Hard Rain Quince 2019 by Little Pomona is no ordinary drink. Not for me, at any rate. Tasting a drink that you helped to make adds an extra layer of meaning.
As I lift the glass up to my nose I am almost shaken by a jolt of surprise at how familiar the aroma is. It’s good to smell those quinces again. It takes me back to October 2019 and the day I spent preparing them for crushing.
Quinces need work, you see. In their natural fuzz-covered state they look like something left too long beneath a teenager’s bed, or that rolled out of reach under a kitchen cabinet.
I spent a lot of time rubbing crate after crate of quinces with a sponge to remove the fluff that grows on their skin. My reward on the day was a delicately sweet floral-tropical aroma. And here it was again, fresh and pungent now, jumping out of the glass.
Hard Rain is a vibrant pale yellow in the glass fading to almost clear at the edges. At just 3.8% this is modern version of a ciderkin. On the palate it is light, fruity and floral with delicate apple notes behind all that quince. I found a pleasing acidity that develops into dryness at the finish. It’s bottled pét nat style, which gives it plenty of sharp carbonation and makes for a very refreshing character overall.
Because of the natural sediment present in the bottle it grows increasingly turbid towards end. I found this helped the quince notes to soften and round out, becoming fuller. It was like moving from the juice of the fruit to taste the actual flesh.
The name that James and Susanna chose for this, Hard Rain, sparks memories as well. I remember how I awoke on the second day of my visit to Little Pomona — which I wrote about for Ferment magazine — and found the landscape transformed by an overnight deluge that left the nearby River Wye swollen and angry.
It was raining still as we drove from their home to the cidery, a mile or so away. Water flowed down the hills in torrents that ate the red earth away from the roadside verges and carried it across the tarmac. Water stood dark and still in the valleys where roads dipped and turned to reveal hidden flooded corners or long stretches where its calm surface hid its untold depth.
The river that runs alongside the cidery, usually a gentle stream at most, pushed through the landscape like a mud-brown dragon. I remember feeling it like a living presence as Susanna drove us over a bridge and along the road that followed it down towards the cidery, wondering whether we’d find it flooded.
This is the sort of mad, experimental, glorious drink that you’ll only get from independent producers. By the time you read this it might be too late already to get hold of this particular drink, but if we support independent producers and keep them around, we can look forward to having more like it to brighten up our lives.
Like many small brewers and cider makers, Little Pomona have shifted to offering direct online sales under lockdown to help make ends meet. You can support them by ordering direct, or pay £25 a year to join their Little Pomona Club and get first dibs on new releases plus a few other rewards as well.
This post isn’t sponsored in any way and I don’t get any commission if you place an order. I just think Little Pomona deserve our support. I’ve ponied up and joined the club.