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Cider, beer, wine, what’s the difference?



Cider has been made for thousands of years, but cideries are becoming more and more popular, alongside craft breweries and wineries. And, the cider options in Duluth are growing, too.


So, let’s talk about what makes cider so unique (and delicious)!


Cider is naturally made from pressing apples into juice. You may be familiar with sweet cider, or the non-alcoholic beverage that is simply pressed apples.


However, hard (alcoholic) cider is the tasty result of the fermentation of that juice!

The fermentation process of cider is very similar to what’s used in winemaking, except it doesn’t have to take as long and the lower sugar content of the apples generally results in a lower alcohol content.


Modern cider can also include the juice of other fruits, such as blackberries, strawberries, pears, etc.


CAMRA says cider must be made of 90% fresh apple juice, though the U.S.only requires ciders be made of at least 50%. This is common in mass produced ciders, though Wild State Cider only produces ciders derived from 100% fresh pressed juice.


Now, let’s breakdown how beer and wine are made to clarify the differences.


How is beer brewed?


Beer is made with different ingredients and through different processes than cider and wine. Let’s start with the ingredients of beer: barley, hops, water and yeast.


We’ll begin the brewing process with malting, or heating up grains and isolating the enzymes. Following that, we’ll mash or steep the grains in hot water similar to tea. The result of this is called the wort.


Next, the wort is added to a fermenting vessel along with yeast, which is where the magic happens. The length of time and temperature this is stored at depends on the type of beer we’re brewing.


After the beer is fermented, it’s either canned or bottled and may even have to spend some more time on the shelf before being cracked open for consumption.


How is wine made?


Wine starts with picking or harvesting the grapes.


After harvesting, wineries will crush the grapes, followed by fermentation and once the wine is bottled, it’s aged unlike most beers and ciders.


So, do red grapes make red wine and green grapes make white wine? Not necessarily!


Red wine is made from the pulp of red or black grapes and the skin is left on during fermentation. White wine is made from the extracted juice from the grapes and the skins aren’t involved in the rest of the wine making process.


Fun fact: A winery is a place that produces wine or any fermented fruit juice product, generally grapes. In Minnesota, wineries also can also include the making of mead and cider!


What makes the Duluth cider scene so unique?


There are only a few local cider options in Duluth, but there are many apples grown in Minnesota. There are 116 orchards and 20 million pounds of apples grown in our great state every year, according to Minnesota Grown.


There you have it, the difference between how cider, wine and beer are all made.

As we mentioned earlier, our local cider options are growing. We may be biased when it comes to the best Duluth cider, but you can find a refreshing glass at Duluth Cider and many happy hour spots in town.


Looking for other options to satisfy your tastebuds? Here are some of the best breweries and wineries in our neck of the woods.

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