Cider has been around for a very long time (in both hard and soft varieties). Hard cider was one of the staple beverages of Colonial America, and was enjoyed more widely than beer or liquor in its time. However, cider sales eventually dropped and it was replaced by beer in most US markets, at least until recently. However, the love for alcoholic apple juice never left Britain, and the nation is actually the largest consumer of cider in the world. Now, Stella Artois is about to tap into the market.
The company announced their new Stella Artois Cidre not long ago, and it will debut at the end of April for UK and European consumers. That's a smart move for the company, as cider sales grew almost 50% in the last five years. Of course, Stella Artois (a subset of Anheuser Busch InBev) is not the only company making cider in town. You'll find that Heineken also has their hand in the market. They own Strongbow, which is expected to go global this year.
The Stella Artois variety will be a Belgian style of hard cider, which is a little different from what many are used to drinking. However, it's definitely poised to be a popular option on the market, especially with younger drinkers. For Americans, the wait for Stella Artois Cidre might be a bit longer, but there are plenty of options out there if you want to enjoy a crisp, flavorful apple beverage.
You'll find that quite a few craft brewers are getting back into the cider-making industry, including Westcott Bay, Bellwether, Eve's and Farnum Hill Extra Dry. Of course, there is also Cider Jack, Hardcore Hard Cider, Woodchuck Cider, Green Mountain and Ace Hard Cider, to name just a few. Many of these ciders are not available across the nation, though. For those in the Northeast, you'll find the greatest variety of cider options, including lots of locally made products. For the rest of us, the hunt will require finding a good specialty beer store. Often, if they don't stock your product, they can order some for you if you're willing to foot the bill for their minimum purchase.
Cider, it seems, is making a real comeback. While it won't replace beer on the American table, it certainly will make some inroads in the craft brewing industry, and you can expect some rather interesting beverage combinations in coming years.