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This article is about the alcoholic beverage. For the non-alcoholic beverage, see Apple cider. For Linux software, see TransGaming Technologies. For Android compatibility layer, see Columbia Cider.

Cider or cyder (/ˈsdər/ SY-dər) is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from apple juice. Cider alcohol content varies from 1.2% ABV to 8.5% or more in traditional English ciders. In some regions, cider may be called "apple wine".[1]

In the United States and some parts of Canada, the alcoholic beverage discussed in this article is commonly known as "hard cider", while simply "cider" often refers to non-alcoholic unfiltered apple juice. The addition of sugar or extra fruit before a second fermentation increases the alcoholic content of the resulting beverage. An alcoholic apple beverage with higher alcohol content (>10%) is an "apple wine".[2][3]

The juice of any variety of apple can be used in cider making but particular cultivars are grown for cider making are known as cider apples.[4] Cider is popular in the United Kingdom, especially in the West Midlands, South West England and East Anglia. The United Kingdom has the highest per capita consumption of cider, as well as the largest cider-producing companies in the world,[5] including H. P. Bulmer, the largest.[6] As of 2006, the U.K. produces 600 million litres of cider each year (130 million imperial gallons).[7] Much cider today is made from apple concentrate rather than fresh apples and may contain added sweeteners or flavours.[citation needed]

The beverage is also popular and traditional in some European countries such as Ireland and the French regions of Brittany (chistr) and Normandy (cidre); In Spain it is especially popular in the Principality of Asturias (sidra) although it can also be found in the Basque Country (sagardo) and Galicia (sidra); Germany is another country where cider is drunk, above all in Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse (Frankfurt am Main). In Poland, which is the largest producer of apples in Europe, cider (Cydr, or Jabłecznik) is just recently gaining in popularity. High quality Polish apple concentrate is commonly used for English, Swedish, and Irish cider manufacturing. Argentina is also a cider-producing and -drinking country, especially the provinces of Río Negro and Mendoza. Australia also produces cider, particularly on the island of Tasmania, which has a strong apple-growing tradition.

A similar product made from pears is called perry but sometimes (incorrectly) called Pear Cider in the marketing of some producers' products.[8]

Appearance and types[edit]

American hard cider in a bottle

The flavour of cider varies. Ciders can be classified from dry to sweet. Their appearance ranges from cloudy with sediment to completely clear, and their colour ranges from light yellow to orange to brown. The variations in clarity and colour are mostly due to filtering between pressing and fermentation. Some apple varieties will produce a clear cider without any need for filtration. Both sparkling and still ciders are made; the sparkling variety is the more common.

Modern, mass-produced ciders closely resemble sparkling wine in appearance. More traditional brands tend to be darker and cloudier. They are often stronger than the mass-produced varieties and taste more strongly of apples. Almost colourless "white cider" is produced on a large scale. It is typically strong (7-8% ABV) and inexpensive.


Scratting and pressing[edit]

Main articles: Cider mill and Cider press

Apples grown for consumption are suitable for cider making, though some regional cider-makers prefer to use a mix of eating and cider apples (as in Kent, England), or exclusively cider apples (as in the West Country, England). There are many hundreds of varieties of cultivars developed specifically for cider making.

Few traditional horse-drawn circular cider presses are still in use, but many may still be seen used as garden ornaments, flower planters, or architectural features

Once the apples are gathered from trees in orchards they are scratted (ground down) into what is called pomace or pommage. Historically this was done using pressing stones with circular troughs, or by a cider mill. Cider mills were traditionally driven by the hand, water-mill, or horse-power. In modern times they are likely to be powered by electricity. The pulp is then transferred to the cider press and built up in layers known as cheeses into a block.

Traditionally the method for squeezing the juice from the apples involves placing sweet straw or hair cloths between the layers of pomace. This will alternate with slatted ash-wood racks, until there is a pile of ten or twelve layers. It is important to minimize the time that the pomace is exposed to air in order to keep oxidation to a minimum.

The set is then subjected to increasing degrees of pressure, until all the 'must' or juice is squeezed from the pomace. This juice, after being strained in a coarse hair-sieve, is then put into either open vats or closed casks. The pressed pulp is given to farm animals as winter feed, composted, discarded or used to make liqueurs.[9]


Main article: Fermentation (food)

Fermentation is carried out at a temperature of 4–16 °C (40–60 °F). This is low for most kinds of fermentation, but is beneficial for cider as it leads to slower fermentation with less loss of delicate aromas.

Shortly before the fermentation consumes all the sugar, the liquor is "racked" (siphoned) into new vats. This leaves dead yeast cells and other undesirable material at the bottom of the old vat. At this point it becomes important to exclude airborne acetic bacteria, so vats are filled completely to exclude air. The fermenting of the remaining available sugar generates a small amount of carbon dioxide that forms a protective layer, reducing air contact. This final fermentation creates a small amount of carbonation. Extra sugar may be added specifically for this purpose. Racking is sometimes repeated if the liquor remains too cloudy.

Apple-based juice may also be combined with fruit to make a fine cider; fruit purées or flavourings can be used, such as grape, cherry, raspberry and cranberry.

The cider is ready to drink after a three-month fermentation period, though more often it is matured in the vats for up to three years.[10]

Blending and bottling[edit]

Layers of pomace are shown wrapped in canvas.

For larger-scale cider production, ciders from vats produced from different varieties of apple may be blended to accord with market taste. If the cider is to be bottled, usually some extra sugar is added for sparkle. Higher quality ciders can be made using the champagne method, but this is expensive in time and money and requires special corks, bottles, and other equipment. Some home brewers use beer bottles, which work perfectly well, and are inexpensive. This allows the cider to become naturally carbonated.


The western British tradition of wassailing the apple trees and making an offering of cider and bread in Autumn to protect the fertility of the orchard appears to be a relatively ancient tradition, superficially dating back to the pre-Christian Early Medieval period.[citation needed] The Hallowe'en tradition of 'bobbing' for apples is due to the abundance of fruit at this time.[citation needed] A modern cider festival is an organized event that promotes cider and (usually) perry. A variety of ciders and perries will be available for tasting and buying. Such festivals may be organized by pubs, cider producers, or cider-promoting private organizations.[citation needed] Long Island, NY a region well known for its award-winning wine production[citation needed] has made its first hard cider(s). True Companion and True Believer are the two hard ciders to come from LI winery, Peconic Bay. The recent rise in the popularity of hard cider has guided event producer, Starfish Junction, to host Long Island's first hard cider festival, Pour the Core.[11]


Calvados and applejack are distilled from cider. Calvados is made throughout Normandy, France, not just in the Calvados département. It is made from cider by double distillation. In the first pass, the result is a liquid containing 28–30% alcohol. In a second pass, the amount of alcohol is augmented to about 40%.

Applejack is a strong alcoholic beverage made in North America by concentrating cider, either by the traditional method of freeze distillation, or by true evaporative distillation. In traditional freeze distillation, a barrel of cider is left outside during the winter. When the temperature is low enough, the water in the cider starts to freeze. If the ice is removed, the (now more concentrated) alcoholic solution is left behind in the barrel. If the process is repeated often enough, and the temperature is low enough, the alcohol concentration is raised to 30–40% alcohol by volume. In freeze distillation, methanol and fusel oil, which are natural fermentation byproducts, may reach harmful concentrations.[citation needed] These toxins can be separated when regular heat distillation is performed. Home production of applejack is illegal in most countries.

A few producers in Quebec and England, inspired by ice wine, have developed ice cider (French: cidre de glace). For this product, the apples are frozen either before or after being harvested. Its alcohol concentration is 9–13% ABV.

A popular apéritif in Normandy is pommeau, a drink produced by blending unfermented apple juice and apple brandy in the barrel (the high alcoholic content of the spirit stops the fermentation process of the cider and the blend takes on the character of the aged barrel).

Cocktails may include cider. Besides kir and snakebite, an example is Black Velvet in a version of which cider may replace champagne.

Cider may also be used to make vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is noted for its high acidity and flavour.

Related drinks[edit]

Other fruits can be used to make cider-like drinks. The most popular is perry, known in France as poiré, produced mostly in Lower Normandy, and is made from fermented pear juice. A branded sweet perry known as Babycham, marketed principally as a women's drink and sold in miniature Champagne-style bottles, was once popular but has become unfashionable. Another related drink is cyser – cider fermented with honey.

Although not widely made in modern times, various other pome fruits can produce palatable drinks. Apicius, in Book II of De re coquinaria, includes a recipe calling for quince cider.

National variations[edit]

Before the development of rapid long distance transportation, regions of cider consumption generally coincided with regions of cider production: that is, areas with apple orchards. For example, R. A. Fletcher notes that in the Liber Sancti Jacobi, cider was said to be more common than wine in 12th-century Galicia.


In Argentina, cider, or sidra is by far the most popular alcoholic carbonated drink during the Christmas and New Year holidays. It has traditionally been considered the choice of the middle and lower classes (along with ananá fizz and pineapple juice), whereas the higher classes would rather go for champagne or local sparkling wines for their Christmas or New Year toast. Popular commercial brands of cider are Real, La Victoria, Del Valle, La Farruca and Rama Caída. It is usually marketed in 0.72 litre glass or plastic bottles. However, there has been lately a campaign by some bottlers to make cider a drink consumed all year round, in any occasion, and not only seasonally. Cider now comes in smaller bottle sizes and commercials show people drinking at any time[12] (and not only toasting with it around a traditional Christmas or New Year table).


The composition of cider is defined in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and "means the fruit wine prepared from the juice or must of apples and no more than 25% of the juice or must of pears". Cider has been made in Australia since its early settlement. Primarily this production has been for limited local usage, with national commercial distribution and sales dominated by two brands: Mercury Cider and Strongbow. Since early 2005 they been joined in the market by numerous new producers including Three Oaks Cider, Pipsqueak and Tooheys 5 Seeds Cider as well as imported brands like Magners, Weston's, Monteith's, Kopparberg, Rekorderlig and Somersby.

With the growth in interest in cider, the number of local producers has increased. Some cider producers are attempting to use more traditional methods and traditional cider apple varieties. The Southern Highlands of New South Wales are experiencing such a traditionalist revival with brands such as Sunshack Cider made from only local produce. Tasmania, also known as the 'Apple Isle' is having a resurgence of cider making. Spreyton Cider Co is a family owned cider producer in the Mersey Valley region, just south of Devonport. They make a range of hand crafted, premium ciders made from apples grown on orchards owned for 4 generations. Capt.Blighs 'Tasmanian Cider' is one of the newest producers using cider apples from the Huon Valley and Channel area.[citation needed] Huon Cider, made in New Norfolk, Tasmania, from Sturmer Pippin apples, a variety of apple commonly grown in the region since the 1830s. Henry of Harcourt and Bress cider (both from Harcourt, Victoria) are two of the most complex and interesting ciders that are commercially available.[citation needed] Other smaller brands rely on the available culinary (standard eating - supermarket and cooking apples) fruit. From Victoria's Yarra Valley come Coldstream cider, Kelly Brothers cider and Napoleone & Co. The Bridge Road Brewery and Amulet Winery, both in Victoria's Beechworth, have released ciders. South Australia's boutique ciders include Lobo (Adelaide Hills), The Hills Cider (Adelaide Hills), Thorogoods (Burra) and Aussie Cider (Barossa). In Western Australia the number of cider producers has also grown in the southwest region, particularly in areas where wine is also produced with producers in Denmark, Pemberton and Margaret River. In Tasmania there are a number of boutique cider makers including Pagan Cider (Huon Valley), Dickens Cider (Tamar Valley) and Spreyton Cider (Spreyton).

The cider market has grown from late 2008 onwards due to the trend in the UK following the Magners "drink with ice campaign" and to a lesser degree the change in the laws relating to Alcohol Tax on RTDs.[citation needed] Cider had the largest percentage growth in sales of alcohol products in 2009 & 2010.[citation needed]


In Austria cider is made in the south west of Lower Austria, the so-called "Mostviertel" and in Upper Austria as well as in parts of Styria. Almost every farmer there has some apple or pear trees. Many of the farmers also have a kind of inn called "Mostheuriger". There they serve cider and also something to eat. Cider is typically called "Most".


Scottish & Newcastle own Belgium cider maker Stassen SA, who in addition to their own local brands such as Strassen X Cider also produce Strongbow Jacques, a 5.5% ABV cider with cherry, raspberry and blackcurrant flavours. Zonhoven based Konings NV specialises in private label ciders for European retailers and offers a wide variety of flavours and packaging options to the beverage industry. Stella Artois Cidre is produced in Zonhoven and has been marketed since 2011.[13]


Frozen apples in Quebec for the making of ice cider

Quebec cider is considered a traditional alcoholic beverage. It is generally sold in 750 ml bottles, has an alcohol content generally between 7% and 13% (with aperitifs ciders having alcohol content up to 20%), and can be served as a substitute for wine. As in the rest of the world, sparkling cider is getting more and more popular in Quebec and thanks to the law cider sold in the province can only be made from 100% pure apple juice.[citation needed] Cider making was, however, forbidden from the early years of the British rule as it was in direct conflict with established British brewers' interests (most notably John Molson). In recent years, a new type called ice cider has emerged on the market. This type of cider is made from apples with a particularly high level of sugar caused by natural frost.

Cider is commercially produced in British Columbia (large and small producers), Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario, usually with a 5-7% alcohol content. It is sold in 341ml glass bottles and two litre plastic bottles, and does not usually have added sugar.

Channel Islands[edit]

Along with Normandy, the Channel Islands had a strong cider-making tradition. Cider had been the ordinary drink of people of Jersey from the 16th century, when the commercial opportunities offered by cider exports spurred the transformation of feudal open-field agriculture to enclosure. Until the 19th century, it was the largest agricultural export with up to a quarter of the agricultural land given over to orchards. In 1839, for example, 268,199 imperial gallons (1,219,260 L) of cider were exported from Jersey to England alone,[14] and almost 500,000 imperial gallons (2,300,000 L) were exported from Guernsey 1834–1843,[15] but by 1870 exports from Jersey had slumped to 4,632 imperial gallons (21,060 L).[16]

Beer had replaced cider as a fashionable drink in the main export markets, and even the home markets had switched to beer as the population became more urban. Potatoes overtook cider as the most important crop in Jersey in the 1840s, and in Guernsey glasshouse tomato production grew in importance. Small-scale cider production on farms for domestic consumption, particularly by seasonal workers from Brittany and mainland Normandy, was maintained, but by the mid-20th century production dwindled until only 8 farms were producing cider for their own consumption in 1983.[17]

The number of orchards had been reduced to such a level that the destruction of trees in the Storm of 1987 demonstrated how close the Islands had come to losing many of its traditional cider apple varieties. A concerted effort was made to identify and preserve surviving varieties and new orchards were planted. As part of diversification, farmers have moved into commercial cider production, and the cider tradition is celebrated and marketed as a heritage experience. In Jersey, a strong (above 7%) variety is currently sold in shops and a bouché style is also marketed.[18]

In Guernsey the only commercial producer of cider is The Rocquette Cider Co. which produces a wide range of ciders and is beginning to compete on an international stage.

In Jersey, cider is used in the preparation of black butter (Jèrriais: nièr beurre), a traditional preserve.


Cider has been made in Chile since colonial times. Southern Chile accounts for nearly all Cider production in the country. Chileans make a distinction between "sidra" ("cider"), in fact sparkling cider, and "chicha de manzana" ("apple chicha"), a homemade cider that is considered of less quality.


Despite a strong apple tradition, Denmark has little cider production. Six places that produce cider in Denmark are Pomona (since 2003), Fejø Cider (since 2003), Dancider (since 2004), Ørbæk Bryggeri (since 2006), Ciderprojektet (since 2008) and Svaneke Bryghus (since 2009). All are inspired mainly by English and French cider styles. The assortment of imported ciders has grown significantly since 2000, prior to that only ciders from Sweden, primarily non-alcoholic, were generally available. The leading cider on the Danish market is made by CULT A/S.[19] In 2008, Carlsberg launched an alcoholic cider in Denmark called Somersby Cider which has an alcohol content of 4.7%, and a sweet taste.[20][21]

East Asia[edit]

Cider in Japan and Korea refers to a soft drink similar to Sprite or lemonade. A popular drink in China is called "Apple Vinegar", which is actually cider. Shanxi Province is noted for the "vinegar" produced there.


The best-known brands are Golden Cap, Fizz and Upcider. They typically contain 4.5-4.7%vol of alcohol. Virtually all Finnish cider is produced from fermented apple (or pear) juice concentrate and comes in a variety of flavours ranging from forest berries to rhubarb and vanilla.


Artisanal Cider from Brittany

French cidre (French pronunciation: ​[sidʁ]) is an alcoholic drink produced predominantly in Normandy and Brittany. It varies in strength from below 4% alcohol to considerably more. Cidre Doux is a sweet cider, usually up to 3% in strength. 'Demi-Sec' is 3–5% and Cidre Brut is a strong dry cider of 4.5% alcohol and above. Most French ciders are sparkling. Higher quality cider is sold in champagne-style bottles (cidre bouché). Many ciders are sold in corked bottles, but some screw-top bottles exist. In crêperies (crêpe restaurants) in Brittany, cider is generally served in traditional ceramic bowls (or wide cups) rather than glasses. A kir Breton (or kir normand) is a cocktail apéritif made with cider and cassis, rather than white wine and cassis for the traditional kir. The Domfrontais, in the Orne (Basse-Normandie), is famous for its pear cider (poiré). The calvados du Domfrontais is made of cider and poiré.

Some cider is also made in south western France, in the French part of the Basque Country. It is a traditional drink there and is making a recovery. Ciders produced here are generally of the style seen in the Spanish part of the Basque Country.

Calvados, from Normandy, and Lambig from Brittany are a spirits made of cider through a process called double distillation. In the first pass, the result is a liquid containing 28%–30% alcohol. In a second pass, the amount of alcohol is augmented to about 40%.


Main article: Apfelwein

German cider, usually called Apfelwein (apple wine), and regionally known as Ebbelwoi, Apfelmost (apple must), Viez (from Latin vice, the second or substitute wine), or Saurer Most (sour must), has an alcohol content of 5.5%–7% and a tart, sour taste.

German cider is mainly produced and consumed in Hessen, particularly in the Frankfurt, Wetterau and Odenwald areas, in Moselfranken, Merzig (Saarland) and the Trier area, as well as the lower Saar area and the region bordering on Luxembourg and in the area along the Neckar River in Swabia. In these regions, several large producers, as well as numerous small, private producers, often use traditional recipes. An official Viez route or cider route connects Saarburg with the border to Luxembourg.


Magners Cider.

Cider is a popular drink in Ireland; for a long time cider production was officially encouraged and supported by a preferential tax treatment. A single cider, Bulmers, dominates sales in Ireland: Owned by C&C and produced in Clonmel, County Tipperary, this Bulmers has a connected history to the British Bulmers cider brand up until 1949.[22] Outside the Republic of Ireland, C&C brand their cider as Magners. It is very popular in Ireland to drink cider over ice and encouraged in their advertising. Cidona, essentially a non-alcoholic version of Bulmers, is a popular soft drink in Ireland, and used to be a C&C-owned brand.


Cider was once widely produced in Northern Italy's apple growing regions, with a marked decline during fascist rule, due to the introduction of a law banning the industrial production of alcoholic beverages derived from fruits of less than 7% ABV, which was aimed at protecting wine producers.[23] Present laws and regulations are favourable to cider makers, but production has only survived in a few alpine locations, mostly in the regions of Trentino, and in Piedmont, where it is known as vin ëd pom (apple wine) or pomada, because it traditionally was left to ferment in a vat along with grape pomace, giving it a distinctive reddish colour.[24]


In Luxembourg, viez (pronounced feetz) is rather like English scrumpy. It is cloudy and varies from non-alcoholic to very alcoholic.


Two types of cider (sidra) are sold in Mexico. One type is a popular apple-flavoured, carbonated soft drink, sold under a number of soft drink brands, such as Sidral Mundet and Manzana Lift (both Coca-Cola FEMSA brands) and Sidral Aga from Group AGA. The other type, alcoholic sidra, is a sparkling cider typically sold in Champagne-style bottles with an alcohol content comparable to beer. Sidra was, due to the expense of imported Champagne, sometimes used as a substitute for New Year's Eve toasts in Mexico, as it is also a sweet, fruity drink. However, now the practice is to drink cider on Christmas Eve, celebrated with the family, and Champagne on New Year's, celebrated with friends. Cider beverages form a very small share of the Mexican alcoholic beverage market, with the figures for 2009 volume sales amounting to only 3.8 million litres.


In The Netherlands cider is not as commonly available as in its surrounding countries. In 2007 Heineken started testing a cider-based drink branded Jillz in a number of bars throughout the country. The beverage, an alcopop made by blending sparkling water, fruit flavoring, malt and cider, is marketed towards female drinkers as an alternative to beer. At the same time, Heineken also introduced Strongbow Gold as a secondary brand to provide the choice of a real cider, which was targeted to a male audience. Both beverages contain 5% alcohol by volume, which is similar to a typical draught beer in the Netherlands. Other brands are available in supermarkets, most noticeably Magners and Savanna Dry,[25] and in liquor stores generally a broader range may be obtained.

New Zealand[edit]

In New Zealand, there are many companies which produce and/or distribute cider. Lion produces Isaac's ciders under the Mac's trademark. The range includes three flavours: apple, pear and berry with limited edition ciders that are released seasonally. Their Speight's brand also makes a cider.

The Dominion Breweries brands Monteith's Brewery in Greymouth on the west coast of the South Island makes an apple and a pear cider while their Old Mout Cider, based in Nelson on the South Island, is blending fruit wines with cider to create fruit ciders including boysenberry and feijoa varieties. Rekorderlig Cider (Pear, Wild Berries, Mango and Raspberry, Strawberry and Lime, Apple and Blackcurrant and Apple and spice), and Johnny Arrow Cider are another two brands owned by this company.

There are also a number of boutique cider houses, including McCashins Brewery in Stoke on the South Island specialising in dry style ciders from freshly crushed fruit.

Ciders in New Zealand are regulated in their minimum content of fruit juice and alcohol content (mostly 4 to 5%).


In Norway, cider (sider) is a naturally fermented apple juice. Pear juice is sometimes mixed with the apple to get a better fermenting process started. The main area for cider production is in the proclaimed "fruit garden" or "apple orchard" of Norway, the Hardanger region.

Following lengthy navigation through the directives of Norway's complex alcohol laws, three brands of sparkling cider with an abv of approximately 10% are available to the Norwegian public through distribution by the monopoly outlet Vinmonopolet, Hardanger Sider Sprudlande from Hardanger, Krunesider from Bergen sourcing apples from Hardanger, and Liersider from Lier.[26][27] In line with the law of 1975 prohibiting all advertising of alcoholic beverages of abv greater than 2.5%,[28] the products receive little exposure despite some favourable press reaction.[27][29]

Ciders of low alcohol levels are widely available, mostly brands imported from Sweden, although carbonated soft drinks with no alcoholic content may also be marketed as "cider".[29]


Non-alcoholic, apple-flavoured carbonated drinks are popular in the country, with local brands suchs as Mehran Bottler's Apple Sidra and Murree Brewery's Big Apple in the market.


As in Italy, cider was once very popular in Northern Portugal [30] where its production was larger than wine production until the 11th century,[30] but nowadays its popularity has decreased and it is only consumed in the coasts of Minho, Âncora e Lima, where it is used as a refreshment for thirst. In some festivities it is still used rather than wine.


Poland is the largest producer of apples in Europe.[31] Cider is known in Poland as Cydr or Jabłecznik. The category is however just gaining popularity among consumers. Areas strong in Cider production are focused around the center of the country in the Masovian and Łódź voivoideships. [32] Large quantities of Polish apple concentrate are exported to UK, Scandinavia and Ireland for cider production.

Brands important to note are: Cydr 7 Sadów, Joker Forest Fruit Cider, App Cider, INN Cider, Cydr Warka,Cydr Lubelski. [33]

Most of these brands can be found in major supermarket chains, like Tesco, Alma, Auchan and Intermarche.

South Africa[edit]

There are two main brands of cider produced in South Africa, Hunters and Savanna Dry. They are produced and distributed through Distell Group Limited. Hunters Gold was first introduced in South Africa in 1988 as an alternative to beer. The Hunters range includes Hunters Dry, Hunters Gold and Hunters Export. Savanna Dry was introduced in 1996 and also comes in a Light Premium variety.

Craft cideries in South Africa are on the increase, namely Windermere real apple cider and Everson's cider both from the Elgin valley. Windermere cider is the oldest cidery in South Africa and produces real apple cider from whole Windermere farm apples. Both are traditional cideries with the cider being oak aged.


Asturian cider being poured ("escanciado") in the traditional manner.
Asturian cider.

The making and drinking of cider is traditional in several areas of northern Spain, mainly the Principality of Asturias and the Basque Country.

The largest producer of cider in Spain is the Atlantic region of Asturias, where cider is considered not only a beverage but an intrinsic part of its culture and folklore. Asturias amounts more than 80% of the whole production of Spain. The consumption of cider in Asturias is of 54 litres per person/year, probably the highest in any European region. One of the most popular ciders in Spain is called "El Gaitero" (the bagpipe player) which can be found everywhere in Spain and which is produced in this region. However, it must not be confused with the traditional Asturian cider as it is a sparkling cider more in the way of French ciders. It is a factory produced cider, sweet and very foamy, much like lambrusco, different from the more artisan and traditional cider productions. Recently, new apple tree plantations have been started in grounds belonging to the old coal mines, once important in Asturias.

The first testimony about cider in Asturies was made by Greek geographer Strabo in 60 BC.

The traditional Asturian sidra is a still cider of 4–8% strength, although there are other varieties. Traditionally, it is served in sidrerías and chigres, pubs specializing in cider where it is also possible to have other drinks as well as traditional food. One of the most outstanding characteristics is that it is poured in very small quantities from a height into a wide glass, with the arm holding the bottle extended upwards and the one holding the glass extended downwards. This technique is called escanciar un culín (also echar un culín) and is done to get air bubbles into the drink (espalmar), thus giving it a sparkling taste like Champagne that lasts a very short time. Cider is also poured from barrels in the traditional Espichas.

Basque people drinking cider in a sagardotegi (cider house).

Cider has also been popular in the Basque Country for centuries. Whilst Txacoli and Rioja wines became more popular in Vizcaya, Alava and Navarra during the 19th century, there is still a strong Basque cider culture in Gipuzkoa. From the 1980s, government and gastronomic associations have worked to revive this culture in all Basque regions.[34] Known as sagardoa (IPA: /s̺a'gaɾdoa/), it is drunk either bottled or in a cider house (called a sagardotegi), where it is poured from barrels. Most of "sagardotegis" are in the north of Gipuzkoa (Astigarraga, Hernani, Urnieta and Usurbil), but they can be found everywhere in Guipuzcoa, the north-west of Navarre and the Northern Basque Country.

Cider tasting events are popular in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa, where stalls are set up on the street selling the drink from several producers at cheap prices and served until stock runs out.


A glass of Rekorderlig wild berries cider.

Due to Swedish law, stores in Sweden cannot sell cider with less than 15 percentage juice by volume under the name Cider.[35] "Cider" with none or less than 15% juice is instead usually sold as "Apple/Pear beverage of cider character" (Swedish: "Äpple-/Pärondryck med Ciderkaraktär"). Brands of cider in Sweden include Rekorderlig, Kivik, Herrljunga Cider and Kopparberg cider. Most Swedish cider has little in common with traditional cider from other countries. Buyers beware of the difference between actual cider, and the cheaper imitation, which is very sweet and often berry or fruit flavoured, making it more like an alcoholic fruit soda.

United Kingdom[edit]

The Norman conquest of England in 1066 is said to have "fired England with the Normandy enthusiasm for cider" and to have resulted in the introduction of cider apple varieties;[36] there is practically no evidence of cider in England before that date. In the UK today cider is mostly associated with the West Country, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, but is also produced in Wales and across England, particularly Kent, Suffolk, Norfolk and more recently Buckinghamshire. Cheshire is also home to two cidermaking farms. Cider is available in sweet, medium and dry varieties. Recent years have seen a significant increase in cider sales in the UK.[37] The National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) estimates a minimum of 480 active cider makers in the UK.[38] As of 2008, UK cider production comprises 61.9% of cider produced in the EU, and a 7.9% share of UK alcohol servings.[38]


There are two broad main traditions in cider production in the UK - the West Country tradition and the eastern Kent and East Anglia tradition. The former are made using a much higher percentage of true cider apples and so are richer in tannins and sharper in flavour. Kent and East Anglia ciders tend to use a higher percentage of, or are exclusively made from, culinary and dessert fruit; Kentish ciders such as Biddenden's, Rough Old Wife and Theobolds are typical of this style. They tend to be clearer, more vinous and lighter in body and flavour.

At one end of the scale are the traditional, small farm-produced varieties. These are non-carbonated and usually cloudy orange in appearance. Britain's West Country contains many of these farms which have an abundance of ancient varieties of specialist cider-apples. Production is often on such a small scale, the product being sold only at the site of manufacture or in local pubs and shops.[39] At the other end of the scale are the factories mass-producing brands such as Strongbow and Blackthorn.

Mass-produced cider, such as that produced by Bulmers, is likely to be pasteurised and force-carbonated. The colour is likely to be golden yellow with a clear appearance from the filtration. White ciders are almost colourless in appearance.


A key market segment exists in the UK for strong white mass-produced cider at 7.5% alcohol by volume. Cider with higher than 7.5% alcohol has a higher rate of excise duty. Typical brands include White Lightning, Diamond White, Frosty Jack, and White Strike.

By volume of alcohol, the excise duty on cider is lower than any other drink. The duty, as of 2011, was £35.87 per 100 litres of cider of up to 7.5% alcohol. 100 litres of table wine or alcopops would attract £241.23 of duty, wine under 5.5% was charged £102.21, £139.28 for 100 litres of 7.5% beer, and £191.40 for the equivalent alcohol volume of spirits.[40]

Before 1996, brands could be labelled at up to 8.4% alcohol when they actually contained 7.4%. This happened because the duty was levied on the actual strength of the alcohol, but Trade Descriptions legislation allowed the label to overstate the alcohol content by up to 1%.[41] White Lightning was then sold in both 7.4% and 8.4% strengths, due to uncertainty about whether consumers would prefer the pricier, stronger drink, or the slightly weaker, cheap one.[42]

Until 2005, the market leading White Lightning brand was being sold on an almost continual 50% extra free promotion, giving 3 litres of 7.5% cider for a typical selling price of £2.99. Scottish Courage, which owned the brand, decided that year to restrict bottle size to 2 litres as part of its responsible drinking strategy. A spokesman for the company spoke of white cider in general, "It is the cheapest way to buy alcohol in the UK. This is pocket money these days. There is no other alcohol category that has the same challenge as white cider. One three litre plastic bottle of white cider contains almost the full recommended weekly alcohol intake for a male drinker" (225 ml, 22.5 units, of pure alcohol content compared with the recommended maximum of 28 units).[43][44] This led to a 70% drop in sales of White Lightning,[45] but increased sales of the brand owner's weaker, more profitable brands. Other manufacturers followed by increasing prices and scrapping their 3 litre bottles.

The price increases on 7.5% cider has increased sales of 5% mass-market cider, which is still widely available in 3 litre bottles in supermarkets.[45]

Since September 2010, HM Revenue and Customs has decreed that to be called cider a drink must contain at least 35% apple or pear juice and must have a pre-fermentation gravity of at least 1033 degrees.[46] The legislation was introduced to stop cheap high alcohol content drinks being called cider, thus taking advantage of the lower duty rates applied to cider.[47]

West of England[edit]

Scrumpy from Somerset

Cloudy, unfiltered ciders made in the West Country are often called "scrumpy", from "scrump",[48] a local dialect term for a small or withered apple. Ciders from Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire made from traditional recipes have a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) awarded by the European Union. There are over 25 cider producers in Somerset alone, many of them small family businesses.[9] Historically, farm labourers in Devon, Wiltshire, Dorset, Cornwall and Somerset would receive part of their pay in the form of a substantial daily allowance of cider and local traditions such as the Wassail recall the earlier significance of cider-apple.

Large producers in the West of England include Thatchers Cider in Sandford, Somerset, Bulmers (the producer of Strongbow) in Hereford, as well as Brothers Cider and Gaymer Cider Company, both of which are based in Shepton Mallet, Somerset. There is also Weston's Cider in Much Marcle, Herefordshire. Additionally Hogans Cider in Alcester, Warwickshire produces cider from apples and pears From Gloucestershire, Herefordshire & Worcestershire. Healey's Cornish Cyder Farm is renowned for its Rattlers branded cider, produced in Truro, Cornwall.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, a condition known as Devon colic, a form of lead poisoning, was associated with the consumption of cider, vanishing after a campaign to remove lead components from cider presses in the early 19th century. The lead poisoning was also prevalent in Herefordshire as lead salts were added to the cider as a sweetener, being much cheaper than sugar.

Central Southern England[edit]

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of smaller cider producers, many of which are making traditional ciders in areas which have not previously been recognised as cider producing areas. Buckinghamshire for example has seen three producers of real cider emerge in the past five years, two of these (Virtual Orchard and Woughton Orchard) being based in the new city of Milton Keynes. The Radnage Cider Company is based further south in the county. Virtual Orchard was awarded the prestigious Gold Medal Champion Cider of Britain in 2011 by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).


Cider is called "seidr" in Welsh.

Smallhold production of cider made on farms as a beverage for labourers died out in Wales during the 20th century. Cider and perry production in Wales began a dramatic revival in the early 2000s, with many small firms entering production throughout the country. The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has actively encouraged this trend, and Welsh ciders and perries have won many awards at CAMRA festivals; meanwhile, the establishment of groups such as UKCider and the Welsh Perry & Cider Society have spurred communication among producers.

Welsh varieties of apples and pears are often distinct from those grown in England, giving cider from Wales a flavour noticeably different from ciders from nearby regions.


Cider is made in Scotland mainly by small producers, such as Thistly Cross and Waulkmill Cider. The apples are sourced in Scotland and the resultant brews are mainly sold near to the place of origin. Thistly Cross produce many fruit flavoured ciders which are now being sold in Scottish Waitrose and Peckham's stores. Waulkmill Cider is made only with apples collected from within Dumfries and Galloway, and is mainly sold at farmers markets and festivals.

Definition of "real" cider[edit]

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) defines "real" cider as a product containing at least 90% fresh apple juice, with no added flavourings or colourings.[49] Their definition prohibits the use of apple and pear concentrates, and prohibits substantial chaptalisation of the juice (adding sugar prior to fermentation) except in years when the level of natural sugar in the fruit is low.[49] They allow the addition of sweetener for taste after fermentation, and allow limited dilution after fermentation.[49] CAMRA states that the practice of adding a substantial amount of sugar at the fermentation stage to produce a high-alcohol (12–14% abv) beverage that is then diluted with water down to 8.5% abv or less does not conform to their definition of real cider.[49]

More leniently, UK law defines cider as containing at least 35% apple or pear juice, which may be from concentrate.[46]

United States[edit]

In the United States the definition of "cider" is usually more broad than in Europe, specifically Ireland and the United Kingdom. There are two types, one being the traditional definition, called hard cider and the second sweet or soft cider.

A hard cider produced in Michigan.

Hard Cider[edit]


Most of the 17th- and 18th-century emigrants to America from the British Isles drank hard cider and its variants: water was not a trusted source of hydration and so beer, ale, and cider were used as more sanitary substitutes. Apples were one of the earliest known crops in the English speaking New World: ships' manifests show young saplings being carefully planted in barrels and many hopeful farmers bringing bags of seeds with them along with other supplies. Within thirty-five years of the settlement of Jamestown in 1607, the land was put to the plow to grow tobacco, but also other cash crops that would have value on the market of cities like London, Edinburgh, Dublin, and Cardiff. In 1634 Lord Baltimore instructed settlers of the new colony of Maryland to carry across the sea "kernalls of peares and apples, especially of Pipins, Pearemains, and Deesons for maykinge thereafter of Cider and Perry." [50] and there are also records of at least one English apple cultivar used for cider and cooking, Catshead, being grown on Berkeley Hundred Plantation in Virginia around this time; later introductions from the UK would have included Foxwhelp, Redstreak, and the extinct Costard.[51] Other records from the Tidewater South show wealthier farmers and plantation owners arranging for the import of French apple varieties, such as Calville Blanc, Pomme d'Api, and Court Pendu Plat, likely in part due to the warmer climate they faced in the humid summers and the difficulty there was in keeping early breed-stock alive: unbeknownst to the colonists leaving for the New World tent caterpillars feasted on members of the Rosaceae family (meaning apples and pears) which none of their European stock had resistance to, and fireblight, a bacteria endemic to North America.

Two years prior to Lord Baltimore's instructions, up the coast in New England, John Winthrop, newly minted governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony recorded his tenants paying their rent on Governor's Island in two bushels of apples a year.[52] The earliest known provision for cidermaking is believed to have been carried on the Mayflower itself in 1620-halfway through the journey, the ship was caught in a storm and one of its beams cracked badly enough to warrant the consideration of turning back to England. "The great iron screw" helped brace the beam to keep the ship from breaking up and did it long enough to make it to the New World, taken from a cider press.[53] Nine days after the Puritans landed (and perhaps in great thanks for having survived the journey at all) a man by the name of William Blackstone planted the first apple trees in the New England colonies.[54]

The earliest known full blown orchard began in Massachusetts Bay Colony near what is today modern Boston.[55] English settlers often came from several different regions, which ones depending on which colony they chose to settle in, but most of them came from areas with long established traditions of apple growing, including the West Midlands, the West Country (largely these two settled in the South), the Channel Islands (in New Jersey), and East Anglia (New England). Other settlers came from Sweden, Highland Scotland,[56] Wales, Holland,[57]], the Irish province of Ulster, and (by the end of the 17th century) Southwest Germany and parts of Switzerland, with all of the above settling down on farms and requiring apples that would keep well, could be bartered as payment. Even those settlers, such as Germans and Dutch, who did not come from cultures that attached value to alcohol made from apples found that they could sell more of their crop by breeding apples that their neighbours would have wanted. They thus started a trend and bred versatile apples that would go well with a joint of pork, could be peeled and baked in a pie, but also had enough juice to ferment into alcohol[58] and could be pressed into cider come autumn harvest.[59][59] The result was a rather motley and bizarre foundation stock from all over Northern Europe, and American apples, many of them chance seedlings, grew into varieties llike Roxbury Russet, Rhode Island Greening, the Harrison Cider Apple, Rambo, Green Cheese, and Baldwin. Many of these older apples are still used in cookery and in cider making even in the present day.[60][61]

By the 18th century apple cider was a staple at every family table; at harvest many apples were pressed into cider and the remainder was placed carefully into barrels to store through winter for eating or replenishing supply. In one of his letters to his wife Abigail, John Adams complained explicitly about the quality of Philadelphia alcohols and being homesick for her cider.[62][63] Thomas Jefferson grew several varieties of apple at his home in Virginia and there are records of his wife Martha Jefferson overseeing their harvest and brewing while she was mistress of the plantation. Ciderkin, a slightly alcoholic beverage made from cider pomace, could also be found on colonial tables, and was often served for breakfast. Applejack, made in the North, was made in a very similar manner to Canadian ice cider every winter and likely would have been familiar to Mrs. Adams as an alternate means to concentrate alcohol when it was far too cold outside to bring out the cider press.[64] The taste for hard cider continued into the 19th century in pockets of the East Coast, but with the double blow of immigration from Central and Eastern Europe, where lager beer is the traditional staple, and the later advent of Prohibition hard cider manufacturing collapsed and did not recover after the ban on alcohol was lifted. Temperance fanatics burned or uprooted the orchards and wrought havoc on farms to the point that only dessert or cooking apples escaped the axe or torch.[65]

Present Day[edit]

It is only in recent years that interest has been completely revived in hard cider.[66] Surviving heirloom varieties that would have had a role in the old orchards have been catalogued and others have been put up for sale at city farmer's markets, as well as sold by the bushel to businesses wanting to make their own labels.[67] On the East Coast many have been taking cuttings of trees planted a hundred years ago and blending them experimentally into new brews, with California and the Great Lakes States following suit.[68][69] Business is currently booming, even outselling the craft beer movement and though it is currently only one percent of the alcoholic beverage market it has skyrocketed and is projected to keep growing. Larger beer brewing companies, whose profits have been suffering for years due to the loss of market share to craft brews,[70] have bought cider making companies : Boston Beer Company, the brewers of Sam Adams, has bought Angry Orchard in 2013 and the same company that brews Bulmer's in Ireland reaped a handsome sum in the purchase of Woodchuck Hard Cider, in 2012. As of summer 2014 hard cider's explosion in popularity has been such that for the very first time a commercial for a nationwide brand has debuted on YouTube and television, for Johnny Appleseed Ciders, a new label launched by Anheuser-Busch, brewers of Budweiser.[71]

There is great diversity and breadth of taste in the types of hard cider available on the market, made by small local producers allthe way up to the big beer making conglomerates. Because the United States allows brewing for personal use, the instructions for making one's own homebrew are readily available on the internet on American bulletin boards, right alongside orchard addresses and photographs of the apples required.[72] According to a July 2014 article from a Chicago area newspaper, the city is taking advantage of its proximity to a major apple producing area in Michigan, easily reached by ship and truck. A whole bar dedicated solely to new ciders in the city is up and running and consequentially Great Lakes producers are pressing more and more of the drink: in its first year, Michigan-based Virtue Cider pressed about 20,000 gallons of cider, selling it in Chicago and other markets. In 2013, it pressed about 120,000 gallons, and for the year 2014 it expects to press more than 200,000 gallons.[73]

New York City happens to be located in the second most important area for apple production in the country as well as in a state devoted to many award winning wines, often right behind the more famous California and Washington with Rieslings.[74] Naturally, the cider revolution has not left America's largest city indifferent, as it also gets many of New England's best brews (this having the deepest roots for cider production in the land) shipped by truck every week on top of what it gets natively. As of 2013 there are more than 20 producers in the state of New York. Andrew Cuomo, the governor, and Senator Charles Schumer are re-evaluating how the local product taxed to make it more competitive nationally.[75] In New York City itself, there is one brewery, Original Sin, that features artisanal style brews made with champagne yeast and a single varietal that indeed was first discovered in New York in what is now Queens: Newtown Pippin.[76]

California is most famous for wine, but a trade magazine lists 28 producers scattered over the San Joaquin Valley and the Napa region.[77] Among California’s most prominent cider producers are Ace Cider, Devoto Orchards, Sonoma Cider, Crispin, and Tilted Shed Ciderworks, During WWII, well before the great wine revolution of the late 1970s, California often produced the bulk of apples for consumption by troops using just one cultivar: Gravenstein, brought to California by Russian settlers in the 19th century.[78] Unfortunately much of its production was centered around Sonoma and the trees were cut down to make way for vineyards.[79] Fortunately a few survived and cideries in California have been processing them into cider and importing other more bitter ones from France and England to make refined tasting cider sold by the bottle and much like their wine growing neighbours they do offer tours and taste tests, as well as ship their product to San Francisco.[80]

Sweet or "Regular" Cider[edit]

In current U.S. usage, one must specify if the cider one wants should be hard or regular, for what he shall shall receive may be completely devoid of alcohol. Sweet cider typically is the direct result of pressed apples; according to the regulations of the state of Pennsylvania, apple cider is legally defined as an "amber golden, opaque, unfermented, entirely nonalcoholic juice squeezed from apples".[81] This is distinct from apple juice, which has a much sweeter taste, is typically heavily filtered, and may or may not be from concentrate.[82] Both products are pasteurized for safety's sake and otherwise are unacceptable for consumption or large scale sale otherwise. Sweet cider is typically drunk in the US as the weather gets colder and in the East it is often served hot and mulled with spices; it is a feature of end of year holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Sparkling cider, such as that made by a company called Martinelli's, if the result of Prohibition Era crackdowns on alcohol and is a carbonated type of juice.

Due to tax legislation in the US,[2] a cider becomes classified as a fruit wine when sugar or extra fruit is added and a secondary fermentation increases the strength.[3]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

  • Farmhouse Cider & Scrumpy, Bob Bunker 1999
  • Household Cyclopedia, 1881
  • The History and Virtues of Cyder, R. K. French (Robert Hale 1982 - reprinted 2010)

External links[edit]