Stonewell craft cider continues to be apple of Irish eyes

General palate in Ireland is for something medium dry, but taste for different ciders is expanding

When I spoke to Daniel Emerson of Stonewell, he was half-way through renewing his forklift licence. “When I started Stonewell, I promised myself that I would be able to fulfil every role in the company and that includes driving the forklift,” he says. He is cautiously optimistic about business after a difficult lockdown. “You felt totally impotent because you could do nothing. We were 90 per cent on-trade so we had an extremely tough 18 months. We have come out of that since June last year and had a very strong summer.”

Stonewell produce a number of excellent ciders, all made from fresh Irish apple juice without any additives or preservatives. All of them are made using a specific Champagne yeast to highlight flavour and tame the less predictable aspect of a wild fermentation. The apples are sourced from a few specialist Irish apple growers. The range includes a very good alcohol-free version and the classic crisp tannic dry cider made with bittersweet varieties such as Dabinett and Michelin. This goes amazingly well with food.

The medium dry cider is the most popular, however, making up 70 per cent of sales. “The general palate in Ireland is for something medium dry, although consumer desire for different cider profiles is expanding. We use a lot more eating apples in the medium-dry cider.”

It is rounder and richer, with citrus peel and a softer finish, perfect as a thirst quencher or to drink alongside sausages or pulled pork. Whatever your tastes, it is worth trying out Irish craft ciders. This is an indigenous traditional Irish drink that deserves to be consumed 12 months of the year, not just during sunny weather.