Friday, 16 May 2014

More May Merriment

Polish-up your Half-pint Tankards and iron your Bermuda Shorts, the bank holiday is very nearly here, and there's more cider and perry to be drunk than even I can handle. The unpredictable month of May promises to go out in a similar fashion to how it came in, quite literally littered with Beer and Cider (and Sausage) festivals to the north, west, and... well, mostly north and west to be honest.

We've been very busy in the ciderhouse ahead of the weekend. Racking and tasting. Boxing-up and tasting. Tasting a bit more, just so we're absolutely sure that everything tastes fabulous and fruity at the bunch-of-five events we'll be supplying.

We're particularly excited to have been invited to the very first Charnwood Cider Festival (24th - 25th May), the brainchild of award winning Leicestershire cidermaker Rob Clough (that's him on the left). In addition to the whole extensive range of Robs own Charnwood Ciders, there will also be local East Midlands guest ciders from our friends in the north at Torkard Cider, as well as Green Horse and Blakeney Red Perries from us-selves. Set in the shadow of Old John himself, the event would make a great refreshment stop after a traditional bank holiday walk at nearby Bradgate Park. More details below.

Once again, we're delighted to be represented at the Newark CAMRA Beer Festival (23rd - 25th), with Red Kite Cider and Green Horse Perry in attendance amongst a host of other quality ciders and perries (and beers apparently!). One of several festivals on our list of 'might go' for the weekend. As ever there's just too much choice.

Sausages are of course the perfect accompaniment to a glass of traditional cider. You didn't know! Well get on-trend and find out for yourself at the accurately named Oadby Sausage & Cider Festival (24th - 25th), which features a whole host of award-winning sausages, a similar range of fine ciders, and all located in the easily accessible village of Oadby. Well it would be wouldn't it! Our own Red Kite Cider will join the extensive line-up. There will also be live music, and plenty of people talking like the Wurzels all weekend I shouldn't wonder.

Our love affair with the tiny country of Rutland continues to grow. Not only is our Vilberie Cider available at the Veranda Cafe at Wing Hall and the White Lion, Oakham, but an annual Rutlandshire event will also feature our cider and perry over the bank holiday weekend.

More evidence of cider/sausage affinity can be experienced at the annual Grainstore Cider & Sausage Festival 22nd - 26th) in Oakham. The cider tasting takes place under canvas at the front of the brew-pub, and you'll find our Red Kite Cider and Green Horse Perry amongst the apple-y and porky delights on offer.

Just over the border, and back home in Northamptonshire, the annual Village Gala (24th - 26th) at Easton on the Hill will also feature our Red Kite and Green Horse. This looks like a fabulous traditional May event, centred on the Blue Bell pub which is where the beers, ciders, and much else besides can be enjoyed. More details below.

So there you have it. You can't say we haven't given you a choice!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Good Times Are Coming, But They're Sure Coming Slow..

With all the news coming from the CAMRA National Cider & Perry Championships and the Big Apple Cider Trials in Putley this weekend*, I've been driven to spend rather too much time time in the ciderhouse. Too much time glaring at stubbornly fermenting tubs of cider and shouting 'COME ON!'. The question is, when will it end? When will the fruits of our Autumn labour deliver ciders and perries of potentially award-winning quality, and eyeball-dazzling clarity.

In truth the ciders are just about there, and the perries have been tasting fab for some weeks now. The 2014 sales drive is about to step up a gear, and it's here on this blog that we'll be giving you the heads-up on where we're at, and what we've got. Quite soon now!

Meanwhile, here's what's happening around the orchard and garden, because nature won't be rushed, and generally responds poorly to cidermakers shouting 'COME ON!' at it.

Plenty of these about the garden
The tell-tale holes in the wax reveal it should be another good year for solitary bees too
Bramley Blossom, one of the prettiest in the garden

Hens Turd cider apple blossom on a cordon grown tree, with Hagloe Crab in the background
Could do without this though. Canker on one of the pot grown Dabinetts. Currently in full flower and it's not unknown for a fruit tree to recover from Canker, but the trunk is completely girdled so the prognosis is not good!
Rhubarb, lots of it. Which is good as I like lots of it.
* Congratulations to all the winners in competition this weekend, many of which we know and have huge respect for as cidermakers and generally nice people. Full results from Putley can be seen here, with Sheppys Cider and Olivers Perry taking gold in the national CAMRA competition.