Woodley Sider started back in 2007 as an attempt to make something with the excess number of apples from my garden. Not being able to eat raw apples and there only being so many apple pies/crumbles you can cope with the next logical thing was to see what other uses of apples there were, hence cider!
So borrowing an old fruit press from my Dad, acquiring a number of demi johns off freecycle, purchasing a couple of fermenting bins plus another few bits and bobs I set to work with the help of my younger brother. After reading up a bit on cider making and the fact that your first batch is likely to be pretty awful, we were surprised when the end result was actually not bad – a little on the dry sider, but not as awful as we thought it might be.
Since then, year by year, I’ve purchased new equipment (new press, apple crusher) which has helped speed up the process. I’ve also sourced additional apples (of varying varieties) in an attempt to offer more variations of Woodley Sider – both in taste and strength (although the later is better influenced by the addition of extra sugar).
Most of my cider is stored in Bag-in-box containers (5 and 10 ltr) with some bottled (but bottling is a bit of a fiddly process and requires quite a bit of extra time to sort out).
The set up hasn’t really changed – it’s a garage/back garden set up, however all equipment is sterilised to stop those nasty bugs ruining the product.
In the past I’ve supplied cider to a regular beer festival down in the New Forest, however recently their brewery has clamped down on that. This year saw the first (of many I hope) appearance of Woodley Sider at the Reading CAMRA Beer & Cider Festival in May, as well as the Reading Ale And Jazz (RAAJ) Festival in July.
Last year I started to experiment a bit more with the cider production, adding some additional ingredients (i.e. raisins, brown sugar, whiskey oak barrel chips to name a few) and will be dong something similar this year (2013) too based on the success from 2012. Details of these will feature in the blog space (home) as and when they are produced.