This week we head tup'North to Dunham Massey near Manchester. Cider maker Chris Hewitt gives us the low down on Dunham Cider, his beautiful full juice cider and some thoughts on the current Northern cider scene.
Watch out the South, the Northerners are coming....
Where are you based? Why here?
We are based in Dunham Massey south Manchester. This is where our farm and orchards are and we have been National Trust tenants here since the 1930s when my Grandfather first came to Dunham.
Describe your cider co in 3 words...
Northern, Real, Quality
What makes your ciders stand out from the crowd?
Its made from apples grown on our farm here in Dunham Massey. Its 100% juice and not from Concentrate.
What is the key to producing good cider/perry?
Patience, don't rush the maturation stage of producing your cider. The wait is definitely worthwhile.
Share with us a 'cider fact of the day'
Dabinett is just one 50+ varieties that we grow in our Orchards
What is the most difficult challenges you face as a cider-maker?
Being limited to producing 70hl is certainly challenging and a concern for those small scale cider producers who wish to see their business grow beyond that barrier.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
I would like to see cider makers equivalent to small brewers relief whereby we pay a reduced rate of duty but having the ability to produce an increased volume thus enabling our business to grow.
Is there an appetite, growing appreciation of real cider in Manchester?
I can see an increase in cider appreciation up here in Manchester a lot of this is possibly down to the increase in more artisan outlets; Altrincham market and Grub come to mind - they are looking for more local craft producers. However, I think that we need more education about the regional differences and styles of cider, for example, which would help to differentiate our Northern product, as many consumers perceive cider to be a generic product.
After drinking the excellent fine ciders @oliverscider and @harrys_cider at @MCRCentralCamra cider festival we headed to @BrinkMCR and tried the Dunham Press Dry Cider - a lovely easy drinking local cider. Lovely bar and highly respect their committment to local beers and cider— Cider Buzz Mcr (@Ashton1848) June 16, 2018
Also, this would help to position cider as an artisan product more akin to wine than to beer. Matching cider with foods would give them a different appreciation and that drinking a craft cider isn’t just for warm sunny days, but that it can with friends sat around the dinner table enjoying various meat, cheeses etc. (By the way I love pairing our cider with game, not just for cooking with but also to accompany the meal at the table.
Is there much collaboration with cidermakers Up'North?
Back in January, at the Manchester BCF, we held a meeting of Northern Cidermakers. Those attending included Udders Orchard, Grumpy John Cider, Mad Hatters, Red Bank Moss Cider, as well as James Mcilwraith and Hannah Barton from SICA. Our aim is to have a more formal group but how long it takes for this to happen remains to be seen.
Favourite apple/pear variety? Why?
Dabinett. It produces a great single variety cider for us as well as being able to blend it with our other ciders.
What are your most excited about this year?
We are looking forward to releasing our first batch of Perry later this year made from a blend of Thorne and Huffcap.
Do you have any events planned that people can come along to and be part of?
We shall be holding our 2nd "Party in the orchard" towards the end of June. Then next January our annual Wassail.
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Craft Cider Spotlight: Dunham Press Dabbler Cider
This is our first single variety cider made from Dabinett apples grown in our own orchards here in the North West. This has produced a cider with rich caramel, spicy aromas which is well balanced with a long aftertaste.