CiderCON '16: Day 1 Recap

CiderCON 2016, the nation's largest cider industry gathering kicked off today. Portland was chosen to host this year's event, which is typically held in Chicago. Over 1,000 people from 44 states and 5 countries travelled to Rose City for this rapidly growing event. Over 30 different sessions, covering a vast range of topics, were held in just the first day. Here's a brief overview of the sessions that I attended.

Cider Market Review & Outlook:  The cider industry continues to grow at a rapid rate, and experienced 15% growth in 2015.
  • If cider was a craft beer style, it would be the #2 selling style behind IPA.
  • Six-packs (of bottles) are the most widely used form of packaging in the cider industry, representing 55% of sales. Cans, currently 17% of sales, are growing in popularity. 
  • As the cider category has emerged, three distinct consumer segments have emerged: Occasional, Regular, and Core cider drinkers.
  • Plenty of long-term upside remains in the cider category. In 2015, cider represented just 1.1% of beer volume.

Perry with Tom Oliver:  Tom Oliver is an award-winning cider maker and owner of Oliver's Cider and Perry from Hereford, Herefordshire, England.
  • Perry is a cider made with pears, and dates back to 1629.
  • Oliver makes his perry in small batches, ferments with naturally occurring yeast, and practices minimum intervention as part of his process.
  • The perry pears used to produce his cider are very limited in number. Growing them to maturity takes nearly 30 years! On the plus side, they can produce for 100-130 years.
  • We were lucky enough to taste two of Oliver's perrys.  Both were tart, semi-dry, and had some light funky notesdelicious!  

2015 Apple Crop Update & 2016 Outlook
  • 93% of US apple production comes from 7 states (Washington is the largest).
  • 7.5% of the US apple crop was used to produce 54 million gallons of cider in 2014. 
  • Apples are the largest fruit export from the US, representing $1B of sales.
  • Most domestic apple production is for the "fresh" market. These are the apples you see in the grocery store. They're also known "dessert" fruit. 
  • High-end ciders are typically not made with dessert fruit.  Instead, ciders use apples that are high in tannins, which add complexity.
  • Apple juice concentrate is a by-product of the fresh segment. 
  • U.S. demand for apples and apple juice is so high that we must import product. Much of our supply comes from China, which produces over half of the world's apple supply.

Distributor Views of Cider:  Three distributors focused on craft beverages shared their views.
  • While cider is the fastest growing segment of their portfolios, it's still relatively small and has much room to grow.
  • Craft cider is growing faster and is taking share from macro cider.
  • Macro cider played a key role in the industry, as it established relevance for the category as a whole and created space for craft cider to grow. Macro cider first attracts consumers to the segment. Once they enjoy cider, they begin to explore the craft space.
  • Quote of the day...  "Millennials who live in their parents' basements have no issues with paying $12 for a six-pack (of cider)."

Rapid Expansion:  In this session, Brent Miles of Seattle Cider and Lee Larson of Two Towns Ciderhouse shared the lessons they learned as part of their journeys in building successful cideries. They covered a wide variety of topics including types of packaging, equipment, and even pros and cons of different types of filtration systems.

Hops & Cider:  Joe Casey of Square Mile Cider and Nat West of Reverend Nat's shared their tips and tricks of using hops in cider. Generally, ciders add hop flavors through the dry-hopping technique used commonly in craft beer. We tasted a unique "brewed" cider from Reverend Nat's that was brewed (like a beer) with three hop additions.  

In addition to all of the educational sessions, an industry trade show was held.  Vendors showcased a variety of wares from bottles to fermentersall the good stuff needed for a cidery. It was a great opening day!  I expect the final day of CiderCon 2016 will be even better!

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing! What a great writeup. Looking forward to your recaps of the other days. Wish I could have gone.


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