Is Cider Vegan? How To Know The Pressing Truth

Is Cider Vegan? Or if you are from France, Is Cidre Vegan? For me, there is nothing greater than an amazingly fresh, crisp, and delicious proper cider. It is the perfect alternative beer. Not those ones with bubbles, but I mean the proper farm-type ciders. They are simply delicious, even if they are quite strong (most ciders have an ABV of 4.5 to 7% – some can even go as high as 12% ABV). The USA and the UK are the two biggest producers of Cider, but if you are reading this on either side of the pond mentioning “Cider” can mean two very different things – “apple cider”, “hard cider”, or just “cider”. It is time to find out what we mean by “Cider”, and most importantly Is Cider Vegan?

Is Cider Vegan?

As a general rule, a lot of ciders are vegan, including many of the big brands such as Bulmers, Rekorderlig, Koppaberg, Thatchers, Hogan’s, Aspall, Brothers, Old Mout, and Ciderboys. Some other Ciders are not vegan as they are clarified using non-vegan fining agents such as gelatin, isinglass, casein, or egg albumin.  The other biggest reason why some ciders are not vegan is the addition of honey.

What Is The Difference Between Cider, Apple Cider, and Hard Cider?

Depending on where you are from Cider (the alcoholic kind) has different names. Ask for a Cider in the UK and you will get an alcoholic pint of the stuff. Ask for a Cider in the USA and you will get a glass of delicious, but non-alcoholic apple cider (you know the stuff that comes in the huge bottles in grocery stores and is always promoted in the Fall). If you wanted some alcoholic Cider in the USA you are going to need to say, “I want some Hard Cider, please”. Hard because as opposed to a soft drink, it will contain alcohol.

The difference in terminology may be slight, but it has a big impact. During World War II an alcoholic cider maker was able to smuggle hard cider (which for obvious reasons was banned) onto an airbase for the pilots and crews by simply saying he had a load of apple cider. To this day, it is still a distinction in terminology between the two countries.

For the remainder of this article, I am just going to refer to alcoholic cider as “Cider” to keep it simple.

Is Cider Vegan – What is Cider?

Is Cider Vegan

Cider is the result of apple juice fermentation. Like wine or beer production, Cider fermentation is the process of using yeast to convert sugars in apples into alcohol and carbon dioxide. To make Cider all you really need is apple juice and yeast. The high natural sugar content of apples often means you don’t have to add extra sugars. Cider is typically made from Cider apples. These tend to be more tart and bitter, and typically will contain a higher tanning content for more complex flavors. This makes Cider apples not great for eating but great for fermenting. Cider can be made from a variety of different apples.

Is Cider Vegan – How is Cider made?

There are 8 stages to Cider making. These are as follows:

  • Juicing
  • Pasteurization / Adding Sulphur Dioxide
  • Initial Fermentation
  • Second Fermentation
  • Aging (Barrel or Steel Tan)
  • Infusing
  • Clarification / Stabilization
  • Packaging

Step 1: Juicing

For Cider, you only need the juice of the apple, not the skin or the pulp. The process starts by pressing and juicing apples to produce apple juice. Some Cider makers press their own apples, others will buy apple juice to use.

Step 2: Pasteurization / Adding Sulphur Dioxide

To kill off any harmful bacteria or microbes in the apple juice it will be pasteurized. This is the process of heating the apple juice to 185 degrees Fahrenheit or higher to kill off any harmful bacteria and microbes. Some Cider producers will add Sulphur Dioxide instead of pasteurizing. Sulfur Dioxide has the same effect of killing off all the microorganisms in the apple juice base.

Step 3: Initial Fermentation

Initial Fermentation is the first fermentation of apple juice. During this process, yeast is added to the apple juice mixture. In doing this it starts to break down the natural sugars in the apple juice into alcohol, producing an alcoholic beverage. Initial fermentation can take up to a week to complete. The high amount of sugars naturally present in apples means there is a lot for the yeast to work with. The result is the often-higher ABVs of Ciders (sometimes as high as 10 to 12% ABV). Initial Fermentation will stop once the deserved ABV has been reached.

Step 4: Second Fermentation

The second fermentation is optional for Cider. During this process, any leftover Yeast in the Cider mixture is left to ferment Cider mixture for a slower and longer period. By keeping the Cider mixture sealed during this process will also produce sparkling Cider due to the Carbon Dioxide produced from the second fermentation. If there are no sugars left then Cider manufacturers will have to add additional sugars – this may present potential vegan concerns if any sugar processed with Bone Char is used.

Step 5: Aging

After fermentation, the Cider can be left to age. This can be done in steel tanks or if the producer wants to add flavor, in wood barrels (for example sometimes whiskey or wine barrels will be used to impart certain flavor profiles). The aging process can last a couple of weeks to even years. For example, Hogan’s Cider (a vegan brand of Cider) has a Vintage Dry cider aged from 2014.

Step 6: Infusing

Infusing Cider is the process of adding different flavor and texture profiles to the Cider. The fermentation process can convert all the sugars in the Cider mixture into alcohol. The result is a very dry cider. To combat this Cider makers in this stage may add back sugars, acids, juices, hops, spices, and/or vanillas to create their designed final Cider. Often during this stage, a lot of Cider-makers will also add honey to their Cider – making them non-vegan.

Step 7: Clarifying

Clarifying, also called Stabilizing, is the process of filtering Ciders to create a clear appearance. Similar, to the Fining Stage in Winemaking, Ciders need to be filtered to remove any unwanted molecules or yeast which may affect the final flavors, cause sediment, or any remaining yeast particles. To do this they can use Sterile Filtration which is the process of sieving the cider mixture through very small sieve filers (like tiny ones). Some Cider Makers will still use Fining Agents in this stage of the process. The most common is Isinglass (dried fish bladders) which is not suitable for vegans. Another common fining agent is also Gelatin which is also not vegan. Less common ones are Casein (milk proteins) and Egg Albumen – but you will see from my list below these are still sometimes used. There are some vegan Fining Agents such as Bentonite (clay), PVPP (a synthetic plastic polymer), Irish Moss (seaweed), or a chilling process called “Cold Crashing” that can be used to freeze any yeast to the bottom of the Cider to be removed.

If you want a detailed breakdown of fining and fining agents I set them all out in detail in my piece Why is Wine Not Vegan? How to Know the Truth.

Step 8: Packaging

This is just the process of final bottling or packaging the Cider. No vegan concerns here.

Interested in Wine and Beer as well?

Want to learn how your favorite beer or wine is made? Want to know if they are vegan? How about liquor or even champagne – is that vegan? If you want to learn more then check out my other articles:

Is Cider Vegan – Types of Cider

Cider profiles are determined by their level of sweetness. There are four common varieties: Dry Cider, Off-Dry Cider, Semi-Dry Cider, and Semi-Sweet Cider.

  • Dry Cider – these have less than 0.5% residual sugar in them. They are the most acidic and tend to have higher ABVs.
  • Off-Dy Cider – these are slightly sweeter than the Dry Ciders. They contain around 1-2% residual sugars. They are smoother and have a richer flavor.
  • Semi-Dry – these contain up to 2% residual sugars They are fuller and have stronger apple flavoring profiles.
  • Semi-Sweet – These contain up to 4% residual sugars. They are similar in flavor to Semi-Dry Ciders.

Is Cider Vegan – Summary of Vegan and Non-Vegan Ciders

Is Cider Vegan

To help make things as easy as possible for you, and for me, I have summarized below all the major Cider brands and whether they are vegan or not. In the next section, I will break down each of the main brands including Rekorderlig, Koppaberg, Bulmers, Thatchers, Hogan’s, Ciderboys, Brothers, Aspall, Old Mout, Somersby, Milton Cider, Rhody Coyote Hard Cider, Mystique Cider, Blackthorn, and Gowers Cider.

In a whole separate section, I will talk about Cider and Honey (it deserves its own section as you will see).

Cider BrandVegan or Not Vegan
Strongbow CidersThe UK –
Strongbow Original – Not Vegan
Strongbow Dark Fruit – Vegan
Strongbow Cloudy Apple – Vegan
Strongbow Rose – Vegan

Outside of the UK –
Strongbow Honey – Not Vegan
Other Strongbow Varieties – Not Vegan
Rekorderlig CidersVegan
Koppaberg CidersKoppaberg Organic Ciders with Alcohol – Not Vegan

Remaining Koppaberg Ciders – Vegan (double-check for “vegan” on the label)
Bulmers CidersVegan
Thatchers CidersVegan
Hogan’s CidersVegan
Brothers CiderVegan
Aspall CiderVegan
Old Mout CidersVegan
Somersby CidersBlackberry Cider – Not Vegan (cochineal / E120)

Red Rhubard Cider – Not Vegan (cochineal / E120)

Mango & Lime Cider – Not Vegan (cochineal / E120)

Sparkling Rose Cider – Not Vegan (cochineal / E120)

Sparkling Spritz Cider – Not Vegan (cochineal / E120)

Remaining Somersby Ciders – Vegan
Milton CidersMilton’s Cidre de Feu – Vegan

Remaining Milton Ciders – Not Vegan (gelatin)
Rhody Coyote Hard CiderNot Vegan (gelatin)
Mystique Ciders Not Vegan (casein)
Blackthorn CidersNot Vegan (isinglass)
Gowers CidersNot Vegan (isinglass, gelatin, casein, and egg albumen)

Is Cider Vegan – Is Strongbow Vegan?

I couldn’t write a post on whether Cider is vegan without talking about the World’s biggest cider brand, Strongbow. Available in every pub as sometimes the only cider choice, Strongbow is the most common cider you will come across. So, is Strongbow vegan?

The answer depends on what country you are in, where it is produced, and what flavor of Strongbow you are picking.

The global Strongbow website states that all their ciders are vegan except for Strongbow Honey which obviously contains honey. Okay, but if you are in the UK it is a slightly different story.

Strongbow’s UK has the following slightly helpful, but not really, statement on their website:

“Strongbow Original is not made using animal derived products, however, there is a possibility of carryover from some of our ciders that are. Strongbow Dark Fruit, Cloudy Apple and Rose are suitable for vegetarian/vegans.”

Strongbow UK Website

Is Cider Vegan – Is Rekorderlig Vegan?

Rekorderlig, the Swedish Cider brand, used to use gelatin in the clarification process but moved to a vegan filtering agent called vega gel in 2019. This means all of Rekorderlig’s flavors are now vegan.

Is Cider Vegan – Is Koppaberg Vegan?

Koppaberg, another Swedish Cider named after the town of Koppaberg, used to use gelatin to clarify their ciders but they recently changed their process making all their ciders vegan. The only exception is Koppaberg Organic Ciders with Alcohol – these remain not vegan.

All the new vegan Koppaberg bottles are labeled as vegan so just make sure to check the label that you are picking up a vegan one (and not an older non-vegan one). 

Is Cider Vegan – Is Bulmers Vegan?

Bulmers state on its website that all its ciders are suitable for vegans as well as the fact that Bulmers does not carry out any animal testing.

Is Cider Vegan – Is Thatchers Vegan?

Thatchers state on their website that their ciders are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. They even have a “v” and a “vg” symbol on their website!

Is Cider Vegan – Is Hogan’s Vegan?

Hogan’s states on its website that its ciders are suitable for vegans.

Is Ciderboys Vegan?

Whether Ciderboys ciders are vegan is not addressed on their website but according to Barnivore, their ciders are vegan.

Is Cider Vegan – Is Brothers Cider Vegan?

Brothers Cider is vegan. Brothers Cider has even been accredited by The Vegan Society.

Is Cider Vegan – Is Aspall Cyder Vegan?

Aspall Cyder is vegan.

Is Cider Vegan – Is Old Mout Vegan?

Old Mout confirmed on its website that its ciders do not contain any animal-derived products and are suitable for vegans. They also clarify that the berry & cherry non-alcoholic cider is also vegan. They also state that they do not test on animals. 

Is Cider Vegan – Is Somersby Cider Vegan? 

All Somersby ciders are vegan except the Blackberry, Red Rhubarb, Mango & Lime, Sparkling Rose, and Sparkling Spritz Cider as they contain carmine/cochineal (listed as E120 on the label).

Is Cider Vegan – Is Milton Cider Vegan?

Milton ciders use gelatin to clarify and so are not vegan. The exception is Milton’s Cidre de Feu which is vegan.

Is Cider Vegan – Is Rhody Coyote Hard Cider Vegan?

Rhody Coyote Hard Cider has gelatin added to it and so is not vegan.

Is Cider Vegan – Are Mystique Ciders Vegan?

Mystique ciders use casein (milk proteins) during the clarification process.

Is Cider Vegan – Is BlackThorn Vegan?

Blackthorn ciders use isinglass in the clarification process and so are not vegan.

Is Cider Vegan – Is Growers Vegan?

Growers use isinglass, gelatin, casein, and egg albumin in their clarification processes and so are not vegan.

Is Cider Vegan – Cider and Honey

As you can see above, most of the big cider brands now use vegan-friendly fining agents. One of the main ingredients that, however, causes ciders to not be vegan is honey. Below is a list of just some of the ciders that contain honey that I found whilst scrolling through Barnivore (a great resource for finding out if alcoholic drinks are vegan or not – it was super helpful for discovering the non-vegan ciders listed above). As you can see there are quite a few, and they do not always have the word honey in their name.

Ciders That Contain Honey (Not Vegan)
2 Town Man Gogh Cider
Ace Apple Honey Cider
Angry Orchard Crisp Apple
Angry Orchard Crisp Apple Unfiltered
Angry Orchard Easy Apple
Austin Eastciders Texas Honey Cider
B. Nektar Whiskey Barrel-Aged Zombie Killer Cider
B. Nektar Zombie Killer Cider
Biddenden Monk’s Delight Strong Spiced Cider
Blake’s Amshire Iced Cider
Bull City Compassion Fruit Cider
Bull City Steep South Cider
Bull City Sweet Carolina Cider
Buskey Cyser
Colorado Cider Company Mel
Crafty Bastard Honey Cider
Crispin Honey Crisp
Crispin Lansdowne
DLC Ciderworks Summer Buzz Cider
Dorset Nectar Hunny Bubble Cider
Finnriver Honey Meadow Cider
Fox Barrel Wit Pear
Friendly Beasts Buzzed Boomer Cider
Hecks Dunkerton’s Late Sweet
Honest Abe Local Honey Cider
James Squire Orchard Crush Apple
McKeown Honey Cider
Milk & Honey Solar Sweet Farm Cider
North Country Pollination Hard Cider
Number 12 Chestnut Semi-Dry Cider
Pokolbin Vintage Refresher Cider
Pruner’s Pride Vermont Hard Cider
Saint Arnold Honey Agave Cider
Sea Cider Cyser
Seattle Olympic Honey Cider
Sheppy’s Cider with Honey
South City Spider Bites Hard Cider
Texas Keeper Cyser
U4IC Beeztinger Hard Cider
Wyndridge Cherry Honey Cider

Is Cider Vegan – The Final Sip

Is Cider Vegan

Apples are amazing. If you have never tried Cider, or just tried some bad Cider please go back and try some great Cider. I still dream about a Toffee Apple Cider I tried years ago and never found out what it was called and who made it – all I asked was if it was vegan. It was, and it was amazing. A truly great Cider can be just as complex, refreshing, and drinkable as beer. However, sadly, there are still a bunch of brewers who continue to use non-vegan fining agents when the technology together exists today to produce clarified Cider without them. Apples, eat them, squeeze them, and if you ever have too many apples you can always turn them into cider (yep, there are home brewing kits for that) …I’ll be ordering one of those I think.

  • You can double-check the vegan status of ciders in the below Barnivore link in the references.
Is Cider Vegan

Beverage makers may change ingredients and/or manufacturing processes. Always double-check ingredients before purchasing any beverages.

Please Drink Responsibly.

Like What You Are Reading

Like this article, want to find out more? Want to know if your favorite wine, spirit, or even if your favorite beer (yes, your favorite beer) is vegan? Then check out some of our other articles:

References (as at 21 September 2021)

Vegan and non vegan ciders on Barnivore

Editorial Team

The Vegan Bev HQ Editorial Team - helping you find the best vegan drink out there!

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