Most cider served in pubs and sold in supermarkets is made by one of the industrial cider producers, listed below. Please note that these drinks are not generally 'real cider'; a listing on this page doesn't imply any recommendation by ukcider. Forewarned is forearmed. ;)
List of Industrial Cider Producers
Thimblemill Lane, Aston, Birmingham, West Midlands, B7 5HS. Tel: (0121) 328 4336.
Birmingham based Aston Manor Brewery produces beer and industrial cider. It claims to be the UK's third largest producer of cider by sales value. Most appears to be sold as supermarket "own brand" product, though it does sell under a number of its own brands as well.
Beverage Brands (UK) Limited, Rockwood House, Park Hill Road, Torquay, Devon, TQ1 2DU. Tel: (01803) 201020. Manufacturer of the WKD brand, who now produce something called WKD Core.
Shepton Mallet. Bottled 'pear cider' (either 4.7% or 'Festival Strength' 7.0%), 'strawberry mixed pear cider', 'lemon mixed pear cider', 'toffee apple cider' as well as (apple) cider. Long known for selling cider at the Glastonbury Festival but now also offers mail order. A growing number of off-licences, bars and now some supermarkets also stock them and can be found using the Brothers Cider Finder tool. Formed in 1992 by Matthew, Jonathan, Francis and Daniel Showering. The original Showerings business was perhaps best known for Babycham: it eventually became part of Taunton-Coates-Gaymer, aka Matthew Clark Taunton and now part of the Constellation Group. Brothers is made from pear concentrate, using a yeast culture and cannot in any way be considered "real" cider. It is effectively a Babycham for the alcopop generation and should be regarded as industrial cider.
The Cider Mills, Plough Lane, Hereford, Herefordshire, HR4 0LE. Tel: (01432) 352000.
C&C Group plc, Kylemore Park, Dublin 10, Ireland. Tel: +353 1 616 1100.
Irish cider-maker William Magner of Clonmel entered into a joint venture with HP Bulmer in 1937. Though the partnership was dissolved just 12 years later, Magner retained the right to the brand 'Bulmers' in the Republic of Ireland. The cider known as Bulmers in Ireland, where it commands 80% of the market, is known as Magners in the rest of the world.
Magners Irish Cider is now the subject of a high-profile introduction in the UK. Sports sponsorships and carefully-targeted regional launches, themed around the conceit of serving 'Magners over ice', are making it a major challenger to Strongbow. So far, it has successfully been launched in Scotland and Southern England.
Kilver Street, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, BA4 5ND. Tel: (01749) 334000.
Gaymers was formed from the merger of two large regional companies: Taunton Cider (the largest cider production site in Britain, now closed), and the Allied Breweries cider interests of Showerings (including Coates/Gaymers/Whiteways). The 'Matthew Clark Taunton' company was rebranded as part of the multinational Constellation Brands group. Production is now concentrated on the former Showerings "Babycham" plant at Shepton Mallet. The business has now been taken over by C&C Group, owner of Magners.
When produced at Taunton, Dry Blackthorn was a serious challenger to Strongbow on the national stage, but its market share has seriously slipped back in recent years, not least due to heavy discounting by Bulmers during its latter years as an independent company. However, Blackthorn and its sister brands (e.g. Natch and Special Vat) are still popular in the south-west.
- Blackthorn (dry, carbonated)
- Addlestones (cloudy, still - the nearest to real draught cider made by any of the industrial manufacturers, though it contains artificial sweeteners)
- Gaymers Original (yet another bottled Magners clone)
- Taunton Traditional (cloudy)
- Diamond White (white)
- Olde English (dry, carbonated)
- Special Vat (medium dry, carbonated)
- Natch (traditionally popular in the Bristol area)
- Red C
- Orchard Reserve (traditional, bottled cider)
- A new range of 'Single County' ciders includes Devon and Somerset varieties.
A major loss as a result of the various closures has been the Whiteways non-alcoholic products "Cydrax" and "Peardrax": still made under licence in Trinidad, these could have been the driver's drink of choice.
UK distributor: C.O.S Brands (A subsidiary of Kopparberg Breweries, Sweden) The Matrix Complex, 91 Peterborough Road, London, SW6 3BU. Tel: 028 9066 8901. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A family owned brewery based in the town of Kopparberg, Sweden, Kopparberg Cider is Sweden's best selling cider brand. Available in the UK in 6 variants; Pear, Apple, Mixed Fruit, Elderflower & Lime, Strawberry & Lime and Alcohol Free Pear. Now the UK's number 1 pear cider brand, Kopparberg is also credited with the recent move to fruit ciders through its Mixed Fruit variant and more recently Elderflower & Lime and Strawberry & Lime.
4 Sceptre House, Hornbeam Square, Hornbeam Business Park, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG2 8PB. Tel: (01423) 872747.
Independent company that ships a lot of its "Ready-To-Drink" stuff through supermarkets.
Castle Court, 41 London Road, Reigate, Surrey, RH2 9RJ. Tel: (01737) 735007.
Manufactures unusual, strong but heavily filtered cider from cooking and dessert apples. The company produced its ciders in Sussex for many years, but has now moved production to Belgium. It is currently owned by the SHS Group. Merrydown's Vintage Cider is generally sold through supermarkets and off-licences, though they now produce a weaker, 5% bottled variant (website here) for pubs and clubs - "tastes best over ice". Apart from cider, the company is also known for the Two Dogs alcopop, and the rather less offensive 'grown-up soft drink' Shloer. Brands are:
- Merrydown Vintage Medium
- Merrydown Vintage Dry
- Merrydown 5%
Samuel Smith's Old Brewery, High Street, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, LS24 9SB. Tel: (01937) 832225.
Produces its own-label 'Cider Reserve', a dry keg cider which is the only draught cider available in its pubs. Perhaps a little more palatable than Strongbow or Dry Blackthorn. The pubs are well-known for selling beer at surprisingly cheap prices and the cider follows in this tradition. Samuel Smiths also produce a bottled Organic Cider. As they do not have their own website, the only available source of information appears to be this flyer published by an American importer. It states "For Samuel Smith's Organic Cider, apple varieties are selected to balance fresh apple flavour with tartness, acidity and sweetness. The juice is fermented at Samuel Smith's Tadcaster Brewery with a wine yeast strain that provides the clean finish and allows pure apple flavour to shine through." and "Smith's Cider is Certified Organic by the USDA-accredited UK Soil Assn." The bottles are carbonated.
Its uncertain if the "Cider Reserve" shares the same manufacturing process, but given Sam Smiths very traditional approach to brewing beer (except for the frequent use of carbonation) it would seem probable that the product is closer to "real" cider than "industrial"
La Cantina, Unit 4B, Saxonmill, 218 Bradford Road, Batley Carr, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, WF17 6JF. Tel: (01924) 457979.
Though significantly smaller in scale than the major cidermakers listed above, Saxon Cider has made a name for itself producing distinctive ciders from apple concentrate. Saxon Cider is also often to be found at un-enlightened Beer Festivals including many run by CAMRA. Whenever you come across it at such places, please point out to the organisers it's origins. From experience, it would seem that the main reason for festivals stocking Saxon is a mixture of ignorance and the fact that it's very cheap when compared to more favourable cider.