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A visit to New Forest Cider

 

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A lovely sunny morning spent in the orchard with Barry Topp of New Forest Cider (4th generation) which is located in the beautiful New Forest village of Burley, and pictured here with Sean in front of the stunning Tom Putt apple tree in full blossom. The Tom Putt is an old, traditional English apple variety from the West Country where it was ‘gribbled’ by the Rev. Thomas Putt. It produces a very distinctive apple which is flat round in shape with prominent angular ribs. The skin is largely crimson and it produces a cider which is dry and sharp that can be sweetened by blending.

From his own orchards, where Barry grows 15 varieties of cider apples, he and his family produce their traditional New Forest Cider available in dry, medium and sweet (6%) as well as producing Kingston Black Cider (7%) which is a classic single apple variety. These New Forest Ciders are all availbale on our website here to order in bottles or 20L Bag in Boxes.

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We rounded off the morning with a delicious Ploughman’s lunch with home-cured ham and a refreshing glass of Kingston Black in the sunny garden of their Cider Pantry cafe.

And the dogs came too!

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Thistly Cross Whisky Cask for Burn’s Night!

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What better way to celebrate Burn’s night on January 25th than with your friends and a delicious 20 Litre Bag in Box of Scotland’s own Thistly Cross Whisky Cask Cider.

Matured for 6 months in ex Glen Moray whisky casks and infused with the mellow, vanilla oak of the cask – delicious! Just click on the link to order.

New Year and another Cider Road Trip with Fetch The Drinks!

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With Ollie and Wilbur our canine companions safely aboard their crate in the hold – ready to guard our precious cargo (or try and break into it in Wilbur’s case!), we left the sunny, but rather chilly south, in our Fetch the Drinks van to visit some of our wonderful cider producers and stock up on some truly scrumptious ciders. First stop was Oxfordshire to visit Rory Souter, founder of the Cotswold Cider Company and stock up on Yellowhammer (6% – a medium, rich and fruity cloudy cider), No Brainer (6% a classic dry cider with a great depth of flavour), Side Burn (5.4% a medium bottled cider with toffee apple infusion) and Blow Horn (4% with a botanical blend of Indian chai-spices) – all great favourites with our customers. It was great to catch up and hear about some exciting new developments for 2017. Watch this space for new products later in the year.
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From there we headed across into Wiltshire to see Nick Howard, who founded Circle Cider near Swindon in 2011. He’d been busy pressing recently as someone had very kindly given him a load of apples on Christmas Eve. Here we loaded the van with some delicious Bag in Boxes of Butcher’s Dog (7% sweet), Cat’s Tongue (6.1% dry) and Roundabout (5.6% medium).

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On into Somerset to Millwhites Cider based in Rookridge, where orchard pruning was underway. The dogs enjoyed a good run around the paddock before we all headed off loaded up with Bag in Boxes of Rum Cask (7.5% made from West Country cider apples and aged in barrels from The Jamaica Rum Company – full of flavour with a subtle rum finish), Blackberry Blush (4%, a medium dry real cider blushed with blackberry juice) and Rioja Cask (6.7% aged in Rioja casks – dry with a glow of red wine and hints of wood tannin). By now it was absolutley freezing!  On our way south we passed The Willow Man Sculpture near Bridgwater, originally unveiled in 2000 to mark the Millenium. Very impressive 3 tonne structure of willow woven on a steel framen and sometimes referred to as The Withy man or Angel of the South.

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Devon and Ventons Cyder next.  Here we caught up with Mark Venton in the lovely village of Clyst St Lawrence (so named due to the River Clyst running through Devon). Freezing still but sunny (Mark assured me it was not cold though!  I begged to differ but then I’m always cold!). Here we enjoyed a glass of his Bath and West Show award-winning cider in the paddock before loading up Bag in Boxes of Skippy’s Scrumpy (6% dry, traditional straw-pressed cider) and Apple Vice (6.5%, a medium fruity straw-pressed cider) both made from vintage Devon apples.

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Our last stop of the day took us to Hecks which has a lovely farm shop where I took the opportunity of picking up some delicious Smoked Cheddar Cheese made on Batch Farm near Shepton Mallet and some Caramelised Onion Chutney from Rose Farm near Wedmore in Somerset – perfect accompaniments for cider tastings later that evening! Hecks has been producing Traditional Farmhouse Somerset Cider for 6 generations since 1841. This time we collected some single variety Bag in Boxes for a festival order and some BiBs of their Traditional Farmhouse medium.
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This trip saw us breaking our journey with a lovely stop at the wonderful Wheelhouse B & B at Gawbridge Mill in Kingsbury Episcopi on the Somerset Levels. Here we were treated to the most amazing homemade scones on arrival and fresh flowers followed by a delicious breakfast the following morning with oodles of fresh fruit, warm compot, homemade yoghurt and a wonderful full English breakfast wih the choice of duck or hen’s eggs.

The evening was spent at the Wyndham Arms pub in Kingsbury Episcopi drinking some of Julian Temperley’s Burrow Hill Cider and Somerset Cider Brandy – perfect for such a cold night. Ollie and Wilbur certainly enjoyed the evening and the heat from the roaring fires. Needless to say tastings continued back at the Wheelhouse accompanied by some lovely smoked cheddar.

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After a leisurely walk (us) and run (dogs!) round the paddock before and after breakfast –  (with Wilbur thoroughly enjoying his freedom after several months of lead walks due to an elbow problem) – we drove just a short distance to Burrow Hill to collect some more lovely Traditional cider (dry and medium dry or ‘Alf N ‘Alf as they call it!). Here we were fondly greeted by a very muddy Fudge, one of their farm dogs and had a quick tour round the very impressive Somerset Cider Brandy distillery courtesy of Laura.

 

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We then headed off to Perrys Cider, beautifully situated in Dowlish Wake near Ilminster where the family has been making cider since 1920. Here there was a lovely farm shop with many enticing products – (not all alcohol I hasten to add!) although I did get distracted by an appealing bottle of ginger liqueur which I’m sure will have many medicinal benefits!

We spent a long time talking to a wonderful gentleman who’d worked there for over 40 years and enjoyed a quick visit to their museum before heading off with Vintage Pathfinder (7.2% medium) on board.

 

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Final official stop – Green Valley Cyder located at Darts Farm on the outskirts of Exeter where we collected some lovely boxes of Vintage Cyder (7.5%) and spent some time catching up with the wonderful Larry of Green Valley (pictured below). This also provided the perfect opportunity for a yummy lunch stop –  delicious hot chocolate, pork and scrumpy pie and millionaire’s shortbread. There was also a great dog park for Ollie and Wilbur to go wild in before heading back home with a slight detour for a sunset walk along the bay at Lyme Regis.

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Another perfect road trip collecting cider ready for you to order through our website or trade department for commercial sales!

Halloween Cider Fest – Fri 28th Oct – cider list

We have a fantastic range of traditional craft ciders (with appropriate Halloween-themed names or logos!) from small artisan producers at our Halloween Cider Festival this Friday!  And if you liked them – all available to buy in 36-pint party-size bag in boxes on the Fetch The Drinks website.

Cotswold Cider Company – No Brainer dry 6%

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Circle Cider – Cat’s Tongue dry 6.1%

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Mr Whitehead – Devil’s Device dry 8.4%

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SeaCider – Medium 4.6%

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West Milton – Midnight Stumbler medium 6%

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Black Rat – medium 4.7%

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Handmade Cider – Crazy Diamond sweet 6.8%

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Mr Whitehead – Midnight Special Perry sweet 5%

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Snails Bank – Fruit Bat sweet and fruity 4%

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Beard and Sabre – Blackbeard sweet and fruity 4%

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Millwhites – Rum Cask medium 7.5%

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Farmer Jim – Rootin Tootin medium 4%

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PLUS … amazing cider drinking and dancing music from the Mother Ukers!  The Mother Ukers are ‘The Ukulele Band’ who unleash the power of their humble little four string ukes and guarantee to tickle your ears, kiss your soul & get them feet a tapping!

Yummy hog roast from foodie legend Carl at The Perfect Pig

£5 per ticket – book on-line through the Shelley Theatre website.

WHAT IS JUICE CONCENTRATE AND WHAT DOES IT DO TO MY CIDER?

Fascinating article by Jeff Alworth from All About Beer Magazine 17th February 2016 – copied in full.

 

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The history of cider doesn’t involve much in the way of technical innovation until the 20th century. The biggest challenge for cidermakers has always been the juice—it is heavy and takes up huge amounts of space. Because apples ripen only once a year, cidermakers end up having to deal with a year’s supply as it becomes available between September and the end of the year. But in the 20th century, clever people figured a work-around: concentrate the juice, store it, and then rehydrate and ferment as needed throughout the year. And that’s what large producers do.

I had never really put a lot of thought into how juice is concentrated until I sat in on a session at CiderCon – an industry conference – with Terry Chambers, President and GM of FruitSmart, a company that prepares and sells apple juice and apple juice concentrate (AJC) in Yakima. FruitSmart is not principally a supplier to cider makers, but they have lately started getting requests, and Chambers was at CiderCon in Portland, Oregon to explain what the different products were and how they’re processed. It was enlightening.

When apples come to FruitSmart, the process for all products begins the same way: the fruit is inspected, washed, and milled or pulped. That’s exactly what you’d find in any traditional cidery. The product lines then diverge, going toward unprocessed juicing or processing. For the unprocessed products, the milled apples are then pressed and either pasteurized or sold unpasteurized. (The latter product is new and offered on the request of cideries.) It’s cloudy and viscous—the rustic sweet cider you’d buy at a farm stand.

The processed track looks a lot different. After milling, the pulp is heated to 190°F or higher. The juice is then treated with enzymes for 30 to 90 minutes, which breaks down those viscous compounds in regular juice. Then it goes through “hot extraction” (juicing), filtration, and then concentration, which is a process like distillation (more heat) where the water is boiled off. To recap: processed juice is heated three times and broken down with enzymes in its long journey toward concentration.

The effect is, as you would guess, profound. During the session we tasted the regular unprocessed juice, a processed juice that hadn’t been concentrated, and then juice made from concentrate. The unprocessed juice was farm-fresh, complex, aromatic, and viscous on the tongue; it also had that slightly chalky mouthfeel you get from apple skins. The processed juice is what you remember from childhood—very light color, perfectly clear, vaguely appley aroma and a one-note, very sweetly apple flavor. The concentrate had even less color—it was just this side of water—absolutely no aroma, was the consistency of water, and it didn’t even really taste of fruit at all. It was basically a sugar-water solution.

In fact, all the flavor and aroma gets blown off during the process of concentration, and FruitSmart captures it and sells it as “fruit essence.” If you are a juice-box maker, you might buy both the AJC and the essence and when you rehydrate before packaging, you’d spritz the dull juice with a bit of essence to make it taste like apples.

So what to make of all this? There is a very heated but mostly subterranean war going on between small cideries who make “orchard-based” products without concentrate and larger producers who have to rely on AJC to meet production demands. I had mostly been agnostic about the AJC debate: so long as the juice was rehydrated to its original strength, this seemed like a convenience rather than a transgression. But learning more about the concentration process has made me question that.

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If you pick up a bottle of supermarket cider, you’ll likely find a string of ingredients that includes words like water, sugar, apple juice concentrate, carbon dioxide, malic acid, natural flavor and caramel color. All of those extra ingredients are necessary to replace everything that got stripped out during processing: water and sugar to rebalance the concentrate, natural flavor (like FruitSmart’s essence) to replace lost flavor, and caramel color to restore its lost hues.

There’s nothing inherently wrong or immoral about using AJC in a cider. Many cideries only use a portion, blending in more flavorful whole juices to add character. And even when a cidery uses only AJC, they reconstruct the flavors and aromas to create a profile they’re looking for. It’s not even hugely “unnatural,” in the sense that these constructed ciders use natural (albeit processed) ingredients. Rather, the takeaway for me is realizing how processed AJC really is, and how manipulated ciders using it must by necessity be. It results in a consistent, mass market product that can be made year-round. If you’re looking for the flavor of an orchard in your cider, though, you won’t find it in products that use apple juice concentrate.

Coming soooooooooon! THE CIDER SHED – For Fetch The Drinks Cider Tastings

Work is well underway with our great builder Louis, to create the perfect venue for sampling and enjoying … guess what?  Yes, CIDER, from all our wonderful producers across the country.  We are transforming what was the cider storage facility into a fantastic be-spoke wooden chalet for a cosy intimate space dedicated to sampling cider!  

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Even the TV aerial point has gone in, in anticipation of those all-important Autumn Internationals and 6 Nation matches!

Bookings for up to 15 people for cider tastings with ploughman’s lunches.  Contact us on cheers@fetchthedrinks.com for more details.

Watch this space for further news.

Cider Tasting at the Bournemouth Stable at Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival Weekend (and Ollie and Wilbur came too!)

Following the antics of Wilbur’s last road trip – 15 hours in the front row with us – he (and Ollie his 6 year old canine companion) have been ‘promoted’ to the hold!

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Fear not there is light and ventilation and some rather tasty plywood! We will soon be taking possessions of a new crate I can assure you.

So off we ventured to Bournemouth (only 10 minutes down the road from us) to listen to some exciting bands playing in the Lower Garden as part of the amazing Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival and to sample the cider delights of The Stable Bournemouth – recently opened pizza and cider bar and restaurant.

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As you can see, the dogs were completely captivated by the bands which included the Mother Ukers, pioneers of Ukular Fusion, who will be playing at the Bournemouth Halloween Cider Festival on October 28th.

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Then onto the Stable, fantastically located in the heart of the town on Westover Road with its terrace overlooking the Lower Gardens. And dog friendly! When I checked that included a puppy, they said even better – and proceeded to bring them their own water bowl. 5 star treatment indeed!

Here we sampled 5 tasty ciders which were part of their Tasting Board

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Purbeck Cider Company Dorset Draft 5% – fairly dry, sparkling, crisp and fresh, with a lovely explosion of flavour, light in colour;

Purbeck Cider Company Dabinett 5% – slightly dryer than the draft in my opinion, sparkling and light in colour;

Hunny Bubble by Dorset Nectar 3.8% – a still cider, beautiful rich colour with distinct honey aroma and subtle honey taste;

Lilley’s Cider 6.8% – cloudy appearance and lovely and sweet to start with. Initial velvety texture but lacked depth in my opinion and left a rather sharp after taste;

Black Rat Perry 5.6% – a lovely sweet and fresh cider with an intense pear flavour. Yummy!

Top of my tasting list were the Dorset Draft and the Black Rat Perry. Top of Sean’s were the Dorset Dabinett and Dorset Nectar’s Hunny Bubble.  Needless to say all can be purchased through Fetch the Drinks website!
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Another great day!

Bournemouth Halloween Cider Festival – Shelley Theatre Friday 28th Oct 6pm

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So why is this the best Halloween event to hang-out at this year?  Well, we’ve laid on all the perfect ingredients for the perfect night out – real cider, hog roast, foot-tapping dancing music, halloween fancy dress (optional – but why not when you can win a case of cider for the best dressed halloweener!?) and a great location!

A dozen traditionally made real craft ciders from small artisan producers sourced by Fetch The Drinks.

Amazing cider drinking and dancing music from the Mother Ukers!  The Mother Ukers are ‘The Ukulele Band’ who unleash the power of their humble little four string ukes and guarantee to tickle your ears, kiss your soul & get them feet a tapping!

Yummy hog roast from foodie legend Carl at The Perfect Pig

£5 per ticket – book on-line through the Shelley Theatre website.