Cider and Perry styles

Unlike beer, cider and perry do not come in a vast range of styles – differences between ciders are primarily due to the different varieties of apples and pears used, and the container used to ferment or mature the juice in. However, there are two recognised categories or styles of cider and perry, West Country and Eastern.

Apple juice, the primary ingredient of cider, can come from cooking or eating apples, or a mixture of the two. Cooking apples have a high level of tannin, which makes them very bitter and unpleasant to eat, but gives structure to the cider. Eating apple as are, as the name suggests, pleasant to eat, being sweeter.

Typically West Country style cider, usually made in the south west of England, is made from cooking apples, and Eastern style cider, usually made in East Anglia and the east of England, is made from eating apples.

Similarly, perry can be made with traditional perry pears, with high levels of tannin, (West Country style) or from sweeter dessert pears (Eastern style).

Cider and perry made without additional sugar, and undiluted, will generally have an abv of around 6-7%. Fruit ciders are often diluted to around 4%.

Cider can be made of a blend of varieties of apple, or a single variety. Blended ciders tend to have good aroma, first taste, main taste and aftertaste, whereas a single variety cider may have only one or two of these characteristics.

Cider and perry have several taste attributes.
Sweetness is determined by the level of sugar in the drink. Norwich Beer Festival ciders and perries are classified using a 13-point scale, where 1 is very sweet and 13 very dry.
Sharpness is the result of malic acid, which gives a sharp, but not vinegary flavour to the drink. (If it tastes of vinegar, it’s probably off!)
Tannin gives a sensation of drying in the mouth, as found with tea and red wine.

Cider is often matured in whisky, rum, wine or sherry casks, giving a taste of oak and the original drink the cask contained.