Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Pressing Video

So, this is what cider makers do when they have no apples to press...

Well, in actual fact I am in the process of updating the website ready for the 2011 season ciders - writing up the variety lists and archiving the out of stock ciders. In addition I want to add a gallery of images and clips which give further provenance to the 146 Cider Company products. No, its not 'clever marketing' - its just trying to show clearly what we go through to make the cider.

That said, if the cider turns out badly, I will have to re-adjust the site! Anyway, I hope this is entertaining, if not at least a little informing.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Hampshire Heritage... Naked!

Exclusive. Well, not really - but this is what Hampshire Heritage looks like before the hard work takes place. Its all about the apples you see, and after Fruitwise have done all the hard graft in taking care of the trees and nurturing the fruit I get it and squish it!

Actually, in the picture there is some fruit for Eastern Delight too. This is all now bubbling away albeit as the weather has remained stubbornly mild its maybe not quite as slowly as I would like. As I write this, these bags have been replaced by wooden crates with the last half a ton of Heritage cider fruit from Fruitwise and the first ton of cider fruit from Dorset for Wild West.

I can report that the fruit has been very good this year, and the speed of the season has slowed a bit due to the damp weather.

Late in October I was joined for an afternoon by a number of CAMRA members who were celebrating CAMRA's October 'cider' month. After a quick tour of the business (it lasts about 30 seconds!) they rolled up their sleeves, opened some cider and helped press fruit - now you don't get that experience everywhere! It was actually very enjoyable and if I can persuade them to send me some pictures I will post them up on here or on the website.

Finally, what has changed this year so far? Well, Fruitwise have all but abandoned Bramley as a variety and have been grafting them over to cider fruit. This will help me expand and develop Hampshire Heritage in the coming years so I am very happy about this indeed. The risk for this year though is because I do not add other orchards fruit to Heritage, so there is very little Bramley to give the acid kick. This is no bad thing and I am very keen to see how the milder desert acid works - I suspect the tannin will be slightly deeper too.

Wild West, whilst good in 2010 (and Highly Commended at Bath and West!) suffered a little from the acidic afterthought. This year it is planned and will be of the desert variety too. You could say that as a cidermaker I am trying to abandon Bramley too. I think a slightly greater percentage of milder desert fruit will still do the job of protecting the cider and also mellow the Chisel Jersey's heavy tannins.

Eastern Delight is the biggest change though. With over half a ton of Fruitwise desert fruit, it is joined this year by Russets and Cox's from Hill Farm Orchards (known for their juicing apples). This is kind of an unknown until it is ready, although it is going to be a nutty cider next year as there is a lot of Egremont Russet in it. I am looking forward to trying it.

And that is that. I had better get on and finish pressing eh!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

I know... its been a while

Blogging about cider making is a funny ol' business. When things are quiet and there is lots of time to post info about things, there's not much to say. When things are full flow and there are stacks of things, no time at all.

This year has not been helpted much by a rather nice lady who wasn't looking where she was going and wiped the front of the van off a week or two back. However, its now fixed and hopefully things can return to normal - albeit 2 weeks behind schedule.

The apples from Fruitwise are both excellent and in vast abundance this year. So Hampshire Heritage should be taken care of nicely. I have high hopes for it. Having said that, I have yet to collect even a single apple from Strongs - though I have 4 tons booked to press. Hmmmm!

I have another Hampshire supplier too now, being Hill Farm in Swanmore. I have roughly signed up for a couple of tons of Russets and Cox's to add in to Eastern Delight. At writing I have no idea of quality, but I have it on very good authority that they make good juicers, so that is a good start!

Other news is that the Voran is installed (though yet to be used in anger). The tanks are also in - albeit with rather tiny airlocks due to the height between the top of the tanks and the roof of the Cider Garage! We shall see how quickly the airlocks dry up but it could be an interesting diversion!!!

So, are we on for 5-6000 litres? Who knows. I will give it my best. However, at this point I have a lot of catching up to do!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The ever expanding hobby/business...

Having now got the problem of having to tell people that I cannot supply this year now, and having a month to go before things start to get busy pressing, I have now finally had a chance to do something about this ever growing thing called the 146 Cider Company.

Two new tanks have been purchased for this years Hampshire Heritage and Western cider. These will take 1500 litres; 50% more of each than last year. Also, the IBC's have been cleaned and will be repositioned so that I can press 1000 litres of Eastern plus one new cider(?!) or a further 1000 litres of Western.

From here on in, Hampshire Heritage is going to be as big as it is ever likely to get without actually buying all of Fruitwise's apples from them. Its a single orchard blend that works very well and I refuse to add 'other' apples to it. This may mean that I need to create a new blend... maybe a 'southern' blend. Aren't I the creative one:-)

On top of all this I am in the process of acquiring a new piece of kit that I have been coveting for some time, and will improve output capacity without compromising quality. A Voran press. This piece of wizardry will not be installed in time for the start of the season (I think) but the Goodnature is big enough to take care of the early apples. As it will shorten the pressing time from 1h 30m down to about 30m for each cheese of pomace, I think it will mean I could easily meet the limit of 7000 litres - not that this is what I intend to do this year.

So, If you have bought a pint or two of 146 Cider this year, this is where any profits have gone...

Friday, 5 August 2011

Eh... where has it all gone???

Last year, when 146 Cider started, I made 800 litres or so of a single blend of cider. It lasted through to about October, with orders for a couple of festivals that enabled me to supply through to the New Year.

For this year, to make my life easier, I thought I would make 2500 litres of three blends. Surely it would last longer, ensure a more continual supply to those regular outlets that buy my cider. Pah. What-a-mistaka-to-make-a!!

I am sorry to say that orders for the 2010 cider are done. There is no more available I am afraid. Hampshire Heritage sold out recently, with the Great British Beer Festival taking 70 odd litres. And now, with a couple of final orders for Wild West, that has gone too.

Its not all glum though, as I have got orders for cider going right the way through to next March. I will make sure that the events calander is up to scratch, and there are a number of festivals in there. In fact, if you look in the cider garage, there is still 3-400 litres of cider. Its just that it is all committed.

Next year, there are plans afoot to produce 5000 litres plus. But more on that closer to the pressing season.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

A lot of cider to 'bag up'...

The end of this week sees the Guildford Cricket Club Festival in full swing - with a good dose of all three 146 Ciders on tap. Whilst its great that drinkers will be able to try all of the range, I believe there is going to be more than just 146 and Mr Whitehears this year - so the variety is going to be good.

To add to that, 146 Cider is now supplying cider for the Concorde Club Jazz and Ale Festival. As its less than 5 miles from 146, its a great venue to be supplying - and as a posh private members club it can only be good for the ciders image. Maybe I need a posher label:-)

Apart from these events, things are going steadily at the moment. Yet another retailer in Southwick (a hat-trick?) has expressed an interest in selling the bottles, so watch this space. Lets hope all three can order at the same time!!

Finally, and its a little early doors for this still, watch out for the Fruitwise Apple Day event in October this year. Its going to be a bit folksy - not to mention appley and cidery! I have offered to run the bar for it, so there will be stacks of 146 Cider present - and we will certainly have the odd beer or two to sit alongside it. One for the diaries I think.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

New Outlet - Southwick Brewhouse...

I already supply draught to the Golden Lion in Southwick - a beautiful pub with links back to the planning of D-Day - but, in their car park, you can find the Southwick Brewhouse. And off licence and a museum of brewing, the Brewhouse is partly run by Al - who was involved with Swamp Donkey (a now defunct cider producer in Hampshire). So he ought to know about his cider.

From their website; "This early Victorian brewery last saw active service in 1957 when master brewer Dick Olding hung up his keys on the hook for the last time at the ripe old age of 81. It was he who had crafted the ales to supply The Golden Lion public house next door, where Generals Eisenhower and Montgomery took sustenance as they planned the D-Day landings in 1944. 

The brewhouse remains in tact and complete in every aspect since Dick locked up for good. But new life is being breathed into the building as it re-opens as a retail emporium boasting a comprehensive range of beers and ciders of local, national and international distinction. Suthwyk ales, made from barley grown on nearby Portsdown Hill, are among those sold."

Now stocking Hampshire Heritage and Wild West ciders in 500ml bottles. And that isn't the only cider they hold - the selection is actually really very broad!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Calling time on Eastern Delight for 2011...

I knew this would happen sooner or later. However, things seem to have happened rather more quickly than I had expected for Eastern Delight. As a fully eastern style cider, I thought it may take a bit of 'getting used to' on people.

Anyway, apart from those festivals who have already ordered some Eastern Delight, I cannot take any further orders for it for this year. Having said that, as it has been recieved so well it will become a permanent feature in the 146 Cider line up and will be more freely available in 2012.

The festivals where you can get it will be:

July - Guildford Cricket Club Festival
September - Colden Common Beer Festival
September - Wickham Beer Festival
October - Nottinhgam 'Robin Hood' Beer and Cider Festival
October - Woolston Beer and Cider Festival
Early 2012 - Winchester Beer Festival (when they decide to order some:-)

There will also continue to be a reasonably limited amount of bottle conditioned Eastern Delight available through Bitter Virtue in Southampton.

Sorry about that. There is plenty of Hampshire Heritage and Wild West left though:-)

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Coming up...

There are a few additions to the events pages to report:

The Junction Inn Festival, St Denys, Southampton - Both Hampshire Heritage and Wild West ciders will be apearing at this event on 9th - 12th June. Click here for more information

The Boarhunt Beer Festival, Boarhunt Social Club - Hampshire Heritage and Wild West ciders will be present at this annual real ale and cider festival. It runs on 18th and 19th June. Click here for more information

The Hyde Tavern Festival, Winchester - All three ciders - Hampshire Heritage, Wild West and Eastern Delight will be featured at this festival. It runs on 18th -19th June.

Monday, 6 June 2011

The Bath and West photographic proof...

Thanks to Cider Workshop member Rich (Hoody) for taking this photo:

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Highly Commended for 146 Cider Company...

I am very pleased to announce (and I hope not too prematurely) that 146 Cider has been awarded 'Highly Commended' for its dry farmhouse cider at this years Bath and West Show - one of the premier competitions in the UK for cider and perry.

OK, its not 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Rose Grant - mentor, friend and double winner at Bath and West took 3rd in the dry Farmhouse class (well done to her). However, the fact that it ranked so highly is a very pleasing feat in only my second year of commercial cidermaking... though my 7th or 8th at making cider!

I ought to mention that my comrade Hampshire cidermaker Barry and John Topp of New Forest Cider won Champion Farmhouse Cider for their sweet cider - a great achievement and I am a big fan of theirs.

I entered two classes - Dry Farmhouse and Dry bottled - there really aren't that many dry cider categories and many entries from across the UK. I have no idea how the bottled got on. I could increase my chances by enterintg more classes, but I just don't like sweetening my cider!

Let me rephrase that: when I am able to stop my cider fermenting through to dry I will probably do a medium dry. But at the moment, with the technology available to me, it is difficult. In any case, I make cider that I enjoy drinking - that is what I started off with aiming at, and it still is. Furthermore, I like my dry cider - it isn't that dry after all (OK - my strict definition it is very dry as it finishes at an SG of about .995). So, 146 Ciders are dry - full juice and naturally fermented...

I guess I should never say never, but for the moment I think it is doing quite well enough au naturale:-)

Well done to all the winners this year - I understand there were vast amounts of entries for all classes. And well done to the judges for working through them all!!!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

146 Expansion...

Making 2500 litres this year was an effort to make sure that the usual outlets can keep a stock of 146 Cider further throughout the year, but also so that I could start to grow the distribution chain a little. I then mixed this up a bit by producing 2 new type of cider - admittedly it has always been planned to produce both an Eastern and Western style to sit alongside the 'Hampshire' style of the main '146' blend. However, it was more due to having too many really good desert apples for the ratio, plus a new supply of apples from Dorset which I wanted to check out on its own (as well as keeping the Hampshire cider from Hampshire!!)

This is both a good and a bad thing. Good because now there are other ciders to try. Bad, because it means that while the overall stock of cider is up collectively, each blend is more limited. And so the need to be careful about spreading things too thinly becomes a factor to supply.

This coming week, the three blends will start to be sold to the usual outlets - both in draught and bottle conditioned forms. It also is the week of the Southampton Beer Festival, which falls just as the cider reaches maturity properly.

Having said that, all three blends have been present this weekend at the Rowbarge Ale Festival in Guildford, as well as a trial quantity of Hampshire Heritage being available at the Flowerpots for the first time. The Flowerpots also makes its own beer - so is an ideal pub to supply full juice cider too. Lets hope both of these pubs want to continue with it (although I am still missing a regular pub to supply in Southampton itself!!)

On the retail side, I hope to add one more to the mix which would mean that the bottles can be found in Fareham as well as Southampton and Gosport. Again, while an expression of interest has been made, I will have to feed back later this week on the outcome.

Overall, the two main blends of Hampshire Heritage and Wild West cider should start to be seen in more places - just ever so slightly. A controlled expansion is always better than a quick one which leaves no more cider!

Oh, and one more thing. Next month I hope to be retailing my own cider at the Windsor Royal Racecourse Cider Festival. I should have my Personal Licence in place by then so it will be the first time I have got to do this for myself. If it goes well then I may do a few more...

Friday, 20 May 2011

A bit of a correction...

OK, so even a super dooper professional hydrometer can be a little bit out eh... don't blame the user or his eyesight! I have now had the ciders properly tested and can confirm final ABV's as:

Hampshire Heritage Cider - 6.7%
Wild West Cider - 6.8%
Eastern Delight Cider - 7.1%

OK, so not sufficient difference to worry about - even Eastern, which was some .6% out is OK legally... but it is nice to be able to put a proper and accurate figure to it.

Moving on with the business, yesterday I sat the APLH - a qualification that is required in order to apply for a Personal Licence. I won't find out for a week or two whether I passed (I should hope I do though!!), but it will mean I can start to do more retail sales without needing anyone elses permission or authority. So, as long as I don't get caught streaking in the meantime I ought to be a Personal Licence holder in a few weeks.

These courses are run by CPL Training who run them all over the coumtry. You can find out more on the Cider Workshop website if you think its for you... but make sure you take your own coffee!!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A very busy weekend...

This weekend saw several cider making events around the UK. The annual Big Apple Blossomtime celebrations started with its usual cider trials at Putley village hall... a small venue for a much respected and popular event. Down south, the Powerstock festival in Dorset is a growing event which incorporates festivities with another peer judged competition. And the Reading Beer and Cider Festival, in its 17th year, held the National CAMRA Cider Competition finals AND the regional round of next years competiton.

Clearly even cider makers are not magicians, so attending all three was a bit of a tall order! In any event, competitions for me are about making sure that the cider I made last year is of good order. So I entered the Putley trials which were, after all, responsible for my going commercial in the first place. In addition as a supplier to the Reading Festival entered the Hampshire Heritage into the regional round of the CAMRA competition (though I couldn't attend as I was in Putley).

Whilst it is a shame that all three events were held on the same day (definite case of bad timings!!!) the weekend was very good. Reading has been buzzing (so I have heard) and nearly run out of cider on several occasions. As I write this, I have yet to hear from anyone who attended the Powerstock festival - so they must have had a very good time indeed!

For such a small location, Putley attracts some very good cider makers from all over the country. None moreso though than the Herefordshire cider makers. I had the pleasure of meeting several of them, including Mike Johnson from Ross on Wye Cider and Perry - and he deservedly carried off most pieces of paper (awards) including Overall Champion. It was also good to catch up with and meet with a number of Cider Workshop members (some of whom won more than I did - but then I don't make perry!!:-)

As a friend and cider making compatriot (Mark Shirley) said, it has been a good weekend for cider and perry!

Friday, 29 April 2011

Finally... a proper website!

Okay, so its been up for getting on for a month. But it has been a busy month... honest! Never mind. I would like to introduce you to the new web portal for the 146 Cider Company -

It links back to this blog, but provides a more professional means of letting people know who 146 is, what 146 does and how. The blog will still remain the main focus for any web activity (heavens knows, I have enough other things to do!)

In terms of the 2010 season so far, the website does give a list of all the events I am supplying so far this year. The list is growing but (hopefully in time order they are)

Clearly, there are lots to add to this as we go - keep an eye on the website for details. I will be pulling down the pages on the blog that double up with the website for simplicity (and be putting a big fat link back to the website just as soon as I can).

Its all go go go:-)

Monday, 28 March 2011

Introducing the 2010 range...

The 2010 season cider is currently being bottled, stored and checked to make sure it has really finished fermenting!. So its about time to introduce the new range for 2010. There are three very different ciders this year. They are:
  • Hampshire Heritage Cider
  • Wild West Cider
  • Eastern Pomace Cider
The names have changes a few times over the last couple of months - starting with just '146 East and West' and developing to their current state. I guess the proof is in the feedback from punters!

Hampshire Heritage is the same blend as the 146 Cider from last year. This season, however, there were a lot less Egremont Russett available, and a lot more Laxtons Epicure and Lord Lambourne. Egremont is a very distinctive apple which comes through in a cider - Laxtons and Lambourne are a lot sweeter and have less charisma. So it is no surprise that this has allowed the cider fruit to appear a little more robustly in the flavour. There is a good measure of acid too, although quite in the same way as last year.

I will publish a list of the varieties used and general percentages soon, but for now its roughly a 50% cider, 40% desert, 10% sharp blend of about 20 varieties of apple. As usual, all this fruit came from the Fruitwise orchards, giving it a food mileage (orchard to bottle) of approximately 10 miles.

Wild West is the first new cider I wanted to try. And I am very glad I have. Made from 5 varieties of cider fruit, it has a slight emphasis of the bittersweet, Chisel Jersey, backed up very solidly with Yarlington Mill and sweetened with Sweet Alford. This fruit came a little further, from the Bridport area of Dorset... so a few more food miles to report.

Its a fruity cider, backed up with a good measure of tannin and a tiny amount of acid whose job is mostly to help preserve the cider rather than impact the taste. Again, more detail will follow but its about 90% cider and 10% sharp.

Eastern Delight is a fairly limited eastern counties style cider. No cider fruit used at all, just well stored and prime desert apples from the Fruitwise orchards. These were generally picked by Fruitwise for market and then rejected as either too small, knobbly, or over ripe. In all honesty, the number of varieties is unknown although there is a good dose of Orleans Reinette - a very high quality desert apple.

Eastern style cider produces a light, fairly sharp cider - and with no or very little tannin to give it body it can be an acquired taste. To reduce acid, this style of cider is often left to mature for longer and even to go through a malolactic fermentation (MLF). This is a very slight process, not a fermentation as such, that reduces the acid profile of the cider more.

Eastern Delight is actually not as acidic as had been expected, but even though, it will not be available until the Southampton Beer Festival in June. The other ciders will be available from the beginning of May.

More information about each ciders provenance to follow...

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

40 years old and a dilema...

I have a few cider mugs in my little collection... Aspalls, Tauntons two handled mugs, various glasses from the festivals I have supplied. However, look at this fine specimen!!!

I wanted to show off my new cider mug - one of the many presents I have been fortunate enough to get to mark my 40th birthday. Crafted in the same way as a wooden barrel would be - and based on a tankard raised with the Mary Rose. And it makes a very fine cider recepticle!!

I got to try it out at my 'apple and cider' themed party. With only a few Apple Mac's coming, we also had a 'Royal Gala', a 'Pink Lady' and even a 'Granny Smith' as well as an apple tree, an apple pi, and a bee keeper (my father... who happens to be a bee keeper - go Mr Creative!)

For me, well have you ever heard about that little known super hero 'Captain Apples'?

A good party and a fitting end to the last of the 2009 146 cider. Roll on the new 'Hampshire Heritage'!

Now... I have a dilema. With the main blend sorted out for a name, I am unhappy simply calling my other blends '146 West' and '146 East' and so changed the names to 'Pickfords Promise' (or even Pickfords Western) for the western cider and 'Bunyards Delight' (or Bunyards Eastern) for the eastern cider.

'Pickfords' is because the apples used come from an orchard just north of Bridport - an area that PHT Pickford reported was very good for growing apples. Mr Pickford was sent from the Ministry of Agriculture in the 1930's to see what was going on in Dorset and essentially raise the game of Dorset producers. This he did, and reported back what he found.

'Bunyards' came about because the fruit is mainly sourced from the Fruitwise 'Bunyards' orchard - a desert apple orchard with many heritage varieties such as Egremont Russet, Ribston Pippin, Laxtons Epicure and Orleans Reinette. The orchard is named after Edward Bunyard, who wrote beautifully about apples at the turn of the 19th/20th century and who came from Kent. And as Kent has a tradition of eastern style cider (and is East too:-) it felt right.

I am kind of happywith all of this reasoninng... but still am unhappy with the complete names! I have less than a month to figure it all out as Winchester Beer Festival is likely to want the very first of the Western stuff... as long as it has fermented by then!!!

Any sensible suggestions will not be ruled out!!!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Whadda ya know!

While waiting to start racking the Hampshire Heritage, it seems I am back in production mode once again. Fruitwise, the orchard that provides the ingredients for both Hampshire heritage and the small amount of eastern style cider I made during the 2010 season have finished their markets for the year and have boxes of apples left over.

Instead of throwing them out for the birds they asked if I wanted them. I am not worried about the birds; I expect they are happily munching their way through all the spent pomace we mulched at the base of about 50-60 trees during pressing last year.

So, this weekend I milled and pressed 260kg of quality, well bletted desert apples. This added another 190 litres to the total and brings the 2010 total to 523 gallons. Not just double the previous year (which has always been the plan) but about 3 times as much.

It also means that the Eastern style of cider is now much more respectable and should be available for more festivals. I may even take 60 litres aside and let it mature for 12 months to see if that improves things... gotta keep moving forward!!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

The last of the 2009...

Well, there it goes. The last of the 2009 cider. I have to say, it has kept extremely well (it must be all that money I spent on improving storage... so it has paid its dues then:-)

The fine examples of bag in boxes, as well as 24x500ml bottles are fulfilling the final orders until April, when I unpack the shiny new 146 ciders to see if they are fit for human consumption. Actually, I tried them again today (stubbornly remaining above the racking off line!!) and they are (in my humble opinion) possibly even better than last years. We shall see.

So, if you are near Gosport this weekend, 20 litres will be found at the Gosport Winterfest (click here). 20 litres isn't much - but I am told there is a good selection to choose from... lets hope they aren't all Mr Whiteheads eh (sorry Angus, but it is nice to try others too).

The other 30 litres is now in storage until next month, when they will be winging their way to the Winchester Beer Festival. Don't worry, if the cider garage is still cold enough to stop the 2010 cider finishing its fermentation, then it will keep nicely. This is the first Winchester festival for quite a while, so it is a pleasure to support it (click here).

And what of the bottles? Well, they are heading off to the Oakleaf brewery shop (click here), who have been kind enough to let me 'piggy back' a bottle order so that I have plenty of bottles for conditioning some of this years cider.

There is a little more, but unless you were invited to my 40th birthday party (apple themed, of course) then I am afraid you won't see it.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

1 - 1001, 2 - 1003, 3 - 1012... Jump!

Fermentations are steadily drawing to a conclusion here at the 146 Cider Company. So, if I am going to stand a chance of bottle conditioning some of the cider, then I am going to have a busy weekend.

The Hampshire Heritage has slowed right down now, and is sat at 1001. If last year was any kind of marker, this cider dries out to about 998 (which is nice and dry), so by getting it into the bottles now there should be a nice sparkle to it. Last year it was achieved more by accident than judgement, but there you go. I also want to bottle some as still cider too, but that is a good couple of months away.

It has cleared really nicely and tastes not that disimilar from last years blend... though it is still very young and will definitely benefit from maturing a bit (to drop the acid a touch).

I also want to bottle condition some of the 146 Western too, but that is stubbornly dropping slowly and is 1012 (a drop of about 8 since this time last month!). This is the first year for this blend for me, and I have been worried about having sufficient acid content (it was just slightly less than 10%). However, it tastes very good (if a bit sweet at the moment) and there is definitely some acid in it - so maybe the 146 Eastern blend will not succumb to being an acid blend for the Western cider.

146 Eastern is only going to be a festival special this year. Not a bad way of trying it out as it is distinctly different and much higher in acid than the other two. Its currently 1003, so nearly ready for storage – and this is not a bad thing. Like the other two it has cleared nicely, but will need to settle down a bit before it is a nice pint. Made up from quality desert apples though, I am expecting it to be a light and sharp drink – very nice in the summer!

Bring on the barrel cleaning!!!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Fiery Ginger Wine

OK, so I said I would post something actually not connected with cider. So here it is. The 146 Cider adapted recipe for ginger wine. It produces a fairly thick, sweet and fiery wine. Excellent for colds, winter and... well drinking really!

- 8oz Root Ginger (crushed thoroughly)- 2 x Oranges (pith and juice)
- 2 x Lemons (pith and juice)
- 500g raisins (chopped roughly)
- 1 red chilli (chopped and crushed with seeds)

- 2 gallons water (boiled and warm)
- 2kg white cane sugar

- White wine yeast (or general purpose will do)
- Yeast nutrient (optional)

Most ginger wine recipe’s call for the ginger, fruit and raisins to be boiled with the water. Don’t bother doing this, it’s not necessary. Put fruit, ginger, raisins and about half the sugar into a tub. Add the water and stir it all up. If you are like my daughter, watch about 2 hours of telly and keep stirring!

At this point your can check the must with a hydrometer – add more sugar until you are happy with the SG (adding all of it will probably give you something around 16% abv).

Allow the must to stand for about 24 hours before adding the yeast and nutrient. It needs to be about 20 degrees to start it off. This is the aerobic fermentation (open to oxygen) and it needs to be stirred once or twice a day for the next 8 days.

After this time, rack the fermenting fluid into a couple of demijohns (or another container that can be fitted with an airlock). Strain the solids through a clean cloth.

Once the bubbles have ceased, rack it again and let it mature for about 6 months. Then bottle it – drink it – bathe in it... whatever you like.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

February Catch Up...

The headlines:

- Pruning the 146 micro orchard and adding to its small number

- Fermentations – slow and slower

- 7 year old makes ginger wine (with a hint of chilli)

- And finally, don't forget the Gosport Winterfest!

Okay – I should have warned you not to get too excited by it! Well, it is winter after all!

Pruning the 146 micro orchard and adding to its small number

Winter is the time for tree management. This is essential for tons of reasons, for which I am probably not the best reference. Take a look at Stephen Hayes Youtube site to see what I mean. As the trees in the micro orchard are only 3 years old, pruning helps form a decent tree shape – a good form will optimise the amount of fruit a tree bears as well as making future maintenance easier.

At the moment, there are 6 trees in the orchard. These include a high quality desert apple (Ashmeads Kernel) and a very mildly acid cooking apple (James Grieve). These will ultimately form a base for a special ‘limited’ cider that I want to make in a few years. To build on this, there are currently four lesser known cider apple trees; a full bittersharp, two full bittersweets, and a medium and mild bittersweet. My hope is that these rare varieties will bring something extra to the cider that cannot be found elsewhere.

To this, I have a couple of Dabinetts that I want to plant shortly. Many cider makers are happy to make Dabinett single variety cider; and its not bad. However, for my purpose it is a good variety to provide a quality bulk to the blend.

It is also another variety to play around with.

Fermentations – Slow and slower

February is turning out to be warmer than last year, so although the cider got off to a slow start, the fermentation tanks are keeping busy. A friend from the Cider Workshop has a live webcam linked to his tanks, so you can witness in real time the wonders of fermentation! To be honest, cider fermentation is really not that much of an event in itself.

The Hampshire Heritage is just about finished (I am cleaning the storage tanks as I write) and the 146 Eastern is just nudging below 1010 (that will take about 14 days to finish). Only the 146 Western seems to be stubbornly stuck in the 1020’s. This is the batch that concerned me the most when planning the blend of sharp/sweet and bitter – there is less than 10% sharps (as per a traditional west country cider) so it was always going to be the most unpredictable fermentation this year.

7 year old makes ginger wine (with a hint of chilli)

So, its not all cider here! Following a successful batch of ginger wine (which was given mostly as Christmas presents for my daughters nurses and friends) we decided to give it another go. The recipe is simple and (loosely) based on a 1968 recipe in “Home Wine and Beer Making” – although we took some liberties with the recipe to produce something a little more special. I will post separately (although, lets face it, this is a cider website/blog!)

And finally - dont forget the Gosport Winterfest

Order is in and the cider is... well... still sat in storage for the moment. However, the Gosport Winterfest starts on Friday 25th February at the Thorngate Halls in Gosport. See the South East Hampshire CAMRA website for details.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Say cheese...

Whilst January slowly ticks away and the cider slowly bubbles away we have launched an 'annual' photography competition on the Cider Workshop for all the budding cider photographers on the group. The theme for this years competition is 'the Cider/Perry Season 2010' and entries are invited from all Cider Workshop members.

All details of the competition are found on, as is the link to the Cider Workshop group (should you have the best cider photo's but have yet to find your way to the Workshop!

I must admit to being rather too 'technical' in my photographs during last season. I don't believe that images of hydrometers floating in apple juice, individial varieties of apples sliced in two and used pomace sat around the base of trees is going to win over anyone but the most hardened of cider loons. And my best shots are from 2009 and probably already online somewhere... so I don't think I can cheat and get away with it (not that I would!!! ahem!)

The winner(s), as judged by professional photographer and Cider Workshop member Neil Phillips of Orchard Eye, will have a place on the home page of the group website for 12 months and we may even create a gallery on the website for the top 10 or so.

Happy snapping:-)

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Southampton man gets visit from EHO... And lives!

I had anticipated the latest visit by Southampton’s finest to be a bit of a challenge – the proper thing this time. I had previously written up a HACCP plan to identify parts of the business that we a ‘risk’, and also made sure that I had a copy of the NACM guidelines – to which I adhere to (as far as it is applicable).

So, the Environmental Health man came to see me and was really very human indeed. None of the anticipated “you need to do this, this and this”, no pound symbols came rushing past my eyes and not even a glimmer of the vast amounts of paperwork I had expected!

OK. In reality I have to write up a bit more ‘meat’ on the HACCP, and need to think about adopting a tracking document for the cleaning process... but this is more common sense than red-tape, and I had been doing something kind of a bit like it before. And, of course, I will need to wait for the letter that is bound to turn up sooner or later. But I don’t have that sense of foreboding that I have seen from others around the country!

As the winter progresses and the cider simply ‘does its stuff’, 146 Cider has been improving things to make 2011 easier to manage. A new ‘super’ hydrometer has been purchased – a foot long (thanks for the recommendation Mark Shirley of Rockingham Forest Cider)... OK, I did have a really useful (but slightly smaller) hydrometer but managed to smash it. I wish they were a bit more robust:-( A new scale is on order for the bag in boxes – no, its not that things have been any less accurate in 2010... its just that this one is designed for the boxes so should make things a lot quicker (once I have got Trading Standards to stamp it!!) Finally, I am waiting to get the 2011 labels test sheet. All very exciting.

So, how is the cider coming along? Very nicely, thank you very much for asking!