Cheers... The four friends turning Broadbridge Heath into a cider hotspot

Sitting in the garden watching apples fall from trees seems to be one of the best ways of inspiring great ideas.

Thursday, 21st March 2019, 3:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st March 2019, 3:41 pm
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It worked for one of Britain’s most famous scientists and now four friends in Broadbridge Heath are benefiting from the observation after creating their own successful cider business.

Ali Newport started making cider with friends Steve Hayles, Mark Saffin and Sean Saffin in 2015.

He explained they came up with the idea whilst sitting in the back garden at home one evening looking at the apple trees.

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He said: “We‘ve got apple trees in our gardens. We thought we can make cider with those, why don’t we try making that one year.”

And in 2015 they made the dream a reality and began turning the apples into cider.

It was only a small operation at first and Ali said the team created three litres of the cider, although it wasn’t the best tasting.

However, they didn’t let that set them back and the following year the group had another go, creating 11 litres of drink.

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Ali said: “The following year we thought we can do it again. That stuff tasted nice. It tasted like a Scrumpy cider you would have anywhere else.”

Spurred on by the success and the joy of creating the drink the team continued making cider.

Using apples donated to them by locals in the third year they made 61 litres and it was this, along with the place where they brewed the cider, which sparked the name of their company - Batch 61.

Ali said: “It started as a hobby and it’s just increased each year. We just love doing it.

“Every year we increase further. We get bigger and bigger and next year we might be able to sell it in the pub.”

Ali works as a painter and decorator - when he’s not appearing in films as an extra - and said cider-making was something the group did in their spare time.

The process is seasonal and Ali said the team can only create cider for three months a year. When the apples are ready they’re working seven days a week, due to the risks of the fruit going rotten.

He said: “Every Friday and pretty much every weekend we are doing it. We will collect the apples one evening in the week but if one starts rotting it rots the rest of them.”

The cider has become very popular in the village and is now set to be sold at the Sausage and Cider Festival at the Shelley Arms later in May.

The festival is due to run from May 17-19.