Craft Beer Vs Hard Cider: a Closer Look at the Differences

Craft Beer Vs Hard Cider: a Closer Look at the Differences

Craft Beer Vs Hard Cider: a Closer Look at the Differences

Posted on June 28th, 2024


Imagine yourself savoring a fine glass of craft beer, the rich history behind each sip enhancing your experience.

Now, contrast that with the refreshing taste of hard cider, each gulp steeped in centuries-old tradition.

Both beverages offer unique journeys through time and flavor, and part of the joy in enjoying them comes from understanding their distinctive characteristics, from their origins to their diverse production methods.


Origins and History

Craft Beer

Craft beer has its roots in ancient Mesopotamia, evolving through various cultures over thousands of years. The earliest evidence of beer brewing dates back to around 7000 BCE in ancient Mesopotamia, now modern-day Iran. The Sumerians, Egyptians, and Romans played pivotal roles in shaping this beverage. Medieval monasteries became centers of brewing excellence, where monks perfected techniques still used today. The industrial revolution brought substantial advancements in brewing technology, laying the groundwork for the modern craft beer industry. In the United States, the craft beer movement began to take shape in the late 20th century, with small independent brewers challenging mass-produced beers and bringing a delicious array of styles and flavors to the public.

Hard Cider

Cider-making also has a rich history, dating back to ancient agricultural societies. Civilizations such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all appreciated the tart goodness of cider. By the Middle Ages, cider had become a popular drink in Europe, especially in England and France where apple orchards flourished. English settlers brought the tradition of cider-making to America in the 17th century, with apples being easier to grow than barley and wheat. Cider experienced ebbs and flows in popularity, influenced by factors such as Prohibition. However, the late 20th and early 21st centuries saw a renaissance in cider making, with small, innovative cider makers exploring diverse apple varieties and crafting unique flavors.


Production Processes

Craft Beer Production

  1. Ingredients: Water, malted barley, hops, and yeast.
  2. Mashing: Mixing malted barley with hot water to convert starches into fermentable sugars.
  3. Boiling: The wort is boiled and hops are added at various stages for flavor, aroma, and bitterness.
  4. Fermentation: Yeast is added to the cooled wort, converting sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
  5. Conditioning: Enhances the beer’s character and clarity.
  6. Packaging: Filtered, carbonated, and packaged for enjoyment.

Hard Cider Production

  1. Ingredients: Apples, yeast, and sometimes additional sugars or fruits.
  2. Juicing: Apples are crushed to extract juice, with apple variety significantly impacting flavor.
  3. Fermentation: Yeast is added to the apple juice, converting sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
  4. Aging: Often slower than beer, taking several weeks to a few months.
  5. Final Adjustments: May include back-sweetening or carbonation.
  6. Packaging: Filtered and bottled for consumption.


Ingredients and Varieties

Craft Beer Ingredients

  • Water: Affects the mineral content and brewing process based on its hardness or softness.
  • Malted Barley: Provides fermentable sugars and flavors ranging from sweet to roasted.
  • Hops: Adds bitterness, floral or citrusy aromas, and acts as a natural preservative.
  • Yeast: Converts sugars into alcohol and contributes to the beer’s flavor profile.

Craft Beer Varieties

  • American Pale Ale: Crisp bitterness with piney or citrusy notes.
  • Stout: Rich, with coffee-like bitterness from deeply roasted malts.
  • Saison: Peppery and fruity, originating from Belgium.
  • Lager: Light and crisp, with restrained maltiness.
  • Amber Ale: Robust malt flavors.

Hard Cider Ingredients

  • Apples: Varieties range from sweet to tart and tannic.
  • Yeast: Converts apple sugars into alcohol, sometimes contributing spicy or fruity notes.
  • Additional Flavors: May include other fruits or spices.

Hard Cider Varieties

  • English Ciders: Emphasize bitterness and dryness.
  • American Ciders: Often sweeter and fruit-forward.
  • French Ciders: Known for tannic qualities and subtle sweetness.


Flavor Profiles and Taste

Craft Beer Flavor Profiles

  • Malts: Range from sweet to roasted, nutty, caramel-like, or biscuity.
  • Hops: Introduce bitterness and aromatics such as floral, citrusy, pine, or earthy notes.
  • Yeast: Adds fruity esters and spicy phenols, contributing to diverse flavor profiles.
  • Examples: IPAs with potent hop bitterness, stouts with robust coffee-like flavors.

Hard Cider Flavor Profiles

  • Apples: Provide natural sweetness and tartness.
  • Fermentation: Develops nuanced and well-rounded flavors.
  • Styles: Range from dry and tannic to sweet and fruit-forward, with possible carbonation or spicing.


Pairing with Food

Craft Beer Pairings

  • IPA: Spicy foods like buffalo wings or Indian curries.
  • Stout: Hearty meats such as grilled steaks or smoked brisket.
  • Lager: Seafood dishes like shrimp scampi or fish tacos.
  • Cheese: American Pale Ale with sharp Cheddar; Belgian Dubbel with creamy Brie.
  • Dessert: Brown Ale with pecan pie; Berliner Weisse with lemon cheesecake.

Hard Cider Pairings

  • Dry Cider: Green salads with fresh apples and goat cheese.
  • Pork: Enhances flavors of pork chops or pulled pork sandwiches.
  • Spicy Foods: Sparkling cider with spicy Thai noodles or chorizo dishes.
  • Cheese: Tart cider with creamy cheeses like Camembert; sweet cider with blue cheese.
  • Dessert: Spiced cider with apple pie; pear cider with caramel cheesecake.


Choosing Your Beverage

When to Choose Craft Beer

  • Complex, bold flavors: Ideal for those who love rich taste experiences.
  • Social gatherings: Perfect for BBQs, parties, or casual get-togethers.
  • Hot summer days: Light Lagers or Pilsners for refreshing drinks.
  • Experimentation: Discover new favorites through the diverse range of craft beer styles.

When to Choose Hard Cider

  • Fruity refreshment: Great for brunches, casual lunches, and light meals.
  • Evening dinners: Semi-dry cider with hearty meats.
  • Festive occasions: Spiced cider for warmth and seasonal cheer.
  • Picnics and patios: Easy to drink and versatile for various settings.


Introducing Mojave Brewing Company

At Mojave Brewing Company, we are dedicated to producing quality craft beer for every taste.

Located in Henderson, NV, our brewery uses the finest ingredients and traditional brewing techniques to create a diverse range of beers and ciders.

Our cozy tap room offers the perfect setting to enjoy our meticulously crafted beverages, if you're looking to relax after a long day or celebrate a special occasion with friends.



Craft beer and hard cider each offer unique and delightful experiences. Learning about their origins, production processes, ingredients, and flavor profiles can enhance your appreciation and enjoyment of these beverages. If you’re a craft beer aficionado or a hard cider lover, exploring the intricate flavors and rich histories behind each drink is a journey worth embarking on.

Next time you're in the mood for something different, swing by our taproom. We have a wide selection of craft beers and ciders waiting for you. Come in, try something new, and enjoy the exceptional tastes crafted just for you.

You can reach out to us at (725) 204-1387 or drop an email at [email protected].

Let’s toast to good times and great flavors! Check out our offerings today.

Raise a Glass with Mojave: Let's Brew Something Special Together!

Cheers! We're thrilled to connect with fellow beer and cider enthusiasts like you. At Mojave Brewing Company, we pour our heart and soul into crafting exceptional brews that are a testament to our commitment to quality and innovation. Whether you have a question, want to collaborate, or simply want to share your love for great beer, we can't wait to hear from you. Let's raise a glass and embark on an unforgettable brewing journey together!

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