As a long time cider drinker and someone who started with the most available products, which were often some of the worst, I felt it time to shine a light on a part of cider culture that we need to discuss… Sugar.

With cider being toted by some as a “healthy” alternative to a lot of other alcoholic drinks we need to critically look at the amount of sugar that is in our most popular cider products. With as much as 7 teaspoons of sugar in some 12oz bottles we need to be aware about how this affects people’s opinion on cider as the category grows, especially as a healthy option. With products like Angry Orchard being sold in most bars here in Los Angeles it’s doing wonders to broaden the conversation about cider, but sugar content is its Achilles heel.

I don’t mean to single Angry Orchard out, they are the product that for many people led them to start drinking cider, and that’s a great thing! But with over 56% of the US cider market, Angry Orchard has the loudest voice and determines a lot of people’s perception about the category.

BRAND MARKET SHARE (’13-’14) SUGAR (per 12oz bottle)
Angry Orchard Crisp Apple 56.8% 24g
Woodchuck Fall Harvest 10.5% 21g
Johnny Appleseed 5.6% 20g
Smith and Forge 5.3% 23g
Strongbow Gold Apple 4.2% 19g
Stella Artois Cidre 3.2% 10g
Crispin Original 2.3% 10g
Michelob Cider 2.0% 6g
Hornsbys 1.7% 20g

For those who like sweeter ciders, there are some great products that don’t have a large amount of added sugar and we need to start making that shift so it isn’t undermined as a “healthy” alternative to beer, or worse, written off as a alcoholic soft drink/wine cooler product.

I would ask the producers who add the most to their ciders why do you need to put that much sugar into your products? Soft drinks/soda are starting to be turned into a vilified product and brands are being named-and-shamed as a leading cause of Type 2 diabetes in this country. With our leading cider having more sugar per oz than Coca Cola‘s orange soda Fanta, we should be concerned that cider doesn’t become part of that narrative.

So what can you do?

    1. Take note of the sugar quantities listed on each bottle of cider. The WHO recommends no more than 25 grams of sugar per day.
    1. Vote with your dollars for ciders that have a lower amount of sugar, but still taste good to you.
    1. Try lots of independent cider makers as they typically don’t add large quantities of sugar.
  1. Try out a few dry ciders and see if you like them… some dry ciders have very low amounts sugar in them and are still wonderfully refreshing.



  1. Most NW craft cider makers, like ourselves, don’t add any sugar (sucrose or glucose) to our finished ciders. We do add some amount of fresh, unfermented, apple juice to the finished product to enhance the apple flavor. By paying very close attention to our craft, we can make a cider that is, balanced, full of apple flavor, and has less than 10 grams of residual sugars per 12oz serving.


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