Monday, 27 August 2012

Pete's Pollocks Surrey Cider (GBBF)

So far, so good. That is the comment in my notebook following the first two ciders at the Great British Beer (and Cider) Festival. Its also worth commenting that the venue, Olympia, is a very nice place to be. Sure, I would say in the competition between the Olympics and the GBBF, CAMRA came a very poor second in terms of London's transportation etc. but, once here it's a really good event.

Anyway, all things being good, I come to another new producer. This time its from Surrey... and I am not sure but they may be the first commercial producer in that county?! Well, its handed to me as a straw coloured, hazy cider. It smells nice and fruity. Being straw coloured I am expecting an Eastern style of cider.

OK. Now then. Wow. Ummm. Well, it is a fruity cider (start with a positive eh!). However, it is a fruity cider where that fruit seems to be exclusively cooking apples. This one has a sour acid note running right through it. My first thought? Bramley. In fact, it may even be made from Bramley. The fruitiness does hold during the drink - its almost apple juice. The overwhelming taste though is acid and sourness - crisp and and sharp  over-running anything else that is present.

The aftertaste is much the same and I am glad I only went for a third of a pint!

With Pete's being a new producer, and after spending a few minutes on their website, I can see that they encourage the use donated apples - I suspect that most of these are going to be cookers, as the ubiquitous Bramley can be found in many gardens. Now, you can use Bramley in a cider. In fact you can make an excellent juice from very ripe Bramley. But this isn't very ripe... its sour, which suggests 'September' Bramley (my thinking is that Bramley only reddens up and ripens fully in October/November... i it will stay on the tree that long!). Just because something is there, is cheap and is in abundance doesn't mean it will make great cider (that is why most cider makers politely decline the offer). Try tasting an apple and imagine what its going to be like once all the sugar is gone - in Bramley's case: all acid and nothing else.

Sorry, Pete's Pollocks, but I think it needs a bit of work (although you are quite free to disagree with my comments!)

A score of 59/100 is ,I think, actually generous, but its what it got at the time of drinking.

As a footnote, I tried this with several other people that I met at the cider bar. Whilst the overall expression was what is essentially written above, one person did like the apple juiciness of it. Well, for the first taste she did. Once I had scored it I (roughly) shared it with them and they agreed with it... so I didn't do this on my own!

As a second footnote, I noticed that this cider was high up in the online list for GBBF. What makes it interesting is that it started there and seems to have stayed there. Now, I appreciate that this is a guide and not really for competition purposes but there were some good ciders and perries on - which makes me wonder how this cider stayed so stubbornly near the top (incidentally, if you play with internet settings you can vote many times... might be one to resolve, CAMRA). So, either the public like battery acid sharp ciders, or the list isn't really much of a guide.


  1. Thank you for your honesty, we both agree with your summary of our cider. To be honest we were not 100% happy with the finished product. But we have taken all the comments and feedback on board and we will be making some changes to the process and I hope you will be able to re assess us next year.
    Happy drinking

  2. Thanks for the response - I hate being critical of people starting out and its clear that you want the product to reflect your desire to produce a good cider!

    I certainly will try it again next year if I can find it - though seriously try to use less than 10% Bramley.

    I wish you all the best with your cider - one thought would be to get on to the Cider Workshop Google forum; its an excellent place for pointers and no question seems to be too daft for them!!!

    All the best