Without doubt one of the biggest trends in the craft drinks world of recent years has been the rise of the IPA. What started out as being a beer brewed in the U.K. to last the long sea journey to India into a world wide craft beer phenomenon has finally met its match. All of a sudden not only the UK but also the world is seeing hop shortages as people become increasingly interested by the flavour profiles of a fragrant husk. Be it cascade, palisade, chinook, galaxy or citra the variety of flavour profiles really has been at the core of the craft drinks revolution. Consumers as well have become more and more informed as to preferred varieties, with many asking for preferred varieties in their drinks, and many having a preferred variety or varieties ( can you have imagined that five years ago?!)
Which leads us onto the next point. What next? Is it hopped cider? Certainly hopped cider is huge in the USA. At USA Cidercon 2017, we learned of hopped cider festival which took place. It seems cider houses from Portland to New York State and everywhere in between each are producing their own twists and varieties, with so many in existence, and so many ways of bringing in hops into the cider making process that the innovation in the US scene is sure to be reflected in the UK.
Beer (and particularly IPA) is a harmony of (usually) four ingredients to give a flavour profile. Cider can be as simple as one ingredient: Apple juice ( as well as blood, sweat tears, passion experience and of course love) this can mean that an artisan cider maker can choose an apple juice or juices to give a very simple flavour profile, to let the hops flavour really shine. They can also choose apples with stronger and more distinct flavour profiles to give the hops which will be added to the cider a contrast and new dimensions of flavour.
Hopped cider does offer one thing that beer can't.; Viscosity. Being something which is juice based rather than water based (craft cider we are talking about here, not concentrate based mass manufactured ciders) , means that the mouth feel will be very different to that of an IPA.Some people can be very apprehensive when it comes to hopped cider, stating they either don’t like beer or don’t like cider. The interesting thing is that many times it can taste like neither. Flavour profiles can very interesting too, with citrus, lemongrass, elderflower, peach, and gooseberries all being possible and all flavours in between.