Sunday, 10 April 2011

Blakeney Red - The Sweetest Pear

Blossom on Pear Tree
Middleton Village Orchard
Well that was one hot-hot weekend.

Friday was spent drinking some very good (and some not so good) ciders and perries in the metropoli' of Nottingham and Beeston, of which I'll write more at a later date. Saturday was just made for a spot of gardening. Sowing seeds, constructing Sweet Pea supports, mowing the tufty remnants of our hen-pecked lawn, and generally working up a good honest thirst. Three cheers then for Red Kite Cider. Three cheers too for a profusion of Pear Blossom and generally frost-free nights. Looks like it could be a good year for perry pears.

Sunday is strictly a day of rest in the Rockingham Forest Cider household. I spent most of the day 'resting' in the ciderhouse with a length of hose and several empty barrels, whilst Karen was 'resting' at Saddington Car Boot Sale, along with a boot-full of highly desirable junk. Not much of a rest then!

'Polymeric Perry Pear Tannins' floating
on top of this batch of Blakeney Red 
I'd earmarked this Sunday as the day for barreling up cider and perry for festivals at the Crown, Elton, and the Swan & Rushes, Leicester (see right). I've selected a lateish pressing of Yarlington Mill/Dabinett/unknown Sweet/Bramley, which has cleared nicely for a bittersweet blend, and weighs in at 7% abv. This will go out as a Medium version of our Rockingham Forest Cider.

More intriguing is the perry I've chosen, a single variety, naturally sweet Blakeney Red. Most of our perries have finished quite sweet this year, although one or two are still fermenting away quite merrily. This one has finished with a very high gravity (1.023), giving a full-on sweet perry, not too tannic, and clear as a bell in the glass. It's lovely stuff, but thanks to the higher than normal gravity, it's unusually low in alcohol at around 4% abv. The holy-grail of cider and perry making is to produce a naturally sweet, relatively low alcohol drink, so I shouldn't complain. Whilst it's well-known that many people prefer their cider and perry on the sweeter side, we've also noticed that some people (women in particular) can be quite put off by the high strength of the more traditional drink. A 4% perry is not something we would normally aim for, but it's certainly a very 'commercial' strength, and I think this perry will sell very well indeed, particularly if we're blessed with more of this lovely warm weather. Oh! sorry, I forgot it's a Bank Holiday. Never fear, it should go equally well with rain...

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