Most of us are familiar with cider, the sultry and once illegal, alcoholic drink made from apples. Little did we know that the apple cider has a cousin called Perry. Have you heard of it?
Perry is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting the juice of squeezed perry pears. This drink is the counterpart of cider, which is made from apples. It is quite popular in the UK.
How Was Perry Made?
Perry is an alcoholic drink made from Perry pears, grown only in the Three Counties, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, and Worcestershire. These lands were abundant with inedible pears. By the 1500s, the agricultural families found a way to put the pears to good use. They created Perry. (Source: JSTOR Daily)
Unfortunately, the drink was forgotten when Dom Perignon introduced champagne. In the nineteenth century, botanical books helped a brewer named Francis Showering create Babycham. It is a sugary and sparkling drink made out of pears grown in Somerset. In the 1960s, Showering produced the beverage, which became popular in the 1970s. His drink gave way to the resurrection of the age-old Perry.
In the 1980s, a Gloucestershire cheesemaker Charles Martell began his research into the drink. Along with retired horticulturalists William Stearn and Frederick Roach, he looked for old references of the pears and the process of creating Perry.
The reincarnated drink is now a booming success. In 1996, the Perry production in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Worcestershire was protected by European Protected Geographical Indications. This is designed to safeguard foodstuffs and agricultural products that possess characteristics attributable to the geographical area. (Source: Food Standards Agency)
Washington and Oregon are the only two states that produce pears regularly in the US. Unfortunately, only a few cider makers make Perry. This is because it is too tedious to make. Oftentimes they would produce pear cider and market it as Perry instead. (Source: Oregon Live)
The Difference between Perry and Pear Cider
Perry is gaining popularity among natural wine enthusiasts, but Perry should not be mistaken with pear cider. While both are made from pears, the difference is that Perry is made exclusively from a blend of certain types of pears. Pear cider, on the other hand, is simply apple cider mixed with pear juice. (Source: Oregon Live)
Perry is made with specific pears, such as the Barnet if you want a low alcohol content drink or Blakeney Red if you want a stronger perry. Perry is more tedious to make, as the fruit itself is a bit temperamental, while pear cider was designed to be produced industrially. (Source: Real Cider)
The Best Perries
If you are curious about Perries’ taste, here are some recommendations from the top Perry producers.
- Gwatkin Farmhouse Perry – this Perry offers a sweet yet sharp, acidic flavor
- Dunkertons Perry – clean-tasting flavor blended from vintage pear variety of Merrylegs
- Oliver’s Bottle Conditioned Perry Medium – this Perry tastes like tropical fruits with a hint of elderflower
- Hallets Perry – an amber perry that has a subtle floral sweetness flavor
- Hogan’s Vintage Perry – a subtle yet savory flavor with a touch of farmhouse cheese