Yarra Valley Cider & Ale Trail

The history of beer in the Yarra Valley is believed to go back to the early 1800's when growing hops was a major farming activity in the region. Whilst hop farms have disappeared today except for the odd hop kiln remains, the craft breweries in the Yarra Valley are working hard to make sure beer remains an important part of the Yarra Valley's past, present and future. The Yarra Valley is also one of Victoria's oldest cider regions and was the birthplace of Australian Methode Traditionale cider. Records show cider production by Mac's Lilydale Cider from as early as 1934. Proprietor and cider maker George McGowan purchased "Olinda Park" in 1932 with cider in mind- the property was already home to rare cider apples from Devon stock. In the same year, McGowan converted an old packing shed into a cidery. The first pressing of apples was in March 1934 and the cidery produced carbonated cider and a 10 per cent alcoholic cider named Lilydale Cider - the biggest sales of which were to motorists at the weekends. The business was eventually sold in 1961 and George McGowan retired to the Mornington Peninsula. In the 1960s Darren Kelly, of Kellybrook Winery, home of Kelly Brothers Cider, travelled through Europe and studied artisan cider making, then began producing Methode Traditionale cider in the late 1960's, the only one in the country at the times. In 1938 George McGowan was convinced that cider had a big future in the Yarra Valley and now with a growing number of cider producers and hundreds of apple orchards in the region, the Yarra Valley is once again making its name for cider.

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