Cider House Rules: Stella Unveils ‘Stella Artois Cidre’

Do you drink cider? I’d be lying if I said I was a big cider enthusiast. I have quaffed a few that I enjoyed very much, but tend to order drinks that are dry rather than sweet, and most of the ciders I’ve tasted have been quite sweet. Enter Stella Artois Cidre, a new, dry, European-style cider from the brewers of the world’s most popular Belgian beer. They’re doing it because, well, it makes business sense–the alcoholic cider category is growing at a rate of 110%, which is kind of crazy. But they’re also doing it because they’re good at these things. I got my hands on some Stella Artois Cidre and tasted it this past weekend, and found it crisp, flavorful, refreshing, and–most importantly–not too sweet.

According to Stella, they’re positioning it as an alternative to white wine, to which I say, poor wine. Every new drink seems designed to take a bite out of the wine market. One of these days wine is going to get mad and do something about it. But despite the fact that Stella probably did all kinds of market research on this, I prefer to believe that it’s more of an alternative to beer.

After all, it’s usually presented as such at bars. You’ll have a dozen or so tap handles dispensing draft beer of all kinds, and maybe one cider to go along with it. All your buddies get beer, but you don’t like beer, so you order a cider. It comes in the same pint glass as beer for the same price, so you toast to the good times and revel in the oneness of group unity–even though you’re the odd man out. Even if it’s served in a bottle, same deal. You’ve got your beer, I’ve got mine. Want to really stand out? Be the one holding a dainty little wine glass when all your chums are tipping back pints. There’s nothing wrong with being different, of course, but there are times you just want to relax with something you enjoy and not have to explain yourself.  

In some ways, Stella Artois Cidre is better than beer. For one thing, it’s versatile. You can tip back a bottle right from the fridge, or you can pour it over ice. It loses nothing when you do, just becomes a bit lighter. And I’m probably not the first to notice this, but you could use it as an ingredient in cocktails. I know that beer cocktails exist, but I find them weird. Better to mix a cider cocktail, the tart notes of the fruit adding texture and body to all manner of mixers. I could see adding a measure of white rum, or a splash of whiskey. 

And, for those who like to remain sharp no matter how much toasting goes on, it’s a great way to keep a lid on your alcohol intake. At 4.5% ABV, it would just about fall into "session" territory. Add a few ice cubes and a splash of seltzer and you’ve got a spritzer to beat the band while keeping your wits about you for the long haul. 

Stella Artois Cidre will be available in 26 states beginning on May 13. A four-pack will run you about $7.50, or probably twice that at my local yuppie grocery store in the Slope.  

Try Stella Artois Cidre and other great ciders and beers at bars like New York’s DBA

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; Listing for DBA; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

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