Geordies develop a thirst for cider

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The Independent Online

Known for coal, brown ale and Gazza, the residents of Newcastle have developed a new passion - cider. Guzzling Geordies are buying eight times as much cider as people in its traditional home in the West Country.

Known for coal, brown ale and Gazza, the residents of Newcastle have developed a new passion - cider. Guzzling Geordies are buying eight times as much cider as people in its traditional home in the West Country.

A survey by Tesco has found that Newcastle is now the official capital of cider drinkers, with Cardiff and Birmingham in second and third places. Somerset and Devon, the spiritual home of scrumpy, came eighth in the list. So is it the happening drink? Will Bacardi Breezers, V2 and Smirnoff Ice be replaced in Britain's hippest bars by a cloudy pint of cider? Or is it just the quickest way for teenagers on a budget to get blind drunk?

The results of the survey have left experts perplexed. "It's a rather strange statistic," said Paul Keetch, MP for Hereford - the home of Bulmer's Cider - and a leading member of the Parliamentary Cider Group which published the research. "I don't know if more alcohol generally is consumed in the north than the south, but the statistics certainly demonstrate that it is not just the West Country tipple it is presumed to be."

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) welcomed Newcastle's devotion to the traditional drink. A spokesman said: "It's certainly not something we would expect, but it's great to see people enjoying cider outside of the south-west. We are pleased to see real cider being sold and promoted by supermarkets and we would like to see it done nationwide."

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