My UK Cider Tour Day 2 started off with a replacement bus service from Bristol to Newport. Wales isn’t world-famous for its cider…yet. I have managed to get my hands on a few bottles in the past and they have always been quality.
The bus was jammed packed with just me, another guy and my bike underneath. Leaving Newport I found a great little bike path along the canal heading out of town towards Pontypool. As soon as I left the bike path my bike points uphill, up and up. At the top of the hill is Hallet’s Cider.
I’m greeted by Ann and Andy Hallet. They have been making cider for a while now. The philosophy is simply old methods with some new tools and they aren’t afraid to borrow the odd wine making trick. Ann explained to me that they were having a lot of problems with quality control on when they send their cider out to be kegged. Andy has a background in engineering. He is working on a solution. By repurposing some stainless-steel fermenting tanks into CO2 tanks, he will be able to fill his own kegs. The way the system is set up, any of the tanks can be used for fermenting again just by opening and closing the right valves. As seen in the video below.
In the tasting shed we go through some of the bag in a box, ciders starting with the dryer ones and moving to the sweeter ones. None of them are super sweet realistically they are just above medium. I get the impression that a lot of cider makers only make sweet ciders because people think they like them, but most will be happy with something much dryer if they are shown a good example. The conversation turns to bottled conditioned ciders, Andy ducks around the corner and returns with a half-sized cork and caged bottle. It looks like he has somehow retrieved the bottle from a mine shaft.
This was a bottle from 2009, it was a bit of experiment. It had been resting on its side so a little of the sediment had been disturbed. Even after 9 years once the cage was removed, the cider still had enough pop to push out the cork.
Under the frothy head is a rich amber cider. The apples are still fresh, the toffee is controlled. People have asked me about cider and used by dates, if it’s made as well as this, those dates are nothing to worry about.
After a quick spot of lunch, I was back on the road. Downhill time, well at least for a little while. The rest of my day is up and down B roads. I’m sure the country side is lovely but all I can see are hedges.
I finish my day in the quaint town of Monmouth. It’s just inside the Welsh border. Saying that at the local pub that would be hard to tell. The Football World Cup is on the telly and the Welsh feeling very English tonight. I settle in to a glass of Mortimers Orchard by Westons to close out the day.
UK Cider Tour Day 2 Ride