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Brief Published: 4 Aug 2014

Hard Cider’s US Rise

Reverend Nat's Hard Cider

As US sales of light beer expect to hit a 10-year low by 2015, according to US alcoholic beverage news service Shanken News Daily, hard cider (fermented cider with a higher alcohol content) is emerging as a strong contender for its crown.

According to Chicago-based research firm Nielsen, US retail sales of hard cider increased by 89% in 2013, following a 90% jump in sales during 2012. This compares to overall beer sales falling by 1.9% in 2013, with light beers falling by 3.5% over the same time.

Despite cider's enthusiastic uptake, it still only accounts for 1% of the total beer market, according to US market research firm Symphony IRI. However, the category promises rapid traction as brewing giants vie for a slice of the market. This year, Chicago-based brewing company MillerCoors launched Smith & Forge hard cider, and Belgian beer producer AB InBev SA launched Johnny Appleseed hard apple cider.

Meanwhile, boutique and domestic cider producers are also innovating at a swift pace. Oregon-based cider producer Reverend Nat's Hard Cider manufactures Hallelujah Hopricot cider steeped with coriander, bitter orange peel and grains of paradise.

In line with product innovation, a burgeoning cider culture is developing with new publications devoted to the industry. Cidercraft focuses on North American cider (launched June 2014), while online publication Cider Journal covers all aspects of the hard cider category (launched May 2014).

For more on recent alcoholic beverage developments, see Alcohol Trends 2014 and Drinks Developments: Alcohol, as well as Brooklyn Eats! 2014.