Craft Beverages (“Alcohol Cluster”) Growing, Articles Show

Gregory S. Schneider reported last week at The Washington Post Online that, “Ten years ago, there was only a single cidery in [Virginia], and it had just opened. Denkers’s will be the 19th.

“Or 18th — state officials disagree on the exact number. The industry is just now getting big enough to track. The state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control didn’t collect production and tax data on cidermakers until July.”

The article noted that, “The rise was predictable. There seems to be a winery at every highway exit, and craft beer breweries are popping up like coffee shops. Cider was ripe for a resurgence. But Virginia is catching up to a national cider-drinking trend that may have eased in the past year or two.

Retail sales of hard cider (at stores, not restaurants) grew by about 11 percent in 2015, a fraction of the 71 percent growth the year before, according to Nielsen. Draft magazine, which covers the beer and cider industry, reported over the summer that cider sales slowed toward the end of last year.”

Mr. Schneider added that, “Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is a big booster of cider, as well as craft beer and wine. His office regularly cranks out news releases announcing jobs that involve fermentation. Brewpubs and wineries are among his favorite spots to hang out.

“‘Sometimes I get some grief from people’ for the announcements, McAuliffe said. ‘But this whole space drives our agriculture business and at the same time helps boom our tourism.’ He can spout the precise numbers off the top of his head: ‘Last year we sold 416,750 cases of cider, and that was up 52 percent from the year before.'”

Eric Mortenson reported in the latest edition of The Capital Press that, “The largest Pacific Northwest hard cider makers report average annual sales of nearly $1.9 million and attract more than 22,000 taproom visitors a year, according to a 2016 industry survey. An online poll of Northwest Cider Association producers showed the newest member of what Oregon economic analysts call the ‘alcohol cluster‘ is following the path worn by the region’s successful wine, beer and spirits makers.

“Cider makers in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and British Columbia took part in the poll, with 60 percent reporting they began business in the past five years.”

The article pointed out that, “The cost of ‘heirloom’ apple juice used to make cider, for example, ranged from $5 to $7 a gallon, while the previous year’s survey revealed a cost range of $2.50 to $10 per gallon.”

And the Associated Press reported this week that, “The number of farm distilleries in New York state has nearly doubled in two years.

“Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration said Tuesday that the state is now home to 107 farm distilleries, which create liquor using primarily New York state agricultural products.

“Cuomo says the rapid increase in the number of businesses shows that state efforts to help the burgeoning craft beverage industry are paying off.”

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