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Cider to benefit from ‘all seasons’ push

Herefordshire-based Little Pomona has launched an initiative to reposition cider as a drink that is suitable for any time of year.

The campaign, named ‘Cider for all seasons’ kicked off this week with a first stop on what Little Pomona is calling its ‘Disco Nouveau roadshow’ at The Yew Tree in Peterstow.

The Yew Tree tapped a keg of Little Pomona’s Disco Nouveau for its Herefordshire debut and served the cider alongside specially-matched pizza from resident sourdough specialists The Firebird Kitchen.

Speaking to the drinks business, Little Pomona Orchard & Cidery co-founder Susanna Forbes, who is also the author of the book The Cider Insider – the essential guide to 100 craft ciders to drink now, said: “Orchard driven craft cider is the way to offer something different to your discerning customers. Something that will excite and inspire them, so much so that they come back. And tell their friends.”

Forbes, explained that “the best way” for others to get involved in the initiative is for people to “open one carefully chosen bottle and share tasters in wine glasses. Don’t wait until summer – surprise them and do it now. If they’re on your shelves already, pair with good cheese cubes/straws or charcuterie.”

According to Forbes, any venues can “start small” or “be ambitious” but that the most important thing is to “explore” so that you can “guide your customers”.

She reminded that cider is “Britain’s best. It’s local. It’s unique” and told db that interested parties could “go [and] visit” cider orchards and learn more and urged business owners to “take your customers and staff”.

When describing Little Pomona, farmhouse brewery Rigg & Furrow in Northumberland, described the “excitement” that tasting the latest ciders can bring.

Rigg & Furrow’s Harriet Edgar said: “We love the excitement of the first cider of the year from Little Pomona. It’s the first glimpse of the rewards to come after everyone’s hard work during harvest.”

Edgar additionally revealed that she will be sharing Disco Nouveau at the brewery’s seventh birthday celebrations on 24 February for anyone who wishes to visit and taste what is poured.

The repositioning initiative and roadshow will then continue for a further two months and, according to Forbes, will include a series of meet-the-maker events, tap takeovers and cider club appearances in an effort to raise awareness around cider’s versatility.

The plan is for Little Pomona to join Hereford Beer House before journeying to Manchester, Sheffield and Chester and then to Cardiff and London before finishing its tour back in Herefordshire at its ‘Spring Open Day’ hosted at the cider house on 13 April.

Hereford Beer House proprietor Sion Harris explained: “As winter turns to spring, Disco Nouveau is the perfect accompaniment to the change of season, as its sherbety fruit flavours come alive in your mouth. There really is no reason to wait until summer.”

Grant Hutchison, co-owner of Aeble in Anstruther added: “Discovery apples are really stealing the limelight when it comes to cider in my opinion. I’m a sucker for anything made with them.”

Hutchison explained that cider’s growing appeal is its “ability to take influence from other worlds and thread those seamlessly into its own”.

Little Pomona is inviting farm shops, delicatessens, restaurants, pubs, off licences and local markets to all get involved in sharing learnings from the tour, but also to assist in amplifying the core message – that cider is a drink that is suitable for all weathers and all kinds of occasions.

Nick Greenhalgh, of Manchester’s award-winning brewery Pomona Island admitted: “I initially got interested in Little Pomona due to the similarity of our names. A happy coincidence because it turns out their cider is incredible. When we were looking for a cider company for lines in our two bars, they were the first and only call we made.”

Greenhalgh noted how “the creativity in the cider world sometimes goes under the radar, with all the noise about craft beer or natural wine but they’re making unbelievable drinks, which are properly diverse, exciting and really push boundaries” and revealed that this creativity will be celebrated with a tap takeover at Pomona Island’s new craft beer bar, North Westward Ho.

Agreeing with the sentiment, Mike Pomranz, owner of The Old Shoe, Sheffield observed how “counterintuitively, part of Little Pomona’s push to raise cider’s profile has been their willingness to crossover – to reach out to wine drinkers and beer drinkers, highbrow cider drinkers but also casual cider drinkers – and Disco Nouveau handles it all: pure and delicious, intellectual but broadly appealing”.

He added: “There seems to be a temptation at the moment for bar owners to revert to ‘safer’ more established brands, but we’ve found the opposite. When you give people quality stuff at a fair price they’re more engaged and excited to come back and try more.”

Pomranz will be sharing tastes of the live keg conditioned version – “my preferred method” – in late March.

Don’t know where to start? Forbes advised: “If you’re looking for your starter artisan selection, check out the Fine Cider Co range and Les Caves de Pyrene for us, or locate your local cider maker”.

Essentially, she urged people to “act now” and added that even in tough times for businesses there was something that we could all do to move things forwards and bring joy to palates.

Forbes implored: “Don’t just give in to the tie. Life is too short and your customers deserve better, but they’ll need to taste it with you to see why.”

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