Hard cider an acquired taste, and husband has acquired it [Column]

Is it just me, or have you also noticed that one of the world's up-and-coming commodities is hard apple cider?

Until recently, the only hard cider I'd ever encountered was in a jug of regular cider accidentally left in the fridge too long. Naturally, I threw it out as soon as I realized it had turned. Unfortunately, the way I came to realize it had turned was a little scary: I served it to my children.


When I noticed all three kids giggling uncontrollably and rolling around on the floor like a litter of high-spirited puppies with a new chew toy, it occurred to me that perhaps something was amiss. None of them could make a fist, so they were all slapping weakly at each other, while at the same time laughing and falling over repeatedly.

In other words, their normal behavior ... only more so.

Gingerly, apprehensively, I opened the cider jug and took a sniff, and instantly fell back six paces. OK, maybe it had turned, but before pouring it out, I had to taste it myself to be 100 percent certain, because I hate to waste food.

What's more, I was duty-bound, as a responsible mother, to taste it. I mean, there could have been any number of reasons for my kids' weak-kneed goofiness. Like, for instance, that it was Tuesday.

So I filled a (tall) glass with the suspicious liquid and sat down on the couch to imbibe … er, taste it. Meanwhile, my seemingly tipsy offspring were drinking strong, hot coffee and standing, fully clothed, under a cold shower, per my instructions.

Before you could say, "Call Child Protective Services," I was staggering back into the kitchen, holding onto the walls for support, to (reluctantly ... oh, so reluctantly) pour the rest of the cider into the sink.

So that was my first and last experience with hard cider. From that day forward, whenever I purchased cider, I double-checked the sell-by date and smelled it before letting the kids drink it.

Actually, that was the last time I came across hard cider — until about a year ago, when Doug mused aloud whether anybody was bottling hard cider and selling it retail. And wouldn't you know, later that week, he came home lugging a case of — don't want to drop any brand names here — hard cider from a company named after a grove of fruit trees that feels wrath for some inexplicable reason: that is, from an orchard that's angry ... if you get my meaning.

It wasn't as tasty as the stuff I'd accidentally brewed in the back of my fridge all those years ago, (I can still remember its delightful bouquet and sweet-apple flavor as if it were yesterday) but Doug likes it, and that's what matters.

And since Doug's first purchase, everywhere we look, there are breweries large and small selling hard cider; and every brand is labeled with words that imply strength, authority, rugged individualism, das fatherland, or — in one case — paganism.

So how is it that I've never met anyone else who likes the stuff? I've never even seen it served at a party or heard it being ordered in a restaurant. Therefore, I've come to the conclusion that the entire hard-cider industry is kept afloat by one guy in Hanover, Pa., and that guy is my husband.

But I don't fault him for it. After all, I'm keeping the shoe and handbag industries in business — at least, that's what Doug says.