While legendary cider authority Andrew Lea will open the virtual conference taking the audience to where cider apples began, with his journey to the Tian Shan foothills of Kazakhstan, Bill Wiggin MP and Ian Liddell-Grainger MP will join the National Association of Cider Makers’ Mark Hopper and SIBA’s Barry Watts on the final afternoon on a panel exploring to explore the case for duty reform.
“We are delighted that Eleanor Léger from Eden Ciders, the new president of the American Cider Association, will be joining us to speak on ice cider,” says TCCPA chair Simon Day, Once Upon A Tree. In addition, taking advantage of the virtual nature of the conference, US cider luminaries sharing their wisdom with CraftCon delegates include Ria Windcaller, MC of leading podcast CiderChat, Brian Rutzen, aka Cider Brian, and ANXO Cidery’s Sam Fitz.
Sessions over the two days will encompass sustainability in all its forms, from orchard biodiversity with a panel chaired by James Marsden, Gregg’s Pit, through to economic sustainability, with a panel featuring producers of all sizes, including Barny Butterfield, Sandford Orchards, and Polly Hilton, Find & Foster.
Cider production features strongly, with sessions including the joy of single variety ciders, with the Johnson family, Ross on Wye Cider & Perry, what makes great dry cider, chaired by James Finch, the Cider Critic, the technical challenges posed by kegging, chaired by Gabe Cook, The Ciderologist, and co-ferments and cider hybrids, with Pilton Cider’s Martin Berkeley and Once Upon A Tree’s Simon Day.
Chris Atkins, Ragged Stone Cider & Perry, organiser of the Perry Festival at the Three Counties Autumn Show, will share his passion for perry, talking delegates through the unique flavour and heritage proposition it offers while also shining a light on its future.
The pan-industry group Cider Women will take the gender debate one step further with an interactive session focusing on how all can work together “to shape the future and grow this dynamic and creative industry“. Meanwhile, Helen Anne Smith, founder of the Burum Collective, will be joined by Ren Navarro, of Beer. Diversity. North America, to focus on Improving Diversity, Inclusion and Equality.
“Alongside these sessions will be opportunities for networking chats, an online trade show and we’ll be bringing tasting sessions too,” says Simon Day.
A CraftCon 2021 Tasting Box is being put together. “These products will relate to the speakers and their talks,” says Lucie Mayerová, TCCPA communications officer. “While we can’t have our popular bottle share, we want to make sure that we offer a full experience and that all enjoy the event as much as possible.”
“When CraftCon started in 2019, it was a landmark moment for UK craft cider producers – finally we had an event for cidermakers, from cidermakers,” says Albert Johnson, Ross on Wye Cider & Perry Co and TCCPA secretary. “The technical and business knowledge and expertise that was shared and the connections forged was of enormous benefit to all who attended. I’m so happy we are able to have that experience again, this time online, to help bring cidermakers from all over the country – and indeed the world – together.”
All sessions will be recorded and accessible by ticket holders afterwards.
“CraftCon will help attendees become more informed, make better business decisions, and ultimately, produce better quality cider for the drinker at home,” says Albert Johnson. “I can’t wait!”
The TCCPA is most grateful to the National Association of Cider Makers and CraftCon’s confirmed Gold sponsors Vigo Ltd, Lallemand and Core Equipment. Without their support, this event would not be possible.
For further information, head to craftcon.co.uk
Tickets cost £25 for members of TCCPA and £40 for non-members, which include 1-year membership.
Devon based Sandford Orchards has launched a brand new collection of Vintage Ciders; a finest cask-aged cider, ‘Sandford Reserve’, a fresh oak-finished cider, ‘Apple & Oak’ and a mighty vat-aged cider named ‘The General’. This new range is available nationwide from retail outlets and www.sandfordorchards.co.uk RRP £32.00 for 12 x 500ml bottles.
Barny Butterfield, Chief Cidermaker at Sandford Orchards comments: “Every apple harvest has a distinct character. To use the term ‘vintage’ a cider must declare the year of harvest with the age of the cider providing a strong indication of its depth of flavour and maturity. A huge amount of effort went into creating our new vintage ciders and we are thrilled with the results. We trialled more than forty different potential winners before whittling them down to these three, each of which boasts their own unique characteristics.”
Apple & Oak – Fresh Oak-Finished Cider (ABV 6.7%)
‘Apple and Oak’, is a dry vintage cider aged in new oak barrels. It showcases youthful, ripe, bittersweet apple flavours which are complemented by hints of vanilla and toasty oak. The ideal accompaniment to a cheese ploughmans or cured meats, it’s the ‘cider nouveau’ of the collection.
Sandford Reserve is the ‘exhibition’ cider of this new range. Using the pick of the 2019 crop and matured in larger wine casks, Sandford Reserve drinks like a smooth, oaky, chardonnay with flavours of honey, Madeira and dried fruits. It’s the perfect partner to curry or spicy Asian food.
The General – Mighty Vat-Aged Cider (ABV 8.4%)
The General is the Imperial Stout of this vintage range. This super rich cider is bold and satisfying with the flavours of Seville orange, plum and baked apple. It is a superb complement to gamey meats or a fully-laden Sunday roast.
Founded in 2002, independent, family-owned Sandford Orchards is based in Crediton, Mid Devon in the oldest working cider mill in the UK. The area has long been known as one of the most fertile parishes in all of Britain, both for its grazing and ability to grow apples. Crediton sits in the lee of the moors, so receives the right amount of rain and the right units of heat in summer.
Sandford Orchards takes a fresh, natural and low impact approach to producing cider. With their recent rebrand and expanded capacity, they are starting 2021 in a strong position to meet the needs of their fast-growing fan base as well as cider drinkers who want to trade up to something more authentic and better tasting.
Combining tradition and innovation, Sandford Orchards produces an award-winning range of core session ciders including Devon Red, Devon Dry and Devon Mist and fruit ciders; blackberry flavoured Fanny’s Bramble, Berry Lane using perfectly ripe raspberries, Old Blossom made from delicate Elderflower and an invigorating and zingy Cider Ginger.
*Sandford Orchards Vintage Range of cider is available in cases of 12 x 500ml bottles RRP £32.00 and can be purchased from selected retail and hospitality outlets or online at www.sandfordorchards.co.uk.
Sandford Orchards, one of the fastest growing challenger brands in the cider industry, has bucked the business trend during the pandemic by investing £1.2 million into expanding its bottling and canning capabilities and developing and implementing a new branding strategy. Sandford Orchards, whose ethos is to produce the best tasting cider ‘done right’ is now well placed to meet an increased demand for real cider driven by a strong consumer interest in authenticity and quality.
Barny Butterfield, Chief Cidermaker comments: “Whilst other businesses have retrenched during the last twelve months we have taken the opportunity to press forward with our expansion plans buoyed by an ever-growing number of consumers who are looking for an antidote to the standard commercial cider brands.”
Barny explains: “ At the end of 2019, we made the strategic decision to invest heavily in a full rebrand and we appointed award-winning branding agency Kingdom & Sparrow and market research agency Branding Express, who conducted focus groups across the UK. Blind tastings showed that consumers unanimously agreed that our cider tasted delicious, more natural and flavourful than mainstream alternatives. Our research also confirmed that there was a great opportunity for us as our ciders are far higher quality than the cheap mass produced ciders available but more accessible than the pricey craft options. This gave us the confidence to continue to invest in 2020 with the implementation of the rebrand and an expansion of our packaging capability to include setting up our own canning line for the first time.”
Barny elaborates: “At the beginning of the first lockdown our usual canning business became too busy to provide us with the capacity that we needed. We knew that canned cider offered us a huge potential market, as it is not well served by quality craft ciders, so we took the plunge and invested in our own in-house canning line which delivers 3,500 cans of cider per hour. In the same period we also purchased brand new state of the art bottling machinery to allow us to meet the growing demand for our products and match our ambitious projections. This has tripled our bottling rate to an impressive 6000 bottles an hour. Alongside this, we have also increased automation in our kegging line thus ensuring that we control the whole process from orchard to glass and have the ability to meet future demands.”
Barny continues: “We believe that we make the best tasting cider and we are proud to do it properly taking a fresh, natural, low impact approach and using the best apples in the world. With our new branding and expanded capacity we are starting 2021 in a strong position to meet the needs of our fast growing fan base as well as those consumers wanting to trade up to something more authentic and better tasting. We make simply great cider and we are optimistic that 2021 will be a simply great year for us.”
Founded in 2002, independent, family-owned Sandford Orchards is based in Mid Devon in the oldest working cider mill in the UK. They press and ferment whole juice from the finest locally grown bittersweet apples and age it to perfection to create beautifully balanced and naturally refreshing cider.
Sandford Orchards’ range of ciders includes session ciders and a selection of flavoured ciders which will soon be joined by some brand new vintage ciders due to be launched in March.
Gordon Johncox, the chair of the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) and the chief executive of Aston Manor Cider, addressed MPs, government officials and industry figures to outline a British success story in need of support.
Gordon outlined how collaboration across the industry by cider makers of all scales is a positive feature, though the hard-pressed sector still needs support from government.
As a relatively small industry, representing the best interests of every cider maker informs all aspects of activity of the NACM. The vision of the association is that all producers can operate successfully and fairly in a competitive market, whilst continuing to support their communities, employees and apple growers.
To enable this, he called for a balanced regulatory environment for cider makers reflecting the unique circumstances of producers. In particular, MPs, Ministers and officials were urged to deliver a consistent application of regulations.
Gordon challenged the Government’s willingness to understand the specific situations of cider makers. While headlines from the Autumn budget stated that cider duty was frozen, ciders in the middle duty band received a 25% tax increase, impacting many small cider makers.
Following his speech, Gordon commented: “Cider businesses of all sizes are working hard to deliver a sustainable future for the benefit of consumers and the rural environment. The industry is a significant part of British heritage.
“We need the support of politicians to work with us to return cider to more positive results, remove red tape and the unnecessary rules that limit innovation and investment. This support can enable cider makers produce fantastic products that interest in our category.
“We work to see every cider maker flourish and grow in line with their ambitions, whilst maintaining the highest standards. We firmly believe that with our collaborative nature and how we support one another this can be achieved when we can rely on consistent and sensible legislation.
“In recent months we have seen members providing orcharding experts when others experience weather related problems, large companies have supported smaller producers to expand their packaging ranges. When something is challenging or if advice is needed, small producers will always be supported, and to me, this is why the UK cider industry is so very special.”
The Parliamentary Cider Group Reception was an opportunity to showcase the best of British cider, which is home to the largest cider market in the world. The evening was attended by cider makers from across the South West, Midlands and further afield, as well as many MPs that represent cider making regions within their constituencies.
The NACM is the UK cider industry representative body, working on behalf of large and small producers:
375g eating apples (3), peeled, cored and finely diced
120g dark muscovado sugar
¼ tsp powdered ginger
½ tsp garlic salt
¼ heaped tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp chilli flakes
4-5 rasps of nutmeg
Place all the ingredients in a large pan. Bring to the boil and keep on a medium to high heat for the first 15 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes or so.
Reduce the heat to medium and keep it bubbling away so that it starts to reduce. Keep stirring the relish every 5 minutes.
The relish is ready when it goes darker in colour and the liquid evaporates. This should take about 45 -55 minutes. Allow the relish to cool. Serve in a pretty bowl or jar on a cheese board along with your favourite crackers.
Fuss Free tips!
If the relish needs to reduce to a darker colour and there is no liquid left add a splash of hot water. If you wanted to make enough for just one event you could halve the recipe and it will cook in 30 minutes.
If you wanted to store the relish for a longer period, follow your usual preserving methods or sterilize some jars by placing glass jars in an oven for 15 minutes at 150˚C/300˚F/Gas Mark 2 and boiling the lids in water. Place the relish in the jars whilst they are hot and place wax paper over the top.