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#Rethinkcider Part 1

My approach to writing articles on my own website is a little like my approach to my tax return - I really want to do it and gain great satisfaction when I do, but it takes a lot of energy. So I procrastinate. And then get distracted ("ooh, look, a badger...") In this case I've been procrastinating for 5 months. Crikey, it wasn't even Christmas the last time I wrote. Where did the time go? I know I'm nearer to 40 than to 30 because all I seem to say is "Isn't the year going fast?!" But, for me, it is going fast, and for that I need to be thankful. Sitting in the golden sunlight of a spring in full bloom writing about the fermented apple is always a joy. And you know what, whisper is quietly, but this cider thing is all about to kick off. But, anyone who knows me knows that even my whisper can be pretty audible. What gives me the confidence to say this? Well, enough things that have come to pass so far this year, and enough that lies ahead, for me to make this article a two-parter, so hang onto your smock and settle in for the ride. Selling out cider tastings in the dead of January, discovering fine cider in Glasgow's cool beer fridges and having cider being discussed on multiple panels at CBR - the biggest craft beer event in the UK - wasn't happening a year ago. It is now. This is testament to the actions of the progressive cider crew of makers, talkers, distributors who are all trying to make a difference. Now really is the time for the drinks trade and drinkers to #rethinkcider. CiderCon once again demonstrated the USA's continued juggernauting into Cidersville - the people, the passion, the downright unabashed fun of it all. Wow! It's so invigorating. Wouldn't it be great if something, even vaguely, resembling that took place in the UK? Well, up steps the Three Counties Cider and Perry Association to host the inaugural CraftCon at Pershore College. And what a resolute success it was, too! Part technical training, part industry discussion, part mega knees up (I mean, networking opportunity, obvs), for the first time, it felt there was some real cohesion in the room. Too often smaller cider makers seek to point the differences between themselves, or lament what is not right, real, or proper. CraftCon managed the trick of reminding these producers that there's more that binds them together than separates them. Bravo. https://www.facebook.com/craftynectar/videos/343073036331477/UzpfSTYxMjAzMDczOlZLOjQyMDI3MTkyODc1MDg2Mg/ The most surprising experience was my attendance at CiderWorld - Europe's biggest cider event, that has been held for more than a decade in Frankfurt, Germany. It may come as a surprise to learn that Germany, especially the Hessen region, with Frankfurt at its core, has an old cider heritage - known there as apfelwein. Comprising of a competition followed by trade and consumer fair, CiderWorld attended not only by German producers, but also by cider makers from Norway, Finland, Italy, Spain, Austria, the USA and Luxembourg. So many new names, new faces, new tastes and new styles. I was like a kiddie in a sweet shop. Speaking of Luxembourg, my old friends from Ramborn did something rather special during the course of CiderWorld. Teaming up with Two Michelin starred Frankfurt restaurant, La Fleur, and award-winning Luxembourgish chef, Lea Linster (imagine a slightly more flirtatious Delia), and with a little bit of assistance from me, a 6 course cider matched dinner was put on. But this was no ordinary dinner, this was the most sensational and important Cider Gourmet the world has ever seen! To have the foodie glitterati happily paying €198 a head for supping on fermented apples and having their minds blown was a highly gratifying and seminal moment. Bravo. And then, without a doubt, the most bonkers experience has been delivering my cider courses as part of the Beer & Cider Academy to a roomful of Norwegian cider makers (current and prospective) and food & drink experts. At a cider farm in Norway. In a fjord. On the same latitude as Southern Greenland. OMG. Not only to find apples being grown, but West Country varieties, to boot, was mind-blowing. Surely this must be the furthest north such apples are grown anywhere in the world (someone prove my 100% unsubstantiated assertion wrong please!). To be admiring a Dymock Red cider apple tree with the snow capped jagged peaks behind was an experience I'll never forget. The hospitality, friendliness and quality of the cider from the family behind the Ciderhuset and Balholm was something that will forever be with me. Tusen Tak Age, Eli-Grete, Aard, Tuba and Edda! Stay tuned for part 2 of #rethinkcider. It's going to be a busy old spring and summer of cider! https://www.facebook.com/ciderhuset/videos/374629683132556/
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