Tuesday 31 August 2010

New outlet - The Bugle in Hamble

A pub... in Southampton this time... near where I live too:-)

The Bugle, in Hamble (or Hamble-le-Rice if you really must) is now in the 146 Cider book of outlets as the newest to take us on.

Initially, they will be selling 500ml bottles - an interesting choice, as they are all kind of 'bottle conditioned' in that there should be a sparkle to the cider. Many folk prefer their cider sparkling and as long as there is no mention of ice it should all be good! My hope is that they progress on to a bag in box arrangement - as draught is my preferred choice. But then what do I know, I only make the stuff! (as my mum always used to say about dinner...)

As a place, Hamble is a very lovely village on the edge of the river Itchen with cobbled streets and a very old world feeling to it - smaller but comparable (in my humble opinion) to Lymington. The Bugle fits in to this very well - though I will have to report back on what Real Ales etc. they already serve...

It is also great in that the 'food mileage' of 146 is dipping almost to the single figures for this pub! with a total of about 4 miles from Orchard to 146, its then got to be no more than another 5-6 miles to the pub!

Given that 146 Cider is in its first commercial year, the aim was to keep things small - a couple of pubs, a couple of retail outlets and a few festivals. I am very pleased that this has been achieved within the first 6 months - not at all the places I had figured on, but that is probably a good thing!

As usual, the Bugle is now added to the list of outlets - we shall see if they are a regular!

Sunday 29 August 2010

The Ale-ing Fest 2010

Another festival to add to the diary... the Ale-ing Fest is a beer festival on Hayling Island, near to Portsmouth. Now in its 15th year, it is a relatively small event (well, by some standards) it will feature '24 ales and cider' - though I am not sure what other ciders will be there yet.

This year the Ale-ing Fest is taking place at the Hayling Island Community Centre over the weekend of the 1st and 2nd of October 2010. Another opportunity to sample 146 Cider on draught!

Thursday 26 August 2010

Revving up to the new season...

So, the pressing season is nearly upon us!! - I like 146 to capture the whole of the season, so although the early fruit neither contributes a lot to the taste of the cider (early apples tend to be thin and low in sugars) they provide a good starting fermentation to 'share' with the later pressings. Also, because of the dry year we have had so far, I do expect to encounter problems with high sugar levels in the main crop. High sugars mean high abv, and anything about 8.5% is liable for duty at a high level (the cider effectively becomes classed as 'made wine'). So the early fruit may help temper this a bit.

So, the plan this year? The plan is to produce 2-2500 litres of full juice cider. Plus I have a hope to produce a new product too - although Fruitwise has suffered some setbacks with bugs that have lowered the expected crop levels which may affect this. I have no wish to change this blend which I like (and many others do to, as it is proving!), but if needs must...

As I do have a full time job, and ironically one of the busy periods of the year is during the cider season, I don't expect to get much more time to collect and press apples than last year. Pressing for longer, into November and towards Christmas, is the main answer and should also give the apples more time to ripen properly. Don't believe the 'straight from the orchard to the press' rubbish that some advertisers would have you believe! It may work like that for some 'brands' but to craft a full juice cider, the fruit is left to fully ripen first... some Somerset farmers would say its not ready till some are black!

The other tactic has been to buy a second press. Producing volume on your own is all about optimising time - but the tricky bit is not to cut corners in the process! Using two presses in tandem should deliver 300 litres in a full day of pressing, whereas this was 150 litres last year. The other press is a proper, Goodnature press, which uses a manually operated hydraulic ram. Its still a rack and cloth set up, just like the 'Raypress' and it will press roughly the same amount of pomace too. Once it has finished going through its overhaul, that is!

To go along with the planned increase in production, there are now two 1000 litre IBC's embedded at the back of the Cider Garage. These will help blend and mature the cider in bulk with a lot less moving about.

So, thanks to all those who have spent money on 146 cider - its all going back into making more cider and improving practices! All the best:-)

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Wickham Charity Beer Festival

Ever keen to supply local events and get as many people as possible the chance to taste 146, it will next be available at the Wickham Charity Beer Festival on 11th September 2010. Click here for location and details.

It will be sat alongside New Forest Cider and Hecks Morgan, so not a vast choice (but a good choice!!)

This will be the 5th Festival for 146 - 80 litres of the stuff was consumed last weekend at the Guildford Festival! Don't forget that the Pompey Beerex is on this weekend - I may even have a go behind the cider bar on the Friday Evening:-)