The south west of WA has become a hub for craft beer and cider, with an array of top shelf producers creating some amazing drops. The annual South West Craft Beer Festival shines the spotlight on these clever cats, bringing together a raft of producers exclusively from the region, sharing their brews directly with the public. It’s happening again this Saturday 3 March, so get your tickets and head on down!
One of the major players in the south west craft scene is Custard & Co cider. Winning hearts through brews since 2010, the Custard & Co business was purchased by cider lovers Wendy and Peter Prinsloo in April 2017, and since then the pair have thrown their hearts and souls into the business. While Custard & Co is very much a family affair (the couple’s children Carli and Jade are involved in the business as well), it is Wendy who manages the cidery, visits customers in Perth and the south west, and makes the odd delivery. “I love this part of my role,” she relishes, “as it means I get to meet the people who love our cider as much as we do.”
Naturally, Wendy credits the hard work of head cider maker Andy and his assistant Bailey with the high quality and taste of Custard & Co products. “They make a great team, and it’s been such a thrill to watch them ‘nerd out’ over the science of it all, developing new skews and flavours.” It has been a fascinating learning process for the Prinsloo family, who admit that there is a lot more to cider making than meets the eye.
Running Custard & Co is a dream job for Wendy who seeks to challenge herself professionally. “I love my ‘office’ in the orchard,” she says. “Nothing beats the smell and sights of driving through Donnybrook and seeing the mist in winter, the sunrise and sunset. The colours and seasonal changes in the orchards as you drive through are stunning.” The people, too, make Wendy’s job all the more fun, with an abundance of humour, laughter and music playing on the job.
Wendy and Peter enjoying a cider.
The philosophy behind Custard & Co is Local Local Local. “It’s our way in the country to champion the local businesses around you, we just consider ourselves very lucky that they are the best of the best out here!” explains Wendy. The cider itself is made a few clicks outside of Donneybrook on the Old Goldfields Road, right in the heart of apple country. All the fruit is sourced locally from Kirup and local orchards around Donnybrook.
The Custard & Co cider box reads ‘from orchard to glass’, which captures what the business encompasses. The cider makers don’t mess too much with the product, choosing instead to let it be itself. “It’s about mother nature and celebrating what is natural and wholesome,” espouses Wendy. It was a surprise to me to learn that many ciders on the market don’t contain apples, so it’s no wonder that Custard & Co are proud to promote their product as a “REAL apple cider”, made with whole apples, no concentrates and minimising the amount of additives used.
This method means that Custard & Co cider might taste different from season to season. Hot seasons, cold seasons, long seasons and short seasons as well as the varieties of apples used will affect the taste of the finished product. “Just like the wine from a vineyard, our cider will vary slighty from season to season simply because that’s what happens naturally,” explains Wendy. “We love that its not the same old thing day in and day out. People can always expect a genuine product made with lots of tank hugs, laughter and beautiful apples!”
For the South West Craft Beer Festival this weekend, Wendy promises that their famous mango and ginger will make an appearance and possibly their wonderful pear and straw cider… yes straw!
The South West Craft Beer Festival runs from 11am to 6pm this Saturday 3 March at 3 Oceans Winery, Margaret River. You can get tickets and find out all the info you’ll need over here. Be sure to stop by the Custard & Co cider tent and chat to the Prinsloo family about their products. Tell them we sent you!