Monday, 23 March 2009

Cider - A Book for all Seasons

Books on cider and cidermaking are always pretty thin on the ground. Cider doesn't seem to get the prominence that Beer, Whisky and Wine get in bookshops, so when two books on cider arrive in relatively short order it could be considered as something of a literary glut. But is it...

Last year I was delighted to receive a copy of James Crowden's new book Ciderland, a weighty discourse on the history of cidermaking with several in-depth profiles on some of the movers and shakers of modern craft cidermaking. The book is beautifully illustrated, and full of useful information and anecdote. It's also just won the drinks category of the André Simon Book Awards. Just the sort of book cider and perry enthusiasts have been waiting for.

The soon to be published CAMRA book, Cider, seems to be in a very similar vein, covering several notable cidermakers, and with a superb collection of photographs by Mark Bolton (browse around his website for a sneak preview of some of the images). I'm certainly looking forward to getting my hands on a copy, and I'm sure it will be a worthy addition to a limited literary field.

Of course it's a shame that two such similar books have arrived on the scene so close together, and it probably won't help the sales of either which would be a great shame as they seem to be equally deserving of success. But perhaps the most dissapointing aspect for me is the missed opportunity of the CAMRA publication. The book I really want to see is a new, bang-up-to-date Good Cider Guide, not another coffee table book no matter how good it is.

The last edition of CAMRA's Good Cider Guide was published in 2005, and it wasn't a bad effort, certainly better than some previous editions, though perhaps not as good as Dave Mathews excellent edition, or the early David Kitton books of the 80's. The problem is that this guide is now massively out of date, and virtually unusable as a travelling guide to pubs and farms which sell cider. This guide needs to be re-published at least every three years, ideally every other year, but sadly there seems little sign of a new edition.

I'll be buying the new 'Cider' book, and I do hope it's a great success, but the unfortunate truth is that this new book is likely to make the publication of a new Good Cider Guide even less of a possibilty in the near future.

No comments: