As I grow older I find myself having less and less tolerance for certain things. You know the sort of stuff , the music tastes of the kids nextdoor, shopping malls , the shamanic snakeoil of late capitalism. Added to that list is innovation in cider, well normally.
Innovation in cider usually means adding fruit that didnt come from an apple orchard (read going after the RTD market) , adding hops (read presenting horrifically oxidized hops over no malt body) or adding spices to emulate a dessert or a South East Asian salad (read for gods sake NO).
More often than not the cider sentenced to innovation is not up to much in the first place either. Culinary apples juiced , rendered into extract and then reconstituted for adulteration and fermentation.
It doesn’t have to be that way however. Not all that strays from tradition must be gimmicky bullshit it seems.
And so we come to Peckhams Skins ‘n Pips. Recently Peckhams have been releasing small batch releases in addition to thier very good core cider. I used to be able to get the core Moutere Cider and changing vintages of the Dry from my local New World. Alas they seem to have delisted Peckhams , along with the one English producer they used to stock, in favour of more berry flavoured concoctions. In a way though I can thank them for that as it was the push I needed to start buying direct from Peckhams webstore and thus it brought me into contact with the small batch stuff outside of my infrequent missions into town and Goldings Freedive or LBQ .
Some of the small batch releases have been single variety like the champion Brown’s Apple, some using traditional French or Spanish cider making techniques and some like this using winemaking techniques.
Skins ‘n Pips involved milling the fruit, three English cider varieties Harry Master’s Jersey, Kingston Black, and Major, and then fermenting the milled fruit , skins, flesh , pips, juice and all in a tank before pressing and continuing the fermentation in oak. In cider making the apples are usually milled and then quickly pressed so the juice is fermented without the presence of the skins. In red wine and orange wine production skins are left in the ferment for various amounts of time to add body, tannic structure and colour. In the case of Skins ‘n Pips Im not sure there has been any colour impact but the complex tannins of the traditional cider apples have definitely been drawn out .
The process is also said to add body , I assume in a similar way that certain saison strains add glycerol giving the impression of body in completely dry beer.
Fermentation was carried out by two wine yeasts, Torulaspora delbrueckii and Prise de mousse to complete the wine experiment.
The result is delicious. Its bone dry with 0g per litre sugar and yet it also avoids being austere or short on the palate. The tannins are complex and notable but not rough or harsh. I enjoyed it on its own but can imagine it pairing very well with a generous piece of farmhouse cheddar.
A curious thought entered my mind as I drunk it. It seemed to me that this was like the very best of traditional West Country ciders. Tannic, bone dry , complex and with the accent of my Devonshire ancestors ‘right morish’. In a way the innovation has led back to the tradition and the results are delicious.