Four Bottles Left

When I went to England, my friends had some advice for me.

“Try Strongbow,” they said. “It’s a cider they have over there and it’s really good.”

I was a college sophomore, spending the better part of a month in the UK learning about writing and British writers. I liked England, with its gray drizzle that reminded me of my Northwest home.

I didn’t like feeling like an outsider because my goal wasn’t to be the next Great American Novelist, unlike some others in the class.

But I liked the frigid, dark, rainy January evenings spent in the pub with two or three friends – others who were writing for fun, not academia or accolades – before we went back to the hotel to work on our stories or watch this weird show we’d discovered, “Doctor Who.”

I liked being of legal drinking age, and I really liked Strongbow. I liked the crisp dryness of cider, something more grown-up than the Mike’s Hard Lemonade and (shudder) Smirnoff Ice I was used to drinking at the time.

So when I got home, I wanted to try to find Strongbow stateside.

Shopping for Strongbow became an ongoing quest, something archived in my mental grocery lists for around six years. Strongbow wasn’t easy to find, at least not where I lived, but occasionally I would find myself in a liquor store or specialty grocery store that happened have a six-pack. Then, I would savor my purchase, only cracking open a bottle for the most anticipated of parties or the worst of bad days.

Strongbow was my drink of choice on my birthdays. My then boyfriend, now husband even bought me a six-pack for my birthday one year. It had a red bow on it. When one of my England classmates returned home from a semester abroad, we drank Strongbow. (I remember texting her on a winter break, having just tracked down another six-pack: “Captain Strongbow rides again!“) And when other friends went to England, I passed along the recommendation.

Roll the clock forward on those six years. I graduated. I got married. I had three or four jobs. We bought a house. And all that time, I kept an eye out for Strongbow.

It turned out that the nearby Fred Meyer carried Strongbow right there in the beer aisle, a phenomenon I hadn’t experienced before. Strongbow? Just sitting there, waiting for me? Mission accomplished! I can just grab more whenever I want!

I took it for granted. That doesn’t mean I went crazy with it – in fact, I still have four bottles from the last six-pack I ever purchased. I still wanted to save them for special occasions.

Those occasions are going to have to be very special, because they stopped selling original Strongbow in the US in 2014.

I should’ve been paying more attention. Hindsight being 20/20, I realized I had begun to notice some kind of change. The beer aisle seemed to only offer something called Strongbow Gold, a sweeter variety I had no interest in. I just assumed the market was changing and I would have to resume actively searching for the Strongbow I liked. After being served the Gold stuff in a British pub in Portland, though, I finally looked online and found out Strongbow as I knew it didn’t even exist in this country anymore.

Four bottles left. How long does cider keep? How much longer can I preserve my nostalgia?

Hopefully it’ll buy me enough time to visit Canada and restock.


9 thoughts on “Four Bottles Left

  1. I fell in love with cider after a semester in the UK, but not with a particular brand. We used to go to a pub across the street from campus to partake of the very potent scrumpy cider. I was sad to learn that the pub was sold and torn down. I dreamed of returning there some day to see if I can still handle the drink.

    • The UK knows how to do cider, that’s for sure. 🙂 It is especially sad when the restaurants/bars we used to love disappear…I can probably find a substitute for Strongbow pretty easily, but there’s no way to replace the buildings and the experiences we had in them.

  2. This happens to me with cookie brands. My husband thinks I’m cursed. As soon as I find something I especially like and must have, it is discontinued. Oh, for an Entemann’s lowfat brownie cookie. Thanks for the fun read, Ruby.

  3. Funny how something can become so valuable when it is rare, but when it becomes plentiful, we take it for granted. This applies to so many things in our lives, but I think you know that. 🙂

    • Yep, I was definitely taking it for granted! Valuable life lessons, brought to you by alcohol. Thanks for commenting!

  4. The good news is the cider market has grown leaps and bounds in the past 5 years. May I suggest J. K. Scrumpy’s? It’s apples are grown in my hometown, which is decidedly not British but that is unfortunately not an option anymore.

    • It’s true, there are plenty of local ciders to choose from these days, thank goodness, especially in the Portland area where I live. I’ve seen JK Scrumpy around, so I will grab a bottle sometime! Thanks for the recommendation!

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