Why we live for the funk.
“The kids around the way used to think that I was buggin’
But they don’t understand how I feel about the funk
I walk with the funk, I talk with the funk
I eat with the funk, I sleep with the funk
I live for the funk, I’ll die for the funk
So now what do they say, when I’m walkin’ up the block?
Boom shaka laka there goes the Chief Rocka”
-Lords of the Underground
If you’ve come in to our tasting room (and if you haven’t, you really should!), then you’ve heard us describe our cider making method as “rustic” or “natural.” What does that mean? While there are no set definitions, we define the rustic or natural approach as producing cider without using chemicals and without the significant use of, or reliance upon, modern technology. Stated another way, we essentially go old school. But don’t confuse old school with the purist approach (i.e., only apple juice, no infusions, no hops, etc.) We’re old school, but not purists.
At this point, you should be asking yourself, “Why the hell would anyone go old school?” Good question.
There are lots of reasons not to do it. For instance, using barrels to ferment and age instead of slick, shiny stainless steel tanks dramatically increases the risk of oxidization—something frowned upon in the fermentation world. And not using preservatives increases the chance that lots of unwanted microbes and the like will infect the cider.
However, we don’t necessarily view the presence of other microbes as “unwanted” or “infections.” And allowing our cider and its friend, Yeast, to breathe a little seems like the right thing to do. To us, our cider is a living thing. Who wants to be suffocated? Also, filtering, preserving, and “chemicalizing” cider results in too much conformity. And in our opinion, conformity dulls imagination. Put another way, when there is more diversity of life at the party, things can get more interesting. We like interesting—even if it’s a little risky and outside the norm. In the end, there are more reasons to go old school than not. It’s a personal choice, and one that fits who we are and our sense of place here in Goochland, Virginia (more on terroir another time).
So, that’s why we follow a rustic/natural method. We use barrels, avoid the use of sulfites when at all possible, and don’t run our cider through a fancy filtration device. We walk with the funk. Talk with funk. Eat with funk. You get the idea.