International Craft Cider Festival 2011 Review

Address: Llancaiach Fawr Manor, Gelligaer Road, Nelson, Treharris, CF46 6ER

Date: 12th-14th August 2011

Date Visted: 12th-14th August

Review:

The International Craft Cider Festival has been a festival that has been on my cider radar for a long time now. From the moment I heard about it and then finding it coincided with my birthday weekend, it was something I just had to go to. With it being about craft cider, then how could I pass up an amazing opportunity like that?!?

One of the first things I had noticed about the location when we got there was just how out of the way it was. Not in the sense that it is in the middle of no where (there was civilisation!), but more to do with the fact it wasn’t near a big town/city and was a little off of the beaten track. I think this added to the charm of it, as you were surrounded by Llancaiach Fawr Manor, which seemed like a nice manor.

The grounds were huge and had ample space for camping/parking, music stage and the cider tents. The layout just seemed to work, even if I did nearly go round the one way parking system the wrong way! I blame it being early and the signs not being up for the one way system. Or maybe I was just tired. No one was harmed in that though!

All the food served from the stalls, by the music stage, was of good quality and not something that just seemed to be rushed out at a cheap cost. My personal favourite was the curry from Samosaco; the curry in a naan bowl was just inspired. It reminds me of when I was in Latvia and they had soup served in a carved out loaf of bread. It just goes down well in my opinion and a nice little novelty too.

The indoor market stall was definitely worth a look too. There were lots of nice chutneys and cheeses amongst other things. I bought a lovely cider mug, even though it wasn’t cheap, it felt a good quality one to drink my cider from. The highlight of the indoor market for me was the jerkys. This was nothing like the standard jerkys you get in a supermarket, but proper flavoursome ones.

My only gripe with the food was the lack of an early morning breakfast option. The likes of the guys selling bacon and eggs could have made a killing if they had opened before 11am or 12pm. We did have a bacon or sausage sandwich in the café at the manor, but I wasn’t necessarily best impressed with it. It was alright but nothing special.

Anyway you probably want to know about the cider and less about everything else, so I will get straight to the point now. The quality of cider throughout was just top notch and was divided into 3 categories; there was English, Welsh and International bars. I pretty much tried every cider there and I cannot remember trying a bad one. I know sometimes I go to cider festivals and I know what to avoid and stay clear of, but I never had that problem this time. I obviously had my favourites, but I could appreciate every cider and see why it would appeal to certain people. Well done to the organisers for picking such a great quality of producers.

Amongst all the ciders I have tried, these below were the ones I managed to photo before my phone died. Attempting to partially charge it in the car was a bit of a failure. I guess that’s one of the downfalls of camping, rather than doing a bit of luxury, such as a B&B.

Rosie’s Triple D Medium Cider Pip’s Cider Medium Wilcox Medium Cider
Raglan Mill Boris’ Brainbender Toby’s Dry Cider Orchard Pig Medium Cider
Kelterei Jorg Stier Echter Speierling Cider Worleys Cider Gwynt y Ddraig Fiery Fox
Hogans Draught (Still) Cider

Of my pick of all the producers I had come across, my favourites were probably the Somerset producers Worleys and Wilcox. This was probably because at heart I love a good farmhouse cider, and these guys did do some damn good ones. It was nice to just sample things completely across the cider spectrum from the sweet to the dry. It’s not often you get this kind of opportunity, so i had to enjoy it while i could!

The international ciders I found were more for converting the wine drinkers to cider. My other half, the wine snob, was getting hooked on the German Apfelwein by the end of the festival, so I am one step closer to making her appreciate cider more. One day my mission will be complete.

The one thing I really loved about the festival was getting the chance to chat to the producers. It was really insightful getting them to explain their cider to you, rather than at a lot of festivals you order your cider from someone who knows less about it than you do! Every one of them seemed really friendly and just happy to be there and share their passion for their product. It was also good to speak with fellow cider drinkers (such as the infamous Cider Mike and his sidekick Steve) and have a good old natter about the lovely cider, as I don’t always get a huge chance back home, with most of my friends not huge cider drinkers.

Lastly but no means least there was the music. From what I could hear it was pretty decent stuff, but understandably I was stuck in the cider tent more than by the main stage, so I didn’t concentrate on it all too much. Though the Friday night I was to be found down there near the end dancing badly to a cover of the Oasis song ‘Don’t look back in anger’. I just pray to god no one videoed that! That would come back to haunt me one day otherwise!

Overall it was a great festival and I will definitely be back next year. Maybe I will opt for the B&B option, but I did enjoy the camping too. We even helped poor Tom from Olivers who seemed to be struggling with his tent. See what good people we are! The weather held up pretty well, though Friday was a bit wetter than the Saturday. Crowd wise, Friday was very quiet compared to the Saturday, but both had a good vibe about them. I did hear there was a Police car chase on the Friday night and someone had trashed the toilets on Saturday, but then again there will always be an idiot somewhere. What I want to know is if they caught that evil person smuggling in the Natch cider? I never saw that myself, but I would hope they got caught and were punished for their crimes!

Cider Producers At Festival:

English Cider Producers

Gwatkin Cider Company Ltd.
Hogan’s Cider
Olivers Cider and Perry
Orchard Pig
Pips Cider
Ross on Wye Cider and Perry Ltd.
Wilcox Cider
Worley’s Cider

Welsh Cider Producers

Blaengawney Cider
Gwynt y Ddraig Cider
Palmer’sUplandCyder
Raglan Cider Mill
Rosie’s Triple D Cider
Seidr Dai
Seidr O Sir
Troggi
Ty Gwyn Cider

International Cider Producers

German Cider Producers

Kelterei Rothenbücher
Spezialitätenkelterei Jörg Stier
Apfelweinkelterei Gerhard Nöll GmbH
Kelterei und Brennerei
Apfelweinkontor
Jürgen Krenzer

French Cider Producers

Cidre Les Noyers
EARL Didier Wieder

Spanish Cider Producers

La Sidra
Champanera de Villaviciosa
Sidra Escanciador
Champanera de Villaviciosa
Buznego
Alonso
El Piloñu

Irish Cider Producer

Toby’s Cider

Cider Takeout:

International Craft Cider Festival 2011 - Cider Takeouts

Food:

Bacon Roll Olive & Things Curry Bowl

Session Times:

Fri 12th August: 12pm-11pm

Sat 13th August: 12pm-11pm

Sun 14th August: 12pm-6pm

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