Aspall Cyder - Cider and Vinegar

California dreaming...


Date
29th November 2013

Category
Henry's Travels


I’ve just got back from a trip to San Francisco; I’ve been a few times to this fair city but it’s been a long time since I spent some serious time in it, and it’s been too long. It is a multi-faceted place; from its iconic tourist sites, laid back cafes and bars through to its bohemian Burning Man art installations it has long been a place of great creativity.

Unlike the east coast, it’s a bit short on the cider front, and whilst I drank my way through a few local offerings, none piqued my interest or delighted my sensibilities as those I quaffed in New York recently. It will come; there is a natural curiosity in these Californians, and being so diet conscious the gluten free angle will initially drive things as much as anything else. As one friend quipped “How do you know someone in California is gluten intolerant? They tell you”. 

So without a cider angle to consider, the focus naturally turned to beer, and more importantly, to the outlets it’s available in.

The US has long been ridiculed for both its poor beer and ludicrously complex alcohol supply chain that rose from the ashes of Prohibition. With regard the former, this was certainly justified up until a quarter of a century ago before the emergence of the inspirational craft beer movement – and cider is now following that example.

But with regard the complexity of the supply chain – the notorious 3 tier system where the most obvious factor is brewers cannot own bars – I found myself becoming less convinced that this is a bad thing. Sure, as a brand owner it’s a much harder slog to get your product in to bars; literally every door needs to be knocked on. It’s a far cry from the UK model which allows one deal to open the potential of 100’s if not 1000’s of pubs.

But what choice for the consumer – anyone who still thinks American beer is poor in terms of quality and variety need only spend time on the craft beer scene here, and in almost any city, to understand the variety and quality of the products on offer. And to stand out – or even to be listed, your product really needs to be good – which is where it becomes a good thing as a brand owner. If your quality sets you out from the crowd and you can tell your story well, “there are riches beyond your wildest dreams my boy”.

Bar owners can be and on the whole are much more adventurous than their UK counterparts, because decisions are made on the ground with the shake of a hand, not at head office with the stroke of a pen. It is personable on a very real level. I love it, even if it is hard on the shoe leather.

There are so many good things about the UK system don’t get me wrong; but if I had to choose which I wanted on my desert island (I like to think big), well, whilst it would be a very tough call, it would be US – especially as you can get Aspall in them now…..

Bar owners can be and on the whole are much more adventurous than their UK counterparts, because decisions are made on the ground with the shake of a hand, not at head office with the stroke of a pen. It is personable on a very real level. I love it, even if it is hard on the shoe leather.