CraftCon 2024 Heralds A Year of Growth for British Craft Cidermakers

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The international angle, a scion exchange, plus cider and cheese matching are three new elements joining classic sessions like Cider Doctor and the infamous bottle share at CraftCon 2024, the Three Counties Cider & Perry Association’s annual trade conference, taking place at the Royal Agricultural University, 5-6 April 2024.

The fourth edition of the highly anticipated conference will gather the UK’s leading craft cider producers, with 35 speakers presenting on topics covering orcharding, cidermaking and business development. CraftCon is the only industry-facing educational conference for British cidermakers and has helped attendees grow their businesses and raised the product quality of participating cider companies since it was founded in 2019.

“This brilliant event brings together the most ambitious and pioneering craft cidermakers in the country to learn techniques, share knowledge, understand legislation, and to inspire each other”, says Chair of the TCCPA and director of Ross-on-Wye Cider & Perry Company, Albert Johnson. “If we look back to the first CraftCon, the cider industry has taken a giant leap forward, and that is in large part the result of the professional development that happens at this wonderful conference.”

On the Friday evening of CraftCon, presenters and delegates will come together for an evening meal to celebrate the cider community and their products with a bottle share. CraftCon is an invaluable opportunity for small producers to network and discuss their shared challenges and
hopes for the future of the industry.

“This year’s CraftCon is more diverse than ever, with talks on every topic from orcharding to sustainability in the cidery, right through to the latest in kegging”, says deputy chair of the TCCPA and co-founder of Artistraw Cider, Lydia Crimp. “The wealth of talent and knowledge that this
year’s roster of speakers will be providing us with is simply not to be missed.”

Two notable cider and perry writers will be taking the stage at CraftCon. Adam Wells, co-founder and editor of Cider Review and author of the forthcoming Perry: A Drinker’s Guide will be giving a keynote speech on Friday. “CraftCon has become simply the most important event in the calendar of aspirational British cider and perry”, says Adam. “The speakers and topics lined up for 2024 promise to make it the most exciting and ambitious edition yet.” James Crowden, renowned poet and author of Cider Country will be giving a keynote speech on Saturday, covering the early history of sparkling bottle fermented cider.

For the first time in person, an international element has been added to CraftCon’s agenda, with Italian pommeliers Andrea Bedini and Marco Manfrini showcasing the rise of cider culture in Italy.

Another new edition to the programme is a scion exchange, with conference attendees encouraged to bring cuttings from their apple and pear trees to share with fellow makers and orchardists. To accompany this, practical advice will be given by Tom Tibbits of Artistraw Cider and Leo Jordan of Blue Barrel Cider on how to use these scions for grafting and top-working in orchards.

Further highlights of the conference include:

A session to help small producers turn their cidermaking hobby into a business with Max Nowell of Steilhead Cider and James Finch of Chapel Sider.

Pommelier Cath Potter, That Beer Place’s co-founder Dale Lord, Alex Fitton of Pullo Bottle Shop and landlady of Station House Durham Susannah Mansfield will present a blind tasting of ciders and a discussion on faults, what’s natural and what’s not.

Young Cheesemonger of the Year, Lily Morris of Morris’ of Usk and Sam Wilkin aka. Cellarman Sam will share with their audience the art of matching cider and cheese as everyone tastes through the three pairings Lily and Sam have chosen.

Chava Richman of Welsh Mountain Cider and Joey Hughes of Orchard Daughters – Merched Y Berllan will discuss orcharding for the future and the importance of varietal selection.

A panel on the challenges and opportunities of tannin and bittersweet apples with Adam Wells, James Forbes of Little Pomona, Martin Johnson of Ross-on-Wye Cider & Perry Company, Polly Hilton of Find & Foster, and drinks writer Tamlyn Currin.

CraftCon is being generously supported by lead sponsor, The National Association of Cidermakers, as well as The Licensing Guys, The London Cider House and Pershore Press, with other sponsors to be confirmed.

Tickets and further information about CraftCon 2024 is available on the TCCPA’s dedicated CraftCon website.

Photo credit: Terry Richards.

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