The UK has the highest per capita consumption of cider in the world and although there are other areas of the UK such as East Anglia that have a tradition of producing fine cider it’s generally regarded that the counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire in the West Midlands and the West Country in general are the areas with which it is most associated.
Devon has a long history of cider making, and although there are no large commercial businesses down here these days, there are still a fair number of smaller producers dotted about – including Paignton.
Hunts, of Higher Yalberton Farm is a good example, and I’ve been fortunate to be able to have a look around and see how their cider is made.
The family started producing cider over 200 years ago, and although it hasn’t been produced continuously throughout the whole time, they still use the same traditional methods and even the same orchards.
The press they currently use was made back in the 1950s and it’s all very low tech – but what they don’t have in modern equipment they more than make up for in experience.
The only ingredient they use in the process is apples – just apples – but what they know about apples and the production of cider is staggering.
I toured the farm a few years ago with a few other people when tours weren’t generally available to the wider public, but I’m pleased to say that there are now regular tours on a Wednesday afternoon. The current tour costs £10 (as of June 2018) and includes samples of their different ciders which includes Hazy Days, a summer tipple at an ABV of just 4.5%, Barn Screecher at a more respectable 6.2%, and Bull Walloper at an eye-watering 7.2%.
The farm is located on the outskirts of Paignton not far from the village of Stoke Gabriel, and if you take my advice, it might be better to think about how you’re going to get back home before you come if you don’t want to be found in a field under an apple tree somewhere spending the night with a herd of Devon Reds.