Sunday, June 9, 2013

Want it Wednesday - Cider

Wednesday, 29th May 2013: When I was young we moved around a bit, from Glasgow to London to Yorkshire, but the misspent difficult teen years were spent in Somerset. As a result when alcoholic refreshments beckoned they did so in the shape of Scrumpy or cider.  As you might imagine we use to source ours from a friend’s dad who used to buy it in large quantities. So we would decant some into a large empty squash container.

To be fair even a large squash container does not contain a huge amount if coder, especially when split four or five ways. It was also not something we could do too often otherwise questions would have been asked.

In my first full-time (adult) job I was taken to the pub for lunch on my first day and such was the scorn for asking for a point of lager that I switched to “real ale” and never really looked back after that.

A couple of year ago my son had been working on something agricultural near an orchard (or Orchards) which made Henney’s Cider. He brought a few bottles back and it became one of my preferred tipples.

Although it is a Dry cider it is not too dry, they also do Medium, Sweet and Vintage ciders. But this has just the right appleyness for me. It is quite strong at 6% but goes well with food. I generally do chill it though as I usually only have a drink after a cycle ride and with a meal.

Henney’s Dry Cider

I hadn’t really though about it but the Henney’s cider is made from a blend of apples. I have been trying other ciders as well, although I have not been looking far and wide, with the exception of one cider all the rest have come from what Tesco has to offer in my local supermarket. I have tended to go for ciders that are different, if only in their marketing.

Having lived in Somerset I tried this one Sheppy’s Somerset Cider (which would be pronounced Zummerzet)– made with a single variety of apple – Dabinett. I know the name Sheppey  as a river – the River Sheppey.  The company is based near Taunton. They have quite a range. This is a tad stronger than the Henney’s Dry at 7.2% and I rather like the clarity from using a single variety of apple. I seem to remember it was slightly more sparkly than I would normally drink though.

Having looked at their web site I would also like to try the Falstaff – a lighter cider at 5.6%

Sheppey’s Dabinett Apple Cider

Next on the list was an Oak matured Still cider – supplied to Tesco by H Weston & Sons. The cider I drank as a near adult was still and I tend to prefer my cider either still or not too sparkling generally. This was medium-dry it was quite nice but not at the top of my list I am not sure oak-matured cider really does add much for my tastes.  (Rumour has it that the scrumpy of old could have the odd dissolved rat in it.)

Oak Matured Still cider – Tesco Finest – Weston & Sons

As a fruit I like pears, unfortunately I find pear cider rarely lives up to the promise or pears. Some would call cider made from pears, perry. Indeed there Babycham factory used to be on the outskirts of Shepton Mallet. I have been past it quite a few times.

I don’t think I have ever tried it though. This is from the same stable as the last drink – H Weston & Sons. It was actually one of the better pear ciders I have had in recent times. I would drink it again on occasion, for a change.

Pear Cider - Tesco Finest – Weston & Sons

This is a cider I learnt of from Ped’s outdoor diary or rather a comment left by Peter. Since I have a Scottish heritage and a daughter who spends time in Scotland and needs transporting there and back once a year with her stuff and in a part of the world not too far from the home of Thistly Cross cider near Dunbar I  bought some back with me. The first bottle I had was slightly smaller than the English ciders at 330ml rather than 500ml.

My first impressions were that it was an unusual and pleasant taste.

Thistly Cross Original Cider

The next time I had some, well my taste buds must have been educated in the intervening time because it tasted delicious. Absolutely moreish, although I stuck with my rule of one bottle.  Although I had popped two bottles in the fridge just in case I didn’t have the will power.  I have one bottle of the Ginger Cider yet to taste. However I will probably buy a few more when I go back up to Scotland at the end of the Summer.

Thistly Cross Original Cider

Last, but not least – Thatchers Single variety cider called Katy (after the apple). This is a medium dry cider  and really rather pleasant. Thatchers is another Somerset company not far from Weston-super-mare. A place I have cycled to a few times, although  that was when I lived in Somerset.

Thatchers – Katy Cider

While I think about how I rate them here is a picture of a water pump outside one of my regular pubs to cycle to – The Dykes End – Reach.

Water pump – Dyke’s Ends Reach

Well I know which ciders I will buy again:

  • Henney’s Dry
  • Thistly Cross Original
  • Thatchers Katy

I will also need to buy a reasonable;e supply of the Thistly Cross since I can’t easily get it down here in the Flatlands. Their website indicates it is available in Peterborough. Whilst writing this post I found this Cider Blog which I will need to explore and compare notes with – if I can find the huge number of ciders already in the list.

Whilst I might not agree with his ratings it provides useful pointers on the various different ciders.


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