Cider Makes Yer Belly Wider!

A great philosopher once wrote, "I am a cider drinker, I drinks it all of the day".  Or was it The Wurzels? Whatever... The thing is, it could well have been written for me.

I love cider. And it's been my drink of choice since I was 18. I confess I had a misguided year in the early 90's when I drank Guinness instead but I recovered, repented and rediscovered the joys of cider drinking all over again.

When I set up this website in 2001, this page was basically one, big complaint!  I was moaning about the lack of choice for cider drinkers.  I was also moaning about the demon brew that is Cackthorn.  This explains the dark days of cider drinking.

Fast forward five years and how things have changed.  Cider is popular again!  There is choice in the pubs I visit!  How did this happen?  I reckon there is only one reason - Magners Irish cider.  Their bizarre approach of selling a pint bottle and serving it over ice seems to have captured the (feeble) imagination of todays youth market.  I have to say that I've tried Magners and was not impressed in the slightest.

While I may not particularly like Magners, the 'halo' effect it has created in the cider market has been profound.  Most pubs I visit now have a choice of at least two dry ciders.  In my local Wetherspoons, they have two proper ciders from Weston's on draught and several bottled varieties as well.

Speaking of Wetherspoons, 2005 was the year the chain saw sense and got rid of Cackthorn as their default draught cider once and for all.  Strongbow, the UK's most popular cider, is now in all their pubs.

When it comes to draught cider, Scrumpy Jack is still my favourite.  But all the fizzy versions of fermented apple juice are nothing compared to real, honest cider.  Thankfully, that too has increased in availability.  Supermarkets stock many varieties.  My favourites are those produced by Weston's Cider in Hereford.  Their plant is just down the road from where I was born so I take the opportunity to pop into the factory shop whenever I visit Ledbury.  In 2005, Claire and I took the factory tour - highly recommended!  Here are some pictures:-

Weston's Farmhouse
Lots of apples!
Old oak barrels
Red top bottling line

Local beer festival's have always been a good place to try proper cider.  The Worcester festival has always been called a, "Beer and Cider Festival".  Locally, the Bromsgrove festival also supports cider makers.  Even the Redditch Winter Ales festival had a large cider selection! The real ciders I've tasted at these knock the big boys brews available in the pub into a cocked hat. It's totally different and so much nicer. If only I could go back 100 years to the Bromsgrove of yore when brews like these would have been available in many of the local hostelries... If you want a flavour of this type of cider I can highly recommend Westons Extra Strong Scrumpy available from many supermarkets.  That's it pictured on the right. 

We've come a long way in five years.  May cider continue its inexorable rise in popularity and availability!