Given the name of this blog, I really do have to pay homage to my favourite alcoholic drinks, cider and perry. And of course I don’t mean those tasteless fizzy things that wouldn’t know an apple or pear if they bumped into each other. I mean the real thing, made with proper cider apples and perry pears. Eating varieties are used sometimes, but they’re just not as nice (in my humble opinion). There’s wonderful variety if you know where to look for it – take, for example, the beer festival at The Hoop in Stock, Essex, where I was whiling away part of the bank holiday weekend.
There’s always a good range of ciders and perries at their annual festival. The only shame this time was as it was the first day and there weren’t very many cider drinkers in, there wasn’t a barrel change while we were there to offer even more choice. There were some tried and tested producers on show and some new ones to me. I rather liked the Shaky Bridge from Sandfords (Devon) and Biddenden’s Bushell (Kent). I could have done with some sweets though, as I’ll always head for that end of the taste spectrum – never dry, let alone very dry (I also tend to prefer still over sparkling, but there are exceptions). An interesting comparison came a couple of days later when I had a bottle of Shaky Bridge. I liked it, but not as much as the draught. It just goes to show what a difference there can be between the two.
Unfortunately, when we were there they didn’t have any from Gwynt y Ddraig or Gwatkin on yet. The former is a bit of a mixed bag for me, some I like some I don’t, so it would have been good to try some more. And they have great names like the delicious Dog Dancer and the still to be tried Haymaker, Happy Daze and Fiery Fox. Gwatkin seems to be the one that suits me best, as I’ve really enjoyed nearly all the ones I’ve tried (a fair few!), particularly the Norman and Stoke Red ciders.
Obviously I wouldn’t go as far as to name favourites, but definitely amongst the top ones are the Gwatkin Farmhouse Perry and Weston’s Herefordshire Perry. Smooth, fruity and always drunk to be savoured, not just to satisfy a fancy for something alcoholic. I even resist drinking them when I have them in – because once it’s gone it’s gone. Silly really because I’m still missing out either way! But they’re tricky to find up here so I want to make the most of them when I can. Beats a bottle of lager any day.