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Drinking in the Summer Sun

Cool and refreshing on a long summer evening or a hot sunny afternoon, cider’s getting a bit of a revamp at the moment with all kinds of innovative things being thrown into the mix. New Welsh producers are bringing oak and rum casks into production, pressing apples by hand, reinventing orchards, dabbling with dragons and involving local communities. All to produce a cider for every palate, from Anglesey to Ponty. And it’s just in time for the good weather. So, whether you like a hint of fizz and fruit or prefer a deep and dark complex taste, we have the cider for you.

Now, how do you like them apples?

Apple County fruit ciders

Apple County – Deciderly Good

Whitehouse Farm lives near Skenfrith, Monmouthshire, snug between the Brecon Beacons National Park and the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Channelling their inner winemakers, cidermakers Ben and Steph use slow, cool fermentation methods and select only a single variety of apple for each type of cider. They installed the first terraced orchards in Wales, to maximise that elusive Welsh sun, and the cider tastes all the better for it. Tasting notes: bottled as Vilberie Medium Dry, Dabinett Medium and Yarlington Mill Medium Sweet, the taste ranges from light apple juice with a bit of a kick to deep mellow flavours with a brandy-like finish. Drink it: with raspberry or rhubarb fruit juice for a sweeter, pinker taste.

Gwynt y Ddraig: Breathe a Cider Relief Gwynt y Ddraig, the wind of the dragon, is a firebreathing brewery in Llantwit Fardr near Pontypridd with apples picked and pressed by hand. Born as a hobby in 2001, Gwynt now sells in seven countries worldwide, carrying names like Welsh Warrior and Black Dragon into the collective cider consciousness. Farmer’s Pride and the Fiery Fox mingle with the Old Crow and Farmhouse Vintage Scrumpy, making a tasting session sound like a mix between Dylan Thomas and Roald Dahl. But it’s the Gold Medal Cider, the first CAMRA gold award for Welsh cider producers, that remains their pride and joy. Tasting notes: oak-induced subtle aroma of autumn leaves. Smooth with a bit of a mineral kick. Drink it: with Dragon’s Caerphilly cheese. Find out more:

Ty Gwyn – Slice, Slice Baby

James McConnel grew apples for large cider companies while his stepson played at Glastonbury. A surplus of apples one autumn led to the birth of Ty Gwyn, a dream continued by stepson musician Alex Culpin. Both music and mixology, he claims, need the big three: passion, patience and practice.

Using the only belt press in the country, the results include naturally still draft ciders and bottled beauts with a light sparkle. The Cider Shop near the Black Mountains runs free tasting sessions and you can also order cider online. Tasting notes: the Medium Sweet Cider carries the lightest aroma and taste, with a gentle fizz.

Drink it: with your favourite song playing. Find out more:

Old Monty’s – The Oakey Cokey

It began, as all good stories do, with a hobby, a handpress and a mill. That was 2006. By 2018, Old Monty shot to glory by winning the best Cidermaker in Wales Award at the Welsh Cider Championships and the rest, as they say, was history. Situated in Montgomery and only using local apples, Monty relies on natural fermentation to produce their fare. Along with traditional ciders, sip on the Old Monty Oakey Cokey, a potent cider brewed in rum barrels for 12 months to soak up the flavour.

Tasting notes: deep aromas fuelled by rum casks and oak in the Oakey Cokey. Drink it: try it hot with a slice of lemon and a dash of bourbon

Jaspels – Living Appley Ever After

Jaspels, the name an acronym for owners Janet and Ade as well as their red squirrel mascot, takes a different approach. They gather unwanted apples from across Anglesey to produce five unique craft ciders using a handmade wooden press. Through social apple contributions and arty posters with a sense of fun, they aim to revitalise the community’s sense of heritage and craft. Batches sell out fast and names like Autumn and Woodland reflect their love of the outdoors.

Tasting notes: the subtle, refreshing Sundaze fits long summer evenings while the Heritage Dry Cider tastes crisp throughout. Drink it: with a slice of apple or even cinnamon as autumn draws in.

Find out more:

Hallets – Incider Knowledge

Blaengawney Farm near Caerphilly forms the hub of Hallets Cider Production. They ferment apple varieties separately and then blend the results to create a range of draught ciders and the bottled Hallets Real Cider. Hallets take traditional techniques and mix them

up through stainless steel wine fermenters, ancient oak barrels and more. Taking a stand against syrup, they produce Heartbreaker for the connoisseur and National Treasure for those who love a punch of fruit. Rum Cask and Oak Aged reveal their origins and the Dabinett Single Variety sings classic vintage tones. Tasting notes: the Heartbreaker delivers a hit of punchy green apple with a slight astringent finish. Drink it: with simple pork dishes or on its own.

Hop to it!

If cider’s not your thing, try a zesty chilled summer ale. Monty’s, from Montgomery, has you covered with optimistic golden ale Sunshine. Its signature brew pairs well with spicy food or strong cheese yet it’s still an easy-sipper. It revels in its floral and citrus aromas, giving a distinctive apricot finish on a long summer night.

Whoosh from Untapped, Monmouthshire, proved so popular as a summer seasonal, it’s now part of the core range. Aromatic with a fruity nose and bright, zesty flavours, this extra pale ale blends four American hop varieties to reach its clean, dry finish.

Grey Trees in Aberdare brew Digger’s Gold. Inspired by the black gold of South Wales and the industrial revolution, their liquid gold fuels barbecues with its citrus aromas and subtle, bitter aftertaste. Crafted with Marris Otter pale malt, Welsh water and American hops, this is CAMRA award-winning golden ale.

Then there’s Wrexham Lager. Subtly hopped, with a clean aroma, it’s refreshing and perfect for summer. It also packs a historical punch. Born in 1882, Wrexham Lager was the first to reach Australia and even boarded the Titanic. A multinational takeover went horribly wrong and it folded 20 odd years ago. Buying the rights for £1, a local businessman reintroduced the original recipes and Wrexham Lager is back. Right in time for summer.

Want something a little more spirited?

Try these sophisticated Summer Drinks from Aber Falls and friends

Aber Falls in collaboration with Dylan’s Restaurant

Welsh Dry Gin

Aber Falls offers a taste of the spectacular Welsh coastline with its very own take on the ever popular G&T. Perfect for those summer days, this classic perfectly pairs the distillery’s award-winning Welsh Dry Gin with Llanllyr Source tonic water, ice and a lime wedge to garnish.

Welsh 75

Another summer favourite, the Welsh 75 combines floral notes from the Aber Falls Violet Liqueur, citrus, and a blast of bubbles. In a cocktail shaker, add all the ingredients except the Prosecco and then shake and double strain into a Champagne flute, before topping with bubbles and neatly garnishing to finish.

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