The Colorful History of Hard Cider
Hard to believe, but apples have ancestors traced back 50-65 million years – or to when Adam took an
apple of the tree in the Garden of Eden. Yes, that’s long ago. Amazingly enough, the genetic sequencing
of an apple has nearly twice the number of genes that a human being possess. The apple “family tree”
is so complex that most likely the fruit from one seedling will be, genetically speaking, unlike any other
apple ever grown, at anytime, anywhere in the world. Not bad history and complexity, huh?
Until relatively recent history, apples were not for eating, they were considered too bitter to munch on.
Instead, for thousands of years, people would press them for juice and leave it to ferment – letting is
bubble away until it turned into hard cider. This practice occurred at least 1000 years before the birth of
Jumping forward to early colonial America, the first settlers (recorded in 1623) brought seeds from
England and quickly began cultivating orchards. The New England and Mid-Atlantic soil adapted very
well to the apple trees and before long apple cider became the beverage of choice on the early
American dinner table. By the turn of the 18 th century, New England was producing over 300,000 gallons of cider a year and by the time of the Revolutionary War, the average Massachusetts resident consumed 35 gallons a year.
Here are some cool colonial cider facts:
John Adams drank a tankard of cider every morning to settle his stomach. He was well known for
drinking cider daily – back to his Harvard College days – “It seems to do me good.”
In 1758, during George Washington’s second political office attempt (he lost the first time) his campaign
served up 144 gallons of hard cider (none served on his first run) and he won. Coincidence?
Thomas Jefferson devoted a large portion of his estate “Monticello” to growing cider apples.
Ben Franklin drank cider regularly and used it in many of his writings. His famous line in Poor Richards
Almanac -- - “He that drinks his cider alone, let him also catch his horse alone.”
Since the dawn of America, we have all had a love for apples, apple cider and hard cider. With all the
technologies discovered through the beer and wine industries, the advances and taste diversity of hard
ciders have exploded and the quality has gone through the roof. Enjoy a cider at LAB and raise a glass or
two to our Forefathers. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you.