What is a co-ferment?
A co-ferment is a cider in which other fruits (or their juice) are blended with fresh apple juice prior to fermentation. This differs from a fruit flavored cider in which an otherwise finished cider is back-flavored with another fruit.
An increasingly popular trend in wine is one that many cider-makers have been pioneering for ages: co-ferments. Co-fermented ciders are those in which other fruits (or their juice) are blended with fresh apple juice prior to fermentation.
This differs from fruit flavored ciders in which an otherwise finished cider is flavored with another fruit. This is most common amongst large cider-makers mass-producing "modern" ciders - which are typically ciders made with sweet, culinary apples that are higher in sugar and water content, and lower in acidity and tannins than traditional cider apples. The result is a sweeter, less complex (or interesting) cider, which benefits from the addition of added flavoring after fermentation, often in the form of a syrup of purée.
This isn't the case with all fruit flavored ciders by any means. Many craft cider-makers flavor their products post fermentation. Some practices include prolonged aging of a cider that has already fermented dry with other fruit such as berries or grape skins, or briefly resting an otherwise finished cider with whole fruit prior to bottling or kegging.
With co-fermentation, a considerable amount of risk is taken by the cider-maker. Each fruit has its own native micro-organisms (including yeast) living on it that may drastically change the flavor of the fermented beverage. The final product of a well made co-fermentation is one that carries the essence of each fruit involved, but still very much tastes primarily like a cider (or wine), whereas the primary flavor experience of a fruit flavored cider is often the added flavoring.
We carry a fun mix of co-ferments and fruit flavored ciders. Part of our criteria for selection on the ciders we carry is that the pome fruit (apple, pear, or quince) is the primary star of the show, or at least has very noticeable characteristics that can be attributed to the pome fruit used. We also do not carry any products back-flavored with syrups or purées. We think you'll appreciate the difference in a skillfully made co-ferment or flavored craft cider.
We would be remiss if we didn't note that a Pear Cider is technically a co-ferment. Different from a perry, which is 100% pear, a pear cider is a co-ferment of apple and pear juice. Thus our intro statement that cider-makers have been pioneering this trend for ages! And a special shout out to some of our cider-making friends in Oregon and California who have been pioneering co-fermenting of apples with wine grapes for much longer than wine makers who are now getting more attention for the practice.
Thirsty yet? Check out some of the featured bundles and products below, which include co-ferments and other ciders that are a great way to celebrate National Wine Day. Cider is wine, after all!