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Cider Digest #1060

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Cider Digest
 · 9 Apr 2024

Subject: Cider Digest #1060, 31 July 2003

Cider Digest #1060 31 July 2003

Forum for Discussion of Cider Issues
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor

"Real Cider" ("John Howard")
Apple categories (Andrew Lea)
What is cider? (Andrew Lea)
Re: Defining "real cider" (Robert Sandefer)
Re: Apple Books (Dick Dunn)
Cider apple books ("McGonegal, Charles")
Defining Cider ("McGonegal, Charles")
Re: Defining Cider (Scott Smith)
cider production volume (Temperley) (Cider Digest)
Re "Real Cider" (pasteurization) (Dick Dunn)

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Subject: "Real Cider"
From: "John Howard" <>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 12:41:54 -0400

Given the fledgling stage of cider culture here in the US, seems to me it
would be wise to define cider as broadly as possible, to allow room for as
many producers to flourish as possible. Hopefully our great-grandchildren
we will be afforded the luxury of debating the nuances of regional styles
from coast to coast. John Howard


Subject: Apple categories
From: Andrew Lea <>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 19:59:25 +0100

Tim Taylor asked:

> Does anyone know of any book or list that break down apples into
> categories i.e. Bittersweet, aromatic, bland base, astringent?

Unfortunately these four are not generally accepted and mutually
exclusive categories for apples nor would they be very useful if they
were (in my opinion).

The classic categories in the UK and France are Bittersweet, Sweet,
Bittersharp and Sharp. By analysis of acid and tannin it is possibly to
classify all (cider) apples into one or other of these groups. There are
some listings on my website using these categories but they are mostly
for UK varieties. I do not know of any comparable listing for US
apples. Perhaps someone else does?

Or perhaps someone can suggest another useful category? The concept of
'aromatic' is interesting, because it cuts right across the existing
categories. But just because an appple is aromatic (eg Red Delicous)
does not mean that it will make a useful or interesting cider. The
aroma of apples does not carry through after fermentation. However,
some types of apple (which may or may not be aromatic in their own
right) do have the potential to produce more aromatic ciders after
fermentation due to the presence of non-volatile flavour precursors.
Knowledge of the parallel situation in grapes has had a big impact on
the wine industry (especially in Australia) and it would be fascinating
to see it seriously studied in ciders.

Andrew Lea
- ----------------------------------
Visit the Wittenham Hill Cider Page at


Subject: What is cider?
From: Andrew Lea <>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 20:17:53 +0100

Drew Zimmer wrote

> > 3. Mechanical methods such as microfiltration or keeving (defecation)
> > through chemicals should probably be allowed, as should priming and
> > degorgement (methode champenoise/traditionalle). But what about
> > in-bottle pasteurization?
> These are all OK. Nothing is actually added here that affects the cider.
> The keeving chemicals mostly percipitate out, I think, Andrew would know.
> In-bottle pasteurization, when done properly, should be greatly encouraged
> for medium and sweet ciders, even some dry ciders would benefit. If sterile
> filtering is allowed, in-bottle pasteurization should be also.

I personally agree on pasteurisation. Since a naturally sweet cider is
virtually impossible to make by purely traditional means (and keeving
will only be achievable for 1% of cidermakers, I think!) we must admit
of some technology. I prefer a blast of heat to a shot of sorbate - and
anyway, heat is much more reliable! Sure, pasteurisation creates some
flavour, but only in the same way that baking an apple pie improves it!!

I find it difficult to believe that you cannot admit the unique New
England style of raisin-fortified cider to your pantheon, though!
Although, as a Brit, I would never do it myself, it has to be allowed as
a traditionally American product, doesn't it?

That's my two cents worth (or, from where I'm standing, "six

Andrew Lea

PS The keeving chemical is nowadays calcium chloride, previously chalk
and salt. It's difficult to know how 'traditional' this really is. It
seems to be largely a French practice originating in the late 19th
century. The calcium is probably mostly lost with removal of the
pectinaceous 'chapeau brun'. The chloride almost certainly stays within
the cider, and elevates its levels far above what would be normal for an
apple juice. Purists wouldn't allow it. I probably would. Anyway, I do
it, no matter! And the added PME enzyme is a very recent innovation -
no more than 15 years old or so and relying heavily on a very high-tech
industry of widespread application but almost unknown to the public at
large except perhaps in washing powders.

- ----------------------------------
Visit the Wittenham Hill Cider Page at


Subject: Re: Defining "real cider"
From: Robert Sandefer <>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 14:58:47 -0400

First, I would like to suggest that terms like "natural" and "artificial"
will not help any discussion on this topic. It has been my experience that
once these words show up any progress in a discussion can die a quick and
painful death. There is little "natural" about smushing around apples and
letting the juice rot (and become tasty at the same time).

Second, I would also like to suggest that defining "real cider" for the
express purpose of excluding "alco-pop cider" is likely to bring problems.
I have noticed that this digest dislikes the "alco-pops" and I respect this
stance. I would suggest that we decide what "real cider" is on its own
merits before deciding that something is or is not an example. (I would,
also, point out that such products have their place. When I started
drinking, I discovered Hornsby's ciders and I liked them. They were apple,
sweet, and better than beer. These products were what started me on making

Third, I believe the question as to "what real cider is" should be preceded
by a discussion of "what cider is". This may seem simplistic and easily
answered "cider is fermented apple juice" yet as has been pointed out such
simple answers are not very useful in a practical sense. To my mind, before
we decide what the subcategory of "real cider" is, we should decide what
exactly constitutes "cider."

Fourth, to this end, I put forth that "cider" is "the fermented ethanol
(solution) deriving the majority (by mass) of its (pre-fermentation) sugar
from the apple." While this definition sounds like the previous one, it has
several benefits. For example, with this definition, a judge or consumer
can simply add up the sugar contributions of each ingridient and determine
how much came from the apple.

Fifth, with my definition of cider, I may now consider what defines "real
cider." What is it about such ciders that are "real"? Is it that these
ciders are plain, that they have no other flavors besides apple? That is
certainly a possibility. Are "real ciders" more historically accurate? This
seems a problematic approach for we must first all agree upon historical
approaches and restrict ourselves to these techniques. Do we know enough
about historical cidermaking for this to be viable? I doubt we do. Are
"real ciders" extraordinarily pure? Perhaps, a "real cider" should have a
"minimum of 75% (by weight) of its sugars coming from apples." The
percentage could be changed.

Sixth, in my opinion, some difference in cidermaking are not helpful in
categorizing ciders. Some of these topics follow: the addiion of various
additives (sulfites, acid blend, sorbate, tannin, etc), the inclusion of
small amounts of fruit (pear, berry, raisins, etc), the limited use of non-
apple sugar sources (white sugar, molassis, honey, etc), choice of yeast
(wild, wine, beer), differences in production (pasteurization, keeving,
malolactic inoculation), and differences in carbonation technique (priming,
forced). These, I believe, are the differences between various ciders but
not between various cider categories. These are the ways individual
cidermakers differentiate their products from the competitions' products.

Seventh, I believe the question is not "What are real ciders?" Instead, the
question is "What are the types of ciders?" I suspect one part of the
difficulty of defining "real cider" is the fear of producers thinking their
products won't get the blessing of "real"ness under a certain definition of
"real cider." To a degree, this will always be a concern. However, I
propose the creation of a classification system for ciders that includes
more than just "alco-pop"/industrial and "real" ciders (read, bad and good
ciders). With the adoption of a clear system of cider category definitions,
educated consumers should know what they are buying, and producers should
know what they are making.
I have postulated such a system below:
1. Cider: a fermented ethanol deriving a majority (by mass) of its (pre-
fermentation) sugar from apples.
2. Real Cider: a fermented ethanol deriving at least 90% (by mass) of its
(pre-fermentaion) sugar from apples.
3. Spiced Cider: any cider with a clear taste and/or aroma derived from a
spice or herb
4. Fruit Cider: any cider with a taste and/or aroma derived from a non-
apple fruit
5. Perry: a fermented ethanol deriving a majority (by mass) of its (pre-
fermentation) sugar from pears.
6. Experimental Cider: any cider created with an unpublished
method/technique (to be described)
7. Historical Cider: any cider created with a published technique
verifiably older than 100 years

These above categories could have subcategories with regional
specifications (e.g., French Cider, French Real Cider, English-style Real
Cider, New England-style Fruit Cider, etc.)

In conclusion, "real cider" is only part of the greater quest to define and
categorize in general. With simple yet applicable definitions hopefully the
confusion of the discussion can be limited so that producers and
asociations alike can work on educating the public. Questions and comments
welcome on-and off-Digest.

Robert Sandefer
Arlington, VA


Subject: Re: Apple Books
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 15:08:57 -0600 (MDT)

Tim Taylor ( wrote:
> Does anyone know of any book or list that break down apples into
> categories i.e. Bittersweet, aromatic, bland base, astringent?

You can find info on bitterness/astringency (i.e., tannins) and acid in
various references. Info on aromatic character is not as easy.

The encyclopedic reference on apple characteristics is
_The_Book_of_Apples_, by Joan Morgan and Alison Richards, Ebury Press, 1993.
(There is supposedly a revision but I haven't seen it) This contains a
separate reference section for cider apples.

There are lists with useful characterizations in
_Cider,_Hard_and_Sweet:_History,_Traditions,_and_Making_Your_Own, by Ben
Watson, Countryman Press, 1999. This is also a very good general book on

There are descriptions of specific cider varieties in
_A_Somerset_Pomona_, by Liz Copas, Dovecote Press, 2001. The descriptions
are extensive, but limited to those varieties grown in Somerset.

It's fairly easy to find characteristics of apples which are commonly used
for cider, but harder to find info on some random variety--say, how might
a Haralson or a Ben Davis serve as part of a blend. You can find patchy
bits of information here and there, but the trouble is that if you gather
from a dozen different sources, you're trying to align the criteria of a
dozen different writer's "excellent" is another's
"acceptable". The source of the trouble is that there are thousands of

Are you coming at this from a particular problem you're trying to solve--
such as what to plant? or whether a few particular varieties will be
- ---
Dick Dunn Hygiene, Colorado USA


Subject: Cider apple books
From: "McGonegal, Charles" <>
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2003 08:44:27 -0500

For a breakdown of apples by type, you might try 'The Book of Apples' by
Joan Morgan, I believe. It covers dessert and culinary apples a lot more
completely than cider apples - but is pretty thorough. It divies up apples
into Dessert/Culinary/Cider by use and Sharp/Sweet/Bitter +/- Aromatic by
flavor. There is a new edition out this year.

Also, it's sorted alphabetically, so you have to pick out the info on your

Thirdly, it doesn't distinguish between 'soft' bitters and 'hard' bitters.
I don't know that any text does, but it might be handy distinction.

Fourthly, it confuses the ideas of 'complete' apples (distinct character,
balanced enough for a varietal cider) compared to 'vintage' apples (distinct
character, but needs to be balanced by blending).

Lastly, it's based on the Brogdale collection in south-east England.
Climate and soils make a difference. Your milage may vary.

My, that's a lot of caveats for a book I really like.

Charles McGonegal
AEppelTreow Winery


Subject: Defining Cider
From: "McGonegal, Charles" <>
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2003 10:47:49 -0500

I think that DD has a very valid point in noting the problems of character
altering ingredients given long standing regional traditions. I think that
'cider' is going to have to encompass more than a kind of 'organic'
minimalist approach. Otherwise too many people are going to say 'Well my
gran-paw made it <fill in the practice> way, and HE called it cider'

If we are looking for an analog to the concept of 'real' ale, we need to
find a rather inclusive basic rules. There is lots of room for styles in
making a 'real' ale, since the basic definition is pretty open. I don't
think we are aiming for a narrow definition, such as a 'real India Pale Ale'

Alas, I haven't figured out what those most basic features are, yet.
Certainly, I can seem some basic categories emerging. Some seem to be
divisions among ingredients (just apple, fruit cider, cyser) and others seem
to be differences in technique (unadorned 'country' cider - natural yeast,
no chaptalization/filtering/disgorging/chemical-heat stabilization, 'vinted'
cider - typical small batch winery cellar treatments, and 'industrial' cider
- - made with large scale processes.
Combining just those give 6-9 combinations (depending on whether you lump
fruit and honey together) before considering the still/sparkling dichotomy.
As near as I can tell, they are all 'traditional', and we pretty much admire
all the non-'industrial' ones, and will grant even those grudging respect if
it is deserved.

So far I've noticed that we seem to agree that intentional amelioration is
out, as well as artificial flavors and maybe essences and extracts.

I will admit to my own bias. I like the 'ingredient vs. agent' distinction
for adjuncts/additives. It's my _opinion_ that some degree of
chaptalization with cane sugar is neutral. That's why I split out honey
above - honey has its own distinct character that it imparts.

Two other things to think about:
1) Even with the folks that are championing a strict juice practice -
what about sugar for priming and final dosage?
2) Some people have problems even getting unprocessed juice. I had
considered putting 'grows at least some own apples' on my list of criteria.
While that idea might have some merit, I can see that it would make a hefty
number of folks (maybe bigger than I think) cry out in protest.
3) (Three! of our greatest assets...) Drew Z. notes that he has access
to many apples above 17 Brix. Lucky dog.
Perhaps instead of stating a 2-9% limit, it could be a chaptalization limit
of 9% ABV. I believe that even the ATF allows you to use fruit past 25 Brix
if it just comes that way. As a side consideration, I would count
fractional crystallization to concentrate juice as chaptalization.

Charles McGonegal
AEppelTreow Winery.


Subject: Re: Defining Cider
From: Scott Smith <>
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2003 14:10:04 -0400

Against my better half, I can't keep my opinion down.

I believe only the essential requirements should be placed in any cider
standard. There is no common "modern tradition" of cidermaking here,
and given the state of flux things are in, a restrictive set of complex
regulations at this point could well have the opposite effect: rather
than encouraging growth, it could discourage it.

A far as bottle contents go, it must be that the very large majority of
fruit is apples (80+%), and that it have NO added water. Added water
is, in my view, never a good thing. All of the other additions can
have their place in making of a great cider. Tannin is used in many
clarifying agents. Honey and raisins are part of the long-standing New
England cider tradition. Added sugar .. well I'm on the fence about
that one. But how about sugar for bottle carbonation?

The best analogy in my mind is the wine world. Does anyone talk about
"real" wine with no sulfites, no tannin used during clarification, no
malo-lactic culture added, etc etc? Of course not! The most
important thing is the kind of fruit in the bottle. I do agree that
the label should make clear what fruit is in it, and in fact calling a
cider "single-variety" with only 51% of that apple seems a bit too
loose. There are already standards here in the wine world, and rather
than reinventing the wheel, it makes sense to adopt a variation on what
they do. It will also be easier for distributors, marketers, and
consumers to understand whats going on if the rules are something like
the wine rules. This also applies for the regional origin of the
apples: the rules for wine are already well-known (if I only could
remember them :-)). If cider has completely different rules, it will
help ensure that quality cider stays obscure.

I should add that my personal goal in producing a cider is one with
natural yeast only, and with no additives whatsoever.

One last thing: I really dislike the term "real cider". The
holier-than-thou attitude implied by the term just gets under my skin.
"Artisanal cider"?



Subject: cider production volume (Temperley)
From: (Cider Digest)
Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2003 09:01:50 -0600 (MDT)

In the matter of "artisan" cider and production volume, I asked Julian
Temperley about the production volume at Burrow Hill (Somerset, UK), on
the basis that Burrow Hill is generally regarded as a stand-out "artisanal"
or traditional cider producer, thus might serve as some sort of benchmark.

Julian noted:
>..., we do press around 100,000 gallons per year, as
> many other smaller cidermakers used to. However in our case we use about
> half to distill...

Note that his figure would be imperial gallons, thus equivalent to 120,000
US gallons.
- ---
Cider Digest
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor Boulder County, Colorado USA


Subject: Re "Real Cider" (pasteurization)
From: (Dick Dunn)
Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2003 10:02:27 -0600 (MDT)

Mike Tomlinson <> wrote:
> As an bi-coastal cider maker- i.e I made it in PA for 15
> years and now in CA for 2 years- I must now plead for the
> Californians. So far in two years I have been unable to
> find a ready supply of unpasteurized juice. I don't think I
> need to go into the Odwalla problems and what appears to be
> a legal mandate that all juice- if you don't own your own
> orchard- must be pasteurized. I'm using a good blend of
> organic juice that is flash pasteurized...
>...So Ben, I would suggest that the issue of pasteurization be
> taken off the table. I was in your camp until I got to CA...

I don't think that Ben is saying that you can't make good cider from
pasteurized juice! But his indication was that he's looking for more
than that. He's looking for artisan cider-makers, working in a way
that would merit Slow Foods recognition and be consistent with their
principles. (There's one cider-maker already listed in the US Slow
Food "Ark", namely Alan Foster's White Oak Cider in Oregon.)

Pasteurized juice doesn't seem consistent with the Slow Food goals of
"regional, seasonal". Now, sure, most folks can't just plant their own
orchard and start making cider from start to finish. It takes a bit of
land, a fair bit of work, and perhaps a minimum of five years before
you've got trees in production and old enough to make good cider. But
isn't there some merit, some reason for recognition, for the folks who
do? And even if the commitment and cost of the land and the time for
setting up an orchard isn't an option, buying or building a small press
should be within reach of anyone who's becoming crazy-serious about making
cider. If you don't get control of your cider until after the pressing
(and possibly blending) you end up having to take a lot on faith.

There are a couple of aphorisms about cider-making, seemingly contra-
dictory but not really:
"Cider is made in the orchard."
"Blending is the cider-maker's art."
If you're starting from juice, you're giving up control of at least one,
and probably both, of these. (But to reiterate--you can still make good



End of Cider Digest #1060

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