No one in cider and perry (at least in the UK) thinks like Tony Lovering of Halfpenny Green. Ice cider that’s keeved and then put through the champagne method? Done it. Ice cider fortified with apple brandy? Tick. Prosecco perry? Ages ago. A machine for de-stoning damsons? Made one of those last year.
We are not, in short, talking about someone who has much truck with the notion of ‘minimal intervention’. But we are talking about someone who has made some of the most compelling, individual and delicious ciders and perries we’ve tasted on this site.
A measure of Tony’s aptitude came at the recent Ross on Wye Cider & Perry Festival, when every one of my new-to-cider friends came away with at least one bottle of his creations.
And since his outlook is so different from that of most other producers, I thought I ought to pick his brains for our perrymaker spotlight series. Brains duly picked below.
CR: Introduce yourself and your company.
Tony: Anthony Lovering of the Halfpenny Green Cider Company. Sub 7000 ltr producer focusing on selling direct to the public through a mobile bar at festivals, food events and markets. I developed a series of ciders focusing on the process rather than the ingredients such as traditional (champagne) method, charmat (prosecco), pét nat, keeved in bottles and draught and sparkling iced ciders. As an engineer I have developed my own equipment such as counter pressure filling heads, filtration equipment, carbonation systems and a mobile trailer bar specifically to be able to produce speciality ciders in small batches.
CR: How did you come to start making perry?
Tony: It was a natural progression after focusing on the processes to make cider I applied these techniques to different styles of perries.
CR: Tell us about where you are. Its connection to perry and pear trees. The landscape (perhaps even the terroir!) and any perry culture (or lack thereof).
Tony: I am located in South Staffordshire 30 mins from Birmingham. There is a local perry tree called a Tettenhall Dick that I am interested in promoting. Other than that I find it difficult to procure the perry pears I need with no speciality varieties locally.
CR: Tell us about the sort of perry you make? Your methods of making it as well as the styles you make.
Tony: I apply the processes I have developed to perry as well as apples. I make Method Traditional and CHARMAT Perry along with still and bottle conditioned. I have also made a sparkling iced perry
CR: What are the challenges you find in working with perry? Making, growing and selling?
Tony: Availability of pears.
CR: And what is your greatest frustration around perry?
Tony: Availability of perry pears.
CR: Your perfect perry and food pairing – and/or the time you most like to drink perry?
Tony: Unfortunately I don’t drink anymore.
CR: What would you most want to tell a new drinker about perry to convince them to try it?
Tony: I always offer tasters at my bar and find people have a preconceived idea of perry being sweet and sickly. This all changes after a single taste. I offer keg conditioned perry on the bar at festivals and events.
CR: And, finally, what is your all-time favourite of your own perries … and your all-time favourite from another producer?
Tony: I made a perry from some old trees I saw in a local field and we called it Beacon Lane Perry. This was my favourite. Like I said I don’t drink so don’t partake in other peoples perries.