Hard Cider Stays Relevant As Angry Orchard Goes Tropical, Others Go Light

Before hard seltzers, hard sodas, hard lemonades, hard kombuchas and other alcoholic hards, there was hard cider. Indeed, the fermented apple drink was America’s alcoholic beverage of choice from the colonial era through the early years of the 1900s, according to The Local Palate.

Although hard cider sales have been affected by the influx of all those other beer alternatives in the past few years (Drizly, for instance, reported a drop of the category from 6.4% of its beer sales in 2018 to 4.3% by last year), Grace Wood, industry analyst for research firm IBISWorld, recently told Beverage Industry Insider that “the industry is expected to return to growth after supply-and-demand conditions normalize in 2022 and beyond.”

And while you might think of fall as hot cider season, hard cider season seems to come with the spring.



Case in point: Boston Beer’s nationally distributed Angry Orchard, the category leader, has just introduced a new flavor -- a pineapple-y Tropical, backed by a sweepstakes titled “Oasis Getaway.”

Based on the unseasonably cold temperatures right now in New York City, the timing for this Oasis Getaway couldn’t be better: the promotion requires entrants to prove that it’s below 45 degrees Fahrenheit by submitting Twitter or Instagram proof via either a picture of their thermostat or a screenshot of their weather app.

The sweepstakes winner will receive a $10,000 gift card “to put towards booking a tropical vacation.”

Moving into summer itself, Seattle Cider, which sells its products at locations in 14 states and D2C to 38 states, says it will launch a Light Cider containing just 98 calories per 12-ounce can.

“We’ve carved our biggest successes in the space of being a ‘beer-drinker’s cider’ and a ‘wine drinker’s cider,” said Seattle Cider general manager Felix Madrid. “With Light, we aim to disrupt the massive light beer subcategory with our distinctly craft take.”

Seattle Cider won’t be first on the light cider scene.  Late last year, for instance, Austin Eastciders, which sells at retail and on-premise in 22 states, launched a 100-calorie 12-ounce can. In addition to an apple-based Texas Brut, it also comes in mimosa, cucumber and strawberry lemonade flavors.

“Even before the huge rise in hard seltzer, all of the new dollars to the alcohol space were  were driven by low-calorie options, including ultra light beers,” Dave Rule, senior vice president of marketing at Austin Eastciders, said in a press release when the product was announced. “As the growth in seltzer calms down, adventurous consumers are seeking out unique and better-tasting low-calorie alcohol options.&rdquo

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