California Cider Company – Ace Ciders By: Dale Zupsansky
ACE ciders are made by the California Cider Company of Sebastopol, CA in the Russian River Area that is now Pinot Noir country. It used to be California’s largest apple growing area and is famous for the Gravenstein apple. ACE ciders are California’s original cidery and the largest cidery on the West Coast, currently producing over 1 million gallons. The company is family-owned by the House family and is the largest independent cidery in the USA, growing at 60 percent per year. Jeffrey House started the company in 1994 after losing Blackthorn cider from the U.K. to Miller Brewing.
The company makes its ACE ciders from local apples, a mixture of six different varieties of dessert apples, which are pressed and fermented using a champagne yeast for two weeks. Then they filter the ciders four times to remove all yeast and solids. Then it is decided whether to make ACE PERRY, ACE APPLE, ACE JOKER, ACE BERRY, ACE APPLE HONEY, or ACE PUMPKIN. With a five percent alcohol by volume base they add back natural juices, pear, apple, berry, honey or spices. They are then kegged or bottled. The process takes about a month. The ciders are fermented, not brewed, making apple wines with carbon dioxide spritz.
The company prides itself on not using anything artificial, making ACE Ciders all natural, gluten free and vegan friendly (apart from ACE APPLE HONEY). They are clean, refreshing and a low alcohol alternative to the high alcohol of wine and heaviness of beer. Other ciders have fructose or artificial sugars added to them. Many of Ace’s competitors use artificial ingredients. They can be distinguished by near-transparent colorings and candy-like flavorings.
Currently, there are six varieties ACE ciders offer. In chronological order: Apple, Perry, Berry, Apple Honey, Joker, Pumpkin. Apple Honey and Pumpkin are seasonal with the Apple Honey in the winter-spring and pumpkin in the fall-winter.
ACE PERRY is the company’s most popular cider and is the leading Perry in the United States with a four percent market share of the U.S. cider market. It has pear juice and real vanilla in it. Like all Ace Ciders, they use an apple juice base. The apple juice is fermented using Champagne Yeast. Then Pear Juice is added as well as a touch of Madagascar Vanilla for smoothness.
The JOKER is dry like champagne at seven percent alcohol by volume. It is a 6.9 percent alcohol by volume dry apple champagne cider. Ace Joker is a unique cider because it is fermented twice using champagne yeast to achieve a higher alcohol content. This cider is left dry, crisp, and clean.
THE ACE APPLE tastes like a sauvignon blanc while ACE APPLE HONEY has Sonoma Wildflower honey added to it and is a bit like a mead in taste. To make this cider, apple juice is fermented using Champagne Yeast. Then more apple juice is added to sweeten. Ace Apple is slightly dry and natural tasting.
THE ACE BERRY has real blackberry and raspberry fruit in it and is a bit sweeter. ACE Berry, like all Ace Ciders, we use an apple juice base. The apple juice is fermented using Champagne Yeast. Then we add blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry juices to sweeten.
THE ACE PUMPKIN is a smooth full-bodied cider with an allspice pumpkin aroma and an orangey hue. Ciders pare well with pork dishes and all spicy foods, especially Thai, Chinese and BBQ.
All of these ciders are available in 5-gallon kegs, 13.2 gallon kegs and cases. The ACE PERRY, its flagship is available in 22-ounce bottles and 12-ounce bottles in 6-packs. The ACE APPLE is also available in 6-packs. The JOKER is now in 6-packs and 22 oz. bottles. The ACE BERRY is now a seasonal and is available in 22 oz. bottles. The ACE APPLE HONEY will also be available in 22 oz. as a seasonal during the fall.