Beer Vs. Cider: The 3 Differences Between Two Classic Beverages
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In the world of alcoholic beverages, beer and cider stand out as two distinct and beloved choices, each with its own unique characteristics and flavours. While both are fermented beverages enjoyed by many, they vary significantly in terms of ingredients, production methods, and taste profiles. Understanding the differences between beer and cider can deepen your appreciation for these libations and help you make informed choices when selecting your next refreshing drink. 

Beer is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grains, typically barley, along with water, hops, and yeast. The brewing process involves mashing the grains, boiling the mixture with hops to add bitterness and aroma, fermenting the liquid with yeast to convert sugars into alcohol, and conditioning the beer to develop its flavours. The result is a carbonated drink with varying levels of bitterness, sweetness, and alcohol content, available in a wide range of styles and flavours.

Cider is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented apple juice. It involves crushing apples to extract their juice, fermenting the juice with yeast to convert sugars into alcohol, and sometimes adding additional sugars or flavours before bottling. The final product can range from dry to sweet, with a distinct apple flavour and varying levels of alcohol content. In some regions, "hard cider" is the term used to differentiate alcoholic cider from non-alcoholic "apple cider."

The Three Key Differences That Set These Beverages Apart


Beer is primarily made from fermented grains, with barley being the most common choice. The brewing process involves mashing the grains to extract sugars, which serve as the foundation for fermentation. Hops, the flowers of the hop plant, are then added during boiling to impart bitterness and aroma to the beer. Cider, on the other hand, distinguishes itself by its main ingredient: apples. The production of cider begins with the crushing of apples to extract their juice. Unlike beer, cider doesn't require mashing grains but relies solely on the natural sugars found in the apples.

Production Methods:

For beer, the boiled mixture, known as wort, is fermented with yeast, where the sugars are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide. After fermentation, the beer is conditioned, a process that allows it to mature and develop its flavours. The diversity in beer styles, ranging from lagers to ales and stouts to IPAs, stems from the variations in the choice of grains, hops, yeast, and brewing techniques.

As for cider, apple juice is fermented with yeast, which transforms the sugars into alcohol. The taste of cider is deeply influenced by the type of apples used, with each variety imparting its own unique flavour to the final product. Some ciders are made from a single apple variety, resulting in a more distinct and focused taste, while others blend different apple types to achieve a balanced and complex profile.

Taste Profiles:

The taste of beer can vary widely depending on the type of grains, hops, yeast, and brewing techniques used. Beers can be bitter, malty, hoppy, sweet, or a combination of these flavours, resulting in a diverse array of beer styles that cater to a broad spectrum of palates. On the other hand, ciders offer a more straightforward flavour profile with a crisp and refreshing apple taste. They can range from bone-dry to sweet, depending on the level of residual sugars left after fermentation, and may exhibit subtle variations based on the apple varieties used in the production process.

Understanding these key differences can enhance your appreciation for these beloved beverages and help you make informed choices based on your personal taste preferences.