Wychelm Cider Visit
Did you know that we have not just one, but two real cider producers in Stourbridge? The first, David Millward with his ‘Wrongbow’ is already well known as it is an award winner not just at Stourbridge Beer Festival, but further afield as well.
The second is ‘Wychelm’ which is crafted from a secret location in the grounds of Stourbridge FC by passionate cider-maker Nigel Bunn. He kindly extended an invite to our Stourbridge & Halesowen CAMRA’s Cider Co-ordinator to watch him producing his nectar on a Saturday morning. This invitation was gladly and willingly accepted on a damp and miserable October day.
Cider makers will employ different assets and equipment during cider production dependent on their size. Firstly the apples have to be washed and ‘scratted’, which is pretty much mashing the whole apples into a pulp. This pulp is then pressed to release the lovely apple juice that will go on to be fermented into cider. Some may use a hydraulic press and some may use a manual press operated by hand, however Nigel’s method is to compress using water pressure. We were very kindly given some samples to try which were excellent!
Nigel’s main outlet in the area is The Waggon and Horses, Worcester Street, Stourbridge which usually stocks his ‘Vintage’ variety.
You may hear ‘ciderists’ within CAMRA talking about REAL cider, so what exactly is it? To find out more visit http://www.camra.org.uk/about-cider-perry and read up as there is too much detail to be covered in one short article.
To many people though, a real cider is one that is served still or ‘flat’, either by a handpull or from a ‘bag-in-box’. This is quite a generic description but not entirely accurate, but in reality anything from a handpull may be better than the usual fizzy keg varieties. If cider is made from apple concentrate, then it is not real cider. At CAMRA we demand a higher quality product than that. Fruit flavoured ciders may be a great way of introducing new people to cider, and can be a great summer drink, but a great many people believe that real cider should contain only apples. The fruit or fruit-flavoured drinks are often a good starting point for non-cider drinkers, but to my mind, if a pub is going to try stocking a single real cider or perry, a medium of between 4% and 6% is even better. Having said that, it is a good sign that people are starting to broaden their cider horizons, whether they fit into CAMRA’s definitions or not.
CAMRA’s main months for celebrating Cider and Perry are May and October, recently CAMRA has chosen to focus on October, probably to avoid a clash with ‘Mild in May’ as you could argue that two drinks couldn’t be more different! Another reason for this is to coincide with the apple harvest, and the actual production of Cider and Perry. Let us not forget Perry! Perry is made from pressed pears in the same way that cider is made from apples.
Fast forward to mid-March 2017 and Wychelm’s ‘Katy’ cider variety was freshly available at the Waggon and Horses so no extra incentive was needed to pop in and try it. What a fantastic cider, with a really strong apple flavour so it definitely gets our co-ordinator's seal of approval.
Look out for your nearest 'real cider' pub by consulting your CAMRA 'Good Beer Guide' or 'Whatpub.com' and look for the apple symbol.
It was with great pleasure that in early July we presented the certificate for Cider of the Stourbridge Beer Festival 2016 to David Millward for Wrongbow. It was the first time that I had met with David at his home where he produces Wrongbow in his garage and it is clear to see his enthusiasm and passion for his work. It is the second year in a row that David has won the award and he will soon be starting on production for next year’s batch. October is the second month that us CAMRA members celebrate cider, while the producers are out in the orchards collecting the apples we are in the pubs drinking their cider. David has a few trees in his garden and a donation of extra apples from a relative that he uses to create the wonderfully named Wrongbow. As a branch we are extremely proud to have David in our area, he is such a creative (he built his own apple press!) and supportive producer. Wrongbow has also won a much coveted second prize at the Hereford Cider Museum Cider and Perry competition of 2016. We are all eagerly awaiting to see how next year’s batch turns out.
Unfortunately the winner of Perry of the festival – Waulkmill’s Mooseheid is just too far away to be delivered by hand so we left it to the good old Royal Mail to deliver this one for us. Since our festival in April, Waulkmill are experiencing what can only be called an explosion in interest in their fine cider and perry collection, even sending some over to a festival in Copenhagen!
Our annual family camping holiday this year introduced us to two producers that we have not come across before and both are well worth keeping an eye out for. It just happened that the campsite we booked outside of Paignton has a well-established orchard supplying a local producer called Yarde. We couldn’t have planned it better (it really was by pure luck!) to have one cider producer less than a mile away from our tent but it turned out the second, called Hunts, was not much further. The Yarde cider has a very clean crisp taste. It was nice to have a chat to Paul about how he produces his cider solely from the local apples on the campsite. We were so impressed we ordered a box to bring back home with us. The Hunts we found to be much drier in taste but just as clear in colour and as refreshing as the Yarde. One thing is for certain all the cider producers we have met so far have been extremely friendly and enthusiastic.