Sunday, 1 June 2008

Keeping it Local

The process of making and selling cider is, if done with a little care, quite a sustainable pastime. Apples sourced locally will obviously help in this regard, cutting down on the cider-miles, and we certainly aim to increase the amount of local fruit in our cider. Our Voran mill and press is electrically driven, but since it's in use for such a short space of time, energy use is relatively low, certainly much less than that used by a small brewery where the mashing and boiling of the brewing process takes place several times a week, all year round. The final part of the chain is the selling of the product, and we have always aimed to keep this part as local as possible, not least because of the added costs involved in transporting the relatively small quantities of cider we tend to deliver. I would be more than happy if all our cider were sold within five miles of the ciderhouse, so it's very pleasing that our latest outlet is practically on our doorstep.

The Red Lion in Middleton has recently changed ownership, and the new licensees have brought with them a keen interest in all things local. Out has gone the one, slightly dull real ale, brewed in the neighbouring county of Bedfordshire, and in has come up to three beers from just down the road in Great Oakley and Thorpe Langton. The improved range of beer is very welcome, and there will also be around 20 ales available at the forthcoming Welland Valley Beer Festival, along with ciders and a perry, including our own two 'very local' offerings.

The Red Lion is a pub transformed. I'm spending more of my time there, enjoying in particular the excellent Great Oakley Welland Valley Mild, a style of beer that many licensees will tell you is too unfashionable to sell, and I must admit to a degree of scepticism on this too. I'm happy to have been proved wrong and can report that the mild is selling very well in the Red Lion. I'm also pleased that our own cider is selling well, but the most pleasing aspect for us is that we can deliver the cider to the Red Lion entirely without the use of automotive transport. I'm proud to announce that the Rockingham Forest Cider fleet has a new addition, and if you're lucky enough to be in Middleton around opening time, you may see me pulling it through the village on a delivery run. Another small step on the road to sustainability, albeit at the risk of being labelled the new Rockingham Forest Cider 'Trolley Dolly'.

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