Wartime inspiration for Norwich’s new cider brewery

Norfolk Raider Cider. Owner Paul Cork.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norfolk Raider Cider. Owner Paul Cork.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Paul Cork had one apple tree in his garden in Norwich and a passed-down cider recipe from his father-in-law. It only seemed natural to put the two to good use.

Norfolk Raider Cider.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norfolk Raider Cider.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Mr Cork works a few hours a week as the catering manager for the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind, but decided to throw himself into making cider.

Four years down the road – and a few thousand gallons of cider later – the 60-year-old decided to turn his side project into a proper brand: Norfolk Raider Cider.

'The Norfolk Raiders name came from the Americans flying out of Horsham St Faith in 1944 and the Liberator planes,' he said.

'All the Americans would come down the two alleyways from the airfield to the King's Head Pub and the Black Swan Pub, and some of them didn't come back again. But they had their last drink there, talked to locals. It's tying the two histories together.'

After he had a name, Mr Cork got his pub-owning friends to try his cider and give him honest feedback. Pubs such as the White Lion, in Norwich, liked it so much that they started buying a keg a month.

Mr Cork also filled a necessary niche in the brewing industry. There are several cider makers in Norfolk but none in Norwich.

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With the back story and buzz for his cider solidified, Mr Cork just needed enough land and apple trees to produce as many gallons as he could. Oliver Gurney, who owns White House Farm Pick-Your-Own in Sprowston, told him he had acres of orchard that were going to waste.

Mr Cork, with help from his son, Joe, and his wife, Beth, rented the land and learned everything he could about pruning apple trees, pressing apples into cider in bulk and tending to an orchard.

'I thought: 'Do I go for this? I have to bite the bullet now',' he said.

This September, Mr Cork, along with some family and friends, will start harvesting the apples. After two natural fermentation processes the first batch should be ready next April. The cider will also be available from the White House Farm gift shop.

Until then, cider enthusiasts can email Mr Cork at paul-corky@hotmail.com about his current stock of cider or see him at Norwich Food & Drink Festival on September 10.