New recipe Blackthorn not going down well in Bristol pubs
It's been a firm favourite among cider drinkers in Bristol for decades.
But a change in the recipe of Blackthorn's traditional dry cider has upset the apple cart and led some pub customers and landlords in the city to snub the drink.
The £1.5 million pound relaunch of Blackthorn as a "fruitier and more refreshing" tipple has provoked such anger in south Bristol that several advertising hoardings promoting the new cider have been defaced.
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Pub customers in the city say the drink has lost its bite and familiar dry taste after its recipe was changed, with the alcohol volume being dropped from 5 per cent to 4.7 per cent.
Landlord Gerry McLoughlin, who serves up to 500 pints of Blackthorn every week at the Miner's Arms in Bedminster Down, has decided to stop selling what was one of his best sellers.
He plans to switch to another cider when he gets to the bottom of the last keg of the old-recipe Blackthorn.
"Customers are saying it's not dry and tastes more like Strongbow," he said.
"They say they did a survey before changing the recipe but that must have been done in London and they are not real cider drinkers – they prefer a sweeter taste.
"Some of our customers have even been emailing in to complain about the new drink.
"We've actually gained a few customers recently because we've still got the old stuff left and people are coming here to get it.
"It's part of Bristol's culture and if you cut a Bristolian in half, you'll see Blackthorn running through them.
"It's stupid to change the recipe because in Bristol they will lose a lot of money. People are passionate about it here."
They believe the cider's recipe has been changed to appeal to drinkers in London and northern England, overlooking the tastes of thousands of drinkers in the South West.
Ronnie Thomas, who works at both the Three Lions and the Plough and Windmill in West Street, says customers have found it too sweet.
He said: "There have been a lot of complaints about it, with people saying there is no bite to the new stuff. People are not drinking it because they want something stronger.
"Landlords are changing their barrels and getting other ciders in. They should do one batch for the West Country and another batch for everyone else.
"They say they did a survey but no one came to pubs around here to ask people what they think of it. I've been drinking Blackthorn all my life and can have up to 10 pints during a match day when City are playing."
Somerset-based Gaymer Cider Company, which produces Blackthorn, says it surveyed hundreds of people before changing the recipe.
As part of the relaunch, the text on the packaging of Blackthorn has been changed to stress the product's English and West Country heritage.
But a number of new Blackthorn advertising hoardings featuring the slogan 'Black is Back' in Bedminster have been defaced with the word 'crap'.
Gaymer Cider Company managing director Peter Spencer said the changes would bring Blackthorn more in line with contemporary tastes, while staying true to its roots and celebrating its West Country links.
A spokesman for the company said: "We asked Blackthorn and other cider drinkers to help us develop a new taste that would both win the respect of loyal Blackthorn fans and appeal to new cider drinkers.
"After months of tasting and testing, Blackthorn now has a new liquid developed by cider drinkers for cider drinkers, along with refreshed packaging.
"The majority of our customers prefer the new look and taste of Blackthorn and have very much welcomed the change.
"We are aware that advertising in the city has been defaced and we are in the process of replacing the damaged hoardings.
"From our internal sales figures, we have exceeded our expectations for March and are extremely pleased with the success of Blackthorn since the relaunch."