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14 August, 2018 - 20:04 By Tony Quested

£300k the ‘bear’ necessity for Essex cider producer

Mark Hughes

An Essex cider producer is bidding to raise £300k on Crowdcube to target an estimated £112 million market in the UK in addition to export business.

The Big Bear Cider Mill in Braintree had raised over 56 per cent of the capital at the time of writing. 

It aims to produce craft cider on a large scale. The infrastructure is ready for an ‘apple to can’ production facility with the ability to produce more than a million litres of craft cider a year. 

Some £400k has already been invested in land and infrastructure ready for full production. Mark Hughes, the inspiration behind the brand, says the cider is chemical free and is naturally vegan as well as being gluten free.

Hughes said the company uses a lower density of trees per hectare to ensure its specialist cider apples produce full flavoured juice and quality blended cider with a strong, sustainable provenance.

“Our mission is to produce outstanding cider pressed from pesticide free traditional cider apple varieties, grown in thriving orchards created from regenerated gravel pits.”

Essex orchards were ripped up in the 1960’s and 70’s to make way for gravel pits. The company buys disused gravel pits and turns them into flourishing orchards with the bonus of having a positive environmental impact.

Hughes, who is currently recruiting, added: “We planted our first tree in 2008 and our mission to produce cider has grown from there. We have planted thousands of trees and are now building our new cider mill.  

“The Big Bear cider is always made with 100 per cent fresh-pressed apples; this method ensures maximum flavour. A tonne of apples will produce approximately 500 litres of pure juice. 

“The juice is fermented using yeasts carefully chosen for their ability to bring out the delicate aromas and flavours of our apple varieties.  A long, cool fermentation then allows the full cider characteristics to develop.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Mark Hughes

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