With Christmas approaching, we’re booking our festive shows by the day. We’re finding there’s a definite rhythm to the ‘retail’ side of the business, with the run-up to Christmas starting straight after Halloween. It might seem like the Christmas fuss is getting earlier and earlier, but there are about seven weeks during this period to promote and sell for the big holiday. We’re not quite decking the halls yet, but we’re going to have to start pretty soon. We sell a lot of three-bottle gift packs for Christmas, and a good deal of Special Reserve cases, as well as our aromatic mulled cider at markets and Christmas fairs. If you’d like a classic recipe for mulled cider, take a look at our previous blog post here and brew up a warm spicy batch as the weather cools.
Very English Keeved Royale
As well as making cider, we’re amateur booze makers, and usually have a few bottles of homemade jollop in the scullery to break out when necessary (yes, we do have a scullery!). Our friends Nick and Rich aka the Two Thirsty Gardeners have just published their first book about the hobby that’s gradually taking over their lives – and it’s fantastic.
Brew it Yourself is full of great recipes to make your own brews, plus how to create liqueurs, cocktails and soft drinks from garden and hedgerow bounty.
Our eye was immediately drawn to the cider section, and in particular the Rosehip Cider that sounded especially enticing. Having a bushful of rosehips in the garden, we decided to give it a try. The result was a bottle of amber liquid with a fragrant, almost toffee-like flavour. Nick and Rich suggest using 500ml/17fl oz glass of dry cider to serve, but as we are leading into a period of good cheer we made ours to go with a glass of well-chilled Worley’s Special Reserve, for a very English Keeved Royale. We used slightly less sugar than called for in the recipe above – 250g instead of 300g. The Special Reserve is a medium sweetness, so the Royale isn’t too sweet. If you can’t get hold of rosehips, Nick & Rich suggest trying blackberries, elderberries, strawberries or raspberries.
With kind permission, the ‘Gardeners have let us publish their recipe…
For the rosehip syrup:
500g/18oz rosehips, roughly chopped300g/10.5oz sugar
1. To make the Rosehip Syrup, mash up your hips using a pestle and mortar or something similar, then put in a saucepan with 600ml/21fl oz water. 2. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 mins. 3. Remove from the heat, then strain through a muslin cloth into a saucepan, leaving the pulp to sit and drain for around 30 minutes. 4. Strain again through a clean muslin cloth. This is to ensure that no irritating rosehip hairs make their way into the final syrup. 5. Add to a pan with the sugar, then heat slowly, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. 6. Continue to boil for 3-5 mins, skimming off any scum that rises with a wooden spoon. 7. Pour into sterilised bottles when cool and store in the fridge. 8. Chill the cider in the fridge then add the syrup to the cider giving it a gentle stir.
Find Brew it Yourself here. It’s a great stocking filler this Christmas for any boozy gardener, whatever their tipple.
Still pressing apples, but we’ve had a week’s break mid-season to recover. This isn’t because we’re taking it easy, it just happens that we’re not using much mid-season fruit this year. At the end of last week, Neil and helper Dave deep-cleaned the yard and pressing shed so we’re ready for action as soon as the next apple load is ready. The fruit we use is harvested at its peak ripeness, so we get pressing as soon as a load is delivered. If we don’t, it’s prone to going over very rapidly, so speed is of the essence. Being a craft producer, we can select our fruit carefully and are flexible enough to take a week out if the apples aren’t quite ready. A lull in the pressing process means catching up on other tasks, such as tractor servicing and trailer mending. We bought this Massey Ferguson a few years ago and it’s proved to be one of the most valuable assets we have. It moves IBCs, apples, pallets of bottles, pressing equipment, and the odd child. It’s small and nimble enough to be able to manoeuvre around our small yard, but strong enough to cope with most tasks.
A Welcome visit
In 2013 we started exporting to the States. The interest in real cider over there is gaining momentum and a cider revolution is well underway. It was lovely to get a call recently from Michael Spix, an American chap who was visiting Frome for a wedding, asking if he could call in and visit us. It turns out he works for Whole Foods Market in Seattle, a chain of stores stocking bottles of Worley’s Cider, so he knew the product well. Neil spent a happy hour with Michael and his travelling companion Christine before they continued on their travels. Thanks for taking the time to visit folks, we really enjoyed meeting you.
If you’re looking for special Christmas presents this year, why not give the gift of cider? Please visit our webshop for our range, we sell our branded giftpacks (flatpacked) – they make great presents for awkward buggers. You can also choose ‘party’ boxes of 20-litres, cases of 50cl bottles or 75cl Special Reserve.
See you next time.