INDIANAPOLIS, IN ? Hard cider sales have been increasing, with new styles and flavors that have stimulated consumer interest, the Indianapolis Star reports.
"It's the most exciting beverage category in the market," said Jeffrey House, founder of the California Cider Co., which produces ACE Premium Hard Ciders.
While hard cider?s sales figures fall far short of those for beer or wine, the numbers attest to a rapidly growing segment.
According to Chicago-based market research firm SymphonyIRI Group, hard cider sales at supermarkets and other stores (excluding Walmart, club stores and liquor stores) totaled $71.5 million for the year ending August 5, a 50% increase over the same period a year prior.
Responding to the surging popularity ?�or perhaps driving it? ? Anheuser-Busch offers a cider, Michelob Ultra Light Cider. And Boston Beer Co., maker of Samuel Adams, introduced three varieties of Angry Orchard Cider this spring ? Crisp, Apple Ginger and Traditional Dry.
The variety represents a major marketplace shift, as less than a decade ago, American consumers could find one or perhaps two national hard cider brands. Today, they can choose between numerous premium options, while some bars even offer it on tap.
House has even experimented with apple brandy, aging it for five years in old red wine barrels. Though he?s quick to say cider is his priority. "That's our intention, to keep ACE as the premium cider in America ? Cider's really happening."