What about Perry?

Perry is made by fermenting the juice of freshly squeezed pears with the help of natural yeasts. As apples are to cider, so pears are to perry. That's it.

If you see something called "pear cider" you should ask what it is made of and why it needs to be called pear cider rather than perry. We never call perry "pear cider" because cider is made from apples not pears. The name for a drink made by fermenting the juice of freshly squeezed pears is perry. In the same way, we never call cider "apple cider". Calling a drink a "pear cider" is often a clue that it is an industrial product and not authentic. In fact be careful of any drink with the name of a fruit in it followed by the word "cider". These are not traditional ciders. At best they are watered down fruit wines or fruit-based alcopops. Unfortunately the UK's legal definition of cider and perry is rather unhelpful: a drink made with as little as 35% apple or pear juice can be called cider or perry. This works well for an industry lobby group that is dominated by industrial scale makers of non-real cider.

Perry is made predominately from pears and is a distinct product. Good cider and perry have been a British tradition for about 1,000 years. Calling something ‘pear cider’ when in our view it is nothing of the sort is wrong. You don’t make an alcoholic drink from potatoes and call it whisky.

Then you have the awful flavoured ‘ciders’ which are anything but and can contain raspberry, forest fruits or even lemongrass.
— Gillian Williams, CAMRA

So if perry is made by fermenting the juice of freshly squeezed pears how different is it from cider?

Perry is often made from a blend of perry pears that are classified in the same way as cider apples: Sweets, Sharps, Bittersharps and Bittersweets. These may be combined to create different blends of perry and sometimes some cider is included in the blend. Perry is also more challenging to make: decent perry pears are harder to find and the fruit can be temperamental and needs to be handled and processed differently compared to cider apples.

Perry is a paler shade of colour than most ciders and may even have a hint of green in their goldenness. Perries have complex but subtle flavours that are typically more delicate than cider; good perry can be like a subtle white wine. In some parts of West England high quality perry is enjoyed at weddings instead of champagne.

Perry made in each of the "Three Counties" of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire has been granted protected name status by the European Union. Perry pears have been grown in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and part of Monmouthshire for hundreds of years. As long ago as 1575, following the visit of Queen Elizabeth I, the city of Worcester added "three pears sable" to its coat of arms.

Pitmaston Duchess, a 19th century perry pear originally from Worcestershire. Picture credit: UK National Fruit Collection. Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0.

Pitmaston Duchess, a 19th century perry pear originally from Worcestershire.

Picture credit: UK National Fruit Collection. Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0.