A Homebrewer’s Guide to America’s Love Affair With Cider

The history of hard cider in America goes all the way back to the initial English settlers who made the arduous journey across the Atlantic to Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. America at the time of colonization didn’t have the wide variety of apples we see today, nope we're talking crab apples, maize and turkeys people. Last time I checked turkeys make for terrible home brew. This shortage of alcohal producing crops forced the settlers to order shipments of apple seeds from Europe almost at the start.

Due to the climate and soils of the original colonies, barley and hops were difficult crops to grow, but perfect for apple orchards. Hence ciders became the most popular beverage of early America. Given the fact that it was a purified beverage, even children were given a weak form of cider around the dinner table. Heck cider was so prevalent that the average American Colonist didn't go a day without a sip of cider.


Here are a few of the benefits bestowed upon early America by Cider:

1. Cider when further distilled becomes cider vinegar. The benefit of cider vinegar goes much further than its use as a cooking ingredient or as a quick cure for heartburn... Apple cider vinegar was the most popular way for colonists to preserve vegetables through pickling. The ability to pickle ones vegetables was paramount during colonial times, saving countless colonials from the east coast’s harsh winters.


2. Colonial elections stayed afloat by serving men so much to drink as to put them in a favorable frame of mind before they cast their vote. George Washington after having lost his first campaign for Virginia’s House of Burgesses, due to not participating in the swilling of voters, came back with a vengeance in his next campaign. The soon to be President Washington served up 144 gallons of hard cider at his next campaign and won! Cider has directly impacted more than one presidency, but can you think of a young politician more important to the growth and Independance of America than the Father of our Nation?


3. Currency was hard to come by in the early colonies, but cider was ever-present. With rampant forgeries and homesteads so far out from the major cities, Cider was so abundant that it was used as a form of currency. You could pay your bills with cider, buy a plow horse with cider… It was as good as cash! And still is in my opinion.


4. Cider served as a staple of President John Adam’s daily morning routine. President Adams would drink a tankard of cider every morning to promote good health, it must have worked as he lived to be 90 in a time when the average American didn't make it to 50. He originally took to cider in his college years and carried that love through to the White House. He was once quoted as saying, “I shall never forget, how refreshing and salubrious we found it, hard as it often was.”


5. The deliciousness of cider helped to create one of America's favorite folk heroes: Johnny Appleseed! Yes, Johnny Appleseed was a real person who travelled all throughout the midwest planting apple seeds and teaching his craft of fermentation and love of cider to the settlers.

6. Cider kept our early colonialists healthy! All of the orchards that were being planted produced far more fruit than one could eat before the apples turned. Cider kept for a very long time, and was much cleaner than the water most early Americans were drinking.


If you’ve been holding yourself back from trying cider because you’re afraid it’s too sweet or just another scam to get girls to drink at the bar… You’re wrong. Cider's can be dry or sweet, strong or weak, really a good cider can appease the palate of any type of drinker, you only need to discover one of the many variations and flavors suited for you. We here at Synergy Brewing Systems not only produce the best home brewing systems in America, but also ferment some pretty great hard ciders with apples from our very own orchard. Think you’d like to make some cider of your own? Check out our Uni Fermenters, they work great for ciders as well as home brewing.


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