Tasty to the Core

Celebrate the growing popularity of hard apple cider at one of several events this month.

Apples are synonymous with the fall season. From apple picking to apple pies, this fruit is enjoyed in numerous different ways. However, as Benjamin Franklin once said, "It's indeed bad to eat apples. It’s better to turn them all into cider.” While apple cider is a popular drink of choice, those of drinking age might argue that hard apple cider is an even better way to enjoy this fall fruit. Hard cider, which is a fermented beverage produced from apples, has been around for thousands of years but has seen a resurgence in recent years.

The fermentation of apples dates back to the Romans in 55 B.C. and in the 17th century, it was considered one of the cheapest and most accessible drinks in the U.S. It was also often a safer choice of beverage than potentially contaminated water, which could cause typhoid, cholera, and other illnesses. According to the Angry Orchard website, in 1900 A.D. German and Eastern European immigrants to the U.S. brought with them a love for beer, which gradually led to the decline in hard cider consumption.

In addition, in 1910 the Temperance movement caused many farmers to give up growing cider apples, and hard cider all but disappeared from the country during Prohibition. Over the years, hard cider has made a huge comeback, and today it is one of the fastest-growing segments in the beer and flavored malt beverage industry. According to Chicago-based market research firm IRI, cider sales in 2013 grew 75.4 percent to $366 million in a 12-month period. Today, England is the largest cider producer in the world, but many hard cider producers are located throughout the U.S.

Many brewing companies, like MillerCoors, Heineken, and Anheuser-Busch, have even launched a hard cider option, so there’s no doubt that hard cider is having a moment right now. Hard cider is a popular alternative to beer and other alcoholic drinks. It not only contains apples, which provide vitamin C and antioxidants, but it also tends to be sweeter tasting than beer or wine. While it’s enjoyed by many year-round, fall is the most popular time of year for this beverage.

It’s so popular in October that New York City celebrates a Cider Week from Oct. 21st through Oct. 30th. The event helps to educate those in the restaurant and bar industry through tastings and event promotion; it also increases hard cider presence in top restaurants, bars, and retails shops across the city.

In addition to being offered at many bars and restaurants, there are also a number of hard cider festivals throughout the country that take place during this season, particularly in mid-to-late October. For example, the fourth-annual Pour The Core: Hard Cider Festival takes place Saturday, October 15th in Philadelphia from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the Marine Parade Grounds located at The Navy Yard.

“Pour The Core is a hard cider festival showcasing local, national and international brands to consumers for them to sample, sip, and savor,” says Kristyn Dolan, event manager of Pour The Core. “The pay-one-price ticket allows attendees to taste at their leisure, learn about cider through educational seminars and partake in various activities including an apple pie-eating contest.”

Because the event takes place in Philadelphia, the festival will showcase a number of locally made ciders from Pennsylvania. Food will also be available for purchase from some of Philly’s most popular food trucks.

“Pour The Core has become a popular event over the past several years because it provides consumers with the opportunity to try before they buy,” says Dolan. “Additionally, attendees have the opportunity to see all of the ciders available to them in their current market versus those that may be available only at a specific retail outlet.”

Pour The Core will also host the second-annual Boston festival the following week on Saturday, October 22nd in the city’s Theatre District. Similar to the Philly event, this festival features local cider brands as well as best-selling U.S. and imported brands. A new (and tasty) addition to this year’s festival is an apple cider donut-eating contest.

At The Hard Core Cider Tour on October 22nd at El Chorro Regional Park in San Luis Obispo, California, attendees can enjoy an unlimited amount of samples from some of the top hard cider makers, indulge in tasty food, listen to live music and play some of the event’s jumbo lawn games for a day of fun. With a mission to celebrate the revival of craft hard cider making, this first-annual event is sure to satisfy.

While the Pour The Core and Hard Core Cider events feature a range of hard cider brands, many hard cider companies are also hosting their own festivals for those who are partial to their product. On Saturday, October 15th, Angry Orchard is hosting the first-ever Harvest Fest at the Angry Orchard in Walden, New York. Here, attendees can get their fill of cider (including some new flavors), while enjoying live music and tasty food.

They can also partake in a cider house tour, which discusses the history of cider and the cider-making process (three cider samples are included on the tour), tour the Treehouse tasting room, which overlooks the Orchard and offers a gorgeous view of Hudson Valley, and play arcade games. Similarly, on October 22nd, Woodchuck is hosting the Chucktoberfest at the Woodchuck Cider House in Middlebury, Vermont.

At this event, attendees can enjoy some of Woodchuck’s hard cider products while listening to live music and indulging in delicious food provided by the MaMa Dogs Catering food truck. “Fall is the season of cider, so we’re excited to celebrate with our friends and fans,” says Logan Becher, manager at The Woodchuck Cider House.

Whether you are able to attend one or more of these events and festivals, or will be enjoying a glass at a bar or at home, hard cider is a sweet choice that is sure to satisfy your apple cravings this fall. So, gather up your friends (of drinking age, of course), and toast the season with this popular drink. Cheers!