Authentic cider from the West Country
Cider has returned to fashion in recent years, as a refreshing summer drink. Supermarket shelves are packed with gimmicky ciders with all kinds of fruity additions. True cider aficionados scorn these "ciderpops" though and look for the real thing.
England’s best cider has traditionally been found in the west, in Somerset and Herefordshire, but more and more small producers are springing up all over the West Country.
Increasingly, producers are making high-end bottled ciders that are lighter, clearer and sparkling. There is a rapidly-growing market for refreshing ciders that can be made with apples or pears or, occasionally, a combination of both.
Any visitor to the West Country will find that pubs and farm shops stock a variety of ciders. Some will be from major producers like Weston’s or Thatcher’s, but increasingly local apple orchards are bottling and marketing their own ciders.
A typical small producer, Burrow Hill Farm near Taunton, has been in the cider business for 150 years. The orchards grow 40 different kinds of apple and the farm produces traditional farmhouse cider and premium bottle-fermented sparkling ciders.
Bottle fermenting involves a similar process to that used in champagne-making, although the farmers of Herefordshire and Somerset claim to have been using it long before the French.