Friday Fact (on Monday): Apple Juice vs. Apple Cider vs. Apple Beer

Welcome to a special episode of Friday Fact, brought to you on Monday.

We are nothing if not unpredictable.

Reader Victoria wrote in with this question: What is the difference between apple juice, apple cider, and apple beer?

Well, Victoria, I have often wondered that myself. But, unlike you, I settled for my own guesses as to the answer. Thanks to your curious ambitions, I discovered that research into your query proved to be a treasure trove of facts that promise to send even the most Halloween candy buzzed brain to tingling!

Yes, Victoria. There is a difference.

Apple juice, the most commonly consumed of the three varieties, is what you'll find bottled, jugged, boxed and jarred on your grocer's shelves. It is, quite simply, the juice derived from pressed apples that is then filtered free of sediment (giving it that pure amber-colored clarity) and pasteurized.

It's also William's favorite.

Cider's story is a bit more complex. It begins the same way as apple juice - with raw apples. The apples are cut and ground into an apple-sauce like mash. The mash is then wrapped in cloth and placed on wooden racks. The racks are layered, then pressed, squeezing the juice down into refrigerated vats.

Cider Press
The particles and sediment that flow into the juice are invited to stay, adding to the quality of the flavor. And - if you know a Cider Maker - you know that the flavor is an art. Cider Makers pride themselves on finding the right blend of different varieties of apples that will create a balance between sweet and tart in their cider.

Cider - unlike it's pasteurized cousin Apple Juice - must be refrigerated. It can ferment (which for some Cider Makers is the goal) and become alcoholic. Usually in about two weeks.

So how do you know if what you're buying at the store is juice or cider? I'll let you in on a little secret. Apple Juice companies re-label their product around the holidays as a marketing strategy to increase sales. Cider just feels more romantic during the colder months. This is why around this time of year, you can pick up a bottle of your favorite brand apple juice and your favorite brand of apple cider and they will look and taste exactly the same, and even list the exact same ingredients on the bottle.
Sediment rich Cider vs. Pure and Clear Juice
So, if you want to give honest-to-goodness cider a go, there are a few tells: It will either be homemade, or in the refrigerated section. Though, I should warn you - if you go to a party and your host brags up the homemade cider, be sure to learn when it was made. Because - remember? It could be alcoholic!

I was delighted to find that Apple Beer is a good deal more than simple carbonated apple juice. It was originally developed a century ago by Bavarian biermeisters as an alternative to beer. Perhaps the Bavarian ladyfolk tired of their men coming home drunk? The drink was called Fassbrause and was made from sicilian apples that were blended with natural herbs and spices. It was prepared, packaged and even delivered much like beer - in wooden barrels in the back of horse-drawn wagons.

In 1960, the drink was brought to the Rockeys and named "Apple Beer." The company is family owned (cool!) and hails from my neighbor, Salt Lake City! You can find it in some grocery stores, some deli's, and even on tap in some restaurants.

So there you have it, Victoria. An age-old question finally answered. For those, like myself, who take our beverages very seriously, we thank you.

And now you can impress all your friends at your Halloween party, tonight. You're welcome.

So which is your favorite?

(Facts Found Here and Here.)


Nae said...

Hmmm...that's a tough one. Can they all be my favorite? At different times? Apple juice in the morning, apple cider (warm, please!) at night, and apple beer for lunch. :) What a great Friday Fact!

Anonymous said...

Apple juice is the juice of an apple. Like orange juice is the juice of an orange.

Apple Cider is fermented Apple Juice. It is alcoholic.

Apple Beer? Never heard of it but the Belgians make a beer/cider hybrid called graff. It is an apple cider which has hops and malt added.

In the US Apple Juice is often called Apple Cider. For some reason a hundred or so years ago Americans confused the meaning of Juice and Cider until they became interchangeable. I'm not sure why but that would be an interesting fact.