News & Reviews of Cider in Local Pubs
REVIEW OF HUNTINGDONSHIRE CIDER PUBS
There are a number of good pubs in the Huntingdonshire area which sell real cider. However few of these have sold the products of the many cider makers that operate in Cambridgeshire and surrounding counties. The local Cromwell ciders have been available in many pubs in the St Ives/Huntingdon area for some years but that until recently was about it.
In the past few months more ciders from local producers have made it into local pubs in the St Ives and St Neots area. The Pig ‘n Falcon in St Neots and The Oliver Cromwell in St Ives are definitely worth visiting. Also in St Neots new ‘micro’ pub The Ale Taster sells a selection of ciders. However elsewhere in the branch area Weston’s ciders are the only real cider sold by many pubs.
St Neots has become a great place for cider drinkers to visit with two pubs selling a wide range of cider.
At The Pig ‘n Falcon a range of ciders has always been sold but local ciders are now available. In late April there was a really good choice of ciders with a good range of sweet, medium and dry cider. This included three from local cider maker Potton Press Cider (Sweetspot, Cox and Trip Hazard). Also on sale were Franklins Dry, Lilley’s Cheeky Pig, Bottle Kicking Scrummage, Scrumpy Wasp Overcast and Abrahalls Thundering Molly. Two flavoured ciders were also available, Lilley’s Mango and Farmer Jims Rhubarb. SEPTEMBER UPDATE: The Pig ‘n Falcon has been selling a new cider from local producer Potton Press, with Grounds for Divorce 8.5% available at the summer beer festival in early July. John has introduced a cider from Spinney Abbey Cider with their Monk & Disorderly recently on sale. He has also promised to have their Nunn Behaving Badly on sale at some point.
A recent and welcome addition to the small number of local pubs which sell traditional ciders is The Ale Taster in Russell Street. It opened in February and sells a range of ciders which are visible in a cabinet behind the bar. The ciders included Bottle Kicking Scrambler, Weston’s Old Rosie, Snails Bank Strawberry & Lime, and one from Broadoak when they first opened, as well as Celtic Marches Crackling Rosie perry. However they have increased their selection which currently includes three from the local Cambridge Cider Company as well as Bath Cider Bounders and others. SEPTEMBER UPDATE: The Ale Taster is still selling ciders from the Cambridge Cider Company and has also been selling two ciders from Cromwell Cider but is likely to replace these with something from another local producer.
The Old Sun has in the past been a regular outlet for Weston’s Old Rosie. Confirmation of its continued availability here would be appreciated.
In nearby Abbotsley the local Hardings cider which is produced in the village has recently been seen on sale at the Eight Bells.
Cider drinkers are catered for here as well with The Oliver Cromwell which was recently selected as the branch Cider Pub of the Year for 2017. Cider from the local Cromwell Cider of Hemingford Grey is a regular here. A number of other ciders are now sold with local Potton Press Happy Medium and Hardings Three Piece Sweet (both favourites at our Booze on the Ouse festivals), along with Gwatkins Yarlington Mill, Millwhites Rum Cask and Oakham (Hogan’s) Orchard Reserve in April. All sold at a reasonable £3.80 a pint. The Oliver Cromwell will be holding a Beer, Cider and Oyster festival from 23-25 June. SEPTEMBER UPDATE: The Oliver Cromwell continues to sell a number of ciders. Oliver’s Choice from local Cromwell Cider is a permanent feature. Cider and perry from Gwynt ‘y Ddraig, Cockeyed, Orchard Pig, Farmer Jim’s have been seen on sale here on my recent visits rather than the products of other local manufacturers which have previously been available. At the end of July Yardarm 5.5% from Beard & Sabre and Garden Cider Elderflower 4.4%, both ciders that I hadn’t heard of before were on sale.
The Swan & Angel the new Wetherspoons pub opened in April. Gwynt ‘y Ddraig cider is sold here along with Thistly Cross Whisky Cask in April. They have an annual cider festival in July when several other ciders are available.
Other pubs in St Ives serving real cider are the Nelson’s Head (Cromwell) and the Royal Oak (Weston’s cider and perry).
Also look out for Simon’s Cider who has a stall on the St Ives Farmers Market that is held in the Market Square on the first and third Saturdays of the month. Their draught and bottled ciders are on sale.
The Falcon sells a number of ciders which mainly consist of flavoured fruit ciders. In April a varied selection from Lilley’s, Gwynt ‘y Ddraig, Celtic Marches and Snails Bank were available.
Nearby The Market Inn sells Weston’s Old Rosie, while out of the town centre The Victoria has in the past sold cider from Cromwell and speaking to the pub manager recently it is possible that real cider may be available here in the summer months. Wetherspoons Sandford House sells their usual range of ciders from Gwynt ‘y Ddraig and Weston’s, and an annual cider festival is held in July. The King of the Belgians in Hartford sells a cider from Cromwell and Weston’s Old Rosie.
A recent visit to Huntingdon Garden & Leisure by our branch cider representative found bottled cider from Cromwell Cider on sale.
HOUGHTON & THE HEMINGFORDS
The Three Horseshoes in Houghton and The Axe & Compass in Hemingford Abbots are both former outlets for Cromwell cider however neither pub currently sells real cider. SEPTEMBER UPDATE: since the last version of this article The Three Horseshoes was again selling a real cider with two available when I visited in mid June. Village Green Cider Norfolk Medium 5.7% from a small producer in Norfolk and Lilley’s Strawberry 4.0 were on sale. By July they had reduced this to one when I found Thistly Cross Whisky Cask on sale, with a BiB of Mr Whiteheads Toffee Apple coming on next. I was told that the real cider is selling well. Hopefully they will continue to sell cider over the autumn and winter months.
The Cock in Hemingford Grey only sells a keg version of the local Cromwell cider.
SEPTEMBER UPDATE: I have been informed that bottles of the local Cromwell Cider are on sale at the nearby Huntingdon Garden Centre.
SEPTEMBER UPDATE: A new outlet for real cider (actually perry) was the Vine in Buckden that has been selling Westons Country Perry since late June at a very reasonable £3 a pint. However this appears to have been short lived as it was not available on a visit in August.
The continued availability of cider from Glebe Farm at The Crown was confirmed when I visited in late August. Their Elderflower cider was on sale.
Many other pubs in our area sell real cider which is often Weston’s Old Rosie. Whatpub gives details of pubs which sell real cider. Updates to pubs selling real cider in the Huntingdonshire area can be submitted using Whatpub or sent to ku.gro.armac.stnuh@redic.
A number of local pubs will be holding beer festivals in the coming months some of which will feature local cider. Also there will be other beer festivals in the local area that will include cider and perry. Those organised by the Market Square Group usually have several ciders available.
See the events listing on our website for details of Local Pub Beer Festivals.
There has definitely been a welcome resurgence for cider in the Huntingdonshire area recently. I encourage everyone to get out in the coming months and visit some of the varied pubs in the local area that are selling some excellent cider (and perry).
LOCAL CIDER FESTIVALS
Cider was also widely available at many of the other beer festivals held in our area over the summer months. One event that deserves mention in this article is the 2nd Swavesey Cider Festival which took place at the end of July. Although I only found out about this event at the last minute a small group of branch members dodged the rain showers to make a short visit on the Saturday evening. There were around 20 ciders on sale with most Cambridgeshire producers represented. The ciders that we tried were all really good. I was told that they were selling really well requiring new stocks to be delivered. Thanks go to Jerry Laddell Cambridge Branch cider officer for arranging the ciders. Keep an eye out for this event next year as it is well worth attending. The venue is about five minute’s walk from the Swavesey Guided Bus stop.
NEW LOCAL CIDER MAKER - BROOKS & CONQUEST
I had been hearing rumours of a new cider maker for some months. Andy Blagbrough our branch cider representative finally tracked them down in early July. Brooks & Conquest ‘makers of fine artisan cyder’ are based in Somersham. Owners Peter Brooks and Mark Conquest have been making cider since at least 2016 and make a number of ciders using apples grown in Colne. The cider is fermented in oak aged vats before being bottled in distinctive 750cl bottles. Their dry cider Fen Tiger is made using mainly Bramley apple’s, and their medium (Cambridge Gold) and medium sweet cider (Devil’s Dyke) they add Cox apples. Andy reports that they are very much East Anglian style ciders and that the quality was very good. Their production is limited but I will try to have some at the Booze on the Ouse in October.
CAMRA CAMBRIDGESHIRE CIDER OF THE YEAR
The 2017 CAMRA Cambridgeshire Cider awards were announced in July. At a blind tasting Bourbon Cask from Pickled Pig was chosen as the winner from the 16 county cider makers whose products were being judged. The runner up was SO Cider Barrel No3 with Spinney Abbey Monk and Disorderly coming in third place.
Pickled Pig cider should be on sale at The Chequers in Little Gransden, and the Spinney Abbey Monk and Disorderly has been on sale at The Pig ‘n Falcon in St Neots recently so get out and try them. Cider from S O Cider will be available at our Booze on the Ouse festival taking place at the Burgess Hall in St Ives from 19-21 October.
CIDER IN CANS
I recently noticed that Waitrose are selling a number of ciders in cans. With modern canning technology meaning that more craft beer is being sold in cans I wonder how the cider compares to the real thing. Perhaps this is the future!
IAN BAPTIST (DEPUTY CIDER REPRESENTATIVE – HUNTINGDON BRANCH) 28 APRIL 2017, UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2017