Cider Styles - What's the Deal?
Boutique cider is a growing industry in Australia, like boutique beer, people are becoming more willing to pay for quality products that are hand-crafted here in Australia, made with Australian ingredients. This is particularly relevant for cider, in which the general population just assume all cider is made from fresh apples. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, there are many large cider companies that make cider by simply diluting and fermenting foreign apple concentrate. A heap of sugar is then added to the end product, with some companies even adding artificial apple aromas and flavours! This is hardly healthy, nor does this process support the large number of hard working apple farmers scattered throughout Australia. However, the rise of boutique cider is changing this common perception, and showing the public what cider made from real apples actually tastes like (and it is so much better than the alternative). Of course, at Ohana Winery and Exotic Fruits, we love to produce natural products using fresh fruit sourced from our Queensland farmers, which is exactly what we do with our Cheeky Tiki Cider range.
So, when making real apple cider, what styles can be produced? There are two, "New World" and "Traditional". New World cider is the most common form of cider amongst boutiques cideries in Australia, and is the style we produce at Ohana Winery. New World ciders are made using fresh tables apples, think Royal Gala Red Delicious, Pink Lady and Granny Smith. These cider styles are generally lower in tannin and higher in acidity than their traditional counterparts. New World cider is produced using the same techniques as making a white wine, including a steady temperature controlled fermentation over 2-4 weeks, followed by a short ageing period. New World styles are generally very refreshing and light, making it the perfect cider for Australian summers.
Traditional style cider is common in Europe, particularly in the UK and France. These are ciders made using special cider apples that include a mixture of bittersweet and bitter sharp apples, that are higher in tannin than table apples. As such, traditional ciders are usually much tarter and carry a lot more tannin than new world styles. Traditional ciders are also commonly higher in alcohol, making for a heavier drinking cider. Traditional ciders generally undergo a slow fermentation at very cold temperatures, and have an ageing period of at least 12 months. They also usually have some oak contact, and may be put through a malolactic fermentation (this helps soften the harsh acids and tannins). Traditional cider is not very common in Australia, particularly as there are not many orchards that grow the traditional cider apple varieties. However, it's production in Australia is slowly growing, giving Australian cider drinkers the opportunity to experience all that cider has to offer!