Hard cider has a lot of history behind it. In fact, while everyone knows about how old beer is, ciders are not too far behind! Better understanding just how this drink came about can help you better appreciate it…
Hard Cider: Beer Substitutes
An Egyptian origin
The origins of hard cider begin with the ancient Egyptians. Starting around 1300 B.C., King Ramses was beginning to expand the growth of apples in Egypt, which soon spread into the Roman empire. Orchards were beginning to use more easy-to-eat apples rather than crab apples. On top of making apples more popular, it also gave way to apple-based drinks.
However, at this point, hard ciders were being made mainly by mistake. The first evidence of them being made intentionally was back in 55 B.C, in Kent, England. Roman soldiers marched into the town and found something interesting. The townspeople were taking the apple’s juices, and fermenting them into what we know as cider.
It would take a while for people to really understand hard cider. However, starting in the 13th century, the need for clean drinks was becoming more important. It was hard for wines or beers to consistently be made cleanly. Ciders, by comparison, were easy to keep clean. This lead to them becoming popular all over Europe, especially in England.
Eventually, colonial settlers took their knowledge over to what is now the U.S. At first, they had issues setting up their orchards, mainly due to a lack of pollination. To solve the problem, the orchard owners brought over helpful bees, and by the 18th century, apples (and by extension, ciders), were becoming commonplace.
These days, hard ciders have experience a resurgence in popularity due to the craft beer movement creating similar interest in ciders. Production hasn’t really changed too much either. However, producers have improved the apple strains they use to be high in tannins and bitterness, making them well-suited for ciders.
Plus, each region makes their cider a different way. European ciders tend to be low in sugar and dry. American ciders are sweet, but not as complex as other regions. Still, craft ciders have helped increase the variety of ciders on the market.