Cider, Hard Cider, Artisan, Craft

scoldI was recently taken to task by a conscientious commenter who took the time to lightly scold me for nomenclature I’ve deployed here at The Cider Journal. The gist of the scold went this way:

1. Don’t use the term “hard cider”…everyone else in the world calls it “cider”

2. Don’t use the adjective “Artisan”….it’s off-putting and elitist

3. “Gluten Free” is a fad with no scientific evidence to support its claims of usefulness

These scolds have left me thinking about the way cider writers talk about the object of their prose. Certainly, any writer ought to try to bring as much clarity to their subject matter as possible and attempt to avoid any confusion. This is pretty close to a “prime directive” of communication. So, I should address these complaints.

1. The point regarding the use of the term “hard cider” is well taken. It appears that Americans, with their unusual relationship to and history of alcohol, are the only group to put the word “hard” in front of the word “Cider”. So, it seems to me use of this term in writing about this beverage would be justified if the writer is communicating primarily to American readers. And that I am. But perhaps more importantly is the issue of whether a New Zealander or Englishman or Frenchman who comes across my prose would be entirely confused by the adjective “hard”. It’s quite doubtful they would be. VERDICT: Continue to use the term “Hard Cider”.

2. Regarding the notion that that the term “artisan” is both off-putting and elitist, I simply don’t understand this claim. I would grant that it is not altogether necessarily to use this term since the more common word “craft” is something of a synonym for “artisan”. But I like how the term “artisan” suggests a deeper commitment to an idea behind the crafting of cider. As for the idea it is an “elitist” term, well, I don’t care. If a reader is going to be truly put off by this term so much as to stop reading The Cider Journal, I think their issues extend well beyond a distaste for elitism. VERDICT: I’ll keep using the term “artisan” when I think it applies.

3. Whether those who pursue a gluten free diet are supported by science or not, isn’t really important; they still are pursuing a gluten free diet and looking for gluten free products. Most ciders being gluten free, this is an incentive for them to test out cider. Verdict: I’ll continue to note a cider’s gluten free status when it seems relevant.

I love when I receive comments here. I don’t mind criticism in the least. I am particularly fond of being made to think again about what I’ve written. So, the commenter who offered these criticism deserve my thanks.


3 Responses to “Cider, Hard Cider, Artisan, Craft”

  1. David T

    Whoever left that comment about gluten has obviously never heard of Celiac disease. My wife has it and it’s no fad. It’s an immune system intolerance to the gluten protein, and eating a gluten free diet is currently the only treatment. I can provide plenty of scientific evidence. If she were to drink a beer or have any gluten containing food her body would mount an immune response similar to but less severe than a peanut allergy. Wine and cider are two beverages she can safely enjoy. By all means please keep mentioning it.

  2. tomwark


    Given the history of the terms “cider” and “hard cider” here in the U.S., it’s seems highly unlikely that U.S. alcohol regulators will take the same position as their UK brethren.

    That said, your thoughts on the implication of the term “hard cider” here in the U.S. are interesting. There seems to be a split among artisan producers on this issue based on how they label their products. This is not to say I disagree with you entirely. However, I think that whatever controversy might surround this issue is currently trivial. On the third hand, my own experience tells me that if the U.S. craft cider market continues to grown, the standards on word usage will be set beginning now.


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