Wednesday 18 April 2012

Ready, Steady...

So its nearly time to start selling cider once again. And I guess its that moment to formally let people know what is in the 146 Cider arsenal this year. Having spent some time racking and bottling (and tasting) the ciders I am happy that all of them are good enough to release - and I am personally very, very pleased with one or two of them.

As a first, I am also gearing up (girding my loins, you might say) to sell Wild West as a medium dry. I know, its not a big step from dry but it is currently all I am prepared to do. To do this I intend to sweeten with sucralose. OK, its an artificial sweetener but I have spent quite a long time procrastinating and investigating what the best method is. Sure, sugar and apple juice are 'more' natural - but the pay off is that you then have to pasteurise to stabilise (and both affect the taste more than you might believe)... Have you ever tried a Westons that tasted of apple juice? Then you will understand the problem.

Aspartame and Saccharin are the other options. These are both much better established. However, they leave a taste and, in the case of aspartame, are not sufficiently stable for my liking. Sucralose is used in sugar free pop drinks and is the main agent in 'splenda'. It is stable and it doesn't compromise the flavour of the cider too much. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to sweetening. Well, there is - get the cider to stop earlier. However, this is much easier said than done without the use of champagne bottles or (again) pasteurisation.

Anyway. Here is the line up for 2012:

The 146 Cider Co. bottled cider range for 2012

Hampshire Heritage – Dry – 7%

The original 146 Cider, this is a blend of 50% desert and 50% cider apples sourced from the Fruitwise Heritage Orchards in Southampton. It has a good tannin and a mild acid this year as I have ceased using Bramley as a sharp. I think it is the best Heritage blend I have produced.
Wild West – Dry or Medium Dry – 6.8%

A western style of cider made from 100% cider fruit (this years coming from Dorset and Somerset). I have increased the amount of bittersharps for this year which means I don’t have to use Bramley to balance it. As a result there is a very good dose of fruity tannin and an underlying acid that doesn’t interfere.
For the first time, I am prepared to offer this as a medium dry cider. No, it doesn’t mean I will sweeten everything, but the tannin in Wild West bears some sweetening without compromising its taste. Any sweetening will be done using ‘Sucralose’ – a non fermentable artificial sweetener which is far less intrusive than aspartame and does not require pasteurisation (as would be needed using sugar or apple juice).
Eastern Delight – Dry – 7.1%

This was the trial of the 2010 season and is now a full part of the 146 Cider line up. Made from 100% quality desert apples sourced from Fruitwise and Hill Farm (both Hampshire Orchards), Eastern Delight is a proper eastern counties cider. By only using desert apples with character (such as Orleans Reinette and several forms of Russet) this cider has a flavour as well as acid. No Bramleys were harmed in its production, which has balanced the flavour better than the trial.

‘Batch '#15’ – Dry – 6.7% – limited to 100 x 500ml bottles only

This is a blend of three varieties of apple, Blenheim Orange, Harry Masters Jersey and Taylors Gold. It was a single pressing where the juice tasted outstanding and was kept back for competition entry. It is similar to Wild West in style, although with more acid notes, and it has a different character to Hampshire Heritage (which has over 25 varieties of apple as opposed to 3). Because Hampshire Heritage is going to be used for some competitions, this can be released on a very limited basis as it contains a different character to the other three ciders.

The three main blends are already ordered for several festivals (I will update the events page of the website and keep the blog up to date regularly). The bottles will start to be delivered early in May... with Batch #15 following once matured fully.

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