Get to know Australian cider with this friendly guide »

She'll be apples (or pears) with this handy book!

By Kerry Scambler
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The Australian Cider Guide

The Australian Cider Guide

 Punt Road Wines and Napoleone & Co Ciders bottles in the orchard
Flying Brick Cider by Leura Park Estate
Pagan Cider on the Hobart waterfront
Rebello Wines - Cheeky Rascal cider

 

We don't really need research companies to tell us that drinkers of cider have increased markedly over the last few years. Any glance at the growing shelf space boasting ciders in bottleshops across the country is illustration enough.

But, with new cider brands popping up almost weekly from small and medium producers plus the large beverage companies jumping on the cider juggernaut, some might be reluctant to take the plunge into the apple (and pear) world.  But, fear not, The Australian Cider Guide has appeared at the just the right time.

Wine writer, cider judge and backyard cider maker Max Allen was born in England's West Country, the centre of UK cider making and writes the introduction and various other background information in the guide.As he says, when he was started writing about booze in the 1990s, cider was definitely not a player but over recent years Max has seen interest manifestly increase. So, now faced with literally a sea of cider to choose from, just where does one start?

I'm sitting writing today (quite appropriately on a Sunday for one not of the religious ilk) with a Pagan Cider as my friend. A deliciously fresh pear cider that I think is my just reward for a long day's work in the outdoors. Over the last few months, I've taken to buying a variety of ciders (especially home grown Tasmanian ones) along with my craft beers and it's been an education with my tastebuds now starting to appreciate the best (and reject the worst) of the beverages labelled cider.

By my side has been The Australian Cider Guide which has been a great introduction and reference book. Max Allen's relaxed and easy writing style makes taking in the background information so much easier and enjoyable. The sections include:

  • Cider - what is it? Around the world, in Australia, apples ain't apples
  • Enjoying cider and various styles
  • History of cider
  • Cider brands
  • Style focus - Perry

Up first is the background on cider and in a nutshell, it's all about the apples (probably why Tasmania is now offering up some of the best of the bunch). Interestingly Max also explains why cider making is more akin to wine making than beer brewing, yet the craft beer and cider makers also have much in common.

The following sections contain basic information, easily absorbed and remembered and suddenly allowing light to shine a lovely applely sheen on the topic. Not to mention broadening ones taste to appreciate another style of beverage, crafted by passionate people (including a number of winemakers!).

Almost half the book is dedicated to helping you understand cider and then you launch into an A-Z of around 35 cider brands from makers of all sizes around Australia. It's by no means an exhaustive list but it's certainly a great start for those wishing to dip their tastebuds into the apple universe.

Interesting as well to look at the diverse range of names and brands, from Cheeky Rascals and Cheeky Monkeys to Dirty Granny and Dr Pilkington's Miracle Cider (which by the way is a refreshing drop although I don't recall any sudden miracles occurring!). Other favourites amongst the VisitVineyards.com team are Flying Brick from the Bellarine Peninsula and Willie Smith's Organic Cider from Tassie's Huon Valley, some say the spiritual home in the Apple Isle.

With an estimated 100 plus cider brands on the market, I'd highly recommend The Australian Cider Guide for an excellent start to anyone's cider journey.

Gift suggestion: add a 6-pack (single variety or even better, a mixed bunch) of one of the ciders featured with  copy of The Guide as something a little different. 

The Australian Cider Guide, edited by Max Allen,  is published by Barrell Media & Events, Drummoyne, NSW. (2013, sc, 120pp A$24.95 ) and is available at good bookshops and online at www.ciderguide.com.au

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