buy before it goes in the barga bin of shame), I rather described in the Big Apple as “my favorite thing in the world. Better than my birthday. Better than sexagesimal trigonometry. It’s pretty bloody good.” Not that I’ve ever been prone to hyperbole, eh?!

As well as the manifold talks, tastes, walks and general celebration of all things apple-y and orchard-y in The Shire, it is also the first opportunity to see who has made some cracking cider and perry last year. I, alongside my brother Alex, made 50 litres of Dymock perry last year, which will be entered, although our natural enthusiasm is somewhat tempered by the slightly disconcerting “sausage like” characters emanating from the liquid…..

But the judging doesn’t stop here, oh no. The Museum of Cider in Hereford will once again test the taste buds of a select band of judges before the British Cider Championships and International Cider Competition at the Royal Bath and West Show sweep into town (well, Shepton Mallet) at the end of May.

But, in many, ways all of these events are a precursor to the most significant event this summer – The Cider Salon. After the overwhelming success of last year’s first instalment, organisers Martin Berkeley and Tom Oliver (ably unassisted by yours truly) are back once again to champion the finest cider and perry in the land, and a little further afield, too. Put it in your diary, folks: SATURDAY 8th JUNE – BRISTOL. But actually, get yourselves down on the Friday afternoon so you can participate in a spectacular Cider Dinner at Yurt Lush before enjoying a number of talks and tastes on Saturday morning/lunchtime prior to the main event itself taking place at The Trinity center from 3: 30.

Estonian champagne style cider? Check. Devonian on-leaf fermented Yarlington Mill? Check. The world’s hottest brewer right (Johnny Mills, y’all), who also rather fortuitously likes playing with cider, too? Check. Cider menus, hosted tasting dinners, new releases and Sunday cider tours….The Cider Salon 2019 is going to be epic. Be there! And please, please share the word and tell all the ferment-fans you know!!

Aaaaaaand finally….. I’ve teamed up with some cider legends to create something, that we think, will (quite literally) change the narrative around cider. I truly believe that we have entered a period whereby there is an openness and willingness of curious drinkers to try something new. And cider absolutely is one of those drinks. It’s just that the drinks trade and the drinkers themselves don’t know this yet. But now there is a great opportunity for cider to have the awareness and respect it deserves. There just needs to be a bit of guidance on what this cider lark is all about.

So….say hello to Full Juice. A free publication available into the trade, the aim is to do for cider what Original Gravity has done for beer. And to make this happen, the Full Juice crew comprises of myself alongside award winning drinks writer Pete Brown; award-winning drinks writer, Imbibe Live cider ambassador and Little Pomona co-founder, Susanna Forbes; and last, but not least award-winning writer, photographer and general cider geezer, Bill Bradshaw. Did I mention that they were award winning writers? Not a bad little line up, eh?

Episode One gets out into the world at the end of May with celebratory events taking place at The Cider Salon in Bristol (8th June) and with London and Manchester TBC very soon. There’s a website on the way, but for now keep abreast via Twitter, Insta and Facebook.

Full Insight. Full Passion. Full juice. Told you this is the year that folk start to #rethinkcider. Spread the word.

Wassail