Norfolk cider wins regional award

It began as a hobby more than 20 years ago.

And furniture maker Robbie Crone has turned cider making into a full-time job after using locally grown organic apples to whet the appetite of real ale fans.

The micro brewer, who formed Crone's Organic Cider at his home in Kenninghall, near Attleborough, in 1989, is toasting a prestigious award after winning the Campaign for Real Ale's (CAMRA) East Anglian Cider Competition.

The family-run firm's new tipple 'Owld Norfolk' - made from local bramley, cox, russet, and spartan varieties - beat 21 entries to win the coveted award at this year's Norwich Beer Festival.

Judges praised the 'very pleasant, subtle fruit, honey, and flowery aroma' of the cider, which received its first airing at this year's festival.

Mr Crone, who makes about 7,000 gallons of cider and apple juice a year, said it was the two year maturation process of Owld Norfolk that gave it a winning taste. He added he was already increasing production to cater for an increased demand following the company's first regional cider award.

'Cider generally has been very popular and we hope winning this award will do us no harm at all. It is all about how long you look after it; if you do not keep cider in the right conditions it can deteriorate quite quickly.'

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'CAMRA have done a sterling job in promoting traditional cider and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude. It is a huge boost to win an award like this and it does wonders for your confidence,' he said.

Another Norfolk brewer, Whin Hill Cider at Wells, won best perry with its Whin Hill Perry at the Norwich Beer Festival and came third in the cider category with Sweet Cider.

Jim Fergusson and Peter Lynn, from the company, said they were 'very pleased' to win the gold and bronze awards, which made their hard work worthwhile.

Chris Rouse, CAMRA's regional cider co-ordinator for East Anglia, added: 'This has been an exceptional year for quality, especially from the newer producers who did more than hold their own.'