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EATING & DRINKING

Robin Hood crowned king for cider

By editorial assistant Sandi Toxic

Posted October 01, 2015
Robin Hood & Little John best UK cider pub
Apples and pears: The Robin Hood & Little John in Nottingham. © CAMRA

CAMRA names Robin Hood & Little John best UK cider pub while British breweries hit new highs.



The Robin Hood & Little John in Arnold, Nottingham has been crowned National Cider Pub of the Year 2015 by the UK's Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

The pub, so a CAMRA press release states, "has a long history dating back to 1750" but closed down in 2013.

In August last year, though, a partnership between Nottinghamshire's Lincoln Green Brewery and Leicestershire's Everards Brewery turned things around, breathing new apple-scented life into the boozer under the joint management of Anthony Hughes and Lorraine Swain.


AMAZING AWARD
"Firstly, may I say how delighted Lorraine, Mark1 and all of us at Lincoln Green are to have won this amazing award!" says Hughes, who owns both Lincoln Green Brewing and the Lincoln Green Public House Company.

"I'd personally like to say a huge thank you in particular to Ray Blockley for the support and advice he's given us over the last 12 months in all things 'apple'."

"I know that much of our success is as a result of the little things we've implemented after many discussions with Ray and we're very grateful to him."

Since its reopening under the current management, the Robin Hood has won the Nottingham CAMRA Cider Pub and Nottingham CAMRA Pub of the Year 2015 awards while also being named East Midlands Pub and East Midlands Cider Pub of the Year.

In that time, the pub, CAMRA says, "has become famous for its real cider, which is made from pure fruits with no additives or chemicals and served naturally still, unlike commercially produced cider which is force-carbonated to give it fizz".

Real perry, it continues, "is produced in exactly the same way as real cider but with pear juice instead of apple juice".

So there.

Now you know.


"A great feature is its 'cider wall', which enables the cider and perry to be served at a consistent cellar temperature."




EXCELLENT DRINKING
"This is an amazing achievement for a pub that not only just re-opened last year, but had never even been in the competition before," says Cider Pub of the Year organiser Sarah Newson.

"A great feature is its 'cider wall', which enables the cider and perry to be served at a consistent cellar temperature, providing the customer with an excellent drinking experience."

This cider wall, the press release reveals, features eight different ciders and perries that "are always from smaller producers rather than big brands".

"We fully support CAMRA's definition of real cider and acknowledge the recent amendment to remove the criteria that 'no added flavourings [are] to be used' and to allow 'pure fruits, vegetables, honey, hops, herbs and spices, yet no concentrates cordials or essences'2 to be added," Hughes says.

"We aim to ensure that our customers understand the provenance of our ciders and what [they contain] with informative articles in our table top menus."



skinners brewery in truro
Ere! Skinner's down Truro, innum? (Check bottom for credit)


MOST BREWERIES PER HEAD IN THE WORLD
But the Robin Hood's win is not the only good news we've got up our Rake & Herald wizard's sleeve today.

Oh no siree, Bob, because according to a different CAMRA press release that we should've run a few weeks back but didn't, the number of breweries in the UK now stands at a whopping 1,424.

Or at least it did when they sent us that press release.

Anyway, up from 1,220 12 months ago, this represents an increase of "over 10% for the third consecutive year" and is "the highest it's been since the 1930s and 40s".

"The great British beer revolution rolls on and appears to be unstoppable," says Roger Protz, editor of CAMRA's newly released Good Beer Guide 2016 that the press release was issued to promote.

"More and more new breweries have been launched to keep up with the demand for full-bodied, full-flavoured beers."

"Britain now has more breweries per head than any other country and the range of beers on offer is the best in the world, ranging from the palest golden ale to the darkest, pitch-black stout."


SPOILT FOR CHOICE
What's more, these 1,400-odd breweries are together responsible for producing over 11,000 different real ales, which works out at an average portfolio of almost eight brews.

"Gone are the days when a brewery made just one or two different beers, as brewers expand their repertoires to include porters, stouts, IPAs, fruit beers or even beers aged in wine and whisky casks," the press release states.

Moreover, these brewers "are also creating British versions of famous Belgian styles, such as saison, strong brown ales and sour beers that use wild yeasts rather than cultivated brewers' yeasts".

However, "it's a truly British beer style" that, CAMRA says, "is proving most popular".

"The great success story of the moment is IPA, which stands for India Pale Ale," Protz states.

"Long before the first golden lagers were produced in central Europe in the middle of the 19th century, British brewers developed a pale beer for export to 'the Raj' in India."

"Now it's back with a bang and scores of brewers are producing their interpretations of IPA, including the American style that bursts with fruity hops."


"But it's not just the Ten-Handed-Pickpocket where brewing's blooming."




UP LUNNUN
Perhaps, then, it should come as no surprise that real ale is continuing to outperform the rest of the beer market, with 634m pints of the stuff joyously consumed last year.

This, CAMRA calculates, equates to one in six of all pub-bought UK pints and has been concurrent with a decline in kegged ales, such as John Smith's and Tetley's.

Geographically, "the brewing bug has struck" across the whole of Blighty, CAMRA notes, although the Great Wen "is leading the way and reclaiming its place at the centre of British brewing".

"London is the most remarkable success story," Protz notes.

"Today there are 74 breweries operating in the capital, compared to 54 a year ago."

"There are so many packed into areas such as Bermondsey and Hackney that weekend 'brewery crawls' have become a popular part of the London drinking scene."

But it's not just the Ten-Handed-Pickpocket where brewing's blooming.

"London is closely followed by Greater Manchester, which has 19 new breweries, including four in Stockport and arguably the most amazing new brewery name, Zymurgorium in Irlam."

Meanwhile in Cornwall, my mate Jedd down Gover's started brewing stuff made with pig semen and antifreeze, although I wouldn't recommend anyone drinking it.

He doesn't wash his hands after sit-downs, see.


The latest edition of the Good Beer Guide is available to buy online here, priced £10 ($15) a pop.


See also A national disgrace, posted 30/9/15, among others.


Sandi Toxic
was raised by wolves inside a disused clay pit near Lanjeth. You can befriend her on FaceBook here. She is still quite feral.


Picture credits

Top and thumb: Issued with press release.

Bottom: Skinner's Brewery in Truro, Cornwall by Tony Atkin.

For licensing information, click the above link.


Footnotes

1) Sorry, Mark. The press release doesn't give your surname or job title but well done anyway.

2) At its last Annual General Meeting (held appropriately enough in Nottingham), CAMRA voted to widen the definition of real cider to include versions produced with natural added fruits and spices, such as the popular 'Blush' ciders that have raspberries added after fermentation, giving both a unique flavour and colour to the cider.




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