Hard cider has grown enormously in popularity in the past decade. But did you realize that the fermented beverage has been around since the Romans ruled an empire? There is evidence that dates cider back to 6500 BC in Asian and European cultures. The idea of fermenting apples has been traced back to around 55 BC. Way back then, the water was so unsanitary that people actually drank more cider than they did water. Around the sixth century brewers became a skilled profession around Europe, making beer drinks as well as cider. Rumor is that between the 13th and 17th centuries, Europeans were even paid in cider.
Normandy became a big player in the cider-making business around the 16th century. It was here that folks started playing around with different types of apples – some, of course, tasted much better than others. In other places in Europe, as well as colonial America, cider became an important part of the culture.
It is the Pilgrims that are credited with bringing apples with them on their voyage to the Americas. The seeds of the apples were planted and orchards grew. The apples were then purposely fermented to create a cider drink because it was safe and sanitary. In fact, most of the orchards are said to have been planted not for apple consumption, but for cider making.
Over the years, the popularity of cider ebbed and flowed with the different groups of immigrants who came to America. When prohibition was enacted in the 1920s, apple orchards were cut down in hopes that cider supplies would die with them. When prohibition was repealed, cider was slow to make a comeback since many apple orchards were wiped out.
Ciders vary by region in the United States. New England ciders are typically simple and sweet or barrel aged for a sharper flavor. California apples are usually more bitter and sometimes even sparkling. While Blue Toad is made in both New York and Virginia, we source only local apples for every batch of cider. That means, if you’re drinking a Flower City Blonde in Rochester, the apples used are from the Rochester area. If you’re drinking a Blue Ridge Blonde in Nelson County, you’re drinking apples from the area.
In the past decade or so, cider has seen a resurgence – and we are proud that Blue Toad Hard Cider is part of that! Currently hard cider is only about 1% of the beverage market, but is growing faster than any other type of drink out there, and is expected to keep growing. There are typically hard cider drink options in most bars and restaurants these days.
Be sure to ask your next bartender or server if they have any fresh Blue Toad Hard Cider on tap!
Resources: “Cider.” How Products Are Made. . Encyclopedia.com. 28 Mar. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>. Lehault, C. (2013). Go Back in Time with New England Style Ciders. http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/05/what-is-new-england-style-cider-strong-hard-cider-with-raisins.html Kerrigan, William (2012).