There’s been a lot of buzz in the media over the last several years about the fast-growing market for cider in the U.S. What you don’t hear about as much is how cider is not just growing here, but around the world as well. New companies and brands are popping up all over, even in countries whose cider tradition has been a little stagnant or even nonexistent.
As new companies emerge, they want to test their ciders on the global stage. Where better to do that than the largest, and quite possibly the most prestigious, cider contest in the world, the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry competition, best known as GLINTCAP 2019.
Coming a long way from its modest beginnings when it was known as GLOWS (Great Lakes Olde World Syder), that 2005 competition had 113 entries from the U.S. and Canada, 60 percent of which were from non-commercial producers. This year the entries totaled nearly 1,600, 14 percent of which came from countries such as Australia, Russia and the Netherlands, including 213 from Canada alone. (Read about last year here.) The numbers aren’t a complete reflection of the international cider world’s interest, for the final counts only include the entries that were actually judged, not those that were registered but never arrived.
It “seems that half the time the samples never make it through customs…even with supposedly correct paperwork,” says Eric West, GLINTCAP competition director. “We plan to work with someone like Park Street Imports in 2020 to ease the burden for overseas entrants.” West adds this should make a significant difference.
So why should a cidery submit their ciders to the competition, or any for that matter? While it is beneficial to compete against your peers in a regional competition, but to go up against ciders made by some of the best in the world and win can say that much more about who you are and what you can do, even if your ultimate goal isn’t necessarily to export to the U.S. And as GLINTCAP’s reputation grows, so will the reputation of the ciders that walk away with medals.
TURNING TO CONSUMERS
As a cider drinker, though, it can be a challenge to find an award-winning cider to try for yourself. “GLINTCAP has been very industry focused and has built itself into something fantastic,” says John Behrens, Michigan Cider Association (MCA) president and owner of Farmhaus Cider in Hudsonville, MI. “But it’s never really had a public-facing component.”
Working together, the MCA and the Great Lakes Cider Association, which runs GLINTCAP, are set to change that. Over the last several years the MCA has launched Grand Rapids Cider Week, with GLINTCAP set in the middle and a variety of consumer events featuring Michigan producers.
This year the week expanded to more locations and offerings with special cider dinners, cocktails, several orchard tours and the Great Lakes International Cider Festival, which was open to any commercial cider producer worldwide.
“We’re planning for the future, and we want to have winning ciders at the festival so we can share them with the public,” Behrens adds. “We want to make Cider Week a total experience for people, where everyone can find something that excites them.”