Monday, 28 April 2014

Haynes: Cider Enthusiasts Manual

It has taken me too long to do this (or even write a blog post) which is a sign of how busy things are - apologies!

Thursday 1st May sees the official release of my latest book "Cider: Enthusiasts Manual" from Haynes publishing (although it appears people already have copies.) Its the third book I've been involved with in about 18months, also about cider, so I've just about reached my limit (for now anyway.)

It certainly looks like a Haynes Manual

In late 2012, Haynes contacted me to ask if I would be interested in producing a cidermaking manual for them which, after some discussion, I agreed to do. I've been making cider at home (on and off) for 10 years and felt I had enough knowledge and experience to do a basic guide justice. I used to brew beer professionally, and whilst beer being a very different beast to cider- there is some crossover in terms of understanding yeasts/fermentation, equipment and basic processes such as cleaning. There are numerous excellent books already available to help newcomers make cider by increasing their understanding of the processes and stages that it involves. It would be pointless creating yet another to compete, so I opted for a slightly different approach. I thought back to the kind of book I was looking for and could't find when I first developed an interest in it. Back then, you had to choose between either a historical/literary books (such as the excellent 'Cider - The Forgotten Miracle' by James Crowden) which celebrates some of the history and culture of cider, or, a simple books that focus on technical production aspects (such as 'Making Cider' by Jo Deal). There wasn't a book that introduced newcomers to both areas simultaneously, which disappointed me (learning about one aspect doesn't meant you're not interested in the other.)

I've taken a holistic and philosophical approach to give people a foundation of basic knowledge from which they can begin their own journey - hence the title. There isn't much in there that you won't find elsewhere without digging, but I do think its the first time you can find as wide a cross section of information about the basic technical aspects of cider production alongside a substantial amount of cultural and historical background information. I wanted it to be simple enough to be giftable but informative enough to be useful so that anyone who has an interest in cider and might want to learn more about how to make it, can find out what they need too know. At the same time I wanted to introduce some historical and social background about how cider 'is' and came to be, both here and in other countries.

The Haynes Manual is a long established brand that has a worldwide reach. When I talk about having completed a cider manual for them, a smile always grows across peoples faces as the penny drops as if pleased that Haynes have diversified away from technical car manuals (something they've actually been doing for quite some time now.)

I've never claimed to be an expert and there are certainly many people out there who have far more experience than I when it comes to cider production, but I know enough about the basics to help introduce the basics of cidermaking to newcomers. However, its important to acknowledge credit where it is due so, I confess to having had some excellent help along the way. Cidermaker Matt Veasey made helpful and excellent suggestions. Neil Worley gave it technical approval, his wife Helen also proof read it. [NB I/Haynes managed to omit the Worleys from the acknowledgments - sincerest apologies team W.] Extra proofreading was provided by Simon Thomas, thank you. I've had some great input from adventurous and clever folk who have made their own kit successfully and donated designs: Nige Cox from the Marches Cyder Circle (who designed the infamous Codling Grinder  - a scratter designed to pulp your apples) and Mark Evens from North Cumbria Orchard Group who provided measurements, load pressures (and so much more) for a home made press- details of which can be found inside. I've collected a few top tips from industry legends such as Tom Oliver, Andrew Lea and Roger Wilkins which I have dotted about and have also included advice with professional cider apple growers to help inform people about growing their own fruit/panting an orchard.

Its available from all the usual outlets and, of course, I encourage you all to buy as many copies as you possibly can for the cider fanatic in your life. Therea re hundreds of people with apples trees on their land/in their garden that they don;t use, and this might just give them the impetus to try something new!

More info and excepts here.

hot off the press

Wednesday, 23 April 2014