Book Review #7, Cider Made Simple by Jeff Alworth

For the seventh book review here at Cider Says (see here for the first six):  “Cider Made Simple – All About Your New Favorite Drink”, by Jeff Alworth with illustrations by Lydia Nichols, published September 2015, with a suggested price of $19.95 ($13.28 on Amazon).  Jeff Alworth is best known for his writings on beer (online and in print), and lives in Portland Oregon.  For this book he traveled to France, England, Spain, Canada, and around the United States for interviews.

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I suggested that my local library add this book to their collection, and they bought it for me to borrow!  I think libraries are great to check out a book to see if you may want to purchase it.  And, this is one I think I do want my own copy of (same with World’s Best Ciders, which is an awesome coffee table book on cider).  In fact, Cider Made Simple is my favorite general cider book so far.  Unlike most books on cider, it doesn’t have a cider-making focus, so its great for a cider drinking enthusiast who doesn’t necessarily have an interest in making cider.  While a quick read, I also found it quite detailed, and learned a lot new information.

Chapters:

Cider Basics: Don’t Call It Hard (info on cider apples, tasting, properties, regions, and types)

A is for Apple (history, growing, and orchards)

Sweating, Grinding, and Fermenting (cider apple types, back-sweetening, flavor enhancers, and how its made)

Proper English Cider (traditions, industrialization, small farms, producers)

Cider Under Cork (French cider, terroir, producers, and Calvados & Pommeau)

Breaking the Cider (Spanish cider, characteristics, producers, throwing the cider, sourness, and regions)

The American Cider Renaissance (Farnum Hill, EZ Orchards, Reverend Nat’s, and traditionalists vs. modernists vs. experimentalists)

Winter Harvest in Quebec (ice cider)

The writing style was spot-on, the book was well-organized, and the language was easy to understand.  I think anyone from a cider newbie to someone with a bit more experience would get something from this book.  It filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge.  I liked that it didn’t go as much into the history of cider, but into other details that aren’t covered in many other books (or at least not in this way).  There wasn’t really a single portion of the book I didn’t enjoy or think wasn’t helpful.

I especially enjoyed the portions on cider tasting, and all his stories from his travels to visit different cideries and cider regions around the world (I’m jealous!).  I was a bit apprehensive learning the author mostly had beer experience, but it wasn’t apparent.  My only complaint is the cover shows a glass of beer, not cider…note all the foam and the hue (oops).  Highly recommended!

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