The art of blending

Months ago, one chilly morning in January, I was lucky enough to join a fellow band of crafters to help Tom Oliver blend his latest vintage cider. He and his team – Jaroslav and Dave take a bow – had done the hard work, tasting through over 250 barrels to see which 17 to bring to the final blending table. 

We – Polly Hilton of Find & Foster Cider, Jonny Bright from the Hereford Beer House, Stu McKinley of Yeastie Boys and myself – were there to join this artful process. Having retried Tom’s current vintage blend to get our senses tuned in to the house style, we were given the privilege of sampling each individual cider, assessing the merits of each – their tannins, tang, flavours and texture – and more importantly, their potential to work as part of a blend. Thus, after much deliberating, 17 ciders were eventually whittled down to 12, and we experimented with the proportions, until we – and in particular, Tom – was happy.

So how did we do? You be the judge. Tom launches the new blend tomorrow, Saturday 6 May at the Hereford Beer House. You’ll find us in the queue, keen to see how the final maturation is bottle has prepared the 2015 Vintage for its 2017 debut.

As if that wasn’t temptation enough, renowned US cider maker and good friend of Tom’s Ryan Burk, is also heading over, bringing with him half-a-dozen of his finest to add to the mix.

More info is here on the event.

Wassail!