192,559 CAMRA members
Menu

Learn & Discover

Learn & Discover

So you know what a varietal is

– What Comes Next?

So we (and by we, I mean perhaps you have read my guide to varieties for Beginners – if not you can do so here) have established what a variety is when it comes to cider, but what comes next?

Unfortunately it’s not quite as simple as knowing what a variety is and that there are some that make for good eating and others that make for good drinking. There are, after all, dozens of different apple varieties and some further categorisation is required for us to get our head around that.

Time, then, to take a look at how cider apples are distinguished from one another, and what that means for those that make cider and for those who drink cider. Photography by Amelia Claudia  & Bill Bradshaw

Rachel Hendry

A wine and cider writer, featured in Wine52’s Glug magazine, Pellicle magazine, Burum Collective and Two Belly. The mind behind wine newsletter J’adore le Plonk and an untiring advocate for spritzing every drink she can get her hands on.

So you know what a varietal is

– What Comes Next?

So we (and by we, I mean perhaps you have read my guide to varieties for Beginners – if not you can do so here) have established what a variety is when it comes to cider, but what comes next?

Unfortunately it’s not quite as simple as knowing what a variety is and that there are some that make for good eating and others that make for good drinking. There are, after all, dozens of different apple varieties and some further categorisation is required for us to get our head around that.

Time, then, to take a look at how cider apples are distinguished from one another, and what that means for those that make cider and for those who drink cider. Photography by Amelia Claudia  & Bill Bradshaw

 

Emma Inch

A CAMRA member since 1997, John is volunteer with a keen interest in the technicalities of beer dispense, a GBBF bar manager, editor of Manchester’s Beer Buzz magazine and sits on CAMRA’s Technical Advisory Group.

A Brief History of Categorising Cider Apples

I am a firm believer that when learning about any theory it is important to know not just the theory itself, but who and where it came from. So before I begin discussing the categorisation of cider varieties I’m going to talk a little about two men, the first of which is a man called Thomas Andrew Knight.

Born in 1759, not only was Thomas Andrew Knight both a horticulturist and botanist he also served as the second president of the Royal Horticultural Society. And his CV doesn’t stop there.

After inheriting multiple acres of land in Herefordshire (alright for some) he used this gift to document the many types of apple varieties growing there at the time. Published in 1811, the Pomona Herefordiensis as it was titled, was revolutionary in its beautifully illustrated documentation of apple varieties, including descriptions and properties of all the fruit featured.

Moving onto the 20th Century and it’s time to introduce the second of this influential duo – B T P Barker. Barker was the first director of the Long Ashton Research Station (LARS) which opened near Bristol in 1903, only to close a century later.

Seeking to apply scientific classification to the ever growing number of styles being grown in the UK, Barker created the English Cider Apple Classification System which, luckily for you, I am about to explain the ins and outs of.

A Brief History of Categorising Cider Apples

I am a firm believer that when learning about any theory it is important to know not just the theory itself, but who and where it came from. So before I begin discussing the categorisation of cider varieties I’m going to talk a little about two men, the first of which is a man called Thomas Andrew Knight.

Born in 1759, not only was Thomas Andrew Knight both a horticulturist and botanist he also served as the second president of the Royal Horticultural Society. And his CV doesn’t stop there.

After inheriting multiple acres of land in Herefordshire (alright for some) he used this gift to document the many types of apple varieties growing there at the time. Published in 1811, the Pomona Herefordiensis as it was titled, was revolutionary in its beautifully illustrated documentation of apple varieties, including descriptions and properties of all the fruit featured.

Moving onto the 20th Century and it’s time to introduce the second of this influential duo – B T P Barker. Barker was the first director of the Long Ashton Research Station (LARS) which opened near Bristol in 1903, only to close a century later.

Seeking to apply scientific classification to the ever growing number of styles being grown in the UK, Barker created the English Cider Apple Classification System which, luckily for you, I am about to explain the ins and outs of.

“Seeking to apply scientific classification to the ever growing number of styles being grown in the UK, Barker created the English Cider Apple Classification System.”

— Rachel Hendry

JOIN CAMRA

Or JOIN CAMRA for unlimited access to Learn & Discover

JOIN CAMRA

Or LOG IN for unlimited access to Learn & Discover

Acidity vs. Tannin

There are two terms I need you to be confident in using before I finally get around to explaining the English Cider Apple Classification System. They are ‘acidity’ and ‘tannins’. Mainly because you can’t really discuss cider without them (which you’ll quickly learn if you’ve read any of the other wonderful pieces on here), the two characteristics forming the boundaries of any formal cider apple classification you may come across.

Acid comes in many forms, but the acidity I am talking about here is crucial to our enjoyment of our food and our drink. Think back to the last thing you ate that you would describe as mouth-wateringly good. When acidity is consumed in our food (in the case of an apple it is an acid referred to as malic acid) that juicy sharpness shoots to the sides of our gums and releases saliva, getting our mouths good and ready to start eating. More often than not, acidity in drinks is a food’s best friend and luckily for cider, apples have acid a plenty!

Then we have tannins. Whereas acidity helps to provide literally mouthwatering conditions, tannins tend to have the opposite effect. Exactly like when you leave your tea bag in for too long and your tea leaves a fuzzy, drying effect coating your gums, tannins can provide bitter and sometimes astringent qualities when they are present in our food and drink. Well known for their presence in the skins of grapes—and red wine as a result—tannins are also present in apples and ultimately find themselves in our cider too. The more tannins present in an apple the less suited it is to eating and the better it is to cider making.

Acidity vs. Tannin

There are two terms I need you to be confident in using before I finally get around to explaining the English Cider Apple Classification System. They are ‘acidity’ and ‘tannins’. Mainly because you can’t really discuss cider without them (which you’ll quickly learn if you’ve read any of the other wonderful pieces on here), the two characteristics forming the boundaries of any formal cider apple classification you may come across.

Acid comes in many forms, but the acidity I am talking about here is crucial to our enjoyment of our food and our drink. Think back to the last thing you ate that you would describe as mouth-wateringly good. When acidity is consumed in our food (in the case of an apple it is an acid referred to as malic acid) that juicy sharpness shoots to the sides of our gums and releases saliva, getting our mouths good and ready to start eating. More often than not, acidity in drinks is a food’s best friend and luckily for cider, apples have acid a plenty!

Then we have tannins. Whereas acidity helps to provide literally mouthwatering conditions, tannins tend to have the opposite effect. Exactly like when you leave your tea bag in for too long and your tea leaves a fuzzy, drying effect coating your gums, tannins can provide bitter and sometimes astringent qualities when they are present in our food and drink. Well known for their presence in the skins of grapes—and red wine as a result—tannins are also present in apples and ultimately find themselves in our cider too. The more tannins present in an apple the less suited it is to eating and the better it is to cider making. 

Intro to cider varietals

Check out part 1 of Rachel Hendry’s series on cider varietals

Knowing Cider & Perry Styles

Watch Pomellier Jane Peyton’s video guide to cider and perry styles

Intro to cider varietals

Check out part 1 of Rachel Hendry’s series on cider varietals

Knowing Cider & Perry Styles

Watch Pomellier Jane Peyton’s video guide to cider and perry styles

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
X
X