1. How did your love of cider start?
I began drinking cider as soon as I could. I remember having an incredibly sweet tooth as a teen so would often dismiss the lagers and bitters my friends were drinking and I’d go for a certain brand of cider beginning with a “W”, but I won’t go into that as I’m ashamed of my sordid cider past! As my tastes matured and I began socialising in public houses more often I discovered something called “Old Rosie”, a drink which was a bit of a rarity back then so it really was a treat if I stumbled upon it. Now in my thirties, I’m proud to say that I’m part of the real cider scene and often bring cider back from the producers for the pubs I frequent… and then drink it all!
2. What’s your favourite place to drink cider?
Without any shadow of a doubt, Ye Olde Cider Bar in Newton Abbot. It just feels so perfect drinking cider in an old style mug, in an old style cider house, in the middle of Devon. Despite living in the North of England I still manage to get down there a fair few times a year and I being there. I’m hoping for my ashes to be scattered there when I go to the big cider farm in the sky!
3. What’s your favourite cider, and why?
That’s a hard question to answer as I’ve come across so many on my travels and there are new blends and even new producers popping up all over the place!
As I can’t name one, or the reason why I like just one, I can only list some of my favourites which include Green Valley Dry Cyder (Clyst St. George, Devon), Oliver’s SV Yarlington Mill (Ocle Pychard, Herefordshire), Udder’s Whisky Cask (Huddersfield, W. Yorkshire), Sunnybook Medium (Thorverton, Devon), Big Tree’s Appley Ever After (Hartley, Kent), Sarah’s SV Browns Dry (Bosbury, Herefordshire), Moorland’s Medium Farm Cyder (North Newbald, E. Yorkshire), Sam’s Medium (Winkleigh, Devon), and a certain cider by Solway (Wigton, Cumbria).
Picture the scene, you walk into your usual boozer order a pint of cider, and the landlord says “don’t you want a pint of this?” as he points to a pump climp reading “Solway – Cider Mike”. It was only a one off batch, but it was great, not too sweet and not too dry, much like myself! I do wish Garry at Solway would make some more though as it was rather amusing hearing people ask at the bar for a “Cider Mike”.
There has been a couple of bottled ciders which have stood out for me too. Namely they are Pips Medium (Dorstone, Herefordshire) and Once Upon A Tree Kingston Redstreak (Putley, Herefordshire) which are great ciders to try with food. I recommend them both.
I’m pretty certain that by the time this is published and read that I’ll have tried many others and my list will have changed again.
4. What makes cider so special, compared to other drinks?
It’s simple, pure, and it’s as natural as it gets. There’s no fizz which often gives people that bloated feeling and no chemicals, in particular very little or no sulphite which can agitate things for us asthma sufferers.
There’s also many, many different types of real cider. I can often be seen proving just how different each producers blend can be in my local by practically forcing people to re-try it after hearing them tell me they “didn’t like that stuff much”. Sooner or later, they always find one they like!
Another reason why I love it so much is because I’ve visited many of the producers, seen where it is made and how willing they are to show you around their farms. Compare this openness to the big industrial producers who have enormous factorys with tall fences around them like they have something to hide! I think that speaks volumes when it comes to trusting what you’re drinking.
5. What’s the perfect accompanient to enjoy your cider, special mug, cheese, pickles?
I have to say the pork scratchings at Ye Olde Cider Bar, they’re the biggest scratchings I’ve ever seen in my life! I was tempted to say sunshine, but I’m forever telling people that “Cider is not just for Summer”, much like like the old saying “a dog is not just for Christmas”.