Mark Chipperfield

Sydney has been a late starter in the artisan cider stakes. But enlightened publicans are finally giving over some of their taps to exotic home-grown pilsners, pale ales, porters and, increasingly, full-bodied alcoholic ciders; now the fastest-growing sector of the beverage market in Australia.

1. Original Apple Cider (4.5% ABV), Balmain Brewing Company

The boys from Balmain are better known for their beer, but this aromatic cider is a welcome addition. Using fruit sourced from Orange and the Blue Mountains, the brewers have created a well-structured cider with a crisp, medium-dry finish. Unlike many cloudy boutique ciders out there, this one pours bright and clear.

A refreshing summer drink, on tap in selected pubs.

2. Sydney Cider (4.5% ABV), Sydney Brewhouse

Another intriguing tipple from the Sydney Brewhouse in Surry Hills. Head brewer Michael Capaldo has used champagne yeast to give his cider a refined structure, more akin to wine than apple cider. The mouth feel is quite dry, with a strong, fruity nose.

Like all good craft ciders, it is made purely from apples, with no concentrate added. Sydney Cider is a popular base for cocktails.

3. 4 Pines Cider (4.4% ABV), 4 Pines Brewing Company

One reviewer describes 4 Pines Cider as "ridiculously drinkable" - and this pleasant, medium-dry cider enjoys a strong local following. The cider is made from 100 per cent pressed apples and it's a refreshing drink to be enjoyed during a long, dreamy summer's afternoon in Manly. Thankfully, the ferry station is just across the road.

4. Orchard Crush Apple Cider (4.8% ABV), James Squire

Created at the Malt Shovel Brewery, Orchard Crush carries all the promise of a classic farmhouse cider with a modern twist. This medium-dry cider, which contains fruit sourced from Orange and Mildura, has a fresh apple nose and a refreshing, zesty citrus finish.

It is available on tap or in a 500ml bottle.

5. Batlow Premium Cider (5.2% ABV), Batlow Brewing Company

This is the real deal - a clean-tasting medium-sweet cider, with a fresh, dry finish. The brewers use heritage cider apples from the Batlow Apple Co-operative (on the lower slopes of the Snowy Mountains). "We don't add sugar or concentrate," says brewer Rich Coombes.

"And none of our cider is pasteurised." Look out for Batlow's new cloudy cider, another great summer drop.

This article first appeared in the (sydney) magazine.