The 4th Criterion Cider & Perry Festival presented me with a bit of a dilemma. Not which ciders to choose from the great list Russell and Karen had put together, nor whether to sample the last of our Welland Valley Special which had already sold out by the time I arrived on Saturday. The dilemma was choosing between the dozen or so delicious farmhouse cheeses, or reverting to form with the equally appealing stonebaked pizzas. Hmm!
Cider and cheese are of course a perfect combination (though cider and pizza are a pretty good match too), so I plumped for a few chunks of Cornish Yarg and Cornish Blue, accompanied by a selection of biscuits and crackers, and a half of the lusciously sweet Heck's Dabinett & Honey. Heck's are a very well respected Somerset cidermaker which specialise in a wide range of single variety ciders and perrys. The rich tannins of the Dabinett apple with the toothsome sweetness of the honey made this a real sippin' cider.
I also tried the refreshingly bone-dry Orchards Cider, J Edwards Strawberry Norman Cider, which was as nice as it sounds, perrys from Troggi of Wales and Moore's of Gloucestershire, and a very well balanced Welsh cider from Watkins. I didn't try our own Rockingham Forest Cider, there's plenty of that at home to try!
Like buses, Summer beer and cider festivals usually arrive in pairs, so off we went to the Queen Victoria Booze & Blues Festival for a few more ciders in the small courtyard garden. I tried the Gwynt-Y-Ddraig Perry and the Gwatkin Kingston Black Cider, a very good example of single variety cider made from this famous cider apple variety. There were quite a few beers on offer here too, including a Rhubarb Beer which seemed to be the talk of the festival. Here we were entertained by a very good solo performer whose name escaped me, before being whisked home by Karen, the designated driver of the day. Here's a short video of him pleasuring the crowd with Crossroads...