CIDER GOES BIG TIME
Things are heating up in the cider business. Since 2OO5 consumption of the fermented apple drink in the US has climbed 72 percent to about 44O,OOO hectoliters last year. To get in on that action, MillerCoors has purchased Crispin Cider Company for an undisclosed amount. Crispin, the US’s third-biggest cider producer, will be run as a unit of MillerCoors’s Tenth and Blake division. Crispin, which makes The Saint, Honey Crisp and Lansdowne unfiltered ciders, tripled volumes last year. The acquisition includes Crispin’s affiliate, Fox Barrel Cider Company, which makes pear ciders. Minneapolis-based Crispin will continue to make its European-style hard apple ciders in Colfax, California, and all workers will become employees of Tenth and Blake. Crispin competes with Vermont Hard Cider Company and Hornsby’s, which C&C Group bought from E&J Gallo Winery in November of last year. Anheuser-Busch, meanwhile, will be releasing a line extension of its Ultra brand – Michelob Ultra Light Cider which is being touted as a “less sweet, lower calorie, all-natural alternative” to traditional flavored malt beverages and ciders. The drink, scheduled for a May release, has 118 calories and 4% ABV. It seems cider has indeed made it into the big league.