In­sid­ers

Your ul­ti­mate guide to where to go and what to do in Oc­to­ber

Cotswold Life - - INSIDE - Edited by CANDIA MCKORMACK

Gabe Cook was born and raised in the heart of Cider­land – Dy­mock in Glouces­ter­shire. He is The Ciderol­o­gist and is a man with a mis­sion – to cham­pion cider and raise it from its pub floor rep­u­ta­tion as the pre­ferred drink of those who want to get drunk quickly to the high ta­ble of fine din­ing.

This month (Oc­to­ber) sees the pub­li­ca­tion of his first book, Ciderol­ogy – From His­tory and Her­itage to the Craft Cider Rev­o­lu­tion, and the grad­u­a­tion of his first cider Pom­me­liers from the Beer and Cider Acad­emy course he has founded. He has ap­peared on Chan­nel 4’s Sun­day Brunch and trav­els the world in his one-man cam­paign to pro­mote cider.

On Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 12, Gabe is donating his time and ser­vices for a cider and food pair­ing evening at Star­bistro in Ul­len­wood with pro­ceeds go­ing to Na­tional Star, a char­ity which sup­ports the as­pi­ra­tions of young peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

When did you first fall in love with all things cider?

I first en­coun­tered this great drink at the age of 10 – sur­rep­ti­tiously quaffing a flagon of Old Rosie bought for my el­der broth­ers as a Christ­mas present one year – Wood­pecker be­came my tip­ple of choice as a teenager be­fore grad­u­at­ing on to the plethora of We­stons’ prod­ucts be­fore I sought out a Here­ford­shire craft pro­ducer to in­tro­duce me to the true farm­house style. Over 10 years of work­ing in the cider in­dus­try has given me a unique in­sight, from tra­di­tional farms to world’s largest pro­ducer. I have worked across a wide range of roles en­com­pass­ing cider mak­ing, new prod­uct devel­op­ment, cus­tomer li­ai­son, me­dia re­la­tions, pub­lic af­fairs and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment.

Cider has strug­gled with its rep­u­ta­tion. Was there a time when it was as cher­ished and sought af­ter as wine?

It reached its zenith in the 17th cen­tury. Bri­tain was at war with France, the Nether­lands and Spain and wine im­ports ceased and the search was on for an indige­nous al­ter­na­tive.

Lord Scu­d­amore brought to his Here­ford­shire es­tate some French ap­ple va­ri­eties, in­clud­ing one called he called The Here­ford­shire Red­streak. This ap­ple would have been ined­i­ble raw, be­ing high in tan­nin and ex­tremely hard, but it was per­fect for mak-ing fine, high-al­co­hol ciders de­signed for keep­ing. Thanks to the im­prove­ment in bot­tle-mak­ing tech­nol­ogy, in the For­est of Dean, the cider could be bot­tled and sealed while still fer­ment­ing, so that the car­bon diox­ide would be ab­sorbed and the cider would be­come sparkling.

So where has cider gone wrong?

Dur­ing the 20th cen­tury cider went from be­ing a ru­ral drink to a com­mer­cial drink in a very short space of time. There was no in­ter­est in the nu­ances of style and taste, only in cre­at­ing a ho­moge­nous drink. Cider is more like wine than beer – ter­roir and cli­mate af­fect the qual­ity, flavour and style.

Cider is far more than merely an in­dus­try (ie the pro­cess­ing of raw ma­te­ri­als into a prod­uct). It is where the worlds of great artistry (for cider mak­ers truly are artists), sci­en­tific ap­pli­ca­tion and the har­ness­ing of na­ture, come to­gether in per­fect uni­son.

The chal­lenge is that un­like wine and beer, there is no ter­mi­nol­ogy to help us talk about the char­ac­ter­is­tics of cider. So that’s what I am do­ing – cre­at­ing that ter­mi­nol­ogy. I am also work­ing with the Beer and Cider Acad­emy and we will soon have our first qual­i­fied cider pom­me­liers who will be able to ad­vise just as a beer or wine som­me­lier.

So tell us what is hap­pen­ing at Star­bistro on Oc­to­ber 12?

I am work­ing with Star­bistro head chef Joe Parke to cre­ate a six-course food and cider pair­ing evening. Joe will be us­ing fresh sea­sonal and lo­cal pro­duce – the han­drea­red rare breed pork is com­ing from a farm less than a mile away – to cre­ate some stun­ning dishes. It’s my job to pair the cider so it com­ple­ments and con­trasts those won­der­ful flavours on the plate.

Can you give us a sneak pre­view of the ciders you have planned?

Of course! When you ar­rive you will en­joy a glass of nat­u­rally sparkling cider, a prosecco equiv­a­lent. For the starter I am choos­ing a dry hopped cider for that com­bi­na­tion of the bit­ter­ness of the hops with the sweet­ness of the cider.

For the main – which of course is pork – I am choos­ing a clas­sic Here­ford­shire cider: the epit­ome of the finest tra­di­tional cider from the West of Eng­land. For dessert it will be a lovely fruity and fresh perry, and to ac­com­pany the cheese an ice cider, which is sim­i­lar to ice wine in the fact that it is made from frozen juice. By freez­ing the juice it be­comes in­ten­si­fied, sweeter and richer and pro­duces a cider with rich­ness, unc­tu­ous­ness and warmth.

‘I first en­coun­tered this great drink at the age of 10 – sur­rep­ti­tiously quaffing a flagon of Old Rosie bought for my el­der broth­ers as a Christ­mas present’

Gabe Cook

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