Thursday, 14 April 2011

Stella Cidre (part deux) 'The Contextualiser': Industrial & Artisan Ciders

OK, in the interests of creating a more balanced argument and highlighting the context of my initial remarks on Stella Cidre, I think its only right to point out that its could be seen by some as a little unfair of me to compare it to the traditional farmhouse ciders that surround me here in Somerset. It's like comparing flat pack furniture with the bespoke handmade equivalent. Or steel vs wood even, that is to say: mass produced industrial ciders are not the same thing as artisan ciders. They're not supposed to be and I don't want anyone to think that they are or worse still, that I do! They are different kettles of fish.

Cider is a very diverse market. Artisan cidermakers produce smaller quantities using specialist ingredients and traditional techniques. They may share part of the cider drinking market with industrial cider producers as well as some ingredients, but are made in totally different ways and essentially cater for different people who want different things from it. The two tend to have a fairly easy symbiotic relationship; one bringing new cider drinkers into the market by providing a readily available, neatly packaged and unoffensive alternative to beer and wine. The other offering drinker more challenging flavours, offering a larger variety of premium products and a local alternative whilst maintaining traditional values and heritage. To that extent, they actually do each other some good. The majority of artisan cider available here in the UK (for the time being anyway) is British and that's something all of us want to support.

Although Stella Cidre is not my cuppa tea, I will give thousands of people satisfaction and if you were to compare it to many of the other industrial ciders readily available all over the country (many of which are also made in the UK- oh the irony) it is actually better than a good proportion of them. I think the appearance of SC on the scene will hopefully cause enough concern to those UK producers who churn out the lower quality industrial ciders to stop and think. If their market share should take a hit, I hope it forces them to rethink their game plan (ahem-quality.)

So here it is (the second bottle) as they might want you to see it: spritzed, crisp and bright ready for my stepson to drink at our next BBQ. The only things missing are a pint glass and about 20 ice-cubes (& 50 more ribs)

To show you just how different a different kettle of fish they are from artisan producers, I have here some photography taken at a few of the larger cidermaking companies here in UK. Between them make a wide variety of ciders, industrial and traditional, some of them excellent.


  1. This made I laugh this morning (skip to 1:48.50):

    Handpicked by super robots!

  2. Thanks for reviewing this 'cidre', I was going to have to try it, but now I can rest easy with a glass of cider.

    Could you explain what the picture of the huge glass tanks with spaghetti in them might be?

  3. @Dan - thanks for keeping your ears peeled mate!
    @Rockingham - the spaghetti filled glass tanks are (I think) filters. They trap the proteins etc so the cider is super clear. By all means try a bottle of SC for yourself, for all I know I might have broken my tongue and it tastes divine...

  4. Treat myself to a 4 pack of stella cidre last night, rarely have i had such a stinking headache the morning after. I'm curious to know what the other 50% is made up of other than apples, or 30% if you go by the website. A truly hanging drink.

    1. Yes, it does give you a headache more than another ciders - why? - I only found this site by googling "stella cider headache"

  5. 'cidre', 'fibre', 'tyre' -- it is just old norman love.