As a fencing contractor I would see apples rotting on the ground in so many gardens, in 2012 I borrowed a small basket press and scratter and had my first go at making cider. What I ended up with was about 100 litres of cider that was dry and sharp but tasted really good. I was so impressed that I bought my own slightly larger press and scratter and did it again in 2013 this time making 200 litres.
In May 2014 I took a sample to Cambridge Beer Festival for the Cider Bar Manager to try, he said "If you can make cider like that, we'll sell it here next year" and Simon's Cider was born.
In the Autumn of 2014, I begged for and scrabbled around for all the apples I could, knocking on doors where I saw apple trees and raiding trees in lay-bys. On a 20 litre hand-cranked press I managed to press 400 litres of cider, and at CBF42 in 2015 Simon's Cider and 'As It Comes' had its very first outing, selling a massive 80 litres and winning joint 2nd in the 'Cider of the Festival' Competition.
Scroll forwards 4 years and at CBF46 we had 14 different ciders and 3 perries, sold 3200 litres and won 'Cider of the Festival' for the 4th year and 'Perry of the Festival' for the 3rd.
The main driving force has always been to use fruit that would otherwise be wasted and we've stuck to that ethos. We maintain 4 small orchards and have access to 2 others, we take excess apples from peoples gardens and swap them for cider, and to top up we buy graded out apples from local orchards and help them clear out the cold stores at the end of their year. The majority of the apples we use are eating and cooking apples and we also buy in a small percentage of proper cider apples from selected West Country orchards.
Always wanting the fruit to be king we make as many single variety ciders as we can such as COX!!! or Gala (which was the CAMRA Cambridgeshire Cider Champion for 2019). The joy in cider making is that, unless something goes wrong, none of the cider is ever wasted, the real art of cider making is in the blending, taking a cider that's just ok and making it superb.