One of the first drops of booze to touch your lips in those hedonistic days of underage drinking…cider. Fortunately for me, it wasn’t White lightening that tainted this wonderful form of booze, although White lightening was responsible for my suspension from school in which I learnt a valuable lesson: don’t mix Smirnoff in the same glass as cider!
Many a trip to the West Country has been a roaring success due to ‘scrumpy’ and I cannot think of a more fitting drink for these parts. Many’s the time I have kicked back overlooking burgh island on the devon coast with a bell jar of scrumpy sat in the crook of my elbow and enjoyed the stunning view and the joy of not being trapped in the suburban hell that is London.
The interesting thing about Devon and Cornwall is that it is a huge marketing tool for them…and why not? There are some amazing brews down there that you just wont find anywhere else, Knee bender, Cripple cock and Fowl scrumpy to name but a few.
Despite being such a big marketing ploy for West Country tourism the earliest evidence for cider comes from Sussex around the time of the Norman conquest:
“Although apple orchards were established in England by the Romans there is no evidence of cider making until the Norman Conquest. Cider making was certainly established in Europe before then. One of the earliest references to it was by Charlemagne at the beginning of the 9th century.
After the Norman Conquest there are definite records of cider production in the monasteries of England. In the main apple growing counties, including Kent, Somerset and Hampshire, most manors had their own cider presses and made their own cider. Monasteries regularly sold cider to the public. At Battle Abbey in Sussec records show that in 1369, 3 tuns of cider were sold for 55 shillings.”
The sad thing is many of us have no idea what proper cider tastes like, due to the popularity of feeble, radioactive-colored piss like Magners, Bulmers and Strongbow which have tainted our view of the good stuff. Us Brits produce 500million litres of the stuff per year!
If you want to try a descent brand then follow my namesake…Weston’s. It would be nice to be part of the family, free cider…wouldn’t get much done. But sadly I am not closely related, maybe distant cousins? But it is nice to drink something that has my name on it! Weston’s cider is the cause for the title, it IS atomic cider. It gets you rat-arsed, not tipsy, it turns you into a real dribbling fiend. Why drink it you might ask? Why not! If drunk in moderation it puts you in a super mood and makes for one hell of a good time. The heavy cider is Weston’s vintage which is about 8.2% and Old Rosie which is 7.2%...strong stuff. Drinking Cider, good cider that is, is not about getting pissed. Getting pissed is a by product but the sweet flavours and the kick of a good brew is a lifelong passion.
To end this short, somewhat pointless post I will say one thing if you want to go somewhere to have really good Sussex cider time head to Middle Farm Cider Barn (http://www.middlefarm.com) and taste your way through hundreds of authentic ciders from around the country. Oh, and make sure your not driving!