2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Drink

Thatchers traditional scrumpy cider in a pint glass
Thatchers traditional scrumpy cider in a pint glass

Cider (or cyder) is an alcoholic beverage made primarily from the juices of specially grown varieties of apples and pears. In most places in the world, the term refers to fermented apple juice and pear juice, but the drink is known as hard cider or ciderjack in the United States and parts of Canada, where the term "cider" almost exclusively refers to non-alcoholic apple cider.

Cider generally has a stronger alcoholic content than typical beer, usually over 5%, and appears golden yellow and often cloudy. To produce cider, apples are washed and mashed, pressed (usually in a stone mill or hydraulic press), then fermented in oak vats using natural or added yeasts.

Cider is very popular in the United Kingdom, especially in South West England, in comparison to other countries. The UK has the highest per capita consumption as well as the largest cider producing companies in the world including H. P. Bulmer, the largest . The drink is also popular and traditional in Brittany and Normandy (France), in Ireland and northern Spain. The drink is making a resurgence in both Europe and the United States . Overall, the UK produces 110 million imperial gallons (500,000,000 L) of cider per year.

Apples grown for consumption or consumer outlets are far from ideal for cidermaking, as they are low in tannins. Most makers use cider apples, the cultivars developed specifically for cidermaking, of which there are many hundreds of varieties.

Types of cider

Cider comes in a variety of tastes, from sweet to dry, although flavour differs enormously within these descriptions. The appearance of cider ranges from very dark, cloudy and sludgy through to very crisp, clean and golden yellow, and with the most processed, almost entirely clear. The varying colours and appearances are generally as a result of how much of the apple material is removed between pressing and fermentation.

Modern, mass-produced ciders are generally heavily processed and resemble sparkling wine in appearance. More traditional brands tend to be darker and cloudier, as less of the apple is filtered out. They are often stronger than processed varieties, tasting more strongly of apples.

White cider is made by processing cider after the traditional milling process is complete, resulting in a nearly colourless product. This processing allows the manufacturer to produce strong (typically 7-8% ABV) cider cheaply, quickly, and on an industrial scale. Brands of white cider include White Lightning, Three Hammers, Polaris and Frosty Jack's.

More detail about the various types of cider by region can be found under the country headings below.

Cider production

Scratting and pressing

Most cider is made industrially nowadays, although traditional methods still survive. In this picture the layers of pomace are wrapped in canvas.
Most cider is made industrially nowadays, although traditional methods still survive. In this picture the layers of pomace are wrapped in canvas.

Once the apples are gathered from trees in orchards they are "scratted" (ground down) into what is called " pomace" or "pommage". Historically this was done using pressing stones with circular troughs, or by a cider mill. Cider mills were traditionally driven by the hand, water-mill, or horse-power. In modern times they are likely to be powered by electricity. The pulp is then transferred to the cider "press", where the pommage is pressed and formed by pressure into a kind of cake, which is called the "cheese".

Traditionally the method for squeezing the juice from the cheese involves placing clear, sweet straw or hair cloths between the layers of pomace. This will usually alternate with slatted ash-wood racks, until there is a pile of ten or twelve layers. It is important to minimise the time that the pomace is exposed to air in order to keep oxidation to a minimum. The cheese needs to be constructed evenly, or the whole pile slithers onto the floor.

This pile is then subjected to different degrees of pressure in succession, until all the 'must' or juice is squeezed from the pomage. This juice, after being strained in a coarse hair-sieve, is then put into either open vats or closed casks. The pressed pulp is given to farm animals as winter feed, composted or discarded, or used to make liqueurs .


Fermentation is best effected at a temperature of 4 to 16 °C (40 to 60 °F). This is low for most kinds of fermentation, but works for cider as it leads to slower fermentation with less loss of delicate aromas.

Shortly before the fermentation consumes all the sugar, the liquor is "racked" into new vats. This leaves dead yeast cells and other undesirable material at the bottom of the old vat. At this point it becomes important to exclude airborne acetic bacteria, so care is taken to fill the vat completely, and the fermenting of the remaining available sugar generates a small amount of carbon dioxide that helps to prevent air seeping in. This also creates a certain amount of sparkle, and sometimes extra sugar, such as white cane sugar, is added at this stage for this purpose and also to raise the alcohol level. Racking is sometimes repeated if the liquor remains too cloudy.

Homebrewers can use elaborate 55 gallon plastic drums. More simply they use a 2 or 3 liter bottle of pasteurized store bought preservative free apple juice, add a touch of yeast, champagne ideally, and replace the cap after drilling a small snug hole for an airlock. For larger batches of hard cider, using a culligan water jug works well with the addition of a rubber stopper, or even a garbage bag, to keep the system sealed. The cider may then be racked by careful pouring and bottled with 3 tsp. of raw sugar into a 2 liter pop bottle to secondarily ferment for carbonation. Apple based juices with cranberry also make fine ciders.

The cider is ready to drink at this point, though more often it is matured in the vats for up to two or three years. Though it is perfectly tasty at around 2 months.

Blending and bottling

For larger-scale cider production, ciders from vats produced from different varieties of apple may be blended to accord with market taste. If the cider is to be bottled, usually some extra sugar is added for sparkle. Higher quality ciders can be made using the champagne method, but this is expensive in time and money and requires special corks, bottles, and other equipment. Some home brewers use beer bottles, which work perfectly well, and inexpensively. This allows the cider to become naturally carbonated.


Conventional apple cider has a relatively high concentration of phenolics, antioxidants which may be helpful for preventing heart disease, cancer, and other ailments . This is, in part, because apples themselves have a decent concentration of phenolics in them to begin with.

Cider festivals

A Cider Festival is a large event promoting cider (and usually perry, a similar drink made from pears). A variety of ciders and perries will be available for tasting and buying. A limited selection of other drinks, such as beer and soft drinks, is often available too. Some festivals are put on by cider-promoting private organizations , others by pubs, and still others by cider producers themselves.

Uses of Cider

A distilled spirit, apple brandy, is made from cider. Its best known forms are Calvados and applejack. Applejack is a strong alcoholic beverage made in North America by concentrating cider, either by the traditional method of " freeze distillation", or by true evaporative distillation. In traditional freeze distillation, a barrel of cider is left outside during the winter. When the temperature is low enough, the water in the cider starts to freeze. If the ice is removed, the (now more concentrated) alcoholic solution is left behind in the barrel. If the process is repeated often enough, and the temperature is low enough, the alcohol concentration is raised to 30–40% alcohol by volume. In freeze distillation, methanol and fusel oil, which are natural fermentation byproducts, may reach harmful concentrations. These toxins can be separated when regular heat distillation is performed. Home production of applejack is illegal in most countries.

A popular aperitif in Normandy is pommeau—a drink produced by blending unfermented cider and apple brandy in the barrel (the high alcoholic content of the spirit stops the fermentation process of the cider and the blend takes on the character of the aged barrel).

Cocktails may include cider. Besides kir and snakebite, an example is Black Velvet in a version of which cider may replace champagne, usually referred to as a "Poor Man's Black Velvet".

A few producers in Quebec have developed cidre de glace (literally "ice cider", sometimes called "apple ice wine"), inspired from ice wines, where the apples are naturally frozen either before or after harvest. The alcohol concentration of cidre de glace is 9–13%.

Related drinks

Other fruits can be used to make cider-like drinks. The most popular is perry, known in France as poiré and produced mostly in Normandy, which is made from fermented pear-juice. A branded sweet perry known as Babycham, marketed principally as a women's drink and sold in miniature Champagne-style bottles, was once popular but has now become unfashionable. Another related drink is cyser (cider fermented with honey).

Although not widely made in modern times, various other pome fruits can produce palatable drinks. Apicius, in Book II of De Re Coquinaria, includes a recipe calling for quince cider.

Another similar drink is plum jerkum, made from fermented plums, traditional of Warwickshire in the English Midlands. It is said that it "left the head clear while paralysing the legs". The Warwickshire Drooper plum from which it is traditionally brewed is now uncommon, which explains the rarity of the drink.

Peach juice can be fermented into "peachy".

Cider by country

Before the development of rapid long-distance transportation, regions of cider consumption generally coincided with regions of cider production: that is, areas with apple orchards. For example, R. A. Fletcher notes that in the Liber Sancti Jacobi, cider was said to be more common than wine in 12th-century Galicia.


In Argentina, cider, or sidra is by far the most popular alcoholic carbonated drink during the Christmas and New Year holidays. It has traditionally been considered the choice of the middle and lower classes (along with ananá fizz, a sort of pineapple cider), whereas the higher classes would rather go for champagne for their Christmas or New Year toast. Popular commercial brands of cider are Real, La Farruca and Rama Caída. It is usually marketed in 0.7-liter glass or plastic bottles.


In Austria cider is made in the southwest of Lower Austria, the so called " Mostviertel" and in Upper Austria. Almost every farmer there has some apple or pear trees. Many of the farmers also have a kind of inn called "Mostheuriger". There they serve cider and also something to eat.


In Australia, 'cider' is considered an alcoholic beverage made from apples. The most popular brands of alcoholic cider in Australia are Strongbow, and Mercury Cider made at the Cascade Brewery in Hobart, Tasmania. Cascade's ' Apple Isle' Sparkling Apple Juice is the most popular selling brand of non-alcoholic cider in Australia. Alcoholic cider is sold in bottleshops, while the non-alcoholic version is stocked in the soft-drink aisles of supermarkets.


Scottish & Newcastle own Belgium cider maker Stassen SA, who in addition to their own local brands such as Strassen X Cider also produce Strongbow Jacques, a 5.5% ABV cider with cherry, raspberry and blackcurrant flavours. Zonhoven based Konings NV specialises in private label ciders for European retailers and offers a wide variety of flavours and packaging options to the beverage industry.


In Quebec, cider is considered a traditional alcoholic beverage. Cidermaking was, however, forbidden from the early years of the British rule as it was in direct conflict with established British brewers' interests (most notably John Molson). In recent years, a unique variety has emerged on the market: ice cider. This type of cider is made from apples with a particularly high level of sugar caused by natural frost.

In Ontario, apple cider or apple hooch is often home-made. Apples are de-cored, juiced, and boiled. Sugar is dissolved into the apple/water mixture. Brewer's yeast is added and the cider is fermented for up to two weeks, or three before bottling, and then aged to taste.

In New Brunswick, cider is commercially available from the Gagetown Cider Company and several small farms.

Cider is commercially produced in British Columbia, New Brunswick and Ontario, usually with a 7% alcohol content. It is sold in 341 ml glass bottles or sometimes in 2 liter plastic bottles, and does not have the added sugar injected into much of US hard cider.

Channel Islands

Few traditional horse-drawn circular apple crushers are still in use, but many may still be seen used as garden ornaments, flower planters or architectural features
Few traditional horse-drawn circular apple crushers are still in use, but many may still be seen used as garden ornaments, flower planters or architectural features

Along with the rest of Normandy, the Channel Islands had a strong cider-making tradition. Cider had been the ordinary drink of people of Jersey from the 16th century, when the commercial opportunities offered by cider exports spurred the transformation of feudal open-field agriculture to enclosure. Until the 19th century, it was the largest agricultural export with up to a quarter of the agricultural land given over to orchards. In 1839, for example, 268,199 gallons of cider were exported from Jersey to England alone, and almost half a million gallons were exported from Guernsey 1834-1843, but by 1870 exports from Jersey had slumped to 4,632 gallons. Beer had replaced cider as a fashionable drink in the main export markets, and even the home markets had switched to beer as the population became more urban. Potatoes overtook cider as the most important crop in Jersey in the 1840s, and in Guernsey glasshouse tomato production grew in importance. Small-scale cider production on farms for domestic consumption, particularly by seasonal workers from Brittany and mainland Normandy, was maintained, but by the mid-20th century production dwindled until only 8 farms were producing cider for their own consumption in 1983. The number of orchards had been reduced to such a level that the destruction of trees in the Great Storm of 1987 demonstrated how close the Islands had come to losing many of its traditional cider apple varieties. A concerted effort was made to identify and preserve surviving varieties and new orchards were planted. As part of diversification, farmers have moved into commercial cider production, and the cider tradition is celebrated and marketed as a heritage experience. In Jersey, a strong (above 7%) variety is currently sold in shops and a bouché style is also marketed.

In Jersey, cider is used in the preparation of black butter ( Jèrriais: nièr beurre), a traditional preserve.

East Asia

Cider in Japan and Korea sometimes means just a soft drink, not necessarily made from apples.


French cidre is an alcoholic drink produced predominantly in Normandy and Brittany. It varies in strength from below 4% alcohol to considerably more. Cidre Doux is a sweet cider, usually up to 3% in strength. 'Demi-Sec' is from 3 to 5% and Cidre Brut is a strong dry cider of 5% alcohol and above. Most French ciders are sparkling. Higher quality cider is sold in Champagne-style bottles (cidre bouché), and while much of cidre is sold in corked bottles, some screw-top bottles exist. Until the mid-20th century, cidre was the second most-consumed drink in France (after wine) but an increase in the popularity of beer displaced cider's market share outside traditional cider-producing regions. In restaurants in Brittany, cider is sometimes served in traditional ceramic bowls (or wide cups) rather than glasses. A kir normand is a cocktail apéritif made with cider and cassis, rather than white wine and cassis for the traditional kir.

Some cider is also made in southwestern France, in the French portion of the Basque country. Ciders produced here are generally of the style seen in Spanish part of the Basque country.


Breton cidermaking employs the technique of keeving (from the French cuvée). In keeving, calcium chloride and a special enzyme are added to the pressed apple juice, causing protein in the juice to precipitate to the top for removal. This reduces the amount of protein available to the yeast, starving it and therefore causing the cider to finish fermenting while sugar is still available. The result is a sweeter drink at a lower alcohol level but still retaining the full flavor of the apples, without dilution.


German cider, usually called Apfelwein (apple wine), and regionally known as Apfelmost (apple must), Viez (from Latin vice, the second or substitute wine), or Saurer Most (sour must), has an alcohol content of 5.5% - 7% and a tart, sour taste.

German cider is mainly produced and consumed in Hessen, particularly in the Frankfurt, Wetterau and Odenwald areas, in Moselfranken, Merzig ( Saarland) and the Trier area, as well as the lower Saar area and the region bordering on Luxembourg. In these regions, there are several large producers, as well as numerous small, private producers often using traditional recipes.

In some of these regions, there are regular cider competitions and fairs, in which the small, private producers participate. Cider songs are composed and sung at these events. The Merzig region crowns a Viez Queen, and the lower Saar area a Viez King.

An official Viez route or cider route connects Saarburg with the border to Luxembourg.


Cider is a new introduction in India under the brand TEMPEST, produced by Green Valley Cider located in the apple producing state of Himachal Pradesh, India. Tempest is primarily available in the carbonated form and is witnessing a resurgence in popularity. However, traditionally and obviously not under the name cider, it has been known to be locally produced in villages in the apple producing states of Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh .


Cider is a popular drink in Ireland; for a long time cider production was officially encouraged and supported by a preferential tax treatment. A single cider, Bulmers, dominates sales in Ireland: Owned by C&C and produced in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, this Bulmers is unrelated to the British Bulmers cider - outside the Republic of Ireland, C&C brand their cider as Magners.


There are two types of cider sold in Mexico. One type is a popular carbonated soft drink, the best known being Sidral Mundet. The alcoholic version is known as sidra, a sparkling cider typically sold in champagne-style bottles. Sidra is, due to the expense of imported champagne, the traditional drink used for New Year's Eve toasts in Mexico.


In Luxembourg, viez (pronounced feetz) is rather like English scrumpy. It is cloudy and varies from non-alcoholic to very alcoholic. It is made only in autumn. It is sold by the side of the road in reused plastic bottles and should be drunk within a few days of purchase. The quality can be extremely good.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, cider is fermented apple juice. The most popular brand is Scrumpy due to its low price, availability in supermarkets and high alcohol content,- this being taken advantage of by under age drinkers.


In Norway, cider ( sider) is a naturally fermented apple juice. Pear juice is sometimes mixed with the apple to get a better fermenting process started. The main area for cider production is in the "fruit garden" surrounding the Hardangerfjord. Most cider production is by private persons. There is a cider festival in Øystese, Norway each fall were a panel determines the years best cider for the Hardanger area.

South Africa

Hunter's Gold and Hunter's Dry are popular ciders, along with Redd's and Savanna Dry.


Man in a cider house
Man in a cider house

The Spanish regions of Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country are well known for traditional sidra, an alcoholic cider of 4 to 8% strength. Sidra, also Sagardoa in the Basque Country, is traditionally poured in very small quantities from a height into a wide glass, with the arm holding the bottle extended upwards and the one holding the glass extended downwards. This technique is called to escanciar (or, in Asturian, echar) and is done to get air bubbles into the drink, thus giving it a sparkling taste like Champagne that lasts a very short time. Spanish sidra is closely associated with sidrerías or sidreríes (Asturias) or sagardotegiak (Euskadi) ("cider houses"). In the Basque region of Guipúzcoa, it is a tradition to visit sagardotegiak between February and May to drink new sidra from the barrel accompanied by a meal such as txuleton.


Herrljunga Cider was one of the first commercial ciders to be produced in Sweden since 1969. In 1997 Swedish government relaxed the rules which allowed others to prduce cider of a higher ABV. This is where the likes of Rekorderlig, Kopparbergs.. came about to follow the lead by Herrljunga (who are still the number 1 selling cider in Sweden)

Kopparberg Cider is growing in popularity particularly in the UK where it is now stocked by UK supermarkets, IKEA and the pub chain Wetherspoons. It comes in a variety of flavours, including apple, pear, summer fruits, forest berries and peach. Their most popular is pear.

The United Kingdom

Types of cider

In the United Kingdom, cider is mostly associated with the West Country, but is also extensively produced in Wales and the east of England, particularly Kent, Suffolk and Norfolk. Cider comes in a wide variety of tastes and types in the UK and ranges in taste from very sweet to very dry, although flavour differs within these descriptions.

There are two broad main styles of cider in the UK - West Country-style and Eastern-style. The former are made using a much higher percentage of true cider-apples and so are richer in tannins and usually heavier in body and fuller in flavour. Eastern ciders tend to use a higher percentage of, or are exclusively made from, culinary and dessert fruit; Kentish ciders (such as Biddenden's) are typical of this style. They tend to be clearer, more vinous and lighter in body and flavour, but also higher in acidity and high in alcohol.

At one end of the scale are the very traditional microbrewed varieties often called Scrumpy in England. These are non-carbonated, very cloudy, and often dark in appearance. England's West Country and parts of Wales are littered with small breweries and farms. Production is often on such a small scale the product is only sold at the point of manufacture or in local pubs and shops. . Taste will depend on a number of factors including the season, location and apple variety. Many will find such ciders an acquired taste; although the usage has almost disappeared now, until recently non-sweet scrumpy was often referred to as "rough" rather than "dry", with good reason. The alcohol content may range up to 8% ABV, the maximum allowed by law.

Mass produced commercial cider such as that produced by Bulmers is likely to be very clean and crisp, carbonated and heavily processed. The colour is likely to be golden yellow with a clear appearance a result of industrial processes to remove apple sediment, which has often led to it being compared to carbonated urine by cider aficianados. Two common examples are Strongbow and Blackthorn . These ciders are the best-selling type.

Mass-produced farmhouse-style ciders have become more popular in recent years. These may be made from a single variety of cider apple or retain their cloudy appearance.

White ciders are almost clear in appearance due to a process carried out after the traditional brewing process is complete, resulting in a nearly white product. This processing allows the manufacturer to produce strong (typically 7-8% ABV) cider cheaply, quickly, and on an industrial scale, often from poor raw materials.


Cider has suffered from an image problem in the past, often seen as the drink of choice for teenagers in the UK, along with alcopops. This preference is aided by preferentially low duty rates for cider compared to beer, which reduces the drink's cost, and its high alcohol by volume compared to beer. A popular drink among students is snakebite, which is a blend of pale lager and cider; this is often served with a dash of blackcurrant cordial, in which case it is usually termed 'Snakebite and Black', or occasionally 'Sweet Diesel'. However, recent years have seen a significant increase in cider sales in the UK, as the industry has innovated and caught the interest of more drinkers.

Cidermaking and consumption has found its way into the popular culture associated with the West Country; Somerset novelty band The Wurzels perform many songs about scrumpy and the drinking thereof, while West Country-resident author Terry Pratchett makes reference to scrumpy in his descriptions of the Discworld beverage " scumble".

The West Country

Cider made in the West Country is often referred to as "scrumpy", from the local dialect verb "to scrump": to steal apples. It is also referred to as Cyder which is an old term for strong cider (8-12%). Ciders from Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire made from traditional recipes forms a European Union Protected Geographical Indication; important traditional cidermaking also takes place in Devon and Somerset. Examples of a working cider house still existed here in recent times, though many have now gone. There are, however, over 25 cider producers in Somerset alone, many being small family businesses.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, a condition known as Devon colic, a form of lead poisoning, was associated with the consumption of cider; a campaign to remove lead components from cider presses made the condition almost unknown by the early 19th century.

Shepton Mallet, Somerset is home to the largest cider plant in Europe. This plant produces Blackthorn and Olde English as well as light perry Babycham.


Cider and perry production in Wales began a dramatic revival in the early 2000s, with many small firms entering production throughout the country. Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has actively encouraged this establishment, and Welsh ciders and perries have won many awards at CAMRA festivals; meanwhile, the establishment of groups such as UKCider and the Welsh Perry & Cider Society have spurred communication among those producers.

Welsh varieties of apples and pears are often distinct from those grown in England, giving Welsh cider a significantly different flavour despite the proximity of the orchards.

"Real cider" in the United Kingdom

At the 2007 AGM CAMRA amended their own definition of 'real' cider to read as the follows:

'CAMRA defines real cider as cider that has been stored in the traditional way, and is living in the container from which it is dispensed. Real cider must not be stored or dispensed using extraneous gas pressure'.

UKCider, a Community of Practice for small scale cidermakers, has developed a contrasting definition of real cider:

"What do we mean by Real Cider?
Real cider is the product of fermenting fresh apple juice.
The amount of apple juice which went into the final product must be between 85 and 100% and should be clearly stated on the container it is sold in or dispensed from. No artificial sweeteners, flavourings or colourings are permitted.
(For real perry substitute pear juice.)"

(from the ukcider website)

These contrasting definitions mean that for example, Sheppy's Westcountry full juice single varietal bottled ciders would be accepted by ukcider and rejected by CAMRA whereas Saxon's Yorkshire draught ciders made from apple concentrate, water and other adjuncts flavoured with ingredients such as cranberries are now acceptable to CAMRA as 'real cider' but not to ukcider.

The United States

During colonial times, apple cider was consumed as the main beverage with meals, because water was often unsafe for drinking.

Somewhere around the time of Prohibition, the word cider came to mean sparkling apple juice, possibly through the influence of Martinelli's sparkling apple cider, which was once touted specifically as "non-alcoholic cider". Martinelli's is sold as "cider" or "juice" depending on regional preference of the term.

In other parts of the United States, the word "cider" simply means, unfiltered, unfermented apple juice. For instance, in Pennsylvania, apple cider is legally defined as an "amber golden, opaque, unfermented, entirely non-alcoholic juice squeezed from apples". Natural or artificial flavours or colors generally recognized as safe may be added if their presence is declared on the label by the use of the word "Imitation" in type at least one-half the size of the type used to declare the flavour. Cider containing more than 0.15 percent alcohol by volume is classified as hard cider.

Despite this, alcoholic cider is produced in the United States, especially in New England and upstate New York. Woodchuck cider, from Vermont, is one of the most common brands in the north-eastern US, though the most known national brand is Cider Jack.

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