Jimi Anderson (left) tasting ciders

Such is the growing quality and variety in the Australian cider making industry that Beer & Brewer felt it couldn’t be ignored. So we have introduced a 13th category to the Beer & Brewer Awards: Best Cider Maker. The judges have spoken and our inaugural winner is Jimi Anderson, cider maker at Willie Smith’s in Tasmania.

“I’m a little bit speechless,” Anderson says. “I didn’t see it coming. We’ve had a great few years, doing some wonderful things. It’s fantastic to have my name there but it wouldn’t be possible without the team behind me. I’m honoured and humbled.”

Anderson started out in hospitality, before working for Iron House Brewery in the north east coast of Tasmania. Here he cut his teeth in the world of sales and marketing, as well as on the production floor. It was then that Willie Smith’s founder Sam Reid got in touch and asked him if he could take over things until he could find a full-time cider maker.

“I must have been doing something right because I’m still holding that role now!” laughs Anderson. “I’ve
always been a big fan of the craft beer industry and I saw in the move to Willie Smith’s an opportunity to get into production. I took it as quickly as I could.”

The move to Willie Smith’s transformed Anderson into a cider fan, driving him to understand what cider in the New World could be, and what was available in Tasmania.

“I’m on the traditional style of cider. I have a great passion for making the wild stuff in particular. To work with great guys making traditional English and French cider is just amazing. We try to absorb as much as we can from as many producers, especially French, Spanish and English. We let the apple do what it does best by not filtering out the goodness, by working with suppliers and putting our own spin on it.

“The products where we are, are slightly different to what you’d expect in the UK or France. We’re able to produce throughout the year as we need it. I very much see Willie Smith’s at the cutting edge, the front foot as far as driving the quality of the product, making sure everything  we’re using is as locally sourced as we can possibly get it, making sure we can manage the product, orchard to bottle.

“Australian cider is only helping that. The more people you have behind the wheelbarrow the easier it is to push. The industry as a whole has really got on board with that.”

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