The course was the first of its kind following the academy’s decision to rebrand and include courses on cider.
It was led by cider expert Gabe Cook and hosted at the Institute of Brewing and Distilling at Butler's Wharf, central London. Cook will also be hosting an advanced course at the same venue in January 2018.
Here are some of the things we learnt, and that you might not know.
1. Cider has a long and colourful history
Records show that cider-like drinks were consumed during Greek and Roman times, and the fermentation of cider in strengthened bottles pre-dated the use of the same method in Champagne. The second US President, John Adams, drank a glass of cider each morning to aid constitution, while explorer Captain Cook reportedly took apples on his great ocean voyages to help ward off scurvy.
2. Cider is made very differently to beer (and wine)
Cider is often quite lazily branded as being like an ‘apple beer’. However, this couldn’t be further than the truth, with no heat, malt, water or hops necessary to make cider. Equally, cider has a different composition of acids to wine, and apples contain considerably less sugar than grapes.
3. Cider are a great match for many foods
Because it shares many of the sensory characteristics of wine, cider makes for a brilliant companion to many dishes. The trick is to find the right balance between the sweetness, tannin and acidity of the cider and the properties of the food.
4. Cider can be fermented with different yeasts
Cider makers can choose to ferment with a variety of different yeast strains, depending on the flavour and type of final product they wish to end up with. Many larger producers use cultured yeasts such as Champagne, white wine and beer varieties, but smaller makers will often allow their cider to ferment with wild strains from the fruit and in the cider house.
5. Ciders can be flavoured with added spices and even hops
Flavoured ciders are produced by the addition of other ingredients during the blending stage of production. These additions can include other fruits, herbs, spices and even hops. Hopped ciders have grown in popularity and can act as a great gateway drink for craft beer fans.
6. Cider takes time and isn’t always best fresh
Unlike many styles of beer, which are best consumed as soon as possible after fermentation has finished, young ciders often need time to sit and develop their range of complex flavours and aromas. This is particularly important in the case of phenolic ciders, such as those produced in the West Country of England and Normandy in France.