There are many cider producers in Herefordshire, some more famous than others as well as a Cider Museum and lots of cider making artefacts around the city.
Here at Brinsop Court Estate we recently planted about 3,000 pear trees of the Perry making variety! We chose them because Perry pears are very scarce in Herefordshire and have been for a long time now. The old standard trees, some of which are over a hundred years old, are out now. Perry pears take a very long time to mature and people are reluctant to plant them as they see no return on their investment for so long. Maybe you’ve heard the saying “plant pears for your heirs”.
We planted the trees in two of the fields at Brinsop, ‘Ponies’ and ‘Old Orchard’. These two were chosen because on all the ancient maps of the estate there were always fruit trees in these fields and the assumption was that the old guys knew what they were doing. Despite the rain, the trees are about 5 to 6 foot tall now and growing beautifully.
Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider and Perry helped us choose what to plant and the varieties we went for have the wonderfully evocative names of Gin, Butt, Brandy, Oldfield, Green Horse, Brown Bess, Barland, Thorn, Hellen’s Early. They are a lovely selection with some of them flowering later than others and some with sharper or sweeter fruit than others. If we live long enough to see any fruits then we’d like to supply Tom with them!
Of course we’d love to press and make our own, but that is currently just a distant dream! When it becomes a reality, the drink we produce will be Perry. According to CAMRA Perry is a drink so difficult to find that most people don’t even know of its existence. It is traditionally a speciality of the Three Counties and Welsh Borders. It is a very unusual pub that serves Perry. The demand is there, but producers cannot make enough of it as there isn’t enough quality fruit available. It takes only three years for a Perry pear planted in the right conditions to bear fruit, but up to thirty years before it is at full maturity.
Cider Perry is a new concoction made by producers who cannot get enough Perry pears and have to incorporate Cider fruit into the mix.
For lots more information on Perry and cider in Herefordshire along with facts and history about the beverage head over to the Visit Herefordshire cider route web pages.
So, when you come to Herefordshire, do make a point of trying out our different local ciders or when you stay with us if you want a cider tasting session arranged, just let us know!