The meteoric rise of cider in 2011
I have a cider alert set up on Google at the moment, which means that every single time that cider gets a mention in the news – be that The Telegraph, The New York Times, LA Weekly or Hereford Times – I get wind of it, along with a convenient link.
At this time of year, within the headlines that refer to Britain, there’s a lot of chat about mulled cider and wassailing. Increasingly there are more cider-related events taking place, from a Winter Cider Festival in Bristol, to courses on how to make your own cider at School of Artisan Food on the Welbeck Estate in Robin Hood country. There’s some fascinating stuff going on out there. Yes I have to wade through an inordinate amount of "my-father-killed-my-cat-after-downing-26-pints" stories, but I also hear about a lot of interesting small initiatives and movements in the cider world.
A change of face
Up until this year it’s fair to say that cider’s grisly reputation has been on a par with the likes of Buckfast in that it’s commonly recognised as being more of a lighter fuel than a drink, the more debauched person’s Red Bull. Something that doesn’t so much give you wings as break your wings and give you horns.
But cider is powering ahead, gaining popularity and picking up respect at the same time. And I’m not talking about the sickly sweet tropical sunshine type stuff – though of course, that’s doing pretty great too. And let’s be honest, it’s probably helping to raise awareness of the proper stuff by aggravating cider purists into defending the liquid with actual, "real-apples-that-once-hung-on-a-tree" in it.
A tide of events
Several things have happened in 2011 that have worked in cider’s favour. Cider was graciously given even more barrel space at CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival in August, the very first International Craft Cider Festival took place in August.
Cider successfully spawned a bi-product after a lengthy tussle, and it was excellent. Julian Temperley finally persuaded the Brussels bureaucrat that calling his cider brandy – er – Somerset Cider Brandy was ok.
The aura of fame
Celebs have even hopped aboard the craze, with Marco Pierre White joining in earlier in the year when he used his famous temper to declare that none of that melted strawberry Calippo type stuff would be sold in his pub.
Heston’s even been touting it. With his Waitrose hat on he launched a mulled cider concoction for the festive season, and with all of his digging around in the past, he’s been paying homage to it quite a bit on the menu at his latest London restaurant, Dinner.
Things can only get better
As we look ahead into 2012 I think it's fair to say that things are going to become increasingly more exciting as cider remains on-trend.
I predict that increasingly the general public will start to recognise different cider apple varieties, interest in cider making courses will increase, and my Google alerts will get that little bit less slanderous as the year goes on.
Join us as we surf the wave.