Cider - it’s fruity, it’s refreshing, it’s seriously underrated! This plant-powered summer sip often gets lost in a world of refined rosés and trendy IPAs. But here at PlantX, we’re all about the apples. With a delicious range of organic cider, sparkling cider & natural cider, we’ve got all your cider cravings covered!
NB: While we love non-alcoholic apple cider as much as the next fall-themed insta post, we’re talking now about hard cider, the fermented apple beverage that’s been brewed by our friends across the pond for thousands of years!
What is Cider & How is it Made?
Cider is an ancient apple beverage that has been brewed across Europe for centuries. It is made by fermenting apples. Usually, a blend of sweet eating apples and tart cider apples are harvested to create a balanced flavor profile. These are then washed and pressed to create a pulp known as pomace. The apple pomace (skin, core and all) is pressed to release the juice.
This juice is collected in barrels and left to ferment. Natural cider is fermented simply using the wild yeast present on the apple skins to start the fermentation process.
This process is very similar to wine-making - the yeast converts the apple sugars into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide. The cider may be left to ferment for a month or more and voila! It’s ready for refining, bottling and enjoying!
Is Cider Healthy?
While we don’t recommend drinking cider for health reasons, it is a good source of antioxidants, vitamin C, pectin, B vitamins, biotin and folic acid. It is also a great gluten-free alternative to beer.
However, because it is made from naturally sugary apples, vegan cider can have quite a high sugar and carb content. Depending on the brand, it can range from 2g to 20g sugar per serving.
Here at PlantX, we have been careful to ensure many of our ciders are free from added sugar. If you’re looking for a low-sugar option, choose a dry natural cider like Schilling’s London Dry or Izeta’s IZ Basque Cider. If you fancy something fruitier, Common Cider Company also produces specialty ciders which are naturally low in sugar.
Like any alcoholic beverage, cider should be consumed in moderation.
Different Types of Cider
There are lots of distinctive varieties of cider out there.
Let’s take a look at some of the differences…
Sweet Cider vs Dry Cider
Sweet cider is one of the names given to the cider that is bottled and drunk before the fermentation process (eg. non-alcoholic). Rich, sweet and deliciously appley, it has a much more complex fruity flavor than pasteurized apple juice.
You can also get sweet hard cider, made with a higher proportion of sweet apples. These kinds of ciders tend to be pale, with higher clarity, similar to sparkling wine in appearance.
Medium cider is somewhere between sweet and dry for all you on-the-fencers. This kind of cider is easy-drinking and friendly, perfect for summer sipping.
Like wine, cider contains tannins. Dry ciders have a higher level of tannins, giving them a slightly astringent, cheek-puckering quality. They also have a delicious tartness and higher acidity. If you like your IPA sour and dank, super dry cider is your friend!
Sparkling Cider vs Still Cider
All of our ciders here at PlantX are sparkling ciders. That’s because most people prefer the mouthfeel of a little effervescence in their appley aperitif.
To try real traditional still cider, we recommend a trip to the West Country, England, where many breweries still serve homemade flat cider known as ‘Scrumpy’ (ABV unknown!).
Traditional Cider vs Specialty Cider
Traditional cider like IZ Basque Cider or Schilling London Dry Cider is made solely with apples. All the flavor, tannins, acidity and complexity comes from carefully selecting different apple varieties and the fermentation process. For all the apple enthusiasts, traditional cider is for you!
Specialty cider, on the other hand, has a bit more going on.
Here at PlantX, we are proud to stock some of the coolest specialty craft ciders around!
Common Cider Company creates deliciously innovative ciders, bursting with fresh flavors. From Pineapple Guava Cider to Hibiscus Cider and beyond, this award-winning brewery is passionate about experimentation. Starting with a base of the finest locally produced natural cider, expert brewers add organic fruit extracts and botanicals to create new and exciting flavors.
Common Ciders are gluten-free, naturally low in sugar and have a seriously sippable ABV of 6.5%.
Schilling offers a deliciously diverse portfolio of specialty vegan cider, handcrafted in the Pacific Northwest. These range from wild yeast fermented heirloom apple cider like Excelsior to more funky flavors like Grapefruit & Chill, Pineapple Passionfruit and Big Zesty Guava.
Schilling also donates part of its profits to environmental organizations dedicated to safeguarding biodiversity and wild spaces in Oregon and Washington State. Now we’ll drink to that!
Top Ciders to Try
- Schilling Hard Cider Multi-Packs
These craft cider 6-packs are perfect for parties, picnics and keeping your cider stash replenished. Choose from 6 unique flavors, from tart and tannic heirloom apple cider to fun and fruity speciality vegan cider flavors. We love the sour zing of Grapefruit & Chill and the tropical high notes of Big Zesty Guava Lemonade.
- Schilling Hard Cider - Variety Pack
This exciting variety pack is perfect for those who want to try a whole range of vibrant craft ciders. With 4 exceptional flavors to experience, invite your friends for a vegan cider tasting and get sipping!
- Common Cider Company - Hard Ciders
Choose your fighter with Common Cider Company’s amazing range of hard ciders. With 5 delicious flavors available in single cans or 6-packs, this is craft cider for the connoisseurs among you.
Go for Black Rock Apple Saison if you’re in the mood for something more traditional, or Blood Orange Tangerine or Hibiscus Saison if you’re feeling adventurous.
Or why not try the Common Cider Company’s Hard Cider Variety Pack if you just can’t decide!
- Izeta - IZ Basque Cider (NV)
Continuing an ancient tradition of cider-making that dates back to pre-Roman times, this authentic Basque cider is hard to beat. Made with locally grown apples and brewed by a 5th generation family-run sagardo house, expect an organic cider with a dry and vivid deep apple flavor and light carbonation.
- Schilling Hard Cider - London Dry Cider
Transport yourself to an old-school London pub with this refined English-style cider. With only 2g sugar per can, it’s perfect for those who prefer a less sweet vegan cider. It’s crisp, tart and dry. Enjoy equally at home as a solitary sip or paired with food.
You Might Also Like…
Interested in learning more about plant-based beverages? Check out some of our blogs on vegan beers, vegan wines and the best plant-based drinks!
- The Best Plant-Based Beers
- What Does Plant-Based Alcohol Mean?
- 8 Surprising Benefits of Beer
- Top Vegan Drinks
- Can Vegans Drink Beer & Wine
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Cider Alcoholic?
Here in the states, we refer to natural raw apple juice with spices like this as hot cider. However, traditional European cider or what we might call hard cider is alcoholic. Made with fermented apples, its alcohol content can range between 3% and 12%, similar to beer.
Cider is a great alternative to beer if you fancy something sweeter, or a substitute for wine if you’re looking for a lower ABV. Fruity, light and refreshing, cider is the perfect choice for BBQs, sunny picnics or warm summer evenings.
What is the Difference Between Cider and Beer?
With similar ABVs, cider and beer are often viewed as related, and enjoyed as a lighter alternative to hard spirits. They are similar in color variation and mouthfeel, and both are usually served in similar sized glasses. Plus, both cider and beer are made using a process of fermentation.
The biggest difference between these two plant-based beverages is that beer is made from malted barley and hops, while cider is made from fermented apples. Beer has a grainy, malty and sometimes bitter flavor, while cider has a sweeter, fruity flavor. Cider also contains more sugar, as well as higher levels of antioxidants.
Is Organic Cider Better?
Organic cider like this traditional Basque country cider is a great choice if you fancy a more sustainable sip AND want to experience some seriously apple-tastic flavors. We love supporting organic agriculture in any context but here are a few orchard-specific reasons to buy organic cider!
- Organic cider is 100% free from pesticides.
Because the apple skins are an essential part of the cider-making process, traces of pesticides and other harmful chemicals can often find their way into commercial cider. Organic cider is guaranteed 100% free from pesticides, insecticides and other nasties.
- Organic cider is often made with heritage apples.
By choosing to buy organic cider, you are helping to support orchards that preserve heritage and heirloom apple varieties that have been passed down through generations. These kinds of apples are often not as picture perfect as grocery store galas but they have some pretty special flavor profiles, histories and qualities.
Plus, heirloom apples help to preserve genetic diversity - an essential part of future disease resistance, temperature hardiness and national food security.
- Organic cider is better for biodiversity.
Organic apple orchards provide a fabulously fruitful environment for wildlife, including bees, birds, butterflies and other pollinators. Fostering biodiversity, protecting sensitive ecosystems and working with nature rather than against it are all key tenets of organic farming.
What Food Goes Well With Hard Cider?
You don’t often spot pairing ideas for cider, let alone plant-based pairing suggestions… We are here to change that! Cider is a super food-friendly beverage and it couldn’t be easier to create some perfect pairings.
Let’s take a look at some vegan cider-friendly dishes.
- Creamy Classics
Just like a bright, acidic white wine, light sparkling cider balances beautifully with rich and creamy dishes such as vegan mac n cheese or a rich risotto. This is because the bubbles and acidity cut through the fat, acting as a refreshing palate cleanser between bites. We’d recommend the Common Cider Company’s Black Rock Apple Saison as a delicious contrast with classic creamy dishes.
- Fall Favorites
While great for summer soirees, cider is traditionally a fall drink. That means it pairs perfectly with hearty fall favorites. Roasted butternut squash? Check! Vegan sausage casserole? Check! Wild mushroom pasta? Check! You get the picture. A classic crisp and tart natural cider like Schilling’s London Dry Cider should be your go-to for this fall-tastic combo.
- Light & Fresh
Lighter, fresher and fruitier than beer and wine, natural cider is delicious served with light, fresh dishes such as fresh salads, beet carpaccio, grilled asparagus and other delicate summer fare. Crisp, vivid and dry, we’d recommend pairing this traditional Basque cider from Izeta with the lighter side of things.
- Appley Ever Afters
This pairing is as easy as (apple) pie! Cider is made from apples. Therefore, the delicious appley accents will be enhanced by enjoying it alongside apple-based desserts. Apple crisp, apple cake, apple tart, apple pie - all of these sweet fruity puddings would make a lovely complementary pairing with a sweet sparkling cider.