All posts in: Events

It’s always a pleasure driving up from South Wales to The Big Apple (Putley Cider Trials) because of the many orchards in full bloom on the way. This year was nodisappointment as the blossom was stunning.

On arrival we saw the usual faces andhad a quick chat before booking our entries in. While doing that we were accosted by a Japanese film crew – a man who didn’t speak any English, and a woman who now livesin London, so her English was excellent. I suspect they were attracted by the fact that we had brought our very attractive 25 year old daughter with us this year and no doubtthey thought she would look good on the tele! Those queing behind to book their cider infound all this very amusing.

We then set off to Ledbury where we always spend quite a while in the great kitchen shop there which also has a brilliant deli. We spent too much money as usua,l but discovered a lovely Chinese restaurant next door where we had an all you can eat buffet for £7.50. That filled us up nicely for the judging that was to follow.

On arrival back at the village Hall in Putley there were a number of people standing outside the locked door. The look on Mike Penney’s (Troggi) face when he realised thejudges for the bottle conditioned perry were inside and judging when he was a judgewas priceless. He had to bang on the window and shout, asking to be let in. Once themain judging started everyone piled in and the array of ciders and perries were amazing. The different colours and hues were highlighted by the sun shining in the window. Andy got started on the Dry and Medium ciders, while Mairi and I jointly did the Sweetciders and perries. Mairi was a Putley virgin and she couldn’t quite believe what she was seeing….or doing. She had been given some ‘training’ by Andy on what to look for so was reasonably competent and by the end of the afternoon was extremely flushedand ‘happy’. That Japanese film crew kept following her round!

The standard of entries was generally high and there were only a handful which were undrinkable. However, we didn’t find it hard to select the top three in each of thecategories. We were pleased with the day, especially getting a 1st for our Medium/Sweet Perry and a 3rd for our Medium Cider and if we don’t make the big time in the UK, Mairiwill be a cider-star in Japan!

By Annie Hallett, Blaengawney Cider

As well as Apple Days every Autumn, blossom events are a very special and seasonal way to celebrate orchards, apples and the coming Summer.

We’ve listed the top three blossom events on Real Cider for your friends and family to visit:

1) Big Apple Blossom Time, Saturday 1st – Sunday 2nd May 2010

Each May The Big Apple runs a competition for the craft cider and perry makers of the region (and beyond) to compete for the title of Cider Maker of the Year and Perry Maker of the Year. On the Sunday and Monday the public will be able to taste the entries and judge for themselves. www.bigapple.org.uk/blossomtime

2) Orchard Pig at West Bradley Orchards near Glastonbury, Sunday, 1 May 2011

For a fourth consecutive year Orchard Pig, makers of speciality apple juices and ciders, will welcome visitors for a day of exploration and fun at the 50 acres that make up West Bradley Orchards, owned by Edward and Sally Clifton-Brown.

Pigs, cider and apple blossom – another treat on the Royal Wedding weekend!

West Bradley Orchards, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 8LT – Open 10.30 – 5.00

Enquiries to Orchard Pig 01458 851222 www.orchardpig.co.uk

3) Farming and the Landscape Exhibition on 7 and 8 May 2011 at Neroche Hall

Orchards will feature in this event which is open to the public 10am to 5pm and light refreshments will be available  FREE daily.

The exhibition will have the theme of  farming today – from a County-wide perspective and, more locally, in the shadow of the Blackdowns, farming in living memory and farming in Victorian times.

Full directions to be venue are available on the Neroche Hall website www.nerochehall.org.uk Neroche Hall, Bickenhall, TA3 6TY

Happy blossom time!

Don’t forget to let us know if you have any other events you would like us to mention by leaving your comments below.

Also if you go to any blossom events please add your photos to our Real Cider Gallery

The International Craft Cider Festival 2011 is the first of its kind, and is set to become a real highlight of any real cider-lover’s calendar.

There will be craft cider and perry makers from around the world; with the first year focusing mainly on producers from France, Germany, Spain, England and Wales, but with interest too from Ireland and Finland.

Event details:

  • Location: – Llancaiach Fawr, South Wales
  • Date: 12-14 August 2011
  • Attractions:
    • International Cider bars
    • International Cuisine
    • Live Music
    • Camping
  • Website: www.internationalciderfestival.com

The Wales International Craft Cider and Perry Festival is a cultural celebration of locally produced cider, perry, food and music from each participating region. In the first year it is hoped that the festival will feature some or all of the following regions from Europe: England (The South West/Three Counties), Germany (Saarland/Hesse), Austria (Mostviertel/Muehlviertel), Spain (Asturias), France (Brittany/Normandy), Norway (Hardanger Fjord), Switzerland (Toggenburg) and Wales.

The cider and perry producing regions of Europe and the World are not generally known to the potential visitor or tourist and are therefore not on top of most people’s destination list when they are considering a holiday or weekend break. A key aim of the festival is to show the beauty of these regions, discover the similarities between them and positively explore and celebrate the differences. The regions all have a rural friendliness, good high quality but honest food and all are truely and uniquely beautiful. And if you do visit with someone who’s not as fanatical about cider and perry as you, don’t worry, there are plenty of things to their taste too! We can’t wait for you to discover them….

The festival aims to celebrate and promote the artisan craft cider and perry industry; bringing producers together in a global community. It will also celebrate the wider food and music cultures that the cidermaking forms a part of, with a number of internationally inspired bands appearing on the live music stage, and caterers feeding the appetite of the festival-goers. This festival is not only an opportunity to showcase Wales to international visitors, but an opportunity for other countries to promote their areas and cidermaking culture.

For the past 9 years the Welsh Perry and Cider Society have been running a successful Welsh Perry & Cider Festival and championships, just outside Abergavenny. Building on our success there, we want to go bigger and embrace the world craft cider movement.

We had a great visit to Middle Farm in the middle of January, where we went a Wassailing!

A Wassail is a winter celebration, traditionally held on Old Twelfth Night, to ensure that the orchard is fruitful in the coming months. It was a fantastic clear crisp night, perfect for blessing the fruit trees.

There was of course a great selection of best selling and local ciders and perries. A great programme of indoor and outdoor events, including a Celidh, bonfire, and lots and lots of drumming organised by the Hunter’s Moon Morris men.

Check out a selection of the photos we took of the evening:

Middle Farm Wassail 2010

Watch a video of the the Wassail group heading to the orchards to light the ceremonial bonfire:

Want to have a cider tasting event for your company, club or party?

A team building event for businesses or just a fun night with your friends. Discover the wonderful world of ‘Real’ cider by learning about and appreciating some of the best cider’s and perries around.

Still, sparkling, dry, sweet, cider and perry? We will decipher all this, and guide you into the world of cider and perry.

Taste and enjoy a hand-picked selection of regional ciders that will get you excited about this wonderful traditional and ancient drink.

Prices based on size of group, usually with a selection of 3/4 ciders and perries, and mulled cider (optional). Packages always bespoke to suit your needs and requirements for your event.

Contact us for more details or call Jim Callender directly on 07888 701 588.

Slideshow featuring photographs from a recent cider tasting event

Cider tasting weekend - North Somerset

On a winter’s evening in January, usually Old Christmas Eve (January 5), Twelfth night (January 6) or Old Twelfth night (January 17), about 200 townsfolk gather to play witness to a wassail ceremony, which resembles something out of a medieval Shakespearean play from what I’ve seen on the Internet.

“Wassail ceremony is a wonderful assault on winter dulled senses”, explains Norman Stanier, Vice-Chairman of The Big Apple and owner of Dragon Orchard. “It has noise, music, drums, procession, torchlight, fires, cider, roasted pig, songs, acting, and loud noises often of shotguns being fired.”

A wassail King and Queen lead a torch-held procession in song, from orchard to orchard. The wassail was important in the past when part of a labourer’s wage on a farm was paid in cider. Today, farmers who are motivated by superstition and tradition carry on the pagan ceremony.

All gathered around the tree before the fires are lit

After much dancing and singing, noise making and merriment, the evening culminates in gunshots to scare the evil spirits away, and the wassailers head back to the local pub for dancing, cider, and entertainment.

Here’s our pick of the UK’s best Wassail events in 2011:

All will usually provide hot food and drink available and a well stocked cider bar.

Wassail!