It’s the reason the festival exists, and it’s about giving recognition to the producers behind the magnificent array of pure juice cider and perry in Wales.
Each year at the festival the Championships take place on the Saturday morning. So while the majority of campers are still contemplating opening their eyes and finding the breakfast stall, the eager cider producers will be gathered within the castle banqueting hall preparing to bombard their taste buds with a number of unidentifiable golden liquids.
Early on the Saturday morning, the Championship organisers decant the entries into clear ‘milk packs’, distinguished only by a category letter and number. The producers then choose which categories they want to judge, and the tasting begins.
Cider and perry are split into categories depending on whether they are sweet, medium, dry, oak aged, or bottle conditioned. Producers score on a scale from 0 to 10, looking at characteristics such as appearance, aroma, taste, mouth feel, after-taste and balance.
Scores are then collated and input into our super-efficient and fair electronic calculating system, and the highest scorers are judged again in order to reach a decision on the titles of Champion Cider and Champion Perry for the year.
To receive a gold award in it’s category, a product must average a score of at least 7 or over; for silver award it must achieve between 6.5 and 6.9; and for bronze place a score of 6 to 6.4 is required.
Each year, we ask a guest to present the certificates to our winners in each category, and the special cider and perry championship cups to our new Champion Cider and Champion Perry of Wales. This year, we’ve got new Championship cups thanks to potter, Steve Hoselitz in Usk. We have commissioned Steve to make some new cups as we’ve run out of room to add any more names to the previous cups! We also have slightly smaller ones for the Champions to keep at home above the fireplace.
Last year’s winners of the much anticipated titles were Phill Palmer of Palmer’s Upland Cyder (near Newport) for his Old Tom Bombadil cider, and Mike Penney of Troggi Seidr (near Chepstow) for his Tregagle perry.
The 2014 awards will be announced at 2:45pm Saturday 24 May. The bar will temporarily close while the awards are given out; then will follow the mass onslaught of the bar to be the first to try the products from the new award winners.
You will also have your chance to vote for your cider or perry of the festival. Just fill in your voting form in your festival programme, and post it in the voting box at the main entrance. The ‘People’s Choice’ will be announced after the festival.