The sun was shining, we’d just found a new flat to rent and it was a friend’s birthday. Three equally good reasons to head to the Brunel Passenger shed early on Saturday afternoon for a spot of cider sampling!
Friday and Saturday played host to Bristol’s 2nd Winter Cider Festival, organised by CiderFestivals.co.uk. We paid our £7.50 on the door and headed to the end of the hall to buy our “scrumps” – cider festival currency where one scrump equates to one glass (half-pint) of cider. We were given our programme and list of ciders, each with a box next to the name to rate it out of ten – and it was time to begin.
With 106 ciders and perries to choose from, we took the easy option at first by heading to the bar and taking whichever random choice the barman gave us. This turned out to be Lilley’s Apples & Pears – a sweet, slightly sparkling cider – for Em, and Pheasant Plucker for Al – a light and easy-to-drink cider. I think starting at the weaker end of the scale (5.2% and 4.5% respectively) was a good idea, before moving on to the harder stuff later!
We soon discovered that, of the four bars, bars 1 and 2 were our favourites – these held the sweeter varieties of cider, including the strawberry and cherry varieties that we sampled later on in the afternoon. Some of our friends were more adventurous, including one cider festival veteran, who very easily identified the three or four that he’d not tried before…a man on a mission!
The festival was accompanied by local band The Mangledwurzels to get everyone into the West Country spirit, and hog roasts and cheese platters were available to soak up the alcohol. All in all a great afternoon for us cider festival virgins…roll on the next one in mid-February!