The guys down at Willie Smith’s have a new cider. Willie Smith’s Bone Dry Cider, is, as the name suggests, it’s a dry cider. While their first cider I reviewed was based on the French farmhouse style, the Bone dry is based on a traditional Herefordshire style. The big difference between the Herefordshire and this Tassie cloudy is the apples used. Here we have eating apple and not the traditional cider varieties. Sam Reid, the head cider maker at Willie Smith’s told me, the Bone Dry is a favourite among the local farmers when served at The Apple Shed. It’s earned itself the nickname “The Knee Bender” as its easy drink and quite strong.
In this real cider review it’s all about wild yeast, open fermentation and unfiltered cider . This is as raw as cider gets. The guys over on the west coast at Custard & Co have made a Scrumpy. Some say scrumpy cider is the pinnacle of traditional cider making, others get the impression that is gut rot cider and is best avoided, not the case here. The Custard & Co Scrumpy are heavily influenced by the British cider making styles and techniques. The head cider maker trained in the UK where scrumpy is more common than on the Aussie cider market.
I was in the mood for an English cider. At my local bottle shop in the back corner I saw Hogan’s Dry Cider. Proudly sitting on top of the bottle was a sticker proclaiming 1st Place at the Royal Bath and West Show. I thought to myself the competition at the Bath and West must be pretty stiff, this is in the middle of the West Country cider making region. That has got to be a good recommendation.
Continuing the theme of Aussie ciders I’ve reviewed named after water fowl, Lucky Duck and Sitting Duck being the other two, Gilbert’s The Goose is made by the Gilbert Family of wine makers. This is one of only a handful of Aussie ciders made with traditional British cider apples. The Foxwhelps and Kingston are blended with the eating apple developed here in Australia: Pink Ladies and Granny Smiths.
Like Napoleon Cider, The Goose is made by wine makers. I think it would be an easier transfer of skills between grapes and apples compared to the transition from brewing beer to fermenting apples. Wine and Cider making require you to focus on the fruit’s juice and how yeast act on it. A delicate balance of flavours is needed to make a great drink. A good wine maker has the potential to be a good ciderist. So can the boutique winery make a quality boutique cider?
Earlier in the year I meet the boys from Custard & Co who made the trip over from Western Australia for the Sydney Taste Festival. Where I tried a few of their real ciders. One of them I tried was the Custard & Co Original Apple Cider I was very impressed by it and I’ve been looking for a bottle of it ever since for a proper review.
“To drink sediment or not to drink sediment that is the question.” – a quote there from William Shakespear’s West Country cousin.
If you speak to enthusiasts about bottle conditioned cider and beers they will tell you its fine to drink sediment and its a source of vitamin B, but doesn’t really add to the taste. Others will say “it will just make one rather windy” and it’s best left in bottle. The Adelaide based Coopers Brewery encourages drinkers to rock the bottle around a bit to mix in the sediment. LOBO Cloudy Cider is unfiltered meaning some of the finer parts of the apples flesh makes it all the way from pressing to the bottle. These along with the dead yeast cells settle at the bottom. In a cunning move LOBO’s website says the following
Pouring LOBO cider, excellent over ice – invert the whole bottle. It can also be rolled gently or poured carefully leaving the sediment in the bottle, each method giving different levels of clarity. The flavour changes, experiment and see which you prefer.
Basically try it a few times in different way see what works for you. I didn’t pour mine over ice, instead I gentle poured the bottle of cloudy cider into the pint glass leaving the sediment in the bottle. I figure the LOBO looks thick and cloudy enough without adding the yeast cells back in.
I decided to review Tilse’s Apple Truck cider after seeing it my local pub. They poured the pale cider from the tap into an icy schooner. Produced at top end on the Hunter in the little town of Scone, Apple Truck Cider is the mostly locally made cider to where I grew up. When reviewing ciders I’m always interested in how the local climate affects the flavours.
Scone is on the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales. The winters do get chilly which apples need to fruit. While the summers have plenty of sunshine. The Granny Smith and Red Delicious love conditions like this. These Granny Smiths make a very clear and pale cider.
Frank’s Summer Apple Cider is as straight forward as cider gets. “We don’t muck around.” That’s how Frank grew apples. Now his grandaughter has taken over the “Woodside” orchard. Some of the trees are over 80 years old which is a pretty rare thing on the Australian cider scene, but the Tasmanian Huon Valley provides the perfect conditions for growing apples as we’ve seen in the Willies Smiths and Pagan Ciders reviews.