Sunday, 27 November 2011

Italian Love Affair

I'm back in the Monnow Valley after a very promising visit to the La Marche region of Italy where I was shown around by the best imaginable host, my dear friend Naomi who tears around in her Smart car mobile phone constantly pressed to her ear despite my protestations and explanations of the concept of attending a speed awareness course, such as I have recently attended myself after being camera'd on the M4 at Port Talbot on my way to Rest Bay.  Anyway, five days of sublime food and wine later and despite the best efforts of AlItalia to prevent me returning to Blighty, and more specifically Wales, I am back.  The apple press is still set up in the yard and the yearly accounts are better than expected so at the moment all is well.  We've also just heard that our family friend and strong Ty Gwyn supporter Oz Clarke has had a word with some restaurant chains on our behalf so that is also welcome news.  Small bottles of Strongbow were available in Italy so perhaps there is a small glimmer of hope there too.  I certainly hope the Italians take to cider as I would embrace the chance of some business trips there with gusto.  Finally, I have been unable to reply to the comments posted on my blog for some reason so apologies for not replying.  To answer the question posted by Ciderpunk, our cider is available online and in pubs and restaurants throughout Monmouthshire, and also in Waitrose under their 'local produce scheme' in the Abergavenny, Monmouth and Caldicot branches.  More soon...

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Hard Work

Well, what can I say?  Carlos Tevez and Petra Ecclestone need to come to Ty Gwyn to learn about hard work and real life.  We've finished pressing our second batch of apples and the vats are bubbling away nicely after my brother Ben tested them with his magic PH meter and then added a spot of malic acid (it gives cider its bitterness don't you know).  The end of this phase of pressing allows me to slip away to Italy for four days of rest and recuperation to sample the wine and olives of the La Marche region.  When I get back we're going to press some more Vilberie and Brown Snout varieties and then I'm off to Morocco in search of some right hand point breaks...

Thursday, 17 November 2011

and on with the pressing

not time to write too much this evening.  It's about 2215 and we started work at 0830, ear defenders on, waterproof trews, dirty boots you get the idea.  Began pressing around 10 tons of Vilberie apples and we seem to have got through around half in one day which is good because I would like to be able to watch the footie on Sunday afternoon.  My muscles ache.  I have been performing too many physical actions that my body does not usually undertake.  And I'm not in bad shape either as I try to go surfing once a week at Porthcawl and the last few sessions have seen absolutely brutal paddle outs.  Anyway, one tot of cheap whisky and I'm ready to hit the sack.  I wish it was the single malt I got given for my birthday, the one with the Celtic symbol on it, I forget it's name...

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Hello and welcome to Alex's Ty Gwyn Cider Blog


my name is Alex Culpin and I run a farm cider company with my brother Ben in South Wales.  It's called Ty Gwyn and it's really good cider.  We make it all ourselves from 100% juice and then we ferment it for about 8 months (a lot longer than any commercial ciders and a lot of 'craft' ciders.  We started the business about six years ago after my stepfather, who grew cider apples for a living, decided to try his hand at making a batch of cider.  It turned out to be really good stuff so we kept going with it.  Both Ben and I had backgrounds in indie music in London but we left all that behind for the country life of cider making and we've never looked back.  When journalists write about Ty Gwyn they tend to go for that Alex from Blur on a smaller scale-type angle which is fine by me if that's what it takes to get Ty Gwyn Cider known.  We can certainly explain to you how we make our cider and what it is that we do that we think results in great cider.  Without giving all our trade secrets away. 

Hopefully there will be lots of exciting stuff to come with my blog.  I'd like to go way beyond our cider and talk about about many other things that feed into our cider.  Things like music, how I came to be a bystander as Joe Strummer pinched Chrissie Hynde's arse, how my brother Ben managed a band who got played by Huw Stephens, what happened to me when I arrived on the North Shore of Hawaii with my surfboards, how I ended up in the Indian Ocean on a beat up yacht with no toilet and fresh water for washing for five weeks.  Things like that, as well as about our daily lives here in the Monnow Valley, a stunningly beautiful and tucked away part of South Wales.

But for now that's it.  It's my first time writing a blog.  I'm going to try to stay interesting and I'm going to try be honest and I hope anyone reading it finds it worthwhile and entertaining.  If you like your cider then please come and visit us, you'll find all our details on Facebook and on Google, Ty Gwyn Cider....