TOP PHOTO: Angry Orchard Stone Dry Cider with the brand’s new cider glass, specifically designed to showcase aromas and flavors. BOTTOM PHOTO: The Cider House Collection, small batch ciders in larger formats. Photos courtesy Angry Orchard.
CIDER VS. BEER IN THE U.S.
During colonial times and beyond, hard cider was one of the most popular alcoholic beverages, due to the abundance of apples. Beer was much less important.
But in the 19th century, waves of beer-drinking German immigrants brought their lager recipes with them and set up shop. Soon beer became very popular.
Prohibition dealt a serious blow to hard cider production. Although beer was also proscribed, when Prohibition ended it was easy to buy barley, hops and malt and start brewing again. It took years to replant cider apple orchards and grow trees to the point where they bore usable fruit. Even today, traditional cider apples are hard to find in the U.S.
Cider has finally experienced a renaissance, which is gluten free (beer isn’t, although there are some gluten free beers).
Brands like Crispin and Woodchuck captured the interest of American quaffers, along with imports like Magner’s. Smaller American brands like Farnum Hill Extra Dry, Foggy Ridge Serious Cider and West County Cider have found broader audiences.
Creative cider makers like Original Sin press their apples with tart cherries (to create Original Sin Cherry Tree). Doc’s Hard Apple is an earthy style that pairs well with mushroom dishes and washed rind cheeses.
But the king of cider is Angry Orchard, a brand of the Boston Beer Company, parent of Samuel Adams beer. It launched Angry Orchard in 2012, and had the distribution and marketing power to quickly become the country’s largest cider brand.
Now, go forth and try as much as you can.
*In the U.S., alcoholic cider is called hard cider, to differentiate it from fresh apple cider, called cider. Everywhere else in the world, cider refers to the alcoholic beverage. Hard cider is made from fresh apple juice which has undergone two different types of fermentation.
†These artisanal hard ciders represent three distinct styles, and are produced in small batches, using traditional cider apples from France and Italy and France and aged on oak. They are 10% A.B.V. (Alcohol By Volume), twice as much alcohol as the regular line, and are sold in 750 ml bottles.