Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Ciderhouse News - June 2014

We're approaching 'Peak-Cider' time here at Rockingham Forest Cider, with both cider and perry (almost) literally flowing out of the ciderhouse and straight down the throats of thirsty customers. Almost! We do have to transfer the golden liquid into boxes and barrels to aid this process. Licensees help too with their fancy 'glasses' and stoneware cider mugs, for which we thank them.

It's an inevitable reaction to the hot weather. People prefer to move around a lot less in the heat, and what then are they to do with those idle hands and moribund legs? Might as well shuffle to the bar and order a pint. That's where we come in..

This coming weekend you might want to shuffle over to Oakham for pints (or halves) of cider at the almost accurately named Oakham Ale Trail. Fear not cider and perry lovers, it's not all malt'n'hop in the capital of Rutlandshire. Our regular outlet in the town, the terrific White Lion, has expanded its range to include our Vilberie Cider, Red Kite Cider, and Green Horse Perry. Exotic 'foreign' cider will also be available from 'Udders Orchard of 'Uddersfield-in-the-North. Rare and unusual beers will also be available, as well as Maria's rare and tasty 'Craft' Pies (fully endorsed by the Rockingham Forest Cider branch of the Campaign for Real Pies) as well as other food type things.

Staying in Rutland for a moment, our Red Kite Cider will also be available at a mini-beer festival at the Exeter Arms, Barrowden. I haven't got a good picture of the Exeter Arms, but this photo of Saturday afternoon Cribbage play in the bar gives an idea of the kind of traditional village local it is. It's also home to the Barrowden Brewery, so expect some of the beers to have been sourced from literally 'yards' away.

Continuing to stay in Rutland for just one more paragraph, a Rockingham Forest Cider blend continues to be on tap at the bijou Veranda Cafe at Wing Hall. Great food and regular live music evenings here too, including the fabulous Latin Jazz sounds of the Sven Klang Jazz Band on the evening of 5th of July.

In other news, the ciderhouse has now been fully fitted out with a vintage skittles table, something else to do with those idle hands and moribund legs in the Winter. This table will be making an appearance at the forthcoming Cottingham & Middleton Village Fete (5th July), as will a box of our Red Kite Cider. The date for this popular village event has (almost certainly) been set to celebrate the day after American Independence Day (possibly), although I haven't managed to get confirmation of this yet (and probably won't). Either way, come and celebrate 'something or other', with a glass of cider and a throw on the skittles table. It's what Summers were made for.

Friday, 16 May 2014

More May Merriment

Polish-up your Half-pint Tankards and iron your Bermuda Shorts, the bank holiday is very nearly here, and there's more cider and perry to be drunk than even I can handle. The unpredictable month of May promises to go out in a similar fashion to how it came in, quite literally littered with Beer and Cider (and Sausage) festivals to the north, west, and... well, mostly north and west to be honest.

We've been very busy in the ciderhouse ahead of the weekend. Racking and tasting. Boxing-up and tasting. Tasting a bit more, just so we're absolutely sure that everything tastes fabulous and fruity at the bunch-of-five events we'll be supplying.

We're particularly excited to have been invited to the very first Charnwood Cider Festival (24th - 25th May), the brainchild of award winning Leicestershire cidermaker Rob Clough (that's him on the left). In addition to the whole extensive range of Robs own Charnwood Ciders, there will also be local East Midlands guest ciders from our friends in the north at Torkard Cider, as well as Green Horse and Blakeney Red Perries from us-selves. Set in the shadow of Old John himself, the event would make a great refreshment stop after a traditional bank holiday walk at nearby Bradgate Park. More details below.

Once again, we're delighted to be represented at the Newark CAMRA Beer Festival (23rd - 25th), with Red Kite Cider and Green Horse Perry in attendance amongst a host of other quality ciders and perries (and beers apparently!). One of several festivals on our list of 'might go' for the weekend. As ever there's just too much choice.

Sausages are of course the perfect accompaniment to a glass of traditional cider. You didn't know! Well get on-trend and find out for yourself at the accurately named Oadby Sausage & Cider Festival (24th - 25th), which features a whole host of award-winning sausages, a similar range of fine ciders, and all located in the easily accessible village of Oadby. Well it would be wouldn't it! Our own Red Kite Cider will join the extensive line-up. There will also be live music, and plenty of people talking like the Wurzels all weekend I shouldn't wonder.

Our love affair with the tiny country of Rutland continues to grow. Not only is our Vilberie Cider available at the Veranda Cafe at Wing Hall and the White Lion, Oakham, but an annual Rutlandshire event will also feature our cider and perry over the bank holiday weekend.

More evidence of cider/sausage affinity can be experienced at the annual Grainstore Cider & Sausage Festival 22nd - 26th) in Oakham. The cider tasting takes place under canvas at the front of the brew-pub, and you'll find our Red Kite Cider and Green Horse Perry amongst the apple-y and porky delights on offer.

Just over the border, and back home in Northamptonshire, the annual Village Gala (24th - 26th) at Easton on the Hill will also feature our Red Kite and Green Horse. This looks like a fabulous traditional May event, centred on the Blue Bell pub which is where the beers, ciders, and much else besides can be enjoyed. More details below.

So there you have it. You can't say we haven't given you a choice!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Good Times Are Coming, But They're Sure Coming Slow..

With all the news coming from the CAMRA National Cider & Perry Championships and the Big Apple Cider Trials in Putley this weekend*, I've been driven to spend rather too much time time in the ciderhouse. Too much time glaring at stubbornly fermenting tubs of cider and shouting 'COME ON!'. The question is, when will it end? When will the fruits of our Autumn labour deliver ciders and perries of potentially award-winning quality, and eyeball-dazzling clarity.

In truth the ciders are just about there, and the perries have been tasting fab for some weeks now. The 2014 sales drive is about to step up a gear, and it's here on this blog that we'll be giving you the heads-up on where we're at, and what we've got. Quite soon now!

Meanwhile, here's what's happening around the orchard and garden, because nature won't be rushed, and generally responds poorly to cidermakers shouting 'COME ON!' at it.

Plenty of these about the garden
The tell-tale holes in the wax reveal it should be another good year for solitary bees too
Bramley Blossom, one of the prettiest in the garden

Hens Turd cider apple blossom on a cordon grown tree, with Hagloe Crab in the background
Could do without this though. Canker on one of the pot grown Dabinetts. Currently in full flower and it's not unknown for a fruit tree to recover from Canker, but the trunk is completely girdled so the prognosis is not good!
Rhubarb, lots of it. Which is good as I like lots of it.
* Congratulations to all the winners in competition this weekend, many of which we know and have huge respect for as cidermakers and generally nice people. Full results from Putley can be seen here, with Sheppys Cider and Olivers Perry taking gold in the national CAMRA competition.

Friday, 18 April 2014

(Some) Cider is Go!

With earthquakes hitting the tiny, fragile village of Rutland almost every day now, the Rockingham Forest Cider Emergency Delivery Team have literally strolled into action ahead of the Easter weekend.

In a bizarre reversal of normal earthquake disaster behaviour, reports suggest refugees are literally pouring onto the Wing Hall Campsite, though sensibly equipped with caravans, BBQ's, and an array of emergency ball games. Supplies of Rockingham Forest Cider have now been car-lifted onto the site, and initial reports suggest that there should be plenty of buns and cake at the Veranda Cafe to see desperate campers through the weekend in relative comfort.

The White Lion line-up today
Meanwhile, Les at the White Lion in Oakham has reported that the pub was at the very epicentre of recent seismic activity. At the height of this mornings catastrophic event, glasses clinked alarmingly and Maria is understood to have been very fearful for her pies. Recent over-indugence of Hazelnut Porter by Les has so far not been ruled out as the source these dangerous vibations (boom-boom!).

Just to be on the safe side, we've delivered a stabilising box of cider to the pub, and can confirm that the pies have survived their ordeal intact and tasty as ever.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

May I Draw Your Attention To... May!

The joyous season of spring is finally with us here at Rockingham Forest Cider. Dark and chilly winter nights are giving way to the longer warmer days of spring, and with it pubs and clubs everywhere are breaking Beer & Cider Festival bud, with bibulous blossom time predicted any day now. A joyous time indeed.

Of course all cidermakers know that the fruits of their Autumn labour won't be ready to drink until the first Cuckoo has been heard a-calling. Old cider-wives law to be sure, but it's been quite an accurate gauge for us here in the Welland Valley. Perhaps not surprising given that the kind of winter we've had, and the progress of more spring-like weather has a direct influence on both our fermentations and feathery migration patterns. It's cidery science really.

Anyway, the fact is that whilst there's been plenty of 'cooking' in the household, and the Pigeons are forever 'cooing', the two combined have yet to be heard in the valley. We have had reports of Cuckoo calls elsewhere though, and are that Cuckoos everywhere will be doing what they do best before the month is out. Karen has a wooden Cuckoo clock primed and ready just in case though...

Beer & Cider Festivals we're supplying in the near future can be found listed on the right hand side of this blog, but here's some more information to get you in the spring festival mood.

The Walcote Beer Festival is being held at the Misterton & Walcote Memorial Hall over the bank holiday weekend. Walcote village has lost both of its pubs in recent years, the fondly remembered Black Horse, famed for authentic Thai food and local ales, as well as the Tavern Inn, home to the local skittles game. So this event will act as a kind of pop-up pub for villagers, and a well though out community event it appears to be.

We'll be supplying our own cider and perry, as well as a couple of ciders from our friends at Hogans Cider in Warwickshire.

The South Notts Real Ale Festival takes place at the Nottingham Moderns Rugby Club over the bank holiday weekend. I visited this festival last year and found it a very well run event, full to bursting with good local ales selected with help from the local CAMRA branch. Our friends in the north at Torkard Cider have sourced the ciders for this festival, and a box of our Green Horse Perry will be travelling to Nottingham c/o our friends at the Bottle Kicking Cider Co who are both also supplying cider and perry.

The Malt Shovel have held a beer festival over the May bank holiday weekend for several years now. Located a stones throw from the massive Carlsberg lager factory, the Malt Shovel has been reminding folk what beer should taste like since the early days of the real ale revival. It's also a great place to go to see what beer and brewing used to look like, the bar crammed with vintage breweriana, including items from the recently resurrected, and nearby Phipps Brewery.

We'll be supplying cider and perry to the festival, and I don't doubt there will be other local ciders available too.