Forgotten Apples remember Fearful Dogs
Johan Holleman acquired his first apple tree in 2009, a gift from a neighbour whose dogs refused to share the garden with it. It produced so many apples that by 2014 he did not know what to do. Eating them or baking pies could not offset the quantity — such was the tree’s prolific production.
Despite a passion for Normandy cider, Johan had found only a few home-grown Dutch examples. His brewing and winemaking experience told him these apples would make delicious cider. And so, North Brabant’s De Vergeten Appel was born.
‘The Forgotten Apple’ — De Vergeten Appel’s literal translation — reflects Johan’s experience with the fertile apple tree and its abundant fruit, a potentially forgotten source of liquid gold.
Being innovative and creative with his own apples did not end there. Johan started gathering forgotten apples from local gardens and small orchards nearby — excess, unused stock. Classic Dutch apple varieties, almost forgotten.
The practice continue; Johan produces special ciders with apples only harvested from particular local trees. De Vergeten Appel’s ’t Gouverneurtje, for instance, uses apples from the Heusden Governor’s garden.
Johan planned an initial 20 litre batch, a taste experiment, but it become 120 after a friend donated more apples from an abandoned orchard — perfect to test fermentation techniques for a unique, special cider taste.
In spite of Johan knowing little about the Dutch cider scene, De Vergeten Appel’s debut Rotterdam International Cider Festival appearance in 2016 was a big success.
In the early day’s Johan hand-produced up to 580 litres of cider. As capacity increased, he replaced various modified DIY tools with better equipment, until he scaled up and improved the production facilities in 2016.
Although a modest cidermaker, De Vergeten Appel’s capacity is 1,500 litres, plus bottling and cold storage. Alongside ‘t Gouverneurtje, the cider range includes Het Bonte Appeltje, Moesj, oak-aged Moesj, other specials, and a cider vinegar. There is also a perry: Peerke.
New for mid-2020 are a chardonnay barrel-aged cider, and a pommeau.
De Vergeten Appel is an independent, owner-operated cidermaker, and Johan continues to oversee operations at its Biezenmortel facility. His day-to-day involvement guarantees control over pressing, fermentation and bottling quality, and he produces his premium drinks according to authentic, artisanal methods: wine-like fermentation. The ciders and perrys contain all-natural ingredients — 100 percent fresh pressed apple or pear juice, classic Dutch varieties that characterise North Brabant’s terroir — champagne yeast, with no added water, sugar or concentrate.
De Vergeten Appel’s ciders are available as new batch or vintage (37.5 cl and 75 cl bottles, plus 20 l KeyKegs) because, as with all artisanal products, each year’s cider offers a unique character.
Tasting Set boxes are available too.
[Original article written for De Vergeten Appel, March 2020]