How Many Apples Does It Take To Make a Bottle of Hard Cider?

According to Angry Orchard’s new commercial (you can find it here) there are two apples in every bottle of their cider. Two whole apples.

I’m assuming they mean what amounts to the juice from two apples, since we usually associate a volume of juice with so many bushels of apples and not so many individual apples. Why they feel the need to say this remains unclear, though I would hazard a guess that it makes their product seem more wholesome. I dunno. But the commercial raises an interesting question: how many apples does it take to make hard cider? Or, more precisely, how much apple juice is in a bottle of hard cider?

Let's consult the oracle... the internet that is.

Let’s ask the oracle… the internet that is.

There is a legal definition which lays out the minimum amount required. According to Federal law hard cider only needs to consist of 50% apple juice or the equivalent of reconstituted juice concentrate.[1] The rest can be water, preservatives, adjuncts (flavorings), or whatever else that’s deemed edible.

You probably don’t know any of this because legally no one has to tell you. Federal labeling laws for beer and hard cider (defined as any alcoholic beverage with an ABV of 7% or less) and wine (an ABV between 7% and 24%) don’t require the exact ingredients to be listed, much less their proportions.[2] Labels also don’t have to include which yeasts or fining agents were used. The latter can be a problem for consumers since some finings can cause allergic reactions or are contrary to one’s lifestyle (for example isinglass and gelatin are both derived from animals and are vegan-unfriendly).

The label does have to say whether something has sulfites or certain coloring agents, but that’s about it. The rest of the mandatory label info is essentially concerned with who and what to tax.

Since there’s no law compelling them and no profitable reason to do so, cider companies tend to not reveal their recipes.

So how much apple juice is actually in every hard cider you drink? The world may never know (but it’s safe to say at least 50% will be).[3]

************************

1. Title 27 → Chapter I → Subchapter A → Part 24 →, Subpart B—Definitions → §24.10 Meaning of terms → Hard Cider

2. Labeling laws are overseen by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Department of the Treasury (did you think it was the FDA?). You can find the links to the relevant laws here:

For wine see Title 27 → Chapter I → Subchapter A → Part 4 → Subpart D—Labeling Requirements for Wine → §4.32 Mandatory label information.

For malt beverage see Title 27 → Chapter I → Subchapter A → Part 7 → Subpart C—Labeling Requirements for Malt Beverages → §7.22 Mandatory label information.

3.Unless you go to Great Britain, where it’s a minimum of 35%.

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