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Boston Beer’s Angry Orchard cider is off to a strong start

Angry Orchard, an “artisanal” hard cider made in Ohio by the Boston Beer Co., has enjoyed a strong debut, according to two firms that track sales.

After a few months of testing, Boston Beer, a company perhaps best known for its Samuel Adams brand, said it began rolling out Angry Orchard nationwide in April 2012.

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GuestMetrics, a Virginia company that tracks sales in restaurants and bars, noted that Angry Orchard achieved a double-digit gain in distribution in the first half of 2013 when compared with the same period in the previous year.

Then there is data from IRI, a firm that tracks sales in liquor stores, supermarkets, and other retailers. According to Boston Beer, IRI data show that Angry Orchard Crisp was the top cider brand in the US for the week period that ended July 21.

IRI sales figures suggest a rapidly growing cider category. GuestMetrics, meanwhile, reports flat to declining beer sales in restaurants and bars. (While dollar sales are flat, volumes are down.)

Why is hard cider gaining popularity? One theory holds that foodies who drink craft beers and fine wines are open to experimentation, and some of them are giving artisanal hard ciders a try as they look for a change of pace from their everyday pale ales and mid-market merlots.

In making Angry Orchard, Boston Beer notes that it blends “Italian culinary apples from the Alpine foothills with French bittersweet apples from Normandy.” Bittersweet apples are sometimes described as “angry,” and presumably, that partly inspired this cider’s brand name. Sometimes Nigerian ginger is used as an ingredient, and the whole line-up is oak-aged for “optimal complexity and balance,” Boston Beer said.

Coming in several varieties, Angry Orchard can be purchased by the six-pack at retail, with a suggested price of $8.99. It is also available on draft in many restaurants and bars.

Chris Reidy can be reached at reidy@globe.com.
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