Wednesday, 17 June 2009

A cidery detour

In northern Spain for a craft cider exhibition though am also learning some useful Spanish customs regarding beer. In the Asturian city of Gijon, where I have been based since Monday, the locals either drink cider or beer, wine is just for fine dining. There are cervecerias where Belgian and German beers are common (several excellent Gouden Carolus triples last night), then there are sideras where cider is king. I am told that anyone drinking cider alone is looked down upon as a little sad (does that stretch to beer I wonder as I recall myself ensconsed in a corner alone last night?), while the habit is to pour the stuff from a great height (to rouse it as it is very still) and drink it quickly. Yesterday at a press conference the head of tourism said that ´cider for us is a way to understand the way we live, our culture, when we want to celebrate something cider is involved in some way´. Can you imagine someone in a similar post in the UK (or even the US) saying the same thing in relation to beer? Having said that though, I think the Asturian cider producers are in a bit of a bind as their cider is very challenging (think lambic) and the idea of innovation (ie barrel aging, single varietal, single orchard, vintage) seems a bit off the radar - and that is probably why the stuff doesn´t travel. Imagine having to go to the Senne Valley to get your lambic fix? On the other hand...


  1. Lambic as in 'tart'? I must admit I've found the sidra in Gijon a very easy drink indeed. Also, The theatrical pour (with half going on the ground), the splashes glittering like diamonds, the delicate glass and the sharing is one of life's great drinking experiences. Nice town, too.

  2. Indeed it’s a great place, but the Asturian cider makers want to get their stuff out into the world and I do find it challenging, and I think a lot of other people will — it’s not something I willingly drink too much of; I found it worked well with a local pungently brilliant blue cheese and also prawns, but at the craft cider exhibition (SICER) I was at I found myself veering towards the Normandy and English ciders. Someone there made the point that some of the Asturian cider makers are there for the tourists in the same way you get farm cider in the West Country which sells itself with a silly name and gets taken back by holidaymakers.
    There was a whole debate going on about how to make Asturian cider more popular elsewhere, but beyond the theatre of the pour I felt that they had to look at cider/food matching and innovations (not gimmicks) such as single varietal, bottle fermentation etc.