Friday, 11 July 2008

Cider Jar of the Month

Well, what can I say about this blast from the past...

Langdons were a well regarded traditional cidermaker based at Hewish, near the tourist hot-spot of Weston-Super-Mare in Somerset, and produced a range of 'Fine Farmhouse Ciders' principally for this huge seaside tourist trade. Langdons were listed in a couple of the early cider guides, including David Kitton's Traditional Cider Directory (1984), but not in Ted Bruning's CAMRA Guide to Real Cider (1996). A relatively short stay for a business making several thousand gallons a year and with a captive market, though competition has always been fierce around this part of Somerset.

Interestingly, the Cripple Cock brand appears to pre-date Langdons, with John Dix of Dixie's Fine Cider producing a cider of the same name up until the mid-80's. John Dix plied his trade in the heart of Bristol, not too far from Langdons, and was a well known character and advocate of traditional cidermaking and orcharding. It is of course quite possible that Langdons bought or inherited the brand when John Dix ceased pressing, and similarly, when Langdons threw in the towel the Cripple Cock brand was perhaps deemed too sale-worthy to let die, and was relocated even further into the West Country of Devon.

A bottled cider bearing the label 'Cripple Cock Farmyard Scrumpy', which features the same one-legged rooster on the label, can still be found in supermarkets and tourist traps throughout the West-Country. It's now produced by the Fowlers Scrumpy Co, a Cornish producer who's other products include the 'hilariously' named Fowl Scrumpy and Scrumpy Willey (ahem!)

These quirkily named ciders don't appeal much to me. They perpetuate an image of cider which is rooted in the bad old days of rough farm scrumpy, and drinking the strongest tipple available as an aid to getting as drunk as possible. However, they do seem to come from quite a long and (dis)honorable West-Country tradition, one which continues to this day. Perhaps when Fowlers have finished with it, they'll be looking to hand on their one-legged Rooster brand to another willing cidermaker. We'll be sticking with Diana's lovely apple logo for now, we think it sends out the right kind of message. Our cider is made from Apples, and definitely not Fowl!


spooky said...

I remember Dixie's from Bristol and have half a dozen of his original pottery mugs which have the cripple cock emblem on.

Mark said...

Pictures please Spooky. What was the origin of the eponymous 'Cripple Cock' I wonder?