This Friday May 1st 6pm 2020. Talking & Tasting with James Lowe of Lyles fame.

James will be in conversation with
the cidermaker Tom Oliver

@finecider has been as creative as ever. Not quite XTC but certainly with Sense Working Overtime, Felix has seized the initiative during this Covid19 situation and re-orientated Fine Cider to open up retail as well as wholesale options including delivery, on line expansion and more choice with as few as 3 bottles to multi pallets available.

To support this fresh vision, Fine Cider created “6 at 6”, which quickly became “8 at 6”, featuring some of his wonderful chefs, sommeliers and customers talking to his collective of cidermakers that he represents, on Instagram Live.

This Friday May 1st sees the highly acclaimed and remarkable chef James Lowe, creator of Lyle’s (one of 2 restaurants in the UK currently on the World’s 50 best restaurants list) & Flor – two of London’s most captivating restaurants – talking & tasting with me, Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider & Perry, out in Ocle Pychard, Herefordshire on Instagram Live.

You can watch live & enjoy ciders with us, learning about where they come from, how they are made and gain a rare insight into the makers world. Plus 75p from every bottle sold will go to charity, supporting wonderful restaurants that are cooking for NHS staff & the homeless during the current crisis. The cider choice contains 1 bottle of Blakeney Red Perry, 1 of Bottle Conditioned Medium Dry Cider and 1 of The Mayflower #3.

To receive this selection before the tasting, be sure to order it before midnight on Wednesday the 29th April, and then (providing there are no issues with the courier) it will reach you in time!

Thx for pix to @fine_cider, @oliviaestebanez, @cider_greg.

If ordering after this time, you can enjoy your bottles with fine food as if you were actually at Lyles.


My favourite ever lunch at Lyles with Mary Topp from The London Cider House.
Oysters and Yarlington Mill for Lunch @ Lyles with thanks to Greg Hall @VirtueCider in the USA.

And so it goes

The last time I wrote anything in this blog was in 2016!  Of course when this website went up I was going to contribute every month. Clearly that has proved completely unrealistic but maybe I will start from today again with renewed determination.

The intervening 3 years have not been idle ones and to try and catch up with everything in one blog would be impossible. Suffice to say that as of Tuesday May 16th 2019 cider’s journey continues at an ever increasing pace and with continued rise in sales and interest for whatever you might term the cider that we make, #rethinkcider has been born. CiderCon in the USA continues to impress and develop. A wonderful piece from Olivia Maki in Malus, a USA cider fanzine, has reminded us all that we must take care with the language we use and so the use of the word “heritage” is now so tarnished that alternatives must be found. Malus has inspired the arrival of Graftwood and Full Juice in the UK. Cider in print, surely another sign of the increasing interest in cider and it’s terroir, this agricultural product is taking orchardists, makers, blenders, chefs, bar tenders, sommeliers, merchants and distributors on a journey of discovery. In the wake of this revolution comes the consumer, with their mis conceptions about cider fuelled by inappropriate marketing over the years. We must be and are engaged in a long term discussion about cider which at it’s best is the perfect drink to pair with food at the table and at it’s widest point, the most interesting and satisfying of all long drinks.

Currently on tour with The Proclaimers, I bumped into Stu McKinlay of the Yeastie Boys in Wellington airport on Monday and that prompted me because he featured in my last blog, savouring and blending the delights of tannic vintage cider back in January 2016.

Last night being Wednesday May 15th 2019 in the UK and Thursday May 16th in Brisbane, Australia where I am today, I got a phone call from the Ciderologist, chair of the judges, to say that Oliver’s had won The Champion Cidermaker’s Cup at The Museum of Cider in Hereford’s Annual International Competition. Always pleased for everyone associated with Oliver’s with results like this but we relish this competition especially because every entry is a cider that can be bought in our shop. Albeit a few need labelling and the Dry “Writers” Perry needs bottling. No smoke and mirrors just cider and perry that you can buy everyday on line or in our shop or from the esteemed merchant of cider Felix Nash or Alice at The Real Al Company.

Cards on the barrel.

Rosettes and Cup









Coming up in a few weeks time is the Cider Salon #2 in Bristol on June 8th with many associated fringe events. Have a look at what is on offer and come and join some of the more impassioned cider makers from around the world who give up so much of their time and put so much energy into this intoxicating drink, born of  the land and made from apples.

Oliver’s have the pleasure of celebrating the Salon with my great friend and wonderful cider maker Ryan Burk from The Angry Orchard Innovation Ciderhouse in Walden, New York with dinners in Bristol on Saturday night June 8th and up in Hereford on Sunday June 9th.


Vintage 2015 – a dry, still cider

Back when it was still very cold and we had not started lambing, so that must mean Thursday January 28th 2017, we gathered together in the room for tasting at Oliver’s Cider and Perry in Ocle Pychard, a motley team of blenders. Bought together to share the joy of putting a new Vintage cider together and also to see if our individual approach to blending chimed with others and to see just how it impacted the cider.

A couple of years ago Jen and Glen at Hop, Burns and Black introduced me to Stu McKinlay of the Yeastie Boys . We discovered over the next few years that we had a few things in common. We had both been at a Proclaimers show in Auckland when Stu was much younger and he also declared an earnest desire for a good tongue lashing by the tannins in our Vintage Dry Cider.

Already in house we had the combined talents of gamer and assistant cidermaker Yarys Kuzela and assistant cider maker and metal man Dave Yates.

More recent arrivals in Herefordshire have been James and Susanna Forbes, who unknown to them, fell in love with one of the best young vintage cider apple orchards i know and proceeded to buy it and make cider there, Feat of Clay, is Little Pomona’s Cidery first cider and wonderfully dry and crisp and tannic, a delight. Susanna joined us with a much travelled and fine palate.

Another returnee to Herefordshire is the much travelled and multi faceted Herefordian,  Jonny Bright, touching on tour management, brewing, BrewDog and bars galore. Back in the shire and turning the dial up on beer and cider options to 11 , Jonny and Amelie have opened the Hereford Beer House . Never one to hold back, Jonny invited himself onto Team Blend and it was a pleasure to have him on board.

Finally we had the wonderful palate and presence of Polly from Find & Foster in Devon. Her pet nat and bottle fermented ciders are wonderful, we need more and really hope she gets to make more as time unfolds.

We had never had a such a varied, mixed team of palates and experiences to blend together. We started with a bottle of the previous vintage to give everyone an idea of where we were headed. Then it was time to wade through the best of bittersharp and bittersweet barrels of cider from 2015. I had previously narrowed the 120 barrels down to 18 that were all in with a shout. We then tasted all 18 and had to pick 12 with 2 in reserve. Strangely but pleasingly we all agreed on 8 of the 12 with ease. It was the final 4 that caused much debate and discussion about how each barrel might impact the overall mix. In the end 12 were selected and racked off into a tank, left to sit and settle for a couple of weeks, then bottled.

The Vintage 2015 Dry Still Cider emerged some 2 months later and we launched it a few weeks ago at Jonny and Amelie’s Hereford Beer House at an all day event. The place was rammed from noon till 9pm closing, a great celebration of cider.

The cider itself is true to the Oliver’s Vintage series. I feel it has more acidity than usual and i am sure that is down to the team. It really has an identity of it’s own.

I think we all really enjoyed the experience and the resulting cider is everything we wanted it to be. Wassail Team Blend and thank you.


Protected Food Names Post Brexit


PFN are of great importance to cider makers as well as cheese, pork pie, clotted cream makers etc. Protected Geographical Indication for Hereford Cider and Hereford Perry have been in place for many years and is enforced and audited by Trading Standards under the administration of DEFRA but based on European legislation.

It covers 2 main areas as regards Gloucestershire, Herefordshire or Worcestershire cider and perry.

  1. PGI provides an assurance of the place/terroir and quality of the cider/perry.
  2. PGI stops any fraudulent/imitation ciders being marketed as , for instance, Hereford Cider which for example without PGI, a Herefordshire cider could be made, labelled and sold made from imported  concentrate with a 35% apple content that might be Chinese grown dessert apple.

Below is how the PFN Association read the situation.

“Following the Referendum decision to leave the EU one might be very concerned as to what happens to Protected Food Name status for UK products registered under the EU scheme.

A country does not have to be a member of the EU to have its products protected within the EU. Colombia is an example where though clearly not a member of the EU, its coffee Colombian Coffee has PFN status within the EU. This arrangement must be reciprocal though.

It is our understanding that PFN products having been approved by the EU will continue to have protection within the reduced EU.

However if EU law in future no longer applies to the UK, PFN would lose their protection within the UK, something the UK Government could remedy by passing similar legislation in the UK.

As one understands it, the treaties that regulate the UK’s membership of the EU give a timescale of around two years for formal exit of the EU and so it is likely protection would continue till at least then giving our Government time to introduce PFN legislation.

At the EU’s insistence, Defra were already drafting a Statutory Instrument for the enforcement and monitoring of PFN’s in the UK which should have been ready sometime this year.  It is possible that with amendment this could be the vehicle to have legislation to protect PFN’s within the UK.

Our advice is for PFN members to lobby their MP with their concerns and to request that the question of maintaining PFN protection for our products be a priority for the Government in the months to come.

The PFN Association have written to Defra asking for their clarification as well”.

Concern will be, that given the monumental tasks facing the yet to be found prime minister and government and the whole agricultural subsidy situation being up in the air that Protected Food Names will not be a priority. It is therefore incumbent on those who value this designation to lobby their MP and DEFRA.

Don’t Look for the E.U. Label · Handelsblatt Global Edition


#CiderCon2016 Report back

Phew, is all i can say. A whirlwind 9 day excursion to Portland, OR for CiderCon16 that left me gasping for air and hoarse.

“The most pleasurable, informative and exhilarating week I have spent around cider”.

The USACM (The United States Association of Cider Makers) engaged Bill Bradshaw (The Worlds Best Ciders and The Enthusiast’s Manual) to curate a finale under the guise of “British Cider Traditions”. Bill needed 3 cidermakers from the “craft” world of cidermaking, that covered the regions and had distribution in the US. Oh and they had also better be happy standing up in front of the entire cider making fraternity of the USA while tasting their ciders.

Barny Butterfield of Sandford Orchards in Devon, Neil Worley of Worley’s Cider in Somerset and myself fitted the Bill.

Held in Portland, OR, which just so happens to be the cider capital of the USA as well as being just plain “Weird” was the perfect place for this the 6th CiderCon. Over 1000 people from all over were honed in on what was a week of talks, seminars, tastings, with many many more extra curricular events at night. It was a truly energising event, for people who had cider running through their veins. Orchardists, Cidermakers, Cider Sellers, Cider Distributors, Cider Importers, Cider writers, Cider Bloggers and all focused on getting as much out of the week as possible.

I touched down in Portland PDX  to meet up with my good friend and fellow cider maker from Angry Orchard,  Ryan Burk in arrivals. We shared a taxi to the Hilton and headed straight for the bar and i guess never stopped talking till we left 7 days later, Ryan heading back to the Angry’s superb new facility in the Hudson Valley in upstate NY and me for Ocle Pychard in England and lambing.

We collaborate (with Greg Hall of Virtue Cider, Michigan) on an annual basis with “Gold Rush” our twice fermented cider homage to lambic ferments. The 2016 #4 is the best yet. So drinkable but massive tannins and a good dose of what is unaffectionately known as “band aid” in the US. The true expression of bittersweet phenolics that is just a tough ask for those not familiar with true cider apples and wild yeasts.

Monday dawns after a good but short sleep and it is time for a walk down town and a shot at one of Portland’s famed food trucks. I was after brunch but opted for Anna’s Thai in the end. Then an Earl Grey Tea in Starbucks, i was ready. Back to the hotel to finish off my Perry Presentation and download it to the CiderCon website.  Then over to the Ballroom, register and meet up with Bill and talk tactics for the tasting. Already i could tell the voice was going to take a hammering. So many people, all wanting to talk about cider and everything under the sun and  then Moira “the oh so acceptable face of Newton Court Cider” and Anna from Pixley Berries roar into the bar, 2 more cider refugees from Herefordshire, the volume increases dramatically! With Bill at the bar Alan Shapiro from Cider Summit, our old friends David White and Heather Ringwood from Whitewood Cider and Philippe Bishop from AlpenFire (who gave me one of the best bottles of cider i have ever tasted, the second one he so kindly gave me to take home, i smashed, that means a visit to Port Townsend is a must, next time through!). A trip out to fine dine with Mr Burk and then back to the bar.

Tuesday dawned with 3 organised trips visiting cideries around Portland or Willamette Valley or Hood River. I had opted to do my own tour round Portland, as i wanted to go and meet the Rev Nat West maker of some excellent, beautifully balanced  ciders, full of the the most exotic and unique ingredients. He has a store of 10 year old Oliver’s Cider and we are having an evening tasting on wednesday night to see if they have stood the test of time! At Nat West’s Taproom the Hereford Posse met up with The Angry Orchard Team and headed out to Cider Bite where we got to meet the enchanting  Meredith Collins and then our old friend Greg Hall and the current Virtue gang. The day rounded off with the NWCA Tap Takeover at The Green Dragon. Some great ciders on display including EZ Orchards, Whitewood Cider and AlpenFire Cider and my first meeting with the gregarious and so hospitable “Ladies in Cider” Pomme Boots . PommeBoots

Wednesday dawned with a breakfast meeting from 7.20am and we were off again. Meetings, an interview with beautifully voiced and cider devotee Ria from CiderChat , USACM business meeting and then it was the opening salvo and Bill Bradshaw‘s visual treat at OMSI to get CiderCon well and truly under way. Bill’s presentations  are always a joy and he immersed us all in the sights, sounds and smells of cider with skillfull imagery.

From there Nat West took me up to his taproom for our night of truth. Can a lightly sulphited sterile filtered cider still be drinkable 10 years on? The answer was about to be revealed……but not in private, along with hundreds of others in a very public advertised event. On hand was author and beer expert Jeff Alworth who had visited us for inclusion in his great book “Cider made Simple”. In a one out, one in packed room the verdict was ……….. yes, it was and still is very drinkable, some cider! Thanks Rev Nat, Jim, Gemma and Garrett.

Thursday already and my perry presentation in front of a packed, standing room only crowd who for the most part had probably never tasted perry made solely with perry pears before. The difficulty for me was always going to be keeping the talk within the allotted time. PERRY with Tom Oliver-30 . This was a great experience for me and i think for all who attended. We had bought our Herefordshire bottle conditioned Perry and our Classic Perry to book end the experience. and Kristen from SeaCider  wants to make more perry. Great dinner at Clyde Common (the charcuterie board was excellent) followed with Eric West and my Portland assistant Emily Ritchie who took great care of me all week, along with the Hereford Posse.

Friday and the finale beckoned, described as a Taste of English Cider, it was a magnificent celebration of cider on both sides of the Atlantic. The UK with it’s traditions and heritage and it’s myriad of bittersweet cider apples meeting the force and energy of the youthful re-emerging US and Canadian cider industry, fueled by constantly evolving ciders with a myriad of ingredients and the no shame in failure approach that allows innovation to explode. We all had a ball in the ballroom and it was probably an appropriate pressure release valve after a week of excellent and informative presentations and Meredith blogging as Along Came Cider says .


So far i have managed to gloss over one of the main reasons for CiderCon, the talks, lectures and seminars. A great selection of many topics, it was always a hard choice to decide what to see but i really benefitted from attending Distributor Views on Cider in 2016, Pasteurization Techniques, Building a Cider Business in Devon, Analytical Approaches to Hard Cider Production, Social Media for Cideries, Going Wild and Cheese & Cider Pairings.

Friday night was The Skimmity Hitchers at Cider Riot’s new premises. I had helped sponsor the Skimiity’s coming to the USA (how could i not after Albert Rixen had spent the previous year telling me how brilliant they are) but the real credit must go to Abram, who took on a herculean task and made it all work. I take my hat off to you.  A superb way to finish the week. Cider fueled scrumpy and western . I also got to meet Alan Foster of White Oak Cider again, the grandaddy of bittersweet cidermakers in Portland, who i had last met in Turin at Salone del Gusto in 2004. A great night made all the more fun by Kristen and Erin from Cidercraft magazine, Jorgon Gorgon and Erin, frequent visitors to our ciderhouse in Ocle Pychard and everyone else involved .

Saturday was the USACM inaugural Cider Certification program which will be developed and will provide a vitally needed tool to inform everyone involved with cider. Facts are so useful especially when linked with Sensory Analysis. Eric West lead a very talented team, not least it allowed me to meet up with Nicole leGrand Leibon from Farnum Hill Ciders again.

Saturday night was a night on the town, visiting Bushwhacker and then meeting up with Ryan and renowned chef Ned Ludd and then dancing, yes i know, i can’t dance but i threw a few shapes and then we were home at the Hilton and to bed. Up early and a shared taxi to PDX with Ryan and the long trip home, where some 27 hours later i arrived.

It takes vision to create a Cider Conference on the scale of CiderCon. Over a 1000 people directly connected with US cider, all in one room, talking and tasting cider with an open mind is a revelation. The scale of the conference will escalate over the next few years, giving the need for an incumbent permanent organiser who the USACM are pursuing as we speak. In 2016 they were celebrating the recent triumph of the Cider Act. The challenge will be harnessing this energy and deciding what shape CiderCon 2017 in Chicago will take?

We left Portland relishing the energy, the emerging skills and the wonderful mix of people involved with cider in the USA and Canada. We felt total solidarity, unified by the burning question on both sides of the Atlantic “Just what is cider ?”.


Thank you very much to USACM and especially the organising committee, Mike Beck, James Kohn and Michelle Foik .

Steven Shomler this blog is for you and your family.



Really looking forward to visiting Portland, Oregon at the beginning of February to attend CiderCon2016.  Bill Bradshaw has invited  Neil Worley, Barny Butterfield and myself to celebrate English Cider Traditions at the event finale.

The line up of events and speakers for the week is formidable and with all the Portland cider makers and cider houses all putting on special events it should be a great week.


Click on an Event below for more information.

In order to add an event that requires payment (meals, in-depth sessions, etc.) send an email with your name and the session you’d like to add to We’ll contact you for payment information if space is available.

72 matches found
Feb 3, 2016
Time Title
8:00 AM – 1:00 PM Advanced Cider Orchard Production Workshop (Wednesday session)
8:00 AM – 11:50 AM TTB Compliance Training Workshops (RSVP required)
12:00 PM – 1:10 PM Wednesday lunch for non-workshop attendees
1:15 PM – 3:00 PM USACM Annual Business Meeting
3:15 PM – 4:50 PM Sensory Evaluation (RSVP required)
4:30 PM – 5:20 PM UK Cider Presentation with Bill Bradshaw
5:30 PM – 5:50 PM First Time Attendee Orientation
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM Welcome Reception Sponsored by Hood River Juice
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Feb 4, 2016
Time Title
8:15 AM – 8:30 AM Clicker Survey – part of the general session
8:20 AM – 9:50 AM General Session; Cider Market Review & Outlook
10:00 AM – 6:00 PM Trade Show
10:30 AM – 11:15 AM Perry with Tom Oliver
10:30 AM – 11:50 AM TTB Overview and Updates
10:30 AM – 11:40 AM Understanding Yeast with the Yeast Whisperer, Shea Comfort from Scott Labs
10:50 AM – 11:40 AM Neilson
11:00 AM – 11:50 AM How We Grow Cider Apples in the UK
11:41 AM – 1:00 PM Group Lunch – 2015 US Apple Crop Update & 2016 Outlook
1:10 PM – 2:00 PM Basic Production Planning for Cider
1:10 PM – 2:00 PM Cooking with and for Cider
1:10 PM – 2:00 PM Distributor Views on Cider in 2016
1:10 PM – 2:00 PM Sanitation in the Cidery
1:10 PM – 2:00 PM Setting up for Success
2:10 PM – 3:00 PM Business Planning
2:10 PM – 3:00 PM Lessons from Selling Fine Wine and Craft Beer
2:10 PM – 3:00 PM Rapid Expansion: Things to Consider
2:10 PM – 3:00 PM To Press or Not To Press – Vendor Session
2:10 PM – 3:00 PM Yeast Assimilable Nitrogen in Cider Fermentation: Start to Finish
3:40 PM – 4:30 PM All About Hops
3:40 PM – 4:30 PM Carbonation Fundamentals
3:40 PM – 4:30 PM Charcuterie Explained
3:40 PM – 4:30 PM Engaging Your Core Audience Through Writing
3:40 PM – 4:30 PM Legal Year in Review
3:40 PM – 4:30 PM Pasteurization Techniques
4:40 PM – 5:30 PM An Introduction to Cider Orchard Design and Establishment
4:40 PM – 5:30 PM Building a Cider Business in Devon
4:40 PM – 5:30 PM Canning Cider
4:40 PM – 5:30 PM Off-Premise Perspectives
4:40 PM – 5:30 PM Owners Finance/Tax
5:40 PM – 6:20 PM Mixology
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Feb 5, 2016
Time Title
8:00 AM – 2:30 PM Trade Show
8:20 AM – 9:10 AM Analytical Approaches to Hard Cider Production
8:20 AM – 9:10 AM Cider Business Overview
8:20 AM – 9:10 AM Cider Facility Planning
8:20 AM – 9:10 AM Growing Apples for Cider in the US
8:20 AM – 9:10 AM Introduction to Draft Dispensing for Cider – Draft 101 – Vendor Session
8:20 AM – 9:10 AM Tools for Self Distribution Success
9:20 AM – 10:10 AM Batch Pasteurization
9:20 AM – 10:10 AM Developing In-House Sensory Programs
9:20 AM – 10:10 AM Goodnature – Vendor Session
9:20 AM – 10:10 AM On-Premise Perspectives
9:20 AM – 10:10 AM Social Media for Cideries
9:20 AM – 10:10 AM Sources of Capital
10:10 AM – 10:50 AM Break in the Trade Show area
10:50 AM – 11:40 AM Apple Market Optimization and Expansion through Value-Added Hard Cider Production
10:50 AM – 11:40 AM Finding your Brand Strategy – West Coast Perspective
10:50 AM – 11:40 AM Going Wild
10:50 AM – 11:40 AM Obtaining and Structuring Investments in your Cidery
10:50 AM – 11:40 AM Starting a Small Lab in a Cidery
10:50 AM – 11:40 AM Tips & Tools for Cider Clarification – Vendor Session
11:50 AM – 1:10 PM Group Lunch – Cider Act update
1:20 PM – 2:10 PM Cheese & Cider Pairings
1:20 PM – 2:10 PM First Impressions: The Importance of Packaging, Branding, Marketing
1:20 PM – 2:10 PM Going Mobile
1:20 PM – 2:10 PM Managing Multi-Channel Distribution and Sales for Blue Bee Cider
1:20 PM – 2:10 PM Sensory analysis of craft ciders: What do consumers perceive in apple ciders?
1:20 PM – 2:10 PM Traditional and Modern Methods for the Detection of Spoilage Organisms – Vendor Session
3:00 PM – 3:50 PM Cider Apple Breeding and Genetics
3:00 PM – 3:50 PM Hydrogen Sulfide Production by Yeast – Vendor Session
3:00 PM – 3:50 PM Tactical Sales Strategies for Cider Skeptics
3:00 PM – 3:50 PM Tricks of the Trademark & Copyright
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM English Cider Traditions and Tastings
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Feb 6, 2016
Time Title
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM The Cider Certification Program, Level One
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plus the following outside events like:

Friday, February 5th, 7:30pm – The Skimmity Hitchers Live at Cider Riot!

All the way from the cider sheds of England’s West Country, the Skimmity Hitchers play Scrumpy & Western at it’s finest. Their sound is a cider-fuelled mix of folk punk, rockabilly and ska. Get an exculsive sneak peek at Cider Riot’s new home for this grand finale to Cidercon. We’ll be pouring our own ciders including some reserve 1763 scrumpy from our first harvest in 2013, as well as selected ciders from some of the best cidermakers in Cascadia. Including EZ Orchards, Reverend Nat’s, Wandering Aengus, Portland Cider, and more. Enjoy tamles and tacos from Montiel’s Cocina. The PDX Punk Rock Collective and Gypsy Trident Blues Band have just been confirmed as the opening acts. 21+, $5 at the door, free with Cidercon badge.

Presented by Cider Riot! Fuelled by Cider, Oliver’s Cider and Perry, New Forest Cider, Cranbourne Chase Cider, and Talbot Harris Cider Shed.


Rev Nat’s Hard Cider


Events at Bushwackers



Sometimes things happen which are a complete surprise and a total delight and pleasure. At the Royal Bath and West show this year i was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Gold Medal by the The Royal Bath and West of England Society.

“For my heart led commitment to cider and perry making, championing the artisan and traditional and as a great experimenter. My commitment to the taste superiority of high juice ciders and perries, support for planting orchards of varieties for quality cider and perry making and the understanding that innovation is key to my past and future as a cider maker”.

I want to thank everyone involved in that decision, i know not who you are, but the lengths that you went to to, to get my family there for the presentation made my day. Thank you especially Bob Chaplin for your kind words and my (old) friends Keith and Michelle Orchard for their logistical skills.

As luck would have it friend and fellow cider maker Ryan Burk , now working with Angry Orchard , and Eva were there too, as were Sam Fitz and Cooper from ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar to be DC’s First Cidery . Some of the best and most interesting ciders that i have tasted recently have come from both East of the UK and West in the North Americas. The leading, esteemed position the UK  has garnered over the years is about to become challenged by an exploding industry. Once native and heirloom varieties are evaluated and the plantings of imported cider varieties bear fruit in volume, i think we may be sharing honours, at best!

Many,many years ago (back in the last century) Peter Mitchell of  Mitchell F&D Ltd said to me that you will need to make the very best you can and sell it at the highest price possible, to be viable in the modern era, well i am not there yet but i am still trying and it was always about the journey for me.  My head will always be ruled by my heart. And that has some harsh repercussions for me as i struggle to make Oliver’s a financially successful business, rather than (barely) viable. Game on.

One request that emerged from the whole day at The Royal Bath and West Show was to keep spreading the word about The Royal Bath and West Show and specifically  The Orchards and Cider Marquee and the British Cider Championships and  that will always be a pleasure.


Project Serpent is a very modern collaboration between brewers and cider makers to produce new and exciting flavours and tastes.

Thornbridge Brewery

Brooklyn Brewery

Oliver’s Cider & Perry

Below is a piece from Thornbridge brewer, Rob Lovatt, it forms part of the Thornbridge Brewery Blog .

This year (2104) has seen an expansion of our barrel ageing projects. Our first batch of Sour Brown was 18 nervous months in the making up at the hall brewery. We were delighted with how it came out, but we only made a small amount and due to interest sold very quickly, so we decided to brew a large batch at the Riverside brewery. There are currently 40 barrels of Sour Brown maturing away with our house blend of lactic/pediococcus and brett culture. We predict it’ll be another six months until we can consider packaging this and then only if we’re happy with the flavour profile. However, having learnt a lot from the first batch and on tasting the second batch, we’re confident this beer will be fantastic and we’re looking forward to sharing it with you all.

Following on from the Sour Brown, we have also embarked on a significant project with our friends at Brooklyn brewery. We’ve very much kept this one under our hat (well not completely: 120 bourbon barrels raises a few questions during brewery tours!) as it’s something of a novel concept which has taken some thought and planning to make work. photo 3 (2)Garrett Oliver, Brooklyn’s Brewmaster and I were put in touch with Tom Oliver at Oliver’s Cider and Perry, who produces some of the most complex and beautiful ciders and perries in the country, relying on natural yeast and bacteria present on the fruit for fermentation. Throughout the last year, Tom has been posting us the lees from his fermentations for us to use…in a beer! I will explain more about this in a separate blog post, but we’re confident ‘Project Serpent’ will be something special.

With so many barrels (over 200 at the last count) requiring warmer than normal maturation temperatures and ever more interesting projects on the horizon, this year coming we will have a barrel room purpose built which will keep our ‘wild’ casks at an optimum temperature all year round and help us towards greater consistency of the process.

After a couple of visits from Rob and Simon and others from the Thornbridge Brewery. Garrett Oliver (no relation) from Brooklyn Brewery  breezed in from the USA with a gang from his brewery. We looked at the simple, minimal intervention way we like to make cider and perry and then tasted a number of the outcomes, which seemed to meet with approval on the whole, despite some of the more challenging, tannic ciders being a new experience to some palates.

We are really excited by the possibilities this collaboration offers and can not wait to taste the resulting “beer”.

LOUD and CLEAR and one inSight.

A collection of pod casts. More info to come in time!

NPR-Out of the Pear Orchard and into the Glass

My Artisan Business-Part One

My Artisan Business-Part Two

Good Beer Hunting #131

Heritage Radio from NYC with Jimmy Carbone

Beer Sessions Radio

Eric West CiderGuide Podcast

Crafty and The Beast

Cider Chat

BBC Radio 4 “Open Country”

and just the one with visuals:

Oliver’s by Jonathan Blease at Stories 4 Change

and other good listens:

BBC Radio 4 The Food Programme: Pete Brown on “Cider: Britain’s Most Misunderstood Drink”.

10 Days in the USA-Part Two of (2)

So after 3 hectic, wonderful days, Franklin County Ciderdays 2014 was over for another year and i was on my way to Colorado. Jocelyn Kuzelka of Panacea Wine Consulting and cider maker at Foggy Ridge Cider gave me a lift to the airport. Really enjoyed talking about cider with Jocelyn because she comes to it with none of my in built bias, immersed in the deeper phenolic traits associated with bittersweet ciders. Her background in “clean” science, gave me an insight into the breadth of the world of cleanly fermented apple and also what the possibilities for the combination of “clean” and “wild/traditional/phenolic” ciders could be. It would be great to visit Foggy Ridge, it is many, many  years since i had dinner with Diane Flynt and many other US cider makers in Pershore, England.

After uneventful flights, i land in glorious sunshine in Denver, CO and a chance to finally visit with Dick and Diane Dunn. Dick and Diane have visited me in Ocle Pychard, Herefordshire and we have enjoyed a very fruitful friendship but this was my first time visiting Hygiene, Colorado. Dick is such a considered, gentle man and his passion for cider so deep. The weather for this early November visit was warm sun and blue sky. Everyday we walked, we talked, Dick proudly showed me his trees and cider making set up. I got to walk round Hygiene and finally got to ask why Hygiene? It stems from the old days when the town had a sanatarium to help TB sufferers . We drove up and i mean up, to where the air is clear and the oxygen less and yes i felt it, as we walked round some beautiful lakes.

A whirlwind of visits to Aaron and Matt at Branch Out Cider , Jennifer at Scrumpy’s  who have a generous 4 ciders from Oliver’s on her list, then to  Compass Cider  and  finally Stem Cider . We did a great cider tasting at The Kitchen in Denver with Lauren from my importers Shelton Brothers , talking to the staff about the heritage and diversity of cider, a rewarding experience for all i hope. A visit to Small Batch Liquors followed which made me proud, seeing Oliver’s ciders alongside Aspall  and amongst some of the finest beers and cider known to man.

The focus of the visit never veered much from cider and i was really looking forward to the Rocky Mountain Cider Association “Cider Social” which was tremendous. Bill Lyon coming all the way from Santa Fe with Mike and Mrs Mike from Santa Sidra doing the same, many of Dick’s local co-conspirators in cider, Lauren and Zac from Shelton Brothers bringing some fine palates to the assorted tastings and also a chance to meet up again after about 12 years with Shawn Carney from Blossomwood Cidery. It was a great afternoon drinking cider, talking cider and learning a little bit more about everyone. Also had a good long phone call with Lee McAlpine from Montana Ciderworks who unfortunately could not make the meet up, due to an unannounced delivery of juice. Lee’s location and second planting of an orchard of bittersweet cider apples following a fire in the first, means that the next time i am in the NW a road trip is on the cards.

3 days was never going to be enough time in Colorado, everyone was so generous and the ciders so plentiful, it was great to taste and talk about them all. Thanks Dick and Diane, such great and generous hosts and a big thank you to Bill Lyon for all his help with this trip. Cheers Bill. The weather was superb for my whole trip and then i left for the the Port of of Los Angeles and the CO weather just had to break and the first snow of the season came within a few days.

The final 3 days of this epic trip were for Shelton Brothers The Festival 2014 a wonderful extravaganza of beer, beer, more beer and sour beer and more sour beer and then some cider from all around the world. In this company of some weird and some wonderful, an exotic mix of folks, all either immersed in a mash tun for great lengths of time or fresh from scaling the climbing frames of diverse hop varieties growing all around the world.

It is a real privilege to have the support of Dan, Tessa, Joel, B.R., Bob, Jordan and Christian et al at Shelton Brothers . One day i will tell the story of the start of this relationship, suffice to say that it all started with a visit to Herefordshire many years ago by Ron Extract and Amber who now reside at the magnificent  Jester King Brewery  in Austin, Texas and i am so grateful that the mantle is now in the hands of Lauren Shepard (with a lot of assistance from Zac). The opportunity that Sheltons has given Oliver’s Cider in the USA is tremendous and we aim to make cider and perry that will never disappoint.

The worldly cider selection were old friends Charles and Milissa from AEppeltreow, Caroline from Peckhams , Marc Antoine and Peter from Les Vergers de la Colline and Dominique from L’Hermitiere .Culled from the LA Weekly this is a glowing review of why this is such a fine event. I would like to attend  every year but it is in harvest time and this year looks impossible and so i am not sure i can make it to St. Petersburg FL. on October 15 and 16 but i will try The Festival 2015 .