Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Perry Pear Blossom

Looking at these pictures now with the rain battering against the windows, our annual visit to the orchard in Worcestershire last weekend seems like an age ago. We timed our visit for maximum perry pear blossom, the Oldfields in the Far Orchard had a particularly striking display. I'm pleased to say that given the awful weather we're having now, it was bright and sunny, and most important of all, the trees were a-buzz with pollinating insects. It doesn't matter how much blossom there is, no pollination, no fruit. It was a little too early to judge the potential cider apple crop, so perhaps a return visit in a couple of weeks time is in order. 

Green Horse perry pear blossom, a reasonable showing after an 'off' year in 2011

The Green Horse tree dwarfs our picking and panking team. The tree in the distance (and the two images below) are an Oldfield, absolutely covered in white blossom

Some of the perry pear trees had lost a significant number of fruiting buds as clumps of blossom on the orchard floor. Our first thoughts were a recent hail storm, which was confirmed by John, but only a few trees were affected and the blossom was undamaged. Another possibility is bird damage, specifically Finches, or maybe some trees are reacting to the unusually dry conditions we've had up until the recent wet spell.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Ciderhouse News - April

It's been quite a long time since I last posted on the blog. Sometimes the ups and downs of day to day life are just not 'cidery' enough to warrant writing about.

With Spring most definitely in the air now, things are about to get a whole lot more cidery. The ciders and perrys themselves are in various states of readiness. Some are racked and ready to go, whilst others are still fermenting. This is what we've come to expect from unpredictable wild yeast ferments, and the fascinating natural variations of vintage, variety, and even as simple a thing as where abouts in the ciderhouse a fermenter sits. Each fermenter will be ready in its own good time, and the last thing we want to do is rush things, however...

The first events of our 2012 season pay no heed to notions of patience, and are rushing up to meet us as I type. There have also been a number of interesting and exciting developments with our small but carefully chosen list of regular outlets. So as we wait for the first call of the Cuckoo to herald the season proper, here's the latest clutch of news items:

Our first festival of the year is the mighty Reading CAMRA Beer & Cider Festival, an event which not only hosts the national judging for CAMRA'S Cider of the Year, but which has also built a reputation for having one of the biggest and best cider and perry bars of any festival in the UK. Our friends in the north at Torkard Cider will also be represented on the cider bar, as well as having their cider entered into the national cider competition as winners of the East Mids Regional Cider Competition. Good luck to them. The impressive cider and perry list for the Reading festival can be viewed here.

Reading will be closely followed by a trio of Nottinghamshire festivals, c/o those friends in the north at Torkard Cider for which we give thanks. The inaugural South Notts Beer Festival, and the Local & East Mids Cider Festival at Langtrys in Nottingham will both have our Rockingham Forest Cider and Malvern Hills Perry. Blue Monkey Brewery's Organ Grinder will have our cider as part of a mostly local range at their beer festival. I see a trip to Nottingham coming on...

We hope to start the season off in traditional fashion by delivering a box of cider to our friends at the Criterion Freehouse in Leicester ready for the May bank holiday weekend. Our ciders and perrys will be an occasional guest at the Criterion throughout the year.

A new outlet for us will be the Tea Rooms and Restaurant at Rockingham Castle, with draught cider available to accompany a meal or snack.

I'm pleased to announce that plans are afoot to retail bag-in-box cider from our local village shop. Ideal for parties, BBQ's or just as a handy supply in your fridge through the Summer. More details will be available on here when we have them.