Cider Corner: What to Consider When Making a Lighter Cider

Blake’s Hard Cider’s newest entries to its lineup include a pair of products that offer a lower ABV that the company says could attract drinkers who traditionally choose lighter alcoholic beverage offerings such as seltzer or light beer.

The Midwest’s largest craft cidery is marking its 10th anniversary this year and debuted two new year-round ciders this month. They include Jam Session — a low calorie, low sugar offering made in the style of the company’s well-known Triple Jam hard cider, and Original — a crisp, classic hard cider. Original is 5.5% ABV and Jam Session is lighter at just 4.5%.

Both ciders are being sold across Blake’s footprint, which encompasses 29 states.

“We got excited about making delicious, flavor-packed, yet, light-in-body ciders to be enjoyed on any occasion when we talked about them internally,” said Andrew Blake, owner and founder of Blake’s. “And, as we spoke to consumers, we knew this was something they were eager for also.”

Quality Manager Josh Sejat said that adjustments such as diluting with water pre-fermentation were made to create the lighter ciders. 

The price of municipal water can be a hidden cost to making a lighter cider, Sejat said. The method a cider company uses to get its water can affect the price.

“Water additions affecting price points all depend on if you are paying for water during the production process,” Sejat said. “If you are utilizing city water, you will be paying and must take that into COG considerations. If a company uses a well, not so much. But costs can be included if you put your water through a softener system, or filter system.”

With a 5.5% ABV, Original has a lower alcohol content than most Blake’s ciders and is being sold in six-pack cans and on draft across the country.

“We developed Original to complement our Imperial-style American Apple released last fall and be its counterpart for different occasions when you seek easy drinking with lower ABV,” Blake said. “This sessionable cider is designed to directly compete with national brands, line priced competitively with macro cider brands to increase accessibility to budget conscious shoppers.”

Jam Session was developed to be the lighter companion to Triple Jam, filling the light cider void left by retired versions. The jammy cider has 110 calories and 4 grams of sugar — which Blake’s said was 80% less sugar than the national leading hard cider.  

“Jam Session drinks much differently than Triple Jam and we expect it to draw new fans who typically reach for seltzers or light beers to consider hard cider as an alternative,” Blake said. “It’s the go-to cider for those moments when you want something a little lighter, with low sugar and calories as well as alcohol content, without compromising flavor.”

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