An A to Z of East Anglian cider
- Credit: Sarah Groves
Autumn’s the best time to settle in for the night with a glass of cider. From crisp and bone dry, to effervescent and sweet, there’s a drop for everyone. And our region’s strong heritage in cider production means you really can get some of the best in the country here...move over Somerset!
Aspall – A super premium brand made in Suffolk and sold UK-wide. These cyders are made for pairing with food – with bottles such as the floral, dry Premier Cru matching beautifully, for example, with seafood...and at a snip of the cost of Champagne. The range also includes Imperial Vintage Cyder, blending muscovado sugar and a single year’s harvest of bittersweet apples for a fudgy, slightly sweet taste. And they make the Pip & Wild range too – with flavours including Wild Strawberry and Rose, and Blackberry and Nettle.
Adnams Wild Wave – The Suffolk brewer’s first and only cider. Made with bittersweet and dessert apples grown in the Malvern Hills. This is crisp and refreshing. An easy drinker.
Berties – Produced with local apples and using traditional methods in Braintree. The collection includes medium dry Pheonix Cider – named for the local hockey club whose members pick apples for this bottle. There are single origin ciders too – such as Discovery, made purely with Discovery apples from Chelmsford.
The Big Bear Cider Mill – The team at Rayleigh Orchard in Braintree grow around 20 varieties of apple, using 100% apple juice and natural fermentation to make some cracking ciders – in cool packaging. The range includes Essex Gold Bullion and Essex Gold 9k.
Castling’s Heath Cottage – A small scale, literal cottage industry based in a tiny Suffolk hamlet. They only use local organic apples, resulting in a slightly tangy, dry, traditional farmhouse style finish. Specials have included Apple Pie (infused with warming spices), and Elderflower Cider.
Cranes Cider – Another one you may have seen in supermarkets – and sold in East of England Co-op stores. Cranes is a lighter cider at just 4% ABV, and coming in with 30% less calories and 40% less sugar than many leading brands. The four flavours (incorporating ‘superfruits’) include Bluberries and Apples, and Cranberries and Limes.
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Downham Cider – Founded in 2014 and made in Downham Market, most of the ciders sit at around 6% and are crafted in the traditional way. A nice one to try in autumn is the Jonagold SV – a golden cider, aged for two years for a mellow richness.
Marshland Cider - Makes traditional cider using predominantly Bramley apples, which historically were the main apple crop in the Fens. Sales of the small brand's cider support restoration of the owner's ancient orchard near Wisbech, which is managed to promote wildlife and was found by a recent University of East Anglia study to be particularly high in biodiversity. The ciders are made from pure fresh fruit juice, with no added water nor sugar, and include Still Bramley, and Dew Drop (a sweet, still cider).
Norfolk Cider Company – Pay a visit to Wroxham Barns, where as well as loads of gift ideas (from crafts, to art, to homeware and garden products) and tasty food at the restaurant/cafe, you’ll find this fabulous little homage to apples. The shop sells juice, chutneys and more alongside their own ciders, and brews made by other local producers. Their range includes Burgoynes Spiced, a Sugar Free Dry and Medium Dry.
Norfolk Raider Cider – This began with Paul Cork experimenting with father-in-law Terry’s family recipe – and ended with Paul and wife Beth taking on over 1,000 apple trees from a local landowner! The tasty, naturally-made range includes the sweet, blushed Dolly Pink, and Honey Belle, with a dash of honey. That one’s nice mulled and served warm.
Sandringham Apple Juice Cider – Well, if it’s good enough for the Queen. A light and fruity drink made entirely with apples from the Sandringham Estate. Buy it here...or at retailers such as Bakers and Larners in Holt.
Stoke Farm Orchards – An award-winning single origin juice maker, producing varieties such as Egremont Russell and Idared under the Appletree Hill banner. But did you know they also make cyder? Dograpper is a Suffolk Russett cyder made in the traditional way with no added sugar.
Village Green Cider – These guys are based both in Pulham St Mary and down in Sussex. Up in East Anglia they use hand-picked Norfolk apples which are left to mature before being pressed and transformed into drinks such as Classical Dry Cider (the regional style) and Oak Staged Cider, which is matured in vintage oak barrels for added complexity.
Whin Hill Cider – Made in Wells-Next-The-Sea using apples from their own orchard at Stanhoe. Nothing is added. Nothing is taken away. This is just pure, refreshing, proper cider. The large range include Dry Still, Dry Sparkling and Major Premium – made only with Major cider apples.