Cider from the Garden of England
The first apples are believed to have been cultivated in Britain by the Romans, brought over from their wild origins in Central Asia. These early orchards would have disappeared again with the legions that tended to them and it wasn’t until the Normans invaded that cultivation began to grow again.
Early maps show a ‘pomarium’ at St Augustine’s abbey in Canterbury as early as 1165. And it was these monastic orchards that spread the culture of growing and no doubt cider and wine making practices too.
Kent has always been at the heart of apple farming in the UK and is still the number one apple growing region. Its location near to London and the continent, combined with its warm climate and rich soil make it the ideal place.
You can roughly divide apples into three categories:
Dessert - Those bred for eating (eg Cox, Braeburn)
Culinary – Those bred for cooking (eg Bramley)
Cider – Those bred for cider making (eg Dabinett)
You can make high quality cider from all of these types!
Cider making in Kent is as old as the practice of growing apples and the region’s style of cider is centred on dessert and culinary apples.
Dessert apples have the abundant characteristic of being fruity, bred over centuries for their sweetness, aromatics and crisp acidity.
Culinary apples are generally much sharper with high acid levels and a good tough skin. Acidity is a crucial component of cider making.
Cider apples come both sweet and sharp, with their defining character coming from the higher tannin levels. Tannin leads to bitter flavours and an astringent (drying) character which both help to add body to the resulting drink.
Kentish Cider traditionally made from dessert and culinary varieties has a more white wine like character with fresh acidity, a lighter colour and a bright clean fruity character.
At Kentish Pip we use all three of these types to create our products. High Diver was designed to be the archetypal Kentish Cider made from Cox and Bramley balancing the vibrant acidity in the Bramley and aromatic fruit character from the Cox. Skylark on the other hand is a modern fusion combining Cox with a blend of heritage bitter sweet and bitter sharp cider apples which we also grow at Woolton Farm.
Kentish cider is on the rise. The new lexicon of cider promoted by Gabe Cook (aka The Ciderologist) terms cider made from dessert and culinary apples as ‘Modern Cider’ and popular taste and an international marketplace has brought a resurgence of this style.
The tradition of Kentish Cider has been continued by many local producers. Now there is a resurgence in the region with many pubs, restaurants and micro pubs making a success of a wide range of Kentish ciders in traditional, modern and many other styles.
We love the thought that Kentish Pip grows apples and makes cider just three miles from that first 12th Century orchard planted in St Augustine's Abbey and now our range of craft keg, bag in box and 330ml can cider is at the cutting edge of the cider revolution. Find out more or get in contact to find your route to market on our trade page