Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Cider Jar of the Month - Symonds' Scrumpy Jack

Herefordshire cidermaker Symonds' was established in 1727, and stayed a relatively small, and well respected family concern until 1984 when the company was purchased, and massively expanded by Cheshire brewer Greenall Whitley. Only four years later the fully modernised ciderworks at Stoke Lacy was sold on by Greenalls to H.P. Bulmer, along with the Symonds' brands which included Scrumpy Jack.

Scrumpy Jack was one of the most popular of the old Symonds' brands, and therefore ripe for development as a national brand. Sadly the popular traditional version of this cider died with the closure of the old Symonds' site in the 90's, and we are now left with the keg national version which is really nothing to write home about.

The image on these lovely little cider jars is of the horse-drawn cider mill which graced the frontage of the old Symonds' ciderworks. These old mills litter the Herefordshire countryside, though very few indeed are still used for their original purpose. At best they stand as monuments to a once proud tradition of rural cidermaking, many more are planted up with flowers in peoples front gardens!

The Symonds' story is not all bad news though, the old ciderworks at Stoke Lacy is now occupied by the award-winning Wye Valley Brewery, brewers of one of my favourite beers, the pale and hoppy Hereford Pale Ale. But perhaps even better news is that the family tradition of Herefordshire cidermaking continues in Sarah's Cider of Bosbury. Sarah herself is the granddaughter of Neville Symond, the man who ran the Symonds' ciderworks until it's untimely demise in the 90's.

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