The Norfolk Raider Cider Story
Where it all began - Terry Coppin
Terry is the father of Beth Cork. He invented the original (now known as) Norfolk Raider Cider recipe nearly 40 years ago. With the help from a couple of close friends, the cider was born. The original cider was strictly for friends and family only, mainly due to its very high alcohol volume and its great taste, of course. Luckily the cider today won’t make you weak at the knees so quickly but still contains the same great taste.
Terry would store the cider in used wooden barrels, this meaning that if a barrel had previously been used to store whisky, once the cider was poured into the barrel it would adopt some of the flavours of the whisky. In an afternoon and evening, Terry and his friends could press enough juice to fill a 3ft tall, 45gallon barrel. They would then take some of the cider out of the barrel and mix it with sugar, a lot of it, 40 pounds per barrel in fact. This mixture would then be left over the winter to ‘work’ and be ready for drinking in early spring. According to Terry, two half pints of his cider would be more than enough to make anyone very tipsy. Luckily, the ciders Paul Cork makes today are in the sweet spots between 4.2% and 8.5%
Back to basics
Paul and his wife Beth began making various apple based desserts around 4 years ago, Terry then mentioned he had an old cider recipe. Paul then began to cut the apples by hand and crush them with a rolling pin. The first batch made 8 gallons, Paul then offered this to his neighbours and friends, they enjoyed it very much. One of Pauls neighbours offered him some apples in exchange for some of his cider, Paul then made 20 gallons.
Word quickly spread around the village that Paul was making cider, he then noticed apples suddenly turning up at his door (as they still do). Paul then began to make 100-gallon batches. This year they’ve made 7,000 litres. To get to this 7,000 litres of cider a year stage Paul needed more apples, a lot more. Paul found an apple orchard and asked the owner if he could have all of their windfalls (an apple or other fruit that has blown down from a tree or bush by the wind). The owner told Paul that he was going to pull up all of the apple trees and plant something else. Paul cut a deal with the landowner which lead him from a few trees from around his local village to 1,000 trees.
With this number of trees, it allowed Paul to begin developing new delicious flavours of cider. Today there are four different flavours. Dolly Pink (4.2%) a pink fruity cider, Honey Belle (4.2%) smooth tasting honey cider, Wingman (6.2%) a refreshing clear strong cider and the Original (8.5%) a strong cider but not lacking in taste. Paul claims there are more secret flavours in the works.
When Paul was younger he knew an older gentleman who told him a story about some airmen who would come down to the local pub to have their final drinks before going on bombing raids the next day. The locals referred to these men as ‘The Norfolk Raiders’. They flew out from Norwich airport which at the time was the B24 bombing base. Paul wanted to tie his cider to a piece of history and this noble story was exactly what he was looking for. Thus born The Norfolk ‘Raider’ Cider.
All of The Norfolk Raider Cider meets the environmental health standards.
The Current Cider Process
15 different varieties of apples are picked to make the ciders, these are mainly dessert apples but also include Bramley and Russet apples. 1.5 tonnes will make 45 gallons.
These apples will then be put through the scruncher and then through the press.
The juice is then put straight into the 45-gallon plastic drums and the sugar is added in the same way it was 40 years ago.
This mixture is then left for 6 months, however, if the weather is warmer the process can be shortened by up to as much as a month.
The cider is then poured into 10-gallon mixing tubs, this is where the alcohol volume is tested and changes can be made such as adding fruits and honey for different flavours.
The cider is then put into either a ‘bag and box’, plastic bottle or a 40-pint keg with a tap.
Terry Coppin & Paul Cork