The cider market in the United States has grown over 500 percent since 2011. While that is something to crow about, cider’s roots go much deeper and farther than just North American soils. Get to know cider on a global scale, using this introductory guide to six major international cider cultures. First up was Great Britain, followed by Ireland, France and Spain! Next, we go Down Under to Australia.
Apple trees were one of the first crops to be introduced into Australia in the late 1700s, by Captain Bligh of “Mutiny on the Bounty” fame, no less. As the domestic apple industry bloomed (and then with the exported advent of refrigeration at the end of the 19th century), the fermentative properties of apples were inevitably explored, too. Early cidermaking records extend back to the 1890s and certain ciders must have been notable over 100 years ago, as there is reference to Tasmanian cider in the Bulmers Cider archives in England dating back to 1907.
The Current Scene
Australia is emblematic of the sudden burst of development within the New World of cider over the last decade. The category is dominated by big brewer offerings — generally sweeter, mainstream, often fruity ciders appealing to a youthful, sweeter palate. At the same time there is a new wave of craft cidermakers surging, often with winemakers at the forefront. Certain sheltered parts of the Australian mainland lent themselves to the growing of apples exceedingly well, although nowhere more so than the cooler, temperate climes of the island state of Tasmania; today affectionately known as the Apple Isle. Tasmania remains the beating heart of the Australian cider scene today, although producers of note can be found in South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. Australian ciders are still dominated by the use of dessert apples, although there has been a smattering of traditional English and French varieties planted. And the heat in certain growing areas is so intense that the natural sugars within bittersweets and bittersharps can exceed 10 percent ABV when fermented.
4 Regional Apples to Know:
Granny Smith, Gala, Pink Lady, Fuji
Classic Ciders to Sip
Willie Smith’s Organic: A blend of dessert apples is cleverly put together to make this balanced, juicy and eminently quaffable cider. A beach classic.
Henry of Harcourt Kingston Black: About as far away from its homeland as possible, this Kingston Black cider from Central Victoria expresses itself as an intensely bold, vibrant and spicy 11 percent ABV monster.
Small Acres Cyder Sparkling Perry: Winemakers at Small Acres apply their skills to extracting tropical and stone fruit characters from dessert pears to make a drink that’s perfect with lunch on a warm summer’s day.