Cider Summit, a public tasting expo on Feb. 8 at Chicago’s Navy Pier, expected to draw up to 2,800 cider devotees.
With hard cider’s popularity sweeping the nation, members of the year-old United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM) will gather in Chicago on Feb. 5-7 for CiderCon, the industry’s the annual meeting and conference.
Educational workshops and a trade show will be held at the Westin on Michigan, with the focus on stewardship, the conference’s theme.
“Cider is quickly setting itself apart from the rest of the beverage industry,” Mike Beck, owner of Uncle John’s Cider Mill in Michigan, and current USACM president, said in a press release. “With this increased visibility, comes a greater sense of responsibility. We chose stewardship as our theme in order to focus on how to grow our industry together in the best way possible.”
Beck added in a telephone interview: “We’re all in this together. There’s plenty of room in the market for everyone. We’re all in an open, sharing environment.”
This year’s CiderCon is sold out and is expected to draw 300 attendees from the most recognized U.S. cider brands as well as small craft cider makers and orchardists. Beck said attendance is up substantially from last year, when USCAM was established. USCAM now has 149 members.
From 2007 to 2012, hard cider revenues more than tripled in the U.S., from $178 million to $601 million, according to the market research firm IBIS World.
In addition to business sessions, the conference will feature workshops focused on production, marketing, research and apple growing and sensory tasting seminars featuring cider and cheese pairings, apple brandy, and ice cider.
A day prior to CiderCon some attendees will explore cider houses Vander Mill and Virtue Cider on a bus tour to Michigan.
Separately, on Feb. 8, Cider Summit, a public tasting expo, will take place at Navy Pier, with sessions from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Alan M. Shapiro, president of SBS Imports, of Seattle and the Seattle Beer Collective, organized cider Summit. Shapiro, who imports Aspall ciders, said this event, too has grown substantially in terms of vendors and attendees. He expects to Cider Summit to sell out at 2,800 tickets. The first Cider Summit was held in Seattle in 2010; Portland was added in 2012, Chicago in 2013 and in April, a Cider Summit will take place in Berkley, Calif,
The Chicago Cider Summit will feature more than 100 ciders from 36 producers throughout the U.S., England, Scotland, France, Spain, and even New Zealand.
“It’s 1988 in the craft beer world for cider right now,” said Shapiro.