The cider spin-off is the first initiative backed by Stone & Wood’s new business incubation hub, which will also be investing in and supporting external drinks businesses.
“Driven by the vision of supporting local farmers by crafting cider from 100 per cent freshly crushed apples grown in the region, we have established the Granite Belt Cider Company,” Stone & Wood said.
“At a time when the cider market is dominated by imported cider brands and juice concentrate the Granite Belt Cider Company is committed to keeping it local and real.
“Whilst initially sourcing freshly crushed juice from the region, we are currently searching the Granite Belt for a suitable property where we intend to build a home base for the business.”
Stone & Wood co-founder Jamie Cook told Australian Brews News that no-one else had taken advantage of the Granite Belt as a source of fruit for cider.
“We think the local farms up there are missing out on a market that’s growing pretty strongly,” he said.
“Obviously at the moment they have’t really had a cider focus, so there’s not really orchards full of West Country cider apples up there at this stage. But there’s some very good quality table apples.”
Granite Belt’s cider maker is Luke Rutland, formerly of the Stone & Wood brewing team.
“He’s been working with some external consultants to develop our knowledge and skills and experience in cider,” said Cook.
Rutland said the debut product, Treehouse Cider, is “refreshing and clean with a medium dry finish”.
“It’s been an exciting time putting Treehouse together and we are looking forward to working closely with the orchardists in the region to see what else we can create from their fruit in the future,” he said.
Granite Belt Cider Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Stone & Wood Group, and Treehouse Cider will be distributed by Square Keg, the new sales and distribution business recently established as part of the Stone & Wood family of businesses.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of Square Keg’s announcement of its first agency brand, England’s Aspall Cyder, which Cook said will be complementary in the portfolio to Treehouse.
“Aspall is positioned very much at the top end of the cider market, in terms of pricing and quality of product. We’ll keep that focus for Aspall,” he said.
Treehouse Cider will be available in 4-packs of 330ml bottles and on draught.