drink: The Cider House rules

Housed in two 16th-century barns is a Herefordshire bar and brewery which serves up the perfect autumnal brews

At this time of year there can be nowhere more fruitful or mellow for a drink than an ancient barn surrounded by orchards in Herefordshire, a county with a tradition of cider making that rivals Somerset, and an output that exceeds it. The scent that surrounds Dunkertons, a small, independent cider producer, is seasonal, too, as the apples are still being picked and pressed for next year's cider. Once inside The Cider House restaurant and bar, the penetrating aroma of apples is replaced by the tang of woodsmoke from the log fire over in the dining area, and of home-cooked English food.

The Cider House occupies two 400-year-old barns, with pale oak beams untouched since they were built. Outside, Hereford cows graze in a meadow; just out of sight are the orchards which provide the apples and pears to make Dunkertons organic cider and perry. Outside, too, is the mill, one of the few locally still in working order, where the cider apples are pressed, fermented and blended - although three ciders are made with single varieties of apple. You can buy these in the shop; better still, let someone behind the bar pull you a pint - dry, medium-dry, medium-sweet or sweet - or enjoy the award-winning bottled organic sparkling cider.

These are pure, delicious and refined versions of traditional farmhouse cider which above all taste of apples - and they're the perfect accompaniment to the restaurant's food. Breads and chutneys are home made, and cottage pie is made with Hereford beef cows, fed on the pomace left over from brewing.

The Cider House at Dunkertons, Pembridge, Leominster, Herefordshire (01544 388161) Mon-Sat 10am-5pm (or dusk in winter), Thur-Sat dinner (book first), Sun lunch.

Mulled cider

Susie Dunkerton - who, with her husband, owns Dunkertons - has tried various combinations of spices and reckons that there shouldn't be as strong an influence of cloves as there is with mulled wine. She's finally settled on the sachets of spices available from the Burrow Hill Cider Company (01460 240782), another independent cider maker. These contain cloves, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add one sachet to two pints of medium- dry cider - some sweetness is needed to bring out the best in the spices - and warm it in a saucepan on the stove for about five minutes. She adds a dash of orange juice and, as Christmas approaches, sometimes apple brandy or rum. Serve with brown sugar lumps for optional extra sweetness.

Hereford Cider Brandy

Not made by Dunkertons but at the King Offa Distillery at the Museum of Cider in Hereford, this is an English equivalent of the French Calvados. It's sold in the Cider House by the glass or by the bottle to take home. In the restaurant, the most popular digestifs are this and the damson gin. This brandy has a rich, smooth, intensely appley taste. It's as strong as brandy at 40 per cent, and gives off a warming, fruity, alcoholic essence, but doesn't have the knock-out fiery hit of Calvados. A shot, served in a brandy glass, is pounds 1.85. A 700ml bottle is pounds 21.50. n

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers / Car Movers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Recruitment Genius: Software / Web Developer - ASP.NET

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company produces a wide ra...

    Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

    £22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

    Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

    £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones