Great cider starts with apple trees. At Rosie’s near Llandegla, they’ve got more than 800 of them producing 69 varieties of apples (the only thing that go into their award-winning range of ciders). You may also have heard of brewers Tomos Watkin. Though they’re better-known for their range of Welsh beers, they also produce some cracking ciders, like the zesty Taffy Apples.
You could also try Gwynt Y Ddraig in Llantwit Fardre, South Wales. Starting out as a hobbyist experiment, they now produce a huge range of traditional ciders (take your pick from brews like Dog Dancer and Happy Daze) that are on sale in seven countries around the world. Another success story is Hallets Real Cider, based at Blaengawney Farm near Caerphilly, who make gimmick-free, traditional cider and perries from nothing but apples and pears. With ciders like Heartbreaker and National Treasure, they’ve snagged numerous accolades, including best Drinks Producer in the UK from the BBC Food and Farming Awards.
Another award-winner is Old Monty Cider in Montgomery. Starting out in 2006 after a bumper apple harvest, they’ve been building their reputation ever since, landing the title of Cider Maker of the year in the 2018 Welsh Cider Championships. And if you want to see how cider is made, head to Apple County Cider Co, near Skenfrith in Monmouthshire, who offer cider tasting sessions and tours of their orchards.
Best of the festivals
One of the best ways to sample our amazing selection of ciders is at one of the many food and drink festivals taking place across Wales every year. An obvious choice is the Abergavenny Food Festival, the UK’s biggest food event which takes place in the market town of Abergavenny every September. Alongside a groaning buffet of great things to eat, you’ll find dozens of stalks stock with refreshing Welsh cider. It’s just one of a host of fabulous food and drink events. What not try the Welsh Cheese and Cider festival at Gower Heritage Centre, which takes place every May or the Great Welsh Beer and Cider festival, staged in Cardiff every June?
Away from major events like these, you’ll find smaller festivals celebrating our local ciders and pubs and inns up and down the country. Head to the Lion Inn in the Wye Valley, The Blue Bell in Flintshire (CAMRA’s 2017 Cider Pub of the Year) or the Clytha Arms just outside Abergavenny, all of which host memorable weekend festivals during the course of the year. Cider enthusiasts will also want to visit places like the White Hart Inn, In Llanddarog (which modestly bills itself as the Best Pub in Wales) and the Penrhyn Arms in Conwy, a genuine contender for best cider pub in the land with dozens of tempting tipples on tap.
To be honest, we’ve hardly scratched the surface of our cider scene. Such is the demand for Welsh cider that new producers are popping up all the time. If this has whetted your appetite, head to the Welsh Cider and Perry Society website to find out more about our producers and discover where you can sample their wares.