I have great respect for our independent cider producers, and from time to time I enjoy drinking their bottled products at home. I’ve also been known to sample the odd drop of traditional cider and perry at the local beer festival. All these quality ciders sell at prices broadly comparable with similar beers, as do keg ciders in the pub. But cider enjoys a favoured alcohol duty regime, with a flat rate of duty, much lower than that for beer, being levied for all strengths up to about 8.4% ABV. I assume this originated from a desire to protect small farmhouse cidermakers, who for most of the 20th century were much more common than micro brewers. But it is noticeable that many of the high-strength, low-quality products on sale in the off-trade are ciders, the likes of Frosty Jack’s. Surely it would make sense – and in the long run improve the image of cider – if cider duty was equalised with that on beer.