For Australians, cider enthusiasts, and culinary explorers, the distinction between regular apple cider and hard cider might just be on the tip of their tongues, quite literally. Let’s dive into this dual delight from the apple orchard.

What is Regular Apple Cider?

This is what most people think of or mean when they just say ‘cider’ in the United States. It is the unfermented juice extracted from sweet, ripe apples. It’s a staple in fall festivities and known for its fresh, sweet-tart flavour, often served hot or cold. The production of apple cider involves pressing apples to release their juices, which are then typically filtered to remove pulp and solids, leading to the clear and refreshing beverage that makes BBQs with strangers more bearable.

Non-alcoholic cider production is a traditional process that dates back centuries, often associated with apple harvests and family traditions. Its taste is crisp, sweet, and more apple-forward as it’s not been through the fermentation process. Traditional apple cider is also celebrated for its Nutrient Content and is often enjoyed at room temperature to fully appreciate its flavour.

What is Hard Cider?

Go to Europe, Australia, and the UK and ask for ‘cider’ and this is probably what you’ll get. Quite shocking if you’re not ready. It is the alcoholic counterpart to regular cider. It’s made through the fermentation of apple juice, transforming sugars into alcohol. This fizzy and golden-hued drink can range in sweetness and is often classified by how dry or sweet it is. We’re talking about a flexible drink because different flavours develop as the cider is aged.

Paying attention in science class may have been difficult in school so we’ll tell you that the sugars in apple juice turns into alcohol via natural yeast. Modern hard cider production, especially in craft and commercial settings, is more controlled, sometimes involving added yeast strains and carefully regulated temperatures to achieve specific taste profiles and alcohol levels.

Key Differences Between Regular Apple Cider and Hard Cider

Those paying attention during the first half of this guide will have seen that alcohol makes the difference between these two. Regular apple cider is non-alcoholic, while hard cider contains alcohol, typically in the range of 4-6%. Taste-wise, hard cider tends to be less sweet and often carries a bit of a tang due to the fermentation process. Go on cider tours and you’ll see that the production process differs too. Hard cider requires fermentation, while regular cider does not.

Regular apple cider is enjoyed by all ages and is often considered a healthier alternative to other sweet beverages, thanks to its natural ingredients and lower calorie content. In contrast, hard cider is a favourite for those who enjoy alcoholic drinks but prefer something lighter and fruitier than beer or wine.


Regular apple cider and hard cider share the same source of apples but offer vastly different experiences when it comes to taste, use, and audience. Whether you’re sipping on a steaming cup of non-alcoholic cider on a brisk evening or enjoying a refreshing hard cider at a summer barbecue, one thing remains consistent – the delicious flavour of the apple.