Hard Cider 101

What is hard cider and who drinks it?

Hard cider is a fermented beverage produced from apples. Historically, the earliest record of the fermentation of apples can be traced back to the Romans in 55 BC when they reached Kent, England and noticed villagers drinking an alchoholic drink made from apples.. From the 13th to the 17th centuries in Europe drinking cider was safer than water with 1/4 of the peoples wages were actually paid in cider. It is believed that babies were even baptized in it because the water was so unsanitary. The baptism allowed their passage to Heaven... and the cider... well that was to ensure they would not be visiting to soon. Today, England is the largest cider producer in the world with 57% of all the apples it grows go to producing the 600 million liters that are drank in the UK each year. The English colonists brought the craft of cider making to the Americas in the 17th century and it was the drink of choice for our founding fathers and original patriots. Benjamin Franklin said, "It's indeed bad to eat apples, its better to turn them all into cider." Our 2nd President John Adams was known to have a tankard of cider with breakfast each morning as he believed it promoted good health... he lived to 90. And as a part of Henry Harrisons presidential campaign he gave away free cider... he wins the electorial vote 234 to his opponents 60. At this time the average resident of Massachusets was downing 35 gallons of cider a year. One evangelist said, "More than ten thousand men will be made drunkards in one year by this hard cider enthusiasm."

Today hard ciders current growth can be attributed to craft drinkers taking notice of this exciting new segment. We have made it a priority in designing our ciders at ATLAS to maintain the drinkability of a beer but also without losing the complexity and characteristics of the fruit. Now one can expect to see at least one cider on tap at any local bar. American Ciders in the past have been produced as a cheap alco-pop alternative, lacking any real variety or depth. The craft cider movement is here. The recent trend in gluten free products has also created more interest in our naturally gluten free ciders. ATLAS hard ciders are varied, universal, easy to enjoy, and drank by people who enjoy, "Breaking the Mold."


Our Partnering Orchard

What does cider look and taste like?

Appearance / Color

Clear, Cloudy, or Bright

Straw, Amber, or Golden

Fruit Characteristics

Bittersweet Apple, Dessert Apple, Pear, Tropical Fruit, Berry Fruits, Citrus Fruits, Dried Fruit, Cooked Fruit


Sweet, Acid, Salty, Bitter


Cidery, Winey, Pear like, Floral or Spirituous

Spicy and Woody

Spicy, Woody, Phenolic

Mouth Feel

Body, Creamy, Warming, Carbonation

Plant Characteristics

Grassy, Elderflower, Hay Like, or Nutty

Sweet Flavors

Caramel, Butterscotch, Vanilla, Honey, Syrup

Length and Balance

Short, Medium, or Long

If cider was once the drink of choice for Early America, what happened?

The craft of making beer was credited to the influx of German immigrants who quickly turned their beverage to the national market in large quantities. Large stockpiles of wheat and malt from the mid-west allowed beer to become an alternative to the local orchards. Also, apples trees could not grow with the country as our nation spread westward into more arid soils while an unusually cold winter struck in the early 1900's further damaging the trees. In addition, our transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869 further making it easier to transport grain from the midwest to the cities where breweries like the AB Bushch brewery in St Louis ramped up production. The real death of cider came with the temperance and the prohibition movement when many local apple orchards were cut down and were replaced by mass urbanization. When prohibition was repealed in 1933 the craft of producing cider only remained on a few family farms. Today ATLAS brings back the traditional ways of fermenting fresh pressed juice from the orchard to the marketplace.


AB Busch Brewery, St Louis 1878


How is cider made?

Cider begins in an apple orchard. The apples are harvested by hand and then pressed into juice (fact- It takes about 36 apples for 1 gallon). No particular type of apple is better than another for producing hard cider, similar to how a cabernet red wine grape is not better than a white chardonnay grape. What matters is the blend the cider maker uses to balance the apples flavors and characteristics. Yeast is added to the fresh pressed juice and fermentation begins when the yeast cells begin to convert the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. An airlock is attached to the top of the fermentation vessel to avoid as little air contact as possible. When all the sugar is converted the cider is considered dry. Many regions of the world are known for different types with England known for dry ciders, France for sweet , and Spain for vinegar-like. The apple varieties used entirely depends on what taste the cider maker is targeting and the best ciders use a targeted blend. Blending is so crucial because it allows the cider maker to perfectly balence the sweetness, tartness, and dryness in the finished drink. Cider is a temperamental drink and difficult to get right as off-flavors can occur at any point during and after fermentation. Measurements of titratable acidity, PH, So2 and gravity must be carefully monitored and adjusted. Craft ciders tend to be less sweet, more complex, and made from local ingredients. In addition craft ciders are made from apples that are partnered with local producers while mass marketed varieties import juice and ingredients across the country. Months were spent by the ATLAS team testing and fermenting juices from numerous co-op farms before selecting our partners that we are glad to support and work with.

Researching fruit varieties


The apples are washed before pressing


Experimenting with blends of ciders; essential to achieve balence

Dan testing cider PH, titratable acidity, So2, and gravity levels before fermentation

What is craft? How are craft ciders different from the mass-market varieties owned by large Beer Corporations?

The definition of craft is small and independent. Producing smaller amounts allows for more complexity, more innovation, and fruits that are sourced from nearby partners. We now live in an age that people do not believe in the "bigger is always better" mindset with many willing to pay more for a higher quality product than being brand loyal to lower cost alternatives. Being craft to us means making the best local cider possible from NW sourced ingredients, being an active member of the community, and make decisions not based solely on profit margins.

We are an independent cider house with a mission to introduce our craft ciders to Bend and beyond. Come by our cider house, say hello, try a sample or two on us; we would love to meet you.


Apple Orchard


I heard ciders are naturally gluten free? What does that mean?

Glutens are proteins found in wheat and barley. Wheat entered the diet of humans 10,000 years ago with the invention of agriculture. For the previous 250,000 years man never had this strange protein in its gut. The result of this is it's a protein that the intestine cannot fully digest. The protein can cause dangerous reactions in some people but many are considered just gluten sensitive. Many with celiac disease are not even aware of it. What the experts still do not know is how many people are gluten sensitive, what its long term effects are, or even how to reliably identify it. The only way to really test whether cutting out glutens is beneficial to you is to try it and see how you feel. If you are considering a gluten free diet it is best to talk with a doctor first. And yes... our ciders are gluten free with no wheat proteins, only fruit.

Our Partnering Orchard


Does the fact that your ciders are fermented and finished with real pressed fruit mean they have medicinal qualities?

The adage that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" also applies to cider, say experts. Dr Caroline Walker, a scientist at Brewing Research International said: "A diet rich in antioxidants may help to protect against disease, and our research confirms cider has the same levels of antioxidants as red wine." This would be old news to Captain Cook who arrived here in the Pacific Northwest in 1778 and actually brought cider on board to prevent scruvy (lack of vitamin C) from ravaging his crew.

Pomegranate: Red fruit with a tough outer layer, only the juice and the seeds are edible with studies showing it as one of the most powerful nutrient dense foods for good health. One medical research gave patients an ounce of pomagranate juice each day for a year, their blood pressure lowered by over 12 percent and those that did not take it saw a 9% increase in plaque in the arteries. (

Dark and Tart Cherries: For those with arthritis and gout, a studey by the USDA showed a 15% reduction in uric acid, the culprit behind joint pain. The deep red pigment in dark cherries contains anthocyanin that can keep cancerous cells from growing out of control while tart cherries contain melatonin a sleep aid. (

Blackberries: The dark color of blackberry juice is a visual reminder of its high concentration of antioxidants. Research suggests that thier vitamin content may help protect your cardiovascular system from disease. A 2009 study indicatd that blackberries may have a positive impact on motor and cognitive skills that often decline with age. Researchers fed blackberries to rats for 8 weeks then tested their abilities. The rats that ate 2% blackberry displayed better motor performance, balence, and significantly greater short-term memory performance. (

Apricots: Many studies show that apricots are good for your eyes by strengthening the optic nerves and fighting macular degeneration. They contain lots of retinol or vitamin A which helps skin problems and keeps skin appear taut and shining. Apricots can also be used to help fight anemia of the blood because they contain minerals such as iron and copper to produce hemoglobin. (



"More than ten-thousand men a year will be made drunkards by this hard cider enthusiasm"

~ Evangelist 1800's