Tuesday 28 December 2010

Ending 2010...

Happy Christmas (belated) and a peaceful New Year to all those who read this blog.

I am sorry to say that apart from any 146 Cider left at the regular outlets, the 2009 season’s cider is now done and dusted. However, do not panic or fear. Supplying cider throughout the year is a problem that better cider makers than I have to deal with, although I only have to think about a couple of pubs and retailers.

The issue is made easier for me by the spacing of the two remaining festivals – the Gosport Winterfest, run by South East Hants CAMRA is on for February 25-26. On March 25-26, the Winchester Beer & Cider Festival is being run by South Hants CAMRA. There ought to be enough to last these two events, but once it’s gone, I cannot supply more. More information will be posted closer to the time; I have been asked to help out and ‘be there’ at Winchester for a session if you’d like to meet me, offer any advice or just try the cider and say ‘hi’.

So there is always something to look forward to... and 2010 seasons cider will be ready by May! A proviso though: if the new cider is rubbish, it won’t be going anywhere!!

The 2010 pressing season itself is all but over now; I am hoping to collect a few more very late quality desert apples but the bulk of the pressing is done. Sad man that I am, I can confirm that I have pressed 3.4 tons of apples of varying sorts (I will post up the varieties and percentages at some point closer to launch as a part of the attempt to be transparent in what I offer.

In all there should (hopefully) be over 2000 litres for 2011 – though not all the traditional ‘146 Cider’. In fact, 146 Cider is changing a little for 2011. No, not the cider itself - the blend used is the same as the 2009 season! However, it would seem that the name itself is a bit confusing (I hadn’t considered that calling the cider ‘146 Cider’ AND the company ‘146 Cider’ would be less than simple!). Also, the supply of, and varieties of apple available to me have allowed 146 to push on with plans to produce the three different styles of cider that I aim to offer as a business. So...

As of 2011, 146 Cider will become ‘146 Cider Company’ (did I hear someone yawn?), and the main blend ‘146 Cider’ (which I would describe as a ‘Hampshire’ style – 50% cider and 50% desert/culinary) will become ‘Hampshire Heritage Cider’ for 2011. That’s all that’s changing... honest! There will be about 400 litres more than this year, so it ought to go further?!

In addition to this, 146 is launching two new blends:

‘146 Western’ is (go on, guess) a West Country style of cider – 90% cider fruit. Its gonna be dryer and more tannic than Hampshire Heritage, but as it has a base of 10% sharp, acidic apples, I suspect it’s going to come out more Somerset than, say, Devon or Herefordshire.

‘146 Eastern’ is the one I didn’t expect to make until next year, but with Fruitwise having some market quality desert fruit going spare it seemed the ideal time to start. This is a blend made up of 100% quality heritage desert varieties of apple – no cider fruit, no sharps. Its proving to be the hardest to start fermenting, and (at the moment) there is only 120 litres of it. So its probably going to be a ‘festival special’ for 2011. Who knows though, if more fruit becomes ‘spare’ for Fruitwise, then there may be a little more to go around.

Talking of fermentations, everything is going well (albeit very slowly in this cold weather). Very little ‘fluff’ to skim off the top, although the pectin cap has been absent totally this year – we shall see what difference this makes to the finished product. I suspect it may be a little dryer in the mouth than last year (although I have resisted temptation to artificially sweeten... and shall continue to for now, thank you very much). By the way, the image above demonstrates an important aspect of planning a cider house, shed or garage - make sure there are more than two electrical sockets! I was using two pumps here, and had to use the lamp instead of the main light in order to do so!!

The final thing to report is that 146 Cider has finally been presented with its 'Cider of the Festival' for the 2010 Southampton Beer Festival. Yeah, done to death I know, but its my first award, so here it is:
Happy New Year to all... see you in 2011:-)