Despite cool spring, rosé hard ciders are on fire

Despite an unseasonably cool spring for much of the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, the drink of summer is driving the cider category to growth for the first time since 2015.

Rosé cider launches by MillerCoors-owned Crispin Cider Co., Boston Beer Co.-owned Angry Orchard and Rhinegeist-owned Cidergeist have pushed the category up 8.3 percent in sales dollars on a 5.3 percent bump in volume year-to-date through March 31, according to Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data. It marks the first time in three years the category has pushed into the black over the first quarter.

And the trend is accelerating. Over the most-recent four weeks, the overall cider category is up 13.2 percent in sales and 10.6 percent in volume, per Nielsen. Those figures do not include material sales figures from recent launches by Anheuser-Busch-owned Virtue or Heineken-owned Strongbow, among others.

Both Crispin and Angry Orchard rosé ciders rank among the top 25 new items introduced within the last six months in the total beer and cider category, according to Nielsen. There are now more than a dozen rosé-branded hard ciders on the market, including versions from Bold Rock, Citizen Cider, Wölffer and Original Sin.

The launch of rosé has helped catapult the Crispin franchise to growth in 2018. Sales dollars for the franchise are up 6.3 percent on a 10.2 percent increase in volume year-to-date through March 31, per Nielsen. Over the most-recent four-week period, the numbers are even better: Sales are up 21.9 percent on a 33.3 percent jump in volume.

Made with real rose petals, hibiscus and a blend of fresh-pressed apples and pears, Crispin Rosé is dusty pink in color with an aroma that matches a traditional, Provençal rosé. The hard cider has light cherry and strawberry notes on the nose, along with a hint of vanilla and stone fruit. Flavors of fresh strawberries and light cherry make way for melon, rhubarb and tropical fruit, along with a tickle of sweetness. Still, the cider remains crisp and finishes dry, just like a rosé wine.

Rosé ciders are among the most direct of the beer and cider industry’s volleys to recruit consumers back from the wine and spirits category, which have been growing share and stealing occasions for several years. Rosé wine, in particular, has been white hot, posting growth of more than 50 percent in 2017, a trend driven by women ages 21 to 34.