Friday, 27 July 2012

Chase Presents... Rock The Farm

On a surprisingly pleasant Sunday morning a crowd from “the industry” boarded a bus to Hereford for a special event run generously by William Chase and his team – Rock the Farm. On arrival the lovely marketing girls (thanks Hattie!) dished out the wrist bands, we then pitched out tent and headed out for pizza and the first drink of the day: HOBSONS ALE. This is from a local brewery and I tried the Twisted Spire. This was really fruity and a great summer drink, I will look out for it again in London. They also have an ale – Old Prickly - which donates money from every pint sold to hedgehog preservation, LOVE it!

Next we signed up for a farm tour led by eldest brother Harry Chase. This was one of the most interesting parts of the visit for me, really seeing the spread of the farm including fields of potatoes (on a 1 in 5 year rotation) interspersed with orchards and they also raise cattle on the side. (The waste is invaluable!) This year has not been kind with the rain and wind, and many of the fields had patches completely flattened with a fifth of the oil seed crop was lost. It was especially interesting to talk about biodynamics, how the moon affects the growing cycles and also see techniques – like drip irrigation – that have been taken from Argentinean wineries and used in an English orchard for the younger trees. It was also, simply, beautiful.

Onto the tasting room and for the first time I was half way convinced by Chartreuse. This is a spirit I had always decidedly avoided, as it normally came out at the end of a dinner party with somewhat middle class friends or I remember my dad putting it in hot chocolate when ski-ing. It comes in two colours, who knew?! The green, a blend of 130 herbs still made by monks, is 55% so this explains my revulsion at drinking it straight from the off however the yellow! The yellow has the addition of honey and this sweetness really rounds the bitterness of the green herbs and would be lovely, I think, with a cream soda mixer. As for the green, add some limoncello, soda and some citrus and this is a great refreshing drink to mix up for friends and they will be surprised by what is in it!

Onto the cider next, another product from Hereford and we had Tom Oliver, the man himself, to talk us through the range of Olivers Ciders. What really stood out for me was the medium dry Perry blend. This was so good I would genuinely consider replacing sparkling wine at an event for this bubbly goodness, wonder who would notice…? There “premium” range is even made in the champenois method and then we moved onto the vintage stuff, from 2010. “Blue cheese!” I declared as my mouth ran ahead of my brain but in fact this is correct, and strange as it sounds it was very tasty but would go better with food. You cannot deny the passion that drives these guys too.

Onto the Chase stand and we worked our way through, well, everything! And those boys have been busy with cask finishes from Bourbon, Islay Whisky, Brandy, Rum…and then there is the Raspberry Vodka, Rhubarb Vodka, Juniper Vodka (?), Marmalade Vodka and of course the classic Chase that is still one of the creamiest vodkas I have encountered and the single product that has held me captive since they started. One last look around led us to the Top Secret products, and yes of course we tried the Stupidly Hot Vodka. Perhaps I had tasted too much by then but it was, well, nice… Yes there was burn but I think for a Bloody Mary with a kick you couldn’t do better!

So after that we descended into general bad behaviour and debauchery with music from Reverend and the Makers amongst others and an awful lot of dancing.

Thanks to my tent buddies Gin Monkey and Sarah (who has a great post found here), the LCC crew for an awesome time, the Exhibit guys for rocking with us, all the producers who shared their passion and products and of course the WHOLE CHASE TEAM for their fearless 2nd year of entertaining some of the worst behaved crowd around! 

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