According to Roy Morgan Research, there were more Aussies drinking cider than ever before. In the 12 months to March 2013, nearly one in five Australians aged between 18 and 24 drank cider in an average four-week period. compared to just one in 25 in 2008. While young people were most likely to drink cider, there was a steep increase among 35 to 49-year-olds too, from 3 per cent to 8 per cent over the previous two years. The Australian Cider Festival was first held at Manly’s Hotel Steyne in October 2012.
But there are ciders and ciders. The giants of the drinks industry were keen to capitalise on the cider trend with Foster’s relaunching Strongbow and Coca-Cola Amatil distributing a big Swedish brand with the rather ungainly handle of Rekorderlig. Wine writer Max Allen roundly condemned these brands, along with the Carlsberg offering, Somersby, pointing out that they were made from water, sugar and apple juice concentrates.
However, in a trend that echoes the growth of craft beer, many smaller makers were crushing their own fruit and producing cider that was, as Allen said “real, whole-juice cider, made from real apples and pears”. Many of these makers identified the apple variety on their labels – there was Granny Smith, Pink Lady and William Pear. (I always thought the drink made from pears was called Perry, but perhaps that’s a step too far for our local drinkers.)
There was also a trend for flavoured ciders, with added raspberry, strawberry, lemon, or even ginger. The imported Swedish brand Kopparberg, for example, had mixed fruit, strawberry and lime and elderberry and lime variations.
A further Roy Morgan study in 2019 found that the percentage of people drinking most types of alcoholic drinks had declined. Cider was the only exception, with the percentage of people consuming it rising marginally from 11.1% to 11.4% in the five years since 2014.