The popularity of artisan ciders has grown and grown in recent years as makers have branched out to produce varieties that are sweet and crisp on the tongue, from pear-based to a wide range of traditional apple tipples. Connoisseurs will be happy to know that over 600 different varieties will be showcased at this year's Royal Bath & West Show, host to the British Cider Championships. At this biggest cider competition in the country, visitors can check out every kind of cider they can imagine.

The competition attracts entrants from large commercial manufacturers down to small hobbyists making cider in their garden shed. With a plethora of classes catering for different dryness, sweetness, varieties of apples, and still or sparkling options, there should be plenty of choice to match any cider lovers' taste.

So what are the judges looking for? Alan Stone has been making cider for 10 years, drinking it for much longer and has spent several years judging and running cider bars at the show.

Colour comes first, he explains: “It is usually clear and should be the appropriate colour.”

When tasting the cider, firstly taste it in the front of your mouth, says Alan. “The cider tastes differently in various parts of your mouth - if you just swallow it you don’t get half the taste. The ‘length’ of the taste in the throat as you swallow is another factor to consider.”

Visitors to the Show have a chance to join in with the judging by taking part in the People’s Choice Award - where members of the public can vote for their favourite ciders. There will also be cider making demonstrations.

Want to have a go? How to make cider at home

Most people make cider in the autumn for spring and summer consumption - as a rule, you should be drinking last year’s batch while this year’s batch is growing on the trees.

Firstly, wash the apples and sterilise all the equipment you will be using. You will then need to juice the apples and place them into a straining bag over a bucket.

Wild yeast naturally occurs in apples but you can add a yeast product if you wish – after the juice has drained. After half an hour stir the mixture and pour it into a demijohn. Bubbles should appear in the airlock in around a week.

Keep the demijohns in a warm place - 15-20⁰C - and after three to four months the cider should be clear. Check the specific gravity of the juice with a hydrometer prior to fermenting – this will allow you to calculate the alcoholic content at the end of fermentation – usually 6% ABV. When the hydrometer reading has dropped below around 1.004 the cider is ready to bottle and will improve with storage.

Once fermented, siphon the cider into sterilised bottles. If you want hard still cider – leave it how it is. If you want sparkling cider, bottle in champagne bottles, add half a teaspoon of white sugar per bottle and leave it for a year for a secondary fermentation.

The Royal Bath & West Show will be held on 29 May – 1 June. Competition schedules and tickets are available from the website click here or by calling 0844 776 6777.