What’s a perry? It’s an alcoholic drink made from pears.
Pear cider has become a fashionable phrase since the New Cider Renaissance, in order to cash in on the back of it. Until this resurgence, perry was associated with Babycham, and Lambrini, and generally a bit of a gay drink. Calling it pear cider makes it sound much more macho. However, that’s like saying jam is Strawberry Marmalade. It just ain’t right.
Well, I believe that good perries should also be shouted about. Made in a similar way to ciders, cider drinkers will probably like perries, and there’s an abundance of pear orchards in the UK, that are capable of producing quality perries that can sit alongside (and in some cases, even blend into) quality ciders.
Perry is the underdog, trying to make a name for himself next to his big brother, Cider, and put that embarrassing ‘Babycham’ episode behind him (he was desperate and needed the cash). Perry has now come of age, though his ‘metrosexual’ side still appeals to the ladies, he could knock out a bigger man in three rounds.
I’m in the Chequers on Walthamstow High Street, an oasis of calm, in a bustling market street of plugs, knickers and plastic machine guns. The pub looks a little daunting from outside, but inside there are no tattoo-necked racists or piss-soaked old men. The clientele here are the yummy mummies and hipsters who are osmotically filling up this former London nether-region. There’s vintage furniture all around, framed Beano and Dandy covers in the gents loo, and various oddities like the wall, mounted with many old telephones.
I have a good feeling there will be good cider here. I see a Sandford Orchards, and realise it’s a perry. Well, it’s about time to add perry to Cider Sense, so I ask for one o’ them. Wow, it’s 7%. This Devon perry is certainly making a grand entrance. My dad tells me that they used to have a pot at the end of the bar in West Country pubs, for emergencies, as ciders had a habit of travelling straight through some of the guests. He also told me that dead dogs and clippy mats are very good for allotments, so I take this with a pinch of salt.
It’s a flat perry, a slight sparkle, and has a strong, dark orange colour. The smell is unlike that of a cider, nor any perry I’ve tried before. I wonder if I’m coming down with something, before I taste it.
I ASKED FOR PERRY, NOT SHERRY! I suddenly feel like a nana at Christmas. In actuality, it is a perry, quite a sweet one, but with a heavy sherry flavour. It’s not pear-drop fragrant, like some perries, but is rather drinkable, but I do feel like I’m raiding an auntie’s drinks cabinet.
An interesting one, but one pint is enough. I look for the pot at the end of the bar, and start to wish I’d stopped at the knicker stall…