I’ll admit it: I have a soft spot for cider. While I wasn’t exactly weaned on it, growing up in Somerset, in England’s West Country, cider was pretty hard to ignore. And I do recall my first encounter with Scrumpy quite vividly—well, almost.
The West Country is filled with cider related legends, including the likes of Adge Cutler and the Wurzels. Their notoriety blossomed when they became one of the first groups to be banned by the BBC, who found their cider fueled lyrics somewhat inappropriate.
Adge was a colourful character who lived hard and died too young. Among many jobs, he worked at Coates Cider and at one time was famed clarinetist Acker Bilk’s road manager. Adge and his band were truly popular on the local pub circuit, and then some.
One of his more celebrated ditties was “Drink Up Thy Zyder”, which may well have been one of his cleaner efforts! Anyway, it was all very much part of our local cider lore, which gave rise to the Coates slogan: “Oy cum up from Zummerzet, where the Zyder apples grow.”
The flip side song that got the Beeb’s knickers in a twist was “Twice Daily” – which Wikipedia rightly describes as:
“Perhaps one of Adge’s best known and loved songs, it was released as a B-Side … of “Drink up thy Zyder” in 1967. Deemed too raunchy and banned by the BBC, it tells the story of a farm labourer who begins a physical relationship with a female co-worker called ‘Lucy Bailey’. (“She ups ‘n slips, zummat rips, I went there Twice Daily!”). This results in her pregnancy and a subsequent Shotgun wedding arranged by her father. All ends happily however, since they spend 40 years together and produce a further 9 children, with no apparent slowdown in the physical side of the relationship either. (“Tho’ I’m old and grey when I gets me way, I still go there Twice Daily..”).
But I digress.
BC’s Cider Revolution
Meanwhile, back in BC, while Craft Beer is booming, Craft Cider is also on a considerable roll. We’ve suffered too long at the hands of the big name producers who still turn out overly sweet imitations that cater largely to the cooler market. Happily, there are now a growing number of utterly appealing alternatives…
Hot off the press from Naramata Cider Company (a newly launched offshoot of Dal and Miranda Halliday’s successful Elephant Island Winery) is a trio of fun and tasty ciders that cater to a wide cross section of tastes.
These are clean flavoured drops, in 750 ml. bottles, all made with local, Naramata fruit. They include a dry styled Apple Cider, that will appeal to cider purists, ($14.19); a dry pear that’s way less pear-y than your typical commercial brands ($14.19) ; and a pretty, fun, orchard/floral apple and blackberry blend that will lean a little towards more off dry preferences. $15.59. Think cheese plates or just fun sipping.
The last couple of times we’ve found ourselves in Similkameen we’ve stopped by Twisted Hills Craft Cider. Turn off the main Highway at Lowe Drive and follow the signs to find cider maker Kaylan Madeira and partner Jo Schneider farm cidery. They’re also producing some excellent, true apple ciders. Dry styled Pippin’s Fate is a superb quencher on a hot day, while Tangled Rose (which blends organic cider apples with organic Santa Rosa plums) make for a delicious stand-in for an off-dry rosé). You can find them at better private beer and wine stores, as well as on some restaurant lists.
However, while BC Craft Cider may now be working its well deserved way into the public consciousness, I somehow doubt it will ever achieve the truly ethereal, heady cultural heights enjoyed by Scrumpy …
For all you legions of diehard Adge Cutler fans, here’s a must read—and a must listen: