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Sweet cyder is a great thing,
A great thing to me,
Spinning down to Weymouth town
By Ridgway thirstily,
And maid and mistress summoning
Who tend the hostelry:
O cyder is a great thing,
A great thing to me!

(from) Great Things Thomas Hardy

Basic Information

Cider is an alcoholic drink fermented from apples. It is extremely popular in the United Kingdom but occurs pretty much worldwide in various forms, often under names like "apple wine".

Historically cider has been a staple drink in apple growing areas, rivalling or replacing beer to the extent that it too could be reckoned for part payment of wages.

Traditional ciders are made from unsweetened apple juice and, in many cases, fermented using only natural skin yeasts from the apples, usually with a substantial quantity of apple mass left in the batch until fermentation is almost complete. This tends to give a heavy, cloudy brew that is often known as scrumpy.

More modern techniques can add extra sweetening1 and will tend to clarify far more, leaving a lighter, clear brew. Some modern brewers also carbonate (especially those marketting to drinkers used to fizzy lager) and add flavourings (cranberry is sometimes regarded as acceptable). A particularly unpleasant modern trend is to use a minimum quantity of apple extract and adulterate it with grain alcohol, producing "white cider" - a strong, cheap and nearly tasteless substance popular with street drinkers and other problem users. White cider can also be mixed with low quality lager to make a concoction known as Snakebite. This too is about as pleasant as it sounds.

The alcoholic spirits Applejack and Calvados are distilled from cider (amongst others) and cider can also be used to produce a flavoured vinegar - sometimes called malegar, applegar or cidergar.

Cider made from pears - or with a substantial pear component - is usually called perry.

In some parts of the world … notably the US … cider refers, somewhat confusingly, to unfermented apple juice, with the fermented type being called "hard cider". Obviously this can cause problems coming and going.


1. full source reference

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