Walk and tour around The Orgasmic Cider Company, 26th October 2013
On a lovely Saturday October afternoon, twelve of our members arrived to have a tour of a family run Cider Co. The weather was very kind to us and made the walk around the orchards even more enjoyable. We were greeted by Steve Layton who runs and manages the business with his brother. Cider making has been in the family for several generations and his Great Grandfather supplied cider to a hotel in Cardiff, but generally back then it was purely for the farm hands consumption and not a commercial business as it is today.
Steve took us first to the “old orchard”, this area is organic and farmed in the old ways. Some of the trees were over 35 years old, as they bowed under the weight of their fruit it was like being back in time. The ankle deep grass under foot just added to the atmosphere , glad we all brought boots! His brother was in the distance shaking boughs to drop the apples, as these are organically grown the fruit scab was obvious on the apples but Steve reassured us that the scab does not harm the cider in fact it enhances it and as cider is so acid it would kill off any bacteria that got in it.
As the sun shone we were captivated by a late dragonfly flying around us and a small frog jumping in the grass. Wildlife has its disadvantages though as Steve took us across the road to the commercial side he told us of how the rabbits, hares and deer can ruin trees, in fact the hares have even been clever enough to peel back the protective wire net around the trunks of these newly planted trees. This area was a huge contrast, the trees were in rows all 9 ft. apart and standing to attention at certain height for the machinery to pick the crop, all Steve and his brother had to do here was to cultivate the trees and pick the fruit to send to the huge concern of Bulmers. He walked us round a wide range of types of apple from Gala to Blenheim Oranges , the smell of the fallen apples fermenting on the ground was intoxicating. He had twelve beehives at the back of this orchard to help with the pollination and also sold the honey. We then came to a clearing and were in awe of the most magnificent oak tree of several hundred years old, which put the whole orchard in its place, it was gigantic.
Back on the farm, we went into the factory area, it was like a huge kitchen in a hanger with vats of cider & perry bubbling away. Some machinery newly acquired to make the filling of the bottles and labelling less time consuming but on the whole the process was very much hands on, including the pasteurising. They kept the amount of cider made to 70,000 gallons as this stopped the Custom & Excise taxing them, it was also more manageable for the two of them
Steve opened a selection of his ciders, perry , pear & apple juice for us to taste . . . They were superb and his blending of types of apples had certainly paid off as he had won a couple of prizes the day before at the Brecon Food show. The members then went into his shop area and many of us purchased Christmas presents, or so they implied! The afternoon ended with a vote of thanks from Mark Wheatland to Steve, a very happy bunch of members. We thoroughly recommend you calling in on a Saturday & sampling for yourself. Review: Nancy Wheatland
Yes, a small word, yet it means such a lot to the competent running of the Society. If you have forgotten to pay, please remember now and send your £10 to our treasurer, John Potts. If you mean to resign, which we sincerely hope is not the case, please give John a ring so that, sadly, your name will be removed from our Members’ List.
Dr. Rerrie’s interesting review of this talk by Cyril Jones will be published in the next Bulletin.
Social & Quiz
As you were reminded in the last Bulletin, please be aware of this entertaining event! The faithful among you will remember to bring along something for the table and a prize for the raffle. We rely a lot on the weather, so please send up your wishes for a dry, still evening. The date, once again, is Friday December 6th at the Primary school at 7.30. Please come along.
Editor: Vera Harrison