Last week saw the good, the bad and the ugly of Cider-vile head to Chicago, USA for the USACM (United States Association of Cider Makers ) annual conference or to give its other name, Cidercon 2017. Its where anyone who is anyone in the US Cider scene gets together to share ideas, experience, lessons learned and best practice to drive the scene forward. Attendees are not just from the USA, with Canada, Spain, France and of course the U.K. all making an appearance. The event was huge with circa 2000 delegates taking over a hotel, and kicked off with a bring your own cider reception. The reception was essentially a giant Cider show and tell, with makers proudly demonstrating their hard work, whilst openly answering questions about production methods, mistakes made with some fantastic innovations and ideas being showcased. Ciders aged in every type of oak barrel imaginable stood beside ciders infused with infused with all sorts of hops. Fruit ciders aplenty, more types of yeasts than a brewery and bakery wholesalers and as for apple varieties let's just say they were well represented, each with their own taste, flavor, strength and other profiles.
The rest of the conference is a bit of a blur, but not for the reasons you might think. It felt like never before had any of the attendees we spoke to been subjected to so much information, openness and energy for achieving a common goal. Making great products which will make the great cider drinking public happy. Be it talks on how to get it right, talks on how you may have got it wrong, foods to match, twists to try, business practices or just simply friendly faces keen to hear your story.
It's safe to say, with so much energy, excitement innovation and collaboration and creativity going on the World of Cider, for those with an interest and a curiosity the future looks very exciting indeed. It doesn't matter if you are a die-hard cider fan or a craft beer fan, a wine lover a foodie, or just a regular person looking for a refreshing drink to go with a Sunday lunch or to end the working week on it's going to be a great year. #cider2017
Thanks to Cidercon and thanks to Chicago. You have both done yourselves proud.