Real cider factsheet for publicans

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Are you a publican thinking of stocking a real cider or a real perry in your pub? Or are you a drinker who'd like to convince your local landlord? This page answers common questions about real cider and real perry, and is designed to be printed off as a handy factsheet.

What is real cider and what is real perry?

Real cider is made from fresh apple juice, not concentrate - and without any artificial sweeteners, flavourings or colourings. Real perry is the same, but made from fresh perry pears instead of apples.

Both are delicious drinks, and premium products - ones which should be found in every pub which cares about their drink. You wouldn't think of running a pub without real ale, so why should cider or perry be any different?

Pubs who stock real cider and/or real perry regularly find that it increases their sales, rather than cannibalising existing drinks.

Who makes it?

Real cider-makers range from small farmhouse operations to the big regional producers (Westons, Thatchers, Sheppys, Biddenden). They produce a wide range of ciders - cloudy or clear, sweet or dry, strong or (even) low-alcohol. You can stick with one, or rotate between a variety.

The big manufacturers (Bulmers, who are part of Scottish Courage; and Gaymers, part of Constellation), however, only make keg cider - brands like Strongbow, Scrumpy Jack, Dry Blackthorn or the like. These are the Watney's Red Barrels of the cider world.

Real perry-makers are generally not such large concerns, but there are plenty out there. Just ask one of the suppliers listed below, for example Jon Hallam.

Why don't other pubs sell real cider?

They do! Real cider is rapidly becoming more popular. Every Wetherspoons pub in Britain now sells several real ciders, on draught and in bottles. The ukcider website lists over 700 pubs across Britain which serve real cider, from the cider strongholds of Herefordshire and Somerset to Manchester, Scotland and the Home Counties - and there are hundreds more. CAMRA regularly publishes a Good Cider Guide, and its Good Beer Guide includes an 'apple' symbol for real cider. Real cider is an established part of pub life, and growing fast.

Where do I get it from?

Your existing wholesalers might already have a range of real cider (Waverley/The Beer Seller and Dayla, for example). Many real ale breweries also carry real cider (such as Moles and Hook Norton).

There are several specialist cider wholesalers (see the list at www.ukcider.co.uk). Some of the larger cider makers, such as Westons, Biddenden and Broadoak, will also supply direct.

Here are a few national suppliers to get you started:

  • Boggart (0161 277 9666).
  • East-West Ales (01892 834040)
  • Jon Hallam (01291 627242)
  • Merrylegs (John Reeke)(0777 601 3787 or 01626 770845)
  • Molecrew (01798 861975)
  • Waverley/The Beer Seller (01963 32255)
  • Westons (01531 660100)

How should I store it?

Keeping it in the cellar with the other beers is fine, particularly if the cellar is kept cool - as it should be for real ale. If the cider is in a polykeg and is filled well (air gaps are killers of cider!), then the cider should last for a few weeks. Opening the cider prior to serving is a bad idea as this allows air to get in.

Some publicans store their real cider on the floor of the larger fridges - but it's not a good idea to serve it direct from here (unless it's a heat wave...).

So the key points are:

  • make sure the container is full
  • keep the container tightly closed
  • keep the container cool
  • only open the container when ready to serve

What happens if no-one drinks it and the cider goes off?

If you're worried that real cider won't be popular, play safe and order a 'manucube' or a bag-in-a-box. These keep the cider fresh for much longer - up to three months. In addition, the bag-in-a-box is an attractive addition to the bar, and advertises the presence of real cider very well.

The bag-in-a-box system has been popularised by Westons, and is now used in many Wetherspoons pubs. Other cider makers who use the Bag-in-Box system include Perry's, Rich's, Rough Old Wife and Sheppy's, and all are available mail-order in sizes from 10 litres upwards, should you wish to start small to test the market. Manucubes are available from several cider producers.

How do I publicise the cider?

In the pub, make sure the cider's visible - put a poster up, perhaps, or chalk it up on the board. Don't just leave it in the back-room and expect people to ask. Why not check out our sticker and poster campaign - Real Cider Stickers & Posters

And very importantly, make sure all your bar staff know you've got some, what it is, where you keep it, the price and how to enter it on the till.

Add your pub to the online guide at www.ukcider.co.uk.

How should I serve it?

The worst thing you can do with real cider or real perry is serve it ice cold... this will kill most of the taste. Cool is fine, but don't worry about chillers and the like. Real ciders and perries have many bouquets and flavours that may only be apparent when it is approaching room temperature.

Please don't be tempted to serve it over ice.

What about my customers who like Strongbow?

By all means keep it! You don't have to stop selling your existing cider - adding a real cider should mean you sell more cider, not less.

In time, you might want to consider replacing Strongbow or Dry Blackthorn with a 'halfway house', such as Westons Stowford Press or Thatchers Gold. Though these tasty ciders don't meet all the criteria for real cider, they're made from cider apples, while their carbonated nature is appealing to those more used to Strongbow.

Where can I find out more?

The UKcider website at www.ukcider.co.uk is full of information, including lists of cider-makers, wholesalers and pubs. There's also a link to an associated mailing list, full of helpful people who can answer any more questions you might have. Your local branch may also be able to help. 81534442_16330653b6_o.gif