The cider market in the United States has grown over 500 percent since 2011. While that is something to crow about, cider’s roots go much deeper and farther than just North American soils. Get to know cider on a global scale, using this introductory guide to six major international cider cultures. First up: Great Britain.
The “West Country” of England is one of the classic Old World cider regions, with its ciders typified by the use of high-tannin apples. The Three Counties of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire are also the epicenter of Britain’s small, but fiercely passionate, traditional perry heritage. Outside the West Country, there are other cidermaking traditions, with ciders from the eastern counties being more acid-driven in profile, owing to being made from dessert and cooking apples.
The Current Scene
Great Britain is unique among its Old World contemporaries, as cider has broken out from its regional roots and become a nationally consumed, mainstream drink. As a result, the United Kingdom (which includes Great Britain and Ireland) is the world’s largest market, although its share of the global pie is decreasing year after year. The majority of this volume comes from a handful of national brands, which has led to an overall commodification of cider. Over the last 10 years, there has been a significant proliferation of mainstream flavored ciders that now account for more than 25 percent of all cider consumed in Great Britain. Despite the centuries of heritage, ancient apples and orchards, cider is afflicted by a reputational issue in Britain, with many drinkers suffering from a metaphorical hangover associated with poorly made and/or highly commodified exponents they have consumed. However, there is a small, but increasingly vocal, craft end to the category that is seeking to demonstrate to a new wave of discerning drinkers just how diverse and high quality cider can be.
4 Regional Apples to Know
Kingston Black, Dabinett, Yarlington Mill, Egremont Russet
Classic Ciders to Sip
Dunkertons Organic Vintage Cider: A classic blend of bittersweet and bittersharp apples comes together to create an incredibly balanced, fruity, spicy, medium-dry tannic cider.
Nightingale Cider Co. Russet Cider: Bone dry, minerally, cleanly acid-driven and with hints of hazelnuts, this is a must for any fan of the French white wine Picpoul de Pinet.
Oliver’s At The Hop #8 Perry: Coming from the high priest of traditional perry is a modern, contemporary take on a classic. Beautiful, citrusy and fruity perry characters seamlessly combine with Simcoe hops to create a truly intriguing drinking sensation.
This piece originally ran in Vol. 13 of Cidercraft magazine. For the full article and more like it, click here.