Two Growers and the History of Cider

All photos by Faith Jamael.

Welcome to the long weekend edition of what will be many posts about cider. I wanted to throw this disclaimer in at the front that this is by no means the last time we will talk about cider. Cider is an increasingly popular drink and there are tons of new varieties being made that we’ll examine at some point

Growers Pear

This pear flavoured beverage is very pale, and looks more like Sprite when your pour it out than cider. The first hint that it’s something other than Sprite is the strong smell of pear. This is pretty much a pear flavoured carbonated sugary drink. There’s no hint of alcohol and that makes it a very refreshing drink, if a bit sweet to have multiple of.

Growers 1927 

Growers 1927

If the first drink was little more than a fruit flavoured soda than this is the opposite. With the barest hint of both apples and flavour in general there is also very little sweetness to it. This drink has a lot of carbonation flavours. This isn’t exactly a refreshing drink, although it’s not unpleasant, even with it’s lack of taste.

Introduction to cider

This is going to play out a bit like the introduction to beer: we’ll talk about what goes into making cider and then examine the history of this delicious drink.

Cider is a fermented apple drink and good cider is made from apples that are so bitter or sour that they’re basically inedible on their own. Since apples don’t have as much sugar for yeast to digest and turn into alcohol they tend to be low in alcohol, with many coming in around the 5 per cent mark.

Cider was already being made in Southern England and Northern France by the time of the Roman invasion of 55 BCE. Local tribes were making the beverage, but the Romans organized the cultivation of apples and made the process of apple and cider production more regulated and uniform. Cider became an incredibly popular beverage in many countries and in fact workers in England could be paid in cider, or other alcohol, until 1887.

Cider isn’t the only alcoholic beverage made from apples. There is also calvados, a brandy like spirit made by boiling cider and gathering the alcoholic steam that evaporates. Calvados is popular in Normandy in north-western France. Another beverage is one similar to cider called ciderkin, a lower alcohol beverage that used to be served to children.

After being one of the most widely drunk beverages in colonial era America and much of England cider took a steep drop in popularity with German immigrants who began making beers more widely available. After getting hit with beer cider was then hit with Prohibition, which hit all alcohol industries in the US hard.

Cider has regained its popularity and global cider sales were around $595 million U.S. for 2013, and are projected to be as high as $769 million for 2016.

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