Hard Cider

Springing from the leadership of Brix Cider Matt and Marie Raboin, CIAS has been investigating aspects of hard cider production since 2015. UW-College of Agricultural and Life Sciences highlighted the hard cider projects in October 2018’s Grow Magazine in an article entitled, “Craft Cider’s Comeback“. Please see below for additional information on projects and how to get involved.

Apple to Glass project – 2018-2022

This four-state project will look at the economics and distribution of hard cider apples. Washington State, Vermont and Michigan have well-established craft hard cider businesses so we hope to learn a lot about how to grow (and how NOT to grow) a craft cider revolution in the Driftless. A primary activity for the Wisconsin team is to support the development of the Wisconsin Cider Maker Guild. Polly Dalton, FieldNotes Farm, is leading the network.

If you are growing craft cider apples and / or crafting cider and want to network with others so engaged, please contact CIAS so that we can alert you to monthly conference calls to discuss ways to support cider businesses. mmmille6 AT wisc.edu.

Single Varietal Hard Apple Cider project – 2017 to 2018

Using 41 apple varieties from 4 orchards in the Driftless near Madison, Nick Smith at the UW Fermentation Lab crafted single-varietal ciders, catalogued the apples harvested in 2017 and ran standard lab tests on them. Julie Dawson, Department of Horticulture, then conducted a series of taste tests and crunched the data from the lab and taste tests. CIAS is publishing a report on the results, available in early 2019. The report will be available for download and there will be a “database” similar to the database Matt developed (below), but for a different set of apples. We are presenting results at the 2018 Great Lakes Fruit Expo in Grand Rapids Michigan and will share results at CyderCon in Chicago, February 4-8. https://ciderassociation.org/

The team gave a presentation at the Wisconsin Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association meeting in 2018. This work is funded by NCR-SARE. Project reports are also available.

Our final project report was released in December 2019, with lab and tasting results, and apple profiles. Comparing Apples to Apples: Single-varietal hard apple cider testing is available on-line. We distribute hard copies at conferences around Wisconsin, or can mail you one, if you are interested.

Single Varietal Hard Apple Cider Database 2015-2016

This database includes all results from our testing of single varietal ciders. Users can click on each apple variety, and a page will open with the complete results for that variety, including: a description of the apple, results of juice analysis (brix, acidity, and tannin levels), qualitative descriptions of the cider (including appearance, aroma, flavor, and overall impression), and photos of the apple and resulting cider.