Its perry, NOT pear cider!

Those of you who came to visit the Wiggly Garden at the Hay Festival, might have had the chance to sample some delicious local cider.

But even if you didn't, I thought I'd share with you an interesting conversation I've just had with one of the producers whose cider and perry we featured.

Paul Stephens of Newton Court Cidery makes some of the best cider and perry around. His bottle fermented (that means slightly sparkling) perry went down especially well during the long hot days of Hay.

But he has a bee in his bonnet. Certain national cider producers have brought out a drink which they are calling 'pear cider'. Now I thought there was no such thing as 'pear cider' - and that what they were actually selling was perry, an alcoholic drink made by a process similar to cider (which is apples), but from pears. And that's what I was telling people at Hay.

Now Paul tells me that 'pear cider' is a real drink, made from desert pears, the sort you can eat when they are juicy and ripe.

But it's not what he produces, which is real perry, and can only be made from perry pears, which have names like Huffcap, Nailor and Merrylegs. These pears are also rock hard and totally inedible when raw. The history of making perry goes back hundreds of years and thanks to the artisan producers like Paul and Ross-on-Wye Cider and Perry Company (another popular taster at Hay!) and many more in Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, it still survives and thrives.

The Slow Food movement have even named Three Counties Perry as a unique product, just as certain cheeses can only come from one location, in order to protect and promote it. I love their tagline for it: A curious drink for a slow world!

So we reckon, rather than confuse things, we should just say NO to 'pear cider' and YES, PLEASE I'll have another pint, to real perry.

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