Blog: Olly WehringOnly one bad apple at parliament cider meeting

Olly Wehring | 8 June 2006

A security alert at the Houses of Parliament turned a successful cider meeting slightly sour yesterday as departing guests, growers and MPs were locked in for nearly an hour.

But for me, with tasting notes available for a wide range of ciders and perry, a warm welcome from my hosts, and a distinguished location in the Common’s Terrace Marquee, my glass was most certainly half-full rather than half-empty.

The meeting, hosted by the Parliamentary Cider Group and National Association of Cider Makers, highlighted a boost to the industry from a standstill in cider excise duty and a remarkable growth and commercialisation of the apple-based beverage.

Growers such as Gaymers and Bulmers, who makes Strongbow Sirrus, can now gain from the sudden appeal of Irish cider Magners by targeting drinkers in their early 20s. On the back of this, vintage ciders could see a resurgence and ‘wine ciders’ are being coined as another alternative, with some designed to accompany Indian and Chinese dishes.

After a few hours of enthusiastic tasting and deliberating, an alert arose at 6pm, however, when a protestor flung white powder onto the marble floor of the central lobby area, before being detained by the many armed police on the scene. While the powder was tested, possibly for anthrax, there was no through passage out of the building for aggrieved MPs, Peers, Lords and me.

Eventually the incident was resolved to no negative avail and the feared substance thought to be wheat powder.

Such scares will not hinder this biannual occasion, I'm sure, but tasters may be watching the clock a little more closely next time around.


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