The finest ciders are made when attention is paid to the quality of the fruit and the cider making process.
As the licensee, you want to be able to present customers with a high-quality product, served perfectly every time. This is not unique to cider but there are some important reasons to pay particular attention to serving cider.
Of paramount importance is to insist on a quality product. Consumers are acutely aware that cider is a natural product. The finest ciders are made when attention is paid to the quality of the fruit and when the highest standards are applied to every stage of the cider making process. Matthew Clark, one of the UK's biggest cider makers, has invested heavily to ensure that every glass of cider produced is consistently of the highest quality.
This investment extends to the orchards that provide the English apples used in the making of Matthew Clark ciders.
More than £3m has been invested to increase the number of orchards producing fruit. Other Matthew Clark schemes are improving the quality and productivity of the orchards whilst making significant strides to ensure that all orchards are as environmentally positive for wildlife as they can possibly be.
Once the fruit is harvested the skill of the cider makers comes to the fore. The Matthew Clark Cider Mill at Shepton Mallet in Somerset has been the site for continuous cider production for over 100 years and the current team of Master Cider Makers easily have more than 100 years of experience between them.
Everything that happens at the cider mill is faithful to the oldest principles of making cider, however given the unrivalled level of investment made by Matthew Clark the mill is the most modern and efficient cider production site in the world.
Maurice Cox, the site director at the Cider Mill commented: "In the four years to 2000, in excess of £35m was invested in the site and we are very proud of the facility we have created. As a result our cider makers are able to produce excellent ciders, consistently of the highest quality."
This investment delivers real benefits to licensees and consumers. The ciders from Matthew Clark make a virtue of the fact that cider offers a point of difference to beer and lager. As an expression of this, Blackthorn as the original keg cider, is refreshing and clean-tasting.
The quality of the cider making process also ensures that Blackthorn is a bright and clear amber cider because it has been cold-filtered, as opposed to being pasteurised. The sophistication of the cold-filtration process used by Matthew Clark is unique in the cider industry.
Having taken delivery of the ciders you sell, you will have a numbers of jobs to do. Typically you will have one or more draught cider to manage in the cellar.
However, given the breadth of cider styles available there will also be other ciders in a packaged format that should feature in every outlet.
For example a medium sweet cider like Red C should be stocked in a packaged form if not available on draught and the popular premium packaged ciders or cider coolers like Diamond White, Diamond Red or K will always be featured in most outlets.
For the bottled ciders the issues are the same as for other bottled products. Remembering that cider is a strong impulse purchase, particularly for consumers seeking a refreshing drink, to give bottled ciders a prominent position in the chiller cabinets will drive significant sales.
Though ciders like Blackthorn offer unique flavours and qualities for consumers they do not present particular problems in the cellar.
A combination of good practice and support from excellent companies like Matthew Clark will ensure you continue to meet and exceed the highest expectations of consumers.
To ensure optimum quality, and as with beers and lagers, the lines for draught cider need to be cleaned at least every seven days. For cask-conditioned ciders like Addlestones, they require a similar level of care to cask-conditioned ales.
To support the outlets that have Matthew Clark ciders, technical advice and training is available via Matthew Clark's trained technicians during the installation process.
There is also information through product quality guides, cellar cards and the like. This is backed up by an expert team working to defined service standards and operating a quality management system.
The team is available to licensees via a freephone product dispense helpline - 0800 136762.
Quality is a matter of glass
An amber cider like Blackthorn is clear, bright and sparkling - all features that reflect the particular characteristics of cider. It is not typical that cider should present a significant or creamy head that lasts down the glass like some beers and lagers.
If, on occasions, a cider may appear "flat" then the problem is usually linked to the glassware. Modern glass washing equipment can leave detergent or rinse-aid residues which "smooth" the surface of the glassware and inhibit the release of gas.
The result is perfectly good cider with the appearance of being "flat".
Glasses that are regularly renovated or better still nucleated glasses like the branded Blackthorn glasses should ensure you present the perfect pint of cider every time.
Important repertoire drink
Blackthorn is a bright and clear amber cider because it has been cold-filtered. The sophistication of the cold-filtration process used by Matthew Clark Cider is unique in the cider industry.
Cider is a major drinks category and an important repertoire drink for a very significant number of consumers. Consumption of cider has doubled in the last 20 years, which is not surprising when you consider that two million people are enjoying cider every week, this equates to over 11 per cent of the UK adult population drinking cider every week.
With the broad range of cider styles available in both draught and packaged formats there is a compelling business case for any type of outlet to stock a number of different ciders and build new and incremental sales by taking cider seriously.
Matthew Clark CiderProduct dispense: 0800 136 762Gary Chaffey: 01275 890778