Cider isn’t just to be enjoyed in the Autumn, but something about the changing of the season always brings it to the forefront of our minds. Maybe it’s the correlation with the fact it is apple picking time that puts the idea in our mind.
Cider is not just delicious… it’s history is actually fairly interesting as well. Virtually immediately after landing at Plymouth Rock, European colonists planted apple trees in order to start making cider. Cider was, by far, the most common beverage in colonial America. In many places, water was unsafe to drink, so cider was a better option – even young children commonly drank it in a diluted form. Cider was produced up and down the eastern seaboard and it was even used at times as a method of paying taxes or even wages. As the country expanded into the Midwest and large quantities of cheap grain became available – at around the same time that a large number of German immigrants were arriving to the country – beer began to grow in popularity, but it didn’t surpass cider in large part due to its need to be refrigerated. What really ended cider’s reign in the U.S. was Prohibition. When alcohol was outlawed, the vast majority of cider orchards (which grew bitter apples) were cut down and replaced with orchards growing sweeter apples more suitable for eating. When Prohibition was repealed, some people resumed making ciders, but they were as popular with the sweeter apples and, by this time, the country had modernized to the point that beer would remain the alcoholic beverage of choice (by volume, at least).
And, that’s just in this country. Ciders are produced all over the world in a variety of styles…. here’s bit a small sample:
from the Hudson Valley, New York - want to start small? Try this tasty little can of cider from Upstate. Lively, dry cider with just a kiss of funk.
from Valle del Cachapoal, Chile - a naturally made cider from the foothills of the Andes. Secondary fermentation happens in bottle (much like a PétNat wine) giving this cider a silky, fresh texture.
from Chico, California - biodynamic fruit turned into a vibrant, mineral driven cider. Ben Neilsen went from self-taught home brewer to self-taught cider maker with wonderful results.
from Basque Country in Spain - Basque "sidras" are their own animals. Tart with the hint of a lactic acid note and very delicate bubble. Wildly refreshing.
from Normandy, France - not all ciders are made from apples, as this pear cider will attest. Eric Bordelet crafts extraordinarily elegant ciders (also from apples) - this the lightest suggestion of sweetness along beautifully aromatic and softly textured, fresh pear flavors.