Last week saw the hosting of the biennial International Cider Awards. This event sits alongside its bigger brother, the International Brewing Awards: one of the most respected and longest standing beer competitions in the world. Such a big undertaking is the hosting of these concurrent events, in fact, that they are only held once every 2 years.
The NACM was instrumental in the design of this year’s awards, and its Chair, Helen Thomas was one of the judges. To demonstrate the truly International nature of the competition, Helen was joined by cider making colleagues from Sweden, Belgium, New Zealand and the USA. The standard of entries from all over the world was incredible, with award winners from over a dozen countries demonstrating that cider is a truly global phenomenon.
Cider had its own class in the competition from the early 20th century up until the 1950s. With the boom in global cider popularity, the International Cider Awards were reinstated in 2012. The last time, however, that cider gets a decent mention in dispatches at the Brewer’s Exhibition is in 1932 when Stanley Sheppy, of Sheppy’s Cider of Bradford-on-Tone in Somerset, receives a Gold Medal for their Still Table Cider, also taking out the Champion Cider crown. Rather wonderfully Sheppy’s (an NACM member) is still a family concern, with Stanely’s grandson, David, at the helm. And to fully close the loop, not only is Gold Medal Cider still being made today, but David received a Silver Medal in the Speciality Class at last week’s competition for Sheppy’s Iwood Cider.
The UK also saw Gold medal success for Aston Manor’s Knight’s Malvern Oak, which took home the Gold in the Dry Bittersweet Cider category. Special mention should also be given to Hogan’s Cider from Alcester in Warwickshire, members of the Three Counties Cider and Perry Association, one of the UK’s regional cider associations and affiliated to the NACM. They won the Gold Medal for in the Speciality Class for their ‘sour’ cider, Killer Sharp, which has been fermented with Brettanomyces yeast. This is a fantastic achievement for such a small company, and demonstrates the awareness of cider makers of the highly popular craft beer market.