Cider is victorious once again…

…but beer and wine weren’t far behind!

Tuesday night saw us trekking up to the Kings Arms at the top of Whiteladies Road for the second Big Cheese Taste Off of the year, which saw Trethowan’s Dairy cheeses paired with Orchard Pig cider, Bristol Beer Factory beers and Strawberry Hill wines in a battle to establish the ultimate cheese and alcohol combination.

Underhand tactics had already begun before the event, with Bristol Beer Factory threatening to eject cider fans and Orchard Pig also trying to swing the vote in their direction. Trethowan’s, on the other hand, decided to stay well out of the debate (well, nobody was voting for or against them, were they? 🙂 ) I had to laugh when I arrived at the pub on Tuesday evening and saw the board advertising the event: an Orchard Pig-branded board, chalked up to read:

“Welcome to the cider + cheese evening

A natural and traditional pairing”

Over the course of the evening, we were treated to the following pairings:

– Gorwydd Caerphilly with Orchard Pig Dry Cider, BBF Acer and Strawberry Hill Orion

– Dorstone Goats’ Cheese with Orchard Pig Medium Cider, BBF Hefe and Strawberry Hill Regent Rose

– Stichelton with Orchard Pig Medium Table Cider, BBF Milk Stout and Strawberry Hill Cotswold Classic

Trethown’s Dairy’s Todd and Alex, BBF’s Andrew, Orchard Pig’s Andrew and Strawberry Hill’s John all stood up with each pairing to give us a description of their product, and, in the case of the drinks, why it matched best with the cheese, before all taking part were asked to tuck in and rank the drink matches from first to third.

Considering how much I love my cider, combined with the fact that I’m really not a beer fan, I was slightly surprised by my voting: wine/cider/beer for the Caerphilly, cider/beer/wine for the Dorstone, and cider/beer/wine for the Stichelton. The final results were as follows…

 

Gorwydd Caerphilly:

1st – Orchard Pig

2nd – Bristol Beer Factory

3rd – Strawberry Hill

Dorstone:

1st – Bristol Beer Factory

2nd – Orchard Pig

3rd – Strawberry Hill

Stichelton:

1st – Bristol Beer Factory

Joint 2nd – Strawberry Hill/Orchard Pig

 

Overall Results:

1st – Orchard Pig

2nd – Bristol Beer Factory

3rd – Strawberry Hill

 

Although I started the evening with the original aim of taking copious notes so that I could write up this blog post, the same thing happened as last time. Personally, I blame Orchard Pig’s generosity (a whole bottle of cider between two for each round) for the fact that I got pretty drunk pretty quickly, and ended up with five pages of notes that are either illegible or consist of interesting facts from the evening, such as…

  • John from Strawberry Hill was in the heating trade before joining Tim, who renovates WW2 tanks, at Strawberry Hill.
  • Andrew from Orchard Pig never intended to make cider, he originally bought the orchard to rear Gloucester Old Spot pigs.
  • Strawberry Hill also grow bananas, and are developing the first British-grown port.

…and also a few choice quotes, for example:

  • My friend Nick on the Orchard Pig medium cider: “Tastes like drinking an apple pie”
  • My friend Laura, on the same cider: “I would happily drink this if there was no wine available” (she’s addicted to wine, and can’t stand cider)
  • Trethowan’s Todd: “Don’t mind me, I’m just sniffing my cheese”
  • BBF’s Andrew on the Milk Stout (our table has a slightly smutty sense of humour…): “…big creamy finish” (yes, childish, I know…)

A fantastic evening all round – and good to see a local vineyard getting in on the act. For those who missed out, the third taste-off is taking place in Bath next Wednesday, October 27th – check out the Bristol Beer Factory website for more details.

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