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Craft Cider Industry On The Rise

Other Beverage

Apple Tree

There are over 1500 breweries, 6000 wineries, and more than 100 micro distilleries in the US. What more could anyone ask for in the land that practically rains down alcohol in the streets?

How about some hard cider?

During the time that our founding fathers were setting up shop here in these great states, President John Adams was known to claim that cider (before the distinction of hard and sweet) made for “an exceptional breakfast drink”. As it was between 3-6% abv at the time, it made for an ideal family beverage and, oftentimes, replaced water. As the German settlers began to immigrate over, beer quickly became the reigning popular drink. Post prohibition, cider struggled to retake its foothold in American drinking culture.

Until now, that is.

There is a long standing joke amongst the cider makers of this country (especially those living in the western states): Johnny Appleseed, long known for planting apple trees wherever he went, was not doing so for pioneers to have something to eat. Oh no, my friends. He was doing it so that those same pioneers could have something to drink.

In recent times the “demi-cidery” (small craft cider maker) has been blossoming like so many apples for the picking season. Demi-Cideries, such as Crispin, are quickly gaining a cult following with their unique take cider by using unorthodox yeast strains from beer in their hard ciders. It is within this creative spark, that I can see a long history restarting for the cider makers of America. No longer will we be confined to the traditional beverage that Appleseed or Adams might have had.

It is a short future away that we will see the flood of cider wash through our lands. And, just as the forbidden fruit was an apple, the drink that might get us back into Eden will surely be made from that same fruit that had us cast from paradise.

Will hard cider become the newest craft beverage to take the market by storm? That’s the rumor…


  1. kristyn | Thursday, August 26, 2010

    i am all for more artisanal ciders and a resurgence of their appreciation and understanding. having personally tasted a few of Crispin’s ciders, i can wholeheartedly say that they are uniquely delish.

  2. Ashley Routson | Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Cripsin is amazing! I really love how they are manipulating ingredients and changing the landscape of the hard cider industry! I’m really excited to see what the future holds in this often neglected and ignored industry!

  3. William Bennett | Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Not really a cider dude, but I’m willing to expand my mind.

  4. the hoparazzi | Thursday, August 26, 2010

    I agree with the Cripsin comments, they make a really great product. The one with the trappist yeast was too good for its own good. My lady and I had to fight over it, which almost never happens with beer.

  5. Derrick Hughes | Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Cider you say? Hmmm …. never really been into it. But I’m interested in this Crispin stuff you all rave about.

  6. Julia Banks | Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Crispin is amazing! OMG… and it makes really great cocktails too. I swear! Sounds so weird, but it’s so good. Instead of a gin + tonic … gin + crispin. Nom nom!

  7. Brian | Friday, August 27, 2010

    @Julia – that cocktail sounds AMAZING!

  8. David White | Friday, August 27, 2010

    Nice post however I’d hardly call Crispin a representative of the traditional time honored fermentation craft cider makers having been laboring to create. Kind of the equivalent of a Stella or Heineken and would you much prefer something intensely crafted like Ninkasi or Lagunitas?

  9. Ashley Routson | Friday, August 27, 2010


    I wouldn’t necessarily compare Crispin to Stella or Heineken. They are experimenting with some cool things. I understand that some of it is not conventional, but it is definitely interesting. And tasty.

    I’m always in the market for trying new things, though. What are some craft cider brands you recommend?

  10. Cara | Friday, August 27, 2010

    I occasionally brew cider for our friends to enjoy. Well… only twice, but it was really awesome (and quite powerful)! My friends work at Austin Homebrew, and really know how to craft an excellent cider. Although it is not hard to get a mouth-watering flavor, whether smooth and dry, punchy and tart, or rich and fruity is your preference. Any of you interested in attempting home-brewing should call them up and ask for Jason or AJ. I’ve enjoyed a delicious Spiced Peach, a knockout Pomegranate and a very powerful (Blue?)berry Blend in the last year.

  11. David White | Friday, August 27, 2010


    This is a new thing that is an old thing… Most real craft ciders are made from fresh English and French cider apple varieties which when blended, or even fermented single varietal, offer up a complex set of characteristics like tannins, acids and an earthiness that those, like the aforementioned cider, can’t hope to offer when using standard table fruit or concentrates. Possibly why the experimentation with yeasts.

    Another characteristic of craft ciders is that they are made in small batches closer to wine in technique than beer, and they are generally served close to home so suggestions would depend on where you lived. I can tell you that there are more and more every year…

    Cider recommendations.

    In the East/Northeast: Farnum Hill Cider, Foggy Ridge, Albemarle Cider, Eve’s Cider, Slyboro, and West County Cider.

    In the Mid-West: Uncle John’s Cider MIll, Aeppeltreow Winery, Robinette’s, 45 North Vineyard, and Tandem Ciders.

    In the Northwest/West: Westcott Bay Orchards, Snowdrift Cider Co, Wildfire Cider, Red Barn Cider, Tieton Ciderworks, and Carlton Cyderworks

    If you guys are in the area for the September 11th Cider Summit NW in Seattle, I emailed Alan and sent an open invitation to anyone at Mutineer. I can introduce you around to the cider makers, taste ciders with you, and will hopefully show you just what a real cider can be.

  12. Ashley Routson | Friday, August 27, 2010


    Wow! Thanks for all the insight. Cider is still a new frontier to me. I suppose coming to cider from a background in beer and wine has slightly jaded me, especially being so involved in the craft beer industry. If I am still in the Pacific Northwest, I would love to come to the Cider Summit (Alan Shapiro is a friend of mine and the man who tipped me off about it). Although, I must admit that, as much as I love fine beverage and have devoted my life to the advocacy of it, there is still one thing that takes priority in my life. And that is … Ohio State football :) And it just so happens that we play the University of Miami that day … the first time we play them after we beat them in a triple overtime National Championship game in 2003. And we are both ranked in the top 15 (ummmm we are #2 … just had to slide that in). So as long as I get to watch my game … I say bring on the cider education!



  13. CiderJoe | Saturday, August 28, 2010

    To all those who made such nice comments about our ciders, we are very proud of them, and work hard at making them. From fresh-pressed apple-juice sourced primarily in the US Pacific Northwest.

    The cider renaissance is in full flight, and YES I 1000% agree with this comment: “I’d hardly call Crispin a representative of the traditional time honored fermentation craft cider makers having been laboring to create.”.

    We are not the above. We are American. We enjoy the challenges of exploring the boundaries of fermentation creativity, and will continue to do so. We are proud of this, this is what makes our country great. Can do Vs Can’t do. We prescribe to no cider dogma. (Actually we prescribe to no dogma at all).

    Americans still drink more non-alcoholic beer than cider. I’d suggest that a fresh approach might help bring consumers to cider as a total category.

    We our proud to be participating at the North West Cider Summit, and we look forward to hosting anyone as a guest. Our cider maker Bruce Nissen will be present and happy to discuss cider making and drinking.

    We will feature the unfiltered Crispin Artisanal Reserves – cloudy hard ciders and we will be proud to introduce the Nortwest cider drinker to our Limited Release Br’er Rabbit which we exposed craft beer drinkers to at StoneFest last weekend. http://www.crispincider.com/cider/br-er-rabbit/ Br’er rabbit is a fascinating cider – unfiltered Rhubarb & Elderberry flavored draught cider aged in wine barrels used to age Merlot. And yes we “labored” over this – it’s gorgeous.

    Look out for some more interesting ciders at Baltimore, Austin and San Diego Craft Beer weeks, and something really exciting around St Crispin’s Day – 10/25.

  14. David White | Saturday, August 28, 2010

    Ha ha! Understood. I got a buddy from Ohio. We will get “Mutineer” Alan to one of these one day.

    FYI There is a lot of great cider events in Michigan too. September 11-12th the Great Lakes Cider and Perry Association is holding their 3rd annual cider and perry festival.


  15. Bruce | Saturday, August 28, 2010


    I think your view of the cider category is too narrow. While in New York at a cider event that Crispin did with Farnum Hill, Corey and I had a great discussion about ciders. As you mentioned
    Farnum Hill makes great ciders, absolutely amazing examples of a traditional cider. However, at least in their eyes, that did not stop them from appreciating the Oak aged, unfiltered black currant and ginger cider that we made with some of their base juice, nor the unfiltered Irish ale yeast fermented cider we made with a splash of organic molasses. These are truly groundbreaking, handcrafted ciders.

    I invite you to stop in our facility if your ever in Northern California and see what we are doing and understand how we are doing it.

    There would have been no craft beer revolution without some high quality experimentation that pushed the traditional definitions of beer, and I think it worked out pretty well for both the producers and the consumers!



  16. Ashley Routson | Saturday, August 28, 2010

    @Joe – WOW! The Limited Release Br’er Rabbit sounds AH-Mazing! I wish I was at the Stone Anniversary part yot try it, among other things. As for the North West Cider Summit, if I get a chance to go I will definitely make sure to find Bruce Nissen!

    Please keep me updated about your upcoming events so I can post them on our site!


  17. Ashley Routson | Saturday, August 28, 2010


    I have had several opportunities to taste your ciders as well as meet some people from your team at Fort Mason when I was pouring for a friend’s winery at the snowboarding event. You guys had the “mulling cider” there, which was really tasty!



  18. Ashley Routson | Saturday, August 28, 2010


    Are you located in Seattle? I am actually in the area at the moment…



  19. David White | Sunday, August 29, 2010

    I’m actually in Olympia. I probably could have made it up had I seen your comments earlier. Will be in Seattle Monday night for the Cider Summit media preview, then off to Lake Chelan and some killer wine for the week. I can suggest some places for cider tasting or finding if you are in the area for long. Full Throttle Bottle in Georgetown has an unreal selection of all kinds of ciders and a “cider struck” owner too.

    I don’t regard my view of the Cider category as narrow at all. I’ve tasted my share of all types of ciders. Whatever I can lay my hands on whenever…

    I would call my view of “Craft Cider” pretty narrow. It deserves it’s own special distinction amongst ciders. The same kind it’s craft counterparts in brewing, wine making, and distilling all enjoy. Even so, I also feel there are a lot of different tastes out there and undoubtedly room for experimenting and lots of places for different ciders. Cider’s variation in styles and flavors can be nearly endless. All ciders should be tried and enjoyed and deserve a place in the glass.

    Hey Bruce thanks much for your comments and the generous invite. I appreciate the offer. When I am in the area next I will take you up on it. Look me up at the cider summit if you got time.

  20. Corrie Martin | Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Thanks Bruce, Dave and Joe — as well as all of the consumers who are interested in cider. At Farnum Hill we believe that cider begins in the orchard — we are growing the best fruit we can, fermenting it honestly, and letting it speak for itself in the bottle. We would like nothing more than to see orchards throughout the country grow cider apples and produce delicious, food-friendly ciders. I am enjoying a glass of our XDry Still Cider while writing this, and it is dry, elegant and truly wonderful. I look forward to seeing many of you in Portland in October, and encourage you to seek out and enjoy your local cider.

  21. Galen | Friday, June 8, 2012

    Well said Corrie, we at Bull Run Cider also believe that the orchard is the foundation by which great craft cider is made. Which would explain why we have put in several thousand cider trees to date, with the hope of being a resource for Northwest craft cider producers in the future.

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