What's the Alcohol Content in Hard Apple Cider?
If you were to look up what the alcohol content of cider is, you might get an answer of zero which is perfectly acceptable because cider in the US generally refers to pure and raw apple juice from freshly pressed apples, so the better question would be: what is the alcohol content of hard cider?
It is not surprising that hard cider is a popular alcoholic drink since it is both refreshing and, well, alcoholic, and that is the biggest difference between cider and hard cider: the inclusion of alcohol. However, in some parts of the US, and the majority of the UK and Europe it is simply known as cider. As for alcohol content, or alcohol by volume (ABV), it can vary from brand to brand, and process to process. Even homemade cider's ABV can vary due to a number of factors including time for which it fermented.
On average, though, hard cider tends to range from 4.5-7%. This number is specific in the sense that for it to qualify as hard cider it must be within that range. Although some ciders can go up to 10-12%, this is entering apple wine territory, but if it still considered a cider if it is a dry one which is expected with higher ABVs as the yeast consumes most, if not all, of the sugar found in the apples as well as any additional sugar. If a high ABV cider is carbonated, however, it still remains as a cider, not a wine.
Since it is not a wine, is hard cider considered a beer? That, it is not either. To quality as beer, the beverage must be primarily made from grains and hops. Although, there are modern beers to which flavors have been given such as apple, and the flavor is as you would expect but not in a bad way. Yes, you can still taste the beer but also tastes like a cider. It is quite a nice drink on a hot summer day.
There are also different types of cider whose ABV can vary within their own ranges. There are dry ciders which tend to contain the most alcohol and are known to be aged in oak barrels, and have around 0.5% residual sugar. Next is the off-dry which has about 1-2% residual sugar, still quite dry. Lastly, there are the semi-sweet and semi-dry varieties whose residual sugar range is between 2-4%. The latter two tend to have the most appley flavors of all three types of cider, but also tend to have the least amount of alcohol of the three.
Between all the different kinds of ciders and variations on ABV, there is bound to be a type for every person who likes cider.
Want to know how cider is made? Brewsy has two articles on them; one for apple juice, and another for fresh-pressed apples. Either of them will make for a great cider that can be consumed all throughout the year, or in autumn when fresh apple cider is widely available.