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Meet the team behind one of Nottingham’s best kept secret breweries

todayJune 13, 2022 1

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Sneinton is fast earning a reputation for being one of the best pub and brewery crawls in the city. Cider fans will recognise the distinctive bottles of one of the area’s best-kept secrets, the Sneinton Cider Company popping up in a handful of the local bars including Neon Raptor, Liquid Light and King Billy.

Although cider may be serious business, the Sneinton Cider Company has kept it local by taking a huge gamble to strip back supply. The six friends operate as a collective who brew ‘for the love of what we do’ rather than brewing for the sake of it.

Original founding members, JD Atkins and Badger Horsburgh started brewing and making their own ciders from foraged apples found in local allotments. It wasn’t until a chance conversation with Jon Blyth, owner of the popular King Billy pub in Sneinton that they began to wonder if this could work on a larger scale.

“It started off with myself and my friend Badger who learned to brew from his mother, Nelly. She made forest and allotment wines and taught him how to make apple wine. I discovered homebrews about ten years ago when I met him and it blew my mind,” he said.

“We started to play around but at no point did we ever consider that we were going to run a collective or make it in large quantities.”

Developing the cider for sale meant investing in the equipment they were using to develop the cider. The team began to expand and were joined by Hannah Waterfield, Connor Lynam, Pete Harrop and Gillian Foster. The team made 60 litres for King Billy only in



Sneinton Cider Company, Sneinton Allotments. PICTURED L>R: Conor Lynam, James Atkin (AKO JD) and Hannah Waterfield.” content=”https://i2-prod.nottinghampost.com/incoming/article7193249.ece/ALTERNATES/s615b/0_MW_TEM_090622-Cider-company_03JPG.jpg”>
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</div><figcaption class= Sneinton Cider Company, Sneinton Allotments. PICTURED L>R: Conor Lynam, James Atkin (AKO JD) and Hannah Waterfield.

Word began to spread about the cider throughout pubs in Nottingham. Landlords were quick to get in touch looking to stock the distinctive brand. Soon, the bottles began to appear in more pubs such as Six Barrels and Fox and Grapes.

“We wanted to go for it and expand but we needed more apples, a bigger press and blender machines. That year, we increased to 500 litres. It moved from my spare room to the cellar in my house. We also did a collaboration with the Fox and Grapes pub called Peng! named by their landlord Danylo Semak after his first sip and we got our friend, tattoo artist, The Brown Lazer based at Rebel Base, Tuxford to design the bottles,” JD said.

He added: “By word of mouth, it started to spread and people were ordering like mad. We had to do extra presses throughout the year and were delivering it all over the place. The love and support from everyone was amazing.”

Towards the end of that year, the team began to struggle with keeping up supply to meet demand and were exhausted from travelling to deliver the cider all over the UK. The team began to wonder if they could continue to expand just as COVID hit.

“Our production went through the roof and we did 2000 litres in our third year. By the end of 2019, we were ready to hit the ground running and thought 2020 would be our year as it was set to be a boom time for the industry. COVID happened so quickly so suddenly we had a lot of cider piling up in my basement.”

JD added: “We still had to pick as it’s a seasonal product and you can’t miss a season. We suddenly realised how lucky we were because we didn’t have any staff or facilities that created overheads and cider doesn’t go off – it ages. We invested in more containers then worked things out with places so they didn’t need to pay us immediately and could wait until things picked up.”

The group decided that they would keep the supply local by changing tack. Their bottles, which feature a prominent Snienton dragon, can be ordered in some of the area’s best bars such Liquid Light and Neon Raptor.

“We realised that rather than just growing for the sake of growth, we are just a bunch of friends making cider at the end of the day,” JD said.



The King Billy pub in Sneinton, Nottingham was the first to sell Sneinton Cider Company
The King Billy pub in Sneinton, Nottingham was the first to sell Sneinton Cider Company

When it comes to giving back, the company are responsible for some of the trees which have been added to Sneinton in recent months. They have contacted local businesses and spaces to ask if they can plant apple trees such as the one outside Liquid Light brewery.

“We’ve been checking in with local businesses and homeowners to see if we can put in specific varieties of apple trees. So one day we will be able to go and harvest samples from places like Liquid Light. We are just giving away trees to be planted.”

He added: “It’s really nice to see Sneinton come into its own based on the people who live here working together and making connections. There are so many creatives who live in this area.”

Written by: thehitnetwork

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