Sugar Showdown: Hard Cider vs. Junk Food

By , and Elizabeth Lowry, Staff Writer
As both temperatures and leaves continue to fall, you may have noticed grocery and liquor stores stocking up on a large variety of seasonal alcoholic drinks, including many types of hard cider. Once a niche ruled by Woodchuck and Strongbow, a quick Wikipedia search now lists more than 130 cider brews in the market and growing. Like it or not, seasonal brews are here to stay. According to IRi, a Chicago-based market research firm, cider sales grew 75 percent from November 2013 to November 2014, making it the fastest-growing beverage in the beer and flavored malt industry.

Not only is cider beer taking up more room on your grocer’s shelves, its appeal is also growing among women. It is estimated that while beer consumption tends to split about 70-30 in favor of men, cider sales are more closely split 50-50. To top it off, cider beer is also made from apples and it is gluten-free. Sounds like the perfect drink, right?

Not so fast! What many forget to take into account is the sugar content of cider beers. Cider is made from a combination of yeast and apples, which makes it a popular gluten-free choice for those who want a sweeter taste. Beer is made from yeast, hops, barley and other grains. The biggest nutritional difference between the two is the sugar content. Beer is typically sugar-free (though not carb-free), unless some sugar is added to balance out the sourness. Ciders have varying amounts of sugar because of the fermentation process, but their sugar content can be significant. Cider typically has more carbs as a result.

You might decide you really want to try a new seasonal cider anyway, regardless of the sugar content. As long as you are aware of how many calories you’re consuming and you have accounted for it, it’s okay to enjoy yourself now and then. The trick is to have these drinks in moderation; perhaps share one with a friend or drink just one instead of your usual two. Learning how to make room in your diet for the food and drinks you enjoy is the way to make it a sustainable lifestyle change.

Compare the sugar content of hard cider to the sugar content found in your favorite junk foods below. 

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CHERRYZMB60 10/4/2020
Good to know Report
Hard cider is my tipple of choice. I live less than two blocks from the Point Brewery where they also make Ciderboys Cider. My favorite fall flavor is cranberry cider - local apples, local cranberries, and the most wonderful water in all the land! Report
Good information Report
I don't drink hard cider so have no problem with the calories. Flavored waters and coffee are my drinks. Report
Angry Orchard more sugar than two Krispy Kreme donuts? Yikes! Report
Wow - good info. Report
dont drink alchol so me safe Report
I love hard ciders, and Strongbow is my favorite! I also avoid gluten as much as possible because of its effect on my thyroid (hypothyroidism here). So this information is quite useful for me when I decide to indulge in a drink or feel like having a cider. Report
I love hard ciders, and Strongbow is my favorite! I also avoid gluten as much as possible because of its effect on my thyroid (hypothyroidism here). So this information is quite useful for me when I decide to indulge in a drink or feel like having a cider. Report
Good information. Thank you! Report
I do not drink hard cider, I would prefer the sweets and when I have a donut I have one, not 2 and at a healthier place then Krispy Kreme,they are worse then some others. For cookies I do not eat that many,many people I know would not eat 6 at one time. The people I know eat 2-3 at a time. I have 2, so the sweets I have are healthier according to your lists. Report
LOVE these teaching articles! Report
I use that stuff to clean the kitchen sink, it works very well for that, but smells awful. Report
Completely skipped Ace Jack, which has 3 sugars per bottle. Their other flavors are usually around 9 sugars per bottle, which is very nice. Report
thanks for the info.
the comparison part was very beneficial. Report
My favorite cider is Stella Artois Cidre, I also like Rolling Rock apple. Angry Orchard is entirely too sweet!!!!! I am going to try Strong bow and TraderJoe's. I would rather drink a good cider beer than eat candy or cookies. Report
I think this article would be more helpful if it also listed the calorie content. I go more on calories than sugar, though limiting sugar is a factor in my diet. Report
I bought hard cider because it is gluten free and I need that to stop migraines. But, looking at this comparison, I may skip the ones that are in my fridge! THANKS!!! Report
It's also important to note that the body processes the sugars from alcoholic drinks differently from regular carbs. Report
Gimme the cider and keep the candy. Report
I don't have hard cider and can't do sugar so only the popcorn for this girl. Report
For me hard cider is an alternative to mixed drinks, so I would be interested in comparing the sugar content of hard cider to a lemon drop or margarita ... sorry I don't go out with friends and order doughnuts or cookies from the bar! Report
PROVERBS31JULIA: Magners is actually the same things as Bulmer's. It's just the name they use to market it outside of the Republic. It's like Best Food's Mayo is known as Helmann's east of the Rockies. And I agree, Bulmer's is the best! Report
When I was in Ireland, Fall 2014 and just this past month, I enjoyed Boehmer's (Buhlmer's? can't remember the spelling) and Stillwell - I think (a brand brewed in County Cork). Both were delicious, and I'd say much more tart and apple tasting, not as sugary as the American varieties listed up above. I had one of the American ciders listed above, the Angry Orchard, and I about gagged - it was sweeter than pancake syrup!! I'm curious to try the other one listed - Magner's Irish Cider - I never saw that in Ireland (but I did not go to a lot of pubs, either.)...and it is entirely possible to be a regional brew, not one in Kansas. Report
Living a gluten free lifestyle I enjoy a hard cider now and then. I haven't really found a favorite yet, but I love having something I can drink when in the mood even with the higher sugar content the calories are similar to that of a good beer and can be incorporated into my diet fairly easily. Report
I'm actually a big fan of cider beer and have been drinking it for years (before it became big with lots of options) since I don't like regular beer. Now though, to save on sugar and calories, I've been using Bud Select 55 beer and just adding in a squeeze of Apple Orchard Mio. So I get a cider tasting beer with only 55 calories and 0g of sugar! Report
While Crispin is local (and I try to support local businesses as much as possible), my absolute favorite cider is Samuel Smith's. It's a British import. It's organic. Also, I will never give it up. Never. It has a lot of sugar? I don't care.

I'm a fan of the Angry Orchard variety. But I'm not a big beer drinker and I usually wind up handing the bottle over to my husband to finish about halfway through. Report
I don't have hard cider too often, but as some one that is gluten-free for medical reasons and not just a dietary choice, I'm glad that it is an option that is gaining in popularity. Gives me something to have when out with friends. Report