Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Cider Jar of the Month - Perry Bros

As you can see, the people at Somerset cidermaker Perry's seem to have a bit of a thing about stoneware jars. I hadn't realised just how many of their jars I had until I started to collect them together for a photo-call, and even then I suspect that one or two more may be lurking at the back of a cupboard somewhere. Perhaps it's me that's got the thing about Perry's cider jars! They do make for a lovely collection though. Proper old-fashioned stoneware, though no less a collection of tourist trinkets than the more gaudy 'Zumerzet' versions if truth be told.

I'd put Perry's in the same stable as their near neighbours Sheppy's. Similar in size, they're both family concerns making award-winning ciders with some pedigree. Both farms are well equipped for the tourist trade, with museums of farm implements, an on site shop for tastings and sales, tea room etc. I really must give Perry's a visit next time I'm travelling through Somerset.

One major difference between Perry's and Sheppy's, certainly from our perspective in the Midlands, is that Perry's ciders are not nearly so widely distributed. This is a great shame as their ciders are very good indeed. The nearest outlet for Perry's ciders that I'm aware of is the delicatessen Browns of Stilton in Cambridgeshire. Hardly local, but I'm lucky enough to work over that way occasionally, so had the opportunity to pick up flagons of their single-variety Somerset Redstreak Cider, and more traditional Farmhouse Cider recently.

They're both very good. The Redstreak is a medium cider with a lovely rich fruitiness, very easy-drinking, but with a reassuringly grown-up splash of tannin in the finish. The Farmhouse is more robust, slightly drier, though perhaps sweeter than the Medium/Dry Perry's claim for it. The tannins in this cider are less sophisticated, and there is a slight bitterness in the finish. I'd prefer it a little drier, but it's a good, pint-drinking cider nevertheless.

I couldn't help noticing from the website that Perry's still sell cider jars and mugs from their shop, a nice tilt-of-the-hat to tradition. I was particularly pleased to see that the family are now making use of a more modern method to advertise their range of fine ciders. The new Cider Diary, written by Perry Bros current manager George Perry, is a blog I'll be following with great interest throughout the coming year.

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