Cider is a fermented alcoholic drink made from the juice and pulp of pressed apples or pears. Popular varieties of sparkling cider commonly sold in public houses are of a similar strength to lager or beer. These popular brands include Strongbow and Olde English although real cider enthusiasts would argue they bear little resemblance to traditional ciders.
Traditional ciders tend to be flat rather than sparkling and are thicker, often containing apple pulp. The alcohol content is much higher than sparkling ciders, often being above 7% abv. South-west England is famous for its cider (known as scrumpy), and many villages hold annual cider festivals. Good examples of scrumpy cider are "Old Rosie" made by Westons, "Shipman's Folly" from Ashford and "Biddendens" which weighs in at a hearty 10.4% ABV. One of the most popular English ciders is the renowned "Scrumpy Jack" which combines the flavors from 15 different apple varieties into an award-winning drink. A recent marketing phenomenon has been the introduction of Magners Irish Cider which has gained considerable market share through "wannabe" television advertising and the heretofore unacceptable practice of serving cider on ice.
The apples used to make traditional cider differ from apples grown for eating and some are quite bitter in the raw form. Traditional cider apples include the Foxwhelp, Coxes, Throbert and Spatchcock varieties. These are mostly grown by small producers these days who make cider in small batches. It is worth noting that, unlike beer, cider is not brewed hence the use of producer rather than brewer.
If the drink is produced with pears rather than apples, it is known as perry. Perry is a lighter color and is traditionally sparkling. Perry is far less common in modern times than cider and the number of perry producers is in decline. Wales still produces some excellent perrys with Gwatkins "Thorn Perry", PB Jones' "Flossie's Hole" and WM Watkins "Traditional Perry" being particularly well renowned.