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Cider Country Talk
October 14, 2021 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
James Crowden in conversation with Martin Hesp for Shute Festival. Online via Crowdcast
Cider-making has been at the heart of country life for hundreds of years. But the fascinating story of how this drink came into existence and why it became so deeply rooted in the nation’s psyche has never been told. In order to answer these questions, James Crowden traces an elusive history stretching back to the ancient civilisations of Central Asia and the Mediterranean – and even the wild apple forests of Kazakhstan. After its arrival on Western shores, the exotic fruit was warmly embraced by monastic communities in Britain; monks were some of the earliest cider makers and planted some of the oldest orchards. But the nation’s love-affair with cider didn’t fully blossom until after the reformation, when the thirst for knowledge about the drink was at its peak. This infatuation with experimentation would lead to remarkable innovations and the creation of a ‘sparkling cider’, a technique that pre-dated Dom Pérignon’s champagne by forty years – a story which still gives the French a run for their money. The Cider drinker has never been far from controversy and has taken various guises throughout time; pirates and privateers in search of the unknown world, or politicians keen to win the favour of their fellow parliamentarians. The beverage has also played a revolutionary role, as the cyder riots of 1763 would prove. Turning to the present day, Crowden meets the next generation of cider makers and unearths a unique philosophy that has been shared through the ages. In the face of real challenges, these enterprising artisan craft cider companies are still finding new ways to produce this golden drink that is enjoyed by so many. Full of subtle flavours and remarkable characters, Cider Country is the unusual and enthralling story of Cider and the remarkable people who have made it. James will be in conversation with writer and journalist Martin Hesp.