Crafty Nectar wanted to find out a bit more about Hard Cider, so chatted to Trevor and Nolan O'Malley, the guys behind CiderScene, to find out what's happening in the industry on the other side of the pond.
1. Can you give our readers a brief intro to Ciderscene? Why did you and Nolan create this website?
CiderScene is a blog focused on the cider market in North America. We delve into the culture while promoting skilled cidermakers that make the industry move. Our primary focus is educating both cider enthusiast and first-time drinkers with fun and relatable content.
We started this blog because we have a love for hard cider and felt there was an absence of a cider blog that was down to earth and focused on the common drinker who may not be a cider expert. We are skilled at approaching a younger audience and wanted to deliver a fresh view on the industry.
2. Which State consumes the most cider in the US?
This would be hard to say per capita. If I find this figure, I will share this with you.
3. Are there any geographical styles within North America?
I would not say there are styles that define a given region in North America, but certain areas are more cider heavy than others. The Pacific Northwest (PNW), mainly Washington and Oregon, are full of cideries with a focus on fresh ingredients and staying true to the apple.
Other dense cider areas are the Midwest (Michigan), British Columbia, and the East Coast is pretty much loaded with cidery options in most states. By now different cideries focus on different styles in each state like: traditional dry ciders, fruit ciders, sweet ciders, cysers, oaked cider, and farmhouse.
4.East vs West coast? What's the deal there? Are there different styles?
I think traditionally when cider started, the East Coast and West Coast had a different style, perhaps the East coast was more traditional, and the west coast tried to be more unique. As the cider culture continues to develop this difference, much like the beer industry has blurred.
5. What are the best cider taprooms in the US? (Name as few or as many as you like)
Each region has its own unique and amazing cider taprooms and cider bars. Below are a few from various regions in the US that would be of interest for consumers to try.
- Vandermill’s Taproom in Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Citizen’s Cider Taproom in Vermont
- The Northman Cider Bar in Chicago, Illinois
- Great Society Cider & Mead in Long Beach, CA
- Capitol Cider House in Seattle, WA
6. What new cider trends and innovation will we be seeing in 2018 and beyond?
The largest growth category in the US in 2018 will be with the Rose ciders. This is coming off the popularity of Rose wine in the country. The rose cider category is wide open in terms of what it means but as we see now it’s just determined by the color of the cider. Most craft producers make the rose from red flesh apples to get the unique color.
The US palate also likes to push the boundaries of flavor and diversity which odd flavor combinations, unique fruits, and infused ciders. This can range from hops to rhubarb to charcoal and will continue to surprise for years to come.
A big conversation has been around the terroir similar to wine, that is the nuances of different flavors from the regions they are in. This could potentially create a change in the market where better terrains are more desirable to buy from.
7. Where do people go to get their hands on real cider? e.g. Supermarket, Online, Cidery act
The incredible part of the cider industry boom is seeing the availability grow. Most cider drinkers can buy local or commercial ciders in their supermarket or liquor store, but more buyers are turning to the online subscription market. Of course, cider shares and trades are growing, so straight from cidery purchased product is growing.
8. Are there any cider subscription services in USA?
9. In terms of growth for the cider industry in the USA, how has it done in the last 5 years?
The cider industry as a whole has grown astronomically and only in the past year or so has it seen a plateau. Prospects look good, however. There is still work to be done in the industry to inform & educate drinkers about their options in the marketplace & move them away from overly sweet options. As we said before, our goal and the industries goal is to educate & develop the truer cider palate.
10. What was this year's CiderCon like? Did you have any highlights from your experience?
We were unable to attend this year.
11. Other then Cidercon, what would you say is the best cider festival to attend?
The best cider festival outside of CiderCon is Cider Summit, a multi-city festival with a large assortment of ciders to try from all over the US & Canada. As we live close to Chicago, we have the opportunity of attending.
If you live on the west coast near Seattle, you could take your pick. There is such a high concentration of cider-focused events there.
12. What do the Americans think about British cider?
Most Americans would likely think that British cider is very traditional dry and maybe a little scary.
Not everyone has a sophisticated palate and they would assume cider overseas is just that. There is still an expectation from the main commercial cider of cider drinkers that cider should be a sweet drink. This has been changing over the years as craft cider and more dry ciders come forward.
Eventually, I see American cider drinkers looking for more British cider options as their palates develop.
13. Is there a preferred style of cider with regards to the sweetness/ flavors?
Overall the sweet varieties of cider are still the most popular but as the American palate changes the dry ciders are gaining more popularity. Ciders mixed with hops, cherries, oaked and other fruits are growing in popularity
14. What has been the secret for the surge in cider sales within the US?
I believe this surge has come from the tail end of the craft beer boom where consumers are looking for something new and different. As the shelves became full of hoppy and deep beers craft cider makers have taken advantage to offer another option. Large commercial cideries like Angry Orchard and Woodchuck are also partially to thank for the boom as they allowed the average consumer to try out the products.
15. What type of food do you guys like eating with your hard cider?
Typically, when we cook, we head towards some form of a pork product or fall-time recipes. For an overarching fan of cider, we suggest roasted vegetables or cheese as they always pair well. But, sometimes a simple burger and cheese curds is the perfect acoutremon.
There you have it, thanks guys for enlightening us on all things cider stateside! We wish CiderScene all the best and hope to one day catch up with you guys over a cider.