The selection of alcoholic beverages available to consumers is enough to make any mainstay sectors a bit nervous. New options like hard seltzer, hard kombucha and even hard water have disrupted the alcoholic beverage market and can sway sippers away from their go-tos.
Hard cider, however, has kept consumers intrigued. New takes on the classic beverage — rosé hard cider, hard ciders aged in bourbon barrels and even a hazy, unfiltered new release — prevent consumer interest from waining.
“While hard seltzers continue to grow, cider remains an exciting category for drinkers. As an alternative for drinkers seeking a more flavorful, complex choice in the alcohol space with balanced sweetness and acidity, the cider category offers a refreshing change of pace. Following the strong resurgence of the cider industry in the last decade, drinkers remain interested in the category,” says Ryan Burk, Angry Orchard’s head cider maker.
Gregory Hall, founder of Michigan-based Virtue Cider, notes the growth in innovation that was fueled by the craft beer movement has been a catalyst for pushing the cider industry forward, as it has opened the consumer’s eyes and palates to other choices.
“We live in a post-craft beer marketplace now. Craft beer encouraged samplers, multitaps and variety packs. It got the drinkers out of the ‘my favorite brand’ rut. But the drinkers also opened up to cider, wine, cocktails and now seltzers. We all share one drinker and she drinks everything,” he says.
Hall explains that this way of drinking, combined with several lifestyle trends, will be the keys to cider’s continued success going into the next few years.
“Cider will continue to grow, it’s still way under-indexed compared to Europe. All the drinking trends point toward cider. Gluten-free, natural, locally sourced; those are all long term shifts, not just trends. We are in the age of Provenance, whether its coffee or chocolate, beer, cider or wine — where it comes from matters. We feel that cider drinkers want variety too, not just apple, but flavors and even different forms, like our Mezzo Spritz — part cider, part cocktail,” he says.
Burk echoed this sentiment, too, as cider is a standup solo sip, but can also be used to create low-ABV cocktails that are creative, fun and flavorful.
“Angry Orchard brings a sparkling and acidic component to a cocktail, so it can replace a standard citrus or juice and really shine,” he says.
Another trend is poised to continue cider’s success is mindful drinking. The demand for low-ABV sippers that are flavorful and pair well with food — from cheese boards to barbecue. This market trend, and cider’s innate characteristics, positioned the beverage as an alternative for those who are watching their alcohol intake.
“Angry Orchard has a pretty low ABV – hovering around 6%. Hard cider is most often compared to wine, and the ABV in hard cider is almost always lower,” Burk says.