As a west country lad, it is pretty much expected of me to like cider. I freely admit to this being a recent addition to my alcohol tastes. I have friends in Bristol, lived in Devon for five years and my girlfriend lives in Cornwall.
It’s only a surprise that it took so long for me to acquire the taste of fermented apple juice (sparking or otherwise). Summer days like this are perfect for sitting in the garden or on the harbour enjoying the sea breeze sweep over you, cooling the sweat. What better way to enjoy a good cider?
So imagine my surprise last week when my girlfriend told me that in North America, cider is not alcoholic. The alcoholic stuff is called hard cider. Over here, and in most of the Anglophone world – actually, in every language the translation of cider means fermented apple juice. In North America, cider is unsweetened, unfiltered and untreated. The treated stuff is simply called apple juice.
Here in the UK, both are called apple juice (though the unsweetened stuff might be called “natural” apple juice, cloudy apple juice or unfiltered). Looking into it further, there does not seem to be any real distinction between which is apple juice and which is cider with some states having a legal definition and others not.
Clear? Actually, no, it’s cloudy because it is unfiltered.
In the UK (and as I said the rest of the world) if you say “cider” it certainly means the alcoholic stuff. The only difference is when it is made from something other than apple but then the bottle will state the fruit. Pear cider is usually called perry rather than pear cider, but other fruits will always be called (name of fruit) cider.
Just a little interesting linguistic quirk for today!
Background on Cider
The southwest of England is considered the cider capital of the world, selling the most bottles in any one region in any country every year, with the widest variation in options; in the UK, we drink more cider than any other country. This is not surprising when we have so much variation and so much choice with microbreweries able to compete with the big boys. When it comes to alcohol, we have always been very provincial and this desire to drink local has only strengthened in the last few years. Craft cider is experiencing an upsurge in tandem with craft beer. This is perhaps because of the lower rate of tax that cider producers enjoy and the tight restrictions on what may be called cider
At the weekend, I was at a local produce market in Falmouth (Cornwall) and saw one small producer based in St. Ives offer five different types. They had a few varieties of cider – one of which was what we call “farmhouse” (slightly cloudy, dry with a rough “home made” taste), a smooth and filtered dry, a medium, and a sweet type, and a mulled cider which should be served warm but tasted very good chilled. They also had a perry (pear cider).
So, next time you talk about “cider” be mindful about who you are talking to, to make sure they know what you are talking about!
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