Appley New Year!

An evening of German mulled cider, Somerset Pomona and Somerset Ice Cider

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It’s been over a year since my last post but it certainly hasn’t been an uneventful time: I’ve put out my sacroiliac joint, had a nasty cycling accident with significant concussion, and couldn’t stand, walk or even sit down for much of that time. The blog was the last thing on my mind.

Anyway, one consequence of my enforced rest is that I’ve been thinking hard about the future of the blog. More about that soon but for now I thought I’d announce my return with a quick post looking at some interesting apple-based booze I’ve consumed over the holiday period.

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Six Counties cider in England’s newest city

Chelmsford Summer Beer and Cider Festival has become a bit of a favourite of mine over the past few years since its move to spacious accommodation in Admiral’s Park. One of the highlights of the event is increasingly the cider and perry bar, which this year excelled itself by offering over 100 traditional ciders, perries and pyders (mixed cider and perry) from all over the UK, including products of three producers in Northern Ireland.

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Supermarket sweep: Co-op Tillington Hills Premium Cider

Cider may be experiencing its greatest period of popularity for many a decade but the foundation of that success owes little to traditionally made products. Rather it’s been the products of marketing departments – and countries not typically regarded as cider lands – that have led to the explosion of cider consumption (my guess is that genuine interest in these products is rather lacking among their drinkers, however). I don’t need to name names as you’ll know which brands I mean.

A few better products from large-scale, established English producers such as Thatchers or Westons can usually be found in the aisles. However, there’s still a real dearth of anything out of the ordinary cider-wise in local supermarkets I use in the East London and Essex areas. Which is why The Co-op’s Tillington Hills Premium Cider is so notable. Continue reading “Supermarket sweep: Co-op Tillington Hills Premium Cider”

Truly Local drinks for local people

A recent planned visit to my sister’s place in Norfolk led to an unplanned visit to a fine outlet for interesting, and sometimes fairly alternative, tipples.

Truly Local in Stalham in north east Norfolk – only a few miles from the drowning village of Happisburgh – has already found a modicum of fame through the patronage of Prince Charles who made an impromptu visit to the 15 month-old shop in February.

It would be wrong to describe Truly Local – which is run as a not-for-profit business – as a specialist drinks outlet, however. The shop sells local produce of many kinds sourced from within a 35 mile radius of the shop (which in practice means that half its catchment area is actually underwater – still there’s nothing to stop seafood being part of the offering!). Shop manager Mick Sims explained that while the 35 mile radius might seem arbitrary it was in fact a cunning ploy to enable the shop to sell whiskies from the The English Whisky Co. Ltd.’s St. George’s Distillery in Roudham.

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The Essex Cider Shop: getting fruity out east

Christmas, New Year and long into January haven’t been especially festive times here at Tipple Towers. A nasty and persistent bug not only dented my enthusiasm for sampling and blogging but cauterised my palate to such an extent that anything I could taste more closely resembled a pint of creosote or furniture polish more than it did a fine beer or whisky.

So how best to ease myself back in now that some kind of a recovery seems finally to be in effect? Well I’ll have to put my reviews of some long-aged special bottlings on hold, probably until next year end (Malheur Bière Brut, Duvel Triple Hop and Achel de 3 Wijzen were all lined up for consumption but gained another stay of execution). Instead I’ll pick up again on the off-sale scene for quality beverages I’ve previously explored through my visits to Beers Of Europe and SlowBeer, this time with a rare outlet devoted to cider and perry.

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Wizards of Oz part four: cider with Aussie (and other fruity tales)

My experiences of pubs and bottle shops in Melbourne and Sydney have certainly whetted my appetite for a return visit. But they also opened my eyes to a parallel but even less explored phenomenon: the even newer vogue for alcoholic cider and even its pear equivalent, perry.

Many of the establishments I visited during my 10 day stay in the country had at least one cider on sale, often on draught, with unthreatening imports such as Ireland’s Magners and Sweden’s Rekorderlig being extremely widespread. Of greater interest, several of the products available came from native producers.

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