Cider News Roundup…mid Feb edition
Greetings all from Poverty Lane and Farnum Hill! We have been quite busy traveling, shoveling snow, and launching our Dooryard cider on draft in New York, Boston and the beloved New Hampshire home market. But happily, we find that cider is again made the news, so here’s a quick sampling of what we’ve found recently.
To start, you may know that some well-funded players in the drinks world are getting ready to take cider more seriously. From writer Dustin Canestorp on Articlesbase comes the announcement of Stella Artois’ offering for cider fans:
Cider has been around for a very long time (in both hard and soft varieties). Hard cider was one of the staple beverages of Colonial America, and was enjoyed more widely than beer or liquor in its time. However, cider sales eventually dropped and it was replaced by beer in most US markets, at least until recently. However, the love for alcoholic apple juice never left Britain, and the nation is actually the largest consumer of cider in the world. Now, Stella Artois is about to tap into the market.
The company announced their new Stella Artois Cidre not long ago, and it will debut at the end of April for UK and European consumers. That’s a smart move for the company, as cider sales grew almost 50% in the last five years. Of course, Stella Artois (a subset of Anheuser Busch InBev) is not the only company making cider in town. You’ll find that Heineken also has their hand in the market. They own Strongbow, which is expected to go global this year.
The Stella Artois variety will be a Belgian style of hard cider, which is a little different from what many are used to drinking. However, it’s definitely poised to be a popular option on the market, especially with younger drinkers. For Americans, the wait for Stella Artois Cidre might be a bit longer, but there are plenty of options out there if you want to enjoy a crisp, flavorful apple beverage.
You’ll find that quite a few craft brewers are getting back into the cider-making industry, including Westcott Bay, Bellwether, Eve’s and Farnum Hill Extra Dry. Of course, there is also Cider Jack, Hardcore Hard Cider, Woodchuck Cider, Green Mountain and Ace Hard Cider, to name just a few. Many of these ciders are not available across the nation, though. For those in the Northeast, you’ll find the greatest variety of cider options, including lots of locally made products….
Cider, it seems, is making a real comeback. While it won’t replace beer on the American table, it certainly will make some inroads in the craft brewing industry, and you can expect some rather interesting beverage combinations in coming years.
Next, from Sara Grady’s OpEd in Edible Manhattan — a recognition of the great possibility that ciders can offer both drinkers and orchards, plus a mention of the subject dear to our hearts — making New England the “Cider Napa.” Read on…
Mention alcohol made from apples today and most New Yorkers will think you mean one of two things: either cloyingly sweet, mass-produced hard cider that’s sold by the six-pack; or rarefied apple brandy from France that will set you back several Hamiltons. Although New York’s storied orchards remain a core of the upstate economy, with apple yields second only to Washington State’s, local apple alcohol—meaning hard cider, or brandy distilled from it—can be as hard to find as hand-churned butter. It’s time for a revolution.
Regional cideries in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Virginia and New York, though small, are poised to revive our ancestral alcohol by creating ciders replete with place-based taste. As they do so, some are reviving endangered apples by using heirloom varieties from America’s cidermaking heritage. And the Hudson Valley, with the state’s legendary “apple belt,” could be in a leading role.
Apple alcohol isn’t just a way to taste the past—it also offers orchards a path to a healthy economic future.
Last but not least (although slightly out of the scope of this column) I was fortunate enough to wander into Sierra Grille last week when representatives of Farnum Hill Ciders—a New Hampshire apple cider company—were doing a tasting of its products. All were quite good, but the best was the Farnum Hill Farmhouse Cider, which had a nice, bittersweet overall flavor: Not to sweet, not too dry, but with plenty of earthy tang and a crisp finish.
Cider fans should look for it and give it a taste.