Cider has long been a favored beverage across cultures and centuries. From its early origins with the Greeks and Romans to its contemporary resurgence in the craft beverage scene, this apple-based drink has evolved while retaining its core essence. This article, “From Orchard to Glass: The Evolving Tapestry of Cider Culture,” delves into cider's multifaceted history, its varied types and flavors, and its place in today's culinary and beverage landscape.
Discovering Cider: The Fermented Journey of Apples
Cider is an alcoholic beverage made primarily from the fermented juice of apples. It is popular in many parts of the world, especially in Europe and North America. Cider production is a meticulous process that begins in orchards, with the selection and harvesting of apples. Once gathered, these apples are crushed to extract their flavorful juice. Following this extraction, the juice is subjected to fermentation. This vital step can harness either wild yeasts, present naturally in the environment, or controlled strains of yeast introduced by the cider maker.
Hard vs. Soft Cider: Exploring the Distinctive Flavors of Cider
Ciders come in a variety of styles, primarily categorized as hard and soft. Hard cider, which contains alcohol, is produced by fermenting apple juice and is what many North Americans commonly refer to as "cider." On the other hand, soft cider, often labeled "apple cider" in the United States, remains unfermented and is essentially apple juice. Unlike the clear, store-bought apple juice, soft cider can be fresh and unfiltered, providing a distinct, richer taste that showcases the apple's natural flavors.
Exploring Cider: Apple Varieties and the Rise of Perry
The world of cider boasts a diverse array of apple varieties, each imparting its unique touch to the drink's flavor, sweetness, and tartness. While some apples are grown with the express purpose of cider-making, the cider landscape also extends beyond apples. Incorporating other fruits broadens the flavor spectrum, as seen with pear cider, commonly known as "perry," which has garnered its own following among cider aficionados.
Understanding Cider's Alcohol Content: How It Compares to Beer
Cider's alcohol content typically aligns with that of many beers, generally ranging between 4-6%. This moderate alcoholic percentage allows cider enthusiasts to enjoy the nuanced flavors of the beverage without an overwhelming alcohol presence, making it a favored choice for many looking for a refreshing alternative to traditional beers.
Cider Culture: Europe's Influence on America's Craft Movement
Cider, a fermented beverage derived primarily from apple juice, traces its origins back thousands of years. The earliest mentions of apple-based drinks can be found in the records of ancient civilizations, such as the Greeks and Romans. By the time the Romans marched through present-day England in 55 BC, they discovered the locals already enjoying their own versions of apple ciders. As apple cultivation spread through the regions of Normandy and Brittany in France, distinctive cider-making techniques and traditions began to develop.
From Orchard to Glass: The Introduction of Cider to Early America
Cider was introduced to America in the early colonial period. The first English settlers brought the knowledge of cider-making with them to the New World. By the 17th century, as apple orchards became more common in the colonies, especially in New England, cider began to gain popularity as a staple drink. It became especially prevalent because, in many areas, the water wasn't safe to drink, but cider provided a potable alternative. By the 18th century, cider was a common beverage among the American colonists.
The Surge of Cider Popularity in the U.S. Craft Beverage Scene
Cider has been experiencing a resurgence in popularity in the U.S. The craft beverage movement, which has been driving the growth of craft beers, has also had a positive impact on cider. More Americans are seeking out artisanal, local products with unique flavor profiles, and craft cider fits that bill.
Several factors have contributed to cider's rising popularity:
- Gluten-Free Alternative: As more consumers identify as gluten-sensitive or choose gluten-free lifestyles, cider offers an alcoholic alternative to beer.
- Local Appeal: Like the craft beer movement, local orchards and cideries emphasize their regional roots, attracting consumers interested in supporting local businesses.
- Seasonal Offerings: Many cider places produce seasonal ciders, using fall spices or summer berries, which keep consumers interested and coming back to try new releases.
- Health-conscious Choice: Some consumers perceive cider as a "healthier" or "more natural" choice compared to other alcoholic beverages, given its fruit base.
Savoring Gluten-Free: Cider Culture and Culinary Delights
At the Ciderworks, indulge in a taste journey that pairs beautifully with their gluten-free offerings. The cider menu showcases diverse flavors, from the classic apple, sourced from the premium orchards of the Pacific Northwest, to the tropically tinged pineapple blend. For those seeking a hint of summer, the Cherry Blueberry offers notes reminiscent of a fruit-forward rosé, while the Grapefruit Rose delights with floral undertones. The Ginger Lemongrass surprises with its zesty appeal. Accompany these ciders with crispy, perfectly seasoned French fries, melt-in-your-mouth mozzarella bites, or their signature cider-glazed wings. At Ciderworks, the emphasis on gluten-free doesn't mean a compromise on flavor; it's a feast for all senses.
Ready to Discover Craft Cider for Yourself?
Whether you’re a seasoned craft cider drinker or just discovering this delicious drink, next time you’re at Ciderworks@Story Tavern in Burbank, be sure to make it your go-to happy hour option. Enjoy mouth-watering, organic beverages you’ll never forget! Try our award-winning apple cider, cherry/blueberry, pineapple, ginger/lemongrass, strawberry/orange, and many more exciting flavors proudly made in-house from fruit picked from the trees in local orchards - including the owners’ backyard.
Come visit our Taproom and enjoy gluten-free, mouth-watering food and beverages you’ll never forget! Plus, you’ll find Ciderworks menu loaded with unique, 100% gluten-free food choices - all made by hand using the highest quality, farm-to-table ingredients.