The Sneinton Cider Company make tasty, fruity booze from apples sourced locally from within the area. Co-founder James ‘JD’ Atkin tells us how he set up the company along with Sam Horsburgh and Conor Lynam, and why gherkins make a surprisingly good ingredient for cider…
How did the Sneinton Cider Company come about?
Both Sam and I have been brewing at home for a few years, having been shown the ways by his mum and local booze guru, Nelly. We brew a wide variety of traditional and obscure alcohol but both really enjoyed the process of making cider and, of course, the final results. Due to how much we made, home brewed alcohol often became gifts and typically, the recipient would ask when we are going to start brewing commercially.
The topic of conversation came up a number of times between Sam and me and, during one session propping up the bar with Conor at the King Billy pub, we decided to take the plunge. Jon at the ‘Billy has been a huge supporter of our brewing, so it made sense to make a cider for the pub.
And where are you at now?
As of 16th February, we have launched our first cider at the Billy. Feedback has been great so far and people seem to really enjoy it. We already have our second batch in progress ready for our collaboration next month with the Castle Ruins art exhibition at the pub. They came to us with some ideas for a cider, such as tastes and brewing style, and we put the batch together for them.
What attracted you to cider making?
There’s just something really pleasant about the whole process. I think there’s little that can beat getting out and about with your chums into the allotments and fields at the height of summer picking apples. Many of the trees we harvest from lose all their fruit to the wasps as their owners don’t have the time to keep up with picking. More than a few of our donations have come from people who just want the apples out of the way.
As for what attracted us to cider as a business, generally it seems the cider community is a little looked over these days and the shadow of “rot gut rocket fuel” can put people off. I really like getting involved with the nuts and bolts of brewing, so wanted to make something tasty and accessible while also remaining fairly traditional.
Do all your apples come locally from Sneinton?
For the most part, Sneinton Cider Company ciders are all from Sneinton apples. It has worked for us so far, but in the future we hope to branch out a little into the rest of Nottingham.
You’ve just pressed a one-off cider exclusively for the King Billy pub – can you tell us more about that?
Absolutely! The King Billy has a special place in our heart and is a linchpin of the Sneinton community. As a Sneinton-based business, we were really keen to get behind the bar at our own local.
And all proceeds go to charity, right?
For this one, yes. As our launch came at the same time as Sophie, a Billy regular, was raising money for her cause, it made sense for us to partner up and donate all our takings to charity. Sneinton Cider Company has firm roots in the community, so it was important for us to get off on the right foot and with a good ethos. In the future, we are hoping to again partner with local charities and spread awareness for smaller causes while raising money from sales. There’s more information on Sophie’s cause on her YouCaring page.
Are all your ciders the type that’ll blow your head off?
Not at all, though if that’s what the customer orders we are more than happy to oblige. For us, flavour is the most important thing. Our first cider is pretty tame percentage-wise at 6.3%, but it was important to us to keep the real apple twang that Sneinton apples have. I’m excited to see the different flavours we can get from broadening our range of apples later in the year.
Your Pickled Dog cider sounds very… interesting. How did you come up with that?
As with many things, it came about as a bet. After Pickle Rick from Rick and Morty, it seems Facebook has become fascinated with everything gherkin. A mate of ours challenged us to try and make a cider infused with pickles and how could we resist? In theory it shouldn’t work (if your cider tastes like vinegar, something is very wrong) but the results were surprisingly good. Certainly enjoyable enough to try again, and we already have ideas about where improvements can be made.
Who designed your awesome logo?
I’m really glad you asked as I absolutely love that logo. We wanted to incorporate some serious Sneinton culture and what better to feature than the Sneinton Dragon? The artist behind the logo is the legendary Brown Lazer (on Facebook as The Brown Lazer Art) who works at Rebel Base tattoo studio. We’ve been fans of his work for a long time, so when it came down to organising a logo there was no other option for us.
Where can we get our hands on your ciders?
Currently we are brewing exclusively for the King Billy, though with us being such a small cidery it goes pretty fast. If you fancy a pint of Sneinton Cider Company cider, it’s wise to check our Facebook page as we’ll always make a fuss when a new brew hits the bar.
What’s coming up next for you?
Next month we have a batch coming on brewed to celebrate the Castle Ruins art exhibition being held at the King Billy. From there we have a few interesting batches in the pipeline and hope to be at the Nottingham Beer Festival in autumn.
Sneinton Cider Company rely on donations, swaps and trade with allotments and gardens in the area, and are always looking for more people to partner with. So get in touch if you’re interested in supplying them with apples to keep the booze flowing!