Farm workers’ wages in earlier times included four pints of cider a day.
courtesy of NACM
Ever wondered what it is about your favourite tipple that makes it so great?
What better way to find out then to visit its home. DrinkBritain.com is the website to help you do just that.
Britain has a rich history of drinks, Be it beer or cider, perry or wine, gin or whisky, spring water or currant cordial, it comes from the land and the heart. But not everyone is set-up to welcome visitors. All the places and people we will include are happy to share with you their secrets and their passion. By flicking through these pages, you’ll find vineyards where you can help at harvest, cider houses with orchards to wander through, distilleries where you'll find coopers hard at work fashioning those all important casks, and breweries where you can savour the ingredients as well as the beers.
While we’re on ingredients, check out the visitor-friendly maltings and hop farms. And if you know anyone or anywhere we have missed, get in touch and we’ll share your find.
Kids are not forgotten – indeed, we've found the places they are positively welcomed. Whether it’s a treasure hunt around a cider farm or a photography competition for the juniors, these are the producers looking after their interests.
Above all, DrinkBritain.com is where you can find out why something tastes so good.
about the Team
In 1998, after an award-winning stint in science and medical journalism, Susanna Forbes jumped ship to follow an ever-growing passion for wine. Spending four years with Oddbins not only immersed her in the world of drinks retail, but introduced her to her husband, James.
Tasting and talking about whiskies, craft beers and the fruit of the grape led Susanna back to journalism in 2000, when she joined the ranks of Wine International. As a freelance drinks writer and editor, key clients have included Mitchell Beazley, where she had the good fortune to work with Jancis Robinson MW and Hugh Johnson, commissioning the last World Atlas of Wine, and Square Meal, where she helped Chris Losh launch Imbibe magazine as its deputy editor.
More recently, she’s been traversing Britain, exploring its wineries, breweries and cider houses. Inspired by her experiences and the people met along the way, she is launching DrinkBritain.com, a drinks tourism website where she can share her love and knowledge of where to find great British drinks.
Susanna topped up WSET Diploma recently with a dose of practicality, completing both the principles of vinegrowing and winemaking courses at Plumpton College.
She lives with James in Epsom and other hobbies include photography, music and keeping their pets entertained.
editor & publisher
Since falling into the wine trade by chance a decade ago, Roddy has discovered a real passion for exploring the infinite diversity of drinks' flavours and aromas. Particular interests are the finding of new food and drink pairings, and the tricky art of matching words to tastes, which he practises at his blog, Smell the Cork.
His passion for whisky in particular has flourished. So much so that he has set himself a personal goal: that of tasting whiskies from every open Scottish distillery – I understand he's not far off that target.
A talented home cook, the latest additions to the household – a pair of black labradors for his inspirational teenage daughters – makes life entertainingly busy for him and his fair lady, Bobby.
James is the latest recruit to the Drink Britain team, although has long considered himself editor in chief even if no one else has.
Having spurned a career in journalism when young, he also turned to drink young, becoming a frequent shopper with Oddbins, sadly before loyalty cards were introduced.
He liked Oddbins so much he joined the company becoming serious about the subject of alcohol. After a grounding on the shop floor, he spent an extended time as a senior buyer within the company, where in addition to wine and beer he developed a great love for the black arts of distillation.
Now after close on 20 years in the drinks business, James co-owns a Florida based company called Blue Fruits, importing wine into the USA. At the same time he harbours strong desires to be a professional cider maker, distiller, brewer, steeplejack and vigneron. Only one of these is untrue.
When not heading off to gigs around the land or strumming his guitar, Paul Hilder is solving people’s digital conundrums and creating beauty where there was just data before. Currently digital designer attalkSPORT, he gained his creative wings at Thames Valley University before joining some of London’s trendiest design agencies and spending most of the Noughties at Halpern Cowan.
Equally adept at the various website platforms, Paul took over the DrinkBritain.com reins when creator Graham passed over the baton. Having tamed the dragon that is Drupal, he is now working on making the site even more user friendly and equipping us with the ways and means to tackle our next challenges.
designer & web maestro
Touring the vineyards of California, Chile, France and Spain with colleagues and friends at Wine & Spirit International and Wine Magazine revealed what now seems obvious to Céline: you can cope with pretty much anything as long as the wine is good!
As a PR and events specialist with over a decade's drinks industry experience, Céline has worked in both niche wine PR and large consumer agencies, helping clients big and small communicate effectively to UK trade and consumers. Currently one half of the dynamic Mandarin Communications duo, clients range from independent merchants to major wine producers.
Personal highlights over the years have include introducing UK consumers to the wonders of modern Rioja, persuading top chefs and sommeliers to pair chocolate pudds with Roussillon’s finest sweet wines, and putting together a fine programme of talks and tastings at the Imbibe Shows.
Oh – and meeting her husband, Simon, along the way wasn’t bad either!
strategy, events & communication
Coming from a fine art background Graham’s initial interest in web design came from a visual perspective but he soon became interested in the problem solving aspects and the neverending challenges of creating an engaging user experience.
Having gained his fine art and graphic design wings at London Guildhall University, his first big client project – a video-based Flash viral for eBookers – proved both creative and successful.
With over a decade in the business, Graham has worked with a wide range of clients from bars, clothing labels and TV shows through to financial companies and hotel chains, enjoying the variety and the new challenges that come with each project.
With the arrival of lovely Amalia, he and Pepi have a little less time for their favoured leisure pursuits of visiting museums and galleries, but I have been assured that English sparkling wine and the odd pint of traditional cider may have been among the toasts to the new arrivals.
<>Now that DrinkBritain.com has been launched, Graham is taking more of a consultant role, handing over the web-reins to friend and former colleague Paul Hilder – another sort of "keeping it in the family".
Henrietta Clancy has been writing about food and drink for a fair while with staff positions at Fresh Escapes, Food & Travel and Square Meal's sister drinks title, Imbibe.
Despite not harking from ciderland, she's enjoyed being DrinkBritain's cider guru thanks to a love of roaming around orchards and finding out more about the stuff. As a beekeeper and honey-lover, Henrietta's keen to see the resurgence of mead in her lifetime and believes that this is an area to watch.
As a Ballymaloe-trained chef, she's especially interested in the seemingly infinite scope of matching solid things with liquid things, her favourite recent match being a chocolate-covered pork scratching with Mackeson Stout – don't knock it till you've tried it!
cider & mead correspondent
I’d like to thank…
… numerous people without whom this website would have remained but an idea in the ether.
Most obviously, the talented visual maestro, Graham Bates, for bringing the project to life, and PR whizz and lateral thinker extraordinaire, Céline Bouteiller for helping to propel the site to places it needs to go; Roddy and Henrietta, for expanding our horizons and enabling us to embrace more of the country's fine producers, and Paul, for helping us complete that all-important final stretch before kicking off our consumer campaign.
The many producers who have given of their time – and drinks – while they explain not just the whys and the wherefores, but what makes their creations special.
Looking back a bit, Australia, for showing that wine didn’t have to be incomprehensible, Pete Wrobel for the joys of subbing, Brian Davies for the art of good coffee, and Chris Losh for giving me a break. Nicky Branch and Stephen Skelton MW for helping to ignite the English wine interest all those years ago. For their inspiration and positivity in the world of flavour, Rupert Ponsonby, Mark Dorber, Fiona Beckett and Christine Parkinson. Tina Gellie, Julie Sheppard and Hannah Tovey for embodying the value of a great team.
And last but by no means least, fellow drinks lover and husband James, whose off-the-wall humour and incisive comments has helped many a project to fly, including – we hope – this one.
Thanks also go to ace photographer, Rob Lawson, for his pictures of Susanna and the ingredients for the site, and to Sambrooks and Denbies for donating fresh grapes, hops and malt.