Burley based New Forest Cider have been around for some 25 years supplying not only the local stores of Hampshire (including my own local stockist, the highly recommended Woodgreen Community Shop) but right into the foodie heart of London via their Borough Market outlet.
However, this weekend provided the opportunity to get close up to the source of this popular cider at the their annual Open Weekend featuring a variety of original cider presses, steam vehicles, traditional crafts and, of course, the opportunity to try the goods before deciding what to take home!
I have to confess, Burley isn’t my favourite place in the world. Despite being in the midst of some stunning countryside, it seems to have struggled to lift itself above standard day-tripper attractions of tacky souvenir shops and tired tea rooms and I’ve long since learned to keep well away from April to September when the tourist hordes descend. So yes, I need a GOOD reason to make the journey and this seems as good a reason as any.
Skipping over the Open Day attractions (we’re here for the cider after all!), it was great to see some of the heritage behind the product, traditional vintage steam and screw presses using straw as a filter and almighty heap of this years harvest ready to go to press….
The shop has an excellent range of draught and bottle ciders including New Forest sweet medium and dry along with their single variety Kingston Black cider all available straight from the cask. My choice for the day was the Kingston Black, at 8.4% the strongest of the bunch and displaying the distinctive sharpness of this particular apple but very drinkable whilst sitting outside in the Autumn sunshine enjoying the aroma of the hog roast.
Also available was a good selection of the Burrow Hill range (see previous article for Burrow Hill visit) including their unique Somerset Cider Brandy, Somerset Pomona and “Methode Traditional” Bottle Fermented Sparkling Cider which only made the decision about what to take home a little tougher.
In the end, with my birthday only a few days away, it seemed a good idea to take away a 750ml bottle of the sparkling Normandy style Cidre Bouche along with an interesting pair of Burrow Hill sparklers made from (more) Kingston Black and Stoke Red, all looking just the part for a celebration fizz with a difference
Back in the car and leaving the Burley crowds behind, I’m now ticking off the days until the birthday celebrations start and I can crack open the first of these bottles. The only decision left is where to start……..