What is cider?
Cider starts with fermented apple juice—and for many ciders, this is where it ends. Cider is not quite beer and not quite wine, but it shares characteristics of both. The cidermaking process is very similar to that of winemaking, and many cidermakers use wine yeasts for fermentation. In contrast, cider is often carbonated and has a lower alcohol content, giving it qualities similar to beer.
What is wine?
Wine can mean any fermented fruit juice, but usually refers to grape wine.
What is beer?
Beer is a fine beverage that monks drink.
How is cider all that different, then?
Cider is a broad category and for all the ways it resembles wine or beer, it also defies both terms. All alcoholic drinks begin with a liquid rich in fermentable sugars and when yeast is allowed to work its magic, those sugars are converted into innumerable by-products, among them many flavor and aroma compounds and, of course, alcohol. When the alcohol from this creation is distilled, we call it a spirit. When it is left to age or chilled and imbibed straight away, we call it cider if it comes from apples, mead if it comes from honey, sake if it comes from rice, wine if it comes from grapes, beer if it comes from grains, and so on. There are other differences, as well. Beer is made from grains that are steeped to extract the sugars and then boiled with hops to add bitterness and aromas and this, of course, is called brewing. There is no such steeping or brewing process in making cider. Wine made from grapes tends to have higher alcohol, often double that of cider, coming from the loads of sugar found in grapes. And most wine varieties are served still, whereas cider is typically enjoyed bubbly.
What is perry?
Perry is fermented pear juice or pear cider, and is the closest cousin of apple cider. There is a rich tradition of perry in certain parts of the world, notably in the south of England and the Normandy and Brittany regions of France.
What is hard cider?
Hard cider is the term often used around here to distinguish between the alcoholic drink and its soft, non-alcoholic version, often and confusingly referred to as cider. But, there’s already a name for that drink, it’s called apple juice. Most cidermaking regions in the world refer to fermented apple juice simply as ‘cider,’ and with all respect to farmers out there selling delicious fresh-pressed apple juice, we like that term and hope to reclaim it here in the heartland.
Is cider sweet?
Yes and no. Unlike beer or wine, which have non-fermentable sugars and leave a residual sweetness, the sugars in apple juice are fully fermentable. If the fermentation is not arrested—through the magical French art of keeving, or otherwise—this leads to a fully-dry cider if allowed to ferment to completion. While we believe there is a place for all types of cider, we find that a better balance of flavors is often found in drier ciders, and this is what you will find in most of our products.
Why do you call yourself Moontower?
What does that represent?
Moonlight towers have been fixtures in Austin’s skyline for over a century. They were erected in 1895 after 31 of them were bought second-hand from Detroit, MI to illuminate the city. They used a then-state-of-the-art carbon arc-light technology that was extremely bright and needed to be raised high enough to diffuse the light over a large area, necessitating the very tall towers they were perched on. Over time, the technology became obsolete and the towers were largely forgotten until there were murmurs of dismantling them in the 1960s. By that time, Austinites had grown fond of the landmarks that had become symbolic of the city, and a popular campaign eventually led to their historic designation status. To this day, we are the only city in the world to use functioning moontowers. To us, the Moontower represents the incandescent character of this fine city, and is a symbol of a once-forgotten icon that is now back in the spotlight, much like the iconic drink that we aspire to bring back.
Is cider a fad?
Not so long ago, before Prohibition, and for centuries before that, cider was the drink of choice for many Americans. Things took an unfortunate turn during the Prohibition era, when most cider-apple trees in the country were quite literally chopped down to prevent illicit bootlegging. Newly-planted apple trees take around five years to fully mature, and after Repeal, our thirst was so great and our patience so thin, we were better served by the much faster growing grains and grapes used to make beer and wine. It’s taken some time, but we are now in a new era of rediscovery with a drink that satisfied many of our forefathers—and we hope it does the same for you.
I don’t eat/drink gluten. Can I drink this?
Yes, yes you can. And should. Cider is naturally gluten-free (without the need to add anything to break down gluten, as in some other gluten-free drinks).
Where are you located?
Our small (tiny?) production facility is in East Austin.