Friday 4 May 2012

Cider 101 - "The beer moment"

I kind of follow Pete Brown's beer blog. Not obsessively, I just like the way he writes about beer. I also envy him a little. I have restricted my scribblings to cover cider reviews and pretty much nothing else . Which is why his turn at the beer bloggers 'The session' is a little tempting for me. The session is an opportunity to write about a given subject, set in turn by various beer bloggers. And this month, he is asking what 'the beer moment' means to beer bloggers.

Given that CAMRA's attitude towards cider is that their approach is covered under the simple term 'real ale' (and, judging by recent campaigns and writings real ale = 'Beer') I guess I am sort of entitled to join in. No, I don't agree with that approach - to me its silly and demeaning of the 'Golden Fire' (to steal from their previous 'What's Brewing' editors latest book - which is, from what I have heard, a very good read and all about cider). Cider currently sits in a precarious position taxation wise - brewers get clobbered and, for some, cider could be taxed more. Don't forget though that when the duty escalator put 5% on beer, it also put 5% on cider too... we are all in this together and I hope that CAMRA and SIBA don't forget this truth.

So, Pete. Sorry if I am jumping on board a train without the necessary ticket, but if we are going to merge cider in with beer then I can say something. I like the title too, although please allow me to rewrite it a little to my own taste.

The Beer Cider Moment.

I have tried some 170-180 ciders over the last year. Many have been drunk on my own in front of the computer or with a pad and pen in  hand. To be honest, sometimes it's a task; something that I enjoy doing but the one thing can be squeezed out for the sake of being fair to cidermakers and their hard pressed wares (nice pun!) is the cider moment. More and more these days, I will consume just a single bottle in an evening. Expanding waistline and desire to avoid alcohol abuse kind of dictates this, but it started as a way of respecting and enjoying a drink beyond simply alcohol or to get a task done,

So, what is the cider moment for me? Well, I am usually lucky to have several ciders to choose from, all sat on their own shelf in my pantry, all placed into order of purchase (OK, I think that is more wishful thinking than anything OCD). The choice is most definitely the first 'beer moment' for me - sometimes I allow myself the choice of the best on the shelf. Some I have no idea whether they will be good or bad. Others I anticipate will be mediocre and yet they have to take a turn...

And then there are those yet to be photographed for the blog. These sit separately from the others - not to be touched until I have taken care of getting them 'ready' (OK, that makes me sound more obsessive than I am, but I didn't want overuse the word 'photograph'!) On the odd occasion, when I am desperate for something I know to be really good I might cheat the order a little... even taking a photo on my phone to 'speed up the process'. Ha, now I definitely sound sad!

I have a few cider glasses that I like to use too. A lovely Aspalls 'chalice' and a couple of half pint beer festival glasses are my favourite. This is only because they don't tend to go through the dishwasher but are washed by hand (I have a very crap dishwasher that leaves everything tasting of salt!) And then its into 'my' space... which actually can be just about anywhere - even with the family, although they know now to leave me to my madness for half an hour.

Cider is a very honest drink. With a little practice, its not hard to read a cider as its being poured. Has it been annihilated by filtering? Are there more bubbles than cider? What colour is it? Can I smell anything? The anticipation of something new is great - as someone who makes cider, all sorts of technical questions fill my head. Beyond this, as a cider drinker, its both a discovery and (sometimes) a revelation. Take the Tremletts Bitter SV cider - I use Tremletts a lot. Its a great addition to weaker early varieties of apple. But as a cider?! I have eaten Tremletts - sometimes I can get it down but more often than not its too tannic. A bit like easting a Bramleys is for acid. However this cider, whilst no doubt adjusted, was delicious.

Sometimes 500ml just isn't enough. Sometimes its far too much! But I have to say this about cider - perhaps something CAMRA has missed in its desire to follow the big brewing organisations into campaigning - every cider has a different personality. And that's the beer moment.


The label 'Cider101' is my excuse to let off steam about things without turning this blog into a political mouthpiece. Saying that, I do think I ought to keep to reviewing as that is far more fun than spouting off about other stuff!

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