Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Ciderhouse News - July

  • The Rutland CAMRA Beer Festival exceeded my expectations. Great cider and perry in a really interesting location at the Rutland County Museum. I'm ashamed to say I neglected to view any of the impressive exhibits, preferring to chat the afternoon away with assorted friends and acquaintances whilst working my way through the ciders and perrys. Highlights for me were the Cornish Orchards Strong Dry, and Jollydale Cider. Cider bar organiser Gillian Cummings reported that our Blakeney Red Perry 'sold out', and was '...definitely cider/perry of the festival'. Yay!

  • Our next event will be the new improved Cottingham & Middleton Village Fete (16th July, 12-5pm), a local fundraiser we're proud to be a part of. The 'Beer Tent' will feature local Langton Brewery ales, as well as Med/Dry and Med/Sweet Red Kite Cider. If you like it Medium, ask for a blend of the two!

  • The Criterion Cheese, Cider & Perry Festival is imminent (18th - 24th July). I'll be dropping cider and perry into the pub this weekend, and hope to twist Russell or Karen's arm for a sneak preview of what will be available over the week of the festival.

  • I was delighted to read in our village newsletter, Cottingham & Middleton News, that funding is being sought to renovate and enhance the Village Orchard in Middleton. This important village green space has been somewhat neglected of late, the trees heavily overgrown with Ivy, with one old specimen having fallen several years ago causing damage to the wall on the road side of the orchard. I do hope that the intention is to retain the apple and pear trees. We don't use the fruit in our ciders, but I know that some local folk do collect the cooking apples for their pies, and the blossom is something to behold in the Springtime.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Three Counties Show and Tell

The Bath & West Show in Somerset is undoubtedly the regional show to go to for cider interest. Practically the whole of the West Country cider industry decamp to Shepton Mallet for the duration of the show, as well as a fair few of us grockles with more than a passing interest in cider. The cider competition is a particular highlight, as are the numerous talks, tastings, and displays, all backed up by a well stocked cider bar and numerous producers stalls.

I haven't been to the Bath & West for a few years now, so it's been with a mixture of interest and frustration that I've read the numerous online bulletins from the show this year. It's during events like these that Twitter really comes into its own, as numerous cider folk document in minute detail every aspect of the show I've been real time, Bah!

My envy was tempered slightly by the knowledge that I had tickets for the second best show for cider, and probably the best for perry, at the Three Counties Show at Malvern. The cider and perry section may not be quite the size of the Bath & West, but the cream of local cider and perry producers can be found here, conveniently located in the cavernous foodie environs of the Severn Hall. There's a well respected cider and perry competition, plus tastings and talks are run throughout the weekend, but it's the numerous stalls run by cider and perry makers which are the stars of the show for me.

We met up with Torkard Cider man, Ray Blockley at the show, and proceeded to sample our way around this years stalls which included Barbourne, Olivers, Newtons, Old Grove, Out of the Orchard, Severn Cider, Once Upon a Tree, Gwatkin, Ralphs, McCrindles, as well as a range of Three Counties ciders and perries on the Orchard, Hive & Vine stall. It was a cider and perry festival by any other name.

During a tasting session, I asked Peter Mitchell of the Hartpury Orchard Centre whether a perry tasting could be run next year. Apparently this is already catered for at the Malvern Autumn Show, so there's another date for my diary.

Looks familiar! The Simon Abbiss travelling cider press. Ray was torn between this and the vintage tractors next door.

Some of the entries in the Three Counties Cider & Perry Association annual competition

The well appointed 'Cider Island' featuring the cream of Three Counties cider and perry makers

One (or two) for the ladies. Herefordshire cider and perry making legend Tom Oliver, with his impressive array of bottled and draught produce. Canny dog Tom was conveniently located next to the cheese display...

It's not all cider and perry at the show. Charles Martell's famous perry washed Stinking Bishop took a 1st prize. They all looked well-tasty, and appropriately located adjacent to the cider and perry stalls.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Rutland CAMRA Beer Festival

The first Rutland CAMRA Beer Festival is a little over a week away now (23rd - 26th June). I was given a sneak preview of the beer and cider list on Friday by a local CAMRA member at the Red Lion, and was hoping to break this exciting news exclusively, right here on this blog. It now appears that just about everyone and his dog has also had a sneak preview of the list, reducing the exclusivity somewhat... Still, some nice looking ciders and perries on offer, plus beer of course, but we don't concern ourselves with that here:
Charnwood Cider 6.0%
Cornish Orchard Strong Dry 7.1 % Festival Special
Gwynt Y Draig Farmhouse Medium 6.0%
JollyDale Medium Dry 6.%
Moles Black Rat 6.0%
Mr Whiteheads Newtons Discovery 3.8%
Thatchers Cheddar Valley Dry 6.0
Rockingham Forest Welland Valley Festival Special 7.5%
Westons Bounds Brand 4.8%
Westons 1st Quality 5.8%

Gwynt Y Draig Two Trees Perry 4.5%
Hecks Blakeney Red Perry 6.5%
Rockingham Forest Blakeney Red Perry 4.2%
Westons Perry 4.5%

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Braybrooke Morris @ Fox Inn Wilbarston

A 'Rain Dance' was requested. It worked. Well done Braybrooke Morris..

Weekend Welland Valley Wanderings... and Wing

Some memorable moments from one of the biggest weekends in the Welland Valley year:

The view from the George & Dragon, Seaton

    Barrels and Mr Bip at the Red Lion
  • Local legend Mr Bip rocks the Red Lion Middleton on Friday night, aided and abetted by a bus load of extremely up-for-it drinkers from the Shoulder of Mutton Weldon. If you want to know why our Green Horse Perry temporarily ran out on Saturday (and why the Red Lion floorboards may need replacing), the good folk of Weldon must (ahem!) shoulder some of the blame. Videos of the evening available 'under the counter' at the Red Lion...

  • Excellent cider and perry range at Welland Valley Beer Festival newcomers the Fox Inn, Wilbarston. The Burrow Hill Cider was my pick of the festival, closely followed by the Parsons Choice. Served cool and delicious from the outside bar at the Fox, accompanied by the fleet-footed men and women of Braybrooke Morris. An excellent debut from the Foxters.

  • Multiple cider re-orders for the Red Lion Middleton, as thirsty festival-goers drink the bar dry. Around 300 pints of our cider and perry were consumed over the weekend at the Red, plus another 100 or so of cider and perry from our friends at Charnwood, Ross, and Torkard. Excellent work from all the staff, particularly the glass washing team. You can't drink real ale and cider without a glass...

Ales, Cider & Perry at the Red Lion

  • Whoever it was that organised the Lancaster Bomber to fly low over Lyddington on Saturday, top job Sir (or Madam)! Or was it just passing through to an air show...

  • Vintage buses. Lovely!

  • The mighty Skibbereen do what they do best on Saturday night at the Red Lion, as thirsty customers do what they do best at the bar. A slightly surreal night as the Red seemed to turn into a ciderhouse, and the Skibbereen Pipes player warms his instrument up in the Gents...

  • The wind-down session at Wing Village Fete was a little bit on the wet side, but just the job nevertheless. A glass of Welland Valley Festival Special Cider helped ease the pain, with tea and cakes in Zia's terrific Veranda Cafe, and more Spaniels and Labradors than you can shake a sausage at, all wrapped up in a thoroughly traditional English Summer drizzle. Well worth getting a hangover for.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Welland Valley Wind-Down Session

After a hard weekend at the Welland Valley Beer Festival, what better way to wind down ahead of the return to work than tea, cake and a Gun Dog demonstration at the Wing Village Fete at Wing Hall in Rutland. Mind you, if by any chance you haven't had your fill of ale and cider, there's ale and cider available too, local cider at that. Rockingham Forest Red Kite, Welland Valley Festival Special, and Green Horse Perry to be precise.

Red Lion @ Welland Valley Beer Festival

The festival bar under construction

Monday, 6 June 2011

Ciderhouse News - June

A busy day in the ciderhouse today. Barrels and boxes have now been filled ready for the next round of festivals and local deliveries. Barely a drop passed my lips... honest!

First up is a delivery to our friends at the Criterion Freehouse in Leicester, with a box of our new season Green Horse Perry. Like our other perries, this has finished with quite a high gravity of 1.014, giving a rich medium perry of 4.6% abv. Green Horse perry pears make a naturally opaque perry, with a pleasant citrusy sharpness, and just a hint of Ginger to my taste buds.

The cider and perry list for our village local the Red Lion has now been firmed up ready for this weekends Welland Valley Beer Festival:

Rockingham Forest Red Kite Cider (Med/Dry) 7%
Rockingham Forest Welland Valley Festival Special Cider (Medium) 7.5%
Rockingham Forest Green Horse Perry (Medium) 4.6%
Rockingham Forest Blakeney Red Perry (Med/Sweet) 4.2%
Torkard Floppy Tabs Cider (Medium) 6.0%
Ross Blakeney Red Perry (Med/Dry) 6.0%
Ross Browns Apple Cider (Med/Dry) 6.5%
Another local-ish cider (tbc)
This seasons Welland Valley Festival Special has emerged with a bit of soft tannin from the Russets we pressed, and a lovely orchard-fruits aroma. This cider will also be crossing the border to Rutland for the inaugural Rutland CAMRA Beer Festival later in the month, along with the very last barrel of this seasons Blakeney Red Perry.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

The Rockingham Forest Cider Guide to Orchard Pests & Diseases

Orchardists of a nervous disposition, look away now....

This gruesome catalogue of orchard pests and diseases were found during a single morning inspection earlier this week. There could be much more to find, I haven't managed to inspect every tree yet! We've now got over 30 apple trees planted around the garden, varying in age from 2-5 years old. Some of the older trees have put on a good bit of growth since planting, so keeping on top of potential problems like the ones shown here has become more of a task. The good news is that many of the more common pests such as Aphid seem to be much less prevalent on the more mature trees, so I'm hoping we may see less of this kind of thing in the future.

Rosy Apple Aphid - Vile purple sap-sucking critters. Working in tandem with Ants, which deliver them onto the tree, they cause leaves and shoots to curl in a most unattractive way, and stunt fruit growth. Yes, that's right, these bastards are quite literally stealing our cider! Control: Squish between thumb and forefinger, again and again and again...

Brown Scale Insect - My thanks to good folk on the Cider Worshop for helping identify these nasties. The warty shells shown here are the remains of a once thriving colony of sap-sucking insects which have now moved out ready to begin sucking again this Summer. Control: Removed with thumbnail but likely to recur, so vigilance (and possibly an insecticide) necessary.

Woolly Aphid - Ooh! I really hate these. More sap-sucking action, this time concealed within a blanket of candyfloss (Note the drops of honeydew). The damage these critters do can sometimes lead to incidence of Canker, one of the most deadly fungal diseases known to apple trees. Control: Rub out, remove, destroy, attack with a toothbrush if neccesary. Show no mercy!
Powdery Mildew - One or two of our Harry Masters' trees are susceptible to this nasty disease. Long, dry spells (like the one we're having now) encourage Powdery Mildew. Some trees being overhung by our mature Bramley probably doesn't help either! Control: Nothing for it but pruning out. Burn prunings, clean secateurs thoroughly.

Green Aphid - Not a major pest for us, but really bad infestation can lead to reduced vigour or even stunted shoot growth. Control: Squish, and hey, if a few Ants get squished too, what of it!

Grubs - Ok, not very specific I know, but this could be one of many orchard pests. Totrix Moth, Apple Sawfly, or most likely given the black, sticky 'frass' shown on this picture, the dreaded Blastobasis Moth. Control: Err! Still working on this one...

Ladybirds - Not a pest, but not much bloody use it seems. Less shagging, more chomping please...