Master Hopped Cidermakers
Founded in 2015 it was our mission to redefine craft cider. Craft beer had a revolution, but why was cider left behind? We set out to craft the best cider by blending specific pressed apple varieties together to untap unique flavour profiles. Cidermaking has typically been the foray of an aging vanguard - it takes tradition combined with vision to market and distribute cider far and wide. Craft beer calls to the next generation through intrigue and innovation, not only during the blending process, but on the bar and in the fridges too. 'Beard & Sabre Dry, Medium and Sweet' just wouldn't do if we wanted to inspire people to drink our cider.
During the fruit cider rush in 2017/18, we too experimented with these styles. It is well known that cider makes a great vehicle for many other flavours - but we just couldn't get behind it; to dedicate years of research of blend combinations and varietal attributes, just to have them covered up by overbearing non-pomme fruit. It is during this period we discovered that hops have a unique relationship with cider: they can compliment the ciders inherent acidity and tannin, creating unique (and natural!) drinks that aren't overbearing.
In 2019 we moved from our launch site, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, to the outskirts of Bristol. We are now only 30 minutes away from our source orchard, Orchard Park Farms in Shepton Mallet. There we press our apples in season and allow to mature for two years. We then take the matured cider to our packaging location at Clutton Hill Farm, infuse (dry hop) our hopped varieties for one month and then pack them into bottle, bag in box and keg so that you can get hold of the good stuff. Alongside Bristol, we field a small Manchester contingent to make sure the North has access to a steady supply of the best hopped cider.
Hopped cider is a fresh concept here in the United Kingdom and we are proud to be the first cidermakers to completely specialize in this unique style of cider. Whilst hopped cider has a great reception in the United States, it's less common in Europe as it's hindered by being in the catch-all made-wine duty band.
Our experience includes creating ciders from fresh wild hops, whole flower cones, hop pellets and even hop essences. Currently there are no published recipes, guidelines or articles on the correct way to hop a cider. As of such, we have carried out extensive research in the field. The range of hops available means that research into hopped cider will be an ongoing process for the cidermaking community. Applying heat during the process can change the resulting cider wildly, for example, and infusion duration is an art more than it is a science (in our humble opinion). Low alpha hop varieties are preferred, as hops used in cidermaking are for flavour, not bittering.
The best hopped cider, in our experience and through experimentation is by preforming a natural infusion with fresh hops opposed to essences, as these can be volatile in nature (and what would the cidergods think?). If you are seeking advice in hopped cidermaking at home, or commercially - we are happy to help, please do get in touch.
We are members of the Three Counties Cider and Perry Association, Small Independent Cidermakers Association and we feature at many CAMRA events across the country. We also produce an unhopped cider, Idunn, as we can't be great hopped cidermakers if we can't make exceptional, craft apple cider!