GLINTCAP TREND ANALYSIS: WHICH FRUITED CIDERS TAKE HOME THE GOLD?
Our backyard is home to the world's largest cider judging competition.
Old Orchard's backyard of Grand Rapids, Michigan may be known as "Beer City, USA" . . . but we have a growing cider scene, too. Every year, our city hosts the world's largest cider judging competition: the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry competition (GLINTCAP).
This year was particularly special, as 2021 picked up the torch after 2020's competition was canceled. This 15th annual GLINTCAP received 1,561 total entries, with 215 of those entries taking home gold in their categories—whether ice cider, wood aged, fruited, or more.
Which made me curious: in the years since GLINTCAP started in 2005, which fruited ciders tend to get more attention and more medals? Which fruits appear more likely to work well in a cider?
I did some data digging. Even within the Fruit Cider category each year, multiple medals are awarded for each level of Gold, Silver, or Bronze. So to simplify the data collection, I only tallied Gold medal winners in the Commercial Division for Fruit Ciders between 2005 and 2021. The results may surprise you . . .
More than any other fruit flavor, cherry ciders have been awarded gold in GLINTCAP's commercial fruit cider category. These results could be due, in part, to statistical probability: perhaps cherry ciders are submitted more frequently than other fruit flavors? Or maybe it's just hard to go wrong with this fruit addition.
Cherry ciders can be made from sweet cherries, tart cherries, both, or unspecified. Either way, cherry is a winning flavor profile year-round (trust us: our state of Michigan is known for our National Cherry Festival, and I once worked at a cherry processing plant!).
If your cidery is missing cherry from your lineup, consider experimenting with a barrel-aged rendition(a la Saint Chéri by Blake's Hard Cider Co.) or maybe a cherry spiced with ginger (hello, Chateau Morrisette Ciderworks).
Ready to cherry? Try Old Orchard's Cherry Craft Concentrate
#2 TIE: CRANBERRY OR PEAR
If you thought Cranberry or Pear were just for the autumn season, think again. These hit flavors have been featured in an equal number of gold-medal-winning ciders in GLINTCAP's Fruit Cider category.
The acidity of cranberry can help balance even the sweetest of cider bases, and the color is equally attention-grabbing.
As for the pear: sometimes, the more subtle the fruit the better. Pear can add a little more complexity and interest to a run-of-the-mill cider. Experiment with memorable add-ins such as cardamom or gin botanicals.
#3 TIE: MARIONBERRY, MIXED FRUIT, OR RASPBERRY
This one surprised me. I knew raspberry and mixed fruit ciders were popular, but I wasn't expecting marionberry ciders to be recognized just as often with gold medals. Unique to the Pacific Northwest, marionberries have been called the "Cabernet of Blackberries."
Mixed fruit examples included:
- sour cherry + pear
- blackberry + pear
- prickly pear + pineapple
Ready for raspberry? Check out Old Orchard's #1 Selling Craft Concentrate
#4 TIE: APRICOT, BLACKBERRY, BLUEBERRY, GUAVA, PEACH, OR PINEAPPLE
Berries, stone fruits, tropicals: there's a place for every cider at the table. Darker berries like blackberry and blueberry have the benefit of a color boost; stone fruits like plum and apricot are complex; tropical flavors provide a bold backbone.
These flavors lend themselves to next-level creative combinations—whether with hops, spices, or botanicals. For inspiration, try browsing the awards results for GLINTCAP's specialty category, featuring combinations like the following:
- passion fruit + mosaic hops
- plum + lemongrass
- gooseberry + galaxy hops
- maple + rosemary
- blackberry + habanero
- hops + pear
- cardamom + chokeberry
#5 TIE: BLACK CURRANT, LOGANBERRY, RHUBARB, OR STRAWBERRY
A few of these fruit flavors might be less common in cider, but they're no less the winners for it. Finnriver's Black Currant Cider stands out with the help of a little lavender, and the 2 Towns cider combines currant with a kick from cranberry.
Congrats to all cideries whose craft was recognized at GLINTCAP this year and beyond! Fruit-flavored ciders continue to be a growing category in the cider landscape, and we look forward to seeing how cideries test the limits of flavor combinations. With the GLINTCAP competition occurring annually in our backyard, we don't have to look far for inspiration.
To explore ideas with us or ask about our offerings, please reach out through one of the contact options below.
Syrah "Sy" Linsley is the manager of Old Orchard's bulk supply program, which primarily serves the craft beverage industry with craft juice concentrates. Her passion for fruit-forward beverage evolved from the three years she spent as a fruitarian (only eating fruit) as well as the few years she worked in product development and fermentation. The highlight of Sy's day is to connect with craft beverage makers, so don't be shy: schedule a "Taproom Chat" or hear back from her through our contact form.
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