Do Ciders Belong in the Beer World?

Discussion in 'Other Beverages' started by BrewVenture2, Aug 28, 2017.

  1. KingCobra686

    KingCobra686 Initiate (129) Aug 13, 2014 Connecticut

    True, although I wouldnt consider state and federal classifications of different alcoholic drinks as the definitive classification to decide things by. Those laws are created with a specific purpose in mind, which is primarily to regulate and control and tax the sale of an intoxicant. Lots of these laws are outdated or unnecessary.
  2. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (930) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    And, by the same token, beers often verge towards wine. Deus, some Cantillons (Iris,I believe), and a recent Mikkeller IPA with Riesling juice that I tried that was quite nice. Achel Extra always was a gorgeous vinous-like brew. I learned to love cider in France and they tread the line between beer and wine perfectly. The melding of these fermentables is great and inevitable.
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  3. ivegot3Dvision

    ivegot3Dvision Zealot (533) Feb 9, 2015 Oregon

    Been a huge fan of Nine Pin from Albany since they opened, it's just unfortunate that they don't distribute this far west.
    TongoRad likes this.
  4. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,436) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I will not argue with the classification side, but that is still the law. Ask your local places with a beer/cider/Mead license what they have to do.
  5. mudbug

    mudbug Zealot (595) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    Yet there is Not your Father's root beer and Apple Cider Beer. Hmmmmm maybe it is more of who advertises? Neither one of them are any more beer than Mikes Hard Lemonade ( a malt beverage) I think it may be time to rethink your position, cider was the premier alcoholic drink at the beginning of this country (Jonny Appleseed). Unfortunately, the apple orchards that supported the majority of ciders got cut down during prohibition loosing many heirloom apple varieties and are just now being recreated by the new kids on the scene ( It takes a lot longer to grow an apple tree than a hop) Plus IMHO it fits in with the culture of small producers making a quality product.
    TongoRad and hopfenunmaltz like this.
  6. MikeWard

    MikeWard Poo-Bah (1,664) Sep 14, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Can see both sides of this. As an Englishman, I enjoyed many a good cider side by side with a cask ale. Having said that, some of the "Scrumpy" or "rough" ciders I had were quite likely to find you 3 pints later at the wrong train station somewhere in Cambridgeshire.
    rhino88888888, rgordon and TongoRad like this.
  7. JrGtr

    JrGtr Disciple (389) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    I'm glad this discussion is allowed to stay up.
    I see that cider is becoming (has become, perhaps) a drink of choice for those who don't like beer, but hang out with beer people (SOs, for instance) To many it's more accessible.
    For the purposes of here on Beer Advocate, While I wouldn't mind a cider and mead section, I'm fine with the decision to keep them out of the site. While I don't quite see the slippery slope leading to wine coolers and so on, the site's name says it all: BEER advocate. There have been a few threads in the homebrewing forum asking about braggots, I guess that is the fuzzy line - beer / cider hybrid.
    ICTguy21, Ranbot and BrewVenture2 like this.
  8. PorterPro125

    PorterPro125 Champion (812) Jan 19, 2013 New Brunswick (Canada)

    I love Cider but it is, by definition, not a beer. Therefore, I view them as two separate entities although there certainly is quite a bit of crossover in both directions.
  9. Karibourgeois

    Karibourgeois Poo-Bah (2,092) Jul 28, 2013 Texas
    Society Trader

    While I understand this distinction here, I think cider is more and more standing along side beer in social settings. You find them on tap just about everywhere here in Austin, which is great, because in the TX summer heat, a cider is just as refreshing as a berliner or light lager. Point being, yes there's a difference...just a not a big one.
    rgordon likes this.
  10. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,564) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew

    That's absurd and insulting.
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  11. mudbug

    mudbug Zealot (595) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    I did not mean to insult, my apologies
  12. edward_boumil

    edward_boumil Zealot (588) Jun 28, 2015 New York

    OP I would HIGHLY recommend visiting Woodchuck up by Burlington VT, hit some breweries in the area but go to them too. I wasn't really a fan of cider til I visited that place. You'd probably love it.
    BrewVenture2 likes this.
  13. alexanderplatz

    alexanderplatz Aspirant (243) Jul 5, 2015 Kentucky

    One has to agree that cider is not beer, yet a good dry cider appeals to my beer-drinking instincts. The most recent cider I've had (Cidergeist, from Rhinegeist brewing in Cincinnati) reminded me a lot of a Berliner weisse.
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  14. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Meyvn (1,300) Jul 2, 2014 New Jersey

    I like cider. Not as much as beer but if its real cider and not sugar i like it.
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  15. honkey

    honkey Zealot (550) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
    Society Industry

    Historical lesson aside... it's not beer. This is a website for beer advocacy. If we start having cider ratings and discussions, then why not wine? Cider is more similar to wine than beer anyways. Many distillers say that whiskey is just beer that's grown up. Why don't we have whiskey ratings?
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  16. mudbug

    mudbug Zealot (595) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    "Cider is more similar to wine than beer anyways. Many distillers say that whiskey is just beer that's grown up. Why don't we have whiskey ratings?"
    I'll accept that when I see a double dry hopped Chardonnay , There already are highly hopped ciders, and as far as whiskeys, ever hear of Utopia? But I do agree that ciders are not beer for only two reasons, the base ingredient is not boiled like grain needs to be and the base ingredient is not grain. But anyways, the Bros have drawn a line and I'm OK with that (except for a few blurred spots with malt beverages)
  17. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,436) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Just a minor point, the grains are mashed ar ~150 F, the liquid is drained off, and that is called wort, and the liquid wort is boiled.

    The only time the grains would be boiled is if a decoction mash is done. That is being done less and less due to time, energy costs, and lack of need with modern malt.
  18. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    We don't have whisky ratings because the wort that forms it's base is then heat distilled to boil off the alcohol and some of the flavoring agents. Heat distilling is not required for production of a beer.

    The Boston Brewing Utopias is not produced through heat distillation so it is not a whiskey, rather the high ABV is the result of fermenatation of the beer with a yeast capable of withstanding Hi ABV levels during fermentation.

    According to the brewery, the Not My Fathers Root Beer and the Cider beer you referenced are both beers that are similar to and inspired by gruits but include a different set of special purpose additives than do most gruits.
    #58 drtth, Sep 4, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2017
  19. honkey

    honkey Zealot (550) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
    Society Industry

    Adding hops to cider doesn't make it beer anymore than adding hops to Chardonnay makes it beer. Cider production is the same basic process as wine making. Cider licenses in most (all?) states fall under winery licenses. Utopia is basically an eisbock. Nothing about this post validates cider being considered beer or belonging on a website that is dedicated to beer.
    jesskidden likes this.
  20. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Just as an FYI, multiple sources report that Utopias isn't made by freeze distillation, it's made by fermentation alone.

  21. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,766) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Well, not really "wort" - which by definition is unfermented, but what the distiller calls "distiller's beer".
    There's no so-called "freeze distillation" ... involved in the production of Utopias - just careful fermentation with a variety of high-alcohol tolerance yeasts.

    EDIT- Or, ya know, what "drthh" quoted (that's what happens when you check the fire in the smoker in the middle of writing a post).

    #61 jesskidden, Sep 4, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2017
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  22. honkey

    honkey Zealot (550) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
    Society Industry

  23. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Many folks do, I think in part because of BrewDog and their German competitor who were going after the world's record for the strongest beer a few years back and got a lot of chatter publicity out of it.
  24. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Got it.

    It's liquid wort after the grains have had the sugar removed and been separated from the liquid, but before any fermentation. After the fermentation it is beer.
  25. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,985) Sep 24, 2007 Washington

    While cider isn't a part of this particular website (nor should it be, IMHO), cider is most certainly part of the wider craft beer scene. It fits nicely, gives a great change-of-pace option, and there are many creative cider makers out there these days.
    TongoRad likes this.
  26. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (930) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    The majority of folks that I know and have dealt with that make and peddle quality ciders are very collegial and simpatico with the modern beer community. They market craft ciders like craft beers. They are more similar than different. But maybe Cider Advocate would work.
    beertunes likes this.
  27. lordofthemark

    lordofthemark Aspirant (225) Jan 28, 2015 Virginia

    Pretty sure ratebeer has that well in hand.
  28. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (930) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Honestly haven't checked it out. It does make sense. Regardless of the differences in how beer and cider are made, they are enjoyed in much the same way, for the same reasons. The dry French, English, Canadian, and now a good number of American ciders can be world class beverages. I try to keep some around, but they keep disappearing!
    beertunes likes this.
  29. DonicBoom

    DonicBoom Initiate (58) Mar 26, 2015 Virginia

    That is an accurate summary of Small Town's marketing. One could defer to the brewery and consider their first two flavors (root beer and ginger) neo-gruits because of the featuring of herbs/spices. Same goes for the subsequent addition of Not Your Mother's Apple Pie.

    However, we are now at a point where a majority of their offerings make no apparent claim of including those ingredients mandatory for the style. I am referring to vanilla cream, "mountain," iced tea, and strawberry rhubarb. I say those products have less resemblance to gruits than a few this site boycotts. For example, Smirnoff Ice Peppermint Twist is flavored, in part, with the herb peppermint.
  30. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Yes in the examples you give they use a lot of non traditional gruit like additives, as they did in Not Your Father's Root Beer. But my comments were not intended to go beyond the two examples given.

    However, if one is targeting "gruit inspired" rather than gruit, there is no need to use any of those traditional gruit additives that were in use before the introduction of hops. Their liberties don't seem much more egregious than those being engaged in by lots of other brewers producing "inspired by" beers. :sunglasses:
    #70 drtth, Sep 5, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2017
  31. Premo88

    Premo88 Poo-Bah (1,782) Jun 6, 2010 Texas
    Society Trader

    It's freaking good. And I am not a cider fan. But I *am* a big American-made farmhouse ale fan, and Bad Seed hit that particular sweet spot something fierce.
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  32. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,985) Sep 24, 2007 Washington

  33. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,985) Sep 24, 2007 Washington

    Personally, I do not believe that "quality" of a given beverage equates to "type' of given beverage. I like beer more than I like cider, yet, there are certain ciders that are better (ie: more enjoyable to me) than certain beers, at certain times. Everyone's mileage will vary.
  34. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (930) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I know what you mean- and cider and beer are no different here- but I'm taking the "quality" McRitchie ciders, or Haw River Farmhouse Ales versions of world styles over the obviously well-made Blue Moons and Angry Orchards. I'm just an old-fashioned guy who likes these new-fangled choices.
  35. DonicBoom

    DonicBoom Initiate (58) Mar 26, 2015 Virginia

    I see what you're saying, but there's another distinction I didn't mention in my post. There's good reason to believe the Not Your Father's beverages are processed in the same way (and at one of the same plants) as the villainized malternatives. That is to say they are stripped of any beer-like flavors that might get in the way of their tasting like soda, iced tea, etc.. Outside NYF and copycat hard soda brands, I'm not aware of actual breweries being accused of such techniques, regardless of unconventional culinary inspirations.
    drtth likes this.
  36. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    So I wasn't aware of this controversy until you mentioned it. While I don't feel I've finished digging into what's available online, I think that two things are clear from what I have found.

    Back in 2015 during the metoric rise of Not Your Father's Root Beer there was a lot of speculation about things that were unclear, with several folks putting together odd bits of information to reveal that it was not the small brewery making all that beverage and that the whole enterprise involved Pabst and some ownership issues. The owner of Small Town did admit that his product was being produced in a large facility known for producing "alternatives," etc. However virtually all accusations of NYFRB not being a beer were based on circumstantial evidence and even included such things as "It's not beer because I don't taste any hops." But, failure to taste hops used in a beer is actually the goal of some brewers, e.g.., lambic brewers are known to use old hops because their preservative effects remain even though their flavors have long faded. They don't want the hop flavors in their beer.

    The whole situation is clouded a bit by the fact that Beer is officially considered to be a Flavored Malt Beverage by the TTB. What gets your beverage classified as beer rather than a "Malternative" is the use of hops, since both subcategories of FMB use such things as malted barley, etc..

    I did manage to find one source that actually collected some data on the beverage.

    There is a web site called "Strange Brews" that offers a series of 2 podcasts delving into the topic. The second of the two reports on lab testing by White Labs (the noted yeast laboratory and source of many yeasts used in brewing). The ultimate conclusion reached by the developer of the PodCasts is that there is no evidence that NYFRB is not a flavored malt beverage.

    What I've not found any information about yet, one way or the other, is whether any hops are used in the base "beer" brewed for the NYFRB before it undergoes whatever processing and addition of flavoring agents that make it taste like Root Beer.

    So based on current level of digging, etc. there may be beer used in producing NYFRB or their may not be. Thus most, if not all, of the accusations out there on the Web are just that "accusations," and remain unfounded.

    BTW, other brewers have been accused of lots of things. Many accuse ballast point of using "artificial" flavoring ingredients when they are in fact natural. Constellation, now the parent company of Ballast Point, has been accused of corrupting BP by putting out all there different beers with flavorings when in fact they are simply following through on developments on offer at the BP tasting room before the purchase. The list goes on.

    So my bottom line at the moment is that the brewer who created NYFRB says there is an Ale used in production of NYFRB and that he originated the recipe put in use for large scale production is telling us the truth until proven guilty of lying to the general public and to the Brewer's Association who list the small brewery as being an associate member since it is more than 25% owned by Pabst. (BTW, I am making a tentative judgment and I am quite willing to believe otherwise when there is some solid evidence he is lying,)
    #76 drtth, Sep 5, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2017
  37. lordofthemark

    lordofthemark Aspirant (225) Jan 28, 2015 Virginia

    Ratebeer has lots of European raters, including an English guy who is one of the most prolific commenters in general, and is particularly a cider fan. I think anyone who denied the traditional links if cider and beer culture would be laughed at there.
    #77 lordofthemark, Sep 5, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2017
    rgordon likes this.
  38. lordofthemark

    lordofthemark Aspirant (225) Jan 28, 2015 Virginia


    Personally I don't boycott ABI. I just prefer, all other things being equal, to drink independentcraft. Given thousands of independent breweries that means I effectively don't drink ABI other than the occasional tick of an ABI beer I have never had. For beer rating sites, there are not many alternatives. For cider, even fewer.

    I have not detected any change in content at RB. One can still slam ABI as much as you like. Indeed you will get more pushback on that here (of course the forums here are an order of magnitude busier)
    beertunes likes this.
  39. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,766) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    There is no "malternative" subcategory recognized by the TTB. ALL "malt beverages" must contain hops to meet TTB requirements - a very small amount with no restriction based on type, IBU, length of time in brew, etc.

    " 'Malt Beverage' is the general name given in the Federal alcohol labeling regulations for all products made at a brewery with malted barley and hops*. It includes things like beer, ale, lager, flavored malt beverages, and even 'near beer'...When a malt beverage is made with the addition of spices, fruit, honey or natural flavors, it requires specific labeling to indicate the class designation. These malt beverages must be labeled with a statement of composition that reflects the base malt product and the added ingredients, unless otherwise known to the trade under a particular designation."

    An alcohol or alcohol-free beverage made by the alcoholic fermentation of an infusion or decoction, or combination of both, in potable brewing water, of:
    · malted barley comprising not less than 25% by weight of the total weight of fermentable ingredients
    · hops (or their parts or products) in an amount equivalent to 7.5 pounds per 100 barrels (3100 gallons) of finished malt beverage
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  40. DonicBoom

    DonicBoom Initiate (58) Mar 26, 2015 Virginia

    That is not how @jesskidden explained it here and here, both posts from a long NYF Root Beer thread in 2015. In short, there is no legal distinction between Not Your Father's, Mike's Hard Lemonade, Founder's KBS, and every pumpkin spice beer. And since they are all regulated by the TTB, they all must use hops to (very) varying degrees, if I'm understanding correctly.

    edit: should have known @jesskidden would weigh in here before I finished typing :slight_smile:

    I have no grounds to dispute NYFRB starts as an ale. I believe Mike's Lemonade does as well, but then those flavors are stripped and replaced with other flavors. The preponderance of the evidence (not proof) is that NYFRB is produced in the same general process.

    For all I know, the original brewer may sincerely consider every Small Town product beer. The legal definitions of malt beverages would neither support nor contradict that belief. That leaves it to drinkers (and website operators) to make their own judgments based on limited information.