Woodthorpe Hall Cider Making day

Woodthorpe Hall near Holmesfield is the residence of Dick Shepley and his family, who own much of the surrounding land and have a pub named after them (the Shepley Spitfire down the lane in Totley). Their garden is hired out some days over summer for wedding receptions but on two weekends in October it is given over to cider making.

Woodthorpe Hall has a range of three artisan ciders – Owd Barker, Ruby Suzie and Spinning Jenny with the latter being a more sensible ABV than the others – the others once the natural fermentation is coming to an end sees the addition of champagne yeast to the fermentation tank, accellerating the process again resulting in a very strong, lightly sparkling cider with a slightly smoother flavour than just apples. Ruby Suzie is the sweetened version.

Each year to celebrate CAMRA’s October Real Cider Month a handful of Sheffield, Dronfield and Chesterfield CAMRA members join the Shepley family, their friends and other volunteers to help with the pressing on the Saturday of the second weekend.

It is proper work with heavy lifting, carrying, shoveling, operating machinery and more but also a fun social occasion with volunteers well looked after. There is an afternoon tea break with a table groaning under the weight of a massive array of home made cakes and pots of freshly brewed tea & coffee; cider is available to drink on a self serve basis throughout the afternoon and once work is finished for the day everyone has a drink and chat around the ‘garden heater’ – a shopping trolley containing a bonfire – before being invited into the house for a delicious home cooked supper.

We all once again enjoyed our day helping out at Woodthorpe Hall on the 8th October and would like to thank the Shepleys for their hospitality, if you missed out trying the cider that resulted from last years pressing at our Steel City Beer & Cider Festival then you can buy it in bottles from a select number of outlets, one of which is the Beer Stop in Dronfield.

THE APPLE PRESSING DAY PROCESS IN PICTURES

step 1 - the bags of apples picked from trees and windfall arrive
step 1 – the bags of apples picked from trees and windfall arrive
step 2 - the apples are washed and sorted, with any rotters binned
step 2 – the apples are washed and sorted, with any rotters binned
step 3 - the apples are fed through this machine to shred them into manageable chunks
step 3 – the apples are fed through this machine to shred them into manageable chunks
step 4 - the shredded apple is pulped using an old woodchipper machine and buckets filled with the pulp
step 4 – the shredded apple is pulped using an old woodchipper machine and buckets filled with the pulp
step 5 - the apple pulp is pressed to harvest the juice
step 5 – the apple pulp is pressed to harvest the juice
step 6 - the apple juice is put in water bottles to be transported to the next part of the process..
step 6 – the apple juice is put in water bottles to be transported to the next part of the process..
step 7 - the bottles of apple juice are emptied into the fermentation tanks
step 7 – the bottles of apple juice are emptied into the fermentation tanks

woodthorpe16-drink

Breweries
Andy Cullen

About Andy Cullen

Andy has been actively involved in CAMRA since the early 2000s after being recruited to sit on a National Younger Members Task Group. Since then he has held roles on the branch committee including Secretary, Membership Secretary, Magazine Editor, Chair and now Social Secretary. Andy has also been involved with the Steel City Beer & Cider Festival almost every year since becoming active in the branch.

1 comment

  1. Hi I have about 60lb of Howgate Wonder apple, still on tree, are they any good to you or have you finished brewing this year. They will be thrown in the compost bin if not. Reg

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