One is dry-hopped. Another is aged in port casks. And others feature additions of coffee, cranberry and cucumber.
But it’s not craft beer. It’s cider.
“We have beer-ified the modern cider category,” said Eric Foster, the CEO of Stem Ciders in Colorado.
The days of only a sweet and a dry cider made from apples and pears are gone. Try Stem’s Salted Cucumber, dry-hopped with cascade and citra hops, finished with fresh cucumber juice and sea salt on top of Pacific Northwest apples. Or C Squared’s India Pale Cider with ella and azacca hops that imparts pineapple and tropical fruit aromas with green apple flavors.
For years, “I think the attitude toward cider was: Cider was cider,” Foster said. In craft beer, “you have stout and porters. Cider has that same variation. I think consumers are starting to realize that.”
The reinvention of cider is drawing new interest to the category and helping to fuel major growth in the state’s industry.
Colorado is now home to 21 cideries and a few more are expected to open by the end of the year. The leading states for cider are New York, Michigan and California, according to industry sources, but Colorado now ranks in the top 10.
“Colorado is on the cusp,” said Dean Landi, the owner of St. Vrain Cidery in Longmont and president of the Colorado Cider Guild. “If we continue to add cideries like we have since 2014, we’ll definitely be up there with the major contributors in the United States.”
Foster launched Stem in 2013 and opened the company’s taproom in Denver the next year when only a handful of cider makers existed in the state.
He doesn’t like to compare cider to beer, but he acknowledged the latter is a major influence. And he credited Colorado’s huge craft beer scene with driving the cider growth.
“I think the consumer is learning about cider very quickly,” said Foster, who recently opened its new headquarters in Lafayette called the Acreage. “I think for cider — mostly because to the work craft beer has done — it was accelerated.”[…]