Friday 25 January 2013

Cider Summit 2013 - USA

In my effort to join the dots of the cider world, I wanted to draw your collective attention to some important US cider events this year. About 5 years ago, two bright sparks (Alan Shapiro from SBS Imports and Mark Bronder -an investor) had the idea over the lunch one day of getting both producers and importers together at various Cider Summits throughout USA to educate, showcase and promote cider in all its earthly and international glory. Educating people about cider and its diversity is an important part of the scene, so its vital for growth. Importers are in an influential position as they tend to work across different markets and those differences are what give people ideas. They can push/suggest/guide producers that are established in one market into trying something new for another -with some very beneficial results. Some of the Normandy producers I met last year have established excellent relations with their US importers in recent last years and consequently have a massive separate  market growing in USA (aside from their domestic market) which in their case guarantees their products fetch a premium and are always in demand (a very nice place to be.) I know some the cannier UK producers are forging links with partners in US and Australia currently and anyone who wants to get into the market should think about getting in soon, and the best place to start are at events like these. 

The USA cider scene particularly is 'on fire' at the moment, its booming. Its a microcosm (albeit a bloody large one) for the cider renaissance phenomenon thats washing over the globe and its a really exciting place to be. They're a great bunch of people, super passionate and friendly - some of whom you will have seen vicariously via the blog (so if you recognise their faces when you get there, either buy them a drink or buy one off them!) I can guarantee you'll drink some cider the likes of which you'll have had nowhere else on the planet, if only because no-one else experiments as widely as people tend to in the US. I see there are also UK, French and Spanish ciders represented too - so theres definitely something for everyone. This year in Seattle they're hoping to get 3000 people through the door. The Chicago event has the added bonus of being run back to back with 'Cider Con' -the annual US cider industry conference  - so it'll offer punters a double whammy of schmoozing and boozing. As for Portland.. well its Portland and its worth checking out for that reason alone!

We do alot of cider festivals here all over UK, but with regards to large cider specific events there isn't anything (although there was the as yet one off International Craft Cider Festival in 2011.) Our events tend to be tagged onto something else like the Bath & West Show or the Great British Beer Festival. I wish we did something like that here in UK, I'd relish the chance to get producers, importers and distributors together - I think our market is so ripe for import/export relations and its something I mention to people a lot - but there is never any uptake of interest. It'll refresh our attitudes towards tasting, exploring and comparing ciders from inside and outside UK. Its is the kind of thing America is more open minded about and I know it will continue to grow. I hope to go to some (or all) of these at some stage in the future but until I can, I want to do my bit by promoting the idea and the three events happening in 2013. I'd recommend any fellow cider dorks from UK, Europe and beyond to think seriously about going if you want to understand whats happening in the cider world right now and get some ideas about where its headed.

Dates are: Chicago 9th Feb, Portland 21-22 July & Seattle 6-7th  September. 
For more info, click this --->

Monday 14 January 2013

Shooting Cider: Hot Rum Cow competition

With Wassails fast appearing on the horizon and the post Christmas holiday stretch still in full expansion, I just wanted to give you all an update on things.

Firstly I'm currently spending 90% of my working hours (actually maybe that should be 'waking hours'?) researching, sampling, compiling, writing, shooting, e-mailing blah blah Worlds Best Cider. Referred to as 'a Herculean task' by wing man and co-author Pete Brown last week, he's just about hit the nail on the head. Its slightly ridiculous to attempt a book like this and virtually impossible with the time we've had but we mad enough to try. Things are getting a bit mental, particularly so far as deadlines are concerned yet we're getting there, but it doesn't leave much time for much else, so I apologise for the crapness of my blog of late.

Secondly and more importantly, have you seen Hot Rum Cow's second instalment? Its their Cider edition and we're running a joint competition to win a signed print!

I believe competitions should always be easy, so to encourage as many entries as possible and this one is no exception (unless you are a lemon?) All you have to do is Tweet your own cider photo to them @HotRumCow using #IAMCIDER to label it. Yes, folks, its that easy to win a signed print. I'd recommend you have a good rummage through my archive for some inspiration, get out there and take your time when you're shooting. It'd also give you the chance to eye up any images that take your fancy in case you win.

As an added element of inspiration, I'll share with you all my cider based phone images. I love the simplicity of using my phone, and the fact that its always in my pocket means I rarely miss a chance. If you fancy anything phone based, my last post Cidergram will give you some idea of whats achievable. Good hunting folks!

Incidentally, if anyone is interested in my seeing (or even following) my Instagram feed -where all of these and more are available, you can check it out at: