Tag: World’s Best Cider

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Shiny shiny cider shiny

Look at the shiny. Go on, look at it. 

I think I may just about be recovering from a two-week long hangover. That’s the only reason I can think of why I haven’t written this blog before now.

On Tuesday 13th May, my compadre Bill Bradshaw and I were named winners of the Drink Book of the Year at the Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards, for our book World’s Best Cider.
This is a deeply gratifying award to win. For one thing, it’s very heavy and shiny. Judged purely in terms of melted down scrap value, it’s worth more than my six Guild of Beer Writers Awards tankards put together. It works far better than those awards as a doorstop. On the downside, it’s not nearly as good as those tankards for drinking warm Efes out of in a kebab shop at 3am as you try in vain to keep the post-award party vibe going. 
What was even more gratifying was that this is, as the name suggests, an award that judges books on all types of drink. We were in a shortlist of three, up against a book about wine and a book about champagne. Every single judge on the panel from the drinks world was a wine writer. And when we stepped onto the fourth floor of Fortnum and Mason for the drinks and canapé reception, the only drinks being served were champagne and rosé wine. 
After a couple of remarks that could have been interpreted as hints by an optimistic dreamer, and one too many phone calls from the organisers just checking that we were both definitely coming, I’d started to get my hopes up. But as I took my glass of rosé across a jungle-thick carpet to admire flower arrangements that probably cost more than my house, I thought, ‘Under this brand, in this place, there is absolutely no way a book on cider is going to beat a book about wine or a book about champagne. No way.’
But we did. And we were quite happy about it.
Playing it cool for the cameras.
Apart from succeeding in a much broader (and posher) arena than I’m used to, what was so gratifying was the reaction from judges I had very, very wrongly assumed would be sniffy about our subject. I still occasionally bump into people who think the idea of writing about beer is humorously absurd. Not as much as I used to. But for many, the idea of a serious book on cider is laughable. 
Not so for chefs, food writers and wine writers. 
I won’t repeat the best complements we had (unless you ask me in the pub) because this would be an insufferably smug blog entry if I did. Safe to say people who write about other drinks and get much more attention for them are genuinely excited about cider and its potential to be explored in more detail.
Following the ceremony we were ushered to the basement bar in Fortnum’s for the after-party. Now, I’ve been to a great many beer events. I’ve seen people get pissed at parties. I thought beer writers, brewers and publicans could really put it away. But nothing I’ve seen in a decade in the beer world prepared me for the sheer almighty CARNAGE that happens when the broader food and drink industry gets together to party. Perhaps it’s because champagne gets you pissed quicker. Maybe it’s because the only food on offer did a far better job of looking beautiful than of filling you up. But I have never seen so many people get so drunk, so quickly, in one space.
At one point Stephen Fry popped in for what I’m guessing was a quiet drink. His face registered surprise at seeing us all there, briefly, before being torn apart by sotted chefs and fucked-up food writers clawing at him for selfies. He held his ground and chatted like a hero for as long as he could stand, and was then literally chased out of the building by several people who had been waiting their turn when he decided to flee. 
The Hairy Bikers – also winners on the night – stuck it out with us. Dave Myers has read my books and says he likes them so this didn’t feel too much of an imposition:

L-R: Hairy Pedestrian, Hairy Biker, unhairy publisher who believed in the cider book and made it happen 

The bar stocked one beer – Meantime Lager – and no ciders. None at all. There’s still a lot of work to do to get people to reconsider good quality cider and take it seriously outside its current niche. But this night felt like a start. I’ll be suggesting a few brands to Fortnum’s that they might want to stock now this has happened. We’re talking to another TV chef about ideas around cider. It feels like things might happen, and if feels like there’s a broader appetite to learn more about this misunderstood drink.

Thank you so much to Jo Copestick (above with Dave) who has been hassling me to work on a book with her for years and guided us into shaping the book that needed to be written about cider even when we wanted to write a different one. And thanks to everyone else at Jacqui Small Publishing who made it happen. And thanks to my co-conspirator, who emailed me out of the blue one day, never having met me, and informed me that we needed to work on a book together. Turns out the mad scrumpy-necking bastard was right.

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If you aren’t spending this weekend in a muddy field shouting at a tree, why not?

It’s wassail weekend. We covered Wassails in World’s Best Cider. I also wrote about different wassails for the now-defunct magazine Fire and Knives. Below is one edited piece that’s an amalgam of three of my favourite wassails. Photos by Bill Bradshaw. If you’ve never been to a wassail, now’s the time to start.

A man wearing a
facial disguise, a coat that looks like it’s made out of 1970s wallpaper and a
top hat with flowers and ostrich feathers on it advances towards me with a lit
blowtorch, his eyes gleaming in the firelight. 
There would be no point
trying to run – we’re up to our ankles in sticky mud. We’d be blind outside
this circle of firelight. And we’re in the middle of a field, miles from the
nearest village.
The man with the
blowtorch raises it above my head and lights a torch I’m carrying. Soon there
is a procession of us carrying yellow flames that give surprising illumination
against the night.
Strings of light
bulbs adorn the naked apple trees, turning them silvery and petrified,
We gather around a
large, hot bonfire, a poker protruding from its
embers, and the drizzle loses its spirit-sapping powers completely if you get
close enough to the flames.  Someone
plays a jolly tune on an accordion – and then everyone falls silent.  The Wassail Master of Ceremonies takes the
poker from the fire and plunges it into a wooden pail brimming with cider. The
liquid steams and foams, spewing onto the grass.  The MC carries the pail solemnly towards the
oldest apple tree in the orchard, steam flowing down its sides like a witch’s
Now, the Morris
men carry the queen on their shoulders and deposit her at the base of the
tree.  She takes a pitchfork with a slice
of toast speared on its prongs and dips it into the pail, then raises it into
the tree and teases the toast free from the prongs, leaving it in the branches
of the tree to attract robins, who will in turn attract good spirits to the
tree. The crowd raises a hearty cheer, and scores of flashlights fire, freezing
raindrops in the air like diamonds. 
The Queen’s reward
is a hearty drink from the cider pail, something she accomplishes so
enthusiastically it earns her another cheer. 
She pours the remains around the base of the old apple tree, giving back
the fruits of last year’s harvest to its roots. 
And now the entire crowd is gong batshit-crazy, banging sticks, cheering
and ululating, scaring away the evil spirits from the tree. Five men in flat
caps and neckerchiefs stride forward, raise shotguns and fire two volleys into
the branches, the retorts so loud I feel it in my chest rather than hear
it.  Orange sparks fly, smoke fills the
branches, and the air is thick with the smell of cordite.
And that’s when it
happens.  Reality shifts.
Mythology often
talks about ‘liminal’ places. 
Liminality, from the Latin limen,
or ‘threshold’, basically refers to a transitional state during a rite of
passage. Anywhere from an airport terminal to TV’s Twilight Zone could be described as a liminal place.  Throughout our history we’ve spun tales of
the existence of other worlds parallel to ours own, various heavens and hells
and, especially, the world of faerie. Normally these worlds are entirely separate
from ours and it’s impossible to pass between them at will. But there are
certain places – liminal places –
where the walls between the worlds are thin. 
A little magic seeps through and the edges, the margins of our world,
become infected by it.  Normal rules
bend, and at times don’t apply at all. 
In our search for
liminality, for mental freedom, we’re rediscovering that childlike ability to
simultaneously believe and disbelieve in magic. 
And as the cordite fills the air and the thick smoke hazes the faerie-lit
trees, for a few minutes I genuinely believe – I know – that we have succeeded in driving evil spirits from this
realm, back through the liminal space to the dimension where they belong.
Everyone else
knows it too. Tomorrow we’ll completely accept that the apple harvest is down
to weather patterns and soil, judicious stewarding and farming technology.  But not tonight.
Or maybe it’s all
just a good excuse to get pissed.
As the younger
children start to file out home, happy and tired, the Fallen Apples take the
stage and do a brief soundcheck, West Country style:
Harmonica player
(blasts a note): Z’at sound oroight?
Audience: cheers
Guitar (strums a
chord): Z’at sound oroight?
Audience: cheers
Bass (plays a few
notes): Z’at sound oroight?
Audience: cheers,
and then before the cheers have chance to die down, the band launches into
something so stupidly bluegrass-catchy that there’s a moshpit where families
were standing only seconds before.  Cider
flies through the air in golden arcs. 
The farmyard mud is stamped into submission.
It’s late by the
time they finish their set, but over in the big barn, the Skimmity Hitchers are
just getting going. These are the kings of the genre known as ‘Scrumpy &
Western,’ possibly because they invented it. 
In the hands of these funnier, modern day Wurzels (a band they’ve
supported), My Girl Lollipop becomes My Girl Cider Cup, and Ring of Fire becomes, well:
I drank down a lovely point of cider
It went down, down, down and my smile it
grew wider
And I yearns, yearns, yearns,
For a pint o’ cider
For a pint o’ cider
By the time Monkey Man is somehow impossibly
improved by its mutation into Badger Man,
and a fully-grown man in a badger costume takes centre-stage, the audience has
abandoned its earlier moderation. 
Everyone, myself included, has their own
two-litre carton of Jungle Juice hooked over one thumb.  Plastic glasses long since hurled through the
air, we drink straight from the spout.
As the set nears
its end, the audience reaction, while enthusiastic, sounds strangely incomplete.
Then I work out what it is: people are too drunk to clap.
One of the nice
things about this wassail is that it requires no crowd control. By midnight,
the crowd is simply too wankered to carry on, and everyone makes their way home
happily, haphazardly, with wide, warm grins on their faces.
But that’s not the
best thing about wassailing. The best thing is simply that it’s here, it
happens. Wassail simply sticks up two fingers to the most depressing time of
the year. It says, yes, I know party season is over, but we’re going to have a
party anyway, a really big party, and we’re going to hold it in a farmyard, in
the middle of winter, and it’s going to be really good.
And while I’ll
admit it might be the drink talking, I can think of no more laudable triumph of
the human spirit.

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World’s Best Cider is out now and all over the place!

My new book, World’s Best Cider (co-authored with Bill Bradshaw) is out in the UK this week. The North American edition was published on October 1st).

Ever since I became known as a beer writer, people have asked me about cider. They seem to assume I’ll be just as knowledgeable about it as I am about beer. Why? “Well obviously, because you’re a beer writer.”

My mantra throughout the writing of this book was that cider is ‘The world’s most misunderstood drink’. This is just one example – people assuming that because you know something about a drink that is made by malting barley, mixing it with hot water, boiling the resulting wort and adding hops and then yeast for a drink that combines bitterness and sweetness, you’ll also be perfectly au fait with a drink that is made by the careful selection and blending of different kinds of apples (or pears), mashing up the fruit, squeezing out the juice and allowing a months-long fermentation (usually with either wild yeast or champagne yeast) to create drink characterised by a balance of sweetness, acidity and tannin.

Many who don’t drink cider believe it offers a simple choice between sweet, fizzy commercial stuff containing as little as 35% apple juice, and hardcore ‘scrumpy’ that can be awesome but can just as easily be cheesy or vinegary or smell like a farmyard. Cider campaigners tell them that this is ‘the good stuff,’ and they think ‘Really? In that case, I’ll pass.’

Go to the US, and most people think that cider is fresh, unpasteurised, non-alcoholic apple juice.

Poverty Lane Orchards, New Hampshire.

Go to Frankfurt and talk to the apfelwein community, and they will refuse to believe you that Britain makes and drinks fifty per cent of the world’s total cider volume.

Go to Quebec, and you’re likely to find a cider maker who treats his product like fine wine, and has no idea that most of the world’s cider volume is sold fizzy and long, with an an alcohol content more in line with beer.

I didn’t know any of this when photographer Bill Bradshaw e-mailed me out of the blue in 2010. He’d read Three Sheets to the Wind on holiday and decided that we had to work together. He suggested we do a road trip across Belgium, drinking beer and recording our progress. Maybe we’ll still do that someday. But when I found out that Bill was fanatical about cider (as well as being a former beer brewer) I suggested he teach me about cider instead.

Lovely section headers…

As we delved into the subject, pitching early ideas at publishers, we realised something extraordinary. Michael Jackson wrote the first World Guide to Beer in 1977. He introduced Belgian beer to the world. He set out a classification of global beer styles. He inspired the beginning of the American craft beer revolution. Since he wrote that book, countless others have followed, evolving into a fixed format that breezes through the history of beer, talks about how beer is made, then travels around the world’s most notable brewing regions comparing styles and traditions. As book has followed book, this format has evolved into a catalogue of beers, comprising hundreds of bottle shots and tasting notes. Perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of the first World Guide to Beer 35 years later is the almost complete absence of bottle shots. From a time less plagued by attention deficit disorder, the book is a collection of longer essays about countries and beer styles, written with quiet authority. Examples and tasting notes crop up in these essays, but the beers are never presented in an identity parade.

Hugh Johnson had done the first World Atlas of Wine six years earlier. Since then we now have similar books on cocktails, rim, whisky, coffee, tea – you name it. But not a single example of the same approach to cider.

Why not?

I think it comes back again to being misunderstood. Very few cider lovers realise that there is any cider tradition in the world other than their own. Here in the UK we believe cider is a quintessentially British drink, and most existing cider books I’ve found focus on Britain exclusively. But the sidra-loving Asturians in northern Spain think they own cider, as do the artisanal producers of Normandy, many of whom only make cider as a step along the way to creating Calvados, the most treasured produce of the orchard.

Canadian ice cider. Your new favourite drink.

The cream of the producers from these regions, plus others from Canada, Germany, Austria, the US, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Norway and Japan, have only really started sharing and meeting with each other in the last five years or so. It’s rare (but not impossible) to find a collection of great ciders from around the world in any shop, pub, restaurant or bar on the planet. (We did find one. It’s in the book.)

El Gaitero in Spain proves you can do both big and good.

So the format of World’s Best Cider will be familiar to pretty much anyone who’s ever bought a book about beer or wine. But the content won’t. As Bill and I discovered on our travels, almost everything you thought you know about cider is, if not wrong, then certainly incomplete. We soon realised we only knew a fraction of what was going on, and went on a very steep learning curve. We met three, maybe four people in the world who had a good grasp of the whole global picture. It’s thrilling to be part of broadening that appreciation.

Because this book is the first of its kind, I took some inspiration from the original World Guide to Beer, and there are more essays and longer articles than readers of this style of book may be used to. We both wanted to explore the culture and tradition of cider a well as the taste and style, and profile some of the characters who create it. This comes at a cost: this is not the Good Cider Guide. It doesn’t aim to give you every cider worth drinking so tickers can work their way though it. We give tasting notes for about 250 ciders. Some people tell us they never realised there even were 250 ciders in existence, but we’ve only scratched the surface here. Ben McFarland’s World’s Best Beers – the sister title to this book, from the same publisher – features 1000 beers.

Some of the 250 ciders in the book.

This means that if you’re a cider fan there’s a possibility your favourite cider may not be here. If you make good craft cider and your brand doesn’t feature, this is not a slight. When you break it down, there’s very little space of each individual country. The ciders here are just a cross-section and are not meant to be the last word.

Worth going to Japan for…

The book also covers pairing cider with food, and cooking with cider, as well as a section on the apple itself – a wonderful story in its own right. And we’ve attempted an initial cider style guide, going from light commercial cider and farmhouse scrumpy though apple wine style ciders to perry, Calvados and pommeau. (If you’ve never hard of pommeau, as I hadn’t three years ago, that’s worth reading about on its own).

No jokes about pork in cider…

We’re doing a whole bunch of events to support the book – tomorrow I’m meeting London Glider Cider at Stoke Newington Farmers’ Market for a reading and tasting at 1pm. My blog is finally in the middle of a long-overdue revamp, and in the next few days there will be a new, separate events page which will be updated regularly with more tastings and talks.

Most exciting of all – for me at any rate – I’ve made a programme for BBC Radio 4 about cider as the world’s most misunderstood drink, and the new wave of cider production and enthusiasm that’s spreading around the world. It is broadcast at 12.30pm on Sunday 20th, and will be available on iPlayer for a while afterwards.

Cider is a very different drink from beer, closer in many ways to wine, but not too close. Deceptively simple and straightforward on the commercial side, it opens up to reveal a world of craft cider that is both more straightforward than craft beer (our definition if craft cider is basically cider made with a hundred per cent apple juice, or near to it) but goes in all sorts of different directions (dry hopped cider, anyone?)

I am, inevitably, being drawn into conversations about which is best – cider or beer – and whether this new push into the cider world means I’m abandoning beer.

But why settle for one awesome craft drink when you can have two?

Whatever makes you thirsty.

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Cider: Always drink responsibly. Unless you’re from the 1970s.

It’s Cider O’ Clock here on Pete Brown’s Blog for the next week or so. World’s Best Cider is now on sale, and launches officially next week, which is nice, because it’s also the week of various Apple Day celebrations.
I’ll be writing quite a bit about the book, about the themes within it and some of the fantastic people we met while researching it, over the next week or two. But to kick things off, I wanted to share with you some images of real cider ads that ran in the 1970s and can still be seen in the Bulmer’s Museum in Hereford. It’s a great place. If you think Bulmer’s have only ever done bland, tasteless commercial crap, you need to go and have your perceptions changed. Once, they made the best cider in the world, by any reasonable standards, and the evidence of this is still there.
By the time the images below were being developed, they were making bland, commercial crap. But without this crap, we would never have got these ads. It’s a price worth paying. It’s ads like these that made Woodpecker such a success for Bulmer’s in the 1970s and 1980s, and they remain an inspiration – a lodestone – for alcohol advertisers in the new millennium.
Today, the British advertising Code of Practice states:

“Marketing communications must neither link alcohol with seduction, sexual activity or sexual success nor imply that alcohol can enhance attractiveness… [and] must not imply that drinking alcohol is a key component of the success of a personal relationship or social event.”
Happily then, this ad targets bar staff and simply urges them to draw pints of Woodpecker from the font, ready for thirsty customers with nothing but refreshment on their minds. 

Beer still struggles to shed a macho, boorish image after decades of advertising that many women have found alienating, or even offensive. This has led to a situation where only 15% of beer volume in the UK is drunk by women, compared to 40% in Spain.

Meanwhile, one of the main reasons for cider’s success is that it is acceptable to both men and women. It’s managed to avoid the sexist tropes and stereotypes that beer relied on for so long, and cider vlume is split much more evenly between men and women.
This ad, for example, simply asks us to imagine ourselves as winged creatures, as embodiments of Woodpecker’s brand values – colourful, interesting and free, chirpy and beloved, and to share our drinks in a responsible fashion with our fellow ‘birds’.

The rules on alcohol advertising in the UK are some of the strictest in the world. The introduction to the regulatory code states that “marketing communications for alcoholic drinks should not… imply, condone or encourage immoderate, irresponsible or anti-social drinking. The spirit as well as the letter of the rules applies.”
Mindful of this, our final ad depicts an abstract representation of two Woodpecker consumers sitting in a relaxed fashion, enjoying a responsible drink away from their natural habitat. Their informal poses indicate ease and comfort in each other’s company and their environment. The line simply reminds us that our usual routine and habitat – our ‘tree’ if you will – can feel restrictive, and every now and then it’s nice to go somewhere else and do something different. The very use of the word ‘some’, when it could have said ‘lots of’ or even ‘all’, reminds us that fact that consuming alcohol should be only an occasional occurrence.  
If only more of today’s alcohol advertisers followed the Code of Practice so closely, perhaps we’d have less of the Daily Mail/health lobby hysteria around alcohol that we have to endure today.

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“Events, dear boy, events!” (As Harold Macmillan probably didn’t say)

autumn is busy at the best of times and I have a book coming out in October.
Here’s what’s keeping me on the road and off the streets for the next couple
This one goes out to all the ad industry planners doing the job I used to do. I’m leading a meander of planners around Southwark tomorrow lunchtime, discussing Shakespeare’s Local and ending up in The George. Contact Sarah Newman at the APG to book a place if you’re interested.
I feel a bit bad that a pub named after George Orwell – one of the greatest ever English writers – was changed to the name of one of my books. But not too bad. The Hops & Glory is an excellent pub at the top of Essex Road in Islington. This Bank Holiday Weekend it’s having an IPA festival, and they invited me down to do a talk on the history of possible the greatest ever beer style. I’ll be talking, reading from Hops & Glory, signing books and tasting beers.
(After my talk, I’ll be checking out two other excellent Bank Holiday events in pubs that are walking distance from the Hops & Glory, purely as punter: a weekend-long cider festival at The Alma on Newington Green, and a celebration of East London Breweries at the Duke of Wellington on Balls Pond Road.)
Meantime’s Old Brewery hosts a monthly beer dinner where you get to taste a stunning array of beers bound together by a loose theme. I was delighted to be asked back to do a new one after a successful IPA dinner at the end of last year. The theme for this one is the role of beer throughout British history, and a look at the different forces that have shaped the development of beer, and the way beer has in turn influenced the development of society. The beers on the menu are a symbolic, rather than literal, representation of key styles over time, starting from the present day and moving back in time. Here’s the menu in full:
A History of Britain According to Beer
The Old Brewery Beer and Food Night Menu
Meantime London Pilsner
Timothy Taylor Landlord
Smoked eel, carrot and beetroot salad, horseradish
Hobson’s Mild
Beef Wellington, Welsh potato cakes, ale gravy
Redchurch Great Eastern IPA
Apple pie with custard & vanilla ice cream
Meantime London Porter
A selection of British cheese with beer chutney &
St Bernardus Pater C
To finish
Kernel Export Stout
Full details and ticket booking are available at the Meantime Old Brewery website.
The ‘Glastonbury of Food Festivals’ (copyright: the entire foodie media) has become a bit of a regular fixture for me and every year it’s so good I decide that I’m emigrating to Wales before subsequently sobering up. This year Bill Bradshaw and I will be talking about World’s Best Cider and sampling a few different ciders from around the world. 
Tickets for this event have already sold out! Returns may be available. But the next day, Bill will be interviewing one of my favourite cider makers – Simon Day from Once Upon A Tree. Simon’s ciders are quite unlike anything you might imagine, recalling the seventeenth century tradition of Herefordshire fine cyder. I’ll be in the front row holding my glass up. Tickets are available here.

The book hits the shelves! We’ll be doing various events around the country. Details will go up here when confirmed. 

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The Guide to Welsh Cider and Perry

Wales has got its mojo back. The last refuge of off-colour jokes about people based on their nationality or ethnicity has flourished since getting its own Regional Assembly in the late 1990s (and a healthy wodge of EU funding), transforming itself from a ravaged post-industrial slumpland into a vibrant, exciting tourist destination that has stunning scenery and great food and drink at its heart.

Take the Abergavenny Food Festival – for one weekend every September, the whole of this beautiful market town is taken over by a riot of food and drink producers chefs, writers, beer tents and the occasional random performance artist for a joyous appreciation of food and drink. It might be lazy to refer to it as ‘The Glastonbury of food festivals’, as some journos have, but it’s not inaccurate.

Abergavenny also sits at the heart of Welsh cider country. Monmouthshire shares climate and geography with neighbouring Herefordshire – one of England’s two great cider making regions. And the last fifteen years have seen an extraordinary revival of a Welsh cider making tradition that had all but disappeared by the 1970s.
In 2000, two Welsh cider makers founded the Welsh Perry and Cider Society to promote what was then an embryonic re-birth. Now, the society has over forty producer members, from people who make a few gallons in their sheds for competitions, to large brands such as Gwynt Y Ddraig, which has nationwide listings in ‘Spoons among others. By the mid-noughties, Welsh ciders were winning more than their fair share of awards in national competitions, and today, from virtually nowhere, Wales is one of the most important cider making regions in the UK.
Last year the WPCS invited people to tender to write the Guide to Welsh Perry and Cider. Bill Bradshaw and I won the pitch. 
The Guide is now available. Self-published by the Society, it’s not as widely available as a book via an established publisher would be, but if you are interested in cider I’d humbly suggest it’s worth tracking down. 
The job of the book is to give details of everyone who makes cider commercially in Wales, as well as details of pubs that serve good cider, and festivals and events where you can try a decent range. I wanted to make this entertaining as well as informative, to capture some of the personalities and a sense of place. Bill’s excellent photography more than delivers on that. Like any great cider making region, Wales has a good smattering of eccentrics and visionaries with stories to tell. Wherever cider is drunk, an element of joyful anarchy is loosed, and it doesn’t hurt that you’re surrounded by some of the most stunning scenery in the UK. 
The book is available through Amazon here, and will be selling at events and in Welsh bookshops and tourist centres.
Talking of events, I will hopefully be doing something around the book at the Green Man Festival next month, which has a fully fledged Welsh beer and cider festival within it this year. (I’m already confirmed to do a beer and music matching event on the Literature Stage at 2pm on the Sunday). And Bill and I will be talking about the book and doing a tutored cider tasting at this year’s Abergavenny Food Festival – by which time, our World’s Best Cider book may also be available…
Iechydd da!

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World’s Best Cider now available for pre-order on Amazon!

One of my favourite points in the birth of a book is when it first appears on Amazon – it’s the point where it becomes real, out there as opposed to being just part of the author’s world. It’s also when we get to show off about the cover! (Yes, I’d prefer it to be bought for real bookshops that pay their taxes, but Amazon is the place where you can get it most easily.)

World’s Best Cider is a departure from my previous books in that:

a) It’s co-authored – on this occasion with Bill Bradshaw, AKA IAMCIDER in the blogosphere.

b) It has a simultaneous release in both the UK and the USA.

c) It’s more of a typical, illustrated coffee table type book rather than being narrative-led like my previous ones. When Bill and I decided to work together on cider we were looking at doing some kind of illustrated ‘Three Sheets‘-style travel caper. But when we realise that no one had ever given cider the ‘world guide’ treatment that beer got from the likes of Michael Jackson and, more recently, Ben McFarland and Steve Beaumont and Tim Webb, we just had to jump in there and do it. I’m glad we did. We’ve tried to minimise the number of pages that are just bottle shots and tasting notes – although we’ve still given that treatment to around 250 ciders from around the world – and give a flavour of cider based on its history, regional styles, terroir, and most importantly, the characters who make it. So as well as looking great, we hope it’s a book people will enjoy reading cover to cover.

Publication dates are 1st October in the US and 17th October in the UK – just in time for Apple Day!

So anyway, here’s the cover of the UK version:

And here’s the US version:

Which do you prefer?