At Cromwell we produce traditional ‘real’ and ‘live’ ciders and perry. These are produced solely from apple and pear juice that has been pressed by ourselves and not pasteurised or filtered. We ferment to full dryness and mature our cider and perry for at least 12 months until crystal clear and containing zero sugar. Being ‘live’ yeast is still present and would result in refermentation and a poor shelf life if sweetened with sugar or juice. For this reason we only sweeten using unfermentable sweeteners and use sulphide preservatives to ensure better longevity particularly at the point of sale.
Cider, unlike beer, improves with age and has a very long shelf life until opened. Its ‘enemy’ is air and the oxygen and contaminates this contains, the exposure to which coupled with warm temperature will cause the cider to quickly start ‘going off’. In simple terms this will firstly be seen as a white scum forming on the surface caused by reaction with oxygen, followed by the growth of moulds which will eventually cloud the cider and cause off flavours. In the worse case and excessive exposure to oxygen, bacteria will turn the alcohol into vinegar.
When considering Traditional Cider it is important to take account of the above and your expected turnover which determines the cider’s length of exposure to air. Temperature is also important as cider is best kept and drunk cool and location of the cask is important. For our ciders and perry we offer the following:
16 & 40 pint Plastic Tubs. Ideal for festivals where turnover is high. Their advantage is ease of handling and dispensing at the point of sale. Also being robust they can take pressure and retain residual CO2 in the cider during storage. Their disadvantages are; they are not particularly ‘pretty’ on the bar; the cider goes flat and starts to deteriorate once opened with shelf life of about 4 to 5 days depending on temperature; the need for daily return to the cellar to keep cool; and the tubs are returnable.
18 ltr wooden Casks. Truly traditional and appealing form of storage and dispensing cider. The oak cask gives flavour and extends life of the cider but still needs a quick turnover – 6 to 7 days. The other disadvantage is their weight which makes it impractical to move to the cellar for cooling.
10&20 ltr Bag in Box. The main advantage is air never comes in contact with the cider and so shelf life is extremely good and measured in months rather than days. Also BIBs are non returnable and the 10ltr BIB’s fit conveniently into a bar cooler. The disadvantages are they are unsightly; have to be filled with flat cider (no residual CO2) and are susceptible to blowing up particularly if secondary fermentation occurs. This has led to ‘Hot Filling’ by some, a method of degassing which defiles the ciders ‘traditional’ status and not employed by Cromwell.
9gal Firkins. This is the the most economic means of purchasing cider and can be raked horizontally or stored vertically to save space. The casks can be fitted with hand tap for direct dispensing or supplied with a lance for location in the cellar and feeding conventional beer pumps on the bar. Located in a cellar at low temperature does extend live to over a week but the effect of air contamination is a problem over long periods. The lance supplied also allow a CO2 aspiration connection that floods of the cider with CO2 and greatly extend its life. It must be noted, however, that a small amount of CO2 may be absorbed into the cider which is seen by some as an improvement but puts its ‘traditional’ status in question.
30 ltr Bag in a Cask. The latest system of casks and ideal for traditional cider. The cask is fitted with a plastic liner that contains the cider, as with ‘bag in a box’, and which extends the cider’s life to several months. The main advantage being the cask can be pressurised with either air or CO2 allowing the cider to be dispensed to either a conventional hand pump or lager style tap. ‘Traditional’ status is still retained as the CO2 or air does not come in contact with the cider and the bag can be filled with unadulterated cider unlike the degassed cider needed by the BIB.
30ltr Stainless Keg. Pressurised kegs filled with traditional live cider but carbonated and therefore not sold as traditional cider. Has the advantage of long life and being dispensed via lager style taps. The cider dispensed has a slight ‘fizz’ seen by some as ideal and has been included in the Cromwell range by popular request.