I often find when I meet cider makers and enthusiasts they seem a little surprised. ‘You’re younger than I thought’ or ‘You’re quite normal, actually’ are phrases I’ve heard more than once. So I thought I’d use my first blog post to explain how a lad from Kent in his mid twenties came to be a real cider enthusiast.
My cider journey started with the British tradition of being a curious teenager, in search his first alcoholic buzz. I quickly discovered that beer and I weren’t going to be friends (something which is true to this day). By all rights, my first experience of cider should have put me off. It was in my Dad’s garden, being offered a taste from a crumpled, mostly empty bottle of warm, flat Strongbow. As you can imagine, this did not excite the taste buds.
Cider was going through huge changes in my late teens. Magners and their massive marketing campaign started to transform cider into a trendy drink. I remember being 16 at my rugby awards night; the tables covered with pint bottles and glasses filled with ice for the guys lucky enough to have come of age. It was all very intriguing. That was until I tried it… Overly sweet, bland, very fizzy. Why is this so popular? Maybe cider wasn’t for me…
Looking back, its funny to think how Blackthorn Dry was quite a turning point. Finally, something with aroma, a bit of oomf and my first mouth drying experience from a cider. It was different, I liked it! But a camping holiday in Devon changed everything. My first taste of real cider was from a glass flagon of Heron Valley Dry. The flavor was shocking. In fact I don’t think I wanted to have another mouthful to begin with. It was like going from Dairy Milk to 80% cacao bar of bitter dark chocolate. It was intense and intriguing, and I think this profound memory is why I find ciders with a phenolic, medicinal twang so appealing. So there’s something to this appley drink, it’s not all sweet and fizzy. That’s where the ball started rolling.
Ever since, I have been growing my knowledge of cider.
My own little library of cider books continues to grow steadily. I’ve been dabbling with cider making, from ‘turbo cider’ made from cheapest supermarket juice, to pressing local apples and fermenting real cider. Not to forget the constant search for new and interesting ciders to taste and share with others. It’s a full blown passion. I am now 24, living in the West Country and surrounded by glorious cider makers. Lucky chap!
With this blog, I will be posting my cidery thoughts, ideas and experiences. I hope you enjoy!