She maintains that we may well have saved real ale but what about real cider too? She could may have a point because when you look at most pubs you will find Strongbow, Scrumpy Jack or Dry Blackthorn, which I personally find lacking in flavour. The main problem is that 95% of the cider produced in the U.K is made by 3 giant firms. There are hundreds of small cideries dotted around the country but thanks to our foolish tax situation they are only allowed to produce 1600 gallons a year after which the tax virtually doubles.

Many of you will know of my ties with Cambridgeshire's leading cidery, Cassels, with "Crusher Brown" doing his stuff each autumn. They sell their wares in many freehouses like the Queens Head at Newton who also have the excellent Crones cider, the Wrestlers, Kingston Arms, Live & Let Live, Cambridge Blue and the Longbow in Stapleford to name but a few.

If you give people the choice, the real thing always goes best. It sells very well at the beer festival each year, and Brownie Boy used to really enjoy working on the cider counter as that is where all the pretty girls congregate. I can't understand the publicans who have the choice but just stick to the same old boring stuff.

Unfortunately, apart from Westons, there are few nationally - marketed real ciders. Addlestone's is "real" but made from apple concentrate rather than whole fruit. Aspall Cyder is made from quality apples but the draught version is keg. It's best to stick to the real thing if you can, never mind paying an arm and a leg for the likes of Magners, Bulmers and other trendy ciders. A trip to the West Country will open your eyes to what is around but you have to be aware these real ciders are very strong and should be avoided by the driver. We even had a cider at Cassels a couple of years ago made from the Dabinet cider apple that came out at 13%! So steady as you go.

On a recent trip to France the Duchess and I noticed that they tend to sell their house wines by the carafe. This is a good idea, I know it does happen here occasionally too, but you can have a litre or 1/2 litre. Generally speaking in England we buy by the bottle or 1/2 bottle. A half is never enough for two, but if one of you has to drive, a full one may be too much. So we should keep the pint, but have a broader mind about other measures.

Jerry Brown