We have just come back from a flying visit to the West Country, catching up with our wonderful producers and collecting more delicious ciders on our first trip of the Autumn – and Wilbur, our 6 month old bundle of Labrador fun, came too!
After some heavy traffic and a very inquisitive Wilbur, the first stop was Ciderniks in the picturesque village of Kintbury in West Berkshire.
Here we loaded up with delicious Ciderniks Coombe Raider (6.5%, light & dry) and Kingston Black (6.5% with a distinctly nutty flavour, single varietal cider – 1st place 2015 CAMRA South of England award winner). Wilbur was very taken by the exciting smells of the Kintbury pavements and the Ciderniks beagle!
Next stop was Beard and Sabre in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.
This was a trip down memory lane for us as we used to live just outside Cirencester many years ago. This says a lot about us as I wanted to visit the church where our middle son had been baptised and Sean wanted to revisit the rugby club! Needless to say a lack of time and lots of new developments on the Cirencester roundabouts prevented either happening! Anyway, back to the cider. Beard and Sabre produce some truly wonderful ciders pressed traditionally by rack and cloth. Today saw us collect Berry Master (4% medium with hints of strawberry and raspberry) and Black Beard, what a wonderful name, (4% medium dark fruit cider with blackcurrant).
On into Somerset, we stopped off at Broadoak Cider to stock up on some tasty Perry (7.5% sweet, refreshing glorious pear) before driving through spectacular countryside and challenging lanes (!) to get to Nempnetts Cider in the village of Nempnett Thrubwell near Bristol where they’re based on a pig farm. Can you imagine Wilbur’s excitement?! What smells, noise and squelchy mud to get stuck into. Here we stocked up on some lovely boxes of Piglets Choice (7% single variety oak-matured) and Piglets Perry (7% cloudy straw colour with wonderful floral pear aroma).
Back on the road now complete with smelly but very happy dog, we headed for Wilkins Cider in Mudgley, near Wedmore. Here Roger Wilkins has spent his life dairy farming whilst also finding time to produce award-winning traditional ciders which we saw being pressed. A warm welcome and a glass of cider always awaits you here. Well worth a visit if you find yourself down on the Somerset Levels. Unfortunately time was against us so no loitering or drinking permitted. Dry, medium and sweet Traditional Farmhouse Cider were all loaded up and we were off again!
Next stop, Burrow Hill Cider overlooking the Somerset Levels where the farm has been pressing apples for more than 150 years. They also have their own distillery where they produce Somerset Cider Brandy, very popular with some of our clients. Having taken Traditional Cider (6% dry, medium-dry and medium) on board we headed off to Street, near Glastonbury, to catch up with Hecks Cider (where on our last visit we bumped into David Cameron and George Osbourne! Maybe as they are both looking for jobs they should now consider producing cider!).
The Hecks family have been making Traditional Farmhouse Somerset Cider for six generations since 1841. Here we collected dry, medium and sweet ciders fermented in oak barrels and Farmhouse Perry (6.5% fragrant and fruity).
Then on to our last producer of the day and we had finally made it into Devon – Green Valley Cider located on the outskirts of Exeter where we stocked up with Rum Tiddly Um Tum, Vintage (8.3% medium dry) Strawberry (4%) and Dragon Tears (4.7% dry sparkling).
We rewarded ourselves with one last stop where we popped into the opening night of the new Stable in Exeter and sat on the fabulous roof terrace and obviously tried some superb real cider recently delivered by Fetch The Drinks of course! Wilbur just tried to eat the plants.
We finally made it home at about 11 pm and were just about still on speaking terms with Wilbur who was still full of energy and in his best and most destructive mode! At least the cider was safely stored away in the back!!