Comparing Apples to Apples - Easier Said Than Done

By Dylan Hochstedler

 Photo - Dylan Hochstedler

Photo - Dylan Hochstedler

By now, you have probably heard that Colorado is one of the leading states for craft beer sales. If you really keep up with craft spirits, you may even be aware of the rising number of distilleries throughout the state that are selling whiskey, vodka and other spirits like they are going out of style.

But have you met hard cider? We would love to introduce you to one of the fast- growing segments of the adult beverage industry. After consulting with our friends Xandy Bustamante and Brad Page from Colorado Cider Co., as well as Eric Foster, Courtney O’Rourke and Arline Kellogg from STEM Ciders, we have compiled nine must-knows that will get your taste buds itching for some delicious craft cider. 

 Photo - Holly Gerard

Photo - Holly Gerard

  • 1 - Hard cider is NOT beer. 
    The only thing beer and cider have in common during the production process is fermentation. The yeast strains that are used in cider are commonly used in the production of wine. Therefore, it is not incorrect to refer to cider as wine. 
  • 2 - Cider is packed with antioxidants.
    That’s right, cider is actually a healthy beverage. A half pint of cider contains the same amount of antioxidants as a full glass of wine. 

  • 3 Traditional cider is naturally gluten free.
    Since cider contains no barley or wheat, there is no need to worry about gluten, making cider an ideal alternative for gluten-free consumers.

  • 4 Craft cider is not industrialized cider. 
    Here is an example of an ingredients list for a craft cider: Fresh pressed apple juice, yeast and sulfites.
    Here is an example of typical ingredients found in industrialized ciders: apple juice concentrate, glucose syrup, water, sugar, carbon dioxide, dextrose, water sucrose, malic acid, flavor, caramel color and sulfites. To quote Eric Foster, “The measure of a good cider is the sum of its parts,” usually meaning a lower sum equals higher quality. 

  • 5 - Many different types of apples go into hard cider.
    There are table apples, cooking apples and cider apples, says Brad Page. Since prohibition halted the production of cider apples in the 1920s, cider cultivators have been required to use cooking apples and table apples, which are less bitter and dry than cider apples, but they still get the job done.

  • 6 - It takes bushels of apples to make a small amount of cider.
    Depending on the type of the apple, it can take up to 20 pounds to make just one gallon of hard cider. A few cideries, including Colorado Cider Co., have purchased local land in order to start their own orchards, allowing them to experiment with several different kinds of apples to make the perfect cider. 

  • 7 - In 2014, there were over 54 million gallons of cider sold. 
    This required 18 million bushels of fruit, or 7 percent of the nation’s total apple production for the year. Hard cider production has seen an average increase of 73 percent in annual sales across the U.S. from 2008-2015, according to a University of Vermont study.  

  • 8 - Cider can be barrel aged.
    Just like beer, hard cider can be aged in whiskey, bourbon, tequila and wine barrels. The process usually takes a few months and it results in the cider having a smoother, creamier feel. 

  • 9 - Cider can be made at home.
    Homemade hard cider is as easy as home-brewed beer. There are numerous recipes, so if your first batch isn’t to your liking, try another.

Dylan Hochstedler is a marketing student at Metropolitan State University of Denver who enjoys great beers and great times.