It was 2014 and two Dads met in a pub. The one with the big nose said to the one with the beard…
It may sound like the beginning of a joke but this was how the wonderful Framfield based Sussex Cidery, Bignose & Beardy, came to be! Phil (Bignose) and Steve (Beardy) both live in Framfield and when they were introduced to each other by their wives, they quickly realised that they both had a deep love for the countryside, bee keeping and, of course, they both fancied having a go at making some cider.
Phil’s own orchard in Framfield is full of a huge variety of heritage apple trees but it takes ALOT of apples to make up to 7000 litres of cider each year. Once they’d had a play with Phil’s apples, those of friends who were happy for their apples to be used to experiment with, and they’d found out what worked (more often than not!), the wider call for donations of apples was put out. Soon locals were dropping off apples by the bag or trailer load, in exchange for some cider. The word spread and Bignose & Beardy now have a relationship with several large orchards who are happy to donate their excess apples, in addition to the local donatees, some of which only have one or two trees in their garden. The community that they’ve built around them is of great support and is one of the reasons why they continue with their self confessed “out of control hobby”. It really is about having fun and treading as lightly as possible to produce wonderfully named (Oaky Poaky, Cockhaisy and Walk Like A Stag to name a few) small batch ciders.
Our group had a wonderful afternoon of meandering through the orchard, listening to fascinating facts about apples, cider and the trials and tribulations of learning what apple juice does when you leave it to ferment exactly the way it wants to! We were also put to work to wash bottles, fill them with cider, cap the bottles and finally label them up so they were ready to go. We had a fantastic time and would like to wholeheartedly thank Bignose & Beardy for their hospitality, and generous sharing of their knowledge and passion for producing their cider while utilising apples which would otherwise go to waste. I’d also like to thank the group of 14 who joined us, asked interesting questions and made it the super experience that it was.
If you’re interested in our future “sustainably-minded” trips then please let us know.