There’s no doubt that hard cider is making a spirited comeback in the U.S.
Anyone who has been to the beer section at the store has probably noticed a proliferation of hard cider brands, from big beer makers like Stella Artois with its Cidre label to smaller but significant producers like Woodchuck Hard Cider.
On Monday, nearly two dozen cider makers from New York and around the country gathered at the Astor Center in Manhattan to preview their latest batches ahead of Cider Week 2014, which gets underway Oct. 24.
There was flat cider, cider with fizz, dry cider, dry rosé cider, cider fermented in bourbon barrels, cider fermented with Belgian abbey beer yeast, aperitif cider, cider flavored with ginger, and much more.
People gathered around tables where the cider makers had set up stations to proffer tastings, sipping samples from wine glasses. Those in attendance represented retailers, restaurants and other tastemakers.
Autumn Stoscheck, one of the founders of Eve’s Cidery in Van Etten, N.Y., said Cider Week had become an important marketing event.
“It’s a great way for restaurants and stores who aren’t already on the cider ship to get excited,” she said.
Here are five things to know about cider:
1.) It’s fermented like wine, not brewed like beer: Cider is produced from the juice of apples often pressed in cider mills. Fermentation can happen once or more times during production. Champagne yeast is sometimes added to make it bubbly; but it is also common without the sparkle.
2.) There are many styles: Different varieties of apples can be combined to produce different styles of cider, for instance to bring out natural tannins for bitterness or to balance out acidity.
3.) It has a long history in North America: Although it seems novel these days to be drinking hard cider, it wasn’t always. Aficionados say cider was popular in colonial America and for decades was among the top alcoholic beverages in the country. But Prohibition dried up the market.
4.) Fall harvest: Apples are plucked from orchards in the autumn, ground or crushed and then the fruit pressed in a cider mill to extract the juice. However, because the cider makers are working sometimes a season ahead, this year’s cider may have been made from last year’s apples.
5.) Pair it: Because cider can be as complex as wine, different varieties can be paired with the right meats and dishes.