Meet the Producers #7
𝗡𝗮𝗺𝗲: Alex Simmens
𝗕𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗡𝗮𝗺𝗲: Llanblethian Orchards
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗱𝗼 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗹 𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗺𝗮𝗿𝗸𝗲𝘁? Traditionally made ciders and perries from rare and historic Welsh and English fruit varieties grown in my unsprayed orchard in Llanblethian. I sell traditional still ciders and perries in bag in a box. Modern bottled craft cider and perries. Premium naturally conditioned pétillant naturel and keeved products in champagne bottles. I also sell traditionally made live vinegar containing the mother.
𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝗹𝗼𝗻𝗴 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗯𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗮 𝗺𝗲𝗺𝗯𝗲𝗿 𝗼𝗳 𝗖𝗼𝘄𝗯𝗿𝗶𝗱𝗴𝗲 𝗙𝗮𝗿𝗺𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗠𝗮𝗿𝗸𝗲𝘁? I joined Spring 2020
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗯𝗮𝗰𝗸𝗴𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗯𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀? 𝗛𝗼𝘄/𝗪𝗵𝘆 𝗱𝗶𝗱 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘀𝗲𝘁 𝘂𝗽 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗯𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 I went to Cardiff university in the 90’s and did a degree in biotechnology with modules in microbiology, fermentation etc. I ended up running a cider bar at a student festival for charity and got the bug from visiting old cider farms in Monmouth and Ross on Wye to buy cider for the event. I planted my orchard on the families’ land in 2006 and it all went from there.
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗮 𝘁𝘆𝗽𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗱𝗮𝘆 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘆𝗼𝘂?
It varies depending upon season. My time is split between maintaining the orchard in Llanblethian, working on the cider at my barn, doing deliveries and the office work. In Spring, I split my time between finishing the winter orchard work and getting all the cider bottled ready for late spring which is the busiest sale time of the year. Summer it is all guns blazing selling cider and doing deliveries (and shows and events when they were allowed). Autumn is selling the last of the years cider and pressing the harvest. Winter most of my time is taken up with maintenance in the orchard, weather permitting and updating artwork banners etc ready for the next season.
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗮 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗺𝗼𝗻 𝗾𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗰𝘂𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗮𝘀𝗸 𝘆𝗼𝘂?
What is Keeved cider? Keeving is French cider making process and it is how all the sweet low alcohol corked bottles of cider you buy in northern France are made. Essentially very ripe late season cider apples from old unsprayed orchards are pressed and the milled fruit is left over night. The next morning the pulp is pressed and the resultant juice has calcium chloride salt added to it. The day after an enzyme (that does naturally occur in the fruit) may be added called pectin methyl esterase (PME). The enzyme reacts with the pectin from the very ripe fruit and the calcium and forms a gel mass that traps the yeast and nutrients in the cider. After a week or so it raises to the surface as a thick crust called the chapeau brun (brown hat) or flying lees in the English tradition. The clear juice below this is racked off and fermented. This juice is low nutrient and stops fermentation early giving a naturally sweet cider.
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗱𝗼 𝗲𝗻𝗷𝗼𝘆 𝗺𝗼𝘀𝘁 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗷𝗼𝗯?
The smile on a customer’s face when they try a cider they really like
𝗧𝗲𝗹𝗹 𝘂𝘀 𝗮 𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘁𝗹𝗲 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗯𝗮𝗰𝗸𝗴𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱/𝗳𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗹𝘆:
My parents run an electronics manufacturing business called Ctronix Ltd. I grew up above there and used to solder up circuit boards for pocket money. Years ago the circuit boards used to be signed by whoever soldered them up. I imagine there may be a few systems out there with my signature on!
After my degree I ended up retraining in software engineering and spent 15 years writing software for them. During the last recession I decided to do cider full time and devote my time to Llanblethian Orchards.
𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝗱𝗼 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗿𝗲𝗹𝗮𝘅?
On the rare days off, bit of a lie in, drink lots of tea and cook a nice meal in truth. I am usually too tired to do much else!
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁’𝘀 𝗮 𝗳𝘂𝗻 𝗳𝗮𝗰𝘁 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗺𝗮𝘆 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗸𝗻𝗼𝘄?
I have been an active CAMRA (campaign for real ale) member since my early 20’s. I have been involved in running beer and cider festivals for decades. It’s a lot of work but setting up festivals is great fun and you make lots of friends all over the country. I can’t wait to see them all again
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗯𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗱𝘂𝗰𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘄𝗵𝗶𝗰𝗵 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗱𝘂𝗰𝘁 𝗱𝗼 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗸 𝗶𝘀 𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗱?
𝗕𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴? Breakwell’s seedling sweet craft cider. It is a wonderful old Monmouthshire cider apple variety. It has incredible amounts of apple aroma. You can literally smell the apples as you walk past the tree! It makes a wonderful fruity single variety cider. As it has a low sugar content it also ends up quite low alcohol as well.
𝗨𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗱: I would say traditional dry cider. But dry cider has always been a hard sell in Wales. The old English cider boys always used to say when cider was sold over the border you would add a bag of sugar as the Welsh have a sweet tooth!
𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗹𝗼𝗼𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗳𝗼𝗿𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗱𝗼𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗳𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗹𝗼𝗰𝗸 𝗱𝗼𝘄𝗻?
Jumping on a train and going to visit friends over the border for a pint. So many people I have not seen in over a year now.