Cider Corner: Best Ways to Educate Consumers on Your Styles

​Storytelling in cider can drive business. It needs to if it’s going to mature into a thriving part of the craft beverage world. Many farm-based cideries find ways to tell that story and have continued to further those aspects of storytelling to benefit both sales and the education of consumers.​

​For Rootstock Ciderworks, each style of cider made​ starts with a specific blend of different apple varieties​, explained Luke DeFisher. ​That starts the story and delving into that story means sharing about the farm that began decades before the hard cider was created.​

​”Rootstock Original​ (the flagship brand)​ is only ever made with two types of apples, Fuji and Idared​,” DeFisher explained to Brewer. ​”​We chose those apples specifically for their aromatics, sugar level, and acidity, and the aromatics that develop through the cider making process.​”

This varietal-focused approach ​at Rootstock ​is derived from ​the cidery’s background in classic and modern winemaking, as well as techniques developed in-house that are unique to working with apples.

​”I think an important consideration for the story of our ciders is, what is the blend of apples, and how does that influence the cider​,” DeFisher said.​

For Brooke Glover at Swilled Dog, the cidery​ makes a primarily heirloom variety called WV Scrumpy. ​Glover explained the cider is made with all donated and foraged apples from the state of West Virginia and are mostly heirloom varieties. ​The cidery donates all the proceeds from this ​product to charity.

This year, ​Swilled Dog is planting an apple tree in West Virginia for every bottle ​of WV Scrumpy ​sold to educate people on apples and the possibilities for growing in the state.

​”​We use this cider to educate and tell the story of West Virginia and its apples and how they differ from dessert apples​,” Glover said​. ​”​Letting people try this cider while telling the story is some of the best education we can offer.​”​

All of the ciders made at Rootstock are made entirely with fruit grown on the farm which means that the styles are influenced by the apples available to the cidery.

“We think it’s important to tell our story of where the apple varieties in Rootstock came from, what they were originally grown for, and how we’ve been able to re-purpose and re-invent them,” DeFisher said. “And it’s constantly evolving. We’re always experimenting with different blends of apples.”

In the last 10 years, for example, Rootstock expanded acreage and planted varieties of apples historically grown in the UK and France, specifically for hard cider production. But Rootstock primarily makes American Heritage style ciders from 40-year-old apple trees.

“We’re in the process of making Traditional and Barrel-aged ciders that incorporate American and European heirloom varieties,” DeFisher said. “We even do modern cider styles, like hopped, plum-infused, and rosé-style ciders. But underlying all of that is sticking to our core values of using high-quality fruit from our farm, and using a cider making approach that highlights those varietal characteristics as much as possible.”

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