If you need evidence that cider is now a growing global phenomena you need look no further than the Cider World fair held in Frankfurt, Germany on April 15. First held in 2009 with 27 producers, all but one from Germany, the fair has grown nearly ten-fold to 223 producers from 19 countries on four continents. No where else can one sample products from so many regions – from Japan and Chile to Finland and Spain – all under one roof. This year’s special guest country was Ireland with a total of 13 producers welcoming the roughly 2,000 visitors to sample their wares.
Fair director Michael Stöckl, a trained restauranteur and sommelier, has a grand vision for the event’s future, one that will put the Frankfurt Cider World at the heart of the global cider movement. First was the expansion of the consumer-oriented fair to include producers from every country in which cider is made, something that is well on its way to being realized. This one-day event has now expanded into Frankfurt Cider Week with seven days of cider tastings and cider-themed dinners around the city.
Stöckl’s next target is the world of beverage professionals. In a first step, this year saw a revamp of the fair’s associated cider competition. Entries were professionally analyzed to insure they met European quality standards, a key component for commercialization, then evaluated by an international jury of cider professionals. About half of the 160 ciders that made it to the jury evaluation were deemed medal-worthy, with the only entrant from the United States, Angry Orchard, taking home six medals. The ciders were presented at a trade-only tasting on the day before the fair.
Stöckl says he hopes the rigorous awards process will provide selection tools for a restaurant, bar or shop, and that comments from the jury will raise the quality of cider overall by giving producers objective professional feedback. Going forward he plans for a variety of professional training courses that will be open to interested members of the public as well.
It’s a ambitious vision that will be years in the making but certainly an exciting component in cider’s bright world-wide future.