The weather is getting cooler, and the return of apple season brings with it another gluten-free alcohol option for autumn. As consumer demand for gluten-free and gluten-removed beers grows, so does the market for beer alternatives, including hard cider. Ryan Burk, head cider maker at Angry Orchard Cider Co. in Walden, N.Y., said hard cider offers a unique, flavorful beverage option for people who follow a gluten-free diet. Cider is made from apples, which do not contain gluten.
“All of our styles are made with the highest-quality ingredients and are naturally gluten free,” he said. “Ciders like Angry Orchard offer drinkers with celiac disease or gluten intolerance a refreshing alternative to wine or beer.”
Cider was one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in Colonial times, primarily due to the abundance of apples, Burk said. In recent years, people have started to rediscover and introduce cider to their friends. There are a variety of reasons for cider’s resurgence, he said, including the popularity of the gluten-free diet and the gluten-free nature of cider.
“We’re also seeing drinkers start to experiment with hard cider much like they did with craft beer years ago, through using cider as an ingredient in cooking, pairing cider with foods and even [using it] in cocktail recipes,” he said.
Cider makers are introducing new products to satisfy consumer demand. Earlier this year, Angry Orchard added Knotty Pear and The Old-Fashioned to its Orchard’s Edge series of ciders inspired by unexpected ingredients and aging processes.
Despite its recent growth, cider still makes up only about 1% of the total beer market in the U.S., Burk said. That’s compared to more than 15% in places with a stronger cider tradition, such as the United Kingdom.