Thursday, 2 June 2011

Welsh Perry & Cider festival

Another bank holiday weekend spent working (such is the plight of the freelancer!) but this particular event was fantastic and it felt more like personal work than work work.

The Welsh Perry & Cider Society festival is an annual event and was held this year at the fantastic Clytha Arms. This year was the 10th year and the first time I had been. I was asked to go along for half a day to provide photographic material for promotion and document aspects of the day; the judging, the camping, the venue, the variety of cider and perries, 80+ in all (one chap reckons he'd tried 62 of them...!) Needless to say, I loved it. I felt very at home there and was made very welcome. I can always judge the quality of a crowd anywhere I go with my camera kit because, in crowded places, I inevitably nudge someone as I turn or twist my way through the mass. The response I get is the meter-stick I use to measure the quality of people at the event. Sometimes I get a bit of agro, even threatened as if I did it to deliberately antagonize people. More generally I get a 'look' and followed by indifference. But at the very best events and certainly in this case, when I turn to apologise, I get a pleasant smile, a gentle wave of the hand and an understanding nod. The atmosphere there was lovely and its somewhere I want to return to with family. ("Pay attention -this is how you do a cider festival kids...")

Anyway - the day had bags of appeal and the natural beauty of both the area and the pub grounds was one of them. The setting is rural Wales, beautiful countryside, gently sloping beer garden, wandering ducks, two bars, a large covered stage area and a giant paddock for camping. Hundreds of people were camping so it had that real festival feel. It was quite a young crowd too, not too beard and sandals, but enough old faces and cider geeks to keep the quality up.

The ciders I had were lovely and so different from the Somerset cider I'm more accustomed too. They use different apples up there, more Herefordshire apples and the flavour did have a distinct difference. One producer told me they use more sharps than up there than we did in Somerset which would partly account for some of the difference. I asked for a few to photograph in the branded glass you were given upon buying tokens. The organiser grabbed a few she knew well and poured away. That being done, I tried them... wow, delicious. The two that stood out for me that day were Hallets and Balegawney medium, both interestingly made by the same man, Andy hallet, who went on to win 9 awards that day. Quite right too!

It made me realise that Welsh cider is something I want to explore. You can taste the passion in the juice and it tastes familiar!

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