Updated: Jan 31
In apple growing regions, the end of autumn means time to crack some craft ciders!
Do we say apple cider or just cider? Depending on what country you live, the term can differ. In Australia, the fermented alcoholic drink, or the unfiltered and unsweetened non-alcoholic drink, can both be called cider or apple cider. In the U.S. they call the alcoholic one a "hard cider". In Canada, cider is alcoholic and apple cider non-alcoholic and Québec uses other French terms. But anyway, whatever, they are all made from apple juice and are so delicious and refreshing. Sweet, dry, bubbly, fruity, rosé (pink), cloudy, there are varieties for all tastes. In Québec, artisanal production of ciders have a long history that began with the first French settlers. After prohibition and the "cider dark age", craft cider culture was revived and many types of cider were innovated, like ice cider, pressed with naturally frozen apples. Like the late harvest ice wine, the final result after fermentation is a sweet liquor, higher in alcool percentage than the regular ciders. In Australia, ice ciders are also crafted by freezing concentrated pressed apple juice. Cool climate regions are ideal for growing apples and Batlow is famous for its orchards, ciders and snowy mountains view. Two local apple growing and cider making families with different styles have welcoming cellar doors near Batlow. They both developed various cider types from their apples, and both make ice ciders.
Batlow Road Ciders • Photography and label design © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019
BATLOW ROAD CIDERS
Batlow Road Ciders are produced by Ralph and Judy at Wilgro Orchards, one the two main apple road stalls on Batlow Road. They developed varieties of ciders that includes apple, hopped, quince, cherry and ice cider. They are all processed traditionally with 100% pure juice and are totally natural without any preservatives, additives or carbonation. They also make other various apple products, all available at their cellar door where they now serve coffee, tea, snacks and meals to enjoy in the outdoor eating area by the orchard.
Crafty Ciders • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2020
Crafty Ciders is a small boutique cidery, sharing home with SMART Animal Sanctuary. You can meet lovely creatures when visiting the cellar door, even a camel! Tony and Lorene did very well moving near Batlow, after passing by as fruit pickers and years later managing an apple orchard and raising a family. Last year we went for a visit and I did a little self assigned shoot to captured some bottles, and the animals, it was a lot of fun! If you love a quality English style sweet, dry, ice, ginger or non-alcoholic apple cider, you gotta find a Crafty. And that is not too hard in the Snowys as they are now also available in pubs, restaurants and various little shops of the region. And of course, at Batlow Ciderfest!
Batlow Ciderfest • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2021
Batlow is a little quiet town in the mountains, but once a year, in May, the main street turns into a colourful street fest (except since Covid, as 2020 was cancelled and 2021 at a covid-safe location)! You can taste the best local and national boutique ciders (and local brews and wines) while enjoying it all with food, music, markets and entertainment. Ciderfest was founded by the legendary Harald Tietze over 10 years ago, to celebrate the end of the apple season. Here is a little documentary my husband made few years ago. It really captures the vibe of the event. But I just can't stop laughing when this French Canadian girl is caught to speak (yep that's me)... !
Ciderfest: Behind the Scenes • by John Riddell 2017
SERVING AND COOKING TIPS
Ciders are made with different types of apples. The heritage styles use cider apple cultivars and the modern styles use any table apples. There are also speciality styles made with other fruits, hops, ginger or spices. Ciders are best served chilled but can also be hot and mulled. Ciders are well paired with many types of dishes, appetisers, nuts and cheeses. Ice cider is more of a dessert liquor, pairing well with strong tasting cheeses, foie gras and ice cream. Ciders can also be used as an ingredient for slow cooking pork. Try my Cider Pulled Pork developed with the Bittersweet of Crafty Ciders. Apple cider vinegar is a must in the kitchen with many health benefits, and also keep your chicken flock healthy by pouring a drop in their water regularly. Wilgro Orchards also make natural apple cider vinegar, available locally.
Cracking apple ciders and hazelnuts • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2021
Check out related posts, recipes and inspirations: (more to come!)