There will be thirteen ciders on tap for Ciderhouse – a number which is considered unlucky for some, including those of us who really like hoppy pale ales. However, cider is indisputably a fast growing section of the New Zealand drinks market.
I know this to be true because the central government bureaucracy had to take note and actually do something about it. See, Statistics NZ used to produce annual alcohol consumption statistics showing how much beer, wine and spirits Kiwis drank.
Cider did not appear in the figures at all until quite recently. Some years ago, a cheeky beer writer actually rang the “media inquiries” phone number at the bottom of the relevant Stats press release and asked why cider was not measured. The very polite official argued that cider consumption was so low that it was not statistically significant and therefore not worth the effort to record. She did also indicate the call was literally the first time they had a media query about people drinking cider. 
The situation has radically changed with cider production and cider consumption soaring, particularly for less sweet and more natural cider products. Tom Hickman, in his authoritative book “Drink – A User’s Guide” provides my favourite definition of cider. He said cider is:
“A fermented alcoholic beverage made from fruit, in this case usually apples… unique… neither wine (though made like wine) nor beer (though drunk like beer) and produced in as wide a variety of styles as either.”
Cider is not a new product. Hickman noted the English Saxons in Kent were enjoying many a pint of cider as early as 55BC when the Romans arrived. Julius Caesar himself was such a fan of cider he had apple tree seeds and saplings taken to Rome, but it never caught on. 
It did in the American colonies where it was “most abundant and the cheapest fluid.” He also tells the tale of the revolutionaries who committed the Boston Tea Party. They actually boarded a second English ship carrying cider – lots of cider. However, rather than tipping the cider into the sea as they had done with the tea, that precious apple-based cargo was taken home to drink instead.
I am not a noted cider drinker. In fact I am not really a cider drinker at all. Subsequently, the tasting notes will be even briefer than usual but should give some clues about flavours. Here is the full cider list for Ciderhouse 2017:
Zeffer Two Point Five Session Cider (2.5%) – New World argues that “Two Point Five is among the most interesting ciders on the market. First, it’s hard to believe it’s only 2.5% ABV given the huge expanse of joy in the flavour. This is created by soaking fresh flowers – sunflowers, rose, jasmine and calendula – in freshly crushed apple cider.”
Zeffer Ginger Cider (4.5%) – Zeffer makes a famous alcoholic Ginger Beer. They also make a non-alcoholic one as well for some reason. This is a new cider that combines freshly fermented ginger root with freshly crushed apple cider.
Forbidden Cherry Sour – This is another new one which adds cherries and a non-traditional sourness to the cider.
Forbidden Summer Mint and Lime (5.6%) – Forbidden are a cidery based in Long Bay, Auckland. They warned people to “keep an eye out for special releases that will challenge traditional boundaries.” This is another one, this time with mint and lime to the fore.
Scoundrels and Rogues Pleasantly Corrupted (8.9%) – The brewers claim the apples were pilfered in the dead of night and then bashed with sledgehammers to extract the juice. So, living up to the Rogues and Scoundrels name indeed. You have to be pretty rogue-ish to make a barrel-aged 9% cider…
Eddies Apple Cider (5%) – Made from a single variety Cox orange apple then back-sweetened with fresh apple juice.
Aspall Suffolk Draught Cyder (5.5%) – This is a British cider with quite the pedigree having been established way back in 1728. It is very dry and lip-smackingly refreshing.
Thatchers Gold Cider (4.8%) – While only making cider for a comparatively short 100 years,  Thatchers has one advantage over Aspall because they use apples from their own orchards. It is medium-dry and smooth.
Peckham’s Wild all the Way Cider (5.1%) – Champion Cider at the 2017 New Zealand Cider Awards. No further explanation needed.
Peckham’s Home Block (6%) – Made with 100% Cider Apples this cider is the perfect balance between sugar sweetness, acidic sharpness and tannins. A spritzy solid cider!
3 Wise Birds Bach Life (5.7%) – The use of classic Kiwi Granny Smith apples produces a classic dry and crisp drop.
3 Wise Birds Gone Bush (5.7%) – A hopped cider which is my favourite style of cider – mainly because it includes hops. With Braeburn apples and Smoothcone hops, even I may have to give it a try.
3 Wise Birds Summer Fling (7%) – Made with Pink Lady apples, it is off-dry with a mix of sweet, smooth and acid characteristics.
I should note that my fridge always includes a rigger of cider because I use it for cooking. My particularly favourites include using cider to steam fresh clams with onion, carrot and celery, and splashing cider at the last minute onto cooked black pudding and fresh baby spinach in the breakfast pan. Recipes are available on request.
Additionally, the title of this blog is a quote from the 1999 movie “Cider House Rules” which is almost certainly where Malthouse got the “inspiration”  for the Ciderhouse name. I was going to talk about the movie far more in this post but:
- I have never seen it.
- It has Tobey Maguire starring as an unlicensed doctor called Homer.
- It was critically acclaimed even though not many people actually went to see it.
Next time, we drink to Australia voting “yes” for same sex marriages. Good on youse! 
 Yes, it was me. It was me all along.
 Much like indicating when driving in Italy.
 “Short” compared to Aspall.
 “Inspiration” = “Stole”.
 International readers should be aware that it is rare for New Zealanders or Australians to congratulate the other. But this time – they done good.
Malthouse turns Ciderhouse Facebook Event – https://www.facebook.com/events/1937161593213248/
Malthouse Facebook – www.facebook.com/pages/Malthouse/7084276173
Malthouse Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/malthouse
Malthouse Taps on Twitter – www.twitter.com/#!/MalthouseTaps
Neil Miller on Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/#!/beerlytweeting