The season is now drawing to a close, the pressing is nearly finished and the seasonal smell of mulled cider has started.
Next Friday and Saturday Dunster by candlelight will be happening, go and drink mulled cider at the Dunster Castle hotel it will warm the cockles of your heart.
I have a 240ltr hydropress for sale and a spiedl apple masher only been used for one season excellent for small producer or group cider making. If your interested please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The last couple of weeks have been nicely productive.
You can now get Mad Apple cider in the Queens head in Minehead, very pleasant and I hear excellent reports on their carvery.
The Dunster Castle hotel, in the beautiful Dunster village has reopened under new ownership the atmosphere is lovely, the staff all look very happy which means a good place to visit.
The Ancient Mariner, Nether Stowey a pub I have always liked. Opposite Samuel Taylor Coleridge cottage nice beer, nice food lovely staff what more do you need.
Again after several months I have not done my blog, what can I say.
The new cider has just come on line I've now acquired my first hundred gallon barrel. I think I'm ready for the year ahead.
I've just spent ten minutes of my life writing about things went to upload it lost the lot as we went offline.
Shortened version, The Farmers Arms , Combe Florey opening mid July serving Mad Apple Ciderco and Patriot beer which has relocated from Wichford to Bicknoller.
Congratulations to Ben and Tanya at Pebbles Tavern Watchet for winning South West region Cider pub of the year fingers crossed for the national winner.
They deserve to win purely on originality and behaviour.
An excellent year so far, the trees looked wonderful with the blossom on them.
The cider I pressed last harvest tastes lovely and fresh.
Again I have not blogged for a while, I am nearly finished all the heavy work, aching suitably, as I would say to other people its your career choice. Mulled cider is now being produced for the cold nights that are approaching it warms the cockles of your heart.
I had a wonderful weekend at the Bristol University Botanical gardens meeting lots of lovely people.
The weather was wonderful and everyone was enjoying themselves. Highly recommend visit next year.
The last week has been very hectic.
I went to The Norman Knight in Wichford to help run a cider festival, there was also the Watchet Festival on very well attended and the music was terrific.
I did the ice bucket challenge outside pebbles, I forgot the soap.
My next project is to sort out a new press for this season as I have to now be more efficient.
Saturday was another day of achievement for Pebbles Tavern, Watchet as they were presented with their award from CAMRA for being the South West region Cider Pub of the year. Can they now win the next section and hopefully win the National cider pub of the year. A massive congratulations from the Mad Apple Cider Company.
Mad Apple cider co had a most wonderful Sunday, we attended the launch of Halsway Manors appeal at the Simouth Folk week.
It was extremely well received. Taffy Thomas mbe gave a brief history of Halsway then launched the appeal with Andy Cutting who had written a jig, which was then auctioned the lucky winner getting to name the the tune.
The atmosphere was amazing and to see so many happy faces could not have been nicer. Well done to the organizers and helpers.
The holidays are upon us and cider is flowing like a small river. It is quiet noticeable that more people are drinking cider possibly as part of their five a day.
This weekend has been a busy one with the beer and cider festival at the Carew Arms, it has been an excellent festival with live music, pig roast and barbeque, well done to the organizers and staff who have worked very hard.
Also it has been the Watchet carnival this weekend no doubt well attended I could not get there to see it myself but I'm sure I'll hear about it later.
After many months of not blogging, it is time to catch up
Cider is becoming very popular and deservedly so especially if it is natural.
First and foremost I have to congratulate Pebbles Tavern, Watchet, Somerset on winning the SW region Somerset Pub of the year. Ben and Tanya who have only been in charge for a year have made a wonderful success of it. The atmosphere is lovely and they get some extremely talented bands and musicians playing there.
Mad Apple Cider Co is also making its first appearance at the Watchet Music Festival a natural cider for natural folk the fest starts on the 22nd till the 24th of August please visit their website for further info. www.watchetfestival.co.uk
It's apple picking time once more and we have been out in the orchards. It’s great to be amongst the trees again, but I must say, there don’t seem to be as many insects about this season and the apples are smaller than usual. This means that some cider makers will need to collect more, although they may find that certain trees are bare. The summer wasn’t as hot as we would have liked, and the orchards would have preferred a bit more warmth. Still, never mind. We are sure that we have enough available for Mad Apple, and as always, we have a healthy stock of vintage cider.
Morgan Sweets tend to be the first apples that we collect. They add a lovely sweet taste to the cider. We will blend them with other old traditional varieties for that special Mad Apple taste people have come to expect.
Ian’s got the grafting bug now and has been collecting scions from some of the best trees in the orchard to use. It will be exciting to see the results. Let’s hope the rootstock and scions fuse properly!
Yesterday we went to a grafting demo and today we made our own first attempts at the job, having grafted one tree each. We used root stock and then attached old varieties of cider apple trees which we will place in gaps in the orchard closest to the farm all going well. It will be exciting to see them grow! Fingers crossed!
The farm orchard we use near the barn has been smartened up. Traditional hedgelaying has made it look even more rustic and beautiful. We’ve been doing a little early spring cleaning in the barn too, washing the press cheeses and putting everything in its place.
The Notley Arms is now open and the Foresters Arms Hotel has also started selling our tipple.
We went to the opening night of The Notley yesterday evening, and very pleasant it was too. The staff were warm and friendly, the menu looked tasty, the pub clean and fresh and of course, the cider was top notch!
What a beautiful sunny day it was today. We were pressing and mashing apples in the warm sun under the blue sky, just like it was early autumn. We managed to work extra hard with a spring in our steps. Doesn’t everything seem easier when the sun has got his hat on?
Even Alfie the dog saw fit to clamber out of the back of the landrover to inspect the cider making, which is unusual in winter.
We’ve just about filled up another big vat of apple juice, and the vats already filled are fermenting away nicely. You can almost hear the juice guffawing and muttering away happily as it turns to cider. It’s definitely live!
At last we have our landrover back so we can collect more apples. Most cider makers have finished by now, but we were really held up. Still, we have pressing to finish first and deliveries to make. A cider maker’s job is never done. It certainly seems that way anyhow!
Mad Apple Cider will make its way to the Notley in about a week, and may be headed to Bridgewater soon too. It has certainly spread its wings lately. Speaking of which, the peacock appeared yesterday sporting a fantastic tail of new feathers which must be at full length by now. He looked proud, just like he’s supposed to!
The chickens on the farm seem to have grown in number, and they like to pop by and watch us pressing apples now and then. Today they marched through the yard, the cockerel at the front leading his wenches, plus one duck who thinks he too, is a chicken. They peck at any stray apple mash they can find and paddle through puddles as they forage.
The pressing is still going well. Ian seemed to have an extra surge of energy today, perhaps fuelled by all the sugar he consumed over Christmas and New Years celebrations. He really shifted those apples. I could hardly keep up!
A small set back occurred due to our landrover still being off duty, meaning we couldn’t yet collect the final batch of apples in from an orchard we should have finished by now. The orchard owner gave the apples to someone for his pigs……Lucky pigs. Still, we have already far exceeded last years yield.
Christmas has come and gone and we’re still pressing apples! The final sack loads from the last orchard near the barn are sweet, crunchy and fresh, and it’s these we are using at the moment.
A little shrew made his home in a sack still under an apple tree, and I felt guilty turfing him out. However, the weathers not that cold yet, so I’m sure he’ll soon find a new home to settle down in and watch the temperature dip while avoiding the frost when it comes.
We’ve developed a better way of getting more juice from the press each time we fill the cheeses, and it’s great watching all that extra apple flow freely. We’ve also begun supplying The Carew Arms at Crowcombe with Mad Apple Cider and look forward to when The Notley Arms at Monksilver re-opens its doors as they will be selling our cider too.
We are still merrily pressing apples and watching the big vats fill up, or rather listening to them as the juice splashes into them. Ian stops now and then and climbs the ladder to eagerly glance inside to see if the juice has reached the top, but it takes some time!
The first vat of mainly Morgan Sweets is ready and some may be blended with the vintage Mad Apple to sweeten it a little, although we will save some as it is for drinkers who like their cider dry and strong.
Our Landrover engine died so the cars waiting for surgery at the garage, hence we’ve borrowed a nice little tipper truck from my dad. It’s ever-so funny attempting to squash myself, Ian, the dog, barrels and our lunch bag into the front as it’s tiny in there.
The weather has been kind to us compared to last year; however I’m starting to feel the cold. As I have Raynaud’s my digits tend to get freezing and then throb and swell, so I’ve begun wearing as many layers of clothing as I can still move okay in while working outside making cider and popping in and out of the barn. It may not look fashionable to dress to resemble a padded sumo wrestler but it sure beats the cold. Brrrr!
We’ve had many successful days pressing apples, and have finally collected almost all sacks from numerous orchards where they had been patiently waiting for us. This was, of course, dependant on the weather. Next year perhaps we would do better to buy a second-hand Fergie tractor to help us get in and out of boggy fields. I must say though, pushing the car and trailer out of the mud does seem to have given me muscles, so there is good in all things despite problems!
We are half way through filling another huge vat with cider to be, and love listening to the first splash as the juice hit’s the insides on its way down. That’s the only thing we stop pressing for, apart from Pop Master on radio 2, and coffee and sandwiches.
We’ve noticed many fine specimens of fungi in the orchards and they certainly seem to be plentiful this year. If only I knew more about which were edible and which aren’t, I’m sure they would make a tasty edition to dinner. Ordinary field mushrooms and parasols are easily identifiable however and so safe to pick.
It’s very satisfying pouring apples into the crusher, although I expect I’ve said that before. Turning apples into cider is a magical affair that requires hard work, a smile and the ability to leave nature to do its thing without too much tampering!
We’ve had an eventful few days. Part of the press broke, but is now fixed and Mad Apple is being sold at several more venues which is great. The torrential rain has returned with vengeance today, but we still managed to do a few bountiful pressings and some apple crushing.
We’ve done lots of apple pressing lately. It was great to be able to recognise many of the varieties of apples there were as we poured them into the crusher. I could even identify where we had gathered some of them, notably the Cider Ladies Fingers which came from Nether Stowey. Their name stuck in my mind as we had them officially checked at a recent apple day in Devon.
After picking up the harvester from Orchards Live we stopped for a well earned takeaway, but forgot that we had left Alfie the dog in our car with a shopping bag within reach. When we got back the seats, handbrake and seatbelts were covered in butter, and Alfie, who looks like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth had globs of the stuff dripping from his chops and an innocent expression on his face!
Since then we’ve harvested many sacks of fine apples. They looked like brightly coloured sweets in the grass, and those left in the trees reminded me of Christmas lights like they always do.
At one point, actually for one and a half hours, we got the car stuck in the orchards mud. I thought I was being clever when I suggested we put a large tarpaulin under the wheels as we had nothing else to create traction. It turned out to be a bad idea as it became entangled in a wheel as it spun around in the mud, and we spent ages lying in the dirt getting it back out. Oh the joys of harvesting after torrential rain!
Well today it tipped with rain, my wellies split and the press seemed to be drunk as it was all lop sided. Still, after a quick trip home and a rummage through our old clothes I dug out our waterproofs and we were fit to face pulping and pressing once more, no matter what Mother Nature threw at us.
The peacock came to visit and see how we were getting on, and I’m happy to say his feathers are growing back so he isn’t so bashful anymore. The chickens from the farm escaped and wondered up and down trying to find out what we were doing too. Our faithful dog Alfie, who’s a cross between a deerhound and a staffie, had a pyjama day and refused to get out his bed in the back of the car until it was getting dark and we had to hang up our waterproofs for another day.
The apple juice has finally reached the top of our huge vat, number one, which means we have a long way to go still (x8!). There’s a vat of vintage on the go however, so we won’t run short. The last of the Morgan Sweets are still being pressed, and they are lovely and juicy. The Yarlington Mill apples smell sweet like pears and are a pretty pink colour as they come out of the masher.
Triscombefest has come and gone and what fun was had! The music was great, and The Plonkers got everyone dancing. The Bears and Rusty Razor also went down well with a few pints of Mad Apple Cider, or of course, the great ales that were available. The atmosphere at The Blue Ball Inn was welcoming and happy, and the pies were particularly delicious.
Since then we’ve begun mashing, pressing and collecting apples once more. Unfortunately some of the orchards were a bit water-logged today so we had trouble attempting to use a big trailer to bring out sacks of apples and had to resort to many trips back to base using a small trailer instead. Still, progress was slowly made and the juice is flowing beautifully from the cheeses in the press. Time now for a well deserved mug of sweet tea each and a bath as we both smell like apples!
We started apple pressing over the last few days. It’s great to see those first few drops of juice squish out from the cheeses and trickle down the press into a bucket: all that hard work coming into fruition.
A sunshine beam warmed us as we worked, until it hailed down! That was a shock after the late summer. However, we’re happy as all is going to plan, although we have a lot of work left to do.
We will be setting up a bar in the garden of The Blue Ball Inn over the next few days ready for Triscombefest which begins on Friday.
Mad Apple's come a long way since its humble beginnings in the frost laden orchards of Somerset last year. This seasons harvest is expected to produce 4000 to 5000 gallons of cider. Happily, most fruit was picked in the glorious sunshine and provided many hours of back breaking merriment for myself, Ian and our Portuguese friend the Apple Whisperer.
We know he's an Apple Whisperer from the manner in-which he scares apples from trees, (see photo below), and tuts them into baskets. Each time one misses its aim during collection he lets out a sharp tut, and then it magically appears where it should be.
Apple collecting has been pleasantly uneventful, our only trouble being the threat of sunburn, drunken wasps who lazily strolled around the apples at the base of trees and a big black ram called Phil, who took a few steps closer to Ian's behind with horns locked in position for action each time he bent down to pick up an apple.
We still have just under half our allotted amount of apples to collect, but are pleased to note that we are going to hire the apple harvester again to save labour and time.
The first seasons pressing, containing early ripening apples such as Morgan Sweets, will commence next week. No doubt the friendly robins who hang about the barn where pressing takes place will sit and watch, along with the wandering peacock who is presently embarrassed due to the moulting of his bottom feathers.