7 Comments

  1. Great post! I’m very curious to see where cider will go in the next 5-10 ish years. I think better categorization would help.

    I’d like to see an average consumer be educated that a $20+ 750ml bottle of artisan cider is quite different than the six pack commercial cider they may have tried years earlier and dismissed as being too sweet.

    However, big beer has a huge advantage (advertising money). Maybe this is something the various craft cider associations can help with (ex. Northwest Cider Association)? I think this is also a great topic for us bloggers. Further, differentiating for example craft cider from artisan (or whatever you want to call orchard-based cideries) would be great. Even the clearly commercial cideries are calling themselves craft now (ex. Woodchuck)!

    I’m not a big fan of the current trend of many cideries opening up that don’t press their own juice, use dessert apples, have everything flavored / hopped / spiced / sessionable / etc.

    • Darlene Hayes

      I see a lot of this as just part of the inevitable first stages of growth, although there are companies that have been out there on their own (almost) making great cider for many, many years. Consumer education is key, and the blogosphere has a role to play. Labels like “craft” and “artisan” have become so confused that they might just as well not exist.

      What I’d really like to see are stats that consider more than just sales to supermarkets and are only compared to beer. That approach leaves out whole swaths of the American cider world and results in a very distorted picture.

      Personally, I’m not categorically adverse to a cider with something else in it. That’s been done for hundreds of years. But what I look for is artistry in the doing, not additions that just make up for lusterless apples.

  2. Simon Lowzy

    Great article. I think there is one CENTRAL point to this debate: Apples aren’t grown like grains are. They are a fruit from an orchard which juice has a microbiology much closer to grape must.
    In this Regard the Orchard based cidery makes the most sense culturally, historically, agriculturally and in regards to sustainability.

    But also industrial cider when dry and un flavored just tastes like acid water, seriously.

    One thing I hope the craft cider movement will go towards in the future is a focus on staying democratized.
    UNLIKE, for instance the wine industry here in Oregon, where you can’t buy a decent bottle of wine for under $20 (and where you can purchase an IMPORTED amazing French or Portuguese bottle for $9).
    Craft and cider-apple based cider shouldn’t mean elite and expensive.
    Keep in mind when I go back to Brittany where my family is from I spent 4 euros in a creperie on a labeless bottle of cider made with 100% quality fruit, barrel fermented, and made right next door by the 65 year old farmer.
    It’s so unpretentious and good. It tastes and smells like the countryside.

    The American Craft cider World, I hope, will be guided but its historically humble beverage of choice; but without disregarding quality and without succumbing to industrial and marketing ease.

    • Leif Sundström

      Please keep in mind that such prices of Oregon Pinot or other quality bottles of ‘Artisanal’ Cider being higher than what you get from or in Europe is not a mere factor of lack of democratization or an emphasis of ‘elitism’ as you imply. There is an entirely different structural system between our two continents that plays a factor in a myriad of ways, many of which influenced by an older, deeper and more contiguous history – cost of land here and now vs. inherited land or better subsidized agricultural land in Europe; basic production equipment more readily available and affordable in Europe than in the US; more accessible and affordable packaging materials in Europe; facilities and equipment that is often passed down from generation to generation, etc. All of these factors play the biggest role in cost of goods here vs. the majority of Europe, and that won’t reverse anytime soon.

      • Simon Lowzy

        All of this is true. But there is another huge difference. Here in the US cideries, wineries and breweries have a short plan for return on investment. They have rich doctors and lawyers as investors that they need to pay off. And credit options free of unethical economic ties are non existent for farmers.
        No wonder they buy shitty fruit and make cider like beer…
        Again agreed this wont change anytime soon.
        But with artisan cider being sooo new, changing that economic foundation to quality alcoholic beverages should be a central focus.
        A possible way of fixing this problem: coop based enterprises, an employee owned endeavor.

        • Darlene Hayes

          I’ve been trying to come up with an example of a cider maker I know of that is backed by a rich anything as an investor and have not come up with much of a list. Most, in my experience, are self-funded or have gotten some money from the bank of family-and-friends or, in some cases, the crowd that is Kickstarter. They have mortgages to pay and kids to put through school just like the rest of us and more often than not are following a passion that may or may not pay off in the long term. The majority of American cider companies are quite small and have a handful of employees at best. Most source the best apples they can find at a price they can afford, but more interesting apples, as we all know, are in short supply in this country. Comparing the emerging business of cider in America with an established market such as France in this way is like comparing apples and kiwi fruit. And it is interesting that I hear from many French cider makers that they would like to charge more for their cider but, for a variety of reasons, can’t.

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