Hard cider has long been the drink of the working class. Early records show that when the Romans showed up on the British Isles in 55BC, they found the locals drinking a pleasant brew fermented from apples. Eventually cider made its way across much of Europe, gaining particular traction in England, France and Spain. Easily made from the plentiful apple trees in those areas, cider was cheap, tasty and effective, making it the drink of choice for both rural and urban workers. In fact, it was often used as a portion of worker’s wages. By the mid-seventeenth century, nearly every family farm had its very own cider orchard and press, using apple varieties which had been selected for their cider attributes.
When the early colonists set sail for the new world, they brought with them all the ingredients to continue the success of cider in the old world. The grains and barley needed for beer thrived in the European landscape, but performed dismally in this new climate. On the other hand, apples grew easily in the New England climate and the liquid they produced was the beginning of a uniquely American cider. As we moved west, hard cider was safer to drink than water on the American frontier, and thus became the drink of choice. Pioneering folks like Johnny Appleseed established nurseries across the Midwest, spreading seedling apple trees across the landscape of the new world. Every farm had its own small orchard and hence the makings to craft their own brew, with each cider featuring a distinct flavor from the seedlings they came from.
As tastes evolved, farmers began growing apples that weren't just good for drinking, but also for eating. Consumers demanded sweetness and crunchiness and growers answered with more varieties suitable for all sorts of purposes such as baking, drying, and eating fresh off of the tree. Today, hard ciders in the USA are mostly made from dessert apples, making the American version of hard cider lighter and decidedly different from their European counterparts. Craft brewers across the country are turning out innovative and tasty brews as Americans return to their roots and reacquaint themselves with hard cider