A MUSICIAN who rubbed shoulders with the great and good of the 90s Britpop scene is pressing ahead with his new career as a Herefordshire-based craft cider producer.

Alex Culpin was a member of indie band Tiny Monroe who played at Glastonbury, performed with the likes of Suede, Radiohead and Herefordshire's own Pretenders, and appeared on MTV.

But having swapped adulation for apples, the 46-year-old is already gaining a reputation as a fine cider producer after setting up Ty Gwyn Cider, which started life near Monmouth but is now based at Pen Y Lan Farm in Pontrilas and believes the county is ripe with great produce.

"I think people are just a bit bored of going into a pub and seeing the same old mega brands that are everywhere," he said.

"Herefordshire is a great area. We should never stop shouting as loud as we can about it. There are a lot of great rural producers for people to immerse themselves in."

Cider has long been popular in Herefordshire but has become fashionable in many other areas of the country in recent years.

"I think it kind of started when Magners spent millions marketing it. It sort of made it fashionable again."

Mr Culpin runs the venture with his wife, Laura, a lecturer in animal care at Herefordshire & Ludlow College.

They bought the farm as a derelict wreck a year ago. Now, their products are stocked in a number of Waitrose stores and Michelin-starred restaurants, and was recently mentioned on BBC Radio 2's Simon Mayo Show.

He presses the locally-grown apples himself and makes all the cider by hand.

"I've just bought a belt press and you have to buy all your vats and fruits each year, as well as bottling. But you do it because you love it," he said.

His range includes three types of lightly sparkling wine, a medium dry, medium sweet and still draught cider.

His love for cider began when his stepfather, who grew cider apples for Bulmers, and other large cider companies, made a batch of cider himself.

The business is a far cry from Mr Culpin's heyday with the four-piece Tiny Monroe. He says he and a bandmate were huge Pretenders fans and describes it as a dream to come true to support them.

"Every night on their ‘Last of the Independents’ tour, once we'd finished our set we'd sneak up and find an empty box in whatever theatre we were playing and watch them from on high, Jon (the band's drummer) taking notes on Martin’s drumming.

"I've offered him a free flagon of cider if he’s ever passing but he hasn’t been in yet."

Part of the business includes a rustic farm shop, a stone's throw from Rowlestone Ice Cream's base.

"We opened last summer and are hoping for a bumper visitor season this year," said Mr Culpin.

"We really believe in being part of the Herefordshire 'foodie tourism scene' and with our friends at Rowlestone Ice Cream just down the road we really believe that we can lure many serious food and drink fans to the area."

The shop is open Wednesday to Saturday 10am-6pm, and on Sundays and Bank Holidays 11am - 5pm.