Ballooning & Cider
The coming together of two passions.
Hot air ballooning started early in my life, in fact some of my first memories are sat in a basket, flying over the Sussex countryside, staring out onto the patchwork of fields and the downs rolling on the horizon. My grandad bought a hot air balloon shortly before I was born, and I’ve never been far from a basket ever since.
I started training for my pilots license in earnest around the same time I set up Ascension. I joined up with a friend from my ballooning childhood and we went around the country, flying all over the place and building up my hours and honing my skills.
During this time, I was also doing the same with Ascension. I had a vision and I had to develop my skills in order to get the result I wanted. Weirdly, a lot of the lessons I had learned in ballooning could be transferred over to cider. Patience is a virtue in both worlds, rush into either without prior planning and preparation and you are in for a bad time!
Ballooning is all about reading the weather, plotting a course, and using nature to govern where your destination is. There is little you can do to steer the balloon when airborne, but you can use the winds to guide you towards your destination, often with great accuracy.
The freedom, and use of what nature provides, is what I love about ballooning. You are at the mercy of Mother Nature. If she changes her mind, there is little you can do apart from go with it and look for a new place to land.
Cider is much the same really. With our wild fermentation, we press, we transfer the juice into tank and we wait. Sometimes the cider ferments rapidly and the journey is over quickly. Sometimes the cider takes its time and we’re left waiting to see what emerges, but that’s the nature of working with wild yeasts. You’re left at the mercy of Mother Nature, she decides where you end up and how long it takes you to get there.
Sure, we could add our own yeasts, fly planes, use acids and sugars to create a “normal” cider, but that’s just not what we’re about. Nothing against those who choose to do these things, it would certainly add an element of certainty and conformity, but Mother Nature knows what she’s doing and she hasn’t let us down yet.