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In the UK, this is a fermented drink made from the juice of the apple (see below); although very popular in previous centuries in the U.S.A in this form, what is now known as cider there usually refers to unfermented (non-alcoholic) apple juice.
Before its virtual ban, consumption of alcoholic cider by early American settlers reached gargantuan proportions (and could have been described as the national beverage), as did that of their version of apple brandy - known as apple jack. One reason for this was that many water sources were, if not actually poisonous, not far from it.
It"s been known as a drink for over 2,000 years, and has been popular as a drink in France and England for many centuries - these are now its main areas of production.
Over 30 million gallons per annum are produced in Britain, the main production areas being the West Country from Devon to Hereford, in Kent and Sussex plus Suffolk and Norfolk. Most of this is unfortunately of low taste quality, and to say the least lacking in character. Cider laws offer plenty of leeway in Britain - for example, up to 25% pear juice can be added, and the result still called cider!
A few excellent traditional producers still exist - those offering a mail order service are listed by us in our Mail Order Section. Pubs selling good quality cider are listed in CAMRA"s (Campaign for Real Ale) new publication "The Good Cider Guide" - contact Camra on www.camra.org.uk See 'Peachy'; 'Perry'