A few years ago, when we asked people if they liked cider, they would say: “No, it’s too sweet”. But that’s because often they had only tried drinks that were labeled as “cider” but were actually more like alcoholic pop!
We’re here to teach the world that there is a better way. There’s a craft cider out there for everyone!
What makes it “craft”?
If you walk into the average liquor store in Alberta, you might find a confusing mix of coolers, hard lemonade, and products that are mostly fermented refined sugar under the label of “cider”.
While we have enjoyed our fair share of commercial ciders (Some of those 2L bottles of cider got us through many a University exam season…) we believe it’s important for consumers to understand the difference in what they are drinking.
Learn how your cider is made and what it’s made of, beyond the marketing!
Commercial/Macro vs. Craft Cider
Commercial cider is what has been most commonly available in Alberta and is made by both large and small cider producers and breweries.
- Typically made with a combination of apple juice concentrate and sugar
- Large standardized batches
- Artificial colours & flavours
- Natural apple juice
- Small batch
- Minimal use of sugar in fermentation
- No additives (beyond things like yeast, spices, fruit, hops, etc) or artificial flavouring
- Each batch can be different (vintage by season more like wine)
- Often local or regional
Cider or Alco-pop?
According to Canadian regulations, cider does need to contain some apple juice, but this juice can be mixed with other ingredients as well. Some ciders will claim they are “made with real fruit” or “made from fresh-pressed apples” because they mixed some fresh real juice with sugar and apple juice concentrate. It is not a requirement for cider to have a list of ingredients on the label so it may not always be easy to tell what a “cider” is made from.
There are some drinks labeled as “cider” that may not contain much apple or real fruit ingredients. These drinks are mostly fermented sugar, water, and artificial flavouring and so people sometimes refer to these drinks as “alco-pop” instead.
Craft = Science & Art
Craft cidermakers blend science and art; there is no standard recipe, but an adaptation to the changes and surprises of fermentation. Each batch will be different, and many times there can be a change in the quality of cider as the cidermaker’s skills improve. Look for a cidermaker that has intimate knowledge of fruit, fermentation, and blending. This is what makes cider stand out as craft!
What makes it “local”?
Another very common marketing term is “local”. What does this actually mean? Do the ingredients come from the local region? How far away is still considered local (especially in a province with limited apple markets currently)? Does it matter where owners and decision makers are located? Consider what part of “being local” is important to you.
Questions We Ask About Cider
We love to try difference ciders, but because there is so much variation it is sometimes hard to compare. These are some of the questions we often ask to get to know our cider producers:
- Do you use fresh-pressed juice?
- Where do your apples come from?
- What kind of apples do you use?
- What do you use to sweeten and/or flavour the cider?
- Who owns the company?
- How large are the cider batches?
We don’t want discourage people from buying products that they want and enjoy. We admit – we still do drink commercial cider brands or alco-pops on occasion. We also know that it isn’t easy to know what you are spending money on in the “cider” section of your favourite liquor store. Ask questions so that you know how, where, and what your cider is made of!