Now that we are into the middle of September and apple picking season is just a couple weeks away, we are in the final (kind of) gasping moments of our 2017 cider processing. It’s a good time to reflect back on the last year of being cider producers and to think about what the future may hold for a teeny-tiny cider producer in South London.
This was our first real year of producing cider for commercial sale. Overall we would say it’s gone better than expected. The response from drinkers of Duckchicken has been overall positive. What has inspired us the most is the response from people who do not normally drink cider and them having a change of opinion on what cider can be. Many conversations going like this: “No, it doesn’t have to be sweet to taste fruity. Yes it does taste like juice, but it is 7% so don’t drink it like juice please. You will be sad tomorrow.” The response from some cider drinkers has not been as positive, but we don’t agree with many of these people on what good cider is, so we don’t feel too badly.
So we’ve tallied up a bit of our sales for the year. We’ve been on at six different pubs, five in London, and seven different beer and cider festivals with at least two more festivals lined up in the coming weeks. Cider has also been shared amongst friends at a wedding in Oklahoma and Somerset. For only producing 1500 litres, we are pleased with the way we have been able share our cider far wider than we thought.
Our highlight was having our friends over a few weeks ago for a fresh hopped cider party. Colleen has been growing hops for the last 5 years and has been dutifully moving her Cascade hop rhizome to all the places she has lived (3). We now have Cascade and Chinook growing in our tiny garden, which by August every year becomes inundated with hop bines. The garden is absolutely gorgeous in this state. Well, as gorgeous as a tiny little South London garden can be. So at the party, were were serving our cider kegged and run through an infuser packed with freshly picked hops. Wow, what we had was next level good. And we say that knowing there are some other really good hopped ciders out there. On the day we had a few other ciders out, but we all kept going back to the hopped Duckchicken. We think we may be on to something here. Recently we have experimented with kegging our cider and we are really happy with the taste. It’s early days with kegging, but we would like to be able to sell our cider in various formats and containers to accommodate all the places we would love to see our cider on. Look for some big sharing bottles sometime this winter too.
Going forward into the Autumn of 2018 we have placed orders for a few more tanks with Vigo presses, bringing our total production potential up to 2000 litres. With six apple picking days provisionally booked, we should be able to get to capacity with the help of our lovely friends and family. That’s 33% more Duckchicken Cider!
We would like to thank all the great people we have met in the past year in both the cider and beer communities. We have been (mostly) welcomed with open arms, despite us being very awkward and quiet. Honestly, we can’t believe we get to be a part of this vibrant community, especially here in London. You can count on us to keep trying to improve our cider and, albeit in a tiny way, change the perception of what cider can be. To all those cider producers who are just getting into the thick of it, best of luck to you on your 2018 harvest, pressing and fermenting. Cheers!