They Call It “Scrumpy”

There are a few places left on Earth where it’s possible to sample real farm cider. One of those is the Southwest of England, where I pleasantly passed a year of my undergraduate career. And when I say “passed” I mean only just barely, since so much of my time there was spent sampling Devon ales and ciders.

In that region of the country, the fresh-fermented elixir that starts appearing in the fall is called “farmhouse cider”, or more colorfully, “scrumpy”. Back in the 80’s, my housemates and I would pick it up in unmarked plastic jugs at unattended roadside stands out in the countryside. You’d just leave your money in a bucket. Talk about a rough country brew, those ciders were green, cloudy, thick, and had a kick like a ram resisting a tetracycline shot. I know what you’re thinking: what sort of idiot would drink whatever strange liquid some anynymous farmer left by the side of the road? Well, you’re reading his blog. Anyway that’s college for you. But oh Lord, if only I could have given back that third pint I drank at the birthday party my housemates threw for me that year. I suppose I did after a fashion, later on in the alleyway. But by then of course it was far too late. It was days before I got out of bed, and I gave scrumpy a wide berth thereafter.

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