A Note from BBC15 Partner, Vermont Hard Cider
Five Reasons Why Beer Bloggers Should Pay Attention to Hard Cider
Hey Beer Bloggers! We know you’re the experts of micro ales and hoppy brews, but as you wait for the next heady lager, can we guide your eyes in another direction? Let’s talk about hard cider. The newest craft category that made a comeback in 1991, hard cider is the fastest growing category in the industry. You’ve got the local orchard ciders, big beer guys adding to their portfolio, and the craft nuts clearing the path for innovation. Intrigued? Well, let’s take a look at 5 reasons you should jump in and pay attention to hard cider.
1. We’ve been around longer than you think…
It’s 55 B.C. the Romans taste cider for the first time. Julius Caesar himself gave the thumbs up, marking the earliest written record of cider and its first positive review. Well if Caesar’s on board, what’s there to argue? As an everyday beverage in 18th century Europe, it was no surprise apples were among the first crops that were planted in Colonial America. Cider was among the most highly consumed beverages in the colonies. As many cities began to develop, and water sources became contaminated, cider was even seen as a safer option to drink. With prohibition, and industrialization moving people further away from orchards, cider started slipping out of the spotlight for close to 60 years. Then in 1991, out of a small two car garage in Proctorsville, VT, an American hard cider was born, and the fastest growing category in the industry ignited with Woodchuck Cider paving the way.
2. It’s not all apples and yeast
After prohibition ended in 1933, microbreweries and craft brewing had a rebirth in the 1980’s. Once the 1990’s rolled around (the time of Woodchuck’s debut) the industry was on the rise. From 8 breweries in 1980, to 537 in 1994, then just under 3,500 today, microbreweries quickly became the trend and innovation became the means. This helped clear the path for cider. With the American palate evolving around the new microbrew era, cideries have had the opportunity to also play with different ingredients pre and post fermentation. Whether it be adding hops, infusing chocolate, or aging in bourbon barrels, the innovation integrated into the cider industry attracts the microbrew drinker that can’t wait to try an exciting new bevy. Like the innovation of the early craft beer industry, the cider industry is seeing its cider makers pushing the limits further and further each day. New varieties are popping up each day and with over 7,500 different types of apples grown around the world, the possibilities are endless.
3. Beer for the Sommelier and Wine for the Cicerone
Hard Cider has planted a cushioned seat between wine and beer. With characteristics of both drinks, cider can lure either the customary pint drinker, or seasoned wine connoisseur.
For the wine drinker, hard cider provides a lower alcohol alternative to the usual glass. With the same alcohol % as many beer styles, it acts as a tasty option for those who don’t have the palate for rich stouts and lagers. The fresh taste translates well from a smooth Riesling or Merlot, and is a light and easy option to carry along to those weekend BBQ’s, or beach shenanigans.
As mentioned before, hard cider fits in well with the skyrocketing age of microbrews. Following the pattern of innovation, seasonal six packs and variety 12 packs are highly sought throughout the year. In the same easy-to-grab bottle, hard cider is an alternative for those who have a gluten-free diet, and provides endless options that cater to different preference levels of sweet and dry characteristics. Hard cider has become a new leg of craft brewing, and is brewing up a storm!
4. That’s right…Hard Cider is Gluten Free!
An estimated 1 in 133 Americans has Celiac Disease. As this autoimmune diseases causes an intolerance to gluten, it also prevents that 1% of Americans from enjoying an ice cold beer. So what can you grab when you reach into your summer cooler? An ice cold cider. Hard cider is a naturally gluten free drink. Apples by nature are gluten free, and the process of turning those apples into hard cider is one that can use no products that contain gluten. At Woodchuck, our ciders are regularly tested and certified as gluten free by an independent lab. As a gluten free option, hard cider allows the hop heads and raft enthusiasts to enjoy the industry’s innovation within their dietary restrictions. So as attention rises on all things gluten free, it also rises on those gluten free bevvies!
5. So much cider to talk about! We look forward to introducing you to Vermont Hard Cider at BBC15
If you’re still having doubts about whether hard cider is worth attention, look at what the big guys in beer are saying about it. Scratch that… see what they’re doing about it! Several of the larger beer corporations have jumped on board and are making their own cider. Angry Orchard, one of the largest US hard cider producers, is owned by the Boston Beer Company. You’ve also got Anheuser-Busch with Johnny Appleseed, and MillerCoors with both Smith and Forge and Crispin. As the commercial ciders in the marketplace they are bringing a new light to hard cider and blog readers are paying attention! For those interested in craft and innovation, you have cideries like Woodchuck, Reverend Nats, Seattle Cider Company, and Downeast Cider. If you’re looking to go smaller, you probably don’t need to look much farther than your local orchard. Orchard ciders are popping up all over the country and each is bringing with it their own take on the historic beverage. Each has a place, and each is severely under reported on. For the thousands of beer blogs around the world, there are probably less than 50 legitimate cider blogs. It is a niche that bloggers can take advantage of!