Category: podcast

Bill Bradshaw – World’s Best Ciders

Download: 003_Bill_Bradshaw.mp3 [43.3MB, 47:19]

ERIC WEST (Intro): Bill Bradshaw—photographer, author, cider enthusiast, and all-around super nice guy—joins me for Episode 3. Based in Somerset, England, Bill has been documenting the world of cider through his excellent photography since 2004. He and I chat about his first book as a solo author—Cider Enthusiasts’ Manual—and how it came about. We also chat about small-scale cidermaking in the South West of England, the push and pull between innovation and tradition in the US and the UK, his previous book—World’s Best Ciders—and the talent of his co-author Pete Brown, cider festivals, cider competitions, and much much more.

Here’s my conversation with Bill Bradshaw.

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ERIC WEST: Bill, your newest book is Cider Enthusiasts’ Manual and it’s published by Haynes. Can you tell me a little bit about how this project came about? And how a publisher like Haynes was interested in bringing it out?

BILL BRADSHAW: Well, I had a phone call from a nice lady called Louise at Haynes. And she said we’re looking for someone to write a cider manual. Do you think you would do it? And I said, look, I’m not really an author. I’ve done some writing, I’m not a great writer. But I certainly I feel I know enough to write a basic guide—a beginner’s guide. And she said, well, that’s what we want is a nice step-by-step guide of how to make cider.

And I had some reservations because there are a lot of good books already that are very simple and very self-explanatory about how to make cider. It’s a pretty simple process when you strip it right back. And I didn’t want to do just another one of them and throw it out there and compete on a really average level. I was thinking, can we do something a little bit different? And rather than just do another technical manual, do a manual for beginners and people that are interested and don’t know much.

But it covers much more than just that kind of basic process or science. It’s a lot more—it’s a lot broader, a lot more holistic. It talks a bit more about the history or some of the social or cultural stuff. How it goes with food. Growing apples. It introduces all the different threads you can have when you’re interested in the subject. And basically it is the kind of book I was looking for when I first started looking into cider as a subject and getting interested in it, and it wasn’t out there. You would’ve had to buy a book on how to make it, or a book on the history of it, you know.

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Nicole Leibon – Farnum Hill Ciders

Download: 002_Nicole_Leibon.mp3 [35.1MB, 38:11]

ERIC WEST (Intro): Nicole Leibon of Farnum Hill Ciders in New Hampshire joins me for Episode 2. Largely overshadowed by Steve Wood—her highly influential and opinionated boss—Nicole has guided the cidermaking process at Farnum Hill for almost 15 years now. She and I chat about her background in fermentation, her favorite apple varieties for cidermaking, the Farnum Hill house style and their core products, the evolution of the cider industry in the United States, and the influence of women in cidermaking.

Here’s my conversation with Nicole Leibon.

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Nicole at work in the lab. Source: FHC.

ERIC WEST: Nicole, thanks for making time for me today. The first thing that I wanted to ask you is, what exactly is your official title? And does that really encompass all that you do for Farnum Hill?

NICOLE LEIBON: Thanks for having me on, Eric. My title officially is Cidermaker. It’s sort of a vague title because things have shifted around over the years. When I first started I was doing everything from being out in the field to running the pumps and filling the tanks and doing the filtration. And over time, having had two kids, it’s winnowed down to the point where my specific roles are tasting and blending. And that was something that was always important in what I was doing with doing everything else. But that’s really what my focus is now. It’s kind of fun on days when I go in and actually get to wash a tank again! Instead of just drinking all day. Read more

Tom Oliver – Oliver’s Cider and Perry

Download: 001_Tom_Oliver.mp3 [42.6MB, 46:23]

ERIC WEST (Intro): Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider & Perry in Herefordshire, England joins me for Episode 1. His ciders and perries are cherished on both sides of the Atlantic and Tom’s widely regarded as one of the best in the business. He and I chat about rediscovering forgotten cider apples and perry pears, his approach to cidermaking and perrymaking, the changing cider palates of women and men, the impact of social media, the challenge of making an honest living from cider, and why the art of cidermaking should be more like avant garde music and less like jazz.

Here’s my conversation with Tom Oliver.

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Source: Shelton Brothers.

ERIC WEST: First off, Tom, I wanted to congratulate you for the stack of awards you won at The Cider Museum in Hereford competition. It looks like you almost swept the Perry categories—1st in Dry, Medium, and Sweet, 2nd in Bottle Fermented Perry, and a 1st as well for Single Varietal Cider. Is that your best showing at that competition?

TOM OLIVER: That is my best showing. That was fantastic I’ve got to say. I don’t recall anyone getting four 1sts before. I actually had the cup the year before, but that was just for one 1st, which was another perry. So I’ve had a sweet spot at The Cider Museum the last couple of years. Read more