Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England

Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
Are you curious of what goes on on a real cider farm in Somerset? Join The Travel Tester on a tour of the orchards, mill and tasting room of Thatchers Cider!

enEnglish (Engels)

The lovely Heather from the Bristol Bloggers group invited me on a Thatchers Cider Tour at the Myrtle Farm in the town of Sandford, which is located in the North Somerset region of England. 

As I’m a huge cider fan (you can read all about that, and a short history of cider here), of course I was excited for the visit to this well-known British cider company! We would be visiting the orchards, have a behind-the-scenes look at the Thatchers Factory (The apple cider mill), visit the restaurant and of course try of the ciders that the Thatchers family has been producing here for over 100 years!

As October is official Cider and Perry (apple and pear cider) month ánd the middle of harvest, what beter time that to visit now?

If you are curious and want to know where is Thatchers cider made, then follow along:

Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK

The Travel Tester - The Anticipation

Thatchers Cider Tour

While I’ve been to quite a few brewery and distillery tours, I have actually never been to a cider mill before, and with it being my personal favourite drink, I was super interested in everything our guides had to tell us.

We get a short introduction to the farm and learn that it was 1904 when William John Thatcher first made his apple cider at Myrtle Farm. His farm workers got partly paid in cider, if you can believe it! Thatchers has always been a family business. That means that everything they do is about making sure that there’ll be a viable business for the next generation.

At The Thatchers Cider Farm, you can actually book your own cider tour and learn all about the craft of cider making. Individual tours of max. 15 people run every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 11 AM. This is what you can expect:

 

The Travel Tester - The Experience

The Orchard

We start our tour with dressing up in Thatchers hats, reflecting jackets (this is a working farm, after all – safety first!) and get a pair of rubber boots to wear if we want. After just 10 minutes outside the changing room, I’m happy that I got them, because it’s raining to hard that my umbrella is deteriorating on the spot and and my own shoes would have definitely stayed stuck in the muddy field, and I’d have to continue on socks.

My excitement for cider makes that I stop caring about the cold wind and water coming down and I soak up (literally) all the information our guide tells us about the different apple varieties, the growing process and the harvest they are in the middle of right now.

Alongside famous cider apples like Somerset Redstreak and Dabinett, and popular dessert apples like Katy, they also grow 458 varieties of rare traditional apples in their exhibition orchard, the largest collection of cider apple trees in England! Just 25 varieties of these are used for their ciders and each of them have their own role to play when it comes to flavour and aroma.

 

Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
First ever time at an apple cider farm! So Happy!
Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
Our guide shows us the orchards of the Thatchers apple cider brand
Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
Apples were falling off the trees as we walked around (and psst… the red ones actually tasted quite nice!)

 

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This is not staged at all ^_^

 

Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
Our guide showing us how they create different varieties of cider apple trees
Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
@heathercowper
Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
How is apple cider made? With a lot of passion, I can tell you now!

 

The Mill

Coming straight from the orchards, all apples from Thatchers get tipped into their apple bays, that can hold up to 100 tons. They also have apples that they buy from different places, and they all stay strictly separated, to keep the flavours as pure as possible.

We were lucky, as a truckload of apples just arrived and got dumped into one of the bays to get washed. Definitely the most satisfying 10 seconds of my week, I can tell you!

When they are clean, the apples get mashed and then pressed (September to December) to extract the juice. With their 5 presses, they can press about 450 tonnes of apples every DAY at the height of the season! When the family installed their first press back in the 1950s, this was only about 6 tonnes… They’ve come a long way!

After checking out the bays, we went into the mill, where I couldn’t take any photos, but we saw how the cider fermentation process worked (special yeast is added to the apple juice, to turn sugar into alcohol), how they got cider from apple juice, where the cider got stored and later where the cider got bottled and labeled. It looked a little bit like a winery, to be honest, but then smelling of crisp apples everywhere. I preferred it!

 

Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
What is cider made from? Have an educated guess :)
Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
At the bottom left, you can see the oak vats that give the Thatchers cider its distinct flavour. The cider matures in these vats for about 6 weeks. The vats are over 150 years old and over 30 feet (9 meters) tall! Inside the main building, the cider bottles get filled and labeled.
Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
Cider coming straight from the Thatchers brewery!

 

The Tasting Room

After seeing the whole process from growing to bottling, it was time to hit the tasting room at Thatchers cider Somerset. Can’t say I wasn’t excited about this part of the tour. We started with their famous ‘Katy’ cider, which is named after one of their best apple varieties. It’s a medium dry cider and really clear of colour.

Then we also tasted a few others, among which the Apple ‘Cider Barn Redwood’ and ‘Cider Barn Redstreak’. Both excellent flavours and definitely some of my favourites.

Here is a quick overview of all the ciders that Thatchers currently have:

  • Family Favourites
    • Thatchers Haze Cider [ABV 4.5% // Apple Cider Cloudy & Sweet]
    • Thatchers Gold Cider [ABV 4.8% //Apple Cider Smooth & Golden]
  • Characterful Ciders
    • Thatchers Green Goblin Cider [ABV 5% // Medium Dry, Full Flavoured]
    • Thatchers Old Rascal Cider [ABV 4.5% // Medium Dry, Full Bodied]
  • Premium Ciders
    • Thatchers Vintage Cider [ABV 7.4% // Rich & Oak Aged]
    • Thatchers Katy Cider [ABV 7.4% // Light & Crisp]
    • Thatchers Summer Vintage Cider [ABV 7.4% // Floral & Fruity]
  • Stan’s
    • Stan’s Cheddar Valley Cider [Naturally Cloudy // ABV 6%]
    • Stan’s Trad Cider [Traditional, Naturally Hazy // ABV 6%]
    • Stan’s Big Apple Cider Cans [Softly-Rounded, Medium Dry Still // ABV 5%]
    • Stan’s Leaf Twister Cider Cans [Traditional Big Apple Cider // ABV 5%]
    • Stan’s Barrel Roller Cider Cans [Full Flavoured Traditional Cider // ABV 6%]
  • Cider Barn
    • Thatchers Rose Cider [Medium Sweet with Light Fruity Taste // ABV 5.4%]
    • Thatchers Redstreak Cider [Single Variety, Bold/Peppery Cider // ABV 8.4%]
    • Thatchers Redwood Cider [Rich, Intense Mouth Feel, Hint of Vanilla // ABV 6.0%]
  • Specials
    • Thatchers Family Reserve Cider [ABV 11% // Dry & Delicate]

 

Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
After learning how apple cider is made, it’s time for the taste test
Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
All of the apple cider apples at Thatchers!
Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
Now that is an apple cider bottle for serious drinkers!

 

The Railway Inn Restaurant

After all the cider tasting, we were definitely all getting a bit hungry, but what we would find in the Thatchers restaurant called the “Railway Inn”, I don’t think any of us would have expected!

The food menu was not only extensive, but many of the dishes featured cider, which of course I had to try for myself. I went for the following:

  • STARTER > Mussels, Cockles & Clams (In a Thatchers Cider & Leek Sauce + Homemade Bread)
  • MAIN > Thatchers Cider & Honey Glazed Gammon (with Fried Duck Egg, Spiced Pineapple Chutney, Triple Cooked Chips & Mixed Leaf Salad)
  • PUDDING > 1 Scoop Salted Caramel Ice Cream + 1 Scoop Haze Sorbet.

And if you are wondering, YES, the Haze Sorbet is made of Cider. Because, why not?!

The Thatchers BBQ menu just looked amazing and all of the food that I ordered tasted to incredibly good, I would love to come back here one day and taste more of their menu. I can highly recommend spending some time here during your visit and make reservations for lunch or dinner.

 

Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
Since 1904, this place is serving cider England loves!
Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
Have a drink in the Thatchers pub and sing along with the harvest song of this cider factory!

Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK

Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
OMG their cheese platter also looked AMAZING
Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
SO SO Happy with my mussels
Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
I had the Gammon (top left) and ice cream (bottom right), which was soooo good. Next to me, I still had food envy for the guinea fowl with chorizo pie (top right) and sticky toffee apple pudding with cider toffe sauce (bottom left)

 

Thatchers Cider Shop

All happy and full with amazing food and ciders, we made a quick last stop over at the Thatchers shop, to stock up on Thatchers cider gift sets, bottles, bar runners, Thatchers cider glasses, apple cider jugs and what not.

Some people even bought entire pirate jugs of cider! Arrrr!!!

 

Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
The lovely Thatchers farm shop
Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK
All the Cider Thatchers Goodies!

 

The Travel Tester - The Verdict

Wow, I had such an amazing cider experience over at the Myrtle Farm of Thatchers Somerset and I can highly recommend paying them a visit. Whether you just go for the restaurant, the bar or for a tour to see how cider is made and have a tasting session afterwards, I’m sure that the stories of the family and their incredible food & ciders will be well-worth the drive over! 

 

 

The Travel Tester - Practical Information

Visit Thatchers in Somerset:

Myrtle Farm, Station Rd, Sandford, Winscombe BS25 5RA

Website: thatcherscider.co.uk

Cider Flavours: thatcherscider.co.uk/our-cider

Guided Tours: thatcherscider.co.uk/visit-us/thatchers-tours

Railway Inn: therailwayinn.com

£12.00 per person, about 2 hours, English language only. Make sure to wear closed shoes and proper clothing, especially when it rains! Minimum age is 15 years and the tasting is only for 18+ (always bring your ID). No photography is allowed on the tour.

Book well in advance, these tours are popular!

 

One of their funny commercials you might see on UK television!

 

The Travel Tester - Further Reading

 

Here are all our articles where we mention lovely ciders:

 

The Travel Tester - Packing Tips

 

The Travel Tester - Save on Pinterest

Join a Behind-The-Scenes Thatchers Cider Tour in England || The Travel Tester || #Cider #Thatchers #Orchard #England #Somerset #MyrtleFarm #UnitedKingdom #UK

 

Disclaimer: I was kindly hosted by the Bristol Bloggers group and the people at Somerset Thatchers to experience their tour, tasting session and lunch in exchange for an honest review and social media mentions. All photos, opinions and all the love for cider in this article is 100% my own, as always! 

enEnglish (Engels)

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