Winning brew proves fruitful

Mark Shirley being presented with his silver award by Nottingham Camra activist Dee Wright
Mark Shirley being presented with his silver award by Nottingham Camra activist Dee Wright

A CIDER maker who makes a tasty brew from his garden shed has been given an award for his efforts.

Mark Shirley, 47, who runs Rockingham Forest Ciders from his home in Middleton, started making cider as a hobbyist about 15 years ago.

Now he brews 600 gallons a year, and has been given a silver award in the regional Campaign For Real Ale’s 2011 cider of the year competition.

He said: “I have been making cider to sell for six years now but it’s still really a hobby.

“I work full time as a BT engineer so I fit it around that. We produce about 600 gallons, and there are eight pints in each gallon.

“We do most of the hard work in October so I take some time off work then.

“We are a very small company by cider making standards but it would be nice to make a living out of it one day.”

Mark, whose partner Karen Clifford helps him run Rockingham Forest Ciders, sells most of his cider to CAMRA real ale festivals and a handful of local outlets. To bag the silver award, he beat off competition from the whole of the East Midlands.

There are 24 cider makers in the area, with 11 represented in the competition.

His winning tipple was made with Kingston Black and Sweet Alford apples from the Worcestershire Cotswolds.

He said: “The cider is different each year because of the different crops available.

“There weren’t any Kingston Blacks available at all last year so we couldn’t use those.

“But its good to have a little variation in what we produce. I think our customers like it.

“This is the first time we have entered any competition so we were delighted to win.”

Find out more about Rockingham Forest Ciders at http://rockinghamforestcider.moonfruit.com/