I have a confession: when I first started drinking fermented apples with either hops, carbonation or neither or both, I called it hard cider. Why? Because most people think cider means spicy cinnamon drink served in the fall, usually with some sort of holiday-themed cookie.
But the answer to what is hard cider is easy: it’s called cider, thank you very much. Whether it’s fermented apricots or pears (we call that perry, by the way) or good ol’ apples with plenty of spices mixed in, the question we should be asking is not “what is hard cider” but rather “what is cider”?
Cider Was Big
You see, cider used to be more popular than beer here in the United States. Our founding fathers drank it. Rich people drank it. Poor people drank it. Before we understood how to properly clean water, the fermentation process made water drinkable. While the alcohol content wasn’t nearly as high as what we’d call cider today, every glass did have SOME alcohol in it, which must have made their at least their breakfasts and lunches a bit easier to handle.
Out With The Orchards!
Come Prohibition, strict size limits were placed on cider apple orchards, which made their commercial viability plummet. After Prohibition was lifted, farmers knew it was far easier to harvest wheat for beer (1-2 years before the initial harvest) compared to re-growing apple orchards (5-10 years). Sudsy wheat was in, fermented fruit was out.
But I digress. In all seriousness, this subject of this post exists for one reason only: to be able to use ‘what is hard cider’ as a keyword and hopefully rank somewhere for it. While my wife and overlord will look down on me for writing this entire paragraph, I figured it’s best to be upfront about while I’m both writing this post and bothered creating this blog at all: to get you and people like you to drink better cider.
Oh, and to buy the totally awesome HipCider: Beginner Guide To Cider In Portland so I can write MORE cider books, starting with Oregon and moving up the coast to Washington state and British Columbia. After that, I’d like to adventure down the west coast to see the ciders California has to offer, then hop over to Michigan and possibly upstate New York.