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October 7, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Cider? I Barely Knew Her

Summer is, I swear, just around the corner. For many, that means lying on the beach in between trying to find new flatmates for next year. For me, it means cider time. You see cider is (and please quote me on this) the next big thing in the New Zealand craft-beverage world. If you look at New Zealand cider now, you can see similar signs to the craft-brewing industry a few years back, and I think craft cider is about to go off.

Having said that, the best, most exciting ciders I’ve had are British or, particularly, French imports. That’s partly because those places have a long tradition of excellent cidermaking. But it’s also because in New Zealand, most of what passes for cider is actually alcoholic apple concentrate, frequently with berry or other fruit extract added. While I don’t wish to disparage this (God knows a flagon of berry-flavoured apple-booze is a great thing at a BBQ), it is only a fraction of what cider has to offer us.

So what ciders will I be enjoying this summer? My go-to favourite cider for any situation is Peckham’s English Cider (5.6 per cent). It’s pale amber, pleasantly dry, with lovely soft tannins. Peckham’s themselves are based in Moutere, but can be found in bottles and on tap around Wellington. They make a range of ciders, including some fun-fruity kinds and a few limited-release and wild-fermented apple blends.

Another favourite of mine is Zeffer Slack Ma Girdle (7 per cent). Named after a traditional English apple variety and hailing from Matakana, this is a bold, tart and dry cider for your more serious cider session.

If you like other things mixed in your cider (and why not?) or if you like your cider on the sweeter side, then you should try some Apple Tree Cider Co. ciders which come in Elderflower, Spiced Apple, and Pear and Ginger varieties; all 4.5 per cent, and all a lot of fun.

Finally, for beer-drinkers who wish to tread on more familiar turf, Townshend Brewery makes a number of limited-release ciders from the apples that grow at the brewery. Currently available from Regional Wines and Spirits is the Sitbee Cider (5.8 per cent). Fizzy, very tart and a little dirty, Townshend ciders are almost always something unexpected.

This is my last column for the year. Have a great (and responsible) beery (and cidery!) summer, and hopefully I’ll see you back here next year for more important beer-talk.

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