Bill Could Loosen Up Hard Cider Restrictions

By: Suzanne Wilson Email
By: Suzanne Wilson Email

October 28, 2013

Cideries are popping up all over Central Virginia. Recently, the CIDER (Cider Investment and Development through Excise Tax Reduction) Act was proposed in the US Senate to loosen cider regulations.

"Oh, it's a great thing,' said Stuart Madany, cider maker and orchard manager at Castle Hill Cider. "It's very exciting because it allows us, as we grow more of our own apples and learn which apples have the most flavor, to just have freedom to make the best tasting cider we can make."

As it stands, cideries are restricted to a certain level of carbonation and an alcohol by volume level of 7 percent. Higher levels of alcohol and carbonation result in higher taxes on the ciders.

"The last thing we want to do is have to dilute that to get our alcohol down to seven percent," said Madany.

The CIDER Act would raise the allowed alcohol content to 8.5 percent, raise carbonation levels, and add hard pear cider to the cider tax bracket.

Another benefit to the CIDER Act is that local cideries would have more freedom in the cider making process. Since Virginia apples naturally ferment at a higher alcohol content than is currently allowed, the ciders can only get better under the act.

"Our apples normally ferment out to, typically, eight point something percent," said Madany. "So, those best tasting apples for cider often have higher alcohol levels."

The act also gives freedom for cideries and the cider market to grow by easing the restrictions on the industry.

"Basically, it will allow the cider industry to grow faster and bigger," said Madany. "It allows the cider to be better, which allows a bigger market."

Madany also said the real winner should be the cider lovers.

"Promoting better tasting cider. That will be the benefit to the public is just cider will be better," said Madany.

The CIDER Act would boost the industry that already puts millions of dollars a year into the Central Virginia economy.

The bill was passed on to a committee in mid-September and is still under consideration.

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