The second annual Cider Summit Chicago was held this month at Navy Pier. While it may be surprising to learn there are enough cider enthusiasts to hold a summit, you can expect to see more cider events like this one around the country, and rightfully so.
Sellout crowds packed the afternoon and evening tasting sessions at the Lakeview Terrace Room (no small venue) and offered a glimpse of why the production of American hard cider has more than tripled since 2011: the days of overbearingly sweet, homogeneous ciders dominating the market are quickly dissipating in favor of complex, bold, dry and even hoppy cider varieties, of which we sampled many of these 4-ounce tastings to verify!
Sampling all the offering would have been quite a feat. More than 30 producers were on hand accounting for over 100 ciders samplings representing seven countries (England, Scotland, France, Spain, Canada, etc.) and 13 states, including 37 samplings from right here in the heartland: Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Our Chicago Beer Experience (CBE) tasting crew sampled 16 different ciders, the majority of which received positive reviews, less than a handful were Bad News Bears. Yet aside from our individual taste preferences in ciders, the bigger picture was a collective recognition of the growing passion for craft hard cider beverages.
There’s no question hard cider is back in the U.S. and here to stay. And despite our unwavering love for craft brews, we at CBE are not the least bit shy about raising our glasses for a nip of hard craft cider once in a while. If you haven’t tried a craft hard cider lately, you should.
Bonus fact 1: What is hard cider? Fermented apple juice; similar to wine but with an alcohol content closer to craft beer.
Bonus fact 2: It takes roughly 36 apples to produce one gallon of hard cider.
Bonus fact 3: Under current federal tax law, the definition of hard cider only allows for up to 7% alcohol by volume before it is taxed at the more expensive rate for wine, and only a certain level of carbonation before it is subject to the extremely expensive champagne tax ($3.30 or $3.40/gallon).
Bonus fact 4: Here are 12 things you may not know about hard cider
Bonus fact 5: Want to try more hard ciders in Chicago? The Northman (4337 N. Lincoln Ave.) is tabbed as Chicago’s first cider pub. A variety of 20 hard ciders are on tap in addition to upwards of 80 different bottle and cans are available.
Bonus fact 6: Want to attend a hard cider summit? San Francisco, Portland and Seattle are up next. Cider Summit Chicago returns February, 2016.
Cheers and thanks for reading!