Walking into many bars, restaurants, and bottles shops today I can’t help but notice the ever-expanding variety of ciders available. As new tap handles are added to bars I am also spotting new bottles in the refrigerator at the local market. Hard cider is definitely available right now and looks like it is here to stay. I can’t help but add one to my mix six pack when I’m out hunting for new beer.
As the craft beer scene overflows with many new brews to try, another beverage is creating a moment for itself. Hard cider, often overlooked, is on the rise and becoming a craft of its own. The spreading and popularity of craft beer some believe is what got the craft cider movement going. While craft beer has been on the rise, with 2,768 breweries nationally in 2013 and employing around 110,273 people in the industry, it sparked the idea to get creative with other beverages. This continual growth of the craft brewery industry happened rapidly with only 1,459 craft breweries back in 2007, and just 83 operating in the early 1980s. Craft beer has come a long way creating new opportunities, events, and most importantly beers for people across the nation to try.
Following this craft beer boom, experimentation with cider started and has continued to grow as well as widening the palate of consumers and making them more open to try new things in not only the craft beer world but also cider.
In 2011 cider held a mere 0.2 percent market share, Although in 2014 cider only held one percent of the beer market share, its sales increased 75.4 percent over a 12-month period according to research from IRI.
Vermont Hard Cider Co., makers of Woodchuck hard cider, didn’t have much competition up until recently. Woodchuck hit the cider scene back in 1991. They started out in Vermont making apple wine out of a little winery there and came up with the idea to make an American hard cider; no one had tried that in years. So make cider they did and it wasn’t until 2011 that other companies wanted to give it a shot. Woodchuck is now the second best cider in America. Many smaller craft cider companies have started up. Big name beverage companies like Anheuser-Busch InBev, Millercoors, and Heineken have taken interest in cider and begun to develop their own concoctions.
Cider has become popular among many at a rapid pace. A part of it being on the rise and making a comeback means it also hasn’t had a gender demographic applied to it over the years. Cider remains gender neutral while 80 percent of beer consumers are male, a demographic the industry can’t seem to quite shake yet. In addition to that, being that it is made with apples, it is gluten free. The sale and marketing of cider hits a wider variety of people, some that beer can’t quite get on their side.
Now the question seems to sit at, where will the cider industry go? Will it remain a craft industry or will the growing into a larger market mean the development of key players in cider rather than a bunch of smaller ones? Original cider companies like Vermont Cider Co. could potentially remain classic and the original start to the rebirth of cider but there is also the chance that with the development of all these new companies that that could change. Right now Woodchuck remains second best (in sales) while Angry Orchard of Boston Beer Co. takes the lead as first best cider. Yet even though this is the case by numbers it seems there is still an ongoing debate. Some believe the Woodchuck is a classic and should be best while others prefer Angry Orchard. It’s hard to predict but one thing is for sure, cider has a promising future right now.
Anheuser-Busch, Millercoors, Boston Beer Co., etc. have branched out to create ciders but it doesn’t necessarily mean that these big name beer companies will also grow to become the big name in cider and stay there. Who will sit as the king of ciders? Perhaps everyone will cider equally, but then again maybe that’s just me being hopeful.