Do you have friends who drink cider instead of beer or wine? Probably not—unless it’s someone who reaches for a Magners (because they’re Irish) or a bottle of Woodchuck at a party (because they want something “sweet”), the committed cider drinker is a rare beast. But all that may be changing soon—there’s a cider revolution fermenting in the U.S., driven by small producers who are taking cues from the traditions of England and France while adding their own twists and exploring the terroir of domestic fruit.
At the heart of the cider movement is the country’s major apple-growing regions like New York’s Hudson Valley, New Hampshire, and Virginia. Rather than blending their fermented apple wine with juice and added sugar (as many producers do to attract novice drinkers), these artisans are crafting ciders that can be dry, tart, funky, fruity, and effervescent. It may seem that cider is the third wheel at bars today, but remember that craft beer was in the same position just a couple decades ago. It’s perhaps auspicious, then, that Greg Hall—who was a craft-beer pioneer at Goose Island—has now left the brew kettle behind to launch Virtue Cider in Michigan.
With NYC Cider Week in full swing, there’s no better time than now to shake old preconceptions about cider and hop on the bandwagon—it’s only a matter of time before everyone else follows your lead.
The Expert: Steve Wood, founder of the much-respected Farnum Hill Ciders in New Hampshire, has 24 years of cider-producing experience under his belt. He originally planted the 1,000 trees that would make up his first cider orchard in 1989 as a total experiment, but now his goal is to get people to start treating cider as one of their staples: “Every host will have a bottle of red, a bottle of white, a six-pack of beer, and a bottle of cider.”