Cider and perry makers across the country are being invited to get their entries in for the biggest and most prestigious cider competition in the UK, the British Cider Championship at the Royal Bath and West Show (June 2-4).
After the Coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the show in 2020 and allowed only a scaled-down version in 2021, this year’s will be the first full-scale British Cider Championships for three years and the organisers are hoping that a combination of pent-up demand and the ever-increasing numbers of small-scale craft cider-makers will boost entries to a new record.
The cider-making world has seen significant change since the last full-scale British Cider Championships was staged in 2019 and that is being reflected in the classes for the competition. According to the competition’s architect and chief organiser, Master Cider-Maker Bob Chaplin, not least among the trends is a continuing improvement in the standard of the entries.
“Whether it is a traditional farmhouse cider, or bottle-fermented cider or commercial cider, the overall standard of our entries has been getting higher with every year that passes. But as there can only be one winner in every class, what that meant was that some outstanding ciders and perries were missing out on the recognition they deserved.
“So,a from now on, we will be issuing gold, silver or bronze awards to the ciders or perries that our judges consider have reached the required standard, in addition to having winners for every class. For the cider-makers who win these awards this will provide a badge of quality which will give a major boost when it comes to marketing their products.”
Classes for the championships are being simplified to reflect the main categories in the world of quality cider-making, including a completely new class for ‘modern cider’, to cater for the increasing number of cider-makers, mostly outside the traditional cider areas, who are making lighter, fruitier ciders, very often from dessert apples rather than the traditional cider varieties.
Another innovation is that canned cider entries will be accepted for the first time – a reflection not so much of the sort of canned ciders that are seen lining supermarket shelves, as of the increasing number of artisan cider-makers who are innovating with their packaging as well as their product.
And the ‘Newcomers’ class makes a welcome return, offering expert feedback as well as the chance of a business-boosting prize card to the many new small-scale cider start-ups which are such a feature of the current cider scene.
But Bob Chaplin is keen to stress that the emphasis on quality is as important to the underpinning ethos of British Cider Championships as ever: “The changes we are making reflect the increased innovation at the artisan end of the cider spectrum. We remain as committed as ever to ciders and perries made from apples and pears from British orchards.
“All sorts of exciting things can and are being done by cider makers throughout the UK, improving quality and presentation, and that is a trend that we want both to reflect and encourage.”
For more information or to enter online visit: www.britishciderchampionships.com/competition.