Take a swig of good hard apple cider, and you’ll experience a variety of complex flavors and, quite possibly, the overwhelming feeling of refreshment. Cider isn’t for wimps anymore; once the hooch of choice for men of war and politics, hard cider is finally getting back to its roots and regaining its well-deserved popularity. Still need convincing? Here are some of the many reasons you should switch to cider.
For History’s Sake
History has a way of making tradition out of necessity, and that’s certainly the case with cider. American colonists in the late 1700s lacked a water filtration system that worked better than distilled liquids, and according to history, English hops simply didn’t grow well on American soil. Thus, according to this article published in Slate: “During the 18th century, Americans realized that the prolific, hardy apple tree—which arrived from England in 1623—offered a solution to their drinking dilemma. In 1767, the average Massachusetts resident drank 35 gallons of cider. (That includes children, who sipped a slightly weaker version called ciderkin.) John Adams drank a tankard of cider nearly every morning of his life.” Adding to that, it’s well known that Thomas Jefferson planted countless apple trees on his estate, many of which were used for cider-making. There you have the drink that fueled our nation’s birth–even the least patriotic of us might feel inclined to cheers to that.
An Apple a Day
The axiom says, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” While the accuracy of this statement could stand to reason, it is true that cider has some research-backed health benefits. A PR Newswire article states: “Now scientists at Brewing Research International have confirmed high levels of health enhancing antioxidants in cider, on par with red wine, a drink long recognized has having health benefits. A half pint of cider delivers the same amount of antioxidants as a glass of red wine. Further trials on volunteer cider drinkers at the Institute of Food Research, Norwich, details of which are published in the latest edition of the scientific Journal of Nutrition, also establishes the antioxidants are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, enhancing the health benefit.”
You Can DIY
As you may remember from our 6 Ciders That Don’t Suck post, some ciders are aged in oak barrels, others are infused with molasses and still others are to be served at precisely “44 degrees Fahrenheit.” These are the tastiest, most complex of ciders, and also the most difficult to make. But if you’re interested in making cider at home, it can be very easy to do. You can find a myriad of How-To books in your local bookstore, and there are countless hard cider tutorials online. At its core, cider is easy to make — and can be enjoyed relatively quickly after it’s been fermented. The core ingredients you’ll need are: apples, a cider press, a cheese cloth, a large glass jug with a lid, brewer’s yeast, an airlock, sterilizing powder or tablets, a siphon and bottles.
Variety of the Spice of Cider
There are over 7,500 varieties of apples around the world. That kind of variety translates into the many types of cider you have the possibility to taste. Aside from the many types of apple that can be used for cider-making, fruits like pear, peach and apricot can also be added to create a different take on the traditional beverage. And as we’ve mentioned before, some makers are trying their hand at bourbon-aged cider, which imparts and malty, smokier flavor than crisp, dry cider aged most often in more neutral wood barrels. However you slice it, apple cider has a robust and seemingly limitless amount of potential tastes and types.
Say What? No Wheat?
For those with a sensitivity to gluten or celiac disease, cider is one of the most delicious drink options out there. Because it’s made of apples, cider is naturally gluten free, and tastes a lot more natural than gluten-free beers. Just be sure to check the bottle you’re picking out to confirm it is, indeed, wheat free. Here’s a good list of gluten-free ciders.
It’s Not Hopeless, it’s Hopless
Most of your standard apple hard ciders are made without the use of any hops, so if you’re sensitive to the cone-like flowers of the hop plant, you can order cider without having to explain your admittedly oft-unheard-of-allergy to anyone. People who have an allergic reaction to hops may experience symptoms like “runny nose, swelling of the eyelids, skin rashes, and asthma,” according to MDHealth.com, taking beer out of the equation for obvious reasons. Cider will satisfy your spirits craving without giving you any of the unpleasant symptoms listed above.