It is always very exciting when I have information of new cider makers that I have not properly investigated.
So with a free weekend at blossom time, my family and I jumped into our camper van and drove directly West from Sussex to Dorset. We were going to use the 2012 Olympic venue and holiday town of Weymouth as our base, and staying at the new Premier Inn. Opened only 3 weeks ago!
Well, this county has always had cider, it has just not been in the spot light as often as its neighbours – Devon and Cornwall. However, over the last 3 or 4 years there has been a subtle emergence of exciting, passionate, small scale cider makers – that have a healthy supply of local West country cider apples.
It is also the home of the Powerstock Cider Festival – held every May. Which takes place in a village hall. It’s a great opportunity to taste the different ciders that are made from local apples unique to the area, as well as a chance for the cider makers to share knowledge and ideas about cider making. Over a glass or two of the good stuff of course.
What to do in a weekend?
Here’s what we did so you know what is possible in a weekend of cider filled adventures:
Start with dinner at Stable Bar in Weymouth, (they also have one in Bridport) I first had to aclimatise myself in the Dorset pace of life, and then take a few moments to browse the extensive draught and bottled cider menus. Everyone is happy, they make yummy pizzas the traditional way, and have long tables which make tasting the ciders a really social event.
A modern cider house? It is certainly encouraging to see lots of different ages enjoying only real cider.
After breakfast and a play on the beautiful sandy beach in Weymouth, we hopped into our van, and visited the Millhouse cider museum for the morning.
They have a historic collection of cider presses and equipment which has to be seen to be believed. The shop is small, but carries a plentiful supply of Dorset and West country bottled ciders and perries, they also have their own cider on draught which is very pleasant. If you are in the area in the autumn, they open up the apple presses for everyone to juice their own fruit.
If you are visiting a cider maker and their premises, it is always worth checking they allow visitors, and always phone ahead to check this is OK. This is what I did with my visit to Dorset Nectar in the afternoon. You can see the photos in the slideshow below of the orchards in blossom. They have orchards will can produce close to 300 tonnes of apples per year. Last year was 48 tonnes, which just show how poor production was in this area due to flooding and other extremes of weather.
They have been managing an orchard of, 25-30 year old trees for 6 years now, and have fully embraced the good life. As well as an orchard of 3000 trees, you will find under the trees – pigs, bees, chickens, and vinegar production, all of which they sell – as well as the sculptures they exhibit around the country. I’m not sure how they have time to do this all!
We had Sunday lunch at the Castle Inn at Lulworth. Their sign outside the pub boasts a permanent cider festival. This is the result of hard work of campaigning for real cider and perry at the pub by Alex Halliday. Being awarded rural pub of the year last year (East Dorset region).
The walking around this area of the Jurassic coast is sublime.
If you are visiting Purbeck – The Square and Compass, which has been in every edition of the Good beer guide since the first edition is an absolute gem, and the Purbeck Cider company, Dorset’s newest cider maker – are not to be missed.
Here’s our list of recommended Dorset cider makers
You would be hard pushed to find more ‘real’ cider than these tipples – there was some cider in the Nectar bottle, but it didn’t last long.
- Marshwood Vale
- Dorset Nectar
- Cider by Rosie
- Lulworth Skipper
- Purbeck Cider company (not pictured above)
- View all our listed Dorset cider makers >
The producers listed above are all found in Dorset, from east to west of the county. You are never far from quality! The majority of them winning recent National awards, so other cider lovers think so too.
Slideshow of Dorset cider tour 2013
Dorset cider map
Recommended pubs and outlets for enjoying Real Cider in Dorset
Credit – Cider by Rosie website
Know any other great cider makers in Dorset?
Leave your comments below if you know of any good cider or perry makers in Dorset, to share with the readers on the Real Cider community website. And I will add them to the listing page (link below).
View the full listing of Dorset cider makers