You wouldn't ask for a wine made from grapes, would you? You would ask for a specific wine from a grape variety/ varieties such as a merlot, a region e.g. a burgundy or a type such as a prosecco. Why should a Cider be any different?
Fancy a Cider but not sure which to try? Sounds like you could do with some help from a Ninja. A Cider-Wine Ninja...
An overview of our first Cider tasting event, and to look for in the future
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.
One thing that we are increasingly being asked is what makes a Cider a Craft Cider? The simple fact is that there is not a clear cut definition. So in order to help you to form your own opinions, here a few ideas.
Cider makers by volume
Some sources say that craft cider makers produce less that 7000 litres a year. All well and good, but thats not a lot, and it would need to sell at quite a high price to be able to live from that.
Some would argue that a Craft Cider should contain nothing but 100 % apples. Great, if you just love apple ciders but where does that leave the many who love fruit flavoured ciders? Im not talking about the synthetic flavours or flavour syrups which are added which seem to be common on the high street bars and supermarket shelves, but the wonderful ciders out there. Some are flavoured with wonderful fruits and flavours often found growing right near orchards.
What can be said is that it is NOT made like this:
Concentrated apple juice is mixed with sugars ( to give a high alcohol content). Once fermentation is complete up to 70% water is added, as well as sweeteners and gas to give you, well, an alcoholic drink, comparable to a mass produced beer.
Apples are pressed into a natural apple juice. These then ferment ( with the yeasts naturally occurring in their skins or this process can be controlled with the introduction of wine, cider or champagne yeasts) and let the naturally occurring sugar in the fruit turn to alcohol and gas (Carbon Dioxide). That is then Cider. This can then be aged, sweetened, flavoured or otherwise crafted to give you the ultimate taste experience , akin to a good wine.
It might be worth considering that if the cider you drink makes a lot of noise about the spring water it uses, is a craft cider or not? Cider can quite often be seen as more aligned with wine, because of the processes used to make it. Often a great cider can just be apples, pressed into juice and left to ferment with their own yeasts. Its the climate, the soils, and the apple varieties which can give its flavours. In a bar or a pub, its quite common to ask for a wine by the grapes and/or country from where it come from. Its not different to cider. South African Granny Smith Cider anyone? How about a glass of Somerset Dabinett?
So with all of this in mind, we hope you are now in a position to form your own opinion as to whether the Ciders you are loving right now are craft or not. You are the people who drink it. You set the agenda, you are the influencers, the free thinkers. For us, we are not here to judge, we just hope that whatever you are drinking rocks your world. Its all about authenticity, the real deal, and for you, well, make your own decisions!