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Big Tree Cider

Big Tree Cider started as a hobby for Ray Claridge about ten years ago. In late October each year he would take a day out of his job as a database developer and collect the apples from the one huge tree in the garden of the family home in Hartley, Kent. He would hire an apple press and squash the apples with a large piece of wood, pour the pieces of apple into the press and watch the juice flow. Six months later, that juice became cider.

As his sons grew older, one by one they became interested in the cider that he was producing, or as they saw it, free alcohol. Gradually, he had acquired three helpers, and the family and friends began scrumping in the local orchards and a 25 litre barrel yearly output expanded to 100 litres.

After successfully selling cider at the Swan at Wittersham’s Beer and Cider Festival they decided to form Big Tree Cider.  They joined Produced In Kent, a membership organisation dedicated to promoting local food, drink, products and services in Kent, bought a large apple press, an electric scratter and a large quantity of 200 litre barrels. Deals were stuck with local orchards, whereby they were provided with apples free of charge, in return for making their juice. The most beneficial deal, for all concerned, was struck with Broomfield Farm, Meopham. They provided the apples, Big Tree Cider created the juice, and the apple cuttings were returned to the farm as food for the pigs that live in the orchard of fellow Produced In Kent member, Roundwood Orchard Pig Company.

In their first year of membership they reached the final of the prestigious Taste of Kent Awards for 2009. Production increased to 3,000 litres per year and they were invited to sell to the Kent Beer Festival, the Chelmsford Festival and, with immense pride, were also asked to sell to the Great British Beer Festival at Earls Court, London.

In 2011 they completely sold out of cider and for 2012 had 7,000 litres ready for sale. Once again they reached the final of the Taste of Kent Awards, but this year were winners. This is a truly prestigious honour and they had to beat at least one major company in the process.

In order to make the collection of apples and distribution of cider easier, they have bought a large Ford Transit van. The company will develop over the coming years and increase production year-on-year, buy new equipment and forge more relationships with local orchards. Over the coming months they will be looking to forge better links with local pubs and restaurants, such as existing customer, the Twig and Spoon in Ash – another Produced In Kent member.

Big Tree Cider now comprises Ray and his wife Chris, their 3 sons David, Graeme and John and our most recent addition, Colin, who is Chris’ brother – a true family set up. The only way in now is by marriage, and they are all open to offers! There are 3 distinct brands, Appley Ever After, Fruity Beauty and Walking Gingerly, which are sold in 5, 10, and 20 litre bag-in-boxes. A light-hearted approach helps maintain their insistence that running their cider business will always be fun!



BIG TREE CIDER is a Kent cider maker that started out from the apples of just one huge Bramley apple tree on our land in Hartley, Kent. This tree was originally part of the many orchards in this area and is over 100 years old. From here the hobby for producing homemade cider grew and grew, with the whole family coming together to help.

Nowadays our cider is produced by using a variety of trees from a variety of orchards in the local area. We have become more expert at blending these various flavours and still use the apples from our old faithful Bramley tree that was there at the very beginning. Our blend consists of, among others, Braeburn, Royal Gala, Jupiter, Cox and Kentish Pippin.

A guide to our ciders...
Appley Ever After - Now in its second year, this is a medium dry cider brewed entirely from Kentish apples, offering a smooth taste and a fruity kick.

Fruity Beauty - We have a range of Fruity Beauties on offer including, strawberry, raspberry and blackberry. These fruits are mixed with a combination of Bramley and locally produced apple for a delightful summer’s taste.

Walking Gingerly - A new cider developed in 2010, from Appley Ever After and pure ginger. We’re confident that in Walking Gingerly, we’ve created Kent’s spiciest cider!

Lisping Cowboy – This is made from our award-winning Appley Ever After, but with a bit of Bramley thrown in, for that sharper, Kentish taste. All our cider are 5.8% strength.

Made in Kent...
We at BIG TREE CIDER are very proud to be Kentishmen (and maids!), and as such take pride in our Produced in Kent membership. We were naturally delighted to be winners at the 2012 Taste of Kent Awards - making us the producers of the county’s top cider.


As provided to City Showcase in 2013

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