Learn How To Make Your Own Cider

Cider Making Courses for 2016 are now complete!

We held our weekend of cider making courses/workshops during September, and there are no further courses scheduled before autumn 2017. This year’s courses were fully booked out, and were a great success. We had participants from all corners of Ireland, from the UK and even from Japan! Dates for the 2017 courses will be finalised later during the winter months, but will probably be scheduled for late September/early October 2017. Nevertheless we can take bookings and reservations for the 2017 courses at this stage, and if for example you would like to gift a friend or family member for Christmas, Birthday etc, we can produce a ‘gift voucher’ for the course, which you can then present to the recipient. Give David a call if you’d like to discuss this.

Cider Making Courses:

Extra date Sunday 18th September 2016!

Throughout the Autumn I run several 1-day cidermaking courses starting in September when the apple season has begun. That time of year gives participants a chance to use their new knowledge to obtain apples and make cider before the harvest season is over. If these dates become fully booked and there is sufficient demand, I will run an additional date in early October.

The central message of the course is that excellent quality cider can be made on a small scale at home, using everyday utensils and simple techniques, without having to invest in expensive equipment. I do believe that the course which I run is probably the best value beginners’ cidermaking course available in either Ireland or Britain. Participants learn a wealth of practical information in a relaxed and fun environment, get the opportunity of tasting many ciders which are either expensive or not available in Ireland, ultimately learn the inside track on how I produce my award-winning ciders, and go home at the end of the day with a canister of fermenting cider and a copy of the “bible of craft cidermaking”.

Running the course at our farm allows me to provide participants with a very interesting, informative, and hands-on experience. It allows me to give a tour of my own plantations of apples, pears, cherries and vines, which many participants regard as one of the highlights of the course. During the tour, I show the different types of apple, how they are grown, and what they can be used for; we taste many varieties of apple and learn about aspects of judging fruit maturity, and deciding on suitability for making cider. 

The ‘classroom’ itself is situated in a dedicated corner of our large polytunnel, with ‘walls’ of fruit trees and a ‘ceiling’ of overhead grapevines, dripping with ripe fruit tantalisingly out of reach! This provides us with space and comfort, in a unique setting, to carry out the day’s activities.

Here’s a colourful review of the course which was run in September 2015, written by one of the attendees http://www.forkontheroad.net/2015/10/this-cider-house-rules-craft-cider-making-in-dublin/

The wonderful thing about home-made cider:

Cider has been made for thousands of years, and it is the ultimate way to preserve the bountiful crop of apples provided by mother nature each autumn. In the days before electrically-powered refrigeration and freezing, heat-aided processing, and high-tech packaging, there was no way to preserve apples for more than a few months beyond the autumn harvest. Except for one method! Cider! This simply involved crushing the fruit, extracting the juice, and allowing it to undergo a natural fermentation. This fermented apple juice, otherwise known as cider, was then sealed in a barrel, and it could keep for months or even years! And not only does this fermented apple juice preserve the legendary nutritional value of apples, but also, the entire sugar content of the apple juice has magically transformed into alcohol, which means that cider doesn’t just provide a healthy source of vitamins and minerals, it also provides merriment!

Now one word of ‘warning’ here! The sweet fizzy liquid which is currently produced in industrial factories and cleverly marketed on TV as “cider” is not the kind of cider being referred to in the previous paragraph. This ‘industrial’ cider contains more water and sugar than apples, and is not what we would regard as worthy of the name ‘cider’. So, when you make your own natural, proper, healthy cider at home, it will not closely resemble any of the big brand ‘cider’ you may already be familiar with. 

Having helped to spear-head the current revival of quality cider-making in Ireland over the past 15 years, I am very pleased that our ciders continue to attract accolades and praise, the latest of which was a First Prize award at the 2015 International Cider and Perry Competition in Herefordshire, the UK’s heartland of cider and perry tradition! In teaching my cider-making courses I try to pass on enough of my knowledge and experience to help you make your own quality natural cider at home! 

Dates:

Next course dates September 2016. Courses will be run on a Friday and Saturday back to back, and as long as places are still available, participants can choose either the Friday or the Saturday. These dates will be 16th and 17th September 2016.

Due to demand, I have added an additional date for Sunday 18th September 2016.

Participants will arrive by 9:30 so that there is enough time for tea and coffee. The course will start at 10am, and will run until 4:30pm. We break for lunch at the Man O War pub and restaurant which is 1 minute from our farm. Participants will see the menu in advance, and we will pre-order the food so that it is ready when we arrive. There is a very good choice of lunch dishes in the €6-€12 range on the menu.

Course Content:

Course participants will learn about the nature of what cider actually is, how to choose suitable apples, how to press and ferment the juice, and how to bottle and preserve cider.

Very importantly, and unique to my cidermaking course, is the extensive tasting session which I have developed. This is not just fun, but also extremely educational, and has always been the biggest highlight of the course for most participants. We taste many different ciders to show what is good and what is bad, and to demonstrate what the home cider-maker should expect from their efforts. We will also taste ciders at different stages of fermentation, from fresh apple juice through to the finished product, so that participants become familiar with the fermentation process and what to expect as their cider develops. Participants will also taste ciders that have faults, so that they can learn to recognise when something goes wrong, and can learn how to prevent this happening.

We will crush and press apples during the day, and all participants will take home a fermentation container filled with 9 pints of cider-apple juice to ferment at home.

Topics covered:

  • Types of apples suitable for cider-making
  • Equipment for home cider-making and where to source it
  • How juice ferments to cider
  • Step by step making of cider from apple pressing to bottling
  • Tasting and evaluating of apples for suitability for cider
  • Hands-on crushing and pressing of apples
  • How to handle, store, and preserve cider
  • Practical demonstration of home-scale bottling
  • How to make sparkling cider
  • What can go wrong, and how to avoid it
  • What to expect (and what not to expect!) from home-made cider
  • Tasting cider: A guided tasting of ciders from different countries in different styles
  • Brief outline of preserving apple juice, and making vinegar

The course is given in a very relaxed and interactive style, and questions and input from participants will be welcome, to enhance the experience for everybody.

Cost:

The course fee, before discounts, is €160. 

Friend Discount: In the past, participants have often come with partners, friends, or family members which makes the day more fun for them. If you bring one or more friends or family members to join you on the course, I will give a €15 discount off both your fee and the fee for each of your friends. (This will be in addition to Early Booking Discount, if applicable). The friend discount applies, regardless of how late you book places on the course.

Early Booking Discount: Bookings made up to 4 months before the date of the course will benefit from a €15 discount per person (in addition to Friend Discount, if applicable)

The cost of the course includes the following package:

  • FREE Tea/coffee and home-made apple cake on arrival in the morning.
  • FREE Course summary notes, including tips on sources of equipment & supplies, fruit trees, apples and information.
  • FREE copy of Andrew Lea’s “Craft Cider Making”, 3rd edition, probably the best published guide to craft cider-making, which we will use throughout the day, and which you then take home.
  • FREE Ecclectic guided tasting of over 15 different ciders, including international ciders and special rarities.
  • FREE fermentation container, complete with bung and airlocik, with 9 pints (5 litres) of fresh-pressed cider-juice to take home to make your own cider.

Booking:

To make a booking, or if you have any enquiries, just contact us by email or phone. If you are sure you would like to go ahead and book your place on the course, I will forward you my bank details. You can then either pay online, or send a cheque (payable to David Llewellyn) to Llewellyns Orchard, Quickpenny Road, Lusk, County Dublin.

Places on the courses are limited. Places can only be secured by booking in advance, and paying the full fee at the time of booking. If the course dates become fully booked, I may set additional date(s) which people will be able to avail of later in the autumn.

Accommodation:

For those wishing to travel close to our venue the day before, or who wish to stay in the locality on the night after the course, there is a B&B, just 1 minute drive/5 minutes walk from our farm: Ivy Bungalow, Tel. 01-8437031. The next nearest guesthouse is Airport B&B, a 5 minute drive away.

Cancellation:

In the event of prospective participants cancelling up to 2 months before the date of the course, I will refund any fees paid, less 10% administration cost. For cancellations between 2 months and 2 weeks before the date of the course, 20% will be deducted and the remainder refunded. For cancellations less than 2 weeks from the date of the course, 50% will be deducted and the remainder refunded.

In the unlikely event that I have to cancel a course due to unforeseen circumstances, I will refund the full amount of any fees paid. Alternatively, if such a case arises, participants may book an alternative date if available, but the choice will be theirs as to whether or not they would prefer a refund.