“Are you still drinking craft beer? Dude, that is soooo played out. You need to roll like our founding fathers did.”*
(*From the imaginary hipster inside my head.)
Thanks to the massively popular craft beer movement, hard cider is giving IPAs a run for their money as the hot new alcoholic beverage to consume. Hipsters have rediscovered the drink once favored by colonial America after a nearly one hundred-year long absence. It’s now cool to go colonial. It is only a matter of time before today’s porkpie hats will be replaced with yesterday’s powdered wigs.
Craft cider is made by pressing apples to make juice and then letting that liquid ferment into alcohol in a process that is similar to making wine. Then other types of juice are sometimes added to the mix – cherry, raspberry, pear – to give it a distinct taste. And although it has roughly the same alcohol content as beer (around eight to ten percent) hard cider is insanely drinkable, meaning you can easily pound two pints in about twenty minutes and not even realize it, which, depending on who you are is either alarming news or the greatest thing you have ever heard.
Many bars have now added ciders on tap. Small cider producers are popping up all over the country. Even the big boys are getting into the apple cider trade. Giants such as Heineken, MillerCoors, and Anheuser-Busch are rolling out their own cider brands. And though any time corporations get in the mix with something hip means that we can expect its death knoll to start sounding soon after, as of right now hard cider is enjoying its moment in the sun and hopefully won’t become the next Mike’s Hard Lemonade.
In colonial days, hard cider was the drink of choice. Colonists originally brought their cider making know-how over to the New World when they sailed to the Americas. Hell, John Adams was said to break his fast every morning with a tankard of the strong stuff, making him possibly the coolest POTUS ever. So if it was so popular, what caused the cider to evaporate?
Once alcohol was made illegal (aka, The Dumbest Era In American History) that officially put a stop to much of the cider production. Farmers who were fans of Prohibition even cut down their own apple orchards to prevent cider lovers from making their own drinks.
Immigrants Moving Westward
Once Prohibition was repealed and German immigrants began moving to the Midwest, they brought their love of beer with them, and that love of fermented hops spread like wildfire. Beer was quicker and easier to make than cider and since quicker and easier trumps everything, hard cider faded fast.
But now that craft beer and craft cocktails have become such a “thing” in the past several years, it is only natural that craft hard cider should follow suit. Adding to its popularity is the fact that many people who have a gluten intolerance and can’t drink beer — but still want to get shitfaced, mind you — have discovered that hard cider is the way to go. And if you think about it, getting drunk off hard cider is just as patriotic as getting drunk off beer… maybe even more so.
So in the end, the one thing that killed hard cider – beer – has actually brought it back to life. The irony is indeed delicious. And since hipsters are reaching back to the past for new and exotic drinking experiences, it is only a matter of time before they reach back even further. Soon mead will replace the hard cider and then grog will replace the mead until we finally go all the way back to Prehistoric times and we just start drinking each other’s blood.