The Cider Box story starts in a sleepy pocket of South Somerset: Galhampton- a tiny village famed for being surrounded by apple trees. Each house was said to have it’s own orchard, and make its own cider back in the 18th century. My childhood home, I was lucky to grow up surrounded by fruit bearing trees, we had an orchard at the bottom of our garden, but it was the neighbours that fed my curious little mind more:
Showerings to my right- who would use scary looking big grabbing claw machines to grab and shake the trees in their perfect lines, with mechanical rigour, making it rain apples. To my left an old chap’s orchard- Edgar Harding, who, to the aghast of any advice on propagation and tree management, hammered some wooden steps to a couple of his trees for me to climb up, and shake the branches for him. The orchard had sheep in, so there was the added excitement of running from a ram now and then. You can guess which orchard I preferred. I’d help collect apples for Edgar, for the tasty sum of 50p per full sack. On a good day, one could make 3 or 4 quid- high rollin’ when the only expenses an 8 year old had was lego and sweets.
Galhampton, 1870. Look at those tasty orchards.
The flirtations with cider continued through the years- from the first drop of scrumpy in my teens, through to seeking Somerset cider whilst at university in the North, a reminder me of home when so far away, through to trying, and failing to find a good pint of cider when living in London, which in the mid 2000s is where this all begun- the eternal search for a good drop of cider in our cities. Ideas were scratched onto beer mats, flagons bought up from Uncle Roger Wilkins [ i suspect there’s a few who call him Uncle Roger, my story more tenuous than most] for house parties and so on.
A few years in the music industry invited a moment or 6 of self reflection, and an opportunity to take a hard long look at oneself led to thinking back to the days of orchards, apples, rural pastures and the original quest- to bring brilliant cider into the city, and question poorly made industrial muck that bore no resemblance to the real thing. So, late 2012, plans were drawn up, notes on beer mats morphed into excel sheets, ideas thrashed out with the pubs I’d imbibed in for many a year. By the new year of 2013, landing back into Somerset, the mission started.
Our first event menu- 2013 @ The Queen of Hoxton Rooftop
One of the bars we first delivered to asked if we could bring more than just cider up from Somerset- they wanted cheese, haybales, a hog roast and a folk band. We obliged, and so was spawned the world’s first cider events & distribution company.
London: No decent cider pre-2013
Fast forward 7 years- we’ve taken the cider vs cheese thing to Chicago, run events on rooftops, in tipis, on boats, steam trains, in caves and tunnels. We’ve worked with festivals including festivals including Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party, Shindig, Port Eliot, Shambala, Noisily, Arcadia, Boomtown and more, and now we’re putting the finishing touches to Bristol’s first ever Cider Tap Room. We continue on our mission to seek provenance, craft, heritage and magic through the fermented fruit- Join us on our journey.
Dan Heath, May 2020