In May 2008 an announcement appeared in the Rudgwick Parish Mag asking if people believed there were many apples going to waste around the village and were there people willing to come together to put those apples to good use: i.e. make cider? It turned out that there were indeed and after a few early discussions, they banded together to see what they could do.

So the Old Rudgwick Cider Society (ORCS) was born and along with it the idea of holding an Apple Day for all the family, including apple-related games and stalls, centred on the pressing. Our first one was held in October 2008, when we hand chopped, "scratted" and then pressed about 4 tonnes of apples, having collected many the weekend before from the large orchards around the village, where the crop often goes largely to waste. In addition many people bought their own smaller contributions of apples to the Rudgwick Sports and Community Centre on the pressing day itself.

We had made 2 large presses and obtained a 1000 litre fermenting vessel. Other people brought their own smaller presses along as well. A jolly day was had by about 250 people, who all mucked in washing, chopping, scratting and pressing as well as seeing all the apple- and nature-related stalls, activities and childrens' games taking place. We must have pressed 2000 litres of juice, much of which was taken away on the day either for consumption (it freezes well) or for making smaller batches of cider at people's homes. Nonetheless there was still plenty for ORCS to make their first batch!

After an agonising wait, the following June we sampled and racked off around 900 litres of cider, and over the next few weeks the brew started to mellow. At the EGRGA Summer Show ORCS set up a stall where everyone could come along and taste the cider, which was by now christened "Old Chopper", in tribute to the blisters and stained hands suffered by all those that helped chop every single apple on that first pressing day. Universal opinion is that it is an excellent drink, naturally bone dry but it can be sweetened to taste. Old Chopper is to be taken cautiously as it is about 6.5%ABV!

Since those early days ORCS has gone from strength to strength. The second year we added another fermenting vessel and having racked off at least 1500 litres of cider, were able to satisfy demand and introduce a new line to the range by the name of "Strumpet" - a medium/dry variant of the original. We were pleased to be able to put a few pints for sale at the RSCC, who have been kind supporters of ORCS and Apple Day in Rudgwick. In 2010 we excelled ourselves with a yield of almost 3000 litres of cider and another new line called simply "The Doctor" after its restorative properties at 7.5%ABV. In 2011 we exceeded all our expectations with a total of 5300 litres.

Of course, some of the revenue has to be put back in to buy essential kit and consumables but last year we were delighted to be able to follow through on our pledge to donate to village causes by making contributions to the Book Exchange, Chase and Chestnut Tree House Charities. So if you feel like donating more than the incredibly good value RRP it will be put to good use, as we want to do a better job for the new vintage! Should you require more we can replenish you at short notice.

We are also pleased to offer our very own "Vinegar Witch", Rudgwick Cider Vinegar, so look out for it in local outlets such as the Firebird Brewery shop and of course, on our stall at all of the events in the calendar. Keep an eye on the news items appearing in the Parish Mag too.