After the glut of apples last autumn I was hoping for another decent crop this year as we had a decent spring and summer. No such luck! We hardly found any spare fruit around Berkshire this autumn and have had to buy in some apples from the West Country in order to make some cider ready for next year.
For the first time Salt Hill Cider has been made from traditional cider apples, a blend of Dabinet and Michelin varieties have been pressed and we will have to wait for several months to find out how the new cider will taste.
The cider festival season is nearly over for the year so Salt Hill Cider will be available at Woking Beer Festival this weekend and at Wycombe Rugby Club Beer Festival the following weekend. We will then go into hibernation for the winter ready to emerge in the spring and begin a new year. The apple trees seem have gone into a pattern of on/off years so hopefully in 2015 we will have a bumper harvest in the autumn and Salt Hill Cider will once again be made entirely from local fruit.
4th November , 2014
18th September , 2014
This weekend Salt Hill Cider will be available at the Old George Inn in Colnbrook; Sunday is the annual Colnbrook Apple Fair 2014 with events and cider althrough the day.
September 21 @ 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Next weekend Salt Hill Cider will be making an appearance at a music venue in Reading, details to follow
4th September , 2014
This weekend Salt Hill Cider will be available at a beer festival at The Perseverance pub in Wraysbury, the weather is looking good so this should be a good day out as they have a garden and will have a barby going.
This weekend we will also be available at the Cookham Regatta, The Jolly Farmer and also at Binghams Brewery shop near Twyford.
2nd September , 2014
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Autumn’s arrival once again heralds the start of the cider making cycle and hopefully a decent crop of apples for picking and pressing to make the cider for 2015. We are just about to start again and will be out in the orchards around Berkshire collecting up as much unwanted fruit as we can get! This year we had a fair spring and a long hot summer so there should be good range of fruit for cider makers across the country to meet next year’s demand. Demand for cider this summer has been high with the unusually warm summer, but this has caused a few problems keeping the cider in good condition at such temperatures.
The greatest obstacle for real cider to overcome in Britain is the amount of fruit based alcoholic drinks purporting to be cider. This is a crucial issue that has been debated by cider makers and CAMRA for many years and needs to be resolved if one of our most traditional drinks is be protected from an influx of mass produced inferior products. Often these products are sold to the unsuspecting public who are bombarded with misleading advertising that carefully avoids the fact that many of these drinks contain no more than 35% juice!
The following article on this issue was written by CAMRA member and cider maker Ray Blockley. At the recent Cider Trends Summit held in Bristol on June 17th, plans were presented for an application for a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) for ‘Heritage English Cider’ and ‘Heritage English Perry’.
The Cider Trends Summit is probably the most important meeting of ‘Big’ Cider in the UK and so attracts cider makers large and small – and massive – from all over the UK, as well as those who want to learn about the UK Cider Industry.
Jez Howat of 146 Cider based in Hampshire, has been the driving force behind the idea of protecting true real cider and perry with a PGI. Jez has worked with and led a small number of passionate cider makers, including CAMRA Pomona Award winners, to construct and hone a
plausible PGI application. The team who worked with Jez to get it to the position of being ready for public presentation are first and foremost, Dr Andrew Lea, Tom Oliver and Nick Bradstock (along with his replacement at NACM, Richard Heathcote [NB: NACM is the National Association of Cider Makers]). Others who gave varying degrees of advice and comment
include cidermakers Mark Shirley of Rockingham Forest Cider, Ray Blockley of Torkard Cider, Simon Day of Once Upon A Tree, and Matt Veasey of Nook’s Yard Cider.
It was pleasing that over 40 producers of all sizes as well as the major cider maker representative bodies have shown support for this PGI, and it was certainly well received by those present.
The basic points of the PGI application are:
• The PGI will only cover England
• Juice Content must be a minimum of 85%, from fresh pressed juice only (no concentrate)
• English grown Apples and Pears only
• Raising the sugar content is allowed
• Dilution with water is allowed (subject to the juice content rule)
• Raising SG AND dilution is NOT permitted together for the same finished product
• It must be of quality – specifically it must not be acetic (vinegary) or poorly kept
• Any type of apple is permitted (allowing for all styles to be covered)
• Pasteurisation is permitted
• Sweetening (including artificial sweetening) permitted (subject to guidelines on sweetness)
• Filtration is permitted
• Apple and Pear only – no other fruits/vegetables/flavoured ingredients permitted
Obviously these are only the highlights and there is much more detail in the document, but it suffices as a lay description. As I see this PGI, the key point is that it gives consumer choice and consumer information. If a cider carries the PGI mark, you can be sure it has met these criteria; remember that alcoholic drinks do not have to carry any labelling of ingredients. However, at the same time this is an opportunity for the whole English cider industry – no one is excluded as long as they produce a quality product to the above criteria. CAMRA won’t agree with all of the points – but of course the producer can select not to filter and not to pasteurise. Ultimately the PGI gets its approval from the EU, although first it needs UK approval from DEFRA. The process is slow but this is a major step forward for quality. It’s great to see passionate, truly craft, real cider makers leading the way. Ray Blockley Nottingham CAMRA
Salt Hill Cider has had a fine year with good demand from thirsty cider fans and we will be working all through the autumn and into the winter to turn as much of the local unwanted apples we collect into cider as we can ready for next spring.
Maybe within the next few years we may adopt legislation that will mean all ciders will be made entirely from fresh pressed British apples and drinkers will get the cider they deserve!
14th July , 2014
Well the weather so far this summer has been the usual pattern of searing heat quickly followed by monsoon rains and grey skies! This makes planning events and beer festivals tricky and many of the festivals Salt Hill Cider has been at have been affected by the ever changing climate.
This weekend from Friday to Sunday is the Slough, Windsor And Maidenhead CAMRA beer and cider Festival which is held at the football club in York Road in Maidenhead. This promises to be a great event with loads of great beers, ciders and perries as well as live bands and a freindly match on Saturday between Maidenhead and Slough.
Salt Hill Cider will be be available throughout with our Urban Fox- dry , Merry England – medium and also the only appearance this year of our Autumn Gold- medium sweet which won the regional competition at the national CAMRA cider competition back in May.
This cider is slightly lower in alcohol at a mere 5% abv so usually proves popular with those who want to drink cider but don’t want to be home in bed before the sun goes down!
Myself and Keith Smith will be working the cider bar most of the weekend and hope to meet as many cider fans as we can.
Salt Hill Cider will also be available this week at The Jolly Farmer in Cookham Dean and at Binghams Brewery near Twyford.
The cider list for the SWM Beer Fest is;
Dab Hand [6.0%]
A blend of Dabinett and Michelin cider apples grown in an orchard near Ledbury in Herefordshire.
Kingston Black [6.0%]
Made from Kingston Black apples grown in Herefordshire and Dorset.
Ten Years After [6.0%]
A blended cider to celebrate 10 years of Ciderniks’ cidermaking and also in memory of Alvin Lee (1944-2013), one of the greatest blues-rock guitarists.
Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire
Rum Cask [7.5%]
Aged in barrels from the Jamaican Rum Company.
Ancient apple variety with a vibrant apple aroma, dry oaky taste and slightly sparkling on initial pour.
Apples & Pears [5.0%]
A refreshing blend of our scrumpy cider and the juice of fresh pressed pears.
Hedge Layer [4.8%]
Light and refreshing.
Blackberry Blush [6.5%]
Late summer blend of our scrumpy sider and the juice of hand picked blackberries.
Oliver’s Cider & Perry
Ocle Pychard, Herefordshire
Ross-on-Wye Cider & Perry
Salt Hill Cider
Urban Fox [6.2%]
Organic 100% juice made from Berkshire apples with no additives.
Merry England [6.2%]
Cider which is naturally sweetened with English sugar.
Autumn Gold [5.0%]
Award winning cider made from Berkshire apples.
Side-R (Glebe Farm)
Cider flavoured with natural Blackcurrant concentrate.
Made from Cambridgeshire grown, dessert and cooking varieties of apples.
Made from Cambridgeshire grown, dessert and cooking varieties of apples.
Cider flavoured with natural Strawberry concentrate.
Old Wolverton, Bucks
Side Effects [6.0%]
Blended from eating and cooking apples to give a delicately flavoured cider.
Saxon Aelle [5.5%]
This is a fruity cider with a real tang. Made from 5 early varieties of apple. Aelle was the first king of the South Saxons and, with his three sons, famously did battle with the Britons and won.
Hard Core [7.0%]
A mix of culinary and dessert apples from private orchards, many of which are heritage varieties no longer available on the high street.
Hogs Head [6.0%]
Light cider blending the rich acidity of the classic Bramley apple with the delicate sweetness and flavour of the contemporary Gala apple.
Woodley Sider House
Six Point Three [6.3%]
Natural cider with no added ingredients, sourced from Woodley and Purley-on-Thames apples.
Made solely from apples from Emmer Green. Named ’18′ after the owner that the apples were sourced from.
Woodley Wobbler [6.0%]
Milton Keynes, Bucks
Traditional ‘West Country’ style cider produced from 7 varieties of cider apple.
Cider List is subject to change without notice.
Maidenhead Beer Festival 2014 – 18th to 20
22nd May , 2014
As well as the pubs listed below Salt Hill Cider will be available at one of the best beer and cider festivals in the country this weekend; The White Horse in Hedgerley, Bucks are holding their annual festival.
This pub always has a great selection of beers, ciders and perries but during this festival there will be dozens of great ciders to try and our Urban Fox and Merry England will be amongst them.
This is a fantastic event that attracts drinkers from far and wide and is a great way to spend your weekend if you enjoy high quality drinks in a beautiful country setting.
See you up there!
20th May , 2014
Salt Hill Cider had a bit of an ego boost recently; we won the South East regional award at the CAMRA national judging competition which was held at Reading Beer Festival over the Bank Holiday weekend. It was nice to get recognition for our cider and vindication for sticking to our core values of using only local fruit and totally natural fermentation. As regional winners Salt Hill Cider went through to the final which was won by Sheppy’s of Somerset.
Our Merry England cider will now be available at a new pub which is very local to Salt Hill; The Garibaldi is the last remaining pub in Chalvey and is now being run by Dan who is doing a sterling job of turning around the fortunes of the pub. Formerly a lager and Strongbow pub Dan is keen to make a real change and is going to be stocking two real ales as well as Salt Hill Cider throughout the year.
At this time Merry England is also available at The George in Burnham, The Jolly Farmer in Cookham Dean and also at Binghams Brewery shop in Ruscombe near Twyford. More pubs and Beer Festivals will be added through the coming months and I will try to update information regularly.