Bulmer's

From Academic Kids

This article is about the English brand of cider. For the Irish brand of the same name, see: Bulmers (Republic of Ireland).

Bulmers Cider was founded in 1887 in Hereford, England by Percy Bulmer, the twenty year old son of the local rector at Credenhill, taking his mother's advice to make a career in food or drink 'because neither ever go out of fashion.'

Using apples from the orchard at his father's rectory and an old stone press on the farm next door, Percy made the first drop of cider upon which the family fortune would be made. Today HP Bulmer makes 65% of the five million hectolitres of cider sold annually in the United Kingdom and the bulk of the UK's cider exports.

His elder brother, Fred, coming down from Kings College, Cambridge, turned down the offer of a post as tutor to the children of the King of Siam, to join Percy in his fledgling cider business. A lady called Anna got the job instead and hence the musical film, The King and I, is based on a true story.

Meanwhile the brothers, with a 1000 loan from their father, bought an 8 acre (32,000 m²) field just outside the City walls and built their first cider mill. It was little more than a shack compared to the huge modern, stainless steel, computer controlled cider making plant that has grown up on a 75 acre (300,000 m²) site nearby.

Cider making in those early days was a hit or miss affair, the fermentation being achieved by the wild yeast in the apple, and more often than not, the cider turned sour.It was a college friend of Fred's, Dr Herbert Durham, who, in the 1890s, isolated the wild yeast to create the first pure cider yeast culture which would ensure all future fermentations were consistent. It was the start of commercial cider making.

Bulmers was first granted the Royal Warrant in 1911 and continues today as 'Cider Maker to her Majesty, the Queen'. Strongbow, the leading cider, is named after the bowman Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke. Its adverts feature a volley of arrows improbably hitting the bar of a pub.

The company was independent until 2003, when, having run into financial problems, it was taken over by brewing giant Scottish and Newcastle. Its Australia and New Zealand business, meanwhile, was sold to Australian brewer Fosters.

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