HOT on the heels of the third Manchester Beer Week naming its summer dates, giving ToM a thirst all of a sudden, comes the lowdown on the ‘second string’ tipple at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival – not far off now, Thursday January 25th to Saturday the 27th.
Alongside the staggering beer offering curated by CAMRA, there are also 77 ciders and 26 perries picked from 63 different producers pipping even last year's record-breaking choice. Special treat this year is a selection of Cornish ciders from small producers.
It recognises the resurgence of fermented fruit drinks in recent years. Real cider and perry are traditional products made naturally from selected varieties of apples and pears; a world away from the industrially-produced cheap namesakes.
The natural yeasts from freshly-pressed apples or pears ferments the juices, producing alcohol and CO2 and are matured in barrels before being released to enjoy. Real cider and perry are never carbonated or pasteurised, a status they share with real ale.
Cider and perry bar manager Mike Robinson (above) said: "Devon, Somerset and Herefordshire are usually regarded as the core area for production, but Cornwall has a thriving scene. This year we are offering half a dozen from the county - topping the list is the Cornish Supreme Champion Cider, Touchwood Medium Cider from Mithian near St Agnes. I believe this is the first time these six have been on sale in the North.
"We have some superb drinks from Welsh border counties. Our Northern selection comes from Lancashire, Cheshire, North and West Yorkshire and, of course, Greater Manchester.”
Northern stand-outs include gold medallist Maxonian Mist by SiDa (Macclesfield) and last year's Cider of the Festival, Grumpy John's from Shipley in West Yorkshire, plus Perry gold medallist Yesterday's Dreams by La Cantina (Elland, West Yorks).
During the festival, judges will be sampling 18 of the best in a competition for the 2018 North of England titles.
Manchester Beer and Cider Festival, Manchester Central, M2 3GX. Thurs Jan 25- Sat, Jan 27. Tickets for entry and the special tasting events are on sale at the festival's website.