Cheltenham’s cider and pizza hub, The Stable, now offers a series of cider tasting experiences for anyone who fancies broadening their knowledge of elegant sparklers and rough-and-ready scrumpies. Get an expert insight, taste and make notes on 10 varieties and come away feeling well informed… and possibly a little tipsy. Great fun even if you’re not a cider drinker… ooh, arrrh, ooh arrh ay!
Having been through The Stable’s own school of training, our two cider masters Jake and Jamie were upbeat and enthusiastic to share their knowledge from the start. Our tasting tables had been carefully laid out in advance, each person getting an information page, scoring sheet, cider paddle with space for five glasses and a shared cheese and crackers board.
We learnt the basic of the cider-making process, from picking and pressing to fermenting, maturing and bottling, fascinated to hear about the use of different apples, adding sugar and artificial carbonation – as well as organic, purist ciders.
Eager to put our new-found appreciation to the test, glass number one was filled with a cider made from the Kingston Black Apple. We sniffed and sipped and the group was instantly split, some loving the pokey apple taste with a dry finish, others not being able to bring themselves to take another glug.
The Devon Red was delicious; one with mango was a fruity, flavoursome tipple; the local Dunkertons was more of an aficionado’s choice; one marked ‘unstable’ on the bottle showed us just how bad cider can get.
One marked ‘unstable’ on the bottle showed us just how bad cider can get.
While we’d sampled just 10 of The Stable’s 100 varieties of cider on offer, it was enough to appreciate the dramatic differences, and take out taste buds way beyond the worlds of Strongbow and Bulmers. And with each glass I seemed to be developing into an actual cider master too, although my handwriting looked more like a doctor’s as we neared the end of the cider flight.
We all know cheese and wine are a match made in heaven, but cheese and cider wasn’t a combo I’d explored on my food pairing hit list. The generous portions of creamy goat’s cheese, a punchy blue variety and tangy cheddar – accompanied by good quality crackers and fresh, plump green grapes and a curry chutney – were simply delicious. It was exciting to see how each of the sweet, sharp and dry ciders reacted – I was converted.
We tried the strictly cider experience at £15 per person, including the cider tasting and a cheese board, but there’s a cider and supper package for £22.50 per person which also comes with handmade pizzas, or the ultimate cider experience for £30 per person complete with aperitifs, charcuterie, brandies, brownies and more.
The more of you there are the better. Ten of us enjoyed the strictly cider experience, but it would have been nice to have a few more along, and The Stable can cater for groups up to around 40-people in its upstairs area.
Get everyone on board, pick a date and call The Stable on (01242) 514163 for more information and to book. Visit stablepizza.com for fuller details on the cider tasting experiences.
By James Fyrne
Monday 16 October 2017
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