This has been a winter of cider-shame. Shame at glancing down at the recycling in my apartment only to note that its only contents are dozens and dozens of empty bottles of Angry Orchard cider. Shame at ordering cider at a bar in front of people ordering cocktails. Shame at being gingerly handed a tall blue can of cider and having to drink it in front of everyone at a comedy club while I wait for my boyfriend to finish his set so we can leave and I no longer have to feel people judging my choice of beverage.
But it turns out, my cider-sucking roommates and I are far from the only youthy people choosing to drink hard cider these days. In fact, cider sales are growing more quickly than any other category of alcoholic beverage. Even more than craft beer. Or fancy whisky. Or wine named after a shitty series of books.
According to TIME, US sales of hard cider have risen 100% in the last year, a trend echoing a recent similar boom in the UK. And nowhere is cider hotter than in the hipster haven of Portland, always a leading indicator of what The Kids Elsewhere will be doing in the next few years. And in Portland, people are going apeshit for cider. Here's TIME,
Portland not only says it has more breweries than any other city on earth (53 and counting), it is now claiming to be the "worldwide epicenter for cider." That's the phrase used by Jeff Smith, co-owner of what he says is America's first boutique cider-only bar, Bushwacker Cider, located in southeast Portland. The place offers nearly 300 varieties of cider, and Smith told the Oregonian that consumers are drawn to the not-bitter beverage for the simplest of reasons: "It's not as complicated as beer. You basically get an apple and crush it. It's branch to bottle. People see that."
Now, go back and imagine that whole thing being read in Carrie Brownstein's voice.
Portland isn't the only place embracing cider. Here's a Minneapolis Star Tribune beer critic writing inaccessibly about new types of beverages for people to get snotty about:
Not meant for eating, these old-school cider apples are prized for their extremity. They may be disturbingly sweet or sour. Some have a puckering astringency. But this intensity of flavor delivers ciders of great depth and complexity. Cider makers blend juice from different varieties to achieve just the right balance of tart, sweet, bitter and astringent. Some are using wild fermentation, allowing yeasts that naturally inhabit the apple skins to do the job instead of relying on cultured strains. This gives the ciders subtle earthy, leathery and barnyard notes that complement the fruit.
Mmm.... barnyard. Nothing I like more in a cider than the taste of shit-covered straw.
On an anecdotal level, I've noticed a slow but steady creep in cider selection available in the grocery stores in my VERY HIP neighborhood of East Williamsburg/Bushwick, Brooklyn, which for months I thought might be related to the embarrassing cider consumption of the three residents of my apartment. Soon, I won't be shame-drinking Crispin tallboys I bought with a free drink ticket on the very darkest edge of a bar. I will be proudly hoisting Crispin tallboys with my cider-drinking brethren. I will be singing tales of my cider adventures as I bring out the recycling in broad daylight. We will all be drinking cider like a merry band of colonial Americans who survived into adulthood without dying of cholera.
And it's no wonder. Cider that doesn't contain "barnyard notes" is fucking delicious. It's light and sweet but not too sweet and it doesn't weigh you down. It's like alcoholic juice for adults. It's refreshing. It never makes me Sad Drunk, just slightly relaxed. And I eagerly await the golden age of cider, when it's available at every bar but before hipsters have ruined it.
I give it six months.
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