Category Archives: Cider

Beer and cider review — Batlow and Holgate

Batlow Premium Cider 330ml 4-pack $16
What a contrast between the sweet, bland, mass-produced ciders and the crisp, crunchy apple-in-a-bottle taste of Batlow Premium – an off-dry, tart, cider made from apples grown within a 30 kilometre radius of Batlow. The company says it uses only freshly crushed apples, not concentrate, and adds no sugar. And it tastes like it.

Holgate Brewhouse Temptress Chocolate Porter 330ml $6.50
It’s not a heatwave brew, but at a tad over six per cent alcohol, Chocolate Porter suits those cool Canberra nights. It’s a porter, made from seven different malts, boosted by the addition of cocoa and vanilla beans. The vanilla sits well in the background. But the cocoa adds luxurious chocolate flavours and texture.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013
First publisehd 30 January 2013 in The Canberra Times

Aussie cider market grows 30 per cent in a year

The increasing number of ciders reviewed simply reflects the phenomenal growth in popularity.

An Ibis World report in March estimated a $300 million market for cider in 2011–12 following compound annual growth of 19.1 per cent since 2006–07. The report said sales increased by more than 30 per cent in 2010–11 alone and predicted continued strong growth for the next five years. The increase defied wet weather, a declining beverage market and weak economic conditions

And if a Nielsen Scantrac report of February 2012 is correct, cider’s rise is accelerating.  The report estimated current growth at 42.8 per cent by volume and 58 per cent by value.

Everyone’s jumping on the cider wagon, brewers included. Ibis World estimates the number of brands at 90. But this seems conservative to me. Prepare for the cider feast.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 7 November 2012 in The Canberra Times

Beer and cider review — Bulmers and 2 Brothers

Bulmers Ginger Apple Cider 500ml $6.50
Bulmers say their new brew contains fermented ginger. Certainly ginger dominates the aroma and flavour – and even provides a little ginger heat in the aftertaste. The apple flavour, however, disappears beneath the ginger, leaving the impression more of ginger beer than cider, complete with a cloying, sweet aftertaste.

2 Brothers Taxi Pilsner 330ml $4.90
The website claims a silver medal for 2 Brothers Pilsner at the Australian International Beer Awards 2008, but the Schloss Shanahan bottle doesn’t rate as highly. As a German-style pilsner it’s a bit plump, lacking the tightness and bitterness of hops. I suspect the bottle’s a little old even though purchased retail only recently.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 7 November 2012 in The Canberra Times

Cider market rules

Growing demand for cider sent Canberra wine distributor Bill Mason in search of a local product for his portfolio.

The search led to brothers Anton and Mark Balog, well-known figures in the Southern Highlands wine community. Anton makes wine for Cherry Tree Hill as well as for Artemis, their own winery. And Mark has been behind extensive vineyard plantings across the region.

Anton now also makes apple and pear cider in the Artemis winery. The fruit is crushed by wooden rollers, basket pressed and, after clarification, combined with spring water, fermented then filtered and carbonated.

The clean, protective process captures the fresh fruit flavour, much as winemakers protect riesling grapes to retain the delicate aromatics and flavours. The brothers plan on opening a wine and cider cellar door facility at Artemis, on the old Hume Highway Mittagong, in November.

Sunshack Apple Cider 500ml $5.80
If tasting like fresh apples means good cider, then this is good cider. The colour’s a bright, pale lemon and the aroma reminiscent of very ripe, sweet apples. The palate, however, delivers the tang and thrust of just-ripe apples, though the flavour seems very ripe. The finish is clean, fresh and dry with an apple-like aftertaste.

Sunshack Pear Cider 500ml $5.80
Capturing pear flavour in cider seems to be more difficult than capturing apple flavours. But Sunshack succeeds better than most – the fresh, ripe, pear character carrying through on the aroma and palate and then lingering on unmistakeably in the dry aftertaste. Brisk acidity gives it life and lift.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 31 October in The Canberra Times

Cider review — Dr Pilkington’s

Dr Pilkington’s Miracle Cider 500ml $6.99
I buy most of my beer and cider samples – but this rare freebie arrived with a silly, uninformative press release, revealing only that it’s made from apples at Chapel Hill winery, McLaren Vale. Google says it’s available at Dan Murphy’s; and my own palate enjoys a delightful, pale, fresh, tart and genuinely appley-tasting dry cider.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 24 October 2012 in The Canberra Times

Cider review — James Squire

James Squire Orchard Crush Apple Cider 500ml $6.99
James Squire (part of Kirin-owned Lion group), the latest brewer to hop on the cider wagon, offers a pleasingly dry style with the refreshing flavour and tart bite of a fresh, slightly green granny smith. In a claim reminiscent of “cotton rich” material, we’re told it’s made from a “high proportion of seasonal, locally-grown apples”.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 19 September 2012 in The Canberra Times

Apple isle cider style

The two ciders reviewed today, like the Adelaide Hills products reviewed last week, show the breadth of the craft cider movement in Australia – a movement intent on using natural production techniques and locally grown apples and pears.

The Two Metre Tall Company, owned by Ashley and Jane Huntington, originally brewed real ale but moved to cider production when they discovered the Griggs family growing the traditional English apple cider variety, sturmer pippin, in the Huon Valley.

Ashley, formerly a winemaker for BRL Hardy in France’s Languedoc region, makes the ciders as well as beer from locally grown grains and hops.

The Cidery, located at Bridgetown, Western Australia, makes juice and a range of ciders from apples grown in the long-established Blackwood Valley orchard region.

The idiosyncratic ciders below contrast dramatically in style – the first revealing subtle, pure fruit flavour; the second the grungy characters of prolonged ageing.

The Two Metre Tall Company Farmhouse Dry Cider 500ml $9.90
Ashley Huntington makes this dry, 7.5 per cent, bottle-fermented cider from the traditional English variety, sturmer pippin, grown by the Griggs family in the Huon Valley. The alcohol disappears without trace in a pleasantly tart, dry palate. The fresh, natural apple acidity accentuates the subtle, fresh, delicate apple flavour.

The Cidery Scudamore’s Real Scrumpy Cider 330ml $5.00
The Cidery makes its ciders from pink lady apples grown in Western Australia’s Blackmore Valley. They add no sugar, water, preservative, concentrate or flavour. Their scrumpy storms deliciously over the palate with its eight per cent alcohol and the oxidative, vinegary and sherry-like notes derived from prolonged ageing in barrels.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 12 September 2012 in The Canberra Times

Adelaide Hills turns to cider

In 2010 Steve Dorman and Tobias Kline joined the fast-growing cider industry, sourcing apples and pears from the Adelaide Hills region.

Dorman, a winemaker, says he employs basic winemaking concepts for the ciders – making batches from different apple varieties, picked at different stages of ripeness, then blending to achieve balance between acidity and fruit flavour.

He says the apples and pears come only from the Adelaide Hills and the ciders are made without sugar or flavour additions.

His Hybrid Series combines Adelaide Hills cider with other Australian ingredients – for example, the apple and Queensland ginger cider below and for summer, co-fermented apple and Queensland mango.

A love delicate, dry pear cider ($16.99 330ml 6-pack) and the two ciders reviewed today are outstanding. They’re available at Jim Murphys, Local Liquor Hughes and Narrabundah and Ainslie Cellars, with cider on tap at Little Brussels, Kingston.

The Hills Cider Company Apple Cider 330ml 6-pack $16.99
How refreshing – a dry cider tasting of apples. They’re grown in the Adelaide Hills and deliver a lively, pale-lemon coloured cider with a pleasantly tart acidity accentuating the pure apple flavour – a sort of green apple acidity with ripe apple flavour. The finish is dry and clean, begging another mouthful.

The Hills Cider Company Hybrid Series Apple and Ginger Cider 750ml $15–$20
The hybrid series pairs Adelaide Hills fruit with other ingredients, in this instance fresh ginger from Queensland. The ginger, added during the fermentation, pleasantly dominates the aroma, but on the palate the apple flavour and tartness harmonise nicely with the pungent ginger, leaving a fresh, clean, dry apple-like aftertaste.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 5 September 2012 in The Canberra Times

Cider review — Henney’s

Henney’s Vintage 2010 Still Cider 500ml $7.50
As cider’s popularity grows, we’re seeing many more high-quality versions made entirely from apples – in this case from cider varieties grown in Herefordshire, England. Made in autumn and stored over the winter, Henney’s delivers the full, ripe, mellow slightly rustic flavour of apples with a firm, dry finish.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 22 August 2012 in The Canberra Times

Beer and cider review — Mountain Goat and Rekorderlig

Mountain Goat Organic Steam Ale 330ml $4.00
“Eat sleep drink Goat”, the label urges. And I’ll happily do the last bit, as it’s a delightful, fresh, bottle-conditioned beer. The colour’s a very pale lemon and the spiciness under the herbal hops aroma suggests wheat beer – an impression confirmed by the fine, white head and brisk, tart, irresistible palate.

Rekorderlig Premium Pear Cider 500ml $8
Our jam makers long ago realised the economies of sugar versus fruit. Dare I suggest the same about Sweden’s popular Rekorderlig cider? Perhaps I missed its charms. But try as I could, the faint but definite pear flavour struggled under the cloying sweetness. Blessed are the sweet of tooth, for sugar is cheap.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 1 August 2012 in The Canberra Times