Cider Trends to Look for in 2018

Craft cider is at an interesting moment in its history — while it’s a beverage that’s been around for hundreds of years in some form or another, it’s just beginning to really take off into the mainstream. Here at Jack’s Hard Cider, we couldn’t be happier about this. We love that people across the world are discovering the joys of a cold can or a full glass of cider.

Cider’s growing popularity also means that, as an industry, we’re becoming a force to be reckoned with. Much like craft beer in its infancy, artisan producers like us are writing our own rules, innovating at a breakneck pace and constantly listening to our customers for feedback and suggestions. Together, we’re driving this giant ship into the future, honoring tradition while pushing ourselves to learn more, do better and stay true to our principles, even as bigger corporations start to jump onto the playing field.

The past few years have been huge for our industry (in 2016, Pennsylvania alone saw $25.6 million in craft cider sales!), and it will be interesting to see what happens in 2018 for craft cider.

Here are a few cider trends that we think you should watch out for in the coming year:

  • Cider rosé: Rosé, a kind of wine that incorporates some of the color from the grape skins, but not enough to make it red wine, has experienced a major moment over the past few years in the United States. Modern rosés are a far cry from the saccharine-sweet blush wines or zinfandels you may identify as “pink drinks,” and are instead known for crisp, fruity and super-refreshing flavor profiles — sounds a bit like cider, right? Well, hard cider makers have noted this wine trend, and many are experimenting with cider/rosé blends. Look for even more (including one from Jack’s) in 2018.
  • Collaborations: Cooperation is nothing new in the craft cider world, but we expect more and more collaborations between cider makers and chefs, craft brewers, winemakers, coffee roasters and other culinary artisans to be a major trend in the coming year. Read up on our collaboration with the community cider group A Few Bad Apples.
  • Heritage ciders: The United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM) defines heritage ciders as “ciders made from multi-use or cider-specific apples including bittersweet, bittersharp, heirloom varieties and sometimes wild or crab apples.” Look for this term used a lot in the coming year, as the cider industry works to further define the many types and qualities of ciders currently being produced. Further evidence that this concept is trending: It was recently announced that this year’s CiderCon (an annual craft cider convention, taking place in 2018 in Baltimore) will feature an entire educational track about heritage ciders.
  • More consistency in cider language and descriptions: As with any burgeoning industry, there can be some confusion and inconsistency around certain terminology. This isn’t as much of an issue in more mature industries: If a cheese is labeled as “sharp,” a wine “oaky” or a beer “hoppy,” consumers generally know what that means. That’s not always the case in the hard cider community, with even commonly used phrases like “dry,” “tannic” and “sweet” often representing wildly varying flavors. USACM published a set of cider style guidelines as a resource to help unify the language we use to discuss cider. As this conversation continues between producer, marketers and consumers, look for a tightening up of the descriptive language used on craft cider products.
  • Cider everywhere: Though we’ve mentioned this before, it bears repeating: One definite trend for 2018 will be the expansion of craft cider, from local dive bars to high-end wine shops and everywhere in between. Cideries and taprooms continue to open and flourish across the United States, cider-making workshops and classes at agriculture-focused colleges are packed, cider pairing dinners and tasting events are popping up at restaurants and cafes … in 2018, craft cider is going to be everywhere!

What do you hope to see from the craft cider world in 2018? Let us know!

Jack’s Hard Cider — Produced from Pennsylvania Apples. Pressed On-Site. Never from Concentrate.

Emily Kovach

Photos, top to bottom: Polly Patrono Carlson; Pexels; Michael Sturges (last two photos)