Throughout the last year we’ve published quite a few articles focused on various strands of cider’s heritage, image and current rejuvenation. We’ve written with various producers and experts and all of these articles and subsequent discussions have been directed towards a common goal of changing how cider is perceived and what we can do to break the cycle and elevate cider above some of the misconceptions created by the mainstream.
In other words; what needs to change so UK cider can grow and prosper in the future?
The ‘#rethinkcider’ hashtag is a call to action for that goal that has recently found its slogan and one that Crafty Nectar is excited to support and be part of.
So James, Ed and I got together.
In anticipation of CraftCon 2019 on the 5th April, we thought we would set out a summary of the themes we explored in the last 12 months and why 2019 will be the year to #rethinkcider.
Back in June 2018 following a trip to Greece I wrote about the differences between cider labelling abroad, where the big players list their ingredients, unlike in the UK where they don’t. Label transparency is a key area craft cider can exploit and increase the perception of their quality versus the mainstream. Some producers are championing transparency through being open and honest on their labels, helping consumers make more informed choices and improving the image of cider, but what more could be done?
Well, following on from that we looked at the benefits of an assurance scheme and how going beyond ingredients can highlight quality. Sure enough, the Small Independent Cidermakers Association picked up that baton (great minds think alike) and you will have read recently how they are driving a quality standard to help drinkers pick out real juice cider. We also looked into the challenge faced by vegan drinkers and how transparency by craft makers, means cider is their new best friend.
As hinted to above, the image of cider has some negative connotations and so we looked at the ways certain ciders could alter their image or language to appeal to more consumers and a higher price marking. We explored cider’s past as a revered drink of the aristocracy and how the Fine Cider revival could renew that appreciation and the UK’s first Cider Salon helped kick off that off to a great start. We also explored what cider could learn from the wine industry and how using similar language could migrate wine drinkers over to cider and perry and expand the industry’s customer base.
But it doesn’t just stop at fine ciders, the wider craft market is making changes too. Producers adding fresh, modern and contemporary branding to their bottles and cans to elevate their brands and stand out from the crowd. This presents a recent shift away from the traditional farmyard image to labels that embrace modernity, whether is be Pulpt using a clean minimalist style or Hawkes replicating the craft beer market - big, bold and in your face. By being innovative, creative and investing in branding this has allowed the HPV to rise and compete in the craft beer space as well.
Recognition of ciders as a higher value drink is also coming from other directions. Last year, The Beer and Cider Academy joined forces with The Ciderologist to create an accredited course journey to achieve ‘Pommelier’ status.
“The purpose of the cider course at the beer and cider academy is put into cider what beer and wine have had for many years. Which is to have an understood and established lexicon and style guidelines to enable the drinks trade and then ….. the consumer to have the ability to differentiate between the multitude of different types of cider.” (Gabe Cook)
Jane Payton became the first to achieve the qualification and has already jumped head first into the role of “ambassador….for this revered beverage”. We enjoyed working with Jane on the key cider trends for 2019 (read here) and are looking forward to working with her in the future.
Through this blog and our cider community (now 80k strong!) we are trying to put cider education at the core of our business (excuse the pun). Even in the trade side which was launched last year we’re telling everyone, ‘we’re not salesmen, we’re educators’ which you have to be on-trade. Especially if you’re comparing an eastern counties to a west country cider or educating the sales staff on serving cider and the language used to sell.
It’s no secret that to survive in the modern world businesses have to innovate. Not just to improve their sustainability and affordability but also their appeal. At the beginning of this year we looked at the key cider trends for 2019, which as well as some of the above looked at ways in which craft cider was adapting to changing tastes and trends, such as low alcohol varieties and collaborations. We’ve also been taking note of what’s happening across the pond and how the USA is inspiring the UK. With their bold designs and innovative styles and approaches are creating waves over here.
How about a cider for the people? Let’s not forget the world’s first crowdsourced cider, brought to you by yours truly. You don’t get more innovative than that.
One of cider’s huge advantages is the sense of community that exists within the craft movement. Sharing and collaboration (as mentioned above) are common and encouraged, just look at the great work from the likes of Tom Oliver and Hawkes.
It’s not just about cider makers themselves either, you may have read about my trip to Bignose and Beardy for their wassail in January. The whole event being centered around giving back to the community that supports them and has helped them get to where they are.
No one has been more influential on the northern craft cider scene than Dick Ashton, along with Northern producers such as Dunham Cider (and many more!) promoting, and shaping the craft cider scene in Manchester. Dick is a key part of the #ReThinkCider community - always positive and keen to promote the best aspects of the cider industry.
Welcome to the Greater Manchester Cider Map @BunburysBeer and good to see @AncoatsCask one of the top five cider bars in Central Manchester also selling @RossCider - also welcome @thenortherntype range of @oliverscider - now best cider bar in Salford.https://t.co/qvFCvQTAOZ— Cider Buzz Mcr (@Ashton1848) March 25, 2019
And that leads us nicely back round to CraftCon 2019 which James Forbes (chair of Three Counties Cider & Perry Association and owner of Little Pomona) describes the reason behind as “We want to bring everyone together to share ideas in the hope that we can all make better cider.” We’re going to be there so look out for updates on social media throughout the day.
If you like the idea of joining and contributing to such a community then #RETHINKCIDER on Facebook is a fantastic place to start. We are bringing all sections of the cider community together - producers, influencers, suppliers, drinkers, bar managers and consumers, without whom we would all be talking amongst ourselves with no progress.
Let's come together to create and foster a community of positivity around cider, where innovation and being bold can flourish. This is the year to rethink cider.
Join the #RETHINKCIDER (facebook community here) a movement towards a brighter future for cider!