Hiver honey Cider – made with honey not (hidden) sugar
Jan 10, 2024
We're buzzing. This is our first forage into cider and we think we've pipped it. Why? Because we're replacing a whopping 48g of refined and processed white sugar in every pint of cider with pure, natural honey. And usual for Hiver, it’s all-British too every drink supports our local orchards and beekeepers.
How our honey cider came about.
I’ve always been interested in local and sustainable British produce so getting the chance to tour an English cidery and see how much orchards support beekeeping through pollination was fascinating. What was shocking though was how much sugar was added to the brewing process. I thought it would be much more natural coming from a brewing background.
Apples were picked from the trees only a couple of miles from the cidery before being tipped and sorted into the fruit-presser. Fantastic, low food miles and local production at its best. The fermentation process is simple and it was a treat to taste the lip-puckeringly tart cider straight from tank. Who knew that cider was so naturally tart?! My brewing brain understood though, it should be tart as the fruit sugars would be converted into alcohol and given the resting time in tank, there would be little or no residual fructose (natural fruit sugar) remaining in the brew. So, why are the ciders we drink not as lip-puckering as the cider we tasted from tank?
The penny dropped quickly. As we followed this beautifully local, tangy and natural brew along to the production line, sacks and sacks of processed and refined white sugar was added to the mix just prior to bottling.
This was doubly disappointing as firstly, much of the sugar was being imported across the globe to sweeten what would otherwise be a beautifully local product and secondly, the amount of sugar that must be needed to balance out the tartness in any one single serving of cider, seemed hidden and suddenly ‘dirty’.
This experience at the cidery stayed with me for a long time with the feeling that we really have no idea how much sugar we are consuming when drinking a cider, whether it be Brut or Sweet.
This experience has stayed with me so fast forward a few years later (and along with lots of requests from our fantastic Hiver beer customers), we were ready to create a naturally sweetened cider from only English ingredients. The natural and freshness of our brew in comparison to almost all other ciders, comes across in not only in the taste but also in the sugar content. Just 6.27 grams of sugar per can versus the average 50 grams you will find in other ciders. That’s a big difference, especially when ours are more natural fructose sugars rather than refined sugars too.
We’re buzzing and we hope that you are too!
Read on to find out more and how much sugar there is in cider?
If you’re now wondering ‘how much sugar is there in cider’ or ‘exactly how fattening is a cider’, you’re right to do so. On average, a pint of cider will contain anything between 8 to 48 grams of sugar per pint although the UK’s leading brand, Kopperberg Strawberry and Lime contains a whopping 54grams. That’s per pint! Bulmers ciders range from 14 to 28 grams per pint and Rekorderlig Wild Berries (made with the ‘flavour and aroma of wild berries’) contains 49g of sugar per bottle. This equates to over 12 teaspoons of sugar in one serving. So a bottle of Rekorderlig Wild Berries contains 12 teaspoons of sugar. That’s the equivalent sugar of eating 3 jam donuts in the same time it would take to drink the bottle.
We couldn’t bee-lieve it.
So why is there so much sugar added? The reason is two-fold. Cider apples naturally contain tannins and fruit acid, which produce a naturally bitter flavour. The sugar is added to make the drink more palatable and balance out the acidity. More tangy and brut ciders will add approximately 8 to 12grams per pint (which equates to 3 teaspoons worth). Whereas 48grams worth of sugar signifies a drink made up of syrups, fruit flavourings, hydrolysed starches and sucrose plus added aromas to make up for the natural ingredients that have been removed. These ‘ciders’ make up the majority of leading brands and sales in the UK and European market at the moment.
Why isn’t cider impacted by the HFSS tax?
The soft drink levy, also known as the ‘sugar tax’, was introduced in April 2018 in the UK. Drinks containing 8g of sugar per 100ml or more are now taxed at 24p per litre in the UK, while drinks with 5-8g of sugar per 100ml face a tax of 18p per litre.
On 28 December 2020, having considered 807 responses, the government confirmed its intention to go ahead with introducing further legislation restricting the promotion of HFSS foods by price (volume promotions) and location (checkouts, end of aisles and store entrances) in medium and large retailers that sell food and drink.
Surely, it’s the hidden sugars of processed foods like this that the sugar and HFFS taxes are trying to stop. And yet Cider is as yet, not included in the HFFS tax. Consumers are becoming ever more aware of the hidden sugars they consumer however and looking for natural and fresh alternatives. We believe we are unique in Cider because of the lack of added sugar in our product.
If you’re interested and want to find out more or try our new honey-cider email Hannah at firstname.lastname@example.org or why not come down to our Taproom to dry it fresh on draught. You’ll find us on the beer mile at 56 Stanworth St, London SE1 3NY
Appendices and references
To read more about the stats in our article, read these links for more info.
- Sugar content in cider
- What is Notice 162 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/excise-notice-162-cider-production/excise-notice-162-cider-production
- Section 25 showing what ingredients are allowed in the lower cider duty bands https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/excise-notice-162-cider-production/excise-notice-162-cider-production#sec-25
- What is refined white sugar? https://www.britishsugar.co.uk/about-sugar/how-sugar-is-made
- What is the sugar tax and the HFSS tax?
- Why is sugar bad for you?
- What legislation are the government reviewing with regards to Cider? 20211026_Alcohol_Duty_Review_Consultation_and_CFE_response.pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk)
- Cyser and mead explanations https://www.vikingalchemist.com/mead-blog/2020/1/28/whats-the-difference-between-mead-cyser-braggot-amp-melomel#:~:text=A%20cyser%20is%20a%20mead,might%20really%20enjoy%20a%20cyser.
- The National Association of Cider Makers https://cideruk.com/