Craft Beer Rising

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After a massively successful inaugural outing last year, Craft Beer Rising is back! And since there’s nothing we like more than supporting an event that celebrates brewers of vision and real integrity, we’ve christened our CBR Thistly-stuffed juggernaut with Thistlycbr christen Cross Whisky Cask, and we’re on our way!

The CBR experience kicks-off on 21st Feb at the Old Truman Brewery in London, and is the perfect place for beer innovators, cider enjoyers and foodie creatives, whether expert or curious, young or old, male or female. It’s trade-fun only on the Friday, but Sat and Sunday are open to all so grab your beer tokens and get ready to fill your free glass with some good stuff!

map cbrRunning until Sun 23rd Feb, the weekend is packed full of amazing beer (and cider of course), music and street food. Showcasing some of the world’s finest brews and reflecting the best in experimental and established brewing, it’s sure to be unmissable. There are hardly any tickets left, but you can still grab a few here for Sunday. Be quick though as last year’s event was a complete and deserved sell-out.

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Six spacious rooms will buzz with the heady delights of hundreds of alcoholic beverages from an extraordinary range of brewers and breweries, alongside stomping sets by the legendary Mr Scruff, and Reverend And The Makers.

Not only that, there will be discovery beers from across the globe, fascinating beer talks, and taste-matching to keep you thinking whilst drinking. As well as stunning eats ranging from British charcuterie  to inventive veg eats; Burger Bear burgers are surely a must-try with a one-off version of their stonking bacon jam.

sbkegcbr_edited-1And of course Thistly will be there with all its core varieties for your delectation, alongside some adventurous ideas about mixing your perfect cider pint. If you have been one of the lucky early-birds who bagged a lust-worthy ticket, then you can count yourself extra blessed as CBR sees the last of our current batch of Snakebite & Black available on draught.

It’s been a popular collaboration so it’s sure to wriggle off fast as a sidewinder until the stocks finally run out.

Lots more information here and here.

 

Thistly Cross 2014

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By now we hope you’ve recovered from all those excesses of Christmas, and abandoned any unattainable resolutions. We have two main suggestions for 2014 – enjoy Thistly Cross Cider, and be happy – easy to aim for and both guaranteed to make life better.

We’ve got lots of exciting plans for the year ahead, but right now we’re still catching our breath after our best December so far. Some producers might think about slowing down and tucking up cosy in Winter, but not us. Production continues through all the chilly months, as cider is thankfully now enjoyed the year-round – Thistly is for life not just for Summer!

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Right now we’re embracing the toasty glow of Winter Warmers like our Whisky Cask, Original 7.2% and Real Ginger. And it’s not just us – in a completely unscientific survey of our Facebook fans, Whisky Cask emerged victorious, so whether you’re mulling or not, Thistly is perfect fuel for frosty days.

In the cider shed, tanks are being cleaned; bottles, kegs and PETainers are being filled, and new batches of cider from all those local apples we received in the Summer and Autumn (thank-you!) are maturing nicely. Which is just as well as we’ll soon be announcing details of a new flavour heading to the States for 2014… more next blog.

lan is packing for a trade mission (combined with some quality sightseeing) to Australia and Singapore, and Peter will be off to Craft Beer Rising 2014 (tickets available here while they last!) in Feb for a cider-packed weekend of amazing drinks, music and street food. We’re chuffed to be in the line-up that features some of the world’s finest brews reflecting the best in experimental and established brewing.  Peter will also be catching up with some of our Southerly customers while he’s down there, so get in touch if you fancy arranging a rendezvous.

And over the next few months, a big shiny new tank will soon be heading to Thistly HQ, so big in fact, that we may have to think about building a new shed to accommodate it…

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Thanks for all your support in 2013, and we look forward to having you with us in 2014. Looks like it’s gonna be a good one!

Merry Christmas from Thistly Cross

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Thistly Cross would like to wish all of its customers, friends and supporters, a very Merry Christmas!

In the spirit of the season, we’re also offering a special Christmas present to a lucky Thistly Cross lover – a little bit of TLC for the New Year just when wallets and cupboards are empty. In exchange for telling us what your favourite Thistly variety is, we’re offering you the chance to win a voucher to spend in our shop on any of our Thistly Cross 12-bottle cases (delivery to mainland UK included). A whole “12 days” of award-winning Thistly-mas to a door of your choosing!

Post “I love Thistly Cross (inserting your fave variety)”, on our Facebook page, or share a photo with us (we’d also appreciate your help to spread the word so a ‘like’ and ‘share’ is always helpful). ilovetcc-1Be as creative or minimalist as you wish – do a ‘Bob Dylan’ with a hand-written sign, or just tell it like it is. If Instagram is more your thing then you can also upload a snap there using the hashtag #ilovethistlycross so we can find you. Winner to be chosen in the first week of Jan 2014. By entering, you’re confirming that you (or the recipient) is 18+, that the winning address is on mainland UK, you’re happy for us to share you entries, and that you’re not an employee of Thistly. Good luck, and get sharing your love of Thistly with us and the world!

Happy Thanksgiving from Thistly Cross

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A very Happy Thanksgiving Day to all our friends Stateside and across the world from Thistly Cross country!

usa flagAnd while we can’t promise that cider was served at the first ever Thanksgiving, it was definitely the drink of choice for the first American colonists (hops for beer, or grapes for wine were just too difficult to grow), as it quickly became a safer (and tastier) alternative to their potentially unsafe drinking water. Thankfully, cider has now become a favourite at the Thanksgiving table on taste alone, both as a drink, and as an ingredient in lots of festive recipes – cider-brined turkey, cider-glazed ribs, apple cider cake, or a cider gravy anyone?

Which is just as well as Thistly Cross is continuing to make impressive inroads into the US of A, and is currently on the receiving end of more than a little love; our Ginger Cider has been chosen as one of Men’s Health magazine’s seasonal ‘Best Hard Ciders’ – read all about it here.  1383779_10151806094563876_1495777922_n

And lets not forget that it isn’t just the time of year for Thanksgiving, but it’s also Hanukkah as well as being traditionally the end of harvest, and finally St Andrews Day (the patron saint of Scotland) on the 30th November.

The temperature may be dropping but we’re still getting big, beautifully sunny skies just round the corner from the Cider Shed, so it’s a fine time to crack open a Thistly Cross cider and celebrate all things both American and Scottish!

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Wanted: Thistly Mulled Cider-makers this Winter!

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When the temperature really starts to fall, it’s time for a hot, fragrant, flavorful drink to soothe and warm the cockles. And that’s why in this blog, Thistly is all about the mulling.

Thistly Cross offers something cider-tastic for the customer all year round, but over the cold weather period, we provide a whole new world of mulled cider fun. Mulling alcohol is all about creating a taste sensation. In “ye olden days”, it was a practical way to make rough, spoiled alcohol taste a whole lot better and so, mulling became a spicy tradition beloved to cold Northern climates.

At Thistly, we have seen a hundred fold increase in cider sold for mulling and the hot cider ideas get hotter every year! So keep it simple and tasty and don’t over heat the mix (over heating burns off the flavour and the cider can spoil ifOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA kept warm for too long). The cider can be mulled in a batch; the wintery flavors steep in the jeely pan as it cools, and then reheat by the cup when required – a coffee machine milk steamer or microwave is just the trick. Serve in a sturdy glass, or a cup on a saucer with a few slices of citrus on the side for a satisfying, warming drink.

It’s best not get too fancy with your flavours, so keep it simple: some cider, a shot of something special (sweet apple juice or spirit) and some essential botanical bits and pieces. Take your pick from the best loved around the world: cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, the odd juniper berry, honey, lemon or orange (whole or peel), a few cloves, cardamom… or check out a Thistly favourite recipe below. The real fun starts when it’s time to chose the cider and any one will do, as long its Thistly! Our 5L or 20L bag-in-box is the perfect format and offers a cost effective, practical dispense. Imagine the Thistly Whisky Cask warmed with a clove-studded lemon gingerbib5Land drizzle of honey, our Traditional 4.4% steeped in cinnamon and orange, or Thistly’s Ginger cider served with a shot of Edinburgh Gin Spiced Orange. You can also try blending our Elderflower 0.5% cider with some apple juice for a lighter, sweeter drink. Have fun, be inventive and enjoy the variety that Thistly Cross Ciders offer. Leftover mulled cider is great for poaching fruit to make an intense fruit pudding or a rich, decadent pouring sauce. And at the end of the day, when the cider is all gone, the leftover mix can be put back into the jeely pan to make an exotic, spicy mulled jam.

Part of the fun is in the experimentation, so whatever flavours make it into your finished cider, join us and become a Thistly Mulled Cidermaker for the winter – happy mulling! 

warm up rectThistly’s Favourite Mulled Cider Recipe!

  • 4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1 Clementine, sliced into wedges, spiked with 4 cloves
  • 1 lemon, sliced into wedges, spiked with 4 cloves
  • A big dram
  • And a bigger dram of Edinburgh Gin Spiced Orange
  • A 3 tbsp dollop of honey
  • 1 litre Thistly Cross ginger cider
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • freshly grated nutmeg to garnish
  1. Gently heat all of the ingredients over a low heat in a cider kettle or pan.
  2. Strain and pour the mulled cider into a glass or mug.
  3. Finish with some freshly grated nutmeg and fresh slice of lemon or orange.

The Thistly Cross Cider Range and Scottish Apple Juice are permanently stocked in 5L and 20L BIB Cider boxes so head to our online shop at www.thistlycrosscider.co.uk, or contact info@thistlycrosscider.co.uk for further details.

Happy birthday to us!

birthday apple (lit)It’s 5 years since Thistly Cross began and as ever we haven’t had time to properly celebrate because we’ve been working hard making and supplying cider to loads of venues and events including Oktoberfest (London, Edinburgh and Glasgow) and the BBC Good Food Show.

We’ve also been reaping the benefits of our ‘Apple Appeal’ with tons of apples coming into the Cider Shed from this year’s bumper harvest, and we’re only halfway through the season. We’re busy pressing apples into juice, some of which will graduate into Thistly Cross cider, AND today is Apple Day (yes really, it was initiated a few decades ago by the charity, Common Ground) so it seemed like a good time to answer some of the most common questions we’re asked about bringing in apples.

As long as they are in good, relatively clean condition, and not crab apples, we’ll be interested. Remember, happy, healthy apples make good cider; apple group outside (large)apples in bad condition make bad cider. A few minor blemishes are fine but we can’t use rotten or excessively dirty fruit, or anything that’s been damaged by animals. Here’s a group of good apples that came into the Cider Shed last week – notice that we take sweet eating apples and good, old cookers. The variation in apple types makes for exciting flavour combinations.

rotten apple (front on)And a bad one. The old rhyme does ring true, a bad apple really can spoil the whole bunch. So if any of your crop look like this, or have significant damage, then sorry but we can’t use them.

If you pick your apples from the tree, it’s usually best to get them to us by the following week so they’re fresh. If you have windfalls, we’ll need them sooner after picking, probably the same week. Don’t store them in plastic bags as they can sweat and rot. The best way of storing and transporting is in paper bags, tattie sacks, or open boxes/crates like fish boxes. If your transport containers are plastic, try lining them with paper first – it’ll help protect the apples. You can drop off to the Cider Shed Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, but it does help if you call or email first. red appleWeekend and evening delivery is occasionally possible, but again, give us a ring first.

Next blog we’ll be talking all things warming and a little bit spicy… hint hint. It’s time to get ready to ward off that encroaching wintry chill!

Oh my lederhosen! Thistly Cross is coming to Oktoberfest

Autumn is approaching rapidly, and you know what that means… no, not scarves and hats and all that boring knitted stuff, we mean giant steins of alcohol, tasty sausages and leather trousers of course! ok snapThistly is going to be the draught cider of Oktoberfest in its London (19th-22nd Sep, 26th-29th Sep), Glasgow (17th-20th, 24th-27th Oct) and Edinburgh (9th-13th Oct) events. Last year alone, the Munich event attracted 6.5 million guests who ate (tasty fact alert!) 500,000 roast chickens and 100 oxen, and sold out 6 months in advance. The UK events are heading the same way with tickets selling like hot pretzels, so if you can’t get to Munich, pop on a dirndl and head along to the only official Oktoberfest outside Bavaria where you can fill up on your favourite Thistly and some schlachtschussi. Hope to see you there, prost!

IMG_20130915_144117In other news, the Great Taste Awards 2013 have been announced, and Thistly Cross is a double award winner! Our Original 7.2% cider in both Sparkling and Still varieties wowed the judges in the world’s largest and most rigorous food awards scheme, described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world. Original Still was singled out as an officially outstanding product, and our Original Sparkling was classified as ‘virtually faultless’. Both now join our other Thistly Cross Great Taste winners, Traditional, Strawberry and Elderflower. Original is one of our most popular varieties so it’s a nice pat on the back especially as the awards involved over 400 judges and blind tasting of an incredible 10,000-plus products.

So now we’re catching our breath after a busy Summer weaving our cider magic to slake thirsts near and far by supplying (and attending) loads of outlets, festivals and events, including the Insider Festival, Cider Summit in Seattle, BBC Proms in Glasgow and many more. We began craft collaborations with Tempest Brewery, producing a limited edition Snakebite & Black; its retro goodness has been going down a storm. IMG_20130906_190723And now as we head into apple harvest time, we’re shining the seasonally appropriate spotlight on our vintage CAMRA-endorsed Jaggy Thistle which is perfect for the slight Autumn chill that’s creeping in. Made with local apples, it offers a satisfying and impressive 7.4% ABV, and is also perfect served half-in-half with our Original 7.2%, giving a combined medium dry finish. And remember, if you’re local to East Lothian with an unloved apple orchard or just too many apples, Thistly wants to know; anything over 10kg gets something delicious in return. Contact details on the website. Here’s to a creative, productive and cosy Autumn!

Audio Soup is back and this time it’s on the Thistly Cross Cider farm!

Scotland is finally basking in sunshine and here at Thistly we can feel a festival coming on!

This year, instead of us lugging our cider to Audio Soup, Audio Soup is bringing their music to the Thistly fields for the ultimate collaboration in musical, cidery fun.

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We love Scotland’s biggest wee festival and we know that you guys do too; back for their third year our pals at Audio Soup are pulling out all the stops to bring us the best unsigned artists from the UK to the open air main stage and the wub hut as well.

Acts such as Beat Master General, Sam Buckly, and T Danger and G Kemp will be performing from Friday through to Sunday so grab your tickets from www.skiddle.com to join us from  the 30th of August to the 2nd of September.

Ticket prices start at £20 for an adult day ticket and £58 for the weekend camping (campervans are £5 extra). Young persons tickets come even cheaper than that and music isn’t the only thing you’ll experience…

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In the middle of the woods, a hidden cider bar to amuse the senses. We’ll be there with every single one of our summery ciders on tap; so whether Real Strawberry, Original Still, or Real Ginger takes your fancy, you’ll be able to enjoy it as fresh as possible and in the most mesmerising surroundings you can imagine…the Thistly Cross Farm of course.

Fancy it but don’t know what to do with the ankle biters? Great news! Why not bring them along to have some fun in the indoor kids area?

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The whole family can be transformed into terrifying tigers and beautiful butterflies at our face painting bar at 12pm on Saturday and, if it all gets too much, you can relax by taking an onsite yoga or pilates class.

So grab your tent, a few mates, and some festival cheer. It’s time to spend a weekend camping and partying in the beautiful East Lothian countryside.

And don’t worry, Thistly Cross Cider has been in touch with the sun and he’s assured us that he’ll keep his hat on and cider in hand for August 30th.  Promise!

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We love the Whiski Bar & Restaurant

Pride of place on Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile, you’ll find the Whiski Bar and Restaurant.

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Serving delicious Scottish food and over 300 whiskies, the Whiski Bar and Restaurant was an early adopter of our cider as manager Rory explains:

“We’ve been stocking Thistly Cross Cider for over four years.

“At the beginning it was mainly tourists who were interested in the cider as they wanted to try anything that was Scottish!

“More recently Thistly’s popularity has gone through the roof with Edinburgh locals coming in looking for the cider too.

“At the moment, our clientele are polishing off about four kegs a week at least. People are thirsty for proper cider; so much so we’ve taken out Strongbow completely and replaced it with Thistly on draft!”

whiski bar

A multi-award winning restaurant, part of the Whiski Bar’s success is its reputation as one of Edinburgh’s best Scottish restaurants…and there’s more than just haggis on the menu:

“The Whiski Restaurant strives to give visitors a taste of Scotland using fresh, natural ingredients.

“We’re also working on recipes that combine different Scottish ingredients like our mussels in a Thistly Cross Cider sauce which go down a right treat!”

In keeping with the Whiski Bar being one of the first Edinburgh bars to stock our cider, we made sure they were among the first to sell our cider on keg – a new addition to the Thistly Cross line-up.

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“We’ve recently begun selling the cider from kegs and it’s been working really well.

“So far we’ve been able to put the Original 7.2% on draft – which is definitely our most popular cider – with Real Strawberry, Real Ginger and Whisky Cask still available by the bottle.”

And at the end of a busy day, Rory knows which cider is his favourite:

“My absolute favourite is Thistly’s Original 7.2% Still. An ice cold pint of that – what a way to round off a hard day’s work!”

Thistly Cross Snakebite and Black Puts In Another Appearance…

Our fastest selling cider of 2013 so far.

The world’s first commercial snakebite.

A collaboration between an awesome craft brewery and Scotland’s only recognised cider maker…

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There are lots of ways to introduce Snakebite and Black – A 5.5% craft blend that uses Thistly Cross Cider and Tempest beer, not to mention copious amounts of home grown blackcurrants from our fruit farm.

After a sneaky preview at Craft beer Rising in London, Snakebite and Black sold-out. Fast.

Rumour has it that another batch is almost ready to unleash it’s cidery, beery, blackcurranty goodness on the willing masses!

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In fact, as soon as this weekend we’re going to be trotting up the road to the rather marvelous Insider Festival where Snakebite and Black will be putting in a guest appearance on the Backwoods Bar…a mysterious purveyor of drinkable delights tucked away in the secluded woodland spaces of Inveriach Estate.

Snakebite and Black will also be slithering its way into various pubs and bars around the country. More announcements on this coming soon.

In Edinburgh we’ll also be entertaining the crowds at the Royal Highland Show – the jewel in the crown of the agricultural calendar. Here you’ll be able to try each of our seven ciders across the core range.

You can find the Thistly Cross Cider exhibiting as part of the East Lothian Food & Drink stand at the end of the food hall next to the cookery demonstrations AKA right where the action happens!

We’ll be sampling all our ciders so it’s a great opportunity to try before you buy.

cider samples

As ever, we’ll have our sturdy six bottle carrier bags which make navigating the route from the food hall back to the car park a breeze with your precious cidery cargo.

You’ll also be able to enjoy a cool glass of Thistly on draft at the Scottish Real Ale Tent run by our friends, Eden Brewery from St Andrews.