What is a dry cider?
Dry cider is a term used to describe an alcoholic apple cider that has a flavor profile characterized as dry (vs. sweet), or that has been fermented to dryness (meaning very little or no residual sugars remain). "Dry cider" is often used differently depending on the context:
- Cider tasting and sensory analysis guidelines established by the American Cider Association include a "sweetness scale" that ranges from: Dry, to Semi-Dry, to Semi-Sweet, to Sweet.
- A dry cider can be measured by the level of residual sugar that remains in a finished cider. Industry standards for residual sugar is less than 1% of the apple juice's residual sugar remains unfermented in the cider.
- Consumers often very broadly refer to "dry cider" as an alternative to sweet cider. Many large scale modern commercial cider makers use sweet, culinary apple juice and add sugars to make an overly sweet cider. Cider drinkers who have also had a more traditional cider made with bittersweet, bittersharp, or sharp apples without any added sugars will commonly refer to these traditional cider as "dry cider". These consumers would likely consider any cider on the ACA's scale from Dry to Semi-Dry, and perhaps even Semi-Sweet as a "dry cider".
Dry cider can mean different things to different folks, and definitions above are imperfect. For example, the perception of dryness in a sensory analysis does not take into consideration acidity or tannin levels in a cider, which can have a considerable impact on the flavor experience (especially tannins which can be experienced as either a bitterness or a gripping experience on the palate that can easily be confused as drying). For another example, consider that the wide range of apple varieties used in cider all have their own flavor characteristics. This includes a range of fruity flavor notes that can be perceived as sweetness, even when fermented to dry.
If you came about our shop and this website by way of searching for "dry cider" in the broadest terms (bullet point 3 above), you're in luck! Almost all of the cider in our shop is traditionally made and would be considered a dry cider. We have flavor profiles listed for each cider that note where it lands on the ACA's sweetness scale. We primarily carry ciders made using traditional cider making practices and featuring apples that are more complex (acidic, or tannic, or both) than sweet apples. We do not carry any ciders that are back sweetened with artificial flavoring.