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So, you could say that the Musty Men had their origins in Cider. Well, more specifically apples. A friend of ours (Alice. Hi!) gave us some apples from her parents orchard. Fantastic we thought, it must be the easiest thing in the world to turn these into tasty, tasty cider. In no time at all, we will we be drinking to our hearts content. Unfortunately, due to being fairly (revise that: very) slack, the apples sat on top of a cupboard in our hallyway for maybe three months before we could be bothered to throw them out. And, while they were surprisingly un-rotten, I for one didn’t want to put them into anything that I was going to drink (though who knows what actually goes into cider. Allegedly. I don’t want Magners suing us. Yet. Well they can sue me for saying their cider sucks. But that is a whole other matter).

Around the same time, comrade Dickon was bought a lager kit for his birthday. At 11 odd pounds, a kit that resulted in 40 pints of alcoholic beverages could not be laughed at. Now, this kit resided in a kitchen cupboard for maybe another year, however this is what I consider to be the two facts, the seeds of the Musty Men, that germinated into what we are now.

Fast-forward a year. Apples are in season again. Little remembering our failed attempts to produce anything at all from our apples last year, an apple collecting adventure occurs, and two buckets are filled, collected from all around the local Bristol countryside (only of course, from common land, for we are no thieves). Again, the buckets stay untouched for a while, partly as we had no idea how to make cider, and partly because we were still fairly lazy, and more fairly unfocused towards the concept of brewing – the Musty Men by that point a mere concept, not realised. As time rolled on, and the apples started looking worse for wear, brother Simon felt that something should be done. Comrade Richard felt that he could build us a cider press, so he and comrade Dave went on a late night trip round the local skips to find ourselves some wood. We had checked some internet sites on how to make cider presses, and felt the best option would be to build an a-frame, then place in it a car jack from comrade Tehs’ car, using the pressure to squeeze that oh so important juice from said apples (also appreciating that the apple skin contained enough yeast and sugar to practically turn into cider by itself. Is this not an exemplary case of self suffientism?). More time rolled on, till comrade Simon made a move by buying some foot long bolts and some nuts from the local shop, which actually sold part for cars. Make do, as we say.

Comrade Richard got to work, bringing in his expert knowledge of physics, and more importantly, bodging things, and produced the following beast of a contraption:

Cider Press Mk 1

It was a success! Apples were place under a piece of wood, then had the full pressure of the jack forced upon it (this thing can lift cars! Imagine what it could do to an apple). We were very pleased with ourselves.

rich, er, looking chuffed!

But hmm, there wasn’t that much juice coming from any said apple. There was some (and very tasty it was too), but if that was all that we were going to get, we would need about a tonne of apples per pint. That, I think we all agree on (you might not, but in that case, feel free!) is maybe entering the group known as: More Effort Than It Is Worth. Based on such thinking, we tried to push the cider press harder, really destroying those apples till there was not even the concept of the apple left, let alone anything with juice left in them. This was make or break time. Unfortunately, our press decided that it was break time. It was not a car, it was some pieces of wood, and the pressure place on it was too much, snapping like Vanessa Feltz on big brother. No one was hurt, you will be glad to here, except out pride, and our attempts to make cider.

We did try to save the experiment, more wood was procured, bolts re-applied, however every time the same thing happened. Wood snapped, splinters flew, apples were left intact. Eventually we gave up, the apples rotted, comrade Tehs had to give up the car jack, and press was discarded in back yard, to taunt us with our failure. The group, so soon to be the successful Musty Men, had faced a set back. I like to think that it was merely us being overly ambitious, and not an inability to brew alcohol. Making our own cider from our own press and sourced apples might have been too much for first time brewers. But from the ashes came the phoenix. We could feel movement in our waters (and no, its not just the alcohol doing our livers in. Is it?) Comrade Dave was bought into the mix to bring his know how (and more beer equipment) and the Musty Men were born. Where on Earth would it all lead to?

Welcome to the Mustymen Blog. In the months to come these pages will furnish you will valuable experience, gleaned from meetings of the Mustymen, in pursuit of ever present desire for refreshment and intoxication.  Brewing is a slow process which require great patients, this happily means we will have plenty of time to imbibe, then discuss the merits and short-comings our previous concoctions in our quest for ambrosia.