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Cider House Rules

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Cider House Rules

I first wrote about the coming (back) of hard cider in 2003—about ten years too early. Sales of U.S. hard cider are only now showing evidence of life, with growth having tripled from 2007 to 2012. Big boys have come around, sniffing money potential. Case in point? Stella Artois debuted their ‘Cidre’ a few months back and I was just now invited to the splashy launch of a Swedish cider called Rekorderlig. Most of the players, whether commercial or small farm-to-market, play it safe. It’s not uncommon to use additives and preservatives and even frozen juice concentrate. Some straddle the line: Virtue Cider (started by Greg Hall, a refugee from the beer world) and ¿Querry? Sparkling Hard Cider (from Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon) play with some natural yeast and insist on fresh juice instead of the more common frozen concentrate. But there’s a miniscule segment who go even further. Mirroring the best of the European naturals, (think Eric Bordelet, Cidrerie le Vulcain, and Cyril Zang), they do as little to their cider as the winemakers we love do to their wines. My top three domestic contenders for stardom are E-Z Orchards from Oregon, Troy Cider from California and Aaron Burr Cider from New York.