Taking a cider tipple for science

Ten of Tasmania's leading craft cider-makers and cider scientists gathered in Hobart to taste-test new harvest and trial ciders.

Dr Fiona Kerslake and Corey Baker The Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) and Cider Tasmania hosted the cider technical session involving an industry harvest tasting where cider makers shared and compared their 2016 harvest ciders prior to release.

Ten of Tasmania's leading craft cider-makers and cider scientists gathered in Hobart to taste-test new harvest and trial ciders as part of research that is helping grow the State's premium craft cider industry

TIA is leading a cider research program to find out the secrets behind making unique Tasmanian ciders, which involves trialing two different yeast varieties and comparing fermentation methods with different apple varieties.

TIA cider researcher, Dr Fiona Kerslake led the workshop and said panel members compared the laboratory analysis results and then rated the ciders.

"The taste tests compared with laboratory analysis further develops our understanding of what makes a good cider," Dr Kerslake said.

"This can be quite complex as there are multiple cider styles and further research is needed in Tasmania to understand the relationship between cider astringency and consumer  preferences with the available dessert apple varieties, like Granny Smith and Sundowner, that Tasmania is using to make cider."

"Old French and English style ciders are made using apples bred specifically for cider making, which have higher concentrations of phenolics. Phenolics are the compounds that give ciders their astringency, or 'dryness'."

"Understanding the relationship between taste preferences and laboratory analysis is valuable to cider makers who are developing novel styles. We have shown that our cider makers can make absolutely distinctive and beautiful Tasmanian ciders using the current apple varieties in Tasmania."

The results from the tastings will be fed back into TIA's cider research program to further advance the industry through research into strategies that yield unique characteristics and consistently produce high-quality ciders.

Cider is booming in Australia with double-digit growth and retail sales are expected to exceed $1 billion in retail sales by 2019 (IBIS World).

Tasmania currently has around 16 craft cideries, each contributing to Tasmania's growing reputation as a gourmet foodscape and travel destination.

Tasting notes from TIA's Dr Fiona Kerslake and Karina Dambergs of Red Brick Road Cider

  • In tasting the yeast and nutrient addition combinations, one type of yeast produced distinct banana ester aromas, which can also be perceived as tropical and fruity aromas.  These are the types of aromas which often suit a commercial, fruity style cider which is popular with consumers. 
  • The other yeast trialed was perceived to have more yeast derived aromas, which would likely lend itself to the more 'traditional' style of ciders on the market. 
  • The first yeast was described as 'broader and more fruit driven' on the palate, with the second yeast giving 'long and even' flavour. 
  • The type of yeast appeared to have more influence on the cider flavours and aromas than the nutrient addition, but with the nutrition analysis of the starting juice yet to be completed, this could be due to sufficient nutrient levels in the juice at the outset? 
  • These findings highlight the importance of producers knowing their apples and pears, knowing their composition including their nutrient levels and then knowing how this initial composition will interact with yeast to produce a specific style consistently. 
  • Cider making is 'horses for courses' with different techniques suiting different fruit, and all must be considered with the final outcome and consumer in mind … it's not a simple process!

TIA is a joint venture between the Tasmanian Government and the University of Tasmania.

Published on: 26 May 2016 11:06am