2014 was an eventful year in Hard Cider. The boom/revival continues and is seen in the proliferation of new cideries, the continuing success an expansion of established cideries and the continued increase in sales and more and more consumers come to cider.However, certain trends stood out this year in the world of hard cider.
1. The Media Discovers Cider
The build up of media attention for hard cider over the last couple of years culminated with not a week going by in 2014 without a publication writing about the rise of hard cider. Why? Because it’s hard to miss. We don’t have figures but we would guess that more new ciders ended up on store shelves this year than the last 3 years combined. Additionally, the proliferation of new cideries along with reports of the drinks strong sales helped raise the profile to the point where the media needed to cover the beverage.
2. The Proliferation of Flavored/Specialty Ciders
If we had a dime for ever hopped, fruit-added or bourbon barrel-aged cider we took notice of this year, we could buy a lot more cider. Clearly cideries are in experimental mode. 2 Towns Ciderhouse in Oregon is a standout in this realm, delivering up the likes of rhubarb, gooseberry, marionberry and a host of other specialty ciders. We see no indication this trend will end in 2015.
3. The Split Identity of Hard Cider
There is unquestionably a split in the way hard cider producers see themselves. On the one hand you have a collection of cideries bottling and positioning their ciders as fine wine would be presented. On the other hand you have cidermakers emulating beer in the way their cider is marketed and packaged. This is not a problem for the industry, but it could be confusing for consumers.
4. A Political Coming Out For Cider
America’s cidermakers are thinking about politics and regulations. The formation and work of the United States Association of Cidermakers has an agenda that they have taken to Washington, D.C. Cider is now commonly considered in major cider producing states when regulatory reform is considered. This all indicates a maturing of the industry and it is a very healthy sign for the cider industry.
5. The Focus on Traditional Cider Apples
Earlier in the year a story circulated in the media that he cider boom could be derailed by a dearth of true and traditional cider apples. Such a story could only be written if the industry was beginning to matter and if serious cidermakers were on the prowl for the real deal. Both are true. Additionally, it is becoming more and more common to see cideries produce single varietal ciders that showcase the traditional cider apples that have been circulating in the U.S. for decades, if not centuries, as well as many of England and Europe’s most prized cider apples. Again, this is a very good sign for the industry.