Hard cider is a popular alcoholic beverage made from fermented apple juice.
It has a long history, dating back to colonial America, when it was a staple drink. Today, hard cider is experiencing a resurgence in popularity, with many craft cider makers producing a wide range of styles and flavors.
Hard cider is similar to wine in many ways, as it is made from fruit juice that is fermented with yeast. The type of apple used can greatly affect the taste of the final product, with some ciders being sweet and others being dry. Some ciders are also barrel-aged, which can add complexity to the flavor.
What is Hard Cider?
Hard cider is an alcoholic drink made from fermented fruit juice, usually from apples.
The term “hard” is used to distinguish it from non-alcoholic apple cider. In most parts of Europe and America, “cider” refers to the alcoholic beverage.
History of Hard Cider
Hard cider has been around for centuries and was a popular drink in Europe, particularly in England, where it was enjoyed by people of all ages.
In the United States, hard cider was the drink of choice for many early settlers, who brought apple trees with them to plant in their new homeland. In fact, hard cider was so popular in the US that it was once more widely consumed than beer or wine.
How is Hard Cider Made?
Hard cider is made by fermenting the juice of apples or other fruits.
The process begins by crushing the fruit to extract the juice, which is then strained to remove any solids. Yeast is added to the juice to start the fermentation process, which converts the natural sugars in the juice into alcohol.
The cider is then aged for several months to allow the flavors to develop.
Types of Hard Cider
There are many different types of hard cider, each with its own flavor profile and characteristics.
Some of the most common types of hard cider include:
- Dry Cider: A cider that is fermented until all of the natural sugars have been converted to alcohol, resulting in a dry, crisp taste.
- Sweet Cider: A cider that is fermented for a shorter period of time, leaving some of the natural sugars intact and resulting in a sweeter taste.
- Spiced Cider: A cider that is flavored with spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
- Hopped Cider: A cider that is flavored with hops, giving it a bitter taste similar to beer.
Hard cider can also be made with other fruits, such as pears or berries, and can be aged in barrels to give it a unique flavor.
Popular Brands of Hard Cider
Hard cider has become increasingly popular in recent years, with a wide variety of brands and flavors available on the market.
Here are some of the most popular brands of hard cider:
- Woodchuck Hard Cider: This Vermont-based brand offers a range of flavors, including Amber, Granny Smith, and Pear. Their ciders are gluten-free and made with locally sourced apples.
- Angry Orchard: This popular brand offers a variety of ciders, from their classic Crisp Apple to their seasonal Rosé. They use a blend of culinary and bittersweet apples to create their ciders.
- Strongbow: This English brand has been around since 1962 and offers a range of ciders, including their classic Gold Apple and their sweeter Red Berries flavor.
- Blake’s Hard Cider: This Michigan-based brand uses locally sourced apples and offers a variety of flavors, including their popular El Chavo, made with habanero peppers and mango.
- Crispin: This California-based brand offers a range of ciders, from their classic Original to their Rose and Pacific Pear flavors. They use fresh-pressed apples and do not add any artificial flavors or colors to their ciders.
These are just a few of the many brands of hard cider available on the market.
Each brand offers its own unique flavors and styles, so there is sure to be a cider out there for everyone’s taste preferences. Whether you prefer a classic apple flavor or something more adventurous, there is no shortage of options when it comes to hard cider.
Pairing Hard Cider with Food
Hard cider is a versatile beverage that pairs well with a variety of meats, cheeses, and desserts.
Lighter varieties of these foods compliment the refreshing taste of hard ciders.
A good rule of thumb is to pair drier, lighter ciders with goats’ cheese and slightly sweeter ciders with washed rind cheeses like Pont L’Eveque and Stinking Bishop. A mellow, creamy blue cheese like Barkham Blue also pairs well with hard cider.
For a more experimental pairing, try pairing hard cider with a cheese fondue or a cheese board featuring a variety of different cheeses.
For a classic pairing, try pairing a pork roast with a dry cider. The sweetness of the cider helps to balance out the saltiness of the meat.
Chicken and turkey also pair well with hard cider, particularly when paired with a cider-based sauce. For a more adventurous pairing, try pairing hard cider with a spicy sausage or a grilled steak.
For a classic pairing, try pairing hard cider with apple pie or apple crisp.
The sweetness of the cider complements the sweetness of the dessert. Hard cider can also be paired with other fruit-based desserts, such as peach cobbler or berry tart.
For a more experimental pairing, try pairing hard cider with a chocolate-based dessert or a dessert featuring caramel or toffee flavors.
Hard cider has a rich history and has become increasingly popular in recent years. It is a fermented beverage made from pressed apples and typically has an alcohol level ranging from 4-10%.
When it comes to choosing a hard cider, there are many options available. Some of the best hard ciders to drink in 2022 include those that are made from traditional cider apples, have a balanced sweetness, and a crisp finish.
Cold crashing is an important process in cider making that can help preserve the flavors of the cider. It involves cooling the cider to a low temperature to stop fermentation and can help achieve fruity flavors and sweetness.
While hard cider may have similarities to beer, it is important to note that it is a distinct beverage with its own unique qualities. It is a great alternative to beer and wine and can be enjoyed on its own or paired with a variety of foods.
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