Summertime is the season when real cider is at it’s best after months of maturing and improving and the cider is at the peak of condition at the same time as the peak of cider drinking demand.
It is for this reason that the CAMRA,s cider judging competition takes place at Reading Beer & Cider Festival which is held over the Mayday Bank Holiday each year.
More than 150 ciders and perries from all across Britain are available to discerning drinkers and they also do battle to win their regional award and the winner of each region goes forward the the national judging which is judged by a panel of CAMRA members and experts.
In 2014 Salt Hill Cider was proud to win the Southern regional award and go through to the final against some of the very best cider makers in the land.
The results for 2015 went as follows;

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, the winners of its National Cider and Perry Championships

GOLD (joint) – White Jersey, Orgasmic Cider Company
GOLD (joint) – Janet’s Jungle Juice, West Croft
BRONZE – Medium, Three Cats

GOLD – Two Trees Perry, Gwynt y Ddraig
SILVER – Snowy Owl, Raglan Cider Mill
BRONZE – Perry, Snails Bank

The joint winners of the Cider Gold medal are White Jersey by Orgasmic and Janet’s Jungle Juice by West Croft. White Jersey was described by judges as being ‘fruity’ and ‘easy drinking’, with ‘a slight sweetness balanced by an excellent tang’, and having‘balance without too much acidity’. Janet’s Jungle Juice was described as having a ‘mature and woody aroma’ with ‘an initial sweetness and a smooth finish’, and a ‘full mouth feel with a resinous aroma’.

The winner of the Perry Gold medal is Two Trees Perry by Gwynt y Ddraig (meaning ‘dragon’s breath’ in Welsh) which the judges described as being ‘initially sweet with a refreshing, dry aftertaste’,‘complex yet well balanced with a poached pear flavour and aroma’ with a ‘slowly developing finish’.

The final round of judging for CAMRA’s National Cider and Perry Championships 2015 took place at the popular Reading Beer and Cider festival .
The competition featured ciders and perries from across the UK, with each cider and perry judged on its individual taste, aroma, flavour, after-taste and overall appeal.
The top awards were selected by a specially chosen panel of experienced judges, drinks writers and CAMRA members.

Andrea Briers, CAMRA National Cider and Perry Committee Chairman, had this to say on the quality and diversity of entries:

“The quality and variety of real cider and perry is increasing year-on-year, making our job as judges increasingly difficult. With a set of truly excellent drinks available this year at the festival, and a competition which was very tight right until the final judging we are confident these ciders and perries can truly be known as the best in Britain.”

Reading CAMRA Beer and Cider Festival serves over 550 beers available, plus 150 ciders and perries (from over 100 producers), plus a selection of foreign beers, English wines and mead.
Over the four days festival around 13,000 attendees will drink over 35,000 pints of beer and 11,000 pints of cider.

2015 could prove to be the most challenging year for small cider makers; EU plans to force all cider makers to pay duty could spell disaster for the diversity of local ciders across the UK.

At present cider makers who produce less than 7000 litres do not have to pay duty; this helps to encourage small farmers and cider makers to plant and maintain a network of orchards across the country which is vital to wildlife and an important part of many local economies.

Many tourists enjoy popping into farm gate cideries in the West Country as they have done for generations and this is part of the local culture and economy but if this EU legislation goes through there may well be many less of these as the extra cost of this duty will make small scale cider making unviable for many.

This could seriously damage the range and variety of local flavours and mean that the larger commercial cider makers will have an even bigger share of the market!

Please sign CAMRA’s petition to stop this from coming to pass.

A great range and ciders and perries will be available to try at Maidenhead Beer & Cider Festival in July which will be an opportunity to try ciders and perries from Berkshire and several other counties.

2014 was a disastrous year for our local apple crop which made life hard for Salt Hill Cider but hopefully this autumn we will have a much better harvest across berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

We are always looking any unwanted cooking or eating apples for our cider so if you know of any going spare please contact me on 01753 823918.