I don’t know about you’re town today, but right now Beertown is having an unseasonably sunny June evening. I know cider is usually a summer drink, but hey.
My local New World recently converted its largest wine display fridge to cider, even as winter looms. OK so much of it is Recorderyuk slapper juice, but fortunately it also has several facings from New Zealand’s best cider makers.
Any decent cider on the shelves today will be from the 2014 crop. The 2015 vintage won’t be available until next spring/summer. Cider makers tell Beertown the hot summer produced a quality crop of small apples with a high sugar content.
In North Auckland, Zeffer Cider’s Jody Scott says apple yield was well up on previous years, and produced “small, really good quality” fruit with a sugar content of 12-16 Brix (~ 1.065 OG). Jody says the all-cider apple Slack Ma Girdle is looking really good so far. “It’s early days and it won’t be released until it is ready, maybe at the end of the year”.
And here’s one to look out for now. Bach Brewing Ocean Breeze Pressed Apple Cider (5.5%) has obvious real cider credentials right from the start. It starts off sweet and then the tannins kick in with a bit of a puckering astringency. For my palette, used to bitter hops, it can be a bit confusing – yes, real cider can be sweet but not taste sweet (or bitter) at the same time.
The reason Bach got it so right is that Ocean Breeze is made by those very talented cider makers at Peckham’s Cider. Peckham’s has its own cider apple orchard, uses a traditional apple press, and ages the cider for at least six months. Peckham’s make several ciders under its own brand, and they are all worth checking out too.