Cider Australia has led tributes to pioneering orchardist and cider maker Drew Henry, who passed away earlier this week.
Henry was the co-owner of Henry of Harcourt, based in the valley of Harcourt in central Victoria.
Cider Australia president Sam Reid said Henry was a respected leader in the cider industry and one of the pioneers of cider apples.
“The industry is in shock at the passing of Drew following an accident at his orchard,” he said.
“He contributed so much to the cider industry and this is a devastating loss to his family, the tight-knit community of Harcourt and all those who were lucky enough to know him.”
“The cider category in Australia would not be what it is today without his vision and foresight and he will always be remembered for his strong opinions and generosity in sharing his knowledge”, said Reid.
Cider for grownups
Henry was a passionate believer that craft cider makers need to introduce cider apples to their products if the category is to be sustainable.
He said the current reliance on culinary apples means small producers are overwhelmingly making “sweet and fizzy” products that are too similar in style to that of the multinational-owned brands.
“You can’t compete with CUB, you can’t compete with Asahi, you can’t compete with Pressman’s [Australian Beer Company],” he told Brews News last year.
“Why try to make the same stuff they’re making? They’re going to kill you stone dead.”
He said the future of craft cider lies with products made using a hybrid of culinary and cider apples, which he termed “cider for grownups”.
A true pioneer: Max Allen
Cider writer Max Allen said Henry was a passionate advocate for cider tradition and culture and an outspoken critic of bland, industrial ‘alcopop cider’.
“With his wife Irene and son Michael, Drew started making traditional real ciders at the family’s orchard and cidery in Harcourt, central Victoria, in the late 1990s, years before the current cider boom took off, long before the market was ready for them,” Allen said.
“He sought out more than 40 English and French varieties of cider apples and perry pears in heritage collections around the country and planted and grafted them in his own orchard.”
Allen said Henry had encouraged many people to plant, make and drink real cider and perry made from real apples and pears, generously supporting them and advising them along the way.