Monday, 31 March 2008

Read All About It

When the local press come calling, it's hard to say no. If there's one thing we probably don't need at the moment, it's the kind of publicity generated by a feature in our local newspaper, the Leicester Mercury.

The Saturday edition of the Mercury has a full page devoted to showcasing Leicestershire food and drink producers and foody events. Always worth a read, and just the sort of feature designed to turn the heads of impressionable micro-producers such as ourselves. Oh dear! One half-hour interview and a quick photo-call in the garden later, we're splashed across the newsprint like a pair of eager-to-please spaniels.

I must admit that because we were away this weekend, I haven't seen the full gory printed version, only the online copy. We could do without the Wurzels, and park bench history lesson, but it's not too bad I suppose. If it gives the fantastic team at the Criterion a bit more publicity, then I'll be happy enough, and it should just about compensate for the ribbing we're sure to get over the next few days.

Read all about it here: 'Cold Off The Press'

Friday, 28 March 2008

Mansfield Beer & Cider Festival

Our friends in the north, Ray & Gail of Mansfield CAMRA, have sent us the latest cider bar list for the Mansfield Beer & Cider Festival (10th - 13th April). Eagle-eyed viewers may spot our own cider in amongst the embarrassment of riches, as well as Ray & Gail's own award-winning Torkard 57. This is the last barrel of the batch we sent to the Leicester CAMRA Beer Festival earlier this month, so if you enjoyed it there, you'll probably enjoy it at Mansfield. This is a cider bar worth travelling for, run by people with huge enthusiasm for, and a great knowledge of 'real' cider and perry. I've heard that Ray and Gail are running out of wall-space for all the awards they've racked up recently, so in the spirit of repaying all their hard work, maybe it's time to give another East Midlands cidermaker a chance. Just a thought!



Orchard’s Dabinett SV (Medium) 7.0% - High quality craft ciders from the Wye Valley
Gwatkin Yarlington Mill SV Cider (Med/swt) 7.5% - Traditional farm ciders
Whin Hill Brown’s Apple SV Cider (Sweet) 6.5% - A real pink cider! No added colours here!
Whin Hill Draught Cider (Medium) 6.5% - From Wells-next-the-Sea in North Norfolk
Rockingham Forest Cider (Dry) 6.5% - Small-scale pure juice craft cider maker
Hucknall Cider Co. Torkard 57 Cider (Med/dry) 6.5% - Award-winning pure juice craft cider maker
Ben Crossman Home Orchard Cider (Med/dry) 7.0% - Traditional farm cider from a small orchard
Hecks Glastonbury Port Wine SV Cider (Med) 6.5% - Award-winning champion cider makers
Parson’s Choice Draught Cider (Dry) 6.5% - Clean tasting pure juice cider
Rich Legbender Cider (Med) 6.0% - Easy drinking, “appley” cider


Gwynt y Ddraig
Black Dragon (Med) 7.0% - Award-winning champion cider makers
CJ’s Draught Cider (Med) 7.0% - Pure-juice farm cider
Springfield Old Barn (Med/dry) 7.5% - Up and coming Welsh cider maker
Springfield Red Dragon (Med) 7.0% - Based in Llangovan
Troggi Cider (Med/dry) 7.0% - Award-winning cider and perry maker



Newton Court Winnals Longden & Blakeney Red (Med/dry) 7.0% - A blend of two traditional perry pears
Oliver’s Draught Perry (Med/dry) 7.0% - Award-winning high quality producer
Day’s Cottage Blakeney Red SV Perry (Med) 7.0% - Single-variety perry


Troggi Draught Perry (Med/dry) 7.0% - Award-winning cider and perry maker

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Make Cider Not War

This fine sentiment is brought to you c/o Charlie Harvey (aka ludwig van standard lamp) who kindly allows use of this pic under a Creative Commons Licence. Thanks Charlie.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Tied-up in the Orchard

The new Tremlett's Bitter trees didn't make it to Middleton before Easter. Perhaps this is just as well considering the weather this weekend. I spent most of the day in the potting shed, drinking tea, sowing seed, and potting on assorted vegetable seedlings ready for slightly better weather.

In the breaks between the frequent icy March showers, I also had a go at tying down a couple of the more upwardly mobile Harry Masters' Jersey apple trees. Harry Masters' (or Port Wine of Glastonbury as it's more commonly named in Somerset) is not particularly noted for an upward growing tendency, but a couple of our trees are definitely heading that way. Excessive upward growth can be a problem as it has the effect of suppressing the production of fruiting spurs further down the branch. If nothing is done to bring these branches down towards a more horizontal angle (such as the branch carrying a heavy crop of apples), you can end up with a tall, healthy looking tree, lacking sufficient fruiting spurs to produce a decent crop.

This is my first attempt at tying down an apple tree, and I hope I haven't made a complete mess of the job. I've included before and after pics of one of the tied down trees, but would stress that this is not for instruction, I'm learning all the time, and only time will tell if I've helped or hindered these trees.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Following a tip-off from a family member I spent a pleasant lunch-break this week exploring the rather splendid Community Orchard at Brocks Hill Country Park in Leicester.

Community Orchards are a great idea. Many, including the one at Brocks Hill, are located on the fringe of a busy urban area, and are by definition easily accessible to the local community. A community orchard is a benign environment for wildlife, a safe haven for rare local fruit varieties, and most importantly an open space and focal point for the enjoyment of all the community. Every community should have one!

Wandering around the well established trees, which included local Leicestershire cooking-apple varieties Dumelow's Seedling and Annie Elizabeth, I felt the urge to plant a few trees of my own. March is the latest month for planting bare-rooted fruit trees, so I've left things a little late this year. I've ordered four Tremlett's Bitter maidens on M26 rootstock from Deacon's Nursery of the Isle of Wight, and I'm fully expecting them to be in leaf when they arrive following the recent mild weather. Not good, but a yearling should be better able to recover from the shock of moving than an older tree.

I've spent today digging and preparing the planting sites which will extend our small orchard down the slope and into Karen's 'Garden' proper. She's an understanding girl is our Karen. I explained the need to link the two parts of the garden with a 'shared story' of blossom-laden apple trees cascading down the slope. She fell for that one, but I don't think I can push my luck any further now. These trees are likely to be the last I'll plant in this orchard, so I'm going to take my time and enjoy the process, as I'm sure the people who planted the trees at Brocks Hill Community Orchard did.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

A Case of Product Placement?

The 2008 Leicester CAMRA Beer Festival has now finished, and it seems to have been another great success. I was pleased to note that the Rockingham Forest Cider was one of the first to sell out, though I have to admit that by supplying a 20 litre box rather than a 5 gallon barrel we had a couple of litres head start!

I managed to visit the festival for a few drinks on Friday afternoon, and greatly enjoyed the convivial atmosphere, great range of ciders and perrys, and the chance to chat with friends and family. Congratulations to all involved, particularly Susan Shirley who managed the cider bar with such aplomb.

On the subject of family, I was more than a little embarrassed at the gross nepotism shown by certain family members at the cider bar, namely brother Paul and the Auld Fella. I must state here and now that at no time did I ask any bar staff or customers to model our (rather chic) range of Rockingham Forest Cider branded clothing at the cider bar, and I certainly don't condone this example of blatant 'product placement'. Apart from anything else, if I had wanted to advertise our wares in such a crass way, I'd have ensured a far classier pair of models!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Cider Nouveau for Leicester

Despite our plans to strictly limit the number of outlets we supply with cider this year, we've already caved in to pressure and will be delivering an early order of Rockingham Forest Cider to the Leicester CAMRA Beer Festival. We may also send some cider to the Criterion for the festival weekend. This is the full list for the festival cider bar:


Broome Farm, Hererfordshire - Perry (6.5%), Blakeney Red Perry (6.5%)
Crones, Norfolk - Rum Cask Cider (7.5%), Special Reserve Cider (7.5%)
Day’s Cottage, Gloucestershire - Malvern Hills Perry (6%)
Eve’s, Northamptonshire - Wilding Cider (7.2%)
Greenwoods, Norfolk - Cider (6%)
Gregg’s Pit, Herefordshire - Browns Apple & Ellis Bitter Cider (7%), Kingston Black Cider (7%), Aylton Red, Blakeney Red & Gregg's Pit Perry (7%), Butt & Oldfield Perry (7%)
Gwynt y Ddraig, Glamorgan - Black Dragon Cider (7.2%), Kingston Black Cider (7.2%), Two Trees Perry (5%)
Harechurch Hill, Gloucestershire - Cider (7%)
Hartland’s, Gloucestershire - Cider (6%), Perry (5.5%)
Hogan’s, Warwickshire - Cider (7.5%)
Oliver’s, Herefordshire - Pyder (7%), Medium Cider (7%)
Rockingham Forest Cider, Northamptonshire - Cider (6.5%)
Seidr Dai, Glamorgan - Perry (7%)
Severn Cider, Gloucestershire - Cider (6.5%)• Perry (6.5%)


Broome Farm, Herefordshire - Bottle Conditioned Cider 7%, Bottle Conditioned Perry (Gin Pear) 6%


Chevelswarde, South Kilworth, Leicestershire - Organic White Wine (Dry) 8.5%

Welland Valley Vineyard, Marston Trussell, Leicestershire - Bachus White Wine (Dry) 10.5%, Phoenix White Wine (Med/Dry) 10.5%, Naseby Red Wine 11%


Stamford Juice Co, Stamford, Lincolnshire - Emneth Early / Tydeman’s Early, Grenadier / Worcester Permain, Worcester Permain / Bramley’s Seedling, Lord Grosvenor / Worcester Permain, Grenadier / Laxton’s Fortune