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History of Cider

While lots of people are just discovering hard cider, it actually has an incredibly long (and interesting) history.

1500 B.C.
A tablet found in Mesopotamia from 1500 B.C. documents the first recorded sale of an apple orchard. The price? Three prized breeder sheep.

1300 B.C.
In 1300 B.C., Egyptian pharaoh Ramses The Great ordered apples to be grown in the Nile Delta. Ramses was the second longest reigning pharaoh in Egyptian history – he lived to be 93 and is claimed to have fathered 80 sons and 60 daughters. Not saying it’s the apples, but…

55 B.C.
Caesar’s legions carried apple seeds as they conquered Continental Europe, planting orchards to replace the native crab apples. Cider was a common drink during the Roman ages. It is said that even Julius Caesar himself used to enjoy the occasional hard cider as a change of pace from his typical vinum.

400 A.D.
The Dark Ages were actually a pretty bright time for cider. In cool regions of Northern France, grapes didn’t fare well so monastery gardens grew apples. Cider soon became a well-established alternative to wine in Normandy and Brittany.

1066 A.D.
The Norman Conquest of England brought lots of new apple varieties from France. Cider quickly became the most popular drink in England, second only to ale.

1400 – 1800 A.D.
In Medieval England, cider became a currency – often used to pay farm workers. A typical allowance would be 3-4 pints per day. The reputation of a farmer’s cider helped them attract better workers.

1620 A.D.
Pilgrims had their priorities straight, bringing apple seeds and cider making supplies with them to the New World. In fact, three days after setting off from Plymouth, England the Mayflower hit a storm that cracked a beam of the ship. They almost turned back, but were able to find a “great screw” to hold up the beam. It is said that this great screw was actually part of a cider press.

1650 A.D.
Early American orchards produced very few apples because there were no honey bees to help with pollination. Honey bee colonies were shipped from England to Virginia and Massachusetts to help with apple production.

1667 A.D.
Isaac Newton was known to produce hard cider on his family estate. May explain the nap under the tree… and subsequent apple to the head, without which gravity may still be a mystery!

1750 A.D.
Benjamin Franklin reported that when he explained the story of Eve eating the apple in the Garden of Eden to a Native American storyteller, his response was “What you have told us is all very good. It is indeed bad to eat apples. It is better to make them all into cider.” We agree.

1789 A.D.
Hard cider was all the rage with the founding fathers. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned apple orchards and produced hard cider, and it’s rumored that John Adams, the 2nd US president, used to drink a tankard of hard cider with breakfast every morning.

1800 A.D.
John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, is credited with establishing apple orchards throughout the Midwest. It’s said that his dream was to plant enough apple trees that no one would ever go hungry – though because he collected seeds from cider mills, his plantings produced cider apples, better for thirst than hunger!

1832 A.D.
Before Abraham Lincoln was president, he was a bartender and tavern owner, slinging hard cider at his New Salem, IL tavern called Berry & Lincoln.

1840 A.D.
Some say hard cider won William Henry Harrison the U.S. presidency in 1840. Despite Van Buren’s efforts to paint him as unsophisticated, Harrison’s image as a log-cabin-dwelling, hard-cider-drinking everyman appealed to the masses. He was dubbed the “Hard Cider Candidate” because hard cider flowed freely during his Whig rallies.

1900 A.D.
German and Eastern European immigrants brought with them a love for beer, and as the population expanded West into more barley friendly climates, beer production became easier than it had been in the past. Sadly, cider’s popularity began to give way to beer.

1910 A.D.
The religious-based Temperance movement caused many farmers to give up growing cider apples. Some even went as far as to chop down their apple trees and burn their orchards.

1919 A.D.
Prohibition and the Volstead Act dealt a serious blow to hard cider. Cider orchards didn’t have the flexibility of other alcohol producers, like breweries that were able to shift production over to sodas and other goods.

1933 A.D.
After Prohibition, breweries were able to bounce back to production fairly quickly using imported ingredients. Orchards, however, could not easily shift back to cider apples, and cider experienced a brief lull in the United States.

1995 A.D.
Our cider makers begin experimenting with hard cider and spend fifteen years perfecting (and enjoying!) their creations.

2011 A.D.
Our cider makers decide it’s time to bring their passion for cider to drinkers, introducing Angry Orchard Crisp Apple, Apple Ginger, and Traditional Dry ciders.

2012 A.D.
Our cider makers release Strawman and Iceman: the first styles of our cider house collection. These artisanal hard ciders are produced in small batches, using traditional cider making apples from Italy and France and are aged on oak.

2015 A.D.
We establish a new home at an orchard in Walden, NY and open our Innovation Cider House.