Speaking at an event organised by Cidrerie Stassen in London, Jane Peyton, an award-winning writer and alcoholic drinks expert, described premium cider as “more like apple wine” than beer.
“A lot of people think of cider as being apple beer because we drink it in pints and half pints in the pub,” she said. “But the reality is that it is more like an apple wine in the way it is fermented and produced.”
“We’ve seen a real growth in cider recently, thanks in part to brands like Stassen. You can tell this is a premium product in the way it is presented in the 750ml bottles with the cork and served in a wine or Champagne glass.”
“This is real high-end stuff; it’s not sitting in a bush with a bottle of White Lightning. The use of Champagne yeast gives it a much lighter, brioche like flavour.”
Fine ingredients and heritage
TRENDS IN CIDER
■ Craft: traditional/craft cider volume is 4% of the segment, but this area has the chance to drive growth by tapping into the heritage and traditional trends in the trade.
■ Fruity growth: draught fruit cider has risen to become 16.8% of the overall volume in the draught cider segment, up from 7.9% last year. However, this rise has not affected the growth of packaged fruit cider, which has seen a steady rise – up by 6.7% in 2015 and 7.9% in 2016.
■ Pear dropping: while pear cider has seen a drop in both packaged and draught products across the on-trade and represents only 3% of cider sales, it still holds more than 60,000 distribution points.
Cidrerie Stassen is owned by Heineken and produced in Belgium. The ciders were first introduced into the on-trade in August 2016 after a successful trial in the off-trade.
It is available in three varieties: the dry Stassen Cidre Brut, the medium-dry Stassen Cidre Grand Cru and Stassen Cidre Cuvée Rosé, a medium cider made with red-fleshed apples.
Heineken cider director Emma Sherwood-Smith said that Stassen was aimed at a market “broadly fulfilled by wine”.
“It’s a drink that can be enjoyed in Bistro pubs, at picnics and garden parties, or even just at home,” she said.
“From talking to consumers we have found that what they are interested in is something that is made with the finest ingredients and that has some heritage.”
Stassen’s Cider was founded in 1895 by Léon Stassen on a small farm in the Aubel Valley, eastern Belgium. The farmhouse still exists today and Léon Stassen’s passion for cider-making has been passed on from father to son for four generations, with Jean-Pierre Stassen still heavily involved with the brand today.
Jean-Pierre Stassen added: “Beautifully presented in 750ml Champagne-style bottles, complete with cork, Stassen is made for sharing. It fits effortlessly into sociable occasions. It’s a pleasure to drink – it’s long, full of flavour and refreshing.
“Cidrerie Stassen brings people together – it’s been crafted to share. Whether at picnics or garden parties, rooftops or bar gardens, Stassen brings people together over their love of good food, good drink and good times.”