A break from rural church history and a word or two about a recent discovery that I have made that makes warm summer evenings even the more pleasurable. Little mention has been made of the fact that I enjoy good cider. By this I refer to what the Americans since Prohibition have called “hard” cider – apple juice that has been fermented into a delicious alcoholic beverage. To be sipped slowly, I hasten to add.
It probably stems from my days as an Assistant Curate in Taunton, Somerset, a town surrounded by some of the best apple orchards in the country. (But here I must pay tribute also to the juice pressed from apples picked in the Saints' parishes in Suffolk!) And the generosity of one local cider company, Sheppy's Cider, which I am happy to announce is still very successful. Each Christmas Mrs Sheppy would deliver a case of mixed vintage cider to my curate’s abode, which was very gratefully received. After services, naturally.
Since moving to the USA I have been disappointed in the selection of American cider, most of which is too sweet for the British palate. I would read of small artisan cider companies, but none of their products would reach Long Island. I even applauded the arrival of imported Bulmers Strongbow! Considering that this brew is the Budweiser of the UK cider world that’s hardly an exciting development, but any port in a storm I suppose.
But this week I noticed a new, strangely shaped container in the local wine supermarket. A cider, made in New York State by the Standard Cider Company, brewed from Long Island apples. A full 750ml brown bottle with a champagne-style wired cork. And an interesting label.
Two nights ago I sampled it. Pale yellow and perfectly dry (it describes itself as an “off-dry sparkling cider”) it was one of the best ciders I have ever supped. I’m sure that after a few slurps I could close my eyes and my imagination would transport me to a country lane in Somerset when my day off was Monday, I was only the assistant, and I didn’t have any grey hair. (So it was a long time ago then.) More please!
Oh, and the name of this cider? True Believer.