This is the big one. What is cider? Is it the refreshing cool fizzy pint in the Bricklayers on a Friday night? Is it the hazy, flat, warm flagon, still with bits of Slack-ma-Girdle (no, not the band, nor the urban dictionary version), floating in it , down the Cock and Tractor on a Wednesday afternoon, after a long day of moving some hay around and talking to the cows?
Is it the 99p per litre bottle of extra strong pish from the corner shop on a Monday morning? (We all have to start somewhere)
Well, let’s start at the start.
Cider is made by picking apples, pressing them in a big squashy thing, leaving the juice to go bad, sticking it in an old barrel, to make it taste like wood, then mixing it with other old juice from apples with mental names, and chucking it in a big mug.
Another way to make cider is to ferment some corn syrup, add some concentrated apple juice, Nutrasweet, sugar, and sulphites (those lovely preservatives that cause sneezing, rashes and other allergies), put it through a Soda Stream and stick it in a tin showing a lovely rural scene of apple orchards. Well, at least this is how some mainstream/keg/industrial ciders are made according the the Real Cider website.
Any clearer on what a cider is now? There’s only one way to settle this. FIGHT!
Dunkerton’s ‘Black Fox’ arrives slowly from Herefordshire in his old John Deere. He chews on a piece of hay and spits on the ground. Up the lane, rocks Scrumpy Jack, as his friends call him, gets out of a scratched up Vauxhall Nova, needing a haircut, and spit just because he can, but it slides embarrassingly down his chin.
First up is Jack the Lad. He thinks he’s all Dabinett and Chisel Jersey (cider apple types), at 6% , you can’t rule out his cider sense potential. However, he arrived in a tin. and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) claim he is not a real cider. A contradiction to Jack’s tin, which shows a basket of apples in an orchard (awww, bless).
Jack swings a punch, it’s a slightly bitter, dry hit. You don’t notice it at first, and after a few knocks, it’s easy to take. Mind you, after a few rounds with Jack, he might catch you unaware, and take your legs from under you, while you’re at the urinal.
The Black Fox looks unimpressed. He spits out the barley from his mouth, slowly steps down from his vintage tractor and squares up to the youngster. His kick in the gob is much heavier, and he wears an equally heavy scent.
Black Fox is a stronger cider, and it wouldn’t take long to knock the cider sense out of little Jack, unfortunately, the CAMRA police arrive to break up the fight, and take Black Fox off for questioning on suspicion of carbonation, filtering and sulphite abuse, but release him due to the fact that everyone else is doing it too, he heads of for one more at the Stick and Squirrel and wakes up naked, in an unfamiliar cowshed at 5am.
Meanwhile, Jack produces documents from his worn-out undergarments to show that since 2010 he’s been required to be at least 35% apple juice, so he’s let off with a caution, and heads off back to the student union, before some chips in a pitta with burger sauce for £1.50.
You see, there’s a place for all kinds of cider. If all ciders were ‘real cider’ we’d all have a lovely afternoon but lose our memories, and crash the combine harvester. If all ciders were like Jack, we’d have a cheap night out, and still be able to go do our shift in the Co-op in the morning, but would get a bit bored in the end.
So I hope the differences between ciders are now as clear as Diamond White (who, incidentally, missed out on the fight, after falling asleep in Trafalgar Square).