I thought I’d post in the general section here, as it is open to non-stroke related things, about home brewing. I am a keen home brewer of country wines and cider. I grow all my own fruit for this purpose. At the moment, I have just bottled a batch of red grape wine, and a batch of sloe wine. This week I made a delicious sparkling perry wine, both from cooked and uncooked perry pears. If anyone else has this interest, feel free to reply here. I am always keen to chat about this subject, and the pleasure it provides. I will add to this post a picture of the perry wine, as I am about to open the last bottle of the uncooked fermentation tonight.


Geoff used to make a mean pear dessert wine! He stopped making wine a few years ago, but did enjoy it for a few years.

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I’ve made a couple of decent pear wines, mixed perry and pear. I carried on brewing straight after the stroke as I found the process cathartic, and it gave me aims for the week. I managed to brew 240 litres of cider, but because I have auditory overload, I eventually had to ask someone else to use the scratter as the sound was just too grating on my ears.

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Hi I’m a bit of atehnophik

Hi, bare with me ,never been hi-tec so on a very steep learning curve & what a time to start! had my stroke just over year ago. Main problem, loss of some peripheral vision on left. When I plucked up courage to use strokeguide by more luck than judgement came across you. Intrigued to see your interests as I’ve been a cider maker for many years with an interest in identifying apple varieties growing locally. In the October prior to my stroke had collected a few tubs full for crushing but unlike you could not motivate myself to crush them but managed to scatter them for wildlife to enjoy . Ignore my first text sent in error was meant to say lm a bit of a technophobe. I’m hoping I’m texting RUPS but am puzzled by why Mahoney has replied ! As I texted I’m new to this game but I’ll get there

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Hello @Pds, there’s more manage on this new format, so it takes a bit more effort to catch up with what’s going on. I can’t multitask and have limited short-term recall, so I find, I miss threads, and forget what I should be doing next, but it will become intuitive in time. I have planted many good cider apples in an orchard that was originally a culinary orchard, and so the varieties were terrible for cider. Apple identification is intriguing, apparently the genetics of apples are more complex than that of humans. I didn’t have the opportunity to press this year, we had strong winds in the springtime, and much of the blossom blew off. Our crop was very poor this year. The small crop of eaters were then fodder for the birds, then the squirrels had a nibble, and finally the wasps and slugs finished them off. Only some cookers were left, so I fed them to the pigs. I bottle only for personal consumption, and use swing-top bottles. I like a dry cider. Hope you are doing okay this week. What kind of apples do you grow?

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Hi Rups. Been a professional gardener all my life, small orchard where I worked,all dessert apart from three culinary. When I started cider making , because I’ve been in the area for forty years &made note of orchards &odd trees, I went a begging & got interested in varieties. Most folk were not interested in fruit & very few knew varieties. I’m no academic but understood that proper cider has to be made from cider varieties so confined to West Country, elsewhere, notably Norfolk & Sussex, it was made from all apples & not highly rated but acceptable. As I live in Sussex I use all apples, some years getting on for a hundred types? Never a high quality cider & strength very variable and dry but suited me. Usually made 100 litres. Have managed to mix in a quantity of cider types some years as my brother lives in Herefordshire & it made a hell of a difference. Could bore the socks of you talking apple varieties, my favourite apple this year was ‘Laxton Superb’, last year would have been Ashmead’s Kernel. Cheers Pds

That’s a russet? I have to say, this year, I’ve had to favour the Leather Coat, an October fruiter. It was the only apple that held on long enough for me to harvest a small but decent crop. Maybe the birds were put off by the rough skin. Last year, my favourite was the Cissy, a Welsh apple. I only got one fruit but that’s why it was my favourite because I was looking forward to tasting it. I can’t be bored by gardening talk or apple talk, or else I’d bore myself. I’m very keen on my orchard, and tendering fruit trees. After the stroke, I missed out on both a winter and summer prune, so I have lots to catch up on. I managed to do the apricot trees but that was more out of urgency because they seem to suffer top-death from the frost, and I didn’t want it to spread. The trees are small, so they were manageable.

Yes a russet type. The best russet is local Egremont, bred at Petworth House. With a knob of Red Leicester cheese ‘Bliss’We had Rosemary Russet here, was a good storer but not great. Had a Brownlees Russet once , not on a par with Egremont. Am a green grocers son. Grandfather bought a four acre orchard. Was heaven. Ran free-range chickens, & kept couple of pigs & turkey’s .Shropshire& Merryweather Damsons as windbreak then Early Rivers plums & Victorias then apple varieties in succession. 1st Beauty of Bath, very early , best eaten off the tree ,quickly going woolly.then Millers seedling , good for few days then skin goes greasey.Worcester Permian a lovely early apple if picked at peak, wonderful flavour, Lord Lambourne a beautiful coloured apple. Another favourite but short storage life. Most years pick apples from sister in laws garden who looks on them as inconvenience. Pick as many Lanes Prince Albert as possible, store right round to March even into April. Our favourite cooker next to Bramley. Another russet type D’arcy Spice in a hot summer is supposed to taste spicey. My cider making to follow

A sharp russet with cheese is indeed a thing of joy. I have a Rosemary Russet in the orchard, and the Leather Coat. I am planning on moving our geese there to gently assist graze the grass. I keep pigs as well, but wouldn’t trust them in the orchard. We plant most of our own veggies too, although my father was in the RAF and later a meteorologist. I have a few plum varieties, mainly the Victorian and Damons, although have a Bullace which I make a fine red wine from. I know Beauty of Bath, it’s quite a renowned eater like the Pippin. I haven’t come across Worcester Permian, nor Lord Lambourne. I do, however, have an old Victorian apple label from a Lanes Prince Albert. We must of had that variety in the orchard at one time. My two prize apples are the Peasgood Nonsuch, and Brith Mawr. Unfortunately, the original orchard owners went a bit mad with Royal Jubilee, and I have quite a few cultivars of this apple. In total, I have about forty-five trees, and over fifteen varieties. I’d like to make a cider from the Lady Sudeley, as it fruits so early, but the tree experienced storm damage about four years ago, and I have had to do a lot of restorative pruning to get it fruiting a decent crop again.

When I started cider making I fermented in demijohns then transferred cider to swingtop Grolsh beer bottles. As I crushed more apples I switched to 25lt fermentation buckets racking cider off into two wooden cider barrels I picked up, had them steam sterilised at local brewery. Stored the barrels under Yew tree in garden. I swear that was the best cider I ever produced & it kept well. Then switched to 25lt plastic kegs with tapsForgot to mention I was a beekeeper but alas gave up after Stroke. Had as many as 6 hives at one point. Would like to think at some point in future I can take it up again. Was into self-sufficiently producing most of veg & soft fruit& eggs. For 30 years heating house & hot water from woodstove. Surrounded by woods mostly sweet chestnut coppice . Adapt& adjust we are told so will be interesting what I take up in future. Stay safe Pds.

I have a small apiary, I used to have three hives but last year, two of them failed. I could have rehoused a cast swarm earlier this year but I missed my opportunity due to stroke symptoms. Beekeeping is very cathartic, no one bothers you when surrounded by 80,000 bees. I hope to increase the hive count next year, it’s a gentle craft, so I plan to keep it up, and the surplus honey is delicious. Maybe the legends are true, and the yew tree provided you with exceptional cider. I’m glad no needles dropped off into your brew, that would have been a disaster. I would love to use wooden cider barrels, as I imagine it contributes a lot to the flavour. I use two 250 litre food-grade plastic cider barrels with snap locks, and giant air-locks. I use two because, one barrel takes the better crop, and the other takes the leftovers. I also use swing-top bottles, my friend uses bottle-caps but is switching to swing-tops. My cider gets drunk throughout the year, and isn’t a saleable product, so there’s no need to cap it. If I use demijohns, it’s for the experimental batches that I combine with a herbaceous plant like mugwort or wormwood. This cider needs to be tested, as the plant to apple ratio is always trial and error, and sometimes I choose the wrong plant and end up with something fusty or well beyond piquant.

I have a back-burning wood burner that pumps hot water. I know that pellets are the next phase but I prefer the back-burners. I like the comfort of a traditional wood burner and, as I have woodland, there’s no lack of wood that can be brought in. I also go foraging in the woods for mushrooms, I am a keen amateur mycologist and, this winter, am looking forward to stumbling across velvet shanks. Yes, adapt and adjust, that’s the essence to survival, and we are survivors.

I make my own country wines too. I have just started the first fermentation of a gooseberry wine with baked dandelion chips. I collect and freeze all my berries, so make summer and winter wine. My last gooseberry wine was a bit of a flop as I added horehound to it, and this made it very bitter, but it had potential, so this year I have turned to the caramel piquancy of the dandelion root to add an extra note to the drop. Next year, I want to make a blueberry wine but this will depend on how well the blueberries do. Soon after my stroke, I collected wonder berries which I had, with great care, cultivated before my stroke. It was terribly difficult to collect these small berries with the severity of my symptoms at the time, I had a friend help me, and so, we managed to get enough to make five litres of wine. Unfortunately, acetobacter occurred, and I ended up with paint stripper. The disappointment from this prevented me from making any more summer wine, and so I am now into the winter wine period using my frozen fruit.

My next adventure will be making my own brandy which I want to get a proper inexpensive distiller to do (I don’t know if I will make my own distiller, it depends on the level of skill involved). Sometimes, it is better just to buy the kit, and it lasts longer.

I find winemaking, in particular, helpful distracting me from my symptoms, and bottling it for a year, symbolically, let’s me know I’ll be around for another year to try it. Although, it is harder now, mostly because of my memory issues and limited ability to systematically recognise the patterns in things. Hence, I have started making a more naked wine without the chemical control I would normally rely on. This is both exciting and precarious. I will soon post a photo of one of my Victorian apple labels, it reveals the pride they took in each tree.

Hope you are well this week, and managing to keep yourself busy with things you enjoy doing.

Had a go at wine making, elderflower & berry. Was given a bucketful of pomegranates from greengrocer. Made a beautiful Rose’a coloured wine but Boy was it powerful, had a b-b-q & after a couple of sips most folk gave it a wide berth. Was given a bottle of elderberry as gift for helping to move a piano , was fantastic. Mentioned this to giver. I gave you wrong bottle ! That was a few years old& precious Learnt that fruit wines get better as they age. Always regret not trying to make mead. Most of my life spent chasing my tail. Near Eastbourne is the cider/Perry museum @ farm shop , fantastic array of tradition ciders you can sample from cider made near & wide .

This is indeed true of many fruit wines, I leave mine for a year, and have one bottle reserved for a half-year taste tester, so I get a sense of where the wine is going. One must be prudent with a homemade wine, it can seem like a mild drop, but then it hits one from behind.

I have a Perry tree in the orchard, it’s the oldest tree there, well over two-hundred years old. I haven’t made Perry cider, but I let a friend take the crop this year and last year, and he’s making some, so no doubt I will get a few bottles.

I practice permaculture in the orchard, and grow many “native” British herbs around the borders. This helps ward off black-fly and aphids. I have some rue and betony to go in next year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to tackle much gardening after my stroke, and so the docks, creeping buttercup, and nettles moved in. I have a lot of weeding to do next spring.

Here are some Victorian labels from my trees. I admire the pride in labelling each tree in this way.


Hi Rups , I use to collect old garden tools & related items & have impressive collection of old plant labels. I worked on large Estate that had extensive collection of trees & shrubs planted in Victorian times & every one had a lead label with Latin name, date of planting& Location no. Unfortunately the local rodents loved gnawing on them. When I can motivate myself I’ll post a photo of a selection

Have you come across ‘The Apple Book by Rosanne Saunders. Good descriptions of apples & lovey illustrations. One of yours labels ‘Devonshire Quarrenden , a very old variety (1678), will tolerate wind &rain. There was a tree locally & just managed to taste a fruit before it died. Think I made out Newton Wonder label. A lovely culinary variety but can be prone to Bitter Pit. Most years was always included in my cider as commonly planted in these parts & always a good cropper. Originated growing out of the thatch of a pub in Derbyshire. Local landowner round here rewarded his tenants some years with an apple tree but only if they went to church & looked after their gardens

I have a copy somewhere of Rosanne’s book, it is quite exceptional. I’m not sure if I have the Devonshire Quarrenden tree in the orchard, but there is one very old tree that wasn’t fruiting, the bole is almost a hollow contour. I have spent time just nursing this tree, not expecting it to do anything but I didn’t want it to be over-weighted with suckers and new growth, in case it toppled. Well, this year it fruited. About four apples. This could be that tree. In any case, a few years back, I grafted about five whips, two have died (canker near the rootstock) but the other three are doing all right, so hopefully, I have reproduced this tree (whatever it is). My house was built around 1660, and the orchard was one of the first things established (around the early 1700s), so the owners (not me obviously, I am not that old) would have grown this tree, shortly, after it was known and named. I have two Newton Wonders, it’s a good apple, crops well.

Imagine being rewarded with an apple tree. What a lovely idea. It should be a standard government policy.

Just been looking at apple book. To distract myself last year would try to remember a-z apple varieties. Now you’d think Owen Thomas had to be a Welsh variety ! Wrong ,seems it’s like Beauty of Bath best eaten straight off tree but an even briefer life, 2-3 days ! Few years ago I pushed apple core into wide verge , resulting tree produced very attractive coloured fruit but disappointingly yuk ! Tried picking & eating early, then at weekly interval’s right up to November. Stored some & tried eating at different times , still yuk !

That’s the complex genetics of apples, I have a Bramley that had collapsed and epicormic growth shot up from the fallen leader forming new leaders, these produced an apple that was clearly a different cultivar from the original, now the tree has two cultivars growing on the one plant. The second cultivar is better than the first. Owen Thomas does sound like a Welsh apple, I have planted quite a few Welsh varieties in the orchard, the special tree I have that didn’t do too well this year was the Bardsey Island, a rare variety that is absolutely delicious. Believed to have been cultivated by monks on Bardsey Island over a thousand years ago. I need to check my orchard map, but I believe I have two of these trees. Today, I will be putting a bucket of blackcurrant and red dead nettle wine in a demijohn for a second fermentation, and then clarifying my gooseberry and dandelion root with some finings. If I can pluck up the hwyl, I will take a walk around the orchard to collect a burdock root for a blackberry and burdock root wine. I can then expect some of the trees to see what I need to do this winter. The Latin names of plants have never stuck with me, despite having a rudimentary knowledge of Old English, and a passion for linguistics, I always find the common names of plants far too endearing, and enjoy saying them too much.