World Cider Day: Exploring the diversity of Australian Cider with leading craft producer

June 3, 2024
By Cody Profaca

Given that today, June 3, is World Cider Day, Drinks Trade thought it would be useful to shine a light on a sector that tends to fly under the radar in Australian liquor. 

Overall, Australia’s cider category is expected to continue its downward trend from its current worth of $1.8 million towards a value below $1.4 billion by 2027.

Nick Geoghegan, member of Cider Australia’s executive committee and Co-Owner of Small Acres Cyder, believes that this downward trend is occurring despite regions such as Orange NSW being perfectly suited for premium cider production. 

“It’s just a question of saying, ‘ok, what can we do that’s sort of different and special and that makes the most of the fruit we can get’,” he said.

For Geoghegan, this means balancing traditional European cider apples and styles with distinctively Australian expressions. 

“Unfortunately, the cider people are most familiar with in Australia is the mass produced brewery-owned brand… but, certainly in the UK and France, they’ve been making cider for centuries, and they have selected distinctive apple varieties just for cider making that have got more [savoury] flavour: they’ve got tannins and other characteristics you don’t get in your kind of regular apples.”

Under previous ownership, Small Acres Cyder was split between “the popular ciders – which were very accessible and easy to drink and made with dessert apples or dessert pears – and then some fantastic, real specific styles of cider, like the still ciders… but there wasn’t much in between.”

Since taking over Small Acres Cyder during the pandemic, Nick and Jeannene Geoghegan have been slowly working towards developing a portfolio that showcases the diversity of Australian cider. 

Drinks Trade had the opportunity to drink through six unique expressions from the current range.

Heritage Blend Apple Cider:

Forming part of its classic cider series is the Heritage Blend, which combines the savoury and structural elements of traditional French and Apple cider apple strains with the natural sweetness and brightness of Australian Pink Lady apples. The blend starts with a hit of fresh, brightly acidic table apple flavour, which leads into an underlying savoury, spicy note that develops into the finish.
“It’s a sort of a modern, very drinkable take on traditional cider, So it’s very accessible,” said Geoghegan. 

Pink Lady Apple Cider:

Also part of its classic cider series is the Pink Lady, a uniquely Australian style. This cider is all about the sweet bright apple flavour, which it achieves with tremendous freshness and purity. While perhaps less traditional and complex, this is the ideal cider for someone arriving to the craft sector via the more common, commercial offerings.
Nick Geoghegan said “we wanted to do a sweet cider with integrity, so it’s all apples, it’s all Pink Lady. There’s no dilution, no concentrate, all the sweetness is from the fruit: that lovely honey sweetness. 
“It was about acknowledging that most of the people in Australia and most people that come in here have not had all these funky, adventurous ciders and giving them a sort of a stepping stone towards experiencing some of those… I think it’s worked.”

Sparkling Perry 2021 – Methode Traditionelle Pear Cider:

First in Small Acres Cyder’s vintage lineup is the Sparkling Perry, made using the same traditional method of sparkling wine production used in Champagne. Expect sweet and juicy pear flavours combined with citrus, florals, and yeasty/bready notes from six months spent on lees, all with a light body and delicate structure. 
A unique, fresh, lower-alcohol substitute for sparkling wine occasions. 

Kingston Black 2023 Single Variety Cider:

Made in a more traditional cider style, expect a really savoury, earthy palate with a slight bitter edge and drying tannins. Powerful and assertive, with flavours that expand so far beyond just apple. 

Femme Fatale Rosé Cider:

Naturally pink hued as a result of using red-fleshed Huonville Crab apples, expect a cider that shares many flavour elements with rosé wine. This includes a fresh strawberry note, red apple and slight floral and nutty notes especially towards the finish, all supported by a slightly yeasty base. Lower in acidity and slight sweetness results in a soft and rounded mouthfeel.

Pommeau 2021 Apple Mistelle Fortified Cider Liqueur:

The final bottle in the lineup is actually a Normandy Style aperitif that took two years to craft. Starting with an Apple Spirit distilled from Small Acres ciders, this is then combined with freshly crushed apple juice and left to sit in oak barrels for over two years.
The result is a viscous and rich product that is best combined to a dessert wine, loaded with syrupy toffee apple, apricot and caramel flavours balanced by a high acid vein. Truly a unique drinking experience that  reveals the array of culture, styles, and philosophies that makes the world of cider so complex and intriguing.

All six of these ciders have won major accolades, including Pink Lady being awarded Champion Cider at the 2023 Sydney Royal Beer and Cider Show 2023 and Pommeau being awarded Best in Show at the 2024 Japan Cider Cup.

Speaking in general about the range, Geoghegan said, “we’ve lowered the carbonation, sort of made them less fizzy, more accessible. There’s quite a bit of acidity in them, but with less bubbles, it just makes them a bit more drinkable.

“We’re in here every weekend at the cellar door and we’re talking to people and we’re tasting stuff with them and you hear what they’re saying and what they’re liking. So we’re very lucky to have that cellar door.”

More from our chat with Nick Geoghegan can be read in this Drinks Trade article.

Share the content