Knee-Jerk Whinging About Cider

Old scrumpy Cider barrelA while ago I posted a comment on my Gloucester Pubs Facebook Page to highlight a couple of items of cider related pub news. It quickly generated a comment which both annoyed me and got me thinking.

The comment in question was along the lines of “I hope they’ve got some proper cider, not the usual fizzy rubbish”

On the one hand, I have a good deal of sympathy with this comment: decent cider is generally difficult to come by, akin to what I imagine it was like trying to find good real ale in the 1970s. Being a recently enforced convert to the fermented juice of the apple I all too often find myself, even in pubs with a good range of real ales, having to endure the dubious pleasure of the ubiquitous Strongbow, Stowford Press or similar big brands which appear to have only a passing acquaintance with the apple.

This is criminal, especially in my neck of the woods (Gloucestershire), which should be in the heartland of the traditional cider industry.

So why did the comment annoy me?

Well, I don’t wish to alienate someone willing to post on my page – I get precious few of them! – but it annoyed me for two reasons. Firstly, my post was talking about a cider festival at the Queen’s Head in Kingsholm and the re-opening of the Coach and Horses, also in Kingsholm, as a cider pub called the Cider Tree. It should have been clear, to even a casual glance, that real cider was the order of the day. It even included a link to an article talking about the wide range of both draught and bottled ciders at the Cider Tree. So, the commenter couldn’t possibly have read the article, or even my brief post, properly before commenting.

But my greater annoyance was caused by seeing this as a perfect (if mild) example of the knee-jerk whinge reaction which seems so prevalent, especially amongst those who habitually comment on social media and, even more especially it seems, those who come from Gloucester.

These people don’t want to know facts or details. They are not going to give any benefit of the doubt. They are just going to assume, like Marvin the Paranoid Android, that they’ve seen it all before and “it’s rubbish”.

If you like real cider and people are going out of their way to provide it surely your first reaction should be to support it!

As it turns out, both were excellent, so ya, boo and sucks to knee-jerk whingers,

But as I was inwardly railing in what was probably a completely over-the-top manner against this throw away comment, I also got to thinking. I too have been known to indulge in a little knee-jerk whinging about the ‘fizzy rubbish’ that passes for cider. I show a great deal of disdain for the increasing number of bottled designer ciders that seem to spring up on an almost daily basis and I positively bristle when asked if I want my cider poured over ice – whose idea was that!

However, since turning reluctantly to cider drinking, I find myself in the unaccustomed position of riding the crest of a trend: cider drinking has suddenly become very popular. Yes, much of it is of the designer brand type, but increasingly this is having a knock on effect of creating increased demand, and therefore supply, of the proper stuff.

Hence the recent prevalence of cider festivals and the re-branding of the Coach and Horses as The Cider Tree. Cider isn’t as diverse or as available as real ale yet, but it is definitely making steps in the right direction.

And what do we have to thank for this? I fear the answer is Magners. Over ice…



About Darrel Kirby

I am what I am.
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8 Responses to Knee-Jerk Whinging About Cider

  1. Michael Hall says:

    Whilst working in a Herefordshire pub I was amazed by this sudden enthusiam for flavoured Swedish cider and cider from ireland. Fast growing UK bottled Cider sales have opened the door to Stella Artois and now Carling Cider (god help us all) and so with only the aid of carefully financed and considered advertising the people of Herefordshire sought products which could only damage their existing local industry.
    Imagine a Frenchman furnishing his baguette with Double Gloucester or stinking Bishop?
    Cider has a specific identity to Somerset and Herefordshire in particular and Gloucestershire is ideally located to enjoy the fruits of their presses and indeed bear its own fruit. We need the village idiot comment “none of that fizzy rubbish” in order to retain the qualities our local environments provide. This brainless comment expressed the deep rooted sense of loyalty which has been lost on so many who cannot recognise the traditions of their heritage, surely the comment which should irk us all is “two bottles of Kopperburg please and some Norwegian Yarl”

    • Michael Hall says:


    • Darrel Kirby says:

      I fully agree that this over-hyped, over-marketed designer cider is a travesty of the cider maker’s art – much of it barely contains an apple! – and those who drink it in preference to real English cider should hang their heads in shame. However, I have also observed that since its rise in popularity the decent stuff has been much more readily available. Drawing causal links may be a dangerous thing but it seems coincidental. Now the hope is that people will wean themselves off the fizzy rubbish and onto the good stuff, although based on the fact people still drink lager perhaps we shouldn’t hold out too much hope…

      • Michael Hall says:

        How truly and squarely this bring us to Real ale makes me shudder with excitement ( even though I though I’d given excitement up for lent in 1986). Has years of inferior beer brought us to this point where the renaissance is growing more powerful every day? Of course it has!, does being forced to drink nitrogen infused pasteurised ale make the meek finally take control over the stupidly strong? “Don’t make me stand up sweet lips”, of course it bloody well does!!!!!!!! Education is a tool rarely afforded to the beer and cider industry despite the educated palettes which often imbibe it, are we really ready for the consequences of intelligent licensees and talented brewers? “By heck me darling that mans wavin at us”…………………………….

  2. Darrel Kirby says:

    Have you been on the rum again Michael?

  3. Michael Hall says:

    Beware the Kraken!!!!!

  4. Mark Trotman says:

    In a similar vein, what of the recent resurgence of the humble perry? Who in the area is going to supply the brewer the pear now that the old orchards are no more? I’m making hay while the sun shines on this one. Drink it while it’s still available I say.

    • Darrel Kirby says:

      Agree – it is a shame when these traditionals go away because you can’t get them back. Most of the modern ‘perry’ or ‘pear ciders’ are a bigger affront to the name than the designer ciders.

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