It’s nearly Autumn, which means it’s almost time for the apple harvests!
Yes, we’re technically in the last part of summer. Still, I want to take this ‘summer-to-autumn’ transitional time to talk about cider, the versatile yet sometimes overlooked drink.
Although sales declined during 2020 (on-trade cider sales are currently worth £783.2m, down 61.1%), cider did increase its share of on-trade serves from 10.5% to 12%! (Source.) These figures show that consumers still have an appetite for this apple-based drink - UK drinks more cider per capita than any other country, with 57% of apples grown used for cider!
The explosion of fruit cider opened the category up to a broader audience through more exciting and accessible flavour offerings. However, many lifelong fans of cider are strong advocates that it is at its best when made of 100% freshly pressed apple juice, fermented slowly and then aged, often in oak barrels for months (or even years).
Let’s look at a range of ciders to suit all tastes that will whet the whistle on a chilly (or warm – autumn can be unpredictable!) autumnal day.
Bursting with bittersweet West Country apples, Orchard Pig’s approach is to create ciders that look beyond the sweetness of apples. Their core range consists of three great ciders: The Reveller, a crisp refreshing cider with a tangy note of lime on the finish. The Truffler, offering a welcome hint of sweetness that gives a long, rounded finish without compromising the dry character of this classic Somerset cider. And finally, The Hogfather, a medium-still cider which sits at 7.4% ABV - not for the faint-hearted!
Orchard Pig also creates radical one-offs. Seasonal options for the non-summer months include Ginger and Chili Cider, where a subtle hint of spice follows warming notes of ginger on the tongue.
Established in 1935, Magners is the original Irish cider. Magners Original is made with 17 varieties of fallen apples, that are pressed and kept in the dark to mature for a couple of years to deliver a crisp cider. Magners is renowned for refreshment and a dedication to craft that offers consumers a new reason to embrace cider.
Over the years, they’ve broadened their range with the likes of a Dark Fruit variant. This cider sub-category has grown quickly and represents a significant chunk of autumnal cider sales. Magners Dark Fruit is a refreshingly fruity addition to the family, packed with intense blackcurrant and jammy berries. With one eye on Sober October, peep at Magners 0.0%, a light, refreshing alternative with zero per cent alcohol.
I had to include Kopparberg on this list for the distinct flavours they create. Take their Mixed Fruits Cider, for example. One of their more popular offerings that’s bursting with juicy and delicious blackberries and raspberries. The fruity taste can also be enjoyed by the non-drinkers, with Mixed Fruit Alcohol-Free – with the only thing missing being the alcohol!
Their Spiced Apple Cider is perfect for the colder months. Although it can be enjoyed at any time of the year, the blend of apple cider with warming cinnamon notes is just what’s needed on an icy day. Imagine sipping one of these at Halloween or Bonfire Night? You can picture it now, can’t you?
Okay, so we’ve got some premium bottled ciders, a pairing of well-known Apple and Dark Fruit ciders on tap, a non-alcoholic alternative, and a few wildcard flavours. What’s next? How about something for those purists?
A 100% English cider, Addlestones is made using bittersweet cider apples from the West Country to create its full-bodied taste. Fermented twice but never filtered, the unique Addlestones Cloudy Cider is a medium-dry, naturally cloudy, authentic premium alternative to mainstream cider.
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