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Is cider going political?

The Labour party is considering proposing a new cheap cider tax and increasing the minimum amount of apple juice required to be in cider.  That’s good news as far as I’m concerned as commercial cider often has only the 30% apple juice it is required to contain by law.  Craft cider makers use 100% juice.

Andy Burnham also wants to rid shops of “high strength, ultra-low priced white ciders” which often come in three litre bottles as health experts estimate that the harmful use of alcohol costs the NHS around £3.5 billion in England and crime related to alcohol is estimated to cost about £11 billion a year.

Good quality and, in the words of a famous retailer, ‘reassuringly expensive’ craft cider gets my vote!

New Years Eve at home…with Fetch the Drinks

The cheap local bar you frequent throughout the year is charging you extra to simply step over the threshold and sip a lukewarm glass of Prosecco as the countdown begins. Instead, why not buy some great craft beer or cider (and some naturally fizzy keeved cider complete with champagne corks for midnight!) and have a party at home adding in a load of good food and great cheese.  Meanwhile you will have avoided the crowds, inflated prices and grumpy servers who want to be on the ‘fun’ side of the bar, queues for taxis and have change to spare!?

We’ll be at home!  Cheers and Happy New Year!!

A fruity little number…


Fruit cider is still driving growth in the cider market while pear and apple struggle, the latest Nielsen figures have revealed, which also stated that the off-trade cider market grew 3.3% in the year to September 2013.

That growth was fuelled by the fruit cider category which grew 35% to £245.7 million, boosting its share of the market from 6% to 26%.

Although traditionally enjoyed most in the summer months, where fruit ciders enjoy a 25% share of the overall cider market, fruit ciders are becoming an all-year round drink with warmer flavours such as ginger and blackcurrant cider now available. Ciders with a warming twist also include cider matured in old oak or rum casks.

Examples of these ciders available at Fetch the Drinks include:

Thistly Cross Cider: Whisky Cask, Ginger, Strawberry and Elderflower

Orchards of Husthwaite: Blush (strawberry, raspberry and cherry) and Ruby (blackcurrant)

Dorset Nectar: Elderflower and Honey Bubble

Tutts Clump: Rum Cask

Recipe ideas with cider?

Red Cabbage with cider

Thinly slice the red cabbage and add 1/3 cup of dried cranberries, add 1 thinly sliced cooking apple, add 1/3 bottle of apple cider and 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, add 1/4 cup light brown sugar, stir to combine and season with a small teaspoon each of crushed cloves, cinnamon and ginger. Put a lid on top and cook gently for several hours in a moderately heated oven.
Keep your eye on that and add a little more apple cider if you think it needs it!

Ham with pear and a Perry cider sauce with thanks to Gino D’Acampo

Serves 2


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 thick slices of ham
  • 1 shallot finely sliced
  • 100ml Perry cider – I recommend Tutts Clump perry
  • 150ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 450g King Edward potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 40g butter
  • 1 heaped tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • A splash of milk
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Make the mash by boiling the potatoes in salted water, once tender, drain and leave to steam for two minutes to get rid off excess moisture.
  2. Use a mashers or ricer to mash the potatoes then stir in the mustard and butter adding a splash of milk if needed. You don’t want it to wet so that it can soak up the sauce. Season with salt and pepper and leave to one side.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the ham until golden brown on both sides then remove from the pan and set to one side and keep warm.
  4. Add the shallot to the pan and cook for 1 minute before deglazing the pan with the cider. Bring to the boil and simmer for a minute before pouring in the cream. Simmer gently for two minutes until slightly thickened then season with salt and pepper and stir in the chives.
  5. Serve the sauce over the warm ham with the mustard mash.

Mulled cider packing a punch?

Warm cider punch

Making an appearance on bar menus up and down the country, mulled cider – or warm cider punch – is definitely the drink of the festive season this year. Make it in exactly the same way as you would mulled wine, by combining cider, sugar and your spices in a pan and heating gently for about 15 minutes. Cinnamon and star anise work wonderfully with cider, along with a bit of citrus zest to cut through the sweetness.

Which country drinks the most beer…?


Well it may not be a league table we should be overly proud of, but surely we Brits can do better than this…?!

The country that consumes the most beer per head is the Czech Republic with 143 litres of the stuff consumed per person.

In total – not surprisingly some would say – China consumed the most beer this year with 54bn litres consumed, but this is only 38 litres per person.

That compares to Germany, where an estimated 110 litres were consumed per person totalling nearly 9bn litres.

Top 10: Countries listed in order of highest beer consumption per head (total consumed in brackets)

1. Czech Republic: 143 litres (1.5bn litres)

2. Germany: 110 litres (8.9bn litres)

3. Austria: 108 litres (920m litres)

4. Estonia: 104 litres (135m litres)

5. Poland: 100 litres (3.8bn litres)

6. Ireland: 93 litres (430m litres)

7. Romania: 90 litres (1.8bn litres)

8. Lithuania: 89 litres (260m litres)

9. Croatia: 82 litres (346 litres)

10. Belgium: 81 litres (900m litres)

The UK drank 4.3bn litres of beer- 67 litres per capita which leaves us languishing well outside the   top 10!

But it’s not all negative – cider sale are growing in  the UK.  So come on…drink up!  (and there’s a great selection of craft beers and ciders to choose from on my website).

“Landmark victory for beer drinkers, pub goers and licensees.”


MPs voted today to end stiff rules that force their pub tenants to pay higher prices than non-tenants through a “market rent only” option for tied pubco tenants. Companies with more than 500 pubs must offer a market rent only (MRO) option.

Non-tied pubs often pay considerably lower prices for their beverages while tenants of “tied” pubs pay lower rents than non-tied pubs, but higher prices for their beer and other drinks. 20,800 of Britain’s 48,000 pubs that are subject to beer “ties” with a majority of those publicans earning less than the minimum wage.

Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) research found a pub company may charge £150 for an 11 gallon keg of Fosters, for example, compared with a wholesale price of £84. It welcomes the change saying this is “a landmark victory for beer drinkers, pub goers and licensees”.

How much more do tied pubs pay?

Product Wholesale Price Pub Company Price Percentage difference
Fosters Keg (11 Gallons) £84.99 £150.22 77%
Heineken Keg (11 Gallons) £114.99 £177.98 55%
San Miguel Keg (11 Gallons) £106.99 £178.75 67%
Guinness (11 Gallons) £108.99 £162.46 49%
Courage Best Cask (9 Gallons) £69.99 £104.21 49%
Source: CAMRA, 2013

But the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said the move was “hugely damaging” and spoiled a practice that had done well for 400 years.  A spokesman said that the tie model was the most popular model and allowed tenants and owners – pub companies and brewers – to share the risk.

The association said that the Government’s own research found that 1,400 pubs would close and 7,000 jobs would be lost if the tie model was abandoned.  There are a further 7,500 pubs that are managed by pub companies and brewers, and almost 20,000 independents, according to the BBPA. The number of pubs has fallen by almost 13,000 since 2000.

Chief executive of CAMRA, Tim Page, says: “Today’s parliamentary vote helps secure the future of pubs. CAMRA is delighted that, after 10 years of our campaigning, MPs have today voted to introduce a market rent only option for licensees tied to the large pub companies – a move that will secure the future of the Great British Pub.”

Tim Page added: “Allowing more than 13,000 pub tenants tied to large pub companies the option of buying beer on the open market at competitive prices will keep pubs open and ensure the cost of a pint to consumers remains affordable. The large pub companies will no longer be able to charge their tenants prices up to 60 pence a pint higher than open market prices”.

284 MPs voted for the amendment moved by Greg Mulholland, LibDem MP for Leeds North West and chairman of the Parliamentary Save the Pubs Group. 269 MPs backed the government.

More healthy good news…

I’ve just read more good news about the health benefits of beer !  Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences (great job!) at the University of California (Davis) Charles Bamforth, proclaims “regular moderate intake of alcohol is good for the heart and blood circulation.  Real ale is a good choice – relatively low in alcohol and made from natural raw ingredients”.

So what’s in beer that potentially makes it healthy?  Lets look at the 4 man ingredients of beer malt, hops, yeast and water.

Malted cereal contains proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, soluble fibre and amino acids.  There is no fat in beer and most of the sugars from the malting process are fermented out.  The malt in beer is more nutritious than it is in cereal!  This is because the nutritional value of food and drink increases when fermentation of food or drink takes place.  There are loads of B vitamins in beer and it’s a rich source of silicon (vital for the formation of collagen and limits the brain’s absorption of aluminium – believed to play a part in the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s).

Hops are a natural medicine and can be used to treat a variety of ailments and also prevents the growth of food poisoning pathogens.

Yeast contains vitamins and proteins and is also the source of ethanol (alcohol) which, in small doses, raises ‘good’ cholesterol levels and therefore helps reduce the threat of heart disease.

And we all now that water is good for us.

I’ll drink to that…!

So a pint of 4% beer is 190 calaries…compare that to a kebab that you may stop for on the way home which is a staggering 800-1000 calaries!

However the key is to drink moderately with the NHS recommending a lower-risk daily intake of 1.5 pints for men and a pint for women.

A case of beer from Fetch The Drinks should keep you going for nearly two weeks!

Cheers and good health!

Beer and cider is good for you!


Yes, it’s officially been found by researchers at Grenada University Spain that, after exercise, a beer is more effective at rehydrating the body than water! This is because the sugars, salts and bubbles in a pint may help people absorb fluids more quickly…and we already know that good quality artisan cider, made from 100% fruit juice is one of our 5 a-day…  😉

However I wouldn’t necessarily recommend combining the two…there is a ‘Beer Mile Challenge’ which requires a single participant to drink a full-sized beer, run a quarter mile, then repeat the process three times. This results in the consumption of four beers and the running of four quarter miles (hence the beer mile). The entire process is timed. The total time is often used as a measuring stick of competency.

Have a look at the world record here…Beer Mile Challenge World Record

Right … I’m off for a run!