The Origin of Scrumpy

scrumpyIn apple-harvest time in England, the rural childhood and farm hand pursuit of stealing the windfall apples, or the small apples left on the trees after harvest from orchards, is called “scrumping”.  Scrumping evolved into the illicit taking of any sort of apple.

If you’re familiar with British cider, you will know “scrumpy” for a cheap and rough, though strongly alcoholic, variety which is a hazard to the unwary. Its name is a relative of “scrumping” in its oldest sense because it was often brewed from the apples that were stolen (“scrumped”) from the orchards. Modern brands that go by that name are mild compared with the vinegary farm-made sort of old, that was also described many years ago as “squeal-pig cider”, this being the noise you made when you tried it!  It’s said that it takes three people to swallow a mug of true scrumpy, one to drink and the other two to hold him upright!

Here at Portland Cider we’ve made our own take on a scrumpy which is now in very limited quantities and available exclusively at the tap room.  It is called Barnyard Scrumpy.  It’s dark, dry, still (no carbonation), oaked, 11.5% abv, and served at room temperature.  One sip and you’ll understand while it is only available in 4 oz pours!