RG 2008 August

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8289401_8cd6453906_s.jpg This page is part of The Cidermaking Year by Rose Grant

August , 2008



Sticker and Poster Campaign

What great news that Jez is back. He has obviously been very busy with his clever computery jiggles and has been having geeky conversations with Andy. It is so good to hear that all is now sorted out and ready for downloading from the wiki. Well done Jez and Andy!

The accompanying good news is that today I received 40 beautifully printed stickers from Dick, all the way from Colorado USA. How very kind of Dick to keep us going after he had already gone out of his way to get us off to such a good start!

Now we can really get them around and put them in the pubs, so well known to you all, that sell the real stuff. I've already seen and reported on how well the stickers are received by landlords. They can see that our sticker gives them an 'edge' and usually I've been left with the definite impression that they feel honoured to display it. Mind you, I do try and give the impression that they have been awarded it, rather than begging them to put it up.

Actually I do see it as an award for selling real cider! However by far the best aspect is that it makes people aware that there IS an intrinsic difference when compared with all that stuff from the over advertised brands. I've been asked a good many times to define the difference; what it is that makes it 'real' compared with the factory product. I'm always happy to oblige and hope that there are many more pub goers, who having seen the sticker, remember to look up ukcider.co.uk when they get home and learn a lot more.

I can advertise here again now. To all who wish to make 'the award' to their local pubs that are known to sell the genuine article, just drop me an email with your address and I will be pleased to put you some stickers in the post. To those that I have sent some, but have had to ration to just one or two, again just let me know how many more you need. I trust that nobody will order more than they can use. I'd like to think that Dick's 40 and those on the way to me from Jez, are spread across the Country as effectively as possible. I will also be sending a few more to craft cider producers for putting on their stalls at public gatherings.

Now we have really got started and must say many thanks to Jez and Dick, from us all. Without their unstinting efforts it would not have happened. I am sure that our campaign will not only make people more aware but also get them on the lookout for some real cider. Once the prototypes have all been sent out, it will be down to you all to keep things going and increase awareness still more, by printing stickers and posters directly from the ukcider wiki. This in turn will help to increase demand and allow the tradition of full juice cider to prosper.

On ukcider the postings over and over again show our main concern is that real cider should flourish. By taking part in our sticker and poster campaign, you will really help it to do so!

Getting Ready for the Season

Every day I look at the excellent crop of Tom Putts and Redstreaks that are steadily ripening and it is obvious that I will need to start pressing within the next fortnight. This has brought on the usual eleventh hour panic about the state of the equipment, the time of year to play the engineer with spanners and screw drivers once again.

I knew before last year's pressing was over that it would be necessary to change the motor on the Mono pump, that I use for transporting the pomace. I'd used a 1 HP motor that came fitted with its own worm reduction gearbox. The high starting torque required by the Mono had given the gearbox a hard time and it had begun to slip on start up. I now know that the high torque had been translocated to the worm as a sideways force causing rapid and uneven wear to its end bearing. This became enough to allow the worm to slip out of engagement with its pinion under the high starting load.

The firm that sold me the pump recommended that a 3 HP motor and gearbox be fitted. They said that although the pump only absorbs about 1/2 HP when running, it really needs 3 HP to kick it into action on start up. I decided to take their advice. Having discovered how the pump revolutionised my process last year, I would hate to be without it at any time during the season to come. The 3 hp motor and its gearbox is such a heavy beast that I've spent part of last week on my knees fitting it to the pump. The whole assembly is now become so heavy that it must stay forever on the floor! The motor is 3 phase so I had to buy an expensive inverter to drive it from my single phase mains. It also needed a larger coupling to connect it to the pump. This was also expensive, but luckily the shop keeper is a cider lover and was pleased to accept a box of cider as payment! Now that the job is done I'm pleased to say that the pump runs very sweetly and is all set for the off.

The next item to be checked was my old stalwart, the Vigo 1500 mill. It screamed when I switched it, on so I turned it off rather quickly. When I then rotated it by hand I could hear a clicking sound coming from the motor bearing below the milling chamber. There was no doubt that this was sound emitted by motor bearings when calling out to be replaced. Being wise after the event, I can now tell other owners of these mills what had happened and how to avoid the problem.

A year or so back, the rubber seal at the driving end of the motor had perished allowing juice to enter the motor bearing. I obtained a new seal from Vigo , fitted it to the motor and all was well. I milled away merrily all last autumn without being aware of the further damage being done. What had happened was that the corrosive juice had stripped the lubricant from the bearing. The bearing had been running dry and was now ruined.

As the motor had to be removed in order to fit the new bearings, I examined the seal that I had previously replaced. It was then obvious that these seals degrade in the presence of apple juice and presumably the friction heating from the motor spindle. The seal had become very brittle from last year's use of the mill, so I decided to replace it as a matter of course. I would recommend to anyone who uses this mill or its smaller brother, that the seal be replaced at the start of each season. It could save the sort of trouble that I've just had. By the way, although it is possible to fit a standard oil seal, don't do it. The Vigo seal is 'food grade' and contains a stainless annular tensioning spring. The apple juice would rot a standard oil seal.

Nevertheless, I've found the 1500 mill to be an excellent bit of kit and I want to keep mine going forever. Providing the blade is kept well sharpened it is rare for the mill to jam, even if apples as large as Bramleys are dropped into it! My 1500 with its new bearings now runs beautifully (almost as quietly as a Shark mill!) and I'm looking forward to using it again.

This could be as soon as next week. Today I was promised a load of Nehous! I'm a Nehou convert now, having used them last year and discovered the remarkable tannic flavour they possess.


References: Mono Pump, Nehou, Shark Mill

Recommendations for Ray's New Orchard

I found myself almost completely in agreement with Stephen Hayes' recommendations, save for one thing. I would never plant Bramleys in a cider orchard.

He rightly mention the wondrous Ashmead's Kernel. Why not suggest planting 6 of these as acidifiers. I find it to be just as useful as Bramley for pH reduction in a blend and it comes with the bonus of superb flavour and aroma. It always crops well, is undemanding of soil type and ripens at the end of season. This is just the time when you realise that all those lovely Dabinetts and Yarlingtons have nudged pH up into the danger zone and there at hand is good old acidy Ashmead; the remedy with the added flavour.

Ashmead also comes into its own a few weeks later as a delicious eating apple for Christmas. It is better than Cox in my opinion. In fact I've been so impressed with my first tree of this variety that I have since planted another six of them!

Of course Bramleys can be useful in moderation. I'm always pleased to use those that are given to me each year. The truth is that you don't need to grow them yourself! Most gardeners plant one for apple pies and end up wanting to find a good home for the 95 % of the crop that they cannot use. I've had to turn away many a kind offer from people who hate to see them going to waste, because I won't risk more than around 2% of them in my blend.

In my Local at Last

A much wished for personal milestone has been reached. My Local, The Crown at Winterborne Stickland, near Blandford, Dorset, is having 'Cider by Rosie' at their Beer Festival this weekend and on Monday (23 - 25th Aug). There are 7 more ciders and 11 real ales to choose from and best of all the weather is forecast to be better than we've had for a while. Since James and Claire took over the Crown they have put in a lot of effort organising special events at the pub to raise funds for various charities. Sadly they have been dogged by awful weather on every occasion. I sincerely hope that their patience will be rewarded this weekend and that a goodly sum will be raised for Cancer Research. James and Claire really deserve to be well supported after their long battle with the wet stuff from heaven!

Although my cider is now in about a dozen pubs in this area, my big ambition has always been to have it in 'the Local'. It hasn't been for want of trying on my part and James has in turn lobbied the brewery (Marstons) without success. David the previous landlord also tried to persuade Ringwood, the pub's then owners, but had also hit the tied house brick wall. However both David and James have kindly allowed me to have a cider stall in the pub car park at most of the pub's outdoor events, but until today my pride and joy has not made it as far as the actual bar.

The tie is usually waived for Beer festivals of course. To have only the limited offering approved by the brewery would be no festival at all! James effectively used this argument with Marstons, who were assuaged when told that their Classic Pale Ale and the Ringwood ( whom they now own) Seventy Eight and Night Watchman would be on offer.There will also be real ales from Thwaites, Jennings, Branscombe, Cotleigh, Teignmouth and O'Hanlons. I am really looking forward to a glass of O'Hanlons Royal Oak. This famous ale was once brewed in Dorchester by Eldridge Pope, a delicious dark brown nectar that used to be the 'ale of choice' in these parts and I loved it. Following the closure of Eldridge Pope, O'Hanlons brewery has spent much time recreating the original recipe.

Do come along if you possibly can. The Crown is a national treasure, ancient, thatched and beamy, need I say more? You will be greeted enthusiastically by our charming young landlady and landlord and you will have a great time. There is live music and a BBQ every day. Cream teas are also available on Sunday and Monday as well as entertainment for the children.

I will be there this evening to celebrate my debut with a glass of the fondly remembered Royal Oak and then a wee taste of the ciders. It's rather exciting because I don't know what all of them are yet, other than the usual suspects from Westons etc.

See you there maybe, Rose.

PS. 'Cider by Rosie' is also back again at the Greyhound in Corfe Castle. It is this weekend only I'm afraid. It is because they like The Crown, are having a festival. Thank heaven for festivals!

My First Export

Another first for me and one that really took me by surprise, came yesterday. I had a call asking for 8, 20 litre boxes of my cider to be shipped to Ireland for sale at The Electric Picnic music and arts event. It is to be held on 29th to 31 st of August at Stradbally, County Laois. It's an outdoor event with camping. ( An Irish Glastonbury perhaps?). I don't know how this came about as I do not advertise, other than what people may happen to read here. Whatever the reason, I'm thrilled that my B-in-Bs are going beyond these shores for the first time!

I hope yours will be there to keep it company David. It seems your fellow countrymen have realised the need for something other than Magners! Best of luck at the Dublin Beer Festival.


David Llewellyn

Hi Rose, so now at last I too will taste your cider!! Yes my cider is due for the Electric Picnic also. The tickets for the festival are sold out months ago, so I'm looking forward to sneak a few hours of rambling through the festival having gotten through the barriers as a 'cider delivery man'!! Though I'm now based outside Dublin, I grew up for a while in Stradbally, where it is taking place in the grounds of a once-grand, now somewhat delapidated, country mansion estate, and I loved sneaking through the boundary wall and wandering through the magnificant parkland estate through the majestic trees, and exploring the abandoned walled garden with its remnants of espalliered pears, and orchards of apples. Little could I have imagined back then that at a future time my very own cider would be enjoyed by hundreds, possibly thousands, of revellers within the walls of that old manor house walled garden!! I look forward to raising a glass to you Rose!

David L.

Dublin Festival

That is good news, David! I'm so pleased to hear that your cider will be there as well as the Dublin Festival. It sounds as though you are fighting back well after your unpleasant brush with the authorities. Well done!

How interesting to learn of your happy childhood exploits at Stradbally. How well I recall my own childhood scrumping whenever I taste a perfectly ripe Victoria plum. Like that first taste of real cider, never to be forgotten! I loved your description of the rambling old estate and the walled garden. I've not seen Stradbally, but your words reminded me of my visits to Bantry and the crumbling demesne at Kilrush where I saw that the old walled garden was being beautifully restored. I must visit Ireland again now so that I raise a glass or two of your own! Is it still called Double L?

I've been wondering about an outlet over here for Con's apple juice but can't come up with anything as I have no experience of the retail field. I half expected Barry to say something as he has considerable knowledge and experience in selling to the public. He may have a useful contact at Borough market or elsewhere. Bless him, he even managed to get some of my cider distributed by a brewery in Essex this year!

It may be that Barry is still having communication problems. Apparently a neighbour accidently knocked down the phone pole and cut off his connection. To make matters worse Telecom have been obliged by new regulations to put the reconnecting cable underground. It is easy to imagine just how long a job like that could take them!

I expect that right now Barry is working his socks off with his stall at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, along with Nigel Stewart of Bridge Farm Cider. There is a massive thirst for cider at the Steam Fair, the heat of all those engines I suppose. It's a bit out of my league I'm afraid. However I'm glad to say that the festival at our Local seems to be going well, in spite of the leaden skies. At least the rain has held off.