Cider plans come to fruition

January 30 2014

OOH-ARR! Ain’t nothing like a drop of West Country scrumpy to keep a Bristolian happy.

bromley heath cider collectiveOOH-ARR! Ain’t nothing like a drop of West Country scrumpy to keep a Bristolian happy.

Or perhaps the more discerning folk of Bromley Heath might put it another way – a refreshing glass of cider is a welcomed relief to a parched throat, particularly on a glorious summer’s day.

That’s certainly the verdict of a group of residents who are hoping their love of the golden liquid will provide not only a hobby but a source of much merriment and joy.

They have decided to launch The Bromley Heath Cider Collective. The idea behind it is simple – members plant different varieties of cider apples which will then be shared at communal pressings and fermented. The finished product –aka cider - would then be distributed between members.

The idea of a cider collective came from resident Vincent Veasey who put forward his plan on the Bromley Heath Community Notice Board on Facebook.

He was surprised at how much interested it generated.

Vincent, 41, an engineer at Rolls Royce Naval Marine, said: “I never used to like cider because all I’d tried was Strongbow and Magners. It wasn’t until I tried proper Scrumpy-type cider, which is flat not fizzy, that I thought ‘I quite like this!’

“Although you can make any cider out of any apple you can't always make good cider so I thought if people could grow different varieties of cider apples all the different flavours could be mixed up, like a proper cider company would. We could then share it out.

 “With all the creative people in the area I just knew there would be someone out there who would be of a similar mind. This is when I had the idea of putting The Bromley Heath Cider Collective to the community via Heath Board.

“There was an unprecedented response so much so that I was quite taken aback. Many people wanted to know more. Some people expressed an interest but confessed to not having the space to plant a tree.”

It didn’t take long before plans progressed to planting suitable apple trees at the community orchard at Leap Valley.

The proposal has already been put forward to South Gloucestershire Council via Downend and Bromley Heath parish councillor Mary Lewis and members of the collective are now waiting to hear back. 

However dad-of-three Vincent said the collective will still go ahead as there is enough interest from people who already have apple trees in their gardens or who are prepared to plant their own trees.

 “We’re just waiting for the council to give us the go-head and show us where we can plant. The people can then go up any time and put their trees in. It will be their  own responsibility to sponsor the tree, collect it and plant it. There is a risk of other people coming along and taking the apples but the apples aren’t that palatable if someone were to just knock the tree and eat one.

“I’ve had six people come forward who want to plant trees in their gardens so if we don’t get permission to plant in the community orchard it won’t stop what we want to do.”

Vincent said creating the perfect cider was all about coming up with the right mix of apple.

“Most good ciders are a mix of several varieties of cider apples and with one it would be good, but not excellent. If more people could plant other varieties in their gardens then this would provide the mix that might just produce a great cider.”

Vincent said the collective was a long-term commitment.

“If people plant a tree, it won’t be until five years plus before they are going to have decent apples. People need to commit to the project which will bear fruit – no pun intended - over the long term.

“Cider making is a simple process – you just crush and press the apples and just leave them to go off. 

“You don’t even have to add anything to it – it just goes off on its own. You just have to have the gear to store it and ensure everything is clean – cleanliness is paramount to ensure it doesn’t go off and turn into vinegar or anything nasty.”

bromley heath cider collective vincent veasey