There's always two types of people. Beer people, and cider people. Some people drink cider for the taste for the sweeter taste or because it's easier to find lower alcohol versions that taste good than it is to find non-alcoholic beer you really want to drink. But recently the cider vs beer debate has kicked up a notch as more and more people make the switch to cider.
So what are the difference between the two drinks? Is cider healthier or taster? Why are so many people choosing sides? Can we finally have an answer to the cider vs beer debate?
What Are Cider and Beer?
First, we need to understand what makes these drinks different from one another. For that, we go to the plants.
How Cider Is Made
Cider is typically made from apples. They can be made either from cider apples that are bitter and only used for the drink, or apples that are grown to be eaten. The apples are picked and then ground down into a paste. That paste is then placed into a cider press and then subjected to a high amount of pressure.
The pressure causes the juice to flow out, and the juice is caught and placed inside of large vats where it is left to ferment. We said cider is "typically" made from apples, and that's because the apples are often flavored with other fruits. Pear cider is also popular in some places.
How Beer Is Made
Beer uses wheat, hops, and yeast. Much like the cider process, the wheat grains are harvested and then dried out. Then the grains are cracked and placed in hot water to break them down. Once the breaking down process is complete, the grains look more like a paste. That paste is filled with natural sugar: a result of the wheat breaking down and expelling that sugar.
The wheat paste is boiled with hops and spices to balance out the sugary flavor. Once that is done, the paste is placed in barrels and mixed with yeast to start the fermentation.
How Are They Similar?
Cider vs Beer: A Common Fermentation
Both the watery wheat juice and the apple juice are loaded with sugar, and fermentation is the process that turns all that sugar into alcohol. Fermentation happens by simply placing the liquids inside barrels or bins in controlled environments. They are left alone to ferment, and the chemicals inside the liquids break the sugars down and turn them into alcohol.
Depending on how long the process goes on on, you will get a different taste. Once the fermentation process is complete, you essentially have an alcoholic drink. A few more items are added depending on the flavor of the beer or cider, but that's basically how both are made.
How Are They Different?
While both drinks have a lot of similarities, it's important to have an understanding of what makes each drink the right choice for you. Before you pick a side in the cider vs beer debate, you need to see what everyone is fighting over. Cider isn't beer, because the ingredients are different and the only major commonality is the fermentation process. Both drinks are alcoholic, but you can't just lump them together under one category. That would be like saying a horse and a cow are the same because they both have four legs.
Once you understand that they are two different types of drinks, you can figure out where you'll stand on the cider vs beer debate. But if you still need some education before you make your decision, then check out these ten facts. Some are educational, some are funny, some are head scratchers, but all of them are going to make you see these two great drinks in a different light. Plus, they'll help highlight the similarities and differences between them.
The main reason hops are added to the beer is because they balance out the sugar and make the beer bitter and rich. Generally, beer is a much dryer liquid to consume, while cider tastes a bit like apple juice. Most ciders are sweeter because nothing has been added to the drink to balance it out. However, that's not always true. There are certain ciders, like Wit's Up from Citizen Cider, that are very dry and just as bitter as any beer.
Give both drinks time though, as they will grow on you.
2. Both Can Be Healthy
While making beer or cider its own food group probably won't happen, there are some health benefits that both drinks can claim. Since cider is made with apples, you'll get a lot of antioxidants and vitamins by drinking it.
But beer pulls ahead in the sugar race since it's typically made without sugar, while cider is loaded with it. So if you are watching your sugar content, then beer is the drink for you. On the other hand, cider is naturally gluten-free, so if you are gluten intolerant, cider can be a good replacement for beers and ales.
3. Both Drinks Are Part of History
Without Cider and Beer, we might not have America as we know it today. Back when English colonists were first attempting to settle the New World, beer was actually more commonly drunk than water. The process of making beer killed off all of the bacteria that was water, so people who drank beer were healthier than those who drank water. Even young children drank non-alcoholic beer as a staple of their die because it was safer.
It's important to remember, however, that this beer (known was "small beer") was much less potent than our current beers at around 2% APV. Second, this beer was naturally fermented and unpasteurized, meaning it contained a lot of important B vitamins. For the poor, beer was literally a way to drink bread.
The Switch to Cider
Once the colonists got to the New World, they found that the hops didn't grow well, but there were literally apple trees everywhere. They began making cider for the same reasons people had been making beer: as a safe and healthy way to hydrate. Cider became a staple of the colonial and early American Diet.
Beer and alcohol in general were the powerhouses of the early American economy, so British taxes on beer were pretty big cuts into the average worker's way of life. Without the excessive taxation on beer and the ingredients that composed beer, America might not have gotten its independence from Britain.
4. You Can Get a Lot of Ciders
A point for cider in the cider vs beer debate is the sheer variety of ciders that once can experience. Since brewers can make ciders with nearly every type of apple and even some other fruits, you'll get a lot of tastes and types to experiment with. Cider can even be made at home with enough equipment and time, as it's an easy drink to DIY.
Pears, cranberries, cherries, and peaches have all been added to apple cider to enhance the flavor. In the case of pears, you can even get a pear cider all on its own.
5. Count Your Calories
Beer bellies are a thing for most men, and it's because of the calories that beer has. While both drinks are around the same number of calories, if you drink one glass of cider a day you'd be getting fewer calories over time than if you drank one glass of beer. And every little bit helps! Just remember you'll be taking on more sugar in some cases. The drier the cider, the less sugar it has.
6. Beer Can Survive a Nuclear War
If the bombs fall, then cockroaches will have a field day with beer. In 1956, the U.S blew up two atomic bombs near cans of soda and beer. Not only did a surprising number of cans and bottles further away from the explosions survive, but they are still drinkable to this day. If you need to drink something to keep you hydrated, then beer can be a good emergency source of liquid that is almost certainly safe.
While the cans and bottles closest to the bombs were found to be slightly irradiated, they were still very safe to drink. Those drinking them showed no harmful health problems, although they were reported to taste terrible. So when the end of the world is coming, stock up on some beer!
7. Beer Is More Popular Than Cider
Beer is the third most popular drink in the world behind water and tea. It's also the most popular alcoholic drink in the world. So, in the cider vs beer fight, cider is the underdog; although it is rapidly climbing the ranks.
8. Beer Has Gods
In ancient religions, there were gods of beer. In the Mesopotamian religion there was the goddess Ninkasi, who taught beer brewing to mortals, and Tenenet, the Egyptian goddess of beer and childbirth. Even the gods of Asgard and Valhalla would drink beer and mead and give the drinks to fallen warriors when they arrived at the gates. Cider doesn't have too many gods drinking it up in the sky.
9. It Takes 36 Apples to Make a Gallon of Cider
Yep, 36 apples that are ground, pressed, and juiced will get you about one gallon of cider. So, you'll need to get a lot of apples if you plan on making a larger cider batch.
10. There's No ‘Hard' Cider
Drinkers in the US call cider hard to differentiate between alcoholic ciders and non-alcoholic ciders. This distinction only applies in the United States and only because of Prohibition. Most people in the rest of the world just call it cider. The only difference between the alcoholic and non-alcoholic brands is the fermentation process that results in alcohol.
The cider vs beer debate is still going on, and perhaps it always will go on. It's really a matter of personal taste. If you've been raised on fruit juices, sweeter items, and non-alcoholic cider for most of your life. Then transitioning to alcoholic cider might be easier for you because you are used to the sweetness.
Beer is bitter and made without sugar, so if you are watching your sugar intake then grabbing a pint of beer is good. Plus, beer's natural popularity also means that there are a lot of different brands and types to choose from. You'll always be able to find at least one type of beer on the menu at most bars.
The best way for you to pick a side in the cider vs beer debate, is to try both and really get your taste buds acquired to each taste. Then you can pick a side, or better yet, just enjoy both drinks the next time you are out with friends. Just be sure to drink responsibly.