Cider Flavours …. and how we come up with them.
Working with waste fruit has its benefits. We can usually get any kind of fruit that we desire, meaning that any idea that pops into our head can become reality in a relatively short amount of time. Obviously, we’re not making banana cider (yet), but we are lucky to be able to work with a variety of fruits that we can experiment with and create something unique and delicious.
Ascension will always try to make something new and different, be that classic flavour combinations, such as apple and blackcurrant, i.e. Purple Haze, or something a little more outlandish that we find works remarkably well, such as our beloved “tangbomb” Shimmy, a pineapple and lemon blend that sold out it’s first batch in less than a day.
Most of the ciders are planned well in advance and rely on the fruit being available for when we want to blend. For instance, the new Cranberry Sour was planned last summer, having spent some warm evenings drinking Berliner Weisse. Thinking about how to create something fruity and sour, but with a dry finish, the answer seemed obvious, it just had to be cranberry. The classic dry end to a sip of cranberry juice was just what we needed.
Some ciders happen purely by chance. We never actually planned on making a pear cider, but when we were asked if we wanted two tons of pears that were otherwise headed for the landfill, we jumped at the chance and “Per” was born. Not only did we make a cider that cemented its place in our core line-up (when pears are available), but it also gave us the chance to name a cider after a legend of hot air ballooning and aviation, Per Lindstrand.
It’s a similar story with the Sussex Dabinett cider we had. A grower down the road in Bodiam had his contract cancelled by Thatchers, and now had five hundred tons of Dabinett and Michellin apples to find new homes for. Feeling bad for the guy, we ordered a meager ten tons, and seven months later, our first wild fermented single variety cider was ready.
The Wild Wood series is something that’s been in the planning since Ascension began. A barrel ageing saga that will be our take on minimal intervention cider. Simply, apples pressed and the juice transferred into a variety of oak casks, with different histories and tales to tell, then we just wait. Nothing added, nothing taken away. Once these ciders are where we want them to be, the process is a straight forward bottling into 750ml bottles, a short rest to mature in the bottle, then it’s released into the big wide world.
A great thing about being based on Ringden Farm is not just the inspiring surroundings, especially at the moment with the blossom out in full force, but the opportunities that arise. We’re becoming known in the fruit- growing as the cidery that will experiment with all kinds of apples, pears and other fruits that may pop up, a reputation that we relish. Not only does it allow us to create something new and exciting, it also gives us the chance to experiment with fruits that we’d never have had the opportunity to work with if we were based elsewhere.
As we may have said before, experimentation is one of the cornerstones of Ascension. It’s something very important to us to see how we can push the boundaries of blending, fermentation and a direct challenge to what the perception of cider is.
There are ciders that we’d never be able to make with the government’s duty restrictions essentially making a majority of the experimental ciders we dream up financially unviable, but thanks to our recent export customers, we can start these batches in earnest, knowing that we have a market for them. You never know, some may even make it through the financial barrier to be available here in the UK too.
Ascension has a scheme called “Crowdsourced Creativity”. If you have an idea for a new cider that you want to see in the UK, you can submit it *here* and if we like it and we can make it happen, we’ll immortalise you with your name on the pump clip, give you a picture on our website and ensure that your local gives you free pints!