Ad Astra Cider is a new cider company based in the heart of Somerset. Founded by an RAF Veteran and his family, the name "Ad Astra" is proudly derived from the Royal Air Force motto "Per Ardua Ad Astra".
Ad Astra Cider is made from traditional cider apples, picked, pressed, and fermented on site within 12 acres of beautiful apple orchard. Never from concentrate, the cider is made from freshly pressed juice and is naturally slightly different each year dependent on the environmental conditions during the growing season.
How we make our cider
First the apples
We grow 12 varieties of cider apples in our orchard. Some are known as
bitter sharp, and others are bitter sweet. Each cider apple has been chosen
for its own taste profile and as its suitability as a pollinator for some of the
We don’t use pesticides in our orchard. We choose instead to let nature do
the work for us. For example, we work hard to maintain the biodiversity of
the orchard by leaving some standing deadwood to encourage insects. We
put up bird boxes and feeders to increase our bird population, which in turn
helps to reduce pests. We have bee hives and solitary bee habitats to aid in
pollination of the fruit, and we aerate the soil to keep the worms happy.
All of this leads to growing the most delicious apples possible.
We don’t pick the apples, or even shake the trees. We wait for them to fall
naturally because we believe that this is the time that the apples have the
most sugar and flavour. A few bumps and bruises don’t hurt them as they are
destined for the apple press and not the supermarket shelves. As different
varieties ripen at different times, the harvesting season usually runs from
September thru late November although the weather can alter these times
The Pressing and Fermentation
All the apples are pressed on site, within meters of where they have been
harvested. The juice is pumped into large plastic cubes known as IBC’s. Each
IBC will hold 1000 litres of apple juice. One the IBC is full we measure the
potential final alcohol level using a hydrometer. This can vary wildly from
year to year depending on the weather. For example, one of our favourite
apples is the wonderful Dabinett. In 2021 the potential alcohol
measurement was 5.7%. In 2022, due to the very hot dry summer months,
the reading was 8.8%!
The next stage involves adding sulphites to protect the juice before adding
champagne yeast to get the fermentation going. At this stage we get a bit
more modern in our approach utilizing Wi-Fi hydrometers and cloud services
to monitor the fermentation of the ciders throughout the next few months.
We get updates every 5 minutes, so if anything looks suspicious we can deal
with it immediately.
Bottling and Drinking
Once the cider has finished fermenting, we move the juice from one IBC to
another. This process is called “Racking” and moves the juice from the build
up of dead yeast cells and other small particles of apple that have sunk to the
bottom of the IBC known as the “Lees”.
The time the cider spends in the second IBC is variable and comes down to
the taste and complexity of the cider. Like wine, cider matures and evolves
over time. Once we are happy with the cider we pasteurise and bottle it
ready for the best bit of the whole process, drinking….Wassail!
Keep up to date with future releases and all things Ad Astra!
We are always producing new ciders and bringing our new products for our customers. To eep up to date with what we are doing click the button below to see our latest news!