The first of the new season Salt Hill Cider has been delivered to pubs in the local area; if you fancy trying a pint of Noveau cider you will find it available at The Royal Standard in Wooburn Green, The Jolly Farmer in Cookham Dean which has Salt Hill pretty much year round and the latest pub to take on our cider is The George Inn in Burnham High Street.

This pub is a proper old school boozer which now stocks two local real ales and hopefully will be stocking Salt Hill Cider throughout the year. They are also holding a local beer/cider festival over the first Mayday bank holiday weekend and they are going to have loads of local beers and a couple of ciders to try and live music and a hog roast available.

After the bumper apple crop in the autumn of 2013 we made more Salt Hill Cider than ever before so hopefully there will be plenty available at the usual good pubs and beer festivals around our area and a few new ones as well.

We managed to get a great range of apples all from around Berkshire and a few from Bucks from our many generous fruit donors and I’m expecting a vintage year due to the outstanding quality and variety of the apples we used and the high sugar levels in the apples due to the summer sun mean it will be pretty strong stuff! It could easily go over 8% ABV by the time we reach summer as real cider is a living thing and the natural yeast will continue to ferment the natural sugars for a few months yet.

With the blossom time coming in May we will soon find out how much damage has been done to the fruit trees in orchards across the country during the endless rain of the winter just passed. Apple trees can withstand having roots under water for prolonged periods but four months may prove to be a big challenge to our orchards and this may have devastating consequences for the harvest in the autumn of 2014.

“drink up thee cider” while we can !

Wassail

Greg

The arrival of spring completes the cycle of the cider making year and heralds the most crucial period when the entire production for the coming year hangs in the balance.

The blossoms that will form the apples in the autumn are set in May and they are very vulnerable to adverse weather during this time.

If there is too much rain at this point in the season then the bees and other flying insects will not be able to fly around the orchards and pollinate the fruit trees. If there are too many hard frosts then the delicate buds and blossom can be killed and lead to a disastrous shortage of fruit such as happened in 2012.

The shortage of fruit across the country that year led to a shortage of real craft cider during the warm summer of 2013 and the shortfall in supply was largely filled by the bigger cider makers with mass produced cider based drinks which are unaffected by the vagaries of the British weather.

Most of the big industrial manufacturers use apple concentrate which is available from all around the world all year round so year round supplies can be maintained.

The UK is a major producer of cider and accounts for 62% of Europe’s output and is worth £3 billion per year!

Cider sale in the UK now make up around 9% of the drinks market and there are an estimated 480 cider makers here using around 250,000 tonnes of British apples every year

Unfortunately at present the real craft cider makers only account for a small percentage of these growing sales figures.

The majority of cider sold across the UK is still made from apple concentrate and can have as little as 35% fruit content which is likely to have travelled hundreds or thousands of miles to reach the manufacturer!

These bland fizzy abominations are what is usually on offer in most of the pubs and why you usually have to go the best pubs or CAMRA beer festivals to get the artisan craft ciders.

The spring of 2013 was very kind to cider makers and this led to a bumper harvest in the autumn which should ensure a really good supply of cider throughout 2014 as all cider makers have benefitted from the biggest apple crop in over ten years, although crops of perry pears were rumoured to be quite poor so there still maybe a shortage of good quality perry this year.

 Around Berkshire and Buckinghamshire we had a fantastic apple harvest last autumn and there will be plenty of your local Salt Hill Cider on offer throughout this year.

We managed to make a record amount of cider in 2013 due to the generosity of local people and we collected around 5 tonnes of unwanted high quality apples of many different varieties from orchards and gardens locally which hopefully will produce a great vintage cider this year.

The cider that was made through September to November is now fermented and is slowly maturing and improving until it will be ready for drinking around March time.

Salt Hill Cider will be aiming to supply as many good pubs and beer festivals as possible during the year across our region and hopefully getting into some new outlets to supply cider drinkers and maybe convert some drinkers to the delights of 100% fresh juice cider.

Here’s hoping for a mild and dry spring followed by a long hot summer for us all to enjoy drinking some real cider and perry.

 

Wassail !

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A year on from the great apple drought and we are awash with top quality fruit.

All thanks to our generous fruit donors we are all set to make the most cider ever and guarantee that next year there will be plenty of Salt Hill Cider to go round.

As well as being lots of apples this year the quality and variety has been top notch and I reckon next year will be a vintage year and I’m proud to say that all the fruit has been picked from all over Berkshire to maintain our ethos of producing a local artisan cider from apples that would otherwise have gone to waste.

We are nearing the end of production for the year and with the addition of our latest volunteer Ollie Hayward we should be done within a couple of weeks.

This year’s stocks of cider are now all gone so Salt Hill Cider will be absent until March next year when the slowly fermenting cider will be mature and at it’s best ready for drinking in the spring.

Wassail!

The good news is that there are plenty of apples around and we are working flat out to make sure that there will be plenty of Salt Hill Cider on offer in 2014! We have been out collecting a wide range of varieties of apples from all over Berkshire and this year promises to be a vintage year for our cider.

The bad news is that owing the the appalling shortage of fruit last year we were left very short of cider in 2013 and the meagre stocks of Salt Hill Cider are almost exhausted! The last of this year’s cider will be on offer this weekend at the excellent Beer & Cider festival at Ascot racecourse and also at Chelmsford Beer & Cider Festival  and then the last chance of the year will be at Woking Beer & Cider Festival in early November.

All of these events are CAMRA festivals and will have a great range of ciders available.

After these events salt Hill Cider will be absent until early spring next year when we will return to all the festivals and pubs around Berkshire and a good few further afield!

Watch this space for details; wassail Greg

 

This has been the hardest year for Salt Hill Cider so far; the appalling weather in 2012 left us with no apples and hardly any cider to sell this year.

The good news is that this year has been much better and it looks like we will have a decent crop this year although it is running late due to the late start of spring and summer this year. All being well myself and the the indomitable Keith Smith will soon take to the orchards once again to bring in the harvest to make the cider ready for next year.

As I predicted the shortage of good ciders this year has led to many of the opportunist dubious cider makers filling the gaps with inferior products. Luckily there are still a good number of cider fans who still want 100% fresh pressed juice ciders rather than some of the abominations being offered in most of the pubs across the country at present.

From Easter in 2014 Salt Hill Cider should be back to full capacity and battling to get our real Berkshire cider into all our usual pubs and festivals and hopefully into quite a few new ones as well. We will aim to keep the supplies rolling out to our existing fans and pick up new ones along the way and quality will not be comprimised in the pursuit of business.

In the meantime enjoy your ciders where you can; Salt Hill Cider will be appearing at Ascot Beer Festival in October and Woking Beer festival in early November plus a few others throughout the year. It is also usually available at The Jolly Farmer in Cookham Dean if you fancy a pint.

Wassail

The cider drinking weather seems to finally have arrived!

This weekend Salt Hill Cider will be available at two local festivals, well worth visiting;
The Reading Beer & Cider Festival is on from today and will have hundreds of top quality ciders and perries to try.
The Crosses Corner in Peascod Street Windsor are holding their first ever festival this weekend and your local cider will be available all weekend so if you are looking for somewhere for a few drinks over the bank holiday please pop along.
Happy drinking!
Greg
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