What’s trending in Cider for 2022?
The cider category is particularly well suited to innovation, as the vast number of flavours and styles attests to. The category is going through something of a revolution at the moment, particularly at the craft end of the cider market.
Cider producers aren’t shy when it comes to adding new flavoured products to their ranges.
In recent times, these have not only begun to enter interesting new categories of flavour, such as Thatchers Blood Orange and Kopparberg Mixed Fruit Tropical, but are also exploring new ways of incorporating these flavours, particularly when it comes to the growing number of craft producers.
Fruit ciders are on the rise too, as are other flavour innovations such as the addition of botanicals – Rekorderlig’s Botanicals range is a good example of this.
Single varietal cider
One of cider’s strengths is the vast quantity of apple varieties that producers can choose from, both from specific cider apples such as Dabinett, and eating apples like Katy. The most prominent use of the latter comes from Thatchers, who highlights the Katy apple in a single-variety cider.
Herefordshire’s Ross on Wye, meanwhile, offers an extensive range of single varietals, such as Ashton Bitter, Dabinett, Browns and Yarlington Mill. Over in Somerset, Perry’s Cider has its own collection of single varieties, including Tremlett, Redstreak and Morgan.
For craft producers, one way of introducing new flavours is through the use of co-ferments, in which other fruits are included in the fermentation.
Pomme Pomme from Pilton Cider includes quince, which, like apple, is a member of the pomme family. The quince is said to bring a “unique tart astringency” to the table.
For Herefordshire’s Little Pomona’s Do it Puritan, they macerated handpicked Shropshire prune damsons together with Thorn and Hendre Huffcap perry pears, before fermenting and adding juice from more perry pears and medlars.
Producers are also having success in fermenting apples together with grapes, or grape skins, such as in the case of Once Upon A Tree’s Dabinett & Pinot Noir Rosé Cider.
Once Upon A Tree’s co-ferment also highlights the growing links between winemaking and cider making.
From advanced techniques such as those used to make ice wine, to new products such as US-based Crispin Cider’s Pearsecco, the associations between these two categories have never been stronger.
Meanwhile, a new industry group entitled Cider is Wine is promoting cider and perry made entirely from apple and pear juice, without the use of concentrates. Their premise, based on the fact that it’s globally accepted that wine is made entirely from grape juice, no doubt draws these two categories even closer together.
Barrel ageing cider
As any winemaker or producer of aged spirits will tell you, barrels provide vast potential for contributing flavour, and cider producers are increasingly getting on board.
One pioneer is Pilton Cider, with a varied, fascinating range. Their Matt’s Bike cider spends six months in a smoky Islay whisky barrel, while Road Trip is partly fermented in Burgundy and rum barrels.
When creating a cask-aged cider of their own, Scotland’s Thistly Cross unsurprisingly looked to the scotch industry, making use of Glen Moray casks to give their cider “warming notes of oak, vanilla and honey”.
Wild Beer Co’s first foray into the world of cider saw them age it for two years in oak foudres, resulting in “a bold yet nuanced combination of flavours; tannic apple, oak and white grape with a moreish dry finish”.
Low– and no-alcohol
While there’s no shortage of exciting hard cider trends, the category is also keeping up with recent moderation trends, and growing demand for low– and no-alcohol drinks.
In contrast with its 6.7% ABV Whisky Cask Cider, Thistly Cross produces a 0.5% version of its Elderflower Cider.
Also at the forefront of this trend are brands such as Malus, from Harmony Craft Beverages, which not only has its alcohol removed, but is infused with cannabis, giving it 3mg of THC content. There are three in the range – Granny Smith OG, Legendary Peary and Berry Fire – all available in California.
More established cider producers getting involved in the low– and no-alcohol trend include Sheppy’s, Adnams and Thatchers.
For an example of cider innovation that ticks multiple trend boxes, it doesn’t get much better than ciderkins.
These take inspiration from the piquettes of the wine world, which are made by adding water to the grape pomace left over after wine production, and then fermenting.
In addition to the sustainable credentials from making use of what would otherwise have been a waste product, these ciderkins are also low in alcohol, catering to those looking to moderate.
Herefordshire’s Snails Bank Cider includes a ciderkin in its portfolio, which clocks in at 0.5% ABV.
Also in Herefordshire is Little Pomona, who describes their Hard Rain either as a pét nat piquette or ciderkin, making it from a combination of grape skins and stalks, as well as some rehydrated Ellis Bitter apple pomace. They describe the result, at 3.2% ABV, as a “super crushable, tropical fruit cocktail”.
Cider innovation sometimes goes beyond the products themselves, such as in the case of the new 3 in 1 Font from Thatchers, allowing venues to switch between three draft cider flavours on a single font. In addition to the convenience to operators, the eye-catching fonts offer a point of difference to consumers too.
A growing number of cider producers are presenting their products in larger, sharing formats, and these have potential in the on-trade, where consumers are already accustomed to ordering full bottles of wine.
A full bottle of cider offers something different, with a lower ABV, and, many would argue, all the food-friendliness of wine.
If you’re interested in this topic, visit Imbibe Live 2022 on the 4th July and attend our session in the Tasting Room, ‘Blurring Boundaries: Innovating Cider’ lead by Imbibe Live’s ambassador Gabe Cook.
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