Welcome to 2018 and a new year of cider.
As the temperatures plunge in Hong Kong, spare a thought for the sleeping cider orchards. The Herefordshire nights are long and the days are cold in January. The apple trees that gave up their fruit for pressing in the autumn are now resting silently. At the farm the long slow cold ferment of cider is under way. It is a quiet time for the cider makers too. They are tending to their barrels, checking the airlocks. There is pruning to be done and the planting of new trees.
But change is afoot: we are past the shortest day and the New Year is here. It is time to wake up the trees. Wassail!
The Wassail is an important ancient ceremony. Often celebrated on Twelfth Night, January 6th, it is vital for ensuring a bountiful harvest the following autumn.
Celebrants carry flaming torches to the orchard where fires are lit. The Cider Queen places cider-soaked bread into the fork of the tree to feed the good spirits. The Cider King pours cider over the roots of the tree to nourish the eternal cycle of juice to tree to juice. Everyone makes a lot of noise to scare away the evil spirits and to wake up the tree.
There is singing, dancing (often with Morris Men), banging of cans with wooden spoons, firecrackers. And much toasting with cries of Wassail! and the requisite response Drinkhail!
Then back to the cider house for more cider enjoyment.
Snuggle up with some cider
Cider isn’t just a summer drink.
The more tannic west-country style ciders have a robustness that works well in the winter rather like darker ales and red wine. In this weather there's no need to chill them. Mulled cider is a lovely alternative to mulled wine especially if you kick it up with a shot of gin when you serve. And don’t forget these ciders partner well with winter roasts or your hotpot.
So wrap up warm for the Hong Kong winter and pour yourself a real cider or two.
Connecting authentic cider drinkers with authentic cider makers
We bring you premium artisan cider and perry from award-winning makers including Dunkertons, Hallets and Perry's. Keep in touch for even more of the world's best ciders and perries in 2018. Like us on Facebook or follow on Twitter and Instagram.
We are counting down to St David’s Day in Hong Kong by focusing on a Welsh cider. Hallets Real Cider is made by Andy Hallett, an award-winning cider maker whose small farm is in the beautiful hills between the old counties of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire.
The unique flavour of Hallets Real Cider is down to Andy’s clever cider-making skills. He uses a traditional method borrowed from the Normans called keeving. This is a slow partial fermentation that yields a sweeter, rich and clear juice. Andy blends this with oak-aged vintage cider to produce a drink with a subtle texture and taste. This cider appeals to wine connoisseurs as well as more seasoned cider drinkers.
Hallets Real Cider won Best Drinks Producer in the BBC’s Food and Farming Awards 2016. One of the judges described it as the most beautiful cider she’d tasted, providing serious competition to good wines.
In the 2015 Great British Food's Farm Produce Awards, Hallets won Best British Cider. The judge said: “This one really stood out for me. It has a pleasantly dry mouth-feel, but with a delicate and lovely sweetness too. Very clean, subtle and shows much attention.”
Not surprisingly, Andy recommends a good quality Caerphilly cheese with his Hallets Real Cider – after all, his Blaengawney Farm is just up the road from Caerphilly. But it’s an excellent match: the tangy creaminess of good Caerphilly goes well with the cider’s bittersweet apple and the magic from Andy’s barrelling.
Andy’s cider works well in (and with) many different dishes. Try it instead of white wine in moules marinières with lashings of cream (and plenty of crusty bread). Hallets Real Cider works well in the base for seafood risotto too. And drink the cider with both dishes.
To honour the Welsh leek on St David’s Day, you could make a rich leek soup with a cider-based broth and serve with grated mature cheese. Or for an authentically Welsh side dish with your roast lamb, you could braise some leeks in butter; add some cabbage, cider and seasoning; then wilt everything down.
Try Hallets Real Perry too. Enjoy some lightly chilled with a slice of Bara Brith this coming 1st of March.
Contact us to order a few cases of Hallets Real Cider and Hallets Real Perry for your bar, restaurant or Saint David’s Day event. The cider and perry are both available in 500ml bottles, with the cider also available in 330ml format. Chill lightly before serving.
Diolch and best regards from your Cider Man in Hong Kong