Thinking of taking a trip to cider country? Make sure you’re in the know.
While they all benefit from the state’s sublime growing conditions, comparing two Tasmanian ciders is like comparing apples and oranges. That’s because each one is made with a different blend of different apple varieties.
Although any apple (as long as it’s not rotten) can be made into apple cider, blending the right apples together is an art form. Just like hops and beer, or grapes and wine, every cider depends on its own blend of apple styles to make it unique.
Some cider-makers will use dessert or cooking apples in their cider, which generally give sweeter, more contemporary flavours. Others will use smaller, more traditional cider apples that give complexity and tartness. Some get the best of both worlds by using a combination of all three.
Whatever they use, cider-makers take passion in blending the perfect balance between acidity and sweetness; high amounts of sugar are needed to encourage fermentation, while acidity helps offset the sweetness and gives the cider flavour.
What separates apple juice from apple cider is fermentation. The sugar (which is naturally found in the apples) is converted into alcohol by yeast. The longer the cider is fermented, the more sugar will be converted into alcohol. A lot can be decided during fermentation – whether the cider will be sweet, dry, high or low in alcohol and how it will taste.
Located a half hour’s drive of Hobart, the Huon Valley has been Tasmania’s apple hot spot for over 100 years. Even today, over 80 per cent of the state’s apples came from here. Naturally also where you’ll find some of the island’s best ciders.
Cider made with pears, which is becoming more and more popular with Tasmanian makers.
Scrumpy is a type of cider that’s non-sparkling and made traditionally. Boasts full-on flavours that are for real cider enthusiasts.
Tannins are a bitter substance is found in pears and apples. They add flavour, mouthfeel and complexity to a cider
Cider works on a basic scale of sweet to dry. Tasmania excels at making ciders that fall on both ends of the spectrum.
DRY: Many traditional ciders taste are naturally dry – either because they’ve been fermented until there’s little sugar left, or because they’re made using tannic and bitter apples instead of sweeter ones.
SWEET: If dry is at one of the spectrum, sweet is at the other. If a cider’s sweet, it could mean the cider-maker used a shorter fermentation time, sweeter apples or they apples sugar to the blend.
It’s yeast that converts the sugars found in crushed apple into alcohol. In traditional ciders (including some Tasmanian ones) the yeast naturally found in the fruit is used, while others are made with a known yeast variety, which gives a more consistent result.
WILD YEAST: This is the yeast that’s naturally used found in apples. Using this yeast is the way of traditionalists, but since it’s an unknown force, cider-makers can find it tricky to control the cider’s fermentation. This often means a drier cider, since the maker has less say on when the sugar stops being converted to alcohol.
CONTROLLED YEAST: Adding a controlled yeast to the apples gives the cider-maker a bit of security. They know how the cider’s going to affected by the yeast, and they can exert more control over the end result.