Posted 2nd Mar 2016
A Somerset-based cider brewer has reverted back to the age-old method of keeving
Pilton Cider has reverted back to a method that dominated British cider-making over 400 years ago. Based in Shepton Mallet - a town which has seen large scale cider mill closures recently - maker Martin Berkeley is standing out from the rest of the cider market, which finds itself saturated with farmhouse, fruit, flat and fizzy ciders.
The keeving process results in an amber gold cider which has no added sugar or water and a distinct apple flavour which is achieved by stopping the full fermentation of natural apple sugars. The first stage involves maceration - the process of milling low nutrient apples into a pulp and are then left to oxidise for 24-hours, allowing the pectin to be released. The subsequent pectin gel that forms on the surface is then discarded. The removal of essential nutrients in this process also sees the wild yeast fermentation start to die out and this leaves residual apple sugars that sweeten cider as it matures over a six month period before being bottled.
Speaking about the process, Berkeley said: “Keeving once dominated cider-production in Britain, but we have lost so many of our artisan skills to industrial methods over the years. With very little relevant knowledge in the UK, I had to travel to Normandy to master the subtle techniques of keeving and have been perfecting it ever since. There has been a great upsurge in keeved cider’s popularity of late, so we’ve doubled production for 2016, with our cidery now home to nine 6,000 litre keeving tanks.”