AN artisan brewery is appealing to farmers and gardeners for more apples so it can keep producing bottles of its award-winning cider.

Jane and Rob Armitage usually turn about two tonnes of apples into cider and sparkling apple wine to sell at farmers’ markets, select shops and online.

But on the back of competition successes and as they look to expand the business – J&R Armitage based in Carlton, between Sedgefield and Stockton – they need twice as many apples this year.

Mr Armitage said: “We usually get our apples from orchards that farmers aren’t that concerned about and people who have trees but cannot use all the fruit and don’t want to see it going to waste.

“As we look to expand we need more apples, we are planting an orchard with vintage cider apples but they’re not at a commercial level yet.

"If people in this area have unwanted apples, we can put them to good use.”

Earlier this year, the brewery won a silver medal at the International Cider Challenge – a respected and influential competition run by the Drinks Retailing magazine.

The award was for a sparkling keeved cider made from a recipe that pre-dates the 17th century and is fermented in extremely cold conditions.

Last year, the couple won a bronze award for a sparkling apple wine.

Mr Armitage said: “We are incredibly pleased to get silver in the 2021 competition and it’s certainly going to encourage us to enter next year. Who knows, we might even get gold.

“The award took us by surprise – and naturally we are thrilled to bits.”


Rob Armitage at Armitages brewery in Carlton Picture: STUART BOULTON

Rob Armitage at Armitages' brewery in Carlton Picture: STUART BOULTON


The couple’s winning cider formula does not include additional sugar or sulphites and apple juice is not pasteurised. The apples used in the keeved cider were Yorkshire grown, hand picked and pressed.

Mr Armitage added: "We ensure that our fruit is of excellent quality and we know all our growers.

“The apples that we used in the keeved cider that won were picked as late as November and the specialised and prolonged fermenting process required conditions from zero to five degrees Celsius.

“The earliest known reference to Keeved cider dates from 1664 so the actual recipe probably pre dates the 1600’s.

“It’s certainly French in style, reminiscent of Breton, Normandy and Brittany ciders.”

Anyone who can supply unwanted apples that would otherwise go to waste in County Durham, Cleveland or North Yorkshire can contact J&R Armitage via Facebook, on 07793-555314

or at


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