Very tasty! New single variety Perry launched.


Ben and Steph Culpin over at Apple County Cider have been working really hard to consolidate the Whitehouse Farm brand of traditionally made cider. And their latest addition to the range is a beautiful single variety Perry. The award winner cider maker, Ben Culpin, is on a mission to put Monmouthshire back on the cider making map as one of the top apple counties. And he’s not doing too badly already! Ben and Steph have previously scooped the “silverware” at the Welsh Cider and Perry Championships. And now their Vilberie dry cider beat off 10,000 entries to be named as one of Britain’s Top 50 Foods in the Great Taste 2015 awards. Apple County success in these awards, run as a blind tasting by some of the food industry’s most sensitive palates puts them in with a chance of winning the Great Taste Golden Fork award to be announced on 7th September.


Apple County Cider from Monmouthshire.
Apple County Cider from Monmouthshire.



We’ll be running an in depth feature on Apple County later in the year but for now, Ben and Steph welcome visitors to the farm in the picturesque village of Skenfrith situated in the beautiful county of Monmouthshire. Or you can buy cider from them online. Just visit the website for more details.

Apple County Cider new Perry
Apple County Cider Perry



Beer and Food Pairing


Two of the most enjoyable meals I have ever had have been tasting menus where the accompanying drinks were skilfully and expertly selected specifically for me course by course.

Start with a great and characterful menu of interesting ingredients and then pair your chosen tipple to the specific flavours, acidity, sweetness and aromas of the food – Genius! Many of you may have had similar experiences but it doesn’t just have to be about wine. Lots of great, and sometimes surprising, combinations work and appeal to the palate enhancing the flavours of the food and the accompanying drink. The skill is in the pairing. Occasionally this happens by accident (see our Ice wine and pizza article) but it’s much more successfully achieved by experts! Those clever local food people at Harts Barn and ace beer brewers at Hillside have teamed up to prove it to you in a fab event coming in September.

Too often in this country what we eat and drink is often dictated by our perceptions that something is more acceptable or more sophisticated than something else. We want to be seen by others to have good taste and to understand the finer things. For a long time this meant wine, and specifically French wine and the majority of British people, feeling they lacked sufficient knowledge on the subject, used price as an indicator of quality and sophistication. Then a few Australian’s smashed in the door at “Le Bistro” and proved the complete nonsense of that with big bold flavours in deep gorgeous reds that wouldn’t break the bank. Take another example and look back fifteen years to the lowly reputation of the Spanish classic – Rioja, and then take a look at the supermarket prices of today.

The point is times change and things move on. And this is what is happening in the beer and cider marketplace. The dominance of the big factories, like a medieval castle before gunpowder, can’t be easily or quickly overturned but it can be undermined, chipped away at and laid siege too. In the UK and across Europe, notably in Italy, people are making great craft beer again in ever growing numbers. Our new perceptions are that craft beer it is cool, tasty and sophisticated. Trendy young men and women in designer suits in shiny, busy London bars choose craft beer from around the UK as their wind-down Friday drink of choice whilst chatting about – well who knows what. There’s not a beard or a pullover in site! Although in fairness full beards are very much in fashion so we’ll withdraw that.

The timing is perfect for beer to come out of the shadows in the UK and step toward the front of stage where it belongs. In the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley we are ahead of that curve, we’re in the vanguard and the reason shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone – we have great natural ingredients and we use them simply but superbly in keeping with our unashamedly rural and no nonsense approach, ‘erm, a bit like Provence in fact if you are feeling the need for a sophisticated interlude from yesteryear!


And so, in the spirit of all of this Yvette Farrell from Harts Barn will be on the hobs and larder whilst the ever likeable Derek, master beer sommelier from Hillside, has been drawing beer from the impressive May Hill cellar to bring you an evening of fun and learning where the food is paired to the beer – just as it should be.



Pinnacle (Pale Ale) – Stinking Bishop & pear canapés with May Hill Orchard Chutney

HCL (Craft Lager) – Wye salmon ceviche served on a lettuce cup

Over The Hill (Dark Mild) – Pulled Venison marinated in Over the Hill ale, bramble sirop with thyme & juniper

Legend of Hillside (English IPA) – Wild boar garam masala bites with forest herb flatbread

Jolly Jester (Belgian tripel) – Sticky toffee pudding & Jolly Jester Beer ice cream

Legless Cow (Best Bitter) – Local cheese board with beer crackers


Pinnacle (Pale Ale) – Stinking Bishop & pear canapés with May Hill Orchard Chutney

HCL (Craft Lager) – Sweet smoked paprika homemade ricotta cups

Over The Hill (Dark Mild) – Roasted tomato pesto with marinated Portobello mushroom

Legend of Hillside (English IPA) – Paneer, chickpea & spinach garam masala bites with forest herb flatbread

Jolly Jester (Belgian tripel) – Sticky toffee pudding & Jolly Jester beer ice cream

Legless Cow – Local cheese board with beer crackers


Friday 25th September 2015 7pm to 10pm at Hillside Brewery, Holly Bush Farm, Ross Road, Longhope GL17 0NG

Go to for details and booking via Eventbrite