Friday, November 22, 2013

2014 cider vs. 1814 cider

  Recently I was talking with Ben from The Queen’s Kickshaw, a landmark cider-restaurant in NYC, and he challenged my assertion that early Americans drank history's best cider.  I’ll skip the pros and cons of both arguments but I’m revisiting the thought now in lieu of having just visited John Bunker of Fedco Trees, a nursery and growing resource, in Maine.  Among the many oversights I’m guilty of when I assume 1814 to be the better cider era is the ability for today's cider makers to pick and choose their peers.  What with rapid transportation and instant world communication, we have at our disposal something very adventageous for good cider.
   It's probable that back in the early 1800’s my only sources for inspiration would be other local apple millers and nearby homestead cider makers. Maybe they were learned, but if they weren't my growth would be limited to what was locally only known about apples and cider making.  Now with instant communication, vast markets, and trade groups we are able to "find one another" like never before.  I am able to hand-select my peers from Maine to California, from Australia to Europe.  As a small community spread far and wide today’s networks do, in fact, create cider culture.  And we are able to find the cultural niche that best fits our personal standards and beliefs.   

  I still believe the soil was infinitely better, agricultural practices were better, and the level of community involvement goes unchallenged- it just was better.  The spiritual link to cider is not at a level comparable with 200 years ago but in certain segments of today’s cider community we are discovering our own holism and we are in better position to apply it.