North Beds CAMRA
The Campaign for Real Ale
Let's see more real cider!

Real cider is a long-established, traditional drink produced naturally from pressed apple juice. Unlike most beers, it is fermented, by naturally occurring yeast on the fruit, in a cask or similar container and served direct to the glass. Unlike processed cider, it is neither pasteurised nor artificially carbonated.

Real perry is produced and served in a similar way to cider, but is fermented from pears. Real cider and perry have both become popular in recent years outside their traditional homes in the West Country, the Welsh borders, Kent, Sussex and parts of Norfolk. More people are discovering for themselves the mellow and aromatic flavours of naturally produced real cider and perry. Visitors to our own Bedford Beer & Cider Festival last October had little difficulty getting through almost 400 gallons in four days.

Unfortunately, real cider faces a similar situation to real ale 30 years ago, with a diminishing number of outlets, even in its traditional home areas. Real perry is in an even worse situation, with fewer producers and the loss of many traditional perry pear orchards in recent decades.The best known UK ciders are fizzy keg products produced artificially rather than naturally, pasteurised, carbonated and served cold.

Local ciders

However, small cider and perry producers have started up in areas not usually associated with these drinks. Even in Bedfordshire, where the old farm cider tradition died out more than a century ago, four new producers have recently gone into business. The Harrold Calvados Society first produced its Lambasted Blue Spot Cider just over two years ago, and has been joined more recently by Elizabeth Evershed's small operation in nearby Odell. There are other new cider producers in Dunton near Biggleswade, in Luton and inWolver-ton, Milton Keynes, where Virtual Orchard cider recently won CAMRA's national Champion Cider award.

Local outlets

If real cider and perry are so popular with the public, why is it so difficult to find them in local pubs, alongside real ales? Only eight pubs in North Bedfordshire currently offer real cider or perry all year round, so you may have to hunt hard to find them. The only major pub company to show much interest in real cider is JD Wether-spoon - you will find a choice of real cider and perry in Bedford's two Wetherspoon pubs. B&T's Wellington Arms and Charles Wells' Bedford Arms in Bedford both offer a choice of ciders or perry, but the other local outlets are all free houses -the Stone Jug at Clophill, the Royal George at Stevington, the Crown at Little Staughton and the Chequers at Yelden.

A few other local pubs and clubs offer real cider or perry occasionally as a seasonal guest or for pub festivals. If they sell well there, perhaps the pub landlord might consider offering them on a permanent basis. Cider started as a summer guest at the Royal George in Stevington, but sold so well that the landlord now offers both cider and perry all year round.

Real Cider Sold Here

CAMRA runs a scheme to promote pubs serving real cider. A 'Real Cider Sold Here' window sticker (shown above) and listing on a national website are awarded to those pubs that regularly sell real cider or perry. Almost 800 pubs have now been accredited.

We want to encourage more local pubs to stock at least one real cider or perry, and to try locally produced ciders, as well as the better known brands from Herefordshire or the West Country. If your local pub or club makes at least one real cider or perry available throughout the year, please let us know. We will then invite the landlord to join CAMRA's cider promotion scheme. If you can't find a local pub that does, why not ask the landlord to give them a try?
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