Flipping through a magazine the other day, I discovered that Michelob has a new beverage in its line-up: a hard cider. Cider making has been on the rise in recent years in the U.S. but a line in the ad – “a unique beverage that is naturally sweetened and gluten-free” – made me think it wasn’t the hard cider trend that Anheuser-Busch was seeking to capitalize on, but rather the rise of gluten-free eating and drinking.
Ciders are naturally gluten-free, being, in essence, nothing more than crushed apples. A few cider producers add wheat products for… flavor or something to their ciders so it’s best not to assume its gluten content on ordering.
It all makes me wonder whether the rise of gluten-free means more hard cider?
There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but being the hard-nosed historical traditionalist that I am, I’d love to see the rise of hard cider as a recognition of the drink’s long and glorious history and more importantly, its delicious flavor. Cider is the drink of our founding fathers and mothers, and the apple a fruit of immense social, cultural, and economic importance all over the temperate world. Good cider is an art and a craft, not simply a necessity or a concession to circumstances.
But I’m pragmatic, too, and happy to think that more people are discovering hard ciders, whatever the reason that brings them in. I just hope they stay for the flavor and heritage, too.